ELIZABETH PINCKARD The last woman to be publicly hanged in Northampton by Derek Pinckard


Background to the events of October 3rd 1851

                            The surviving children of Elizabeth Mutton were left 1,000 on her death in a will of her uncle, Francis Mutton.

                        On 23rd April 1821 Elizabeth Mutton married Richard Pinckard at Cold Higham church

                            On 21st July 1822 at Cold Higham church John Mutton Pinckard the son of Richard and Elizabeth Pinckard was baptised.

                        Richard and Elizabeth were poor and were living off the interest of the 1,000.On 25th May 1821 an order was made for Richard and Elizabeth to be

                        removed  from Cold Higham and to be sent back to Duston as they had no legal settlement there. Both Richard and Elizabeth's family had come from

                        Cold Higham but Richard's father had married in Duston and settled there.

                            Elizabeth had spent some time in Northampton hospital (possibly for treatment for kidney stones) where she met a lady called Elizabeth Hensman who

                        worked there; she lived at Upper Mount Street in Northampton  and had worked as a cook in one or two respectable houses in Daventry. John Mutton

                        Pinckard met Elizabeth and married her on 17th March 1850 at St Sepulchre church, Northampton. He was 27 and she 49; she was baptised 6th December 1801

                        at Weedon, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Luckett. Elizabeth had been married twice before and according to the newspaper report was

                        'of masculine habit and forbidding appearance'.  


  John Mutton PINCKARD of Norton by Daventry, bachelor, of full age, farmer, father Richard, farmer Elizabeth HENSMAN otp, (Upper Mount Street), widow, of full age, father Thomas Luckitt, yeoman 1850 17-Mar Northampton St. Sepulchre

                                [Above] Marriage entry from St. Sepulchre, Northampton. 

                            John and his father were partners in a farm near Daventry and lived about a mile from each other. By August 1850 Richard and John were in dispute over the farm,

                        it seems that John had denied his father any rights over it. How much this dispute had to do with John's new wife we will probably never know. But certainly there was a

                        dispute as solicitors were involved and on Richard's part he seemed to want the dispute settled without resorting to law. It had been reported that Elizabeth, the daughter

                        in law had often quarrelled with and abused her mother in law. John and Elizabeth were in arrears with their rent and John had mortgaged a 300 life assurance policy.


The Northampton Herald, Saturday, October 11th 1851


Supposed murder near Daventry.-On Friday week (the day after Daventry cheese and cattle fair) Mrs. Elizabeth Pinckard, a respectable married woman, was found dead in her cottage, about a mile from Daventry, on the road to Long Buckby, under circumstances leaving no doubt that she had been murdered. Deceased was between 50 and 60 years of age, and she and her husband, upwards of 60 years old, lived together alone in the cottage. The murder was discovered soon after five in the afternoon, by Thos. Bird, coal dealer, of Daventry, on going into the cottage to light his pipe as he was passing with his wagon on his way to Buckby wharf. He found deceased in a sitting posture upon the floor, in a corner of the room, opened into by the front door, with her back leaning against the wall. There was a thin piece of tape, about 1 yards long, tied loosely around her neck, and suspended from a little brass hook in the wall, used for hanging a picture or a looking glass upon. The tape supported deceased's head and prevented it from falling upon her right shoulder. Bird immediately informed two men who were then, and had been throughout the day, working upon the road, within sight of the cottage, and sent one of them to Daventry for deceased's husband, who left home between nine and ten o'clock in the morning with a horse to take to the fair, and to inform the constables. The husband on arriving at home felt convinced, from the position in which his wife was, that she had been murdered, and suspicion soon fell upon the wife of his son, John Pinckard, who with her husband live at a small farm, about a mile from the cottage. The son was absent from home the whole of the day in question, at Daventry fair. His wife was taken into custody on the following morning, and an inquest was soon afterwards held before Mr. Hicks, the coroner, and a respectable jury. After viewing the body, they deemed it necessary that the inquest should be adjourned until the following Friday (yesterday) that a post mortem examination should be made in the meantime; and that Mrs. Pinckard should be kept in custody. There was an extensive wound on the deceased's left temple and several bruises on one of her arms; there were also some patches of blood upon the floor at a short distance from where the body lay, and blood upon the wall. No possible motive could be assigned for deceased's destroying herself; she enjoyed good health and spirits, and lived most happily with her husband upon a small income of her own. The woman in custody was seen to go to deceased's cottage between 10 and 11 o'clock on that morning, and to leave it about an hour afterwards, and she is known to have often quarrelled with, and abused, deceased. She has had two former husbands, notwithstanding she is a woman of masculine habit, and forbidding appearance.

