27th October 1900
Date of Birth:
James Bergin had been
engaged to Margaret Morrison for some time and they were
due to be married at Christmas time, 1898. Unfortunately,
Bergin lost his job and the wedding had to be postponed.
A new date for the wedding was set in 1899, but as Bergin
was a Catholic and Margaret a Protestant, her family
managed to have the wedding cancelled for a second time,
and finally succeeded in having it called off altogether.
Bergin returned to his family in Ireland where he stayed
until July 1900. At that time he returned to Liverpool and
went to see the Morrison's. Margaret's mother refused to
admit him to the house and said that her daughter wished
to have nothing more to do with him. Bergin's reply was;
"I'll take her life and no other man shall have her."
Two days later, Bergin returned to the Morrison house and
this time was admitted and even offered tea. Mrs Morrison
allowed Bergin and Margaret to talk alone whilst she
waited with Janet, her other daughter, in the kitchen. A
curious event then took place.
Hearing some sort of commotion, Mrs Morrison went to
investigate. She found Bergin, with part of his trousers
torn and holding a broken bottle that had contained
carbolic acid, the acid having by now burned his leg.
Perhaps even more surprising, Margaret was holding a razor
in her hand. Mrs Morrison seemed content to simply allow
Bergin to leave the house.
On 20th October, Bergin again called on Margaret, but was
told by her mother that she was not at home. Bergin
claimed to have heard her voice and added; "Remember Mrs
Morrison, she is your daughter, and if any other man walks
out with her, I will take her life." Mrs Morrison would
later say that on this occasion, she believed that Bergin
One week later, on 27th October, Mrs Morrison and Margaret
were in Stanley Road, Bootle, when they met Bergin. He
accompanied them to Liverpool where they all met up with
Mister Morrison, Margaret's father. Bergin announced that
he wished to take Margaret to the Haymarket Theatre and,
rather surprisingly, the Morrison's gave their consent.
At eleven that night, Margaret and Bergin were walking
together down Bankhall Street, heading for the Morrison
house. A man and a boy who were walking a few yards
behind, suddenly heard a loud noise and saw a bright flash
of light. Margaret was seen to fall to the pavement and
Bergin crouched down beside her. Another flash was seen,
close to her head. Bergin had shot Margaret twice.
The witnesses ran after Bergin but he escaped. Margaret
was taken to hospital where she died two days later.
Bergin had meanwhile gone to the house of a friend of his,
Mrs Coleman, and it was there that he was arrested on 28th
At the trial, evidence was called to show that three
members of Bergin's family had been certified insane. The
judge pointed out that at one stage, Bergin had told Mrs
Morrison that he would kill Margaret and do twenty years
for it. This meant that he was aware of the consequences
of his actions and therefore a defence of insanity must
The jury returned the expected guilty verdict but with a
recommendation to mercy. Nevertheless, Bergin paid the
supreme penalty and was hanged on the day after Boxing
Day., 27th December 1900 at Liverpool.