Francis William Neale – June 1888

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Bradford Daily Telegraph, June 2, 1888






A mysterious and painful affair occurred in Bradford on Friday night, resulting in the death of a woman, and the arrest of her husband on suspicion of being the cause of her decease.  The woman’s name was Mrs Neale, and her husband, who is now in custody, is Francis William Neale.  The parties carried on the business of stay makers and ladies’ under clothing providers at No. 14, Darley Street, their private residence being at No. 11, Grosvenor Terrace, Belle Vue, Manningham.  It appears that for ten or a dozen years past Mr and Mrs Neale have led an uncomfortable life, Mrs Neale having been addicted to habits of intemperance.  On Friday she was the worse for drink during the day, and she had two quarrels with her husband, but at closing time in the evening Mrs Neale was less affected by drink than she had been during the greater part of the day.  At seven o’clock at night the shop assistant, a Miss Bentley, left the premises, leaving Mrs Neale in the building in company with her son, aged about 12 years, and a Mr John Black, a concrete floor layer, residing in Carlisle Terrace, Manningham.  What happened afterwards is surrounded more or less in mystery, and will doubtless form the subject of thorough investigation by the authorities.  The first intimation of anything having occurred between the time of closing of the shop at 7 o’clock and 10.30 was conveyed about the latter hour, to Mr John Cockroft, landlord of the latter hour, to Mr John Cockroft, landlord of the Airedale Inn, Otley Road.  Mr Cockroft was the uncle of Mrs Neale, and about half past ten o’clock last night Mr Neale, reached the hotel in an excited state, and said “I believe Etty is laid dead.”  Mr Cockroft at once asked him if he had been to a doctor, and was told he had not.  The two men came away from the Airedale Inn together, and Neale, at Mr Cockcroft’s intimation, went for a doctor, whilst Mr Cockroft went down to Darley Street to the shop, and found Mrs Neale lying on the floor dead.  Two policemen were called in, and whilst they were in the shop Neale arrived also, and said he had been endeavouring to get Dr Tacey, but could not rouse him.

Mrs Neale was lying dead amidst surroundings which at once generated grave suspicion.  She was lying on the floor of an upper back room, clad only in her chemise, her head resting on a coat which had been placed under it, and a coat was thrown loosely over her.  The body was warm, and death had not taken place long before, whilst it was also evident that since death ensued the body had been placed in the position in which it was lying when Cockroft and the police arrived.  The appearance of the room was such as to give rise to the supposition that a struggle had taken place.  The furniture was disordered, and two of the windows were broken.  One of these, according to Miss Bentley’s statement, appeared to have been broken previously, but the other had evidently been smashed in a struggle, as some of the broken glass lay on the floor.  A very singular circumstance also was that the clothing of Mrs Neale was all found in the yard below the room, as though it had been thrown through the window.  Mrs Neale, as has been stated, was quite dead when Mr Cockroft and the police went to the shop, and blood was oozing from her mouth.  No doctor being brought by Neale.

Supt.  Laycock-who was sent for by the police officers – sent a cab up for Mr Lodge, the police surgeon.  Mr Lodge, however, could do nothing beyond pronounce life extinct and order the woman’s removal to the mortuary, an order which was carried out by the police.  The body was found to bear several bruises, which appeared to be the result of blows or kicks.  There is a slight wound on the back of the head, one of the arms is bruised, and there is also a bruise on the thigh.  The authorities, however, entertain a doubt, from the superficial examination which has been so far made, whether the bruises were cause by violence sufficient in itself to cause death.  A post-mortem examination, however, will be made in the course of today, when further information as to the cause of death will doubtless be forthcoming.  The circumstances under which the body was found and Neale’s own conduct in the matter were such as to lead the police to at once take him into custody, and this was done directly the officers saw what had taken place.  Mr Cockroft interrogated Neale, in the presence of the police, as to how the affair had happened, and Neale then stated that he left the shop at a quarter to six, his wife and the female assistant then being present.  He returned shortly before eight o’clock, and found his wife intoxicated, and being unable to induce her to go home, left her and went drinking himself.  A little later he again returned, and then found his wife in the company of the man Black.

At that time, he states, Mrs Neale was upstairs in the back room undressed, though there is no bed in this apartment.  He had a struggle with Black and succeeded in turning him out of the shop.  He left his wife upstairs still intoxicated, and went to the White Lion and Blake’s, where he had some drink, and shortly after ten o’clock he again returned to the shop.  This time he found the woman lying on the floor in the back room in an unconscious state.  Blood was oozing from her mouth, and he though she had been seized with a fit.  Without doing anything to her apart from sponging her mouth, he rushed up to Mr Cockroft, and informed him of what had taken place and when they returned Mrs Neale was dead.  Mr Neale also said that he left his wife lying against a box in the corner of the room, but when Mr Cockroft and the police arrived she was lying in the middle of the floor as already described, and must have been placed there either before or after death took place.

When taken into custody Neale was slightly the worse for liquor, but was quite capable of knowing what he was about.  The case at the present time is one more of suspicion against Neale than an actual allegation of crime, but the entire circumstances are such as to necessitate a very searching inquiry.  Whether she interfered in the struggle said to have taken place between her husband and Black and thus received the injuries which caused death, or whether, the excitement of the encounter so affected a system weakened by dissipation as to bring on a fatal fit; or whether she met her death by more direct means, are propositions which the police are endeavouring to determine, and a thorough investigation will be made at the inquest, which will probably take place on Monday.   Mr and Mrs Neale had been married about sixteen years, and there are three children – all boys –living, the eldest being about fifteen years of age.


At the Bradford Borough Police Court this morning before the mayor (Ald. J. L. Morley), Ald. F. Priestman, Mr Arthur Briggs, and Mr J. Ambler, Francis William. Neale (41) stay maker. Grosvenor Terrace, Bradford, was brought up on a charge of causing the death of his wife, Esther Neale.

Supt.  Campbell said the prisoner had been apprehended on a charge of causing the death of his wife last night.  His wife was found laid dead in the house or shop in Darley Street, under very suspicious circumstances, and he (Mr Campbell) had to ask for a remand until after the inquest, which had been fixed for Monday.

Detective-Inspector Dobson was called and stated that he had charged the prisoner Neale with causing the death of his wife, and in reply he said “I went to the shop in Darley Street about nine o’clock last night, and found my wife with Mr Black in the back room.  My wife was naked, except that she had her boots and stockings on.  Her stockings were down.  I said to Black “Now you d——d villain, I’ve caught you,” and I picked up the sweeping brush and tried to strike him with it, but he pushed it away, and rushed downstairs.  I went after him, but he got away.  I went back to the shop and then found my wife in the room with her chemise on.  She was tipsy.  I left her seated on a box near the window breathing very heavily.  When I came back she was laid on the floor, and I lifted her up and put something under her head and was going to leave.  She was heavy and deathlike, and as there was no one else near I went to her cousin’s at the Airedale Hotel, and afterwards went back to the shop, and then for Dr Tacey.  Mr Freeman who represented the prisoner, said that his client could give a thorough explanation about the whole affair.

The mayor:  You can give that on Tuesday.  The prisoner will be remanded until Tuesday next.


Bradford Daily Telegraph, Monday June 4, 1888




The Darley Street tragedy occasioned on Saturday, on its details becoming known, a painful sensation in Bradford, and the scene of the occurrence was visited during the day by large numbers of persons either curious to glean information regarding the unfortunate affair, or desirous of exhibiting the somewhat morbid interest which the mysterious death of Mrs Neale had created in their minds.  The congregating of crowds in the vicinity of the shop occupied by Mr Neale and his late wife caused something like a block on several occasions.  In consequences of this, and the distressing nature of the occurrence, the shop was closed during the greater part of Saturday, and a policeman was kept on duty during the day for the purpose of keeping the cause-way clear.  The children’s grandmother, Mrs Smith, of Scarborough, was telegraphed on Saturday, and arriving the same day taking the children of the unhappy couple under her care.  She was naturally greatly distressed at learning the details of her daughter’s sad death.  Neale is closely watched in the police cell.  His conduct so far has been very quiet, and at times he is very much depressed, and he evidently feels his position very acutely.  Those who have been intimate with the deceased and Neale for years back have declared that they are not at all surprised at the dreadful termination which has taken place to the couple’s married life.

