Gruesome Murder at the Grey Coat School in 1773

As is often the way we were researching something completely different when we came across the story of a gruesome murder which we thought we would share with you that took place at the Grey Coat School (the one attended today by David Cameron’s daughter).

Grey Coat School

Henry Lockington, a young man aged about twenty years, was examined on suspicion of having willfully murdered Alice Martin, a nurse at the Grey Coat school (commonly known as the Grey Coat hospital) in Tothill Fields, Westminster.

Greycoat school
Courtesy of British History Online

The newspaper, The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser dated  Thursday, March 11, 1773 provides the details:

It appeared by the evidence of Mr. Boorten, master of the school and four of the charity children, that the prisoner came to the hospital on Saturday evening, Monday noon and Monday evening, that he always asked to speak with Mrs. Martin and that after being let in he was not so keen to go out the gate.

Miss Berry proved that Mrs. Martin, after letting him out, told her on the Sunday that he was the son of an acquaintance, that he came to borrow money, that she had lent him a guinea, that his mother owed her four guineas, and that he then wanted more than a guinea, and offered her his note; but being an apprentice, she did not choose to lend her money on such security.

A hat and a bloody knife found in the apartment of the deceased were produced, when Mr. Walker of James Street, Covent Garden (the master of the prisoner), after being sworn in the manner an oath is usually administered to a member of the Kirk of Scotland, declared he believed the hat to be the property of the prisoner, and one of his journeymen swore to having seen the knife in the possession of Lockington.

The lad appeared to be exceedingly penitent and confessed that he had committed the murder, he could give no account of why he did it, but a motive of covetousness.  Twenty-two guineas and some other matters the property of the deceased were produced by Mr. Bond who found them on the prisoner when he apprehended him.

The death wound was a cut four inches across the throat, where the incision was so deep that the wind pipe was nearly parted.  The deceased also received a cut on the head and another in the side of her face; it appeared that she did not fall till she quitted the room in which the wounds were given by the prisoner.

Murder is one of those horrid crimes at which nature revolts; and it rarely happens that the wretch who wars against humanity, and assumes the dreadful power of depriving a fellow creature of existence, escapes the merited punishment.

Alice Martin was buried Thursday 11th March 1773 at St John the Evangelist, Smith Square, Westminster.

We tried to find out what became of Henry, expecting a sentence to be handed down, but instead we found his death in the newspaper, but no explanation as to how he died. From the Old Bailey Session Papers is seems likely that he was due to be transported as his name was amongst a list of felons for whom their sentence was transportation.

died in gaol

He was buried as a dissenter on 10th April 1773 at Bunhill Fields burial ground. no explanation was offered as to the cause of his demise.

Henry Lockington

 

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Header Image

Westminster Abbey from Tothill Fields [where the Grey Coat School was situated] by John Varley, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Other Sources

The Ipswich Journal 13 March 1773

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 18 March 1773

Middlesex Journal or Universal Evening Post , April 6, 1773 – April 8, 1773

London Lives 

Image of Grey Coat School was courtesy of  Ash Rare Books

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