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The Murder of Martha Morrall, 26 March 1891
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Derby Daily Telegraph, 20 April 1891

DEATHS. —On the 26th ult., at Balmoral House, Matlock, Martha, wife of Michael T. Morrall, daughter of the late James Hollins, of Manchester, aged 77 years.

During the evening of 26 March 1891 an elderly lady, Mrs. Martha Morrall, was shot through the kitchen window of her home on Bent Lane (now Cavendish Road). Mrs. Morrall and her husband were Quakers. Although they were prosperous, they did not have any servants living with them at the time of the murder. Mr. Morrall was descibed as frail in many reports.

This shocking event was widely reported and, indeed, the press seem to have had a field day. They gained access to the scene of the crime because the inquest was held in the family's home - something that would not happen today. The police sergeant investigating the case died not long afterwards and the crime remained unsolved in Mr. Morrall's lifetime. Over a decade later there were numerous reports of a confession to the murder.

As a teenager the web mistress lived directly opposite the house (later renamed), and even called on the then occupants - not, I hasten to add, to ask anythig about the house history. I found a very pleasant house with kind owners, though no ghosts or hauntings in the grounds that have been suggested from time to time.

Reports and inquest

The Derby Mercury, Wednesday, 1 April, 1891



A mysterious and shocking tragedy occurred at Matlock on Thursday evening, an old lady named Mrs. Morrall being shot dead in her chair under circumstances of a most peculiar nature.

About 30 years ago. Mr. Michael Thomas Morrell, of the firm of Abel Morrell and Co., sewing needle manufacturers, Redditch, retired from business and came to Matlock to end his days. Mr. Morrall purchased a Cottage situated near Bent-lane, at the top of Matlock Bank, overlooking the valley of the river Derwent, in the direction of Matlock Bath. The building was modernised and transformed into a mansion of considerable pretensions. This he named Balmoral House, and the grounds adjoining the main thoroughfare were commodious, the house standing entirely alone, although within a hundred feet of other residences. Mr. Morrell and his wife continued to live quietly in their abode until the tragedy on Thursday night, and there being no children by the marriage, the house was only occupied by themselves, the day work being performed by charwomen. About ten o'clock, Mr. Morrell says, he retired to his bedroom, leaving his wife sitting in the armchair in the kitchen. Shortly afterwards he alleges that he heard gun shots, and calling downstairs, he obtained no reply. He accordingly proceeded below, and found his wife dead, with a large wound in the side of the head. Mr. Morrell ran to the Rockside Hydropathic Establishment and gave an alarm.

Mr. W. Atkins, the proprietor, in an interview on Friday, said :— About half past ten o'clock last night Mr. Morrell came and rang the carriage door bell at the upper end of the Hydro. Joseph, the boots, answered, to whom Mr. Morrell said that an explosion had taken place, his wife was dead, and he wanted me to send someone up to Balmoral House. He then left the establishment, and went off in the other direction to make a further alarm. Mr. Morrell was dressed as usual in a pepper and salt suit, and he was wearing a billycock [transcriber's note: a bowler hat]. During his absence I was informed by my servant of the occurrence, and I immediately gave instructions to my employees to go and render assistance. Three young men named Joseph Rowlett, Henry Bradshawe, and James Green accordingly went to the house, a distance of about 100 yards, but did not enter until Mr. Morrell returned. They then walked through the side entrance, which leads to the kitchen, and there discovered Mrs. Morrell dead, and sitting in an armchair. From what they saw there was no sign of a lamp explosion, or anything else of that nature, as they supposed that was the cause of the calamity from Mr. Morrell's remarks, but there was what appeared unmistakably to be a gunshot wound in the side of the face. The doors leading into the house, viz,. The side entrance and the one in the front porch were both open, but inside there were no signs of a disturbance or struggle of any kind. I went up to Balmoral House myself at about a quarter to eleven, and went in with Mr. Jesse Davis, of the Poplar Cottage Hydropathic Establishment, and Mr. Statham, a baker, living in Rutland-street. The police followed behind us, and they took possession of the house. Questioned as to the condition of Mr. Morrell, Mr. Atkins said: He appeared to be rational, and actually called my attention to the broken glass in the kitchen window and an overturned flower pot, which he said he had not noticed before. Mr. Morrell further said he heard a shot in his bedroom, and he also heard others, but that could not be, as there was apparently only one shot fired. I had known Mr. Morrell personally for nearly 15 years.

After the neighbours had been warned of the tragedy a messenger went for the police, and Police Constable Wilson was met at Matlock Bank on his usual rounds. He at once proceeded to the house, and Sergeant Ramshall and Police Constable Harrison followed close behind. This was just before eleven o'clock, and deeming it advisable Mr. Morrell was placed practically under restraint, and in charge of a constable in the bedroom. Superintendent Lyle, of Wirksworth, was sent for by special messenger, and he visited the house during the night. A search was instituted, but owing to the heavy downfall of snow nothing could be traced either of the footprints of the murderer or of the firearm used for the deed. Mrs. Lister, of Wellington-street, wife of a railway porter in the employ of the Midland Railway Company, was sent for, and in an interview she stated that she usually did the house work, and only left Balmoral at eight o'clock on Thursday night, when everything appeared all right.

