The Murder Of Louisa Corrigan

The Lancaster Gazette, on Saturday the 29th of December 1855, carried the following story of a murder in Minories:-


On Wednesday evening, the 26th instant, the vicinity of Church Street, Minories, was thrown into excitement through the perpetration of a murder at the residence of Mr. Burton, optician.

The victim was a fine young woman named Louisa Corrigan, aged 30 years, and the murderer is her husband, Thomas William John Corrigan, aged 31 years, of No. 10, Selby Street East, Waterloo Town, Bethnal Green.

Corrigan, it seems, had for some years held a responsible situation in the East India House.


The wife was also respectably connected, but for several weeks Corrigan had been living on very unhappy terms with her, and jealousy is the alleged cause of the murder.

The deceased and Corrigan had been, with several relatives, spending their Christmas at the residence of Mr. Burton, where the deceased slept on Tuesday night, and remained there until about noon on Wednesday, when the prisoner left his home in Selby-street East to seek the deceased; but when be reached the home of Mr. Burton she had gone home to attend her four children, who she had left in the care of a female.

Corrigan exhibited some annoyance at her absence.


The deceased, however, shortly after four o’clock, returned to Mr. Burton’s in a cab, and, after paying the fare, she went along the passage to a bedroom, to arrange her dress, when Corrigan suddenly left the sitting room and rushed upstairs to the deceased, who was heard to scream “Murder?” several times.

Mr. and Mrs. Burton rushed up and found Corrigan with his wife on his left arm.

He had a long Spanish clasp-knife extended in his right hand, and blood was flowing copiously from several wounds in the deceased’s breast and right shoulder.

A struggle ensued in taking the murderous weapon from his possession, and Mrs. Burton received two severe gashes in her hands.

The deceased fell – apparently lifeless – upon the floor.


The alarm occasioned by the screams of the deceased brought several neighbours, who called City Police-Constable 570, who secured the prisoner.

The latter exhibited no apparent alarm, but, on the contrary, seemed quite unmoved by his awful position.

The knife was covered with blood up to the handle. The weapon was quite new, and it seems to have been purchased on Wednesday forenoon, at a cutler’s shop in Upper East Smithfield.


After the charge was booked the prisoner was placed in a cell, where he remained all night.

On Thursday morning the prisoner was much altered in his manner, and was pale and haggard.

He also trembled violently, and he wept several times when spoken to by the officers.


Several applications were made to Superintendent Steed to visit the prisoner in his cell, but only his father and brother were allowed to see him.

Shortly before eleven o’clock on Thursday morning, the prisoner requested Inspector Gernon to take charge of some letters and other papers which he (the prisoner) had deposited in his desk at the office of the East India House, which he wished to be taken care of, as they would have some connection with the case.

The prisoner was removed in a cab in charge of Inspector Gernon, and another officer at about eleven o’clock.


The deceased, when carried into the surgery of Mr. Cook, breathed only a few times.

The body was removed in a shell to the deadhouse in Aldgate churchyard, to await a coroner’s inquest.

The prisoner was taken to the Thames Police Court, Arbour Square, Stepney.

The court and avenues leading thereto were densely crowded by parties waiting to hear the evidence.

The exterior of the Thames Police Court.
The Thames Police Court. Courtesy of Adam Wood.


Another account which we have received says:-

“The wife ran out of the room with the blood streaming from her wounds, and screaming ‘Murder!’

Mr. and Mrs. Burton immediately entered the bedroom, and endeavoured to seize the prisoner.

A terrific struggle ensued, and Mr. and Mrs. Burton were both severely wounded by the prisoner.


While this was going on in the house, Mrs. Corrigan, who had run down the street, fell exhausted on the steps of a door in Church-street.

Two sailors, who saw her drop on the footpath, raised her from the ground, and carried her to the surgery of Mr. Cook, in the Minories.

She was laid on a sofa in the parlour, and died almost immediately.”


On Thursday morning, on the way to the court, the prisoner said to Inspector Gernon, “Can I see my poor wife?”, to which the inspector replied, that he could not allow him to do so without the permission of a magistrate.

The prisoner then exclaimed, “Oh, dear; all I can recollect is that I gave her one stab.”