For the past dozen years their life has been one of mutual recrimination and misery.  Both parties were respectably connected.  Neale is said to be a native of Norfolk.  Many years ago he was employed in a hosiery shop at Leeds, and afterwards as an assistant for Messrs J Holmes & Co., Darley Street.  The marriage of Neale and his wife took place about nine years ago, and the two entered into the business in Darley Street, which at that time had been well established by Mrs Neale’s mother.  Before her marriage Mrs Neale can be still remembered as a very well-conducted young lady.  The marriage, however, proved a very disastrous turning point in her life, for some years back the two had lived together on the most wretched terms;  drunken brawls frequently disturbed the peace of the neighbourhood at Grosvenor Terrace, where the parties resided, and even in business the two took no pains to hide their unhappiness from the eyes of customers.  The post-mortem examination of the body of Mrs Neale was made on Saturday afternoon by Mr Lodge, the police surgeon, and his son Dr Samuel Lodge.  The details of this examination will be found in the report of the inquest held to-day, and also the medical conclusions to the cause of death.  There is no doubt that the deceased woman was subjected to considerable violence at the hands of either her husband or someone else.  The post-mortem examination disclosed the fact which was not observable on a superficial external examination, that five of the unfortunate woman’s ribs were broken.  There were also indications of violent kicks or blows having been inflicted in the lower part of the abdomen.  Whether the violence directly caused death or simply accelerated it by its effect on the heart and system, considerably weakened by drink, is a question the solution of which will be found in the medical testimony given at the inquest.

The room, it may be stated, in which the tragedy occurred is an upper apartment looking onto the back yard of the premises.  It is a very bare and comfortless shop, the only furniture it contained being a long bench and a couple of chests, and apparently the room has been used for the purposes of a work-room.  The man Black, whose name is so unpleasantly mixed up in the tragic affair, has come in for a great deal of unfavourable criticism from the public.  This he contends is undeserved, and he has placed his case in the hands of Mr James Freeman, solicitor, with the object of having his character cleared, if possible, during the official inquiries into Mrs Neale’s death.  So far as can be at presently learnt the exact particulars of the tragedy are known only either to Neale or Black, or both, there having been no outside witnesses of the occurrence.  The premises which adjoin Neale’s shop on either side are both locked up at nights.  They were thus secured at the time of the occurrence, so that there were no neighbours to testify the sound of any struggle having been heard, assuming that one did take place.


The Bradford Borough Coroner (MR J.G. Hutchinson) opened an inquiry at the Town Hall this morning respecting the death of Esther Neale, wife of Wm F. Neale, stay maker, Darley Street, Bradford, whose death took place on Friday night last under circumstances already reputed.  The Chief Constable (Mr J. Withers) was present on behalf of the police; Mr. A Neill Messrs Neill and Broadbent) appeared for the prisoner Neale; Mr J. Freeman, represented Mr Black; and Mr C. L. Atkinson watched the proceedings on behalf of Mrs Smith, the mother of the deceased woman.

Maria Bentley, 34, Bower Street, was the first witness called.  She stated that she was an assistant in the employment of Francis Wm. Neale, the husband of the deceased, at the shop No. 14, Darley Street.  She had been in Mr Neale’s service about five years, and knew the deceased, who assisted in the shop.  On Friday last she went to business about nine o’clock in the morning, and the deceased came about eleven o’clock.  She remained in the shop five minutes and then went into a room above.  Mr Neale came in some five minutes later and said “Has Mrs Neale come?” to which witness replied “Yes,” and told him she had gone upstairs.  He then went upstairs to her, and a short time later she heard an altercation, something about a cupboard.  She heard both of them speaking, and in the course of the conversation the husband said, “Take off that apron and go into the shop and Willy will finish the cupboard and Miss Bentley will help him.”  The deceased said to this, “I shall not, I shall do it myself.”  Mr Cockroft then came into the shop and inquired if Mrs Neale had come, and upon being informed that she had he went up into the room above.

Shortly after this Mrs Neale again entered the shop, followed by her husband, who walked straight out of the premises without saying anything further.  After the lapse of a quarter of an hour the deceased again went upstairs, and at 15 minutes to one Mr Neale returned, and learning that his wife was upstairs he went there.  Witness then heard him say, “I got dinner ready yesterday; where is mine to-day?”  She heard no reply, however, and he returned to the shop saying “Come with me, Willie; I want you to go somewhere,” but on witness asking him not to take the lad he went away also.  As her husband left the deceased entered the shop, and sent her and sons Alexander and Willie upstairs.  About one o’clock witness went to dinner, leaving Mrs Neale in charge of the premises.  She returned about a quarter past two, at which time there was no-one in the shop, but as she walked to the further end of the place, Mr Neale entered from upstairs, and said, “Mrs Neale has gone out, and I have sent Alick to see where she goes.  They have eaten all the chops.  I will go out to dinner.”  He then left the shop, and returned between a quarter and half-past three.  He asked, “Has Mrs Neale or Alick come back?” and on being told “no” he went into the stairs and asked his son “Willie, are you clearing up again?” and then went up to see.  Whilst he was there, about a quarter to four Mrs Neale returned, drunk.  Witness looked at her, and the deceased observing this said, “You need not look at me,” went behind the counter and sat on a buffet.


Bradford Daily Telegraph, Tuesday June 5, 1888





Maria Bentley, continuing her evidence, said after the exclamation Mr Neale entered the shop and said “Oh! Then you have come back.”  She replied, “Yes,” and leaning over the counter towards her husband said, “ Will you go upstairs and wash yourself;  you look dirty.”  She declined, saying, “No, I shan’t; I’m as clean as you.”   “Then do as you like,” he replied, and walked out of the shop.    Mrs Neale looked white, and on witness asking if she was ill, she replied “Yes, my head’s very bad.”  After having a cup of tea the deceased went upstairs, declining the assistance of witness in ascending the steps.  Mr Neale returned about five o’clock and joined his wife upstairs.  On entering the room he said “Willie, get up and let me have my tea,” but the deceased objected saying, “Let the boy finish his tea; he has worked hard enough to-day.”  As witness had finished her tea she rose and said, “Willie can have my chair,” then went down into the shop.  On the way she heard Mrs Neale say, “Oh, yes, go, and let him have his tea.”  Quarrelling then ensued for about ten minutes, and then the husband entered the shop and asked, “Have you had a customer in?” and on being informed in the affirmative said, “Then I’ll take the money,” took it, and left the premises, and witness did not see him again that day.  Shortly after she went upstairs to dress the deceased’s hair, and whilst doing so Mrs Neale made a complaint.  In consequence of this witness felt at the right side of her mistress’s head, and there found a large lump.  After this she made a further complaint.  After this Mrs Neale went into the shop and stayed till nearly 7 o’clock, when Mr Black entered.  He asked “Is Mr Neale in,” and Mrs Neale said “No, but I expect him in a few minutes, and I’ll ask him to wait, but perhaps you’ll wait?”  He remained in the shop and conversed with her (witness) about her holidays.  She left about five minutes past seven o’clock, leaving Mrs Neale, Black and Willie in the shop.  When the deceased came in the morning to the shop she did not appear to be exactly sober, but when she (witness) left her in the evening she looked a good deal better.  Witness did not again see the deceased alive.  The deceased and her husband had had frequent quarrels recently; they had scarcely done anything else for the last two months.  She had seen Neale strike the deceased more than once, but not lately.  She could not say how many times, nor when.

By Mr Withers:  When Mr Neale came back to the shop last time ( five o’clock) he was perfectly sober.  By Mr Neill:  Generally the deceased had been addicted to drink during the whole time she had been in her employment.  She frequently got drunk.  When she was in drink she was very quarrelsome, and she had seen her push Mr Neale out of the shop door, but had not seen her strike him, nor had she seen her throw things at him.

During the last six weeks she had not been drunk every day? – She was not drunk last Monday or Tuesday.

For several weeks before that was she ever sober? – I don’t think she was.  She was drunk every day.  On Monday and Tuesday she was not ill from the effects of drink? – I dare say she was.  She was ill.

Witness, in answer to further questions, said that on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the deceased was the worse for drink, and she was the worse for drink on the Friday at four o’clock.  She did not know whether there had been any dinner prepared for the husband that day.  Within the last few weeks witness had heard quarrels between the deceased and her husband, when he complained of her not going home at night, and not accounting for where she had been all night.  She had heard the husband complain about this at least half-a-dozen times during the last three or four weeks.