On Friday morning Mr. James Potter, the magistrates' clerk, with his assistant, Mr. Gill, had an interview with Mr. Morrell. The Chief Constable (Captain Parry) arrived during the day and at eleven o'clock two of Mr. Morrell's nieces cane from Manchester, one named Miss Davis, to spend the day with the Morrell's, upon the special invitation of their uncle. They were horrified to learn the facts of the case and decided to stay to render any assistance they could. Dr Wm. Moxon, of Matlock, also called in, and his opinion is that death must have been instantaneous. The deceased lady was 74 years of age, and Mr. Morrell is about 70. They had no children but relatives live in various parts of the country. Mr. Morrell does not appear at all agitated, and is cool and willing to converse upon a variety of topics. He is over six feet in height and has the appearance of a benevolent old gentleman, with a Quaker's eccentricity for dress. Although the evidence discloses no direct charge against him, still he has always been eccentric in his habits, and until the inquest he will be retained in charge of the police. It is believed that the weapon will soon be discovered, and this will lead to a more direct clue. It is also state that latterly the deceased lady had received a number of letters of the Jack the Ripper stamp threatening her life, and she is stated to have been troubled in mind in consequence. These communications will doubtless be recovered if not already destroyed, and the origin probably disclose the identity of the murderer. Mr. Morrell and the deceased were members of the local Society of Friends.


Balmoral House, the scene of the horrible tragedy, is situated in one of the wildest spots in Derbyshire, and the house and grounds have an air of desolation and loneliness about them which is extremely gruesome When our representative visited the place on Saturday, after a climb of about a mile up the hillside, the bleak winds whistled amongst the trees in the neglected garden, and moaned like a living creature around the place, which might very appropriately have been called "Bleak House." In front of the house is a sloping lawn, bounded by stone wall about four feet high. On the other side of this wall runs the lane, and a farmstead is located about a hundred yards away. Balmoral House bears the date 1858, and its present owner, together with his wife, have occupied it for the last thirty years. It was originally a shoemaker's cottage, but Mr. Morrell purchased it and erected the present structure as a kind of case to the old one, the former house at the present moment existing within the ancient looking stone walls which confronts the visitor. Inside, the house is very old-fashioned, and all the rooms are dark and low, with thick crossbeams and open fireplaces. The kitchen in which the crime was committed is about nine feet square, with a small lattice window looking out on the lawn and across the valley to the snowclad hills beyond. It is furnished in a country style, with an old dresser on the side facing the fire, a little table under the window, and the chair in which the murdered woman sat occupied a position to the left of the fire.

It is a low ordinary rocking chair with cushions, and Mrs. Morrell was sitting in it before the fire with the right side of her face about four feet from the window. Whoever fired the fatal shot must have stood on the stone walk running directly underneath the window, for no footprints were observed on the narrow flower-bed between the walk and the wall. The gun was evidently loaded with small No. 6 or No. 8 sparrow shot, and the fact that only one of the small diamond-shaped panes were seriously broken points to the fact that the murderer got close to his work. The wound also shows that the shot was concentrated and had not spread much, as such fine shot would have a tendency to do, if the person who fired the gun stood very far away. This morning the body was placed on a table in the next room, and presented a most sickening sight. One eye and the tongue were completely blown away, and a large wound, about two inches in diameter, ran right through the cheek into the head.

No gun has yet been found, and the place is in charge of a number of police officers, one being placed at the large iron gate leading to the road. Despite the utter neglect which is everywhere observed, Mr. Morrell seems to be a man who has his fancies, for at one end of the house is a well stocked dovecote and a small greenhouse. There is a house about forty yards away in at direct line with Balmoral House, but at present it is untenanted. The inside of the house seems to be clean and tidy, and there is everywhere a preponderance of little curiosities and pictures, such as a photograph of friends, &c. We understand that Mr. Morrell is a total abstainer, and he does not seem to have quarrelled with his wife. He is, however, of somewhat eccentric habits, and some time back got the idea into his head that there was going to be a great flood. Accordingly he selected one of the highest points in the neighbourhood for his home, and with his wife led a somewhat secluded life. Seven years ago he was taken to an asylum, but it seems that his mind was not so seriously affected as to necessitate his detention, and he was allowed to remain in the care at his wife. Mrs. Morrell was of comely appearance, small in stature, with features to correspond. She had, together with her husband, the appearance of being connected with the Society of Friends. Mr. Morrell is a man of not of unpleasing appearance — judging from an apparently good likeness hanging over the mantelpiece in one of the rooms — with beard and moustachios, and a very shrewd intelligent face. To-day we was confined to his bedroom, practically under arrest, and he is very indignant at his detention. The nieces of the deceased lady, who have arrived at the house, are, as may be imagined., very much grief stricken at the horrible death of their aunt, whom they regarded with the utmost affection, and cannot bring themselves to remain in the house, but mix with the little knot of people who stand near the door and in the grounds regarding the house with feelings of horror. The fact of there being no footprints is easily accounted for. The lawn is composed of grass of a thick, stubborn nature, more like a meadow, and the perpetrator of the crime has taken the greatest care to keep from treading on the soft soil of the flower-bed under the window. In all probability he would place one foot on the edge of the blue tiles bordering the gravel walk, and without resting his gun on anything, shoot right through the lower part of the window. If he had first broken the glass the attention of the deceased would have been attracted, and only a good marksman could have inflicted the fatal wound. Some stray shots were discovered by Sergeant Ramshall in a door on the contrary side of the kitchen to the window, and a few small pieces of flesh were also found. The details which have at present come to light do not in the slightest degree incriminate Mr. Morrell, but they do point to the conclusion that the murder was a most cold-blooded one. The murderer had evidently planned his mode of attack with great care, and exercised the greatest caution not to leave any trace behind which might lead to a clue. At present the whole affair is enshrouded in mystery, and nothing has escaped the only man suspected which is likely to confirm that suspicion in the slightest degree. The affair has caused quite a sensation in Matlock and is the main subject of conversation all over the district. At eleven o'clock on Saturday morning


was opened by Mr. Sidney Taylor, the coroner of the district in the room adjoining the one in which Mrs. Morrell was murdered. Superintendent Lytle and Mr. James Potter (magistrates' clerk) were present. The following gentlemen were sworn upon the jury :—Messrs. Lawrence Wildgoose (foreman), Arthur Farnsworth, Luke Bridge, James Turner, John Tom Wall, Joseph Boden, Joseph Raines, William Statham, Thomas Bagshaw, George Wragge, William Hancock, and Charles Yates.

