The Death Of Ebenezer John Harrison

The 19th century newspapers are a rich vein to mine when it comes to Victorian true crime stories.

All manner of tales of murder are to be found within their pages, and some of them have a surprisingly modern ring to them.

The following story appeared in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper on Sunday the 7th of February 1858:-


On Friday, a man staying at the Clarendon-hotel, Birmingham, attempted to murder a woman who passed as his wife, and then committed suicide.

About a fortnight ago, Mr. Harrison, the proprietor of the hotel, received a note dated Northampton, engaging apartments for a man and his wife for a week.

A front sitting-room and bed-room were set apart for them, and on Friday last they arrived.

The man appeared to be between thirty and forty years of age; the woman about twenty.

Mr. Harrison supposed the man to be a commercial traveller.


Up to a quarter to one o’clock on Friday they had not quitted their chamber, when a discharge of fire-arms was heard, immediately followed by another, accompanied by shrieks of murder from the landing on which the bedroom of the two persons was situate.

On the servants of the household rushing up stairs they saw the woman standing outside the door partially dressed, blood streaming from a wound in her neck. She said, “He has killed me,” and then repeated several times the word ” jealousy,”


The man was found stretched upon the bed, apparently lifeless, his right hand grasping a pistol.

A second pistol lay upon the floor.

Medical aid was procured, but he Was insensible, and died in a few moments.


It was found that the woman was wounded on the right side of the head, and that the bones had been shattered by the bullet, the ball itself remaining lodged.

This was extracted by Mr. Bolton, one of the surgeons of the General hospital, but it is doubtful. whether she can recover.

Last evening she was in a very precarious state.


According to the woman she was in the act of getting out of bed, when the deceased told her to lift a handkerchief lying on the counterpane.

She did so, and discovered two pistols.

In some alarm she asked what he meant, when he replied – “Oh, nothing; but there’s one for you and one for me.”

He added, however, that she need not be afraid, and that she must go to sleep again.

She returned to bed, when the deceased snatched up a pistol, and placing it to her head, discharged it.

Partially stunned she rushed to the door, saw him put the other pistol to his ear and fall on the bed, where he died.


A letter, written by the deceased, and found on the dressing table, states that his name is Ebenezer John Harrison, and that his parents reside in Derbyshire; that the young woman was not his wife – a statement the truth of which she admits – that she is the daughter of respectable parents in Northamptonshire, and had been unfaithful to him.


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