William Neale (14), 3, Grosvenor Terrace, said he was a son of the deceased, and was employed at the shop in Darley Street.  On Friday last he was at his father’s shop between 11 and 12 o’clock, in one of the upper rooms with his mother.  She was then under the influence of drink.  His father came into the room, and as witness was clearing out the cupboard there was a quarrel about it.  He was there about five o’clock the same afternoon with his mother.  His father then came in for his tea, and said to witness, “Get up and get let me get my tea,” to which his mother replied, “No, let him finish his tea, he has worked hard enough.”  After this there was there was a quarrel about the dinner, in the course of which his father knocked his mother’s head against a recess.  In doing so he got hold of her head with both hands, and knocked it against the wall, and at the same time called her a liar.  She complained about him not having left her any dinner the day before, and it was for this that he called her a liar.  When he did this his mother screamed and began to cry.  His father then went downstairs, and soon after left the premises.  Shortly before seven o’clock Mr Black entered the shop and enquired for Mr Neale.  Accepting an invitation of the deceased Mr Black remained.  Miss Bentley left about five minutes pat seven, and about ten minutes after his mother sent him for some soap.  He fetched the soap, and on returning found his mother and Mr Black still in the shop.  Witness then told his mother they required some soap for home, whereupon she gave him 3d, and he went for it and then proceeded home, leaving Mr Black and the deceased still in the shop.  He did not again see his mother alive; nor did he again see his father that day.  On several occasions during the past fortnight he had seen his father strike his mother.

By Mr Atkinson:  It is about three years since he first saw his father strike his mother, and he generally hit her on the back.  During the last fortnight the blows had been more frequent.  He had seen his father worse for drink, but had never seen him attempt to turn his mother out of the shop.

By Mr Neill:  When his father struck Mrs Neale she was drunk, or under the influence of drink.  She was violent when under the influence of liquor, but he had never seen her strike his father.

Mr Neill:  How many times did she stay out at night last week?

Witness:  Four or five nights.  I know she stayed out, because she said my father had hit her, and she would not come in.

About 14 months ago do you remember her falling down the cellar steps? – Yes.

She was taken to the infirmary and was ill for some time after.  His mother was frequently drunk at home, but he never saw her fall when in that condition.  She would, however, throw the chairs about.  The last time he left the shop on Friday night was about 7.20.

By Mr Withers:  The last time he saw his father on that night was about 5.45.  When he left he was a little “fresh,” but hardly to be noticed.  When he left Mr Black and his mother the latter, was under the influence of liquor.  Mr Black was a friend of his father’s and had been to the shop before.  Mr Black appeared to be sober when he left on the night of Friday.

John Black, concrete floor layer, of 47, Carlisle Terrace, Manningham, being called said:  I have known the deceased about 18 months, and her husband about four years.  I have done business with her husband, and have been in the habit of calling at his shop in Darley Street in a friendly way.  On Friday last I called about a quarter past seven and saw the deceased, Miss Bentley and Willie Neale.  I asked for Mr Neale.  Mrs Neale said “Come in, Mr Black; he had gone out and will be back in a few minutes.”  Miss Bentley was dressing to leave business for the day, and about three customers came while she was doing so.  I conversed with the deceased on family and business matters.  I remember the deceased sending Willie for some soap, and after he had gone home the deceased asked me to assist her to close the shop, and I did so.  Before this a customer had entered the shop, and desiring the approval of her mother to the goods asked Mrs Neale to keep the shop open a little longer.  The deceased consented to do so, and I was about to go and bid her good night.  She, however, asked me to stay, and I did so until the young lady returned and took the goods of which she had approved.  The young lady returned about a quarter past eight, and it was after this that I consented to assist in closing the front door of the premises.  Mrs  Neale then retired to the back part of the shop, saying she would go for her keys, hat, bag, and other articles, and would walk home with me.  I remained in the shop for some time, but she did not come, and I called out to her twice, and she replied each time, “I am coming.”  Still she did not come down, and I next heard her call out “Come up, I want you.”  I went upstairs, and when I went upstairs I found her seated on the box at the end of the room.  She was naked with the exception of her boots and stockings.  I was so struck with what I saw that I exclaimed, “Good heavens, Mrs Neale, whatever are you doing?” to which she replied, “Come over here and sit down beside me; I am going to lay here tonight.”  I took a step or two into the middle of the room, and asked her to dress herself, saying “What will the consequences be if Mr Neale comes in and see’s you in the condition you are in?”  She again said, “Come here and sit down,” and again repeated, “I am going to stay here this night.”  She asked me a third time to go to her, and at this time, she was seated in an upright position at the ottoman, and I went and stood at the end of it and placed my left hand on her shoulder and again begged of her to dress her-self.  Just at the time I was making this remark to her, her husband came to the top of the steps with a clay pipe in his mouth smoking.  He said immediately on seeing us “Now you b———s I have caught you,” and commenced using a lot of bad language, calling me a villain, a coward, and a number of other names.  I left the end of the ottoman when I saw him first, and walked across the floor to meet him.  He then said, “I’ll smash you,” or “I’ll kill you,” or words to this effect, and seized a sweeping brush similar to the one produced, and attempted to strike with it.  I warded off the blow and said, “Don’t strike, Neale; don’t do anything; I will explain matters in the morning,” I then went downstairs and left the place.  Whilst all this was going on Mrs Neale continued to sit in the same position on the ottoman.  Whilst I was in the room I believe her clothes were on two chairs and part of them on the floor.  I did not observe that there was a window broken in the room.  The furniture in the room was in order.  I only once have been in the up-stairs room before, and that is many months ago.  It was by the invitation of Mr Neale, to look at the gas stove.  There are two entrances to the shop, one at the front and one at the side.  On Friday night the front entrance was closed, but the side entrance was open, and I left by that means.  When I left Mrs Neale in the room at the back of the shop she was un-injured.

By Mr Neill:  Mrs Neale was slightly under the  influence of drink when I went into the shop.  That was about a quarter past seven o’clock.

Mr Neill:  What time was it when you made your hurried exit from the side door? – About half-past eight.

Was it not nine o’clock or after? – Certainly not.

Just recollect? – It was just turned half-past eight o’clock.

Did you know the proper closing time was seven o’clock? – No, I did not.

Have you ever taken her home from the shop before? – No, but I have met her accidentally, put her into the tram, and went home with her.

Was her husband at home? – No, but her sons were.

How long is that ago? – Four or five months.

Is that the only time you had been to the house? – The only time.

Have you ever waited an hour-and-a-half for Mr Neale before? – No.  About 20 minutes is the longest before.

When the front door of the shop is closed is not the shop comparatively darkened? – Yes, comparatively.

And how long did you stay in that darkened shop waiting for the woman putting her hat on? – About seven or eight minutes; not more.

How long were you in the back bedroom? –  Three or four minutes.

Then you did stay three or four minutes with the naked woman in a shop where there was no-one but you and her-self? – I did.

You must have been very busily engaged, because you did not hear the husband come? – I did not.

He had boots on? – I do not know what he had on.

How many steps are there to get out of the room? – About 10 or 12.

Stone steps and uncovered? – Yes.

And you never heard him until he addressed you? – No.

You did not stop to explain? – No.

You must have been in a hurry to get away? – I did not run.

Did he throw a brush at you? – He did.

You must have run away or it would not have missed you? – I walked calmly out of the place.

The brush missed you? – Yes, it went by the side of me.

Mr Atkinson:  Did you not think it very strange that Mrs Neale should ask you to go upstairs? – Not at all; she might not have been able to find her bag or something, and required my assistance.

Did she say she had lost anything? – No.

You say she said “I am going to lie here tonight.”  Are you sure she said “to-night?” – Yes.

Have you been on the premises since? – No.

Why did you not explain to the husband? – Because he was excited and under the influence of drink, and I knew there would be no reasoning with him.

How many times did he strike at you? – Only once.

Was the deceased not taking her boots and stockings off when her husband came? – I do not know.

She had no chemise on? – No.

And the stockings down? – I do not know.

When was the last time you were in the shop? – About a fortnight before.

You did not tell Mr Neale your business when he caught you in the room? – No, sir.

You saw Mrs Neale naked Mr Black? – Yes, sir.

And there was plenty of light in the room? – Oh yes, plenty, sir.

Seeing that naked form, if there had been any bruises upon it would you have seen them? – Oh yes, sir, I should.

Did she make any complaint to you of any violence having been used? – No, sir, not at that time.

Witness, in answer to the Coroner, said that Mr Neale had told him of having left Mrs Neale in the shop all night when he had found her there drunk.  He had never left the shop by the side door he had mentioned before Friday night.

Miss Bentley was recalled and cross-examined by Mr Atkinson.  She said that one of the windows of the upper room was broken.  It was broken some time before.  She had several times seen Mr Neale drunk, and had seen him strike Mrs Neale several times.  She saw Mr Black in the shop some five or six weeks before Friday last.

Richard Senior, clerk, Airedale Road, Bradford, was next called, and stated that he was acquainted with the husband of the deceased woman.  On Friday last he saw him at Blake’s Restaurant about nine o’clock at night.  Neale then bid him good night, left the place, and witness followed a couple of minutes later.  Witness was Mr Neale from seven o’clock in the evening until nine o’clock.  The latter was slightly intoxicated on leaving.

