Bradshaw Murder at Philipstown

Bradshaw Murder at Philipstown

Pat Shortt WDYTYAIn the recent episode of Who Do You Think You Are? for Irish television, Pat Shortt discovered an ancestor accused of the murder of his landlord, Mr. Bradshaw of Philipstown House.  While some details of the murder were found in the local press, it was the police file of the investigation into the murder that revealed the complex story of the Bradshaws, their servants and tenants and the resolution of the case, or lack thereof.

The Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers

The police file was found in the Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers (CSORP) in the National Archives of Ireland. The CSORP is a vast collection of correspondence received by the Chief Secretary’s Office in Dublin Castle between 1818 and 1924. For more information on how to  investigate this collection see our CSORP post.

Law and order was of primary concern to the Chief Secretary’s Office (CSO) in 19th century Ireland and any acts of outrage, such as murder, were reported to the CSO, which was kept abreast of the investigation. Copies of such correspondence can include police reports and results from forensic investigation, as well as the senior officers’ opinions on the case and requests for increased police force in the area. If your ancestor was the victim, suspect or perpetrator of such an outrage, there was very likely a file in the Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers. I say likely, because not all files that are listed in the index for the CSORP can still be found in this collection. Many files were removed, perhaps for use in other cases or to prepare reports, and were never returned.

The Bradshaw Murder

After tracing the Allis family back to Philipstown, a record was found for the imprisonment of a William Allis of Philipstown, age 20, charged with the murder of Mr. Bradshaw of Philipstown on 24th April 1869. While many newspaper reports were found decrying the death of Mr. Bradshaw, a noted local landlord, and the likely association of his murder with ribbonism or Fenians, a search was made of the CSORP.  The murder of a landlord in Tipperary in the late 1860s was very like to have been reported to the Chief Secretary’s Office. The correspondence index quickly revealed correspondence relating to the Bradshaw case at CSORP/1869/11937, a thick file of police and forensic reports and letters from the investigating team. A summary of the key items found in the many documents tells the unfolding story of the suspects in this case, reported by the investigating officers:

25th April 1869
“…..I discovered that Mr. Bradshaw, whose remains I inspected, was murdered about 8am in a small plantation a few hundred yards from his dwelling house and where the body was found soon after the murder. He received two bullets in the right side of his face and head or eye, his appearance presented a fearful aspect…….it would appear that strong grounds of suspicion rested on a man of the name of William Allis, who apparently kept out of the way all yesterday from the pursuit of the constabulary, yet surrendered himself to the authorities late in the evening of yesterday, stating he did so, hearing the Police were looking for him. It is supposed that Allis’s father was apprehensive that the deceased would take his farm from him, which he held under deceased and give it to a man of the name of Looby, who exercised considerable influence over deceased, but up to the present there appears no legal proof whatever against the murderer or murderers….”

28th April 1869, Philipston

“I regret I have to say that as usual the several witnesses examined gave their evidence with the greatest reluctance and with extreme difficulty some of them were induced to speak at all upon the subject….William Allis is still in custody and a few additional circumstance have come to light which tend to increase our suspicions of his guilt. One of these circumstances is a rumour and believed to be a fact that a sister of Allis, a very young girl, had been seduced by the late Mr. Bradshaw and had been sent away very recently to England. This is but one of many acts of his character of which Mr. Bradshaw had been accused and I have reason to believe that a great many of them are true. These circumstance and the facts that Mr. Bradshaw’s habits and associates were not such as they ought to have been, led us to doubt at present the fact of his being an agrarian outrage. …. The magistrates of the district are of opinion that the government ought to offer a large public reward. The magistrates and Farmers have already subscribed over £300 for such a purpose….I explained how futile such rewards have ……been….”

6th May 1869
“…Up to last evening nothing of any importance occurred –O/c last evening Mr. McLoughlin SI (Sub Inspector) when searching for the second time the house of William Allis (the prisoners father) found a cape of a woman’s cloak quite wet as if recently washed but still plainly showing several spots of what is consider to be blood. Mr McLoughlin’s suspicions are still further strengthened by the prevarication and my contradictory statements of Wm. Allis and of his wife and daughter. Mr. Boyd who arrived last night and I are of opinion that the cape and the coat worn by Allis when arrested and also a trousers found by Mr. McLoughin SI in the house of James Allis where the person had been at work on the day of the murder – all of which have marks of something like blood upon them should be at once sent for an experienced chemist and we have given direction to have them sent to Cork….. [for analysis].”

Anaylsis failed to find a trace of blood on the coat, trousers and women’s cloak taken from the Allis house.