The Coroner, having sworn the jury said — You will not be kept here very long today, gentlemen. I intend simply to take evidence of identification, and then to adjourn the inquiry for a week. It seems that the family solicitor has been sent for, and I think it would be very undesirable to do anything until he is here. Apart from that it will give time for the police to make further inquiries into the case; because it is a case which should be fully inquired into. From the particulars, it seems that the deceased was the wife of Michael Thomas Morrell, and 78 years of age. — Supt. Lytle: Seventy-seven, sir.— The Coroner: There seems no doubt but that she met with her death from the effects of gun shot, but there is a great deal of mystery and doubt as to how this came about. As the case stands at present, we are not in a position to go on with it, so that this morning you will simply view the body and take evidence of identification—. The jury then viewed the corpse and were shown the window with its, broken pane, the rocking chair in the position it was found with the deceased &c.. They then returned, and

Mrs. Elizabeth Lister was called. She said — I am the wife of James Lister, a railway porter at Manchester, but I live at Matlock Bank. I saw the body the Jury have just viewed yesterday, but not this morning. It is that of Mrs. Morrell.

The Coroner: can you give me her full name? Martha. — The Coroner: And her husband? Michael Thomas Morrell. — The Coroner: They live in this house? Yes, sir. — The Coroner: Thank you. This is all the evidence I shall take now, and I shall adjourn the inquest until Monday next week, as it is the most convenient day.

A Juror — There are one or two here who are engaged that day.
The Coroner. I should like to meet the convenience of all as far as possible. If any gentleman has any great objection, I will adjourn it to some other day.
Superintendent Lytle — I don't think anyone will object.
The Coroner — Very well then, I will adjourn the case until Monday week, the 6th of April, at the same place.
The jury then dispersed, and at the close of the inquest a number of persons collected in front of the house, and the possibilities of a planned approach from the road were discussed.

The Chief Constable of the County (Captain Perry) also arrived during the morning, and a minute inspection of the grounds was made by the police, but no traces were found of anything likely to lead to the discovery of the murderer.

Various theories are suggested as to the commission of the crime, and it is believed that Mrs. Morrell was asleep in her chair at the time. It is obvious that the gun was not fired from the shoulder in a standing position, because the part of the window through which the charge passed is too low. Either the assassin must have been in a kneeling position or have held the gun low down and shot without taking sight. Another thing which is most remarkable is that no motive can be assigned for the crime, although, as state d already, there was something said about threatening letters. The police will make the strictest inquiries before the adjourned inquest, when any fresh facts will, of course, be brought to light. At present they offer no theory themselves, and are very reticent.


Up to Tuesday morning the mysterious tragedy was still enshrouded in mystery, and nothing had come to light to connect anybody with the murder of the unfortunate lady, unless we except an empty cartridge which was found near the house on Saturday. It appears that the deceased lady was reading an evening paper at the time she was shot, and the white window blind was drawn to within a few inches of the bottom. The room was lighted by only one wax candle. The deceased's sight, was, owing to her advanced age, defective, and she was in the habit of wearing spectacles to assist her sight, especially when reading. She put them on on the fatal night, and the framework was smashed by the shot, and the glasses were blown across the room and found beneath a dresser. One of the glasses was shot clean through, the remainder of the glass being cracked. After the shot was fired the victim, who died instantaneously, sank over in her chair to the left side, but did not hit to the ground. The wound bled profusely, blood flowing on the left arm of the chair, and from thence to the ground, where it formed quite a pal, and the newspaper was saturated with it.