The inquiry was then adjourned until ten o’clock on Tuesday morning.


Bradford Daily Telegraph,  Tuesday June 5, 1888







Mr J. G. Hutchinson (the Borough Coroner) resumed the inquest at the Town Hall, this morning, respecting the death of Esther Neale, who was found dead in the shop, 14, Darley Street, on Friday night last. – Mr A Neill (Messrs Neill & Broadbent) again represented the husbands of the deceased; Mr C. L. Atkinson (Messrs Atkinson & Wilson) appeared on behalf of Mrs Smith, the mother of the deceased; and Mr J. Withers (the Chief Constable) watched the proceedings on behalf of the police.

Thomas Cartright, the manager of the White Lion Vaults, Kirkgate, was the first witness called this morning.  He said he was acquainted with Francis Wm. Neale, the husband of the deceased.  He came to the vaults at 9.40 on Friday night, and entered by the back door.  He was without hat, and appeared a little excited.  He had a bruise on his forehead, and asked witness to lend him a hat.  Cartright asked him what he had been doing to lose his hat, and he replied “There has been a fight in Darley Street opposite my shop with two young men.  I have been trying to part them and lost my hat in the scuffle.”  Witness asked him what kind of men they were, to which Neale replied “They look like two respectable young men, but I don’t know who they were.  They have had to take one of them to the Infirmary.”  He was supplied with two penny worth of rum and a cigar, and after he had been given a hat he went away, he left by the back door, and witness did not see him again that night.

By Mr Withers:  Neale appeared a little the worse for drink, but not bad.  Witness saw him about three o’clock in the afternoon at the vaults the same day.  The mark on Neals’s forehead appeared to have been recently done.

John Cockcroft, the landlord of the Airedale Inn, Otley Road, said the deceased was his cousin, and was about 39 years of age.  He last saw her alive on Friday morning last at 11.30 in the room over the shop in Darley Street.  Her husband was present.  They were quarrelling, and scattered about the floor were pots, pans, dishes and a number of other articles, in an untidy state.  She wished to clean these articles but Mr Neale wished her to wash herself and go into the shop to business.  Witness made the same request, but she refused to comply with it and answered “I won’t.”  They were both in high temper, and he (Cockcroft, asked them to “calm down” and left them.  He next saw Mr Neale at 10.40 in the evening at the Airedale Inn, in the commercial room.  The moment witness entered the room Neale said “ I believe Etty is dead,” and he (Cockcroft) replied, “What reason have you for thinking she is dead?”  To which Neale replied, “I cannot move her.”  He asked Mr Neale if he had a doctor, and receiving the reply “No,” said “What did you come here for first?”  Neale then said “Will you come down?” to which he replied, “No, go and get a doctor, and I will follow.”  Neale then left.  Cockcroft immediately put on his coat and hat, and proceeded to a shop in Darley Street.  On the way he met P.C.’s Gibson and Parsons, and asked them to accompany him.  They all then proceeded to the shop in Darley Street, and upon looking into the room above the shop he saw a body laid upon the floor, about two feet from the doorway.  He could not see the features.  The body was covered over with an overcoat, and the feet were towards the doorway.  The coat was like one he had seen Mr Neale wearing.  He then called up the police officers, who entered the room and uncovered the body.  He then recognized the body as that of his cousin, Esther Neale.  They formed the opinion that the deceased was dead at the time.  He lifted one of the hands up, and it was cold.  He waited in the room with the constables for about quarter of an hour, when the husband of the deceased came into the room.  Upon entering Neale said, “I cannot get the doctor.  I have been to Mr Tacey, but I could not waken him or he was not at home.”  Witness then said, “We had better have the police doctor,” after which one of the officers charged Neale with causing the death of his wife, and said he would have to take him to the Town Hall.  To this the husband replied, “I have not touched her.”  He further stated in the course of a broken conversation “I caught a man in the room named Black.  He was sitting at the far end of the room on a box beside my wife, who was naked with the exception of her boots and stockings.”  The officer then said “What did you do?” to which Neale replied “I called him a d——–d villain, and we had a scuffle in the room by the staircase.  I seized the long brush and ran him down into the street.  I lost my hat and went back into the room for it but could not find it.  I then put her chemise and flannel vest on whilst she was sitting on the box.  There was blood on her face and I washed it off.  I then requested her to get dressed and go home.  I then left the room and went to the White Lion and borrowed a hat.  I then went back to the shop and found she had fallen off the box on the floor.  I then carried her to the far end of the room and laid her down, and put something under her head.  She appeared to have a fit.  I covered her with my coat, and came right to your house.”  The officer then said “”I shall take you down to the Town Hall,” and requested witness to accompany them.

On the way to the Town Hall Neale said to witness “Cousin, I never touched her.”  To this witness replied “That remains for you to prove.”  When the husband came into the room he was very much excited and trembled and did not express any surprise.  He also burst into tears.  All the pots and pans were cleared away, but the room bore tokens of a struggle.  There were tokens of clay pipe broken all over the floor and crushed as though it had been trampled upon.  On looking at the windows he found one of them broken, and there were pieces on the window-ledge and floor inside.  There were also a number of pieces behind the ottoman upon which Neale said his wife and Black had been sitting.  There was also a long brush on the floor.  Witness looked for the deceased’s clothes in the room but could not see any, and he requested one of the officers to look through the window, and afterwards looked himself, and saw some articles of clothing in the yard out-side.  He remarked to the officers “I believe its some women’s clothes,” but the husband, who was present, made no remark.  He then went with one of the officers into the back yard, and there found a quantity of women’s clothing, amongst them he thought a black jacket which belonged to the deceased.

By Mr Withers:  When Neale came to his house he was very excited, trembling and crying.  When in the room where the body was found he noticed the husband had a mark on his forehead.

Mr Withers:  Did he give any explanation about the mark? – I asked him what the mark was, and he said “Oh, it was done with the scrimmage with Black.”  Did you draw his attention to the state of the floor? – Yes, and he said it was the result of the scrimmage with black.

Did you call his attention to the window? – Yes:  I said “The window is broken,” but he replied, “I know nothing about it.”

Did he give you any Information with respect to an explanation which she had made? – I do not remember.

About her conduct I mean? – I don’t remember all the conversation.

Mr Atkinson:  Have you ever heard her complain of her husband having assaulted her? – Yes, she has complained in his presence.

The Coroner:  Have you spoken to him about those complaints? – Yes, she had a black eye once.

Continuing, the witness said that when he saw the deceased in the morning he thought she had had a little of something to drink, but the husband appeared to be sober.


The Borough Court was crowded this morning by many persons anxious to hear the proceedings connected with the trial of Francis W. Neale, aged 41, who is described as a stay-maker, of Grosvenor Terrace, for causing the death of Esther Neale, his wife.

Mr Withers said it had been intended to proceed against the prisoner to-day if it had been possible, but the inquiry before the Coroner had lasted more than one day, and consequently they could not produce evidence.  He, therefore, had to ask for a remand until tomorrow upon the same evidence as the previous one had been granted.

Mr Neill; on behalf of the prisoner, raised no objection to the remand as the inquest was proceeding.  The chairman asked if tomorrow would be the best day to remand the case to.  Mr Withers thought so, and Mr Atkinson suggested that they should commence at ten instead of eleven o’clock.

The bench granted the remand until tomorrow, but to commence at eleven o’clock as usual.


Bradford Daily Telegraph,  Wednesday  June 6, 1888









Police Constable Parsons was next called, and stated that on Friday night last about 10.55 he was on duty in Kirkgate, where he met the witness Cockcroft, whom he accompanied to a shop in Darley Street, where he found the body of a woman apparently dead.  The body was stretched out on the floor and an overcoat had been placed over it.

There was also a chemise and red waist, and boots and stockings on the body, and the head was resting on a jacket.    There was some blood on the floor near to the window, portions of a broken clay pipe, and a quantity of glass from a broken window.  He looked for the deceased’s clothing, but could not find any except what was on the body.  He afterwards, however, found some clothing in the back yard.  After he had been there ten minutes the husband came in, and Cockcroft asked him if he had got a doctor, and he replied, “I have been to Dr Tacey’s, and he could not come, and told me to go to Dr Taylor’s, but I did not go.”

The husband made a statement in his presence which P.C. Gibson wrote down at the time.  Witness took Neale into custody and charged him on suspicion of having caused the death of his wife, but at the time Neale did not make any reply.  Afterwards, however, he said, “I am not guilty.”  Witness found the brush produced in the shop down-stairs, and he also produced the chemise, flannel vest, boots, a pair of stockings, and an overcoat found in the room.

