On 3rd May 1852 in Cardigan Street, Jericho, Charlotte Noon died following injuries sustained in an attack by her husband. She was just 33 years old when her husband Elijah ran her through with a sword. She was buried in St. Sepulchre’s cemetery on the 7th May and though her grave is lost, I wish nevertheless to try and mark its location.
The following is an account given in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 8th May 1852. It is this story I wish to tell in the work in St. Sepulchre’s cemetery. In the original report Charlotte’s name is given as Elizabeth – one assumes she was more usually known by this name. For my purposes however I have used the name as recorded on her death certificate – Charlotte.
Murder of a Wife by her Husband
On Monday last considerable consternation was excited throughout this city by the announcements that a woman named Charlotte Noon living in Portland Place, Cardigan Street, Jericho, had died from a wound inflicted with a sword by her husband Elijah Noon.
It appeared that on the previous Saturday evening the husband stayed out till nearly half-past twelve, which so vexed his wife that she went to fetch him home, but met him on the way, when she upbraided him for his conduct; on reaching home, where her daughter Elizabeth Noon was waiting up for them, she made use of several angry expressions, which greatly excited her husband who was tipsy at the time.
At length he became so exasperated, that he took off the shelf in the sitting room, a sword, which had been left to him by his father, and drew it out of the sheath, which he threw on the floor; he then struck his wife across the back with the flat side of the sword, when the daughter tried to get the mother out of the house into the street and while in the act of doing so, the husband, who held the sword in both hands, ran it violently into her left side.
The poor woman fell partly in the street and partly in the house, but managed afterwards to get up and go to her neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Clewby, when she fell a second time.
With their assistance and that of her daughter, she returned to her own house where she felt much worse, and was assisted to bed by her husband, who sent her daughter for Mr. Godfrey, the surgeon; that gentleman came, and paid the most unremitting attention to the case, but was satisfied in his own mind that it was impossible for the woman to recover.
Her neighbours, by whom she seems to have been much respected were very attentive to her, but not withstanding everything was done which medical and surgical skill could suggest, she expired on Monday morning, a little before four o’clock, after suffering the most intense agony during the whole of the previous day.
As soon as her death reached the ears of the superintendent of the police, Mr. Lucas, he caused the husband to be taken into custody and he was brought to the police station. When this fact became known, a large number of persons congregated in front of the police station, and with a view to allay the excitement, the Magistrates remanded the prisoner and sent him in a fly to the city gaol.
He appeared to feel very acutely the awful position in which he had placed himself and the irreparable loss which he had inflicted on his household, consisting of five children the youngest being only a few months old, and not weaned.
The desolate condition in which these poor children are suddenly placed by the death of their mother, and imprisonment of their father is pitiable in the extreme and increases the painfulness of this most tragical event.
The deceased seems to have been an industrious well-conducted woman but was unfortunately of a hasty temper and prone to upbraiding her husband in language more violent than he could endure.
The prisoner is a hard-working man, but it appears had latterly lived an irregular life which had given rise to serious disagreements between him and his wife.
An inquest was held on the body at the Union public house, Clarendon Street, by William Brunner Esq., on Monday afternoon at three o’clock. The Mayor and Mr Justice Taylor attended the inquest.
Mr. Brunner addressed the Jury, and said that it was his duty as Coroner, and on behalf of the Crown, to charge them on their oaths to inquire when, and by what means, the deceased, Charlotte Noon, came to her death. In ordinary cases little required is to be said in reference to such investigations; but in the present case he felt it to be his duty to ask them, first of all, to, divest their minds of anything which they might have heard out of doors, and not to be influenced by any reports which might be prejudicial to the husband of the deceased. Their verdict must be based upon the evidence submitted to them, and they would hear what had occurred at the time when the fatal blow was given, and, in addition to that, they would have the medical testimony as to the cause of death, and from these two sources he doubted not that they would arrive at a conclusion satisfactory alike to the Crown and the Public.
The investigation was one which would occupy some time, and require great pains and attention. which be felt assured they would readily give for without so doing they would not feel satisfied in their own minds that they had done their duty to the public. He had directed a post mortem examination to be made, so that they might have the benefit of the best evidence that could be obtained, without the necessity of an adjournment. It was necessary to make the inquest valid in law, that all the jury should see the body, and he should defer any further observations until all the evidence had been submitted to them.
The Jury then proceeded to view the body, which was lying at the house where this melancholy event occurred. The following witnesses were then called: Elizabeth Noon daughter of the deceased stated that she was in her 13th year; her father, who was a plasterer by trade, lived in Portland Place, Cardigan Street in the parish of Saint Thomas. On Saturday night she was waiting up with her mother for her father, who did not come home until half past twelve; the rest of the family, consisting of two brothers (one older than herself) and two sisters, were gone to bed.