Mrs. Smith, a Matlock Bank woman, and a trained nurse, has made a statement which may have an important bearing upon the case. She was on Thursday night engaged in attending to a patient in her charge in a bedroom which faces Balmoral House, and it is probably about 100 yards away. She distinctly asserts that at 9.30 punctually — and she gives reasons for knowing the time — she clearly heard the noise of a gun being fired, and states most positively, without the slightest hesitation, that the noise came from the direction of Balmoral House. This is an important feature in the tragedy, from the fact that it was not until an hour after that time that, according to him, Mr. Morrall heard the noise that took him downstairs. Early on Saturday morning Mr. Gill, assistant to the magistrates' clerk, Mr. James Potter, found an empty cartridge, No. 12 Blue Eley, which would contain in the ordinary loading 9½ drams of powder and 1¼ or 1½ ounces of shot, but the load might be increased. The shot found in the body are No. 6 or 8. This cartridge was found in the grounds of a house opposite Balmoral House, owned by Mr. Potter, which has been empty for some time. The grounds adjoin the road. A thorough search has been made for a firearm, but without success. No one has ever been aware that there was a gun in the house, and it is urged that with the Quaker principles be held Mr. Morrall would be unlikely to have a gun about the house. He has had a "den" of his own into which no one was suffered to enter, but since the terrible affair this has been invaded and searched, but without anything being brought to light that, would aid in clearing up matters. The neighbours say that Mr. Morrall would be the last man in the world they would ever think of having such a thing as a firearm in his possession, and one of them says he would not take one in his hand unless it was under the delusion that he was commissioned by heaven to do so. Questioned further, Mrs. Lister says that on Thursday night she left the house at 8.30, or only one hour before Nurse Smith is positive she heard a shot fired. Half-an-hour prior to her departure, she says, Mr. Morrall went out to purchase, as he said himself, an evening paper. He returned in a very short time with the paper, and his wife remarked how quick he had been. He accounted for the fact of him being such a short while away by saying that hit had met the girl who delivers the papers at the top of the Rockside steps. There is a discrepancy here as to the time Mrs. Lister left the house. She asserts that it was 8.30, while Mr. Morrall will have it that she went away at 5.30 — three hours earlier. After giving the alarm at Rockside Mr. Morrall did not immediately return to the house, but went forward to Prospect place, another hydro, and gave Mr. Davis notice of the affair. Three young men who had reached the house did not care to go in themselves, and awaited his return. When walking up the gravel path they found the side entrance door open, and the young men made as if they were going in there, but Mr. Morrall, for some reason known to himself, told them to go round to the front of the house, and instead of going direct to the kitchen they traversed the front part of the house. The men did not notice anything peculiar in the parlour, and passed through into the kitchen. Within a quarter of an hour afterwards, when Mr. Atkins arrived, he noticed upon the parlour table a poker lying. On the wall there is a bookcase, with square glass frames, and one of these glasses was smashed, apparently with a heavy blow, and on the table was a box of dominoes, which had been removed from the bookcase and placed there. Mr. Morrall seemed astonished at the sight of these things; the broken glass, the poker, and the dominoes. It is thought the miscreant, whoever he is, put the poker and the dominoes on the table after smashing the glass door, to give the police the impression that burglary and murder had been the intention of the culprit. So far as we can ascertain, however, there is nothing to bear out such a theory as that of burglary; nothing has been taken from the house that our reporter could learn, and neither the front nor any other door had been forced. Mr. Morrall is supposed to have retired to rest, leaving his wife sitting up reading, which it is said was nothing unusual for him to do.

There is little doubt but that the "Jack the Ripper" letters to which allusion has been made were not sent to Mr. Morrall's house, the true state of things seems to have been that Mrs. Lister, the charwoman, did receive some time ago one or two letters of a threatening nature. These she had taken to Mr. Morrall, and in this way the rumour had gained currency. Mrs. Lister's daughter remembered one letter of such a description arriving over a year ago, but further than that her memory would not carry her. This is further borne out by the statement of a servant in Smedley's Memorial Hospital, who was in service near Balmoral House at the time, and remembered that the letter which came to Mr. Morrall's was to frighten the servant.

Dr. Moxon, who lives on Matlock Bank, stated that he had not attended Mrs. Morrall for over a year, and had not seen her during that time until he saw her lifeless body on thursday night. Mr. Morrall had been treated by him, but not for any special ailment beyond what would be due to the advance of years. He had not attended him at the house, but in his surgery, where Mr. Morrall had called from time to time for medicine. He had not on these occasions noticed any especial depression of spirits or peculiarities of character to his patient, nor was he able to give any idea of what his temperament would be under circumstances of excitement. All be knew was that on the night of the occurrence he found Mr. Morrall quite calm and collected, not at all flurried or excited. He could not say whether he was fully dressed, but he could say that the bed upstairs had every appearance or having been occupied.

Mr. James Potter, the magistrates' clerk at Matlock, is the proprietor of a couple of houses, one in the adjacent ground and the other on the opposite side of the road, and he had, largely through that circumstance, become intimately acquainted with the husband, "Mr. Morrall used to fancy, indeed," said Mr. Potter, "that be looked after the property for him. The house, had been empty some time, and if he noticed anything amiss he would draw the attention of Mr. Potter's man to it. He claimed the right of water from the well in the grounds adjoining, belonging to him, and when his right was acknowledged or acquiesced in he took particular care of the well, fixed a lock on it, and guarded it most carefully. Mr. Morrall was a literary man in his way, and a most intelligent and well-educated man. He had written a pamphlet giving the family history of the Morrall family. Ho was very proud of his descent." On the morning of the sad occurrence he sent for Mr. Potter, and persisted, much against the will of that gentleman, in giving an account of the affair. Naturally, Mr. Potter, from the fact of his official position, was not anxious to hear it ; but the account he gave in no way differed from that he told Mr. Atkins, of the Rockside Hydropathic Establishment, on the first occasion that he summoned assistance.