Police-constable (190) Gibson also gave evidence of having been called to No. 14, Darley Street, with the last witness.  The witness proceeded to describe the last witness.  The witness proceeded to describe the appearance of the room in terms similar to those of previous witnesses.  He observed P.C. Parsons pick up from the floor portions of a broken clay pipe, and there were other portions on the floor which had evidently been trampled upon.  After being there some time the husband of the deceased came in.  This would be about ten minutes after witness entered the room.  The body was then in the same position as when first found.  Mr Cockcroft asked the husband if he had brought the doctor, and Neale replies, “No, I could not get him to come.”  He did not state the reason why the doctor would not come, so far as witness could recollect.  Neale conversed with Parsons, witness, and Mr Cockcroft, and whilst in the room witness, in Neale’s presence, reduced to writing what he said as follows:-

“About 4.45 p.m. this day I left my wife, Esther Neale, in the shop No. 14, Darley Street.  She was then under the influence of drink.  She was with her son Wm. Neale, aged 15 years.  I returned about 7.45 p.m., when I found my wife undressed in the room near the shop 14, Darley Street.  There was then with her Mr Black, concreter, Carlisle Terrace, his works are in Lamb Lane.  I was unable to tell whether he was under the influence of drink or not.  I then went back into Blake’s Restaurant with Mr. Senior.  When I came back she was lying by the side of a box in the room.  I saw some blood on her mouth, also on the top of her eye.  I sponged her face then went up to her cousin, Mr Cockcroft, Airedale Hotel, Otley Road.  After then I went for Dr Tacey, but was unable to obtain his assistance.”

Witness continuing his statement said that he found various articles of feminine wearing apparel in the back yard, beneath the broken window of the room where the dead body lay.  There was some underclothing, such as flannels and drawers, and articles of women’s wear, which he now produced.  The drawers were suspended on an iron rail just below the broken window.

By Mr Withers:  The husband made another statement to me in the corridor of the police cells on Sunday morning about a quarter past two, whilst I was in charge of him.  He said, “This is a bad job; I wish I could see the end of it.  There is nobody can say that I deliberately did it, because I did not.  I did kick her, but that could not kill a woman in her state.”

By Mr Atkinson:  The window appeared to have been broken from the outside.

By Mr Withers:  There are a number of ladders placed just under the window.  Anyone who chose to go up those ladders could see right into the room and be a witness of all that was going on inside.  There was no blind or curtain in the window.  There is a door at the passage which leads to the backyard, and that was fastened by a padlock and a rope, so that it was impossible to get into the backyard from Darley Street.

By the Coroner:  We got into the backyard by P.C. Parsons cutting the rope which secured the door.  The entrance to the backyard is from the door above the shop.  He did not know to whom the ladders belonged or how they came to be in the yard.

P.C. Parsons recalled said that in addition to the articles already named he found in a closet upstairs a small handkerchief produced.  The husband was present and said it was what he had sponged deceased’s face with.  The handkerchief was marked with blood.

P.C. Gibson (recalled) said, in answer to a juror, that he felt hat produced was found in the back yard along with the clothes.  When found it was bulged in, in the same way as he now produced it.  It belonged to the husband of the deceased.  It was laid when found on the top of a flannel petticoat.

A Juror:  Did Neale give any reason why if deceased was in a fit he dragged her from one part of the room to the other.

Witness: Yes, sir; in his first statement he said – “I pulled her on the other side, and was going to leave her on the box as I had done many a time,” or words to that effect.

Mr Withers:  When you found that hat did you find any other clothing belonging to a man?

Witness: No, sir.

P. C. Parsons recalled said, in answer to Mr Withers, that he unfastened the door leading to the yard where the clothing was found.  Having got the articles produced he fastened the door with rope and padlock in the same way as he had found it.

By a Juror:  There were no knots in the rope fastening the padlock.

William Green Tacey, of 6, Manningham Lane, surgeon, said, in reply to Mr Withers, that on Friday, June 1st, he was called upon about 11 o’clock at night by a man whom he believed to be the husband of the deceased woman, though he only judged of this by the tone of the man’s voice.  The door was not opened, and witness spoke through the letter aperture.  The man said at the opening of the conversation, “I want you to go to Darley Street.”  I asked, “Who is it?” and repeated the query once or twice before I could obtain a reply.  He then stated “It is to see my wife.”  I then said I was unable to go to Dr. Taylor.  There was no further remark made.  I have known the husband of the deceased several years, and frequently conversed with him and heard him speak.  I came to the conclusion that he was under the influence of drink.


Samuel Lodge, surgeon, Wakefield Road, said:  I made a superficial examination of the dead body of Esther Neale at 14, Darley Street, at 11.40 p.m. on Friday, June 1st,  I found the body lying on the floor in a small upper-room, the head placed upon some garments, and another piece of clothing thrown under the trunk.  The abdomen was very much swollen,  I perceived no smell of drink about the body, which was undressed with the exception of stockings, laced boots, chemise and a red cloth bodice or chest cover.  The abdomen was soft, warm, and swollen.  Blood flowed from a very fine puncture of the scalp, the pupils were dilated but clear, and there was slight wounds and bruises about the left orbit and temple.  The left arm and hand was bruised from the shoulder downwards, and the little finger of the hand had suffered severely and had bled.  The right arm and hand was also severely bruised from above the elbow, and there were appearances of blood on the upper arm, the blood having apparently been imperfectly washed or wiped off.  One part of the body was much swollen.  The right hip exhibited marks of violence, there being an abrasion and a bruise.  The chemise on the body was all over spotted with blood, the lower portion being saturated.  I ordered the removal of the body to the mortuary, and there made a further of importance.  On June the 2nd about noon I made a post-mortem examination of the body at the mortuary.  Externally I found black marks at the left side of the back which were not evident the night before.  The body was that of a healthy well-developed woman.  On opening the abdomen I found it full of fresh blood arising from the vessels about the left kidney.  The kidney was healthy, but surrounded by clotted blood.  I found five ribs fractured on the left side, some of them in two places.  One of the fractured ribs had lacerated the vessels of the left kidney and penetrated inwardly to the cavity of the abdomen, the perforated, causing, the cavity to become filled with blood.  From the vessels of the kidneys into the abdomen there would be an escape of about 10lbs. of blood.  The stomach and intestines were removed and found quite healthy.  The stomach contained undigested vegetable food.  The liver, pancreas, kidneys, bladder were all healthy.  On opening the chest the heart was found to be large and fat, but not soft, and there was no disease.  The lungs were quite perfect, but the left side of the chest contained a large quantity of blood caused by a sharp point of the seventh rib which was fractured and bad penetrated the pleural cavity.  Every rib below the chest was fractured.  There was no external appearance of these terrible injuries on the Friday night, but they became evident on the Saturday.  The bruise on the temple and near the orbit did not extend beneath the muscles.  A large swelling on the body was carefully examined, and found the blood of recent origin.  The brain was a fine one and healthy, but bloodless.  Cause of death was fracture of the ribs, and consequent internal bleeding.  After the injuries he would expect almost immediate death.

Would that apply either way? – Yes, supposing the body had fallen against a ledge or ridge of lengthened surface such a thing might have occurred.

If the body had fallen upon some edge or ridge, would you have expected to find any mark or cut? – Yes, I think I should.

Having given that opinion what is your opinion as to how the injuries were caused? – I should not like to venture upon that.

Mr Neill:  He has already given that.

Mr Withers:  You would expect a mark upon the exterior of the body if it had fallen against a ridge? – Yes.

Suppose a body had fallen upon her body would you have expected to find a mark? – No, I should not.



The Bradford Observer, June 6, 1888






A juror:  If Mrs Neale had died from a fit would there have been signs to show that on the post-mortem examination? – Yes, we should have fund signs on examination.

Could the wound on the body have been caused by a fall? – No, sir; it could not have been done that way.

Could it have been done by a kick? – Yes.

Another Juror:  Do you think a fall off the ottoman on to the floor would have caused the fracture to the ribs? – I think not.  It might have fractured one or two, but his is a line of fractures.

Miss Bentley was then recalled, and identified portions of the deceased’s clothing, but she could not swear to Mr Neale’s hat.

This closed the evidence, and Mr Neill prior to the Coroner addressing the jury, drew his attention to the law on the subject of homicide, which said that homicide was not rendered justifiable or excusable by provocation, but if provocation was given to such an extent as to greatly excite the man who killed manslaughter was the extent of the guilt.  He also pointed out that if a man caught his wife in the act of adultery and killed someone on the spot the guilt was manslaughter only.

