James Bergin

Christopher Simcox
Kill Total1
Kill PlaceLiverpool
Kill DateOct 1900
VictimMargaret Morrison
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.

20th October 1900, 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 was drunk.

27th October 1900, 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 October 1900.

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 fail.
The jury returned the expected guilty verdict but with a recommendation to mercy. N

27th December 1900, Bergin paid the supreme penalty and was hanged on the day after Boxing Day in Walton prison by James and Thomas Billington.