Mr. Samuel Brown, a member of the Friends' Society, and formerly proprietor of a Temperance Hotel at Matlock Bridge, who had retired to live at the Wimple [sic] not far away from Matlock Bridge. is an old and intimate friend of Mr. Morrall. He stated that he had known Mr. Morrall for over 20 years, in fact almost ever since he had lived at Matlock Bank. Of his personal characteristics he knew a great deal. His eccentricity had come so familiar to him that he had almost ceased to notice it ; but he had observed that when Mr. Morrall was more frail in body than usual his peculiarity of character increased, He was inclined to think him more peculiar, particularly remembering that he had twice been placed under confinement in a lunatic asylum. On the first occasion it was at the Friends' Retreat, at York, and after a not very long stay there he was brought out against the advice of the resident medical attendant. It soon became evident that he was not cured. In a very short time be had a relapse, and as he could not again be admitted into the Friends' Retreat he was taken to the County Asylum. This was twelve or thirteen years ago. Since that time there had been no fresh outbreak of the mania which he believed never assumed a dangerous character. Mr. Morrall was most regular in calling to see him, particularly since Mr. Brown had been laid up at the Wimple with an attack of illness which had confined him to the house for some weeks. He had always found him a cheerful and talkative man, one who was always delighted if he could get a good listener. Mr. Morrall was a fairly regular attendant at the Meeting House of their society, which was situated on the Bank, and he sometimes, though not often, took part in the proceedings. He remembered on one or two occasions he astonished the assembled Friends by the extraordinary character of his speeches. He was then in an excited state of mind. At ordinary times he was most rational and intelligent. Only on Tuesday last week he called upon Mr. Brown as he was passing. While they were talking he made references to the servant girl they had last, who, he said, had suited more than any they had had in their service, and spoke rather petulantly of the trouble her departure had occasioned himself and his wife. He was, said Mr. Brown , a man who was rather "faddy", and liked a good deal of attention, and on that account he had been spending some weeks in various parts of the neighbouring hydropathic establishments. He had never known Mr Morrall to handle a gun in his life, and, although he had been frequently at the house, had never seen one in the establishment. It was against the creed of the Society of Friends to have any dealings with deadly weapons at all. Mr. Morrall, though not a wealthy man, had a comfortable annuity from the firm with which he used to be connected.


As is usual in cases of general interest, men have charged themselves with the crime under drunken hallucinations, and the inhabitants of the Bank district were on Monday startled by the report that the murderer had given himself up. Inquiry, however, only discovered a braggart declaiming that he shot the lady, and no importance has been attached to his statements.


The police have still charge of Mr. Morrall but it is only at the request of the relatives that this duty is being performed, and a matter of safety for the bereaved husband. On the night of the tragedy there was 91l. 4s. 6d. in the bedroom of Mr. Morrall. 80l. of which was in 10l. and 5l. notes. This has been banked by the niece, Miss Davis, of Manchester , who has taken control of the household. Miss Pollitt, of Bury, is also staying at Balmoral House. The deceased had only a few shillings in her possession at the time of the deed, and Mr. Morrall had between 8l. and 4l.

High Peak News, Saturday April 4th 1891


Michael T Morrall
And the strange
Case of his wife's



Upon inquiry on Thursday morning our local reporter ascertained that Mr Morrall had a narrow escape from serious injury, if not fatal consequences, on the preceding night. It appears that the old gentleman was in the act of retiring to his bedroom, when his niece, Miss Morrall, and her friend Miss Pollitt, were startled be a crashing sound. The ladies were greatly alarmed, and fortunately a police constable was in the house at the time. He immediately judged that Mr Morrall had fallen down the stairs, and this surmise proved correct. Upon hastening to the foot of the staircase, he found Mr Morrall lying in a helpless condition on the ground floor. He was carried into the adjoining apartment, and the usual remedies applied, and about an hour later he was assisted to bed. The old gentleman had a jug in his hand when he was ascending the stairs, and by a peculiar coincidence this was not broken. At the request of Mr Morrall, the officer stayed all night in case of anything transpiring to require outside assistance. Mr Morrall had a bruise on the hip, but otherwise he did not seem to have sustained any external injuries. However, on Thursday morning the old gentleman gave instructions for a bathman to be sent for from Messrs Davis hydropathic establishment, and he also despatched a messenger for his medical attendant, Dr Moxon. Mr Morrall states that he fell head foremost down the stairs, and he cannot say whether he was pushed or what caused it. The niece was very much alarmed, and the officer searched the house the same night to see if there was any intruder concealed, but failed to discover anything. The septuagenarian says it was a miracle he escaped serious injury.


Our reporter ascertained from an official source that some of the people resident in the neighbourhood of Balmoral House are exhibiting a nervous tendency, and after dark the doors of the houses in several places are securely locked, because of what is termed the "Jack the Ripper scare." We also understand that Mr Morrall is convinced that the truth of the tragedy will all come out, but up to the time of going to press no clue has been discovered which will lead to the conviction of anyone.
[There was a detailed report on pages 6 and 7 of this newspaper, but it is not repeated here as the content is similar to the long Derby Mercury article above]

Derbyshire Times, 4 April 1891

Theorising abounds on the subject of the crime in Matlock. The well known holiday place has not been so crowded this holiday period as usual at this time of year, a fact attributable, of course, to the weather. The crime is the one topic of conversation. Wherever one goes there are during the day little knots of people gathered, and chance observations show that Balmoral House is the all-absorbing subject. Speaking with a number of people who, from their connection with the parties, are in a position to speak with some authority, the idea of a crime having been conceived and carried out in the household is deemed in the highest degree absurd. The general kindliness of the husband's nature and his uniform, considerate care for his wife would, furthermore, disprove all suspicion of motive even if it were not rash and at the present time improper to put any other construction on the crime. All his intimate friends and acquaintances at once dismiss this theory, and prefer to adopt that of revenge for some fancied reason or robbery. ... The window sill is a low one, and even a short man would have had to stoop to fire through the very narrow crevice between the bottom of the blind and a flower-pot. The aim had been very accurate, and, experts — or, at least, those accustomed to the handling of fire-arms — state that the man who fired was no novice, and fired with no shaky or nervous hand. Mr. Morrall is very shaky, and his great height — six feet, would have added — presuming for one moment that suspicion were founded on anything like fact — to his difficulty in stooping to take aim. ...