Her mother went out to fetch her father home, and met him on the way after she had been gone about ten minutes. When her father came in, she observed that he was tipsy; he went through the front room, where she was sitting by the fire. Her mother who came in with him told him he was a nasty good for nothing man for staying out so late. He went into the back yard, and a minute after came into the front room, where the witness and her mother were sitting; he took off his boots and leggings. Her mother said something very angrily to him but she did not remember what the recollect what the words were. Her father got up, and went to the round table under the window, and pulled a bag with some money in out of his pocket. He was in the habit of giving his mother a sovereign every Saturday night, and she used to give him back two shillings every Monday morning.
On last Saturday night he emptied all his money on the table, but did not give her mother any; and while he emptied the bag, her mother told him he would go out and treat other people but would not treat her. That put him in a passion but he did not speak. He went to a shelf between the front and kitchen door where a sword was kept, and reached it down; the sword was in a sheath and standing up; it formerly belonged to her grandfather, and had been kept on the shelf ever since his death.
Her mother got up and tried the door but it was locked by witness when her father and mother came in. Her father took the sword out of the sheath which he threw to the floor and then struck her mother on the back with the flat side of sword; neither her father nor mother spoke. Witness then unlocked the door, and went out on the step, trying at the same time to pull her mother out by her right arm, but she would not come. Her father then stood a minute and while she stood on the door holding her mother by the right arm he ran the sword with both his hands into her mother’s left side.
There was a light in the room and this door being open, she could see very clearly what occurred. She pulled her mother out of the house on to the step, when she fell down on her left side, with her head and shoulders in the house. Her mother exclaimed “oh dear” and afterwards screamed; but no one came to her assistance: She then got up, and went to Mr. Clewby’s house, which was next door but one to theirs; Mr. and Mrs. Clewby were standing at their door. When her mother got there, she fell a second time on their door step; Mrs. Clewby and witness helped her up, when she put her hands to her loins and said it hurt her very much, but she went home again; when they found her father standing by the shelf where he had replaced the sword. Witness had tried to persuade her not to go home again, but she would. When her mother came in, her father sat down again in the chair; her mother fell on her knees, and asked him to take her hands, for she was sure she should die. He did so, and lifted her up; and when he had done so, he said “Oh dear, what shall I do?” Those were the first words which witness heard him speak that night.
Her father then carried her mother into the kitchen and she sat down on the stairs; he then gave witness sixpence to fetch some brandy which she obtained from Jericho House, and when she got back which was in about five minutes she found her mother in bed and undressed. Her father offered her mother some of the brandy, but she would not take it; her mother did not speak and appeared very faint. Her father told her to go and fetch Mr. Godfrey the surgeon, who attended her mother in her last confinement, and she set out to do so but being frightened, she came back, when her father told her she must go.
She then went, but found Mt Godfrey was out but left word for him to come to her mother as soon as he returned. When she got back, her father was with her mother and witness asked if she should fetch Mrs. Austin, an opposite neighbour, when her mother said “Yes” but her father said “No’ without assigning any reason. Her mother then said, “pray let someone come, for I shall die.” Witness went downstairs, and fetched Mrs. Austin.
Witness did not see her father strike or kick her mother while she was on the ground, and if he had done so she must have seen it. Her father was not in the habit of staying out at night, and never knew him to stop out so late before; she had heard them quarrel before, but not often; saw him kick her once a long time ago. When Mrs. Austin came in witness went down stairs. Her father remained in bed nearly all day on Sunday, but was not in the habit of doing so.
He had been at the North Star public house, in St Giles’s on Saturday night; that house is kept by the daughter of her uncle, Mr. Thomas Noon, who paid his men there, and where her father, who worked for him received his wages, which were 20s, a week. Witness was at the door when her father and mother were coming down the street, and she heard her mother talking very angrily to her father, but did not hear him say anything.
Her mother was generally cross and ill-tempered. Her father went into her mother’s room several times to see her during Sunday, for she heard her mother say two or three times in the course of the day that she wanted to see him. She had heard her father threaten to cut her mother’s throat, but that was some time ago when her mother was scolding him.
Elijah Noon, son of the deceased, was called but as he was not present at the time of the occurrence and could speak only to some immaterial facts which transpired after, he was not examined.
Ann Austin, wife of Charles Austin, stone-mason, said she lived in Portland Place, nearly opposite Mr. Noon’s; she was called up about one in the morning by the last witness, and found the deceased in bed, when; witness asked if she had the spasms, to which she replied “No,” and said “Look at the wound”
Witness found a wound under the left breast, but rather towards the back; there was very little blood to be seen, for Mr. Noon had been washing it with brandy. Witness said, “How came you by this wound?” when the deceased stated that her husband had done it with the sword. He was in the room at the time. He was in the room at the time and did not deny it, but said “Oh dear” and left the room directly. Witness told him she should require same hot water immediately to foment the wound, and he said he would go and get some; he lighted a fire, and put the kettle on, but when she went down stairs she found that he had put no water in the kettle.