The Coroner addressing the jury said after having had the opportunity of viewing the place in question and hearing the evidence in detail he thought they would not have any very great difficulty in giving an opinion upon the case.  Referring to the medical testimony there could be no doubt as to the cause of death.  It was due to the fracture of the ribs and subsequent internal bleeding, and on that point also the jury could have no difficulty.  Then came the question who caused these injuries and by whom were they inflicted.

The circumstances of the case were very distressing so far as detailed.  The deceased had been a person who had given way to the drink, and she and her husband have quarrelled on trivial matters which ordinary people would not have done.  Proceeding to refer to the evidence as given by the witnesses, and alluding to the time when the deceased was discovered in a nude state with the man Black, he remarked that they could well understand the condition in which the husband became, he finding his wife with a person whom he had regarded as a friend.  No one would wonder at the language which was said to have been used by him, because he must have felt himself greatly insulted by the conduct of his wife and black.  Then came the question as to how and by whom those injuries had been caused.  So far as Black was concerned the jury would observe that Black went away and left the deceased seated upon an ottoman, and there was no evidence whatever to show that Black had returned, and under the circumstances, whether he had been guilty of gross immorality or not, it was very unlikely that he would return after what had taken place.  It was not suggested either by the statement of the husband or any of the other witnesses that the woman was subjected to violence whilst Black was there, and there was nothing to show that she was.

The husband had confessed to having put a chemise on to his wife, and from its condition this must have been on the woman at the time she received the injuries.  Neale was the only person present.  He remained after having run Black out of the place.  He admitted this, and alter remaining there for some time went to a public-house where he sought to borrow a hat.  This went to show that the man had lost his hat, and he had to account for this.  His explanation was that a quarrel had occurred outside his shop between two men, and that one of them had been taken to the Infirmary.  There had been no evidence to show that such was the case, and there was no truth in the story.  Further, according to Black, when he was in the room, Mrs Neale’s clothing was on two chairs and a portion on the floor, but on the place being visited by the police it was not there.  Look out of the window, it is suggested, and there in the yard is the clothing together with a black hat.  It was true no one had been able to identify it as the property of Mr Neale, but it was interesting to note that the one found and the one worn by Mr Neale were both black one’s, and that on the Friday night he had to borrow one.  The question then arose what was Neale doing with his wife?  He says he found his wife in a fit, but the medical evidence negatived this statement, and showed that death was due to fractures and loss of blood.  What, however, did Neale, do, supposing his wife had been in a fit?  He gave no alarm, although he subsequently visited the vaults and made the excuse about his hat, and after staying there a time he made his way to Otley Road.  On arrival there he was crying and trembling.  Parsons, said the Coroner, who sometimes did things on the impulse of the moment, and in a passion, often cried and trembled when they realised their crime and consequences.  Then again Neale did not bring a doctor when he might have done.  When the police visited the place they found the body laid  out as if for burial with the hands by the side, and when it was examined blood was found to have been wiped off by some person or other.  Neale on seeing his wife in the state she was showed no signs of dismay, but gave some explanation to the officers present that those statements did not implicate anyone else or show that any other person had been on the premises after Black had left.  Then there was also the statement to the officer Gibson in the cells, where Neale said he did not do the deed deliberately.  No one, said the Coroner, would suggest that the deed had been done in cold blood and with the intention to kill, but it was most extraordinary to find that the post-mortem examination revealed traces of a kick at the part of the body where the husband admitted having kicked his wife.  That had not caused death, however, but the violence had, and Neale had admitted using violence.  They had, therefore, to consider whether or not they could believe that one person had been guilty of one piece of violence and another, or whether the whole was the doing of one man.

The jury must bear all those facts in mind, and after careful consideration say who had been guilty for this considerable violence.  Alluding to the evidence of the witness Seanor he pointed out the discrepancies as to the times Neale was said to have gone to the shop from Blake’s, and said if that amounted to anything, it only showed that Black must have been longer in the room with the deceased than he had admitted.  Whether he was there for immoral purposes or whether he was merely the victim of circumstances, it was clear, however, the woman had received no injury when he made his hurried departure on the appearance of the husband.  There could be no question that the deceased had been guilty of the greatest indecency it was possible for any woman to be guilty of, but although she may have been guilty of indecency it did not justify violence being used to her such as to deprive her of her life.  That would be absolutely no excuse and no justification for the husband killing her or using violence which would cause her death.  They all knew homicides were murder, but there was a very important element in the law which said that a murder must be accompanied with malice and aforethought.  The question for them to consider was if this violence was inflicted under provocation which would bring it under the head of manslaughter, and by whom the violence was inflicted.

The jury then retired, and after an absence of five minutes returned into court with a verdict of manslaughter against the husband of the deceased woman.

Neale was then brought before the Coroner, and committed for trial at the next Leeds Assizes.

Mr Neill applied that the prisoner might be admitted to bail.  The Coroner said he would consider the application and give his decision to-morrow.

Neale looked in a very weak condition when brought into Court, and Dr Lodge remarked that he was ill.


Bradford Daily Telegraph, Thursday June 7, 1888




Again many persons had to be refused admission to the precincts of the Bradford Borough Court this morning, when Francis Wm. Neale, described as 41 years of age, stay maker, of Grosvenor Terrace, was placed in the dock on a charge of causing the death of Esther Neale, his wife.

The prisoner appeared to be in a better condition physically than yesterday, and paid keen attention to the evidence given by the witnesses.  He was calm and collected, however, and appeared not overawed by his position.

The Mayor, Ald. J. L. Morley, presided on the bench, and was accompanied by Ald. J. Hill, Mr> J. H. Wade, Ald. Thomas Hill, Mr J. B. Mitchell, Mr Wm. Oddy, and Mr S. Ackroyd.  Mr Neill appeared on behalf of the prisoner, and Mr Withers conducted the case for the prosecution.  Mr C. L. Atkinson said he watched the proceedings on behalf of the friends of the deceased, but Mr Neill objected to anyone save the gentleman who prosecuted interfering with the examination or cross-examination of witnesses.  Mr Atkinson said he had no ambition to prosecute, and as Mr Withers had taken the whole of the evidence before the Coroner he would consent to the Chief Constable conducting the whole of the prosecution.  Mr Freeman watched the proceedings on behalf of Black – Mr Withers, after stating the charge, said the offence was committed as near as they could tell between nine and ten o’clock on the evening of the 1st of June, but the circumstances under which it had been committed were most aggravating and provoking.  The prisoner was a draper, and had carried on business along with his wife in Darley Street, Bradford.  The evidence would show that for some time past the prisoner and his wife had not lived together on the most desirable terms, and disturbances had frequently taken place in consequences of the intemperate habits of the deceased, and he would not say that the husband had not indulged in liquor slightly.  Affairs, however, came to a climax on Friday last, in the morning of which day Mrs Neale went to the business premises in an intoxicated condition.  In the course of the day altercations ensued between the prisoner and his wife, and the last time he spoke to her in the afternoon was to say “You had better go wash your face, you are dirty.”  She replied, “I am as clean as you.  I shall not go.”  “Do as you like,” was the prisoner’s response, and he then left the premises.  After this he did not return until nine o’clock in the evening, but what occurred in the meantime would be shown by a number of other witnesses, the principal of whom was a man called Black.  Mr Black had said before the Coroner that he left the premises ion Darley Street about 8.30, but it would be proved beyond a doubt that it must have been considerably later.  Continuing the Chief Constable said he had nothing to do to-day with the conduct of Black, and would only concern himself about that person so far as his evidence went.  It was certain, however, that about 7 o’clock he went to Mr Neale’s business premises, and there with the deceased in the absence of her husband.  Another witness would prove that the prisoner left “Blake’s” about the same time as himself, and when he reached the Church Bank it struck 9 o’clock.  Allowing Neale the same period to go from the house named to his shop in Darley Street, as was occupied by the witness in going to the Church Bank, it would have been 9 o’clock also when the prisoner reached his, premises.  However be that as it may arrival there Neale went into the upper room, and according to his statement and also according to the story of the witness Black, discovered his wife in a nude condition, Black being stood by her side with his hand on her shoulder.  With the exception of her boots and stockings, the latter being down, the deceased was absolutely naked.  On witnessing this disgusting sight the prisoner seized a long brush, struck a blow at Black, who retreated downstairs, and the brush was thrown after him.

