The Murder Of Elizabeth Brockington

On Friday the 14th of September, 1877, Thomas Pratt appeared before the magistrate Mr. Hannay, charged with the murder of Elizabeth Brockington.

The Edinburgh Evening News covered the story of his court appearance in its edition of Saturday 15 September 1877:-


At the Clerkenwell Police Court yesterday, Thomas Pratt, 27, canal labourer, was charged before Mr Hannay with the wilful murder of Elizabeth Brockington.

The prisoner being placed in the dock exhibited considerable emotion.


Caroline Bawl, living at 43 Golden Lane, said that at about one yesterday morning she was going home, and saw the prisoner and deceased near Golden Lane.

They were accompanied by a young man, and at the corner of the street the deceased ran away to the police station, where she complained of the prisoner’s conduct, and said that she would rather be locked up than accompany him, she was sure that he would kill her.

She asked the policeman what she could do with him, as he would not allow her to go either one way or the other, and the policeman told her to go her way and he would go his.

The prisoner went in the direction of Whitecross Street, and the deceased towards Goswell Road.


The young woman asked her where she lived, and, on telling her in Golden Lane, she said that she would come home with her, if she was with her he would not kill her.

When they had walked a short distance she saw the prisoner run across the road, and the deceased commenced to run away.

Witness said they had better stand against the wall, and the prisoner coming up, stuck a knife into her, saying, “There, I have done for you now; I mean to do a ‘drag’ for you.”


The deceased screamed, and the prisoner, whilst witness was assisting her, said, he “would stick the knife into you as soon look at you.”

Whilst witness was crossing the road the deceased fell back, as she was unable to support her longer.

Several policemen then came up, and he said to one of them, “I am the one that done it,” and gave up a knife.

The deceased bled very much, her apron being smothered with blood.

The prisoner said he did not desire to ask any questions.


Police-constable James Crockford said the prisoner handed him the knife, which was covered with blood, and said, “I have done it, and I will swing for it.”

He was then taken to the station, and witness assisted the woman there.

She died about ten minutes after, the surgeon having attended her before her death.

The Prisoner:- “Didn’t I say, “I’m sorry for it. I can’t help it; she’s drove me to it?”

Witness:- “No.”

Mr Hannay:- “Have you any other question to ask?

Prisoner:- “No.”


Police-constable Harry Feek said that he arrested the prisoner, who said, “I have worked hard for that girl, and lost my work when I went thieving for her, and had three months in the House of Correction. I loved her as I loved my own life, and I am sorry for her; but it’s done, and it can’t be helped.”

The prisoner asked no questions.


Mr Eugene Yarrow, surgeon to the G Division, said that he was called to the Old Street Station, where he found the woman unconscious and dying.

The front of her dress was saturated with blood.

He found a punctured wound over the left breast, from which blood was still running. It measured more than half an inch in length, and was about an inch and a half in depth, where the knife had come in contact with one of the ribs.

He had seen the knife produced, and it corresponded in size with the wound.

He had examined the body again that morning, and found no other wound, consequently he could not state what was the immediate cause of death until he had made a post-mortem examination.

The prisoner was remanded.


At his subsequent Old Bailey Trial, Thomas Pratt was found guilty of the wilful murder of Elizabeth Frances Brockington, and was sentenced to death.

He was executed at Newgate Prison on Monday the 12th of November, 1877.