He appeared to be elevated with liquor. In the course of the Day (Sunday) the deceased showed the witness her stays and gown, and explained where she had been pierced by the sword. Witness remained with her until she died, which was a little before four that morning. Her husband came to see her several times during the day, and the deceased told him that she freely forgave him all things, and she hoped the Lord would forgive her, and that her husband would avoid passion; he kissed her hand, and said he hoped he should; they appeared to be quite reconciled to each other.
Witness had known both the deceased and her husband for nine years; she had never seen him tipsy until that night but he might have been so before. He always appeared to be a steady man, and attentive to his work. Had never heard of his ill-treating his wife before and had always found the deceased a steady quiet woman. Mr. Godfrey, surgeon arrived at the deceased’s house shortly -after witness was there.
Mr. John Godfrey, surgeon, said he resided in Beaumont Street, and was fetched early on Sunday morning to see the deceased, whom he had attended in her confinement about ten months ago; he found her in bed and undressed, and her husband who was sitting down stairs by the fire, directed him to go up stairs.
He found that she was suffering from a wound on the left side; between, the seventh and eighth rib; the wound was a gaping wound, about half inch in length, and appeared to have been inflicted by some sharp pointed instrument; there was no hemorrhage at all, but the deceased was in great pain, and labouring under faintness; he tried the probe, and it passed easily about an inch; the wound was in the direction of the diaphragm, below the heart.
There was also an injury across the back, and a slight abrasion on the shoulder bones, of which the deceased complained a little, but not much. He attended her about every two hours up to about two hours before her death, and considered towards the afternoon of yesterday that she was sinking; he thought that it was a very serious case from the first.
He and Mr. Symonds had made a post-mortem examination of the body; they found that the instrument which inflicted the wound had passed through the pleura, and slightly wounded the left lung; it had passed through the diaphragm, and penetrated the small curvature of the stomach, wounding the coronary artery, and passing through the stomach to the opposite side; the instrument must have penetrated about ten or eleven inches. There was a great deal of internal bleeding from this artery, which could only be discovered by making a post-mortem examination. Death was caused by the instrument passing through the peritoneum, which became inflamed.
The general appearance of the body was healthy although the deceased was not a healthy woman; she was, however, in sufficient health to suckle her children. The parts through which the instrument had passed had, contracted immediately on its withdrawal, and that was the peculiar character of those parts. The sword produced was capable of producing such a wound as the deceased died from.
Elizabeth Butler, wife of William Butler, slater and plasterer, said that he had lived in Portland Place 20 years; she was at Mrs. Noon’s, nearly all day Sunday, and remained with her until she died. Witness took the sword off the shelf in the front room and showed it to Mr. Acland who wished her to take it out of the house to her own home, and she did so, and this morning gave it to Mills, one of the city police. George Mills stated that he had received the sword from the witness, and that he gave it to the superintendent of the police, Mr. Lucas.
Mr. Lucas produced the sword, which he stated he had received from Mills. He also stated that in consequence of what had transpired he had caused Elijah Noon to be taken into custody. Elizabeth Noon identified the sword as being the one used by her father, and that she had been in the habit of cleaning the brass mountings on it.
This was the whole of the evidence adduced.
The Coroner then said list it was for the Jury to consider how far they were satisfied with the evidence, and as to the position in which the husband of the unfortunate deceased was placed by it. There was no doubt that he caused her death, and if they were of the opinion that he willingly and of malice aforethought, perpetrated this act, there could be no question that was guilty of murder, but if they thought he had been provoked to it by the conduct of his wife, it might then amount to the lesser crime of manslaughter. He would remind them that although a person might be tried on a charge of murder, he might be found guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter.
The chief evidence in this case was that of the daughter, who had given her testimony with great perspicuity, telling nothing to the prejudice of her father or mother; but what was drawn from her. The evidence tended to show that as soon as the husband had committed this dreadful deed he showed great penitence and contrition, and did all in his power to alleviate her sufferings, and this would naturally create a desire that even in case of conviction of the greater, the extreme sentence of the law might not be carried into effect. It was impossible for a man who committed such a crime to escape being put upon his trial for it, but it was for the jury to say whether it amounted to willful murder or manslaughter, and as the verdict must be that of the Coroner and the Jury, he did not hesitate to express his opinion that the present case amounted to he larger charge.
To constitute that, they must be satisfied that there was malice aforethought, and that the husband willfully committed this act, and in proof of this they had in evidence he fact that he first struck the deceased with the flat side of the sword, and afterwards with both hands ran the sword into her side, and, caused her death.