Mr. Morrall was formerly connected with the firm of Abel Morrall and Company, sewing needle manufacturers, of Reddish. It is ascertained, on good authority, that he is not now connected with the business, but has an annuity of £150 a year, and was, therefore, comparatively a poor man. But he has given away a good deal of money, probably more than he could afford, and must have impoverished himself.
[As this is a long article, only part of it is reproduced here]

The Times, Tuesday, 7 Apr, 1891, p.10


The resumed inquest into the cause of death of MARTHA MORRALL, 77, who was shot dead at her residence, Balmoral-house, Matlock, on March 26, was held at Matlock Bank yesterday before Mr. Davies of Glossop, coroner for the High Peak Division. Several witnesses were called to show that about half past 9 on the night named a gun was fired in the vicinity of the deceased's residence, and, directly afterwards, Mr. Morrall went to the hydropathic establishment near and informed the people assembled that his wife had been killed. Several persons went to the house, and, from appearances, it could be seen that a gun had been fired through the kitchen window. Mrs. Morrall had been killed as she was sitting in the chair near the fire. Her face was fairly riddled with shots, and there were shots in the walls and doors. Mr. Morrall was called and was examined at great length. He repeated his previous statement that, while in bed, he heard a noise like an explosion, and this was followed by what sounded like two minor explosions. He went downstairs and found his wife sitting in her chair. At first he thought she had fainted. Then, seeing the blood, he fancied she had committed suicide, but, failing to find anything with which she could have committed the dead, he came to the conclusion that she had been murdered. He favoured the idea that someone had entered the house for the purpose of plunder and had shot his wife through the window. After an inquiry lasting nearly eight hours the jury returned a verdict that Mrs. Morrall had been murdered by some person or persons unknown.

Derbyshire Times, 11 April 1891

The Matlock Tragedy. Inquest and Verdict.

[This is another long article and only some of the relevant statements has been included]
Police-Sargeant Ramshall's statement included the following:
"The blind was drawn up to within about four inches of the top of the window and I noticed that the bottom part of the blind was singed or burnt in one place. I also noticed two panes of glass broken, one the bottom and the other higher up. There were several tree pots on the window sill, and one on the table. Two had smoke upon them, as if a gun had been let off between them as if a gun had been let off between them, and the sulphur had adhered. On the table and floor window glass lay about, and on the door were shot corn marks. A door had a piece of flesh attached. On the table I noticed where shots had struck. By the appearance of the blind it had been nearly down to the bottom. This, I consider, would cause the shot to scatter".
... He noticed the poker on the table and a box of dominoes.... He examined the outside of the window and stated that the diamond pane had been broken on the inside. "I also noticed on the right side of the room was a book-case with a glass front. The glass was smashed of one pane, about the centre. The book-case was locked and had the appearance of having been broken to take out the box of dominoes".
Broken glass was on a chair, along with a work basket. There was a flower bed in front of the window and glass inside that had been shattered as if by something small.
Mr. Morrall was asked if he had fastened the door before going to bed but he had not done so.
The jury after only a few minutes deliberations unanimously returned a verdict of WILFUL MURDER... The inquiry, having occupied about seven hours, closed and the Matlock tragedy remains as perplexing and mysterious as ever.

Derbyshire Courier, 11 April 1891


On Friday the solicitor for Mr. Morrall visited Matlock. He arrived by the 11 o'clock train, and returned at 2.40. The solicitor is Mr. R. Jeffrey Parr, 77 Colmore Row, Birmingham. On arrival at Balmoral House he had a private interview with Mr. Morrall, and was also in conversation with the police. A correspondent had a conversation with Mr. Parr, who, quite naturally, was not very communicative. He, however, was not particularly reticent, but did not desire his opinions to be expressed to the public prior to the inquest. He is quite convinced of the absolute innocence of Mr. Morrall, whom he believes is incapable of concocting a story like the one he had given to the Press through his niece. Mr. Parr informed the representative Mr. Morrall had made a full statement to the police. Questioned as to the course to be pursued at the inquest Mr. Parr promptly replied that Mr. Morrall had made a full statement to the police. Questioned as to the course to be pursued Mr. Parr replied that Mr. Morrall was ready to give evidence, and he would be called. Respecting the difference as to the time that the gun was fired, Mr. Parr does not regard this as at all significant, and explained that it would not be very valuable testimony to place before a jury. So far as he could see there was not a scrap of evidence, but he added significantly, "I can see the theory the police have, or they would not be searching the house and its surroundings." Mr. Parr states that Mr. Morrall has a premonition that the murderer will be found, but he does not suspect anyone.

A gun was found, but it was not the murder weapon

High Peak News, Saturday 25th April 1891

The mystery surrounding the circumstances attending the murder of Mrs Morrall, the Quaker lady, at Balmoral House, Matlock Bank, is still profound, but the interest among the general public continues unabated. During the past week there were several startling rumours afloat as to the discovery of certain clues, but all those proved utterly fallacious up on investigations by the local police. Amount the reports circulated within the past few days the most important is that Mr Morrall had been seen walking homewards with a gun under his arm. The informant was one of the witnesses called at the inquest, and in cross-examination by the police he stuck firmly to his tale, even to the minor details of describing the stock, the trigger, and the appearance of the barrel. But his evidence was disproved by that of a number of others who also saw the old gentleman the same night, and the canard was dispelled after considerable trouble had been caused the police. A great deal of interest is shown in Mr Morrall's peregrinations, and he may be seen daily in some parts of the district. He evinces a keen interest in the newspaper reports of the tragedy, and he still holds and expresses the opinion that the truth will come out. Personally he is more decrepit than he was before the murder, and one of his most intimate friends assured our representative that Mr Morrall is really very weak, although he has the appearance of a powerful physique. Mr Morrall continues to live at Balmoral and says he shall do so for the rest of his days. On Monday afternoon there was a change in the household of Balmoral House, Miss Morrall, the niece of Mr Morrall, leaving for her home at Studley, near Redditch. A house-keeper has been engaged to take charge at Balmoral House, Miss Morrall having been obliged to relinquish the duties through illness. A week ago Mr Morrall made arrangements for a lady to make her home at Matlock, but she died before the time arrived for her to come to Derbyshire. This fact was communicated by letter, and other arrangements had to be made. The local police were during the day engaged in investigating some new development.