Mr Black having departed in this ignominious manner what ensued between the prisoner and his wife was known to himself; they only were apprised of the bruises and wound found on the woman’s body by the doctor.  The cause of death was due to fracture of the ribs and subsequent bleeding.  The prisoner was in the room alone with his wife, and as to what actually ensued and how the injuries were caused they could only conjecture from the statements he had made.  The occurrence had been the subject of an inquiry before the Borough Coroner, and the jury had returned a verdict of manslaughter against the prisoner for the murder of his wife, Esther Neale.  Proceeding, Mr Withers stated that there was an element in the case not brought before the Coroner which he felt bound now to introduce, unfortunately for the prisoner.  This element was in the form of a statement made by the prisoner on the Wednesday previous to the death of the deceased as to his intentions regarding her.  During the past two years the statement would appear to have been repeated often, and it was unfortunate that the expression should have been used so near the fatal occurrence the subject of this inquiry.

On the day named the prisoner having got possession of a poker the woman screamed murder and on a police officer going to the place the deceased said her husband was going to murder her.”  The fears of people acquainted with the frequent violent quarrels had often been roused and at last realised.

Miss Bentley, of 34, Bower Street, who had been employed as an assistant by the prisoner, was called, and repeated her evidence given before the Coroner.  Willie Neale, aged 14 years, the son of the prisoner, also repeated his evidence.

John Black, concrete floor layer, of Carlisle Terrace, was then called, and after giving the details already reported by us, of his connection with the affair on the night of Friday last, was subjected to cross-examination by Mr Neill.  In reply to the questions Black said he had seen Mr Neale in “Blake’s” on Friday morning, but did not tell him he was going to call at his shop in the evening.  He had never helped to close the shop before, nor had he ever walked home with Mrs Neale.

Mr Neill:  Had you ever waited so long for the prisoner before? – No.

You have done none of these things.  What is the longest you have waited before? – A quarter of an hour or twenty minutes.

Then you got tired and went away? – Yes.

This time you did not get tired? – No answer.  You saw the assistant go and the boy go, why did you not leave also? – I was waiting for Mr Neale.

But you had closed the shop? – Mrs Neale requested me to stay, as she expected Mr Neale back in a short time.

And that is why you waited? – Yes.

It must have been for something important; what business had you with him? – None in particular.

What did you want him for? – I wanted him to go have a glass of beer as we had done before.

And you waited from seven o’clock till 8.30, according to your own statement, for the purpose of having a glass of beer with the prisoner? – I waited at the request of Mrs Neale.

You waited an hour and a half to have a friendly glass; is that what you say? – That is what I have said.

Did you notice the condition of Mrs Neale? – I saw she was slightly under the influence of drink.

You said yesterday before the Coroner that you assisted to close the shop at 10 minutes or a quarter past eight.  You alter that time five minutes to-day; which is correct? – I say it was about a quarter past.  I cannot state the correct time to two or three minutes.

You heard a man swear it was ten minutes to nine when the prisoner left Blake’s, and after knowing that will you swear it was not about nine o’clock when you made your hurried exit from the shop? – No; it was not; it was just turned 8.30.

How much turned? – I cannot say.

How long did you remain in the shop alone before she called of you? – About seven or eight minutes.

All by yourself – Yes.

Did you not think it strange? – Not at all.

How often did she call you to go upstairs? – Once.

You did not require a second invitation? – No.

You went up as soon as she called you? – Yes.

You knew there was no-one else upstairs? – I thought so.

You only stood a few seconds at the top of the stairs and then seeing the condition of affairs went forward into the room? – Yes.

It is a small room? – Yes.

And there are 14 steps leading to it? – About that number.

Stone and uncovered? – Yes.

And there is a nasty angle at the bottom? – Yes.

You did not know the way up – I found my way up.

They are dark? – Yes.

And the shop was in darkness? – Comparative.

What were you doing in that room seven minutes, taking your own time again? – I was not there seven minutes; I was there about three only.

A long time you know? – Yes.

And she was in a state of nudity the whole of the time? – Yes.

Had the prisoner his boots on? – I do not know.

Did you hear him coming up the stairs from the shop? – No.

Can you account for that? – No.

You did not know he was there until he addressed you? – No.

You say when he spoke to you; you were stood with your hand on Mrs Neale’s shoulder, which shoulder? – The left shoulder.

Quite close to her? – Within a couple of feet or so.

You told the prisoner you would explain in the morning? – Yes.

What did he say to that? He made no answer; only continued to swear.

Did it not strike you that in the condition you had left the prisoner and his wife there considerable danger for her? – It did not strike me.

And you neither went to her assistance nor informed anybody of the danger in which she was? – No.

Did you tell anybody that night about the occurrence? No.

Not even your wife? – No

You did not make a communication to anybody until you saw it in the paper next morning? – No.

Answering questions put by Mr J. H. Wade, Black said he had been into the room once before twelve months ago.  At that time he went at the invitation of the prisoner to look at a gas stove, and on that occasion he only stayed about a quarter of an hour.

At that stage the court adjourned for luncheon.

After the adjournment Richard Seanor, clerk, of Airedale Road, was called, and said at 7 o’clock on the night of Friday last he met the prisoner at Blake’s and left him at ten minutes to nine.  During that time the prisoner was not out of his presence above two or three minutes and never left the building.

Thos, Cartwright, manager of the White Lion Vaults, Kirkgate, said that about nine o’clock the prisoner visited his house and borrowed a hat.

John Cockcroft, landlord of the Airedale Inn, Otley Road, also repeated the evidence he gave before the Coroner, as to being fetched by the prisoner to Darley Street on Friday last.

P. C. Parsons detailed the facts as to the finding of the body, the condition of the room, and gave the statements made by the prisoner on being taken into custody.

P. C. Gibson also repeated the statements given before the Coroner, and made by the prisoner, first at the shop and also whilst in the cells.  Under cross-examination he declined to admit that he had made any mistakes in taking the first one.  At the time it was taken, however, the prisoner was labouring under great excitement.

Inspector Dobson was placed in the witness box, and read a statement made in his presence by Neale.  The statement was also made in the presence of the Chief Constable, who wrote it down.  The statement was made on Saturday morning last, and was as follows: – “I went to the shop in Darley Street about nine o’clock, and found my wife and Black in the bedroom.  My wife was naked except her boots and stockings; her stockings were pulled down.  I said to Black, ‘Now you villain, I have caught you.’  There was a sweeping brush with a red handle standing in the room.  I took it up and tried to strike Black with it.  He pushed it on one side, and escaped down the steps.  I followed him with the brush in my hand lost him in the street.  I went back into the room and found my wife had put on her chemise and red flannel vest.  I could not find my hat, and I went to the White Lion to borrow one.  I told them there had been a scuffle in Darley Street, and I had lost my hat.  When I left my wife was on the box near the window, and when I returned she had apparently fallen off on to the floor.  She had some blood on her face and I sponged it off.  She was tipsy and breathed heavily.  I lifted her up and put her on the other side, put something under her head, and my top-coat over her.  She was heavy and death-like, and I became frightened.  Then I went to her cousin’s at the Airedale Hotel.  I afterwards went to Dr. Tacey, and he told me to go to Dr. Taylor’s, but I did not.”

P. C. Dunn, a police officer stationed at the Free Library, in Darley Street, said that on Tuesday, the 29th, about 9 o’clock in the evening, he was going down Darley Street, and when near the prisoner’s shop on the opposite side of the road heard a woman screaming “Murder.”  He went across to the shop, and finding the front door locked entered the premises by a side door, and then saw the prisoner standing over the deceased in a threatening attitude, with something in his hand.  He at once struck a light, as the place was in darkness, but on looking again the prisoner had nothing in his hand.  He said to the prisoner “What are you going to do?” to which Mrs Neale replied “He is going to ram that shutter bolt through me.”  The prisoner said “She’s drunk the drunken cat.”  Then turning to his wife he said “Come home,” to which she replied “I won’t go home to-night, I am going to lie here; I won’t go home to be murdered.”  Neale then left his wife, and soon after the deceased locked herself inside the premises.

Mr Withers:  Have you had trouble before with them? – I have.

How often? – About twice I have had to go in, that is the reason I knew there was a side door.

On those occasions has drink been the cause? – Drink.

Which of them? – Both.

Mr Neill:  Supposing prisoner had desired to injure his wife had he plenty of time to do so on Tuesday? – Yes.

When you got there he had done nothing? – No.

The shutter bolt was in the front door was it not? – I do not know.

The front door was fastened? – Yes.

And could it be fastened without a shutter bolt? – There was a bar across the door.

I think she was in the habit of calling out murder when there was not much danger, was she not? – I have heard her scream murder before.

And he has not touched her on either occasion? – No, I believe not.

Dr. Lodge was then called, and repeated his evidence, and said that the primary cause of death was fracture of the ribs.