The fact of the penetration of the sword was a manifest of determination and malice, but it was for the Jury to form their own conclusion on the evidence which had been submitted to them. After some consultation the Jury returned as their verdict. “That the deceased, Charlotte Noon, was willfully murdered by her husband, Elijah Noon.”
Examination of the Prisoner by the City Magistrates
Yesterday, at one o’clock the prisoner was brought before the city Magistrates, who held court at the city gaol where he was confined. The Magistrates present were the Mayor, Mr. Alderman W. Thorp, Mr. Alderman Butler, Mr. Alderman Browning, Mr. Justice Taylor and Mr. Justice Wyatt.
Mr. Mallam attended on behalf of the prosecution and suggested that the Mayor should inquire of the prisoner whether he had any professional adviser. The prisoner replied that he had seen Mr. Davenport that morning, and the Mayor said that he had seen that gentleman who told him that he had advised the prisoner not to say anything. The prisoner was accommodated with a chair, and, kept his handkerchief to his face, with his head bent towards the ground.
The evidence was taken by Mr. Jacob, Clerk of the City Magistrates.
The first witness examined was the daughter of the deceased whose evidence was precisely similar to that which she gave at the coroner’s inquest. The only addition to her evidence was that when her mother told her father he could go out and treat other people, he counted his money, which he had emptied on the table, and put it back into his pocket.
The next witness examined was Ann Austin and the only addition to her former evidence was that after she had got some hot water from downstairs to bathe the deceased’s wound, the prisoner followed her upstairs and said to her. “This is a bad job.” Also that the prisoner told her on Sunday he reached the sword down merely to frighten her; that the prisoner was very attentive to her during Sunday and was in the room when she died; that it was the prisoner’s brother (Mr. Thomas Noon) who wished that Dr. Acland should be called in, and he came with Mr. Godfrey.
The next witness examined was Mr. Godfrey who stated, in addition to his former evidence, that he and Dr. Acland saw the prisoner on Sunday, when Dr. Acland asked him how it had happened, and he said he did not know. The sword which was produced was likely to produce such a wound as he found on the deceased.
Elizabeth Butler was next examined, and the only addition which she made to her former evidence, was, that soon after she came to the deceased’s house the prisoner, who was much distressed told her that he was “an undone man.” Afterwards he came into the wife’s room and knelt by her bedside. He was in the room, and had the baby in his arms when his wife died.
George. Mills and Thomas Lucas repeated their evidence in reference to receiving the sword.
Elijah Noon, son of the deceased, said he was in his 13th year. On Saturday night, May 1, he went to bed a little after 10 o’clock. His bedroom adjoined his father’s; was awoke out of his sleep by hearing his mother speaking angrily as he supposed to his father, but could not say what the words were. The next thing he heard was his mother crying out “Oh my side.”
At that time she was downstairs, and it was about a quarter of an hour after he had heard his mother speaking angrily. Afterwards heard his father carry his mother up stairs when she asked him to pull off her stays his father asked what he should get for her and she said “some brandy;” heard his father say, “Oh, good God Almighty, what shall I do?” his mother said, “send for somebody;” his sister went for Mr. Godfrey. Witness heard his mother groaning as if she was in great pain, and he was crying aloud when his father came in, and persuaded him to lie down; he kissed him and told him to be a good boy; he then knelt down by the bed with his head buried in his hands and groaned very much.
When he kissed him, his breath smelt very much of beer, and he appeared to him to be tipsy. He had frequently heard his father and mother quarrel, and had left the house lest they get to fighting and that was about a year ago. His father came home early regularly on every night except Saturday, when he was sometimes very late. Had never seen his father kick or strike his mother; he saw his mother on Sunday night, when she said “Oh my dear boy.”
Eliza Ley, wife of Thos. Ley, mason, living in Portland Place, said that she lived opposite to Noon’s house, and was looking out of window between twelve and one o’clock on Sunday morning for her husband when she saw Mrs. Noon fall out of doors, with her little girl holding her right hand; heard her groan; the little girl picked her up and led her towards Mr. Clewby’s door and then back again to her own door, when, she said in a shrill voice, “Do let me in.”
The door was opened from the inside, and Mrs. Noon and her daughter went in but the latter went out shortly after. Witness did not know whether the prisoner and his wife lived happily or not.
The prisoner was then asked by the Mayor if he had anything to say? when he replied, in low tone of voice, ” I have nothing to say, gentlemen.”
The room was then cleared while the Bench deliberated, and on our re-admission, the Mayor addressed the prisoner, and told him that, after great deliberation, they felt it to be their painful duty to commit him for trial at the next Assizes, on the charge of willful murder of his wife, Charlotte Noon.
This announcement increased the distress of the prisoner which the prisoner had manifested throughout the investigation, and the parting with his son and daughter was of the most painful nature.