On Thursday morning the greatest possible excitement prevailed in the Matlock district, consequent upon the circulation of a report that the weapon had been found with which the mysterious murder of Mrs Morrall was committed, at Balmoral House. Up to just a month had elapsed since the perpetration of the deed, and although the police have been assiduously engaged in endeavouring to solve the mystery, nothing of importance had been previously discovered. The first intelligence of the new development in the murder case became known about 9.30, and the facts relating to it show that an hour earlier Arthur Whittaker and Joseph Bagshawe, two local youths, happened to observe a gun lying in the bottom of the river Derwent, immediately below the bridge to the railway station and Crown Square. In the winter time there is invariably a good force of water passing through this arch, but in dry weather it is reduced to a mere pool.

Following up the report of the discovery our representative proceeded to the Dimple Ale and Porter Stores, where Mrs M Whittaker, the mother of one of the youths who found the weapon, carries on a business in connection with the Matlock Bath Mineral Water Works, which are also her property. Here were both Arthur Whittaker and Joseph Bagshawe, and the former, in an interview, stated that he was 14 years of age last September, and he lived in the Dale. After breakfast that morning he started from home to walk to the other shop in the Dimple, and on reaching the bridge, which spans the Derwent, he med Bagshawe. They had some conversation together, and he (Whittaker) leaned up against the parapet. Then he casually glanced over into the water below, without thinking anything. His eye caught on something unusual lying at the bottom of the stream, and recognising it as a gunstock, he exclaimed, 'There's a gun.' The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . he could see the weapon distinctly. The butt end was about on a level with the bridge, going up stream towards Darley Dale, and the barrel was down the end of the bridge, and turning down the bank, close to Mr T Asbury's chemist's shop, they gained the river side. Whittaker then discerned the gun a short distance from the bank, and there was a fair-sized stone lying on the upper side of the barrel. At this point the water would be from eighteen inches to two feet in depth, and being unable to reach it he looked about for something to act as a drag. A piece of iron was discovered, and with this he hooked the gun and brought it to the bank.

This statement was corroborated by Joseph Bagshawe, his companion, who is the son of Jabez Bagshawe, a cabdriver, living in Holt Terrace, Matlock Bank. At the time of the discovery he was engaged in taking his father's breakfast.

Further inquiries elicited that subsequent to the taking of the gun out of the water the two youths carried it to the main thoroughfare, and here they were observed by Mr Craven, the assistant at Mr Asbury's branch shop, who told them they had better take it to the police. Police-constable Harrison, one of the guardians of the peace, resides at the Dimple, in the New Road, and they accordingly went in this direction. Whittaker's destination being in the same locality. Meanwhile the news spread with great rapidity, and within a very short time the residents were fully aware of the circumstances.

Whittaker and his companion carried the weapon into the Dimple Stores, and here our representative saw it just before the arrival of the police. A close inspection showed that it was what is termed a duck fouling piece, of ancient manufacture, and a muzzle loader. The trigger and the ramrod were both missing, and the stock where it fitted to the metal part was broken. Trying to pull the finger attachment to the trigger, our representative found this almost immoveable, but possibly this was the caused by sand interlocking the pieces inside. The gun was smeared with sand and dirt from lying at the bottom of the river, and naturally no smell or trace of gunpowder could be observed in the barrel owing to the action of the water. It certainly bore indications of its having been immersed for some time, but still, not long enough to cause heavy rust marks. Another fact which pointed to it not having been in water for any length of time was that the varnish on the butt had not dissolved, neither were there signs of any decay in the polish. As Mrs Morrall was murdered with a heavy charge of shot the connection between the following piece and the deed is more nearly related, especially as it is just possible that an overcharge would break the stock as already described. But, on the other hand, the owner of the gun may have tried to demolish it, and had broken on the trigger, besides damaging one of the . . . . . . . on the side of the trigger case. A fouling piece of this caliber would carry a larger charge than the ordinary shot gun, and to an inexperienced hand the rebound would have been terrific. Sergeant Ramshall, of Matlock Town, who has had charge of the case since the enactment of the tragedy, arrived about 10.20, and he was joined by Police-constable Wilson of Matlock Bank, and Police-constable Harrison of the Bridge. The sergeant took possession of the weapon, and at this time Dr R B Holland, of Matlock Dale, was present. The police also interrogated Whittaker and Bagshawe, Mrs Whittaker having joined her son in the meantime, and the statements were taken down in writing, each coinciding with the remarks previously made to the press. After full investigation, which occupied an hour, the police left the Dimple, and a report was dispatched to Superintendent Lytle, of Wirksworth.

Subsequent enquiries, which go to prove that the fact that the gun had not been in the river the whole of the time since the murder, is conclusive evidence in support of the theory that police have always held that the miscreant is still resident in the district. Still the weapon could have been in the Derwent over three weeks without discovery, owing to the stream having been above its normal level during that period, in consequence of the rainfall. The river has also been discoloured until this week, thus offering a good hiding-place. From its position it seems more than probable that some person dropped the gun over the parapet of the bridge, under cover of darkness. The distance from this point to Balmoral House is about half-a-mile in a direct line up the Bank road, the main thoroughfare of the district. With the weapon in their possession of the police may possibly discover some important clues which will assist in elucidating the mystery, and bring to justice the murderer. It is also felt that with the missing link, if it should prove to have any connection with the tragedy, the chances are great of bringing about an early solution.