28th May 1869
“I have to state that a man named Daniel Ryan, Carrick, alias the Rag, alias the Rabbit, a very bad character a discharged soldier, has been for some time suspected by Messrs Aldworth and McLoughlin SI of being one of the persons who killed Mr. Bradshaw, and they have strongly recommended his arrest fearing he might escape out of the country. I hesitate to sanction his arrest as I was informed some ___ ago by Mr. Boyd Ses. Cr. Sol (Crown Solicitor) that both the Attorney and Solicitor Generals are displeased that Allis had been arrested so hastily. However, on Wednesday evening last this Ryan was arrested on the Race Course of Tipperary for _____ Conduct etc. he was ordered to find Bail to be of good behavior etc. at Petty Sessions on yesterday. I was not quite satisfied with the sureties tendered, one of whom was Allis’s father and the second was also one of the Allis clan. This party seemed very much interested in his release and worked hard to procure the necessary Bail, came at a later hour last night additional Bail was offered. However, I stated I required 48 hours _______ to enable me to satisfy myself of the solvency of the sureties. Ryan was sent to Clonmel Gaol this morning, proceedings the completion of Bail find etc. I saw Mr. Boyd today at Cappawhite and he stated to me that he had just received some additional information implicating Ryan and Allis and he has just now started for Clonmel to have an interview with this Ryan. It is most likely that Ryan will turn Informer. The Allis’ fears this and are therefore so anxious for his release. Mr. Boyd just previous to his starting for Clonmel begged of me not to discharge Ryan for some time as he had every hope of getting him to disclose. Wm. Allies’ remand expires tomorrow also, but Mr. Boyd and Mr. McLoughlin strongly urge the necessity of keeping him ____ in custody. I shall therefore remand him for another week. I firmly believe him to be the proper person, but at moment there is _____ direct evidence.”

Statement of Mrs. Lizzie Smart who saw William English acting suspiciously near the area where Bradshaw was murdered

“Mr. Bradshaw accused William English of stealing young lambs from him about a year ago….Mr. Bradshaw and English have not been on good terms nor had they been for some time. William English is married to Dan Looby’s second cousin and they are great friends”

15th June 1869
Bodkin reports on the new statement from Mrs. Smart, who with Mrs. Bradshaw had been staying at Parteen House Co. Clare and were intending to go to Dublin. They were asked, in light of the new information, to remain at Cappawhite for new interviews.

16th June 1869
Bodkin returns to Philipston and with Mr. McLoughlin SI searched the ditch where Mrs. Smart stated she saw English acting suspiciously (possibly burying the murder weapon). According to Bodkin the location is not concealed and is conspicuous and a very unlikely place for someone to bury something “I have from the day of the murder suspected this very clever woman (Mrs. Smart) and am still almost convinced that at best she was the instigator. The last statement of hers may be but an effort to clear her friend and probable accomplice [Allis] and to fix suspicion on her bitter enemy Looby. Or it may be that English saw her about the time of the murder and she fears he may disclose the fact. I look upon her statement as important for if English was arrested upon her information the affair would at once be looked upon in the country as a regular party fight between the Allis and Loobys and the latter party would no longer hesitate to give information. Quinlan, Tracey and some other unwilling witnesses are of this party.” 

1st July 1869
Further examination of witnesses under oath at Philipston. Evidence from a young boy John Quinlan revealed that he had seen Bradshaw on the morning of the murder and another young man carrying something like a spade. Quinlan did not know the man, but would recognise him. It was suspected that Quinlan, a reluctant witness, was schooled by his grandfather in what to say “Mr. Bolton and Mr. Boyd considered this boys evidence of great importance and fearing the grandfather’s influence have recommended that he should be taken away for some time. I have accordingly given directions to have the boy kept for the present at the Police barrack at Philipstown pending your instructions……information I had received a few days ago that Richard Mocklar, Mr. Bradshaw’s coachman, was not only prepared to corroborate Mrs. Smart’s statement about Mr. English but could from that he had seen him near the scene of the murder and prior to the time mentioned by Mrs. Smart… Mr. Boyd is of the opinion that Mrs. Smart knows nothing about the murder but thinks Mrs. Smart is telling lies. I am prepared to agree with him that she is telling lies but are of opinion that she would hardly tell such lies and plot in order to have her statement corroborated ….. it has also come to light that Mrs. Smart’s account of her movements on the morning of the murder are not correct and that she was up and out of the house long before Mr. Bradshaw was murdered although she states the contrary. Mrs. Smart, R. Mockler and Margaret Bryan are all at present living with Mrs. Bradshaw at 2 Marin Avenue, Malahide Rod, Cresent, Dublin.” 