Her maiden name was Ducket, and she originally came from Byfield, in this County, and formerly lived as a cook in one or two respectable families at Daventry. Her husband is at this time in difficulties, a distress for rent having been put in upon his premises since she has been in custody; but it was known that he would become entitled to 1,000 at his mother's decease, and it is conjectured

That his wife committed the murder that he might become possessed of the money. A post mortem examination was made on Tuesday last on the body of the deceased, by Mr. Mash, of Northampton, assisted by Mr. Sharman and Dr. Watts, of Daventry.        



The Northampton Herald, 18th October 1851.


The Murder near Daventry. -The inquest on the body of Mrs. Eliz. Pinckard wife of Mr. Rd. Pinckard, of Thrup Grounds, was resumed before Mr. Hicks, coroner, yesterday week. So great was the interest excited that the room at the Boot was found to be inadequate to accommodate those who were desirous of witnessing the proceedings, which were consequently adjourned to the Moot Hall. Mr. Burton attended to arrange the evidence; Mr. Gery was present on the part of the deceased's husband; and Mr. Flesher, with Mr. Becke, of Northampton, attended for the prisoner. The first witness called was - Mr. Sharman, surgeon, Daventry, made a post mortem examination of the body, on Tuesday afternoon. On removing the scalp, found spots of extravasated blood on the upper part of the head, and larger extravasation of blood over the right eye. On removing a portion of the skull, found the vessels of the head distended and the brain conjested, in other respects it was healthy. The jugular vein was distended, and the upper part of the windpipe lacerated to the extent of an inch or an inch - and - a - half. The lungs were distended and of a dark colour; the right side of the heart contained black fluid blood. The liver was congested and the kidneys were larger than normal, the left kidney particularly; it contained three calculi; one a very large one; the rest was healthy. In the right arm there was a wound of the right elbow, and a little extravasated blood under that; nothing corresponding internally with mark round the neck. Was of opinion that deceased died in a state of asphyxia brought on by a ligature round the neck. Did not think that after the blows the deceased could have hung herself in the position described. She might have hung herself in a sitting posture, but not with that length of tape. After she had tied the tape round her neck, producing strangulation, she could not have beaten herself. She might do so in struggling. It was impossible for her to have placed herself upright in a sitting position, after having destroyed herself with the tape. Went to the prisoner's house, the Sunday after the murder. Told her there were some strange reports about, and asked her if she had heard any; she said she had not. Said, that from what he had heard, he had not the least doubt but that her mother was murdered. She said she was of the same opinion, and she was quite satisfied it was so. Witness said " The next question is, who did it?" She replied, "Be it who it may I hope they will be discovered and punished." She said she had no reason to suspect anyone; her mother-in-law was " a quiet and peaceable woman, one that you might live and die with and not have a word amiss." She said she and her husband had talked it over, but they could not think of anyone that could have any motive for doing it. She said that she had not seen her mother since the previous Sunday evening. Witness told her he thought that whoever it was that was seen to go to and from the house by the roadmen must have committed the murder. She said Letts had described the person to her as being a tall woman; and she again repeated, that she had not seen the deceased since the previous Sunday, when she came to her house. Told her that it was supposed by the public that she was the person who had murdered her. Prisoner said she believed deceased was cleaning up the hearth when she was murdered, and that whoever did it, beat her very much, and that her father-in-law thought the same. Saw smears of blood in the room, some distance from each other; one was close to the door; the next about the middle of the room; and another on the wall, about four feet from the ground. A person sitting on the ground could not have made the smear on the wall, it would be too high above the head. There was no fracture of any bone. The blow on the eye was a very considerable one. Have seen as bad a blow from fighting. It is possible that a person tipping and falling against the wall might smear it. Deceased's husband said there were no marks of blood on the ground when he left home. He found bits of tape, narrower than that on his wife's neck, in the window; they were not there when he left. A few days previous deceased wanted some tape, but she did not go out to buy any, and was averse to buying things at the door of any one who came round. - John Letts, Daventry, labourer, saw a woman go into deceased's house about half-past ten on the morning of the murder. She came from Buckby way. Saw