How the Victorian press covered the story


Arrest of the husband

5th March 1887

On Saturday afternoon, 5th March 1887, Inspector Noblett and P.C. Moore arrested farmer William Garner, 44, of Earnsdale Farm, Lynwood, Lower Darwen on a charge of causing the death of his wife.

Mary Garner, 39, had died at 4.30 that morning. Dr Ballantyne refused to give a certificate and informed Inspector Noblett whereupon Garner was arrested and on Saturday afternoon taken before Thomas Eccles, magistrate, at the borough police court. He was remanded until the following Wednesday, on bail - himself £20 and his brother £20.

Over the following weeks rumours were rife in the town and there was extensive coverage in the local newspapers. On Saturday, 12 March the Darwen Post reported:

The couple had been married about 14 years and had six children. The deceased was confined at seven o'clock on the morning of the 25th February of her seventh child. The husband went for Dr. Ballantyne at six o'clock, but did not return home until eleven, when he was the worse for drink. It would appear that when he returned to the house within four hours after the birth of very fine daughter, Garner began to argue with his wife, dragged her out of bed and assaulted her in so violent a manner that she ran out of the house to escape his violence and took refuge in the shippon. Before her confinement, it is stated, she had already one black eye, but after the assault she had two, and in addition there were one or more bruises about the body. Under the circumstances the exposure must have been attended with the most serious results, but added to that was the assault and it is not a matter of surprise that symptoms rapidly developed which resulted in death.

New Row ChapelThe Darwen News additionally described Garner as appearing to be in good circumstances and to be doing well, having twenty head of cattle on his farm. The farm itself is one of the best in the district. It is situated in the township of Lower Darwen, on the Tockholes side of the Dingle, and commands a very wide and pleasing prospect. The prisoner has indulged in occasional drinking bouts, and it is rumoured that he has ill-treated his wife for a great many years. She belonged to a very respectable family, and is said to have been a very industrious and hard working woman. Indeed she bore an excellent character in every way.

Burial of Mary Garner

7th March 1887

On 12th March The Darwen Post also reported that the remains of the deceased were interred at New Row Wesleyan Chapel, Livesey, on Monday afternoon. A large number of people assembled but there was no breach of the peace.