22nd July 1869
“I beg to state that I have again remanded William Allis for being concerned in the murder of the late Hugh W. Bradshaw…..I now think it right to mention that the two last informations upon which the remands are grounded contain nothing new in the way of evidence affecting the prisoner and I fear they are hardly sufficient to warrant a further remand. I called Mr. McLoughlin SI attention to this fact yesterday and having reviewed the entire of the case he came to the conclusion that no source or field for information remains unworked and apparently unexhausted with the exception of that which leads to a strong case of suspicion at least against Mrs. Smart Mrs. Bradshaw and her servants. ……. I shall endeavour to make out and annex a memorandum of the principal reasons which have led us to take this view of the case.

Mrs. Bradshw lived most unhappily with her husband. Their quarrels were frequent and sometimes of a serious character ending in blows and ______ on both sides. Mr. Bradshaw frequently expressed (to Looby and others) fears of being poisoned or meeting with foul play. He did not cohabit with his wife and led a most immoral life. Mrs. Bradshaw judging by her statements her acts and the openness of all her acquaintances must be a person of a most strong and unwomanly character. I annex a copy of a letter received by the late Mr. Bradshaw about Decmr. 1867. This letter was well known to have been in the handwriting of his wife he suspected it and the moment she caught hold of it she threw it into the fire. I am informed by the former sub inspector of that district that many such productions were received by some of the gentlemen of that neighbourhood and she [?] was generally believed to have been the author of all.

Mrs. Smart – Housekeeper. A clever plotting unprincipled woman. Immediately after her arrival at Philpstown she obtained complete control over Mr and Mrs. Bradshaw. She continued to hold Mr. Bradshaw under subjection to ____ a few months of his death. She still claims that power over Mrs. Bradshaw. There can be little doubt not only from the statements and opinions of the people of the neighbourhood but also from her own statements that she and Mr. Bradshaw were more intimate and familiar than they should have been. She was very jealous of his familiarity with other females and succeeded by plots __ having them removed or setting Mr. Bradshaw against them several months before his death. He kicked against her tyranny and determined to get rid of her. She then became more de____ and attention to Mrs. Bradshaw and frequently assisted her to beat Mr. Bradshaw. She also became very jealous of the influence that a person named Daniel Looby attained over Mr. Bradshaw and began to plot against Looby. Looby and the Allis family were always opposed and unfriendly to each other. Mr. Bradshaw had also an unfriendly feeling towards the latter and dreaded them. Mrs. Smart on the contrary was always most kind and friendly towards them and they have proof of this gratitude upon one or two occasions. She circulated a report that it was Mr. Bradshaw’s intention to evict Allis and give his farm to Looby. The Rev. Mr. Topham Rector of that Parish states that Mr. Bradshaw some months before his death told him that he had found Mrs. Smart and his brother in bed together and that that he had determined to get rid of her. A young man named Keogh who worked for Mr. Bradshaw saw Mrs. Smart before 7 o’Clock on the morning of the murder. She was out some distance from the house and was conversing with Mr. Bradshaw. I may add to the foregoing her many strange __countable and contradictory statements ____ the above proof that her account of herself on the morning of the murder is false.

Robert Mockler Coachman. From the day of the murder to the present moment this man’s conduct has been most strange and suspicious. He heard the shots he said he paid no attention to them but still mentioned the fact to the other servants in the house before the body was found…..His statements at the Inquest and at the examination afterwards differ. He has displayed great nervousness and timidity since the murder. He states he fears he will be assassinated by Looby and some of his family and that they lay in wait one night for him but he escaped by chance… He is a cousin of Allis’. Mr. Bradshaw had seduced his sister, it was talked of in the county, even the Priest informed to it. Mr. Bradshaw had taken a dislike to Mockler and had actually discharged him a short time before his death, but Mrs. Smart managed to get him pardon. He still remains in Mrs. Bradshaws employment, although she has neither carriage nor horses. He returned from Dublin a few days ago and at then went to Allis’ house and told the family to keep up their spirits not to believe that Mrs. Smart or the servants in Dublin had given or ever would give any information against them. Mrs.Smart stated that Mockler was prepared to corroborate her statement about William English.

George Coleman (deaf and dumb) informed me a short time ago that Mockler had told him before the body was found, after breakfast and before they had gone to Kilbeeg to search for him “that the master was dead” he informed Const. Cleary of Tipperary also that it was Mockler and Allis that had killed Mr. Bradshaw, that they had fired two shots at him and then stabbed him with a butchers knife. He stated however, that he had not seen them, but he knew they did it, on account of the bad feeling they had towards him……This Coleman is a deep cunning fellow but in consequence of this peculiar confirmations in addition to his evident unwillingness it is most difficult to get information from him.