Mr Neill:  Supposing a scuffle had taken place, the prisoner had tightly squeezed his wife, thrown her to the ground and fallen on top of her could that account for the fracture? – I have thought that over, and I think it might have been done that way, but there must have been a considerable degree of force applied and the fall heavy.

Dr Tacey was the last witness called, and he having spoken to the visit of the prisoner to his house on Friday night, the depositions were read over to the witnesses.

This closed the case for the prosecution, and after the reading of the evidence, the prisoner was committed on the charge of manslaughter.


Bradford Daily Telegraph, Tuesday July 31, 1888







At the Crown Court at the Leeds Assizes to-day before Mr Justice Smith – the trial of Francis William Neale (41), draper; of Darley Street, Bradford, for the manslaughter of his wife, Esther Neale, on June 1st, was commenced.  His Lordship took his seat promptly at ten o’clock,  Mr B. Stansfeld and Mr Whittaker Thompson prosecuted.  Mr Waugh (instructed by Messrs Neil and Broadbent) defended the prisoner Mr T. R. D., Wright (instructed by Mr J. Freeman) held a brief to watch the case on behalf of John Black, whose name has been prominently mixed up in the unhappy affair.  Prisoner, as was the case before the magistrates, seemed in a rather weak state of health.  A seat was provided for him in the dock, but at the opening of the trial he did not avail himself of it.  There was not a large attendance in court of the public, and ladies were not admitted.

Mr Stansfeld in opening the case said no doubt the jury had already read columns of the newspaper matter connected with the tragedy they were about to inquire into, but he asked them to put altogether out of their mind anything they might have read, and decide the case as against the prisoner purely and simply on the evidence placed before them.  The prisoner and his wife had been married for some 18 years, and for the first portion of their married life they had lived happily together, but unfortunately from the intemperance of the deceased frequent quarrels had taken place between her and the prisoner at the bar there was, however, another incident connected with the case, and that was of an immoral character.

There had undoubtedly been conduct of a very immoral character on the part of the woman, and during the six weeks of the life of the unfortunate woman the quarrels with the prisoner had been more frequent and for two or three days prior to her death he had rarely been in a state of sobriety.  Such had been the violence of the quarrels that on two or three occasions a police officer from the free Library, attracted by the cries proceeding from the business premises of the prisoner, had gone there for the purpose of preventing any injury being inflicted on either part.  Only on the 29th of May the same officer went there on hearing cries of “Murder,” but though the prisoner had had time on that occasion to inflict injury he had not done so.  Despite all this, however, continued Mr Stansfeld, he was bound to inform the jury that no matter how great the provocation it did not justify the prisoner on the charge he was placed in the dock for to-day.  All this was connected with the case, but not really material.  What the jury had to decide was to decide whether or not the prisoner at the bar had caused the death of his wife.  Without further words he would proceed to detail the facts of the case as occurred on 1st of June.  On that day the deceased went to the shop about 11 o’clock, and even at such an early hour as that she was not perfectly sober.

His Lordship:  Come to the proceedings of the evening about Black.  I have read the interminable depositions, some of which have nothing to do with the case.  We want to know what happened at the occurrence and afterwards.

Mr Stansfeld said he would accede to his Lordship’s wishes.  During the day of the deceased’s death there were frequent quarrels between the prisoner and his wife.  In the morning in one of the quarrels he knocked the deceased against a recess or cupboard in an upstairs room in the shop.  That showed he was very angry with his wife and it had something to do with what happened afterwards.

At seven o’clock on the evening of the 1st June, there were in the shop in Darley Street, Miss Bentley (the assistant), Mrs Neale, and her son Willie.  At that time the prisoner they would hear it from the evidence of a man named Richard Seanor, was at Blake’s Restaurant and remained there until about 8.40.  After seven o’clock a man named John Black came into the shop, and ultimately Miss Bentley, and then the son, Willie, went away, and Mrs Neale and Black were left alone together except for customers who came in from about 7 o’clock to 8.50, at which time the prisoner returned.  This was the part of the case which he (the learned counsel) said was grossly immoral.  After Mrs Neale and Black had been in the shop some time, Mrs Neale went upstairs to an upper room, and having been there some little time Black was called up to the room.  What state he found Mrs Neale in he (Black) would describe, but so far as he (Mr Stansfeld) could gather the evidence showed that the deceased had stripped herself of all her attire except her boots and stockings.

Black seemed to have noticed her state from outside the door of the room, and he Mr (Stansfeld) could not understand his subsequent conduct.  One would have thought that seeing a woman in that position he would have retired, but Black did not appear to have done so.  He appeared to have gone into the room, and he must have been in the room with the woman in that state for some period.  Prisoner returned to the shop as stated about 8.50 p.m., and, went into the room and saw his wife in the state of nudity, with the man Black standing near her, and one of his hands upon her shoulder.  Speaking not as a lawyer, not as counsel for the Crown, but as a man to men, if he (the learned counsel) had been in the prisoner’s position he should have acted as the prisoner had done; he should have seized the first weapon which came to hand and made straight for the man who he should think was defiling and seducing his wife.  That was what the prisoner did.  Having pursued Black without avail, if prisoner returned with the same frenzy on him and belaboured his wife and brought about her death then he would be guilty of manslaughter.  This is what the prosecution said he did.  Counsel then proceeded to trace the movements of Neale during the evening.  Prisoner told Cartwright that two young men had been fighting outside his shop in Darley Street, that they were respectable looking, and he attempted to separate them and lost his hat in the struggle.

Cartwright then gave prisoner a hat, and he went away.  Cartwright had seen the prisoner between three and four in the afternoon and noticed his appearance, but did not notice that he had a slight bruise on his forehead.  That was another incident which led the prosecution to say that it was between 9 and 9.40 that night the prisoner had been engaged in a scuffle, which resulted in the death of his wife.  Having got his hat the prisoner proceeded again to the shop in Darley Street.  When he arrived there the better man asserted it-self in him again.  He must have seen his wife in the terrible state in which she was, and he administered to her wants or tried to attend to her because they had in the evidence that the blood from the body had been wiped by a cloth.  At 10.40 the prisoner presented himself at the house of John Cockcroft, innkeeper Otley Road, a cousin of the deceased, and said to him “I believe Etty is dead.”  Cockcroft said “How do you know that?” and prisoner replied, “I cannot rouse her.”  After further conversation Cockcroft said “Had you fetched a doctor?” and he said “No,” where upon Cockcroft suggested that he should fetch one, and followed him to the shop.  Prisoner appeared greatly excited and could scarcely speak.  Cockcroft proceeded to the shop, and on his way met two policemen and with them went to the shop and found the body of the deceased lying a few feet away from the door.  Counsel then proceeded to describe the injuries the deceased had received.


Mr Waugh then rose, and said that after the exceedingly fair opening of his friend the counsel for the prosecution, he was prepared to advise his client to withdraw his plea of “not guilty” and plead “guilty.”  He felt that if the case proceeded he could not make out what he supposed he would have to do, and make a perfect defence, namely that the violence was not unlawful.  The Crown admitted the provocation was great, in fact they based the case upon the fact that the provocation was so great that it was almost impossible for any man to resist doing as he did the prisoner.  What he did in making such a shocking discovery was done under excitement, and the great provocation he had received.  No doubt a scuffle did take place and the violence used had caused the death of the unfortunate woman.  Concluding, Mr Waugh called attention to the fact that already the prisoner had been in custody two months and in addition that prior to the occurrence his client had borne a good character and he was prepared to call witnesses who would speak to the inoffensive disposition of the prisoner.

His Lordship:  You plead guilty then.

Mr Waugh:  Yes.

His Lordship, addressing himself to the prison said:  You have pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter of your wife on the 1st of June, 1888?

Prisoner:  Yes, my Lord.

His Lordship, continuing, said there were circumstances in the case which made him feel for prisoner and for the position in which he stood.  Neale had a wife undoubtedly of drunken habits, from the deposition it appeared he had reason to suspect she was carrying on the life of adulteress until June 1st.  On that evening he went home and found his wife in a state of nudity with a man named Black.  He then did  that what  as the learned counsel for the prosecution rightly said any man of feeling would have kicked Black downstairs, and hurried him into the streets, but after that returned to the house in a paroxysm of rage prisoner turned upon his wife and the consequences was he now stood in the dock on a charge of manslaughter.  But there were manslaughters and there were manslaughters.  Already the prisoner had been months in gaol, and his Lordship said he couldn’t bring himself to pass any further sentence upon than one day’s imprisonment, which would mean he would be discharged.

The prisoner then left the dock.  There was an attempt at applause in court, which was quickly suppressed.