Mary Thornton

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
13 February 1844


From the Maitland Mercury, Feb. 3

MURDER AT MULBERRY CREEK. — We have had an opportunity of examining the depositions taken at the inquest held on the 17th and 18th of January in the above case; and as they differ something from the accounts which we heard and gave in our last, we take this opportunity of giving a correct account.

From the evidence of THOMAS CUTTS, REBECCA CUTTS, his wife, and WILLIAM CUTTS, his fathers, who all lived in the same house with THORNTON,  his wife, and VALE, it appears THORNTON had been a strong healthy man up to Sunday, the 14th January, but that he had frequent disputes with his wife, generally with respect to VANE’s intimacy with her, to which the witnesses considered he had reason to be jealous. On Saturday the 13th, VALE returned from Maitland alone, bringing a bottle of wine and two parcels; he went into Mrs. THORNTON’s bedroom at once, and presenting Mrs. T. brought out a glass of wine to Mrs. CUTTS, of which she and WILLIAM CUTTS partook. Mrs. THORNTON then got VALE something to eat, and they all sat down and took some tea. In the evening, after THOMAS CUTTS and THORNTON had come home, Mrs. CUTTS mixed some wine with eggs and spice, of which THORNTON partook with the rest, and then appeared quite well; no one had observed him drink any of the wine VALE had brought with him, but he had been heard to say it was very good and he wished he had some more of it. On the Sunday he complained of being heavy and sleepy, but after eating a hearty dinner, and smoking a pipe, he retired to his room, and was not seen by any of the witnesses till the next morning. On Monday morning he still complained of great pain in his head, and that he felt sleepy, and could not go to work; he afterwards went to bed again with his clothes on. When THOMAS CUTTS returned to dinner he heard him talking to his wife and asked him how he felt, and he said much better. In the evening when CUTTS returned home he went in to see THORNTON, and found him in bed; he asked THORNTON how he was, who said he was much better, but still heavy in his head and sleepy. CUTTS and his wife went in again at half-past ten to see him, and he looked pretty well, and on CUTTS asking him if he shouldn’t send for a doctor, he said “No, he didn’t want a doctor.” VALE at this time offered to go for a doctor, but THORNTON refused. After this, all went to bed, but about twenty minutes to two VALE came to THOMAS CUTT’s bedside, and work him, telling him that THORNTON was much worse. CUTTS immediately rose, and went into his room, and in a quarter of an hour after Mrs. CUTTS joined him. When CUTTS went in he found Mrs. THORNTON in bed with her husband, holding a handkerchief before his eyes, saying, “Oh God, he is dying.” CUTTS went and called up a neighbour, and then returning sent off VALE to Maitland for a doctor, but it was too late; long before he could arrive, the unfortunate man expired, at about four o’clock. CUTT’s suspicions had been so strongly aroused by all that passed that he would not allow Mrs. THORNTON to wipe her husband’s mouth, or wash his body after it was all over.

Mrs CUTTS and WILLIAM CUTTS, the father, both testified that Mrs THORNTON had not appeared much affected by her husband’s death; and Mrs CUTTs stated in answer to a question from a juror, that on the Sunday evening Mrs. THORNTON and herself went out together after tea, and Mrs. T. asked her “What she supposed her husband had said to her?” She asked “What is it?” “Why,” said Mrs. T., “he says I am too young for his wife, and that when he’s dying he has something to say to me.” “Supposing,” Mrs. T. continued, “he dies, which I hope he won’t, what will become of me and JOSEPH? I suppose they would hang us.” Mrs. CUTTs answered, “I don’t know if they would hang you, but if they found out anything wrong against JOSEPH VALE, they would hang him.” The prisoner MARY THORNTON denied that any such conversation took place at all on the Sunday, and that only the first part really passed on the Monday, not a word being uttered about hanging. Mrs. CUTTS repeated that he statement was correct.

EDWARD ABREY and JOHN YORK both deposed that THORNTON had some time previously told them VALE and his wife had attempted to poison him in some tea, but it was not his luck. ABREY stated that it was told him by THORNTON in presence of his wife and VALUE, which the prisoners both denied. YORK stated that THORNTON and his wife formerly lived with him, and appeared very happy together; VALE was not then living with them.

SAMUEL ASQUITH deposed that he believer that there was an improper intimacy between VALE and THORNTON’s wife, and that THORNTON complained of her conduct, and threatened to turn her into the factory.


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