her standing at the door about a quarter to eleven, talking to someone in the house. She had on a lightish dress and shawl. She left about half-past eleven, and returned in the direction she came (J. M. Pinckard's house) saw no other person enter the house. - Wm. Reynolds, Long Buckby, policeman, on passing deceased's house on the morning, saw prisoner there. - William Cole, labourer, on passing deceased's house shortly before eleven, on the day of the murder, saw prisoner come to the door, look both ways, and then go in again, leaving the door wide open. - Thos. Hadland, Newnham, labourer, employed by prisoner's husband, saw her leave home just before ten and go towards deceased's house. She returned about a quarter to twelve from the same direction. She had a light dress on. It was perfect when she went from home, bit was torn out of the gathers on the right side on her return. Did not see anything in her hand when she went towards the Daventry road, she carried one hand under her shawl; she was walking faster than common. Went in about twelve for his dinner. Prisoner was in the same dress then. Saw her several times in the afternoon; she had shifted her dress about three o'clock. When she brought witness his dinner she said she had been blackberrying; if she could have got any she should have made her husband a pie with them, for he was very fond of it. Was in the house at the time John Letts came to tell her her mother was dead. She seemed a little put about; she sighed, and taking hold of witness's hand, she said, "God bless you, my dear, don't you leave me this night." Went with her to her father-in-law's; Letts, Lyddington and Bird stood at the door; there was no one inside. Mr. Sharman came soon afterwards. Don't remember prisoner speaking in the house; she went back with her husband. Stopped all night with the dead body. On Sunday night prisoner's husband went to witness's house and said they had taken his wife on suspicion. He said a witness could prove she was not from home. Witness replied he could not. - Ann Frost, prisoner's servant, was sent by her to Whilton to fetch some bread on the morning of the murder. Prisoner had on a lilac gown; it was not torn. On witness's return observed the gown was torn out of the gathers on the right side. Told prisoner of it, she put on another dress about one, and soon after mended the lilac dress, which she washed the next day. - Thos. Flowers, Drayton, labourer, passed the house about a quarter past eleven. Heard a noise like some one walking and groans, also scuffling. Thought the groans came from some one very ill. - Ann Frost recalled, On putting some butter cloths in a drawer on Thursday, the day before the murder, saw a quantity of brown and white tape. It was course and similar to the tape produced. On examining the drawer on Monday with the constable Osborne, the tape was gone. When talking with prisoner about the murder, witness observed deceased must have been hit with some weapon to cause the blow on the eye. Prisoner in reply brought out a mallet and said " This would be a likely thing to hit her with." - Rd. Darlow passed deceased's house about half- past eleven with a horse, and saw prisoner standing at the door. She asked him how it was he had not sold his horse. He replied he had not been to the fair, but had been to Norton to get his horse shod. - Three persons who were talking together at a gate a short distance from deceased's cottage, deposed to hearing cries of murder coming from the direction of the cottage. - Franklin Hudson, surgeon, Braunston, had examined deceased at her husband's request. Cut into the bruise on the frontal bone, and found a quantity of extravasated blood. Believed such a blow would produce insensibility. It was too severe for her to hang herself after receiving it. - Edmund Osborne, Daventry, constable, apprehended prisoner. Told her for what. Said no doubt the person who committed the deed had some interest in it. She replied that she did not wish to take deceased's life or any other person's for the sake of money, as she had plenty in the house, and could have more by sending for it. Found in a drawer in prisoner's house, some tape similar to that found on deceased's neck. Found a mallet in the window. There were marks upon it, but witness could not say whether they were blood. On a white apron, found in the window, there were marks of blood, as also upon a shawl, found behind the table. - Jas. Mash, Esq., surgeon, Northampton, assisted at the post mortem examination. Was of opinion that deceased died from hanging. Did not think the blow on the eye sufficient to cause insensibility. Thought if deceased had been strangled by any person, more marks of violence would have appeared externally. Was of opinion the hanging was deceased's own act. Formed his opinion from the anatomical appearance of the post mortem examination. - After a consultation of about a quarter of an hour the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against deceased's daughter-in-law, and she was conveyed the same evening to the county gaol in this town.     



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