8th September 1900
Wife - Isabella
Date of Birth:
John Bowes, a bricklayer
by trade, chose not to work, preferring instead to live
off the earnings of his wife and twenty-one year old
daughter. He drank heavily and often mistreated his
family. The drink seemed to increase his feelings of
jealousy and he would often accuse his wife of having
affairs with other men.
Isabella though was not the kind of woman to have affairs.
She was a respectable woman who worked hard, scrimping a
living by picking coal off the beach and selling it, for
which, if she was lucky, she would earn five or maybe six
shillings per day. She tried her best to put up with her
husband's accusations and violence but even she reached
the end of her tether on 21st August 1900.
On that day Bowes, drunk yet again, had attacked his wife,
torn up some of his daughter's clothes, and threatened to
kill the pair of them. They left him the same day and went
to live with Isabella's uncle. Bowes swore that he would
get even with Isabella and his daughter, because they had
On 8th September, Bowes saw his wife on the beach, looking
for the coal that paid her living. He stormed up to her
and after a brief argument, picked up a heavy piece of
wood that lay close by and struck her on the head.
Isabella fell to the ground unconscious but Bowes struck
her about the head another three or four times.
His anger finally satiated, Bowes realised what he had
done, knelt down and cradled his wife's head in his arms
and even tried to wash some of the blood off her face. He
was found, still in this position, by a policeman, whom he
told of the argument, saying that he had only hit Isabella
with his fists.
Bowes later confessed that he had in fact used the piece
of wood, describing it himself as one he would not have
used to fell a bullock with. Still alive, Isabella was
taken to hospital but never recovered consciousness. She
died a few hours after she had been attacked.
Bowes readily admitted his guilt and seemed genuinely
remorseful for what he had done. He said that he had loved
Isabella and would die happily for killing her. He paid
that penalty on 12th December 1900, when he was hanged at