Margaret Bryan Cook
Native of Meath near Navan. “’Shortly after Mrs. Smart settled at Philpston she wrote to enquire about a servant I heard of it and came down and was hired. Mrs. Smart knew me before’. Margaret Bryan was sent away at one time by Mr. Bradshaw. Mrs. Smart got the Allis family to take her to their house and keep her until she succeeded in getting her a place. She was afterwards brought back to Philpstown by Mrs. Smart. Margaret Bryan has admitted that upon one occasion Wm. Allis asked her to steal a pistol from Mr. Bradshaw for him and also asked her ‘if he got into a scrape would Lizzy (Mrs. Smart) be able to get him out of it”.

Mary Cassidy House Maid
Also a native of Meath near Navan also sent for and hired by Mrs. Smart. Her statement differed from the statement of Margaret Brien, when referring to circumstances that occurred on the morning of the murder. This woman and Mrs. Bradshaw without being led or questioned made great efforts and _____ the greatest anxiety to prove that Mrs. Smart was in her bed room all that morning up to half past 9 o’clock. Their first statement did not agree neither did they with that of Mrs. Smart. Mary Cassidy knew Mrs. Smart for two years before she came to her at Philipstown. She has 2½ years at Philpstown and is still in the employment of Mrs. Bradshaw.

Sub Constable Thomas Packer of Cappawhite stated that “he went up to Philipstown on the morning of the murder to get a warrant signed….when near the house he saw Mockler back away in a hurry he went down in a little trot. I called out and asked him what was the matter. He muttered something but went on directly towards the place where the body was afterwards found. I came up to the door. I saw Mrs. Bradshaw at the window, she told me Mr. Bradshaw was not at home that he was over at Kilbeg. I then went on to Col. Purefoy’s on my way up a boy asked me what o’clock it was, it was a few minutes after 10 o’c….on my return I heard of the murder….I found fresh tracks towards William Allis’ house from the scene of the outrage where the body was found. I traced them in the ditch and on the way from about a field and a half, it had been misting that morning.”

The retention of such a number of servants by a person circumstanced as Mrs. Bradshaw is, adds to the suspicion against the household. I have also taken some trouble to discover the opinions of the farmers and people of the country about this case and the general opinion is that Allis was the murderer instigated by Mrs. Smart, that it could be no secret to Mrs. Bradshaw and the servants and it is believed by a great many that Allis was assisted by one or more of them.”

April 24th 1869
The day of the murder Mrs. Smart made the following statement:

“My name is Eliza Smart I am housekeeper at Philpstown House. My father Henry O’Neill was a steward and a cattle dealer lived in Westmeath near Castletown Delvin. I had a quarrel with my family about ten years ago and I went to England I married an Englishman Robert Smart a Cabinet Maker. Returned to this country with my husband. My husband was objectionable to my family. He was dissipated smoked to an excess, about three years ago was going with my husband to Clonmel and called at Philipstown House to ask for a job for my husband. Left him on the road. Mr. Bradshaw promised me the work. I went back to tell my husband. He was tired waiting for me and had gone away and I never saw him again. I returned to Mr. Bradshaw, he hired me as a servant and I have lived here ever since. Mr. and Mrs. Bradshaw have been very kind to me. The minded what I said and I could manage master except when he was drunk. He had many a fight. He and mistress did not agree and I often took Mrs. Bradshaw’s part and after give him a blow in return. He was a very odd man fond of talking and being gabby. I often told him he would get into trouble if he did not mind his tongue. Daniel Luby was the ruin of him. He often came up to see him and stay drinking with him in the parlour or drawing room. Mr. Bradshaw would allow him to be impudent to Mrs. Bradshaw in his presence. Luby is a great ruffian would do anything. He was trying to get the Allisons [Allis] ____ out and Mr. Bradshaw promised to give the land to Luby, but he promised many things and had no idea of doing what he said. He never liked the Allisons, he would run from them if he saw them. He, by my advice, for I often advised him, was kind to them in forgiving them rent and gave them cows he was afraid of them and I advised him to keep friendly with them. Mr. Bradshaw had other enemies Fenians and others….There was great talk and scandal about other women. Mrs. Cooney and Mockler’s sister and many others. Whoever shot Mr. Bradshaw was talking to him. He would not let Allis near him he would run from them… [following account of Smart on the morning of the murder, that she knew how to shoot a revolver and the violence Bradshaw used against his wife, Mrs. Bradshaw was going to separate.]

8th August 1869
“In compliance with minute on annexed file I discharged the prisoner William Allis on yesterday afternoon. I have also informed the sub inspector of the district that the Attorney General directed that a strict watch should be kept on all the parties and that the case should not be lost sight of. Bodkin R.M.”

Although not enough evidence was found to charge William Allis, the police report reveals a complex cast of characters in this case, enmeshed in what would appear to be a web of lies and half truths, largely manipulated by  Mrs. Lizzie Smart, on whom suspicion fell as the instigator of the murder, possibly in concert with Mrs. Bradshaw.