Date of Birth:
Charles Blewitt's was
certainly an intriguing case. The trial details quoted
above refer to the second time he had faced the charge of
murdering his wife. His first trial, also at Leeds, took
place before Mister Justice Ridley, on 30th July 1900,
when the jury were unable to reach a verdict.
The story seemed to be a simple enough one. Mary Ann
Blewitt had last been seen alive on the evening of 8th
June. The next day, Charles left Leeds and for some days,
his house remained locked, the blinds drawn, and showing
no signs of life.
On the 17th of that same month, the landlord, Thomas
Armitage, together with Charles' parents, forced the door
of the Blewitt home, to see if any trace of the family
could be found. In the living room they found the body of
Mary Ann. She was sitting in a rocking-chair, a shawl
covering her head and when that shawl was removed, the
people who had found her were horrified to see that her
throat had been cut. There were also wounds on her arms
Charles Blewitt, a tanner by trade, was the obvious
suspect. He had been out of work for some nine weeks
before the death of Mary Ann and perhaps financial
pressures had put a strain on his relationship with his
wife. He had of course vanished, soon after his wife had
last been seen alive, and investigations showed that Mary
had been dead for at least a week when she was discovered.
Charles was actually in Halifax, using the name of Oliver
Jackson, and one day a workmate showed him a newspaper
report of his wife's death, which also carried a picture
of the wanted man; himself. He seemed to be totally
unconcerned. The prosecution at his subsequent trial would
make much of this attitude. Surely if he had been innocent
of any crime, he would have become disturbed upon
discovering that his wife had died.
It was 3rd July when Blewitt was captured, in
Halifax. He claimed to know nothing of the death of Mary
Ann, his defence being that she must have committed
suicide. He had merely gone away for a fewdays to find
work and fully intended to return home, once he had been
The suggestion of suicide however did not quite ring true.
Blood had been found on a pair of boots in the house and
it was shown that these boots belonged to Charles. Doctor
George Heald, the police surgeon who examined the body,
said that there were what appeared to be defence wounds on
the body and no razor or knife had been found anywhere
near Mary Ann, suggesting that she would have had to have
cut her own throat and then put the weapon away.
The prosecution though could show no realistic motive for
the murder and those doubts led to the first jury being
unable to agree on their verdict. The second jury had no
such problems and found Charles Blewitt guilty of murder.
He was hanged at Leeds on 28th August 1900.