The Derby Mercury, Wednesday, 29 April, 1891

An old fowling piece was found in the river Derwent, at Matlock a day or so ago, which had been spoken of as the weapon with which Mrs. Morrall was recently shot, but we hear that the police have obtained information to the effect that the gun was dropped into the river about Christmas last by its owner, with whose name they are acquainted. Independent enquiries have established the truth of this statement, so the mystery of how Mrs. Morrall's murderer disposed of his weapon is as far from solution as ever.


Matlock Visiting List, 22 April 1891

Readers of this column will naturally expect to hear the latest details in connection with the horrible murder of Mrs. Morrall ... A great deal of gossip is retailed in Matlock, but what is true is not new, and what is new is not true. ... Not one iota or scrap of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, has been adduced. Things are precisely as they were when the body was discovered ... The police hear numerous stories. They follow tham to earth and find nothing tangible. Charity is not extended to the old man in his trouble he is the bete noir of some malicious persons. They had better hold their peace, or actions for slander will overtake them. A miserable story is told by a certain young man, who says emphatically that he saw Mr. Morrall carrying a gun a few nights ago ! evening, and they unhesitatingly repudiate the silly assertions.

During his long career as a police officer, Supt. Lytle, of Wirksworth, has had to investigate several murders. None have puzzled him like the Matlock Bank mystery. He has made every enquiry possible, followed up every story, true or untrue, searched every hole and crevice around Balmoral House and the vicinity, but not a trace or shred of testimony an be obtained. Along with him are Inspector Hutchins, Sergt. Ramshall, and Constable Bradshaw, all experienced officers. They are daily hunting up some wild report or artless gossip, the product of sordid and despicable villains. Since the inquest the police have not relaxed their efforts in the least. As I have said previously many absurd reports have been run to earth. But for obtaining proof of the murderer the result is as black as the heart of him who has committed the crime.

Matlock Visiting List, 17 June 1891

Mr. Michael Thomas Morrall, of Balmoral House, Matlock Bank, whom my readers will know through the deplorable case of murder last Easter, sat in the Police Court at Matlock, on Wednesday, for a short time. It was expected that he would apply to the Bench for them to order Supt. Lytle to give up possession of a pair of spectacles belonging to him, and found in the pool of blood on the floor of the kitchen where Mrs. Morrall was murdered. Before the conclusion of the business Mr. Morrall walked out of court without having made any application or request. He was scarcely the hale septuagenarian of a year ago.

The death of Mr. Morrall

High Peak News, 7th November 1891

Quite a shock was caused in the Matlock district on Friday morning by the somewhat sudden death of Mr Michael Thomas Morrall, at his residence, Balmoral House, where a horrible and mysterious tragedy was enacted in March last. It will be remembered that Mr and Mrs Morrall lived a very retired life at Matlock, the husband having made a fortune in the needle trade. Both were of advanced years and eccentric, and they were members of the Quakers Meeting House at Matlock Bank, which they had to some extent assisted in founding. Although Mr and Mrs Morrall lived in a house of considerable pretensions they only had one servant and on the eve of Good Friday, after the latter had departed to her home in the town, Mr Morrall ran to the Rockside Hydro and reported that is wife had been shot. This proved unfortunately to have been the case, and a more cold-blooded deed had never been carried out in the locality. The poor lady was found to have been shot while reading the evening newspaper with a gun which was fired from just outside the front window of the room where Mrs Morrall was sitting. There was no trace as to who the miscreant was, and notwithstanding there was considerable attention devoted by the county police to the case nothing was elicited, neither was the weapon ever discovered.

Since the deed there has been naturally much comment on the mystery, and it was generally reported that Mr Morrall was about to marry again, It was known that he was visiting a young lady in the northern part of the county, and according to general rumour the wedding was to have taken place shortly. On Thursday night news of his illness was circulated in the neighbourhood, and it transpired that he was under medical attention at Balmoral House. However, as the old gentleman had had previous attacks, from which he had rallied in a few days, no further notice was taken of it. The report of his death accordingly came unexpectedly, and was soon known all over the district. The tolling of Matlock Parish Church bell confirmed the intelligence, and generally there was a great deal of interest manifested in the sudden decease of the old gentleman, who had gained a widespread notoriety. With a view of obtaining the facts first-hand, our representative visited Matlock Bank and ascertained the following particulars:—

Joseph Rowlatt, in the employ of Mr W Atkins, at the Rockside Hydro, in an interview said:— 'I was the first to find Mr Morrall after he had been seized with his fatal illness. It would be about midday on Wednesday when I discovered Mr Morrall lying unconscious on the footpath just outside Claremont, the residence of Mr C Rowland. I fetched Smith from the hydro, and we carried the old gentleman on to Balmoral, which is about 100 yards away. We took him into the parlour where Mrs Morrall's remains were placed, and when we left he was still insensible'.

W H Hursthouse, of Matlock Bank, bathman, was also seen by our representative, and he stated:— 'On Thursday night I was fetched by Mrs Lister, the charwoman at Balmoral House, and it would be about seven o'clock. She told me they wanted me to go and attend to Mr Morrall, as he was very ill. When I got to Balmoral I found Mr Morrall was lying on an improvised bed in the parlour in the front of the house, next to the kitchen where the murder was committed. He was lying perfectly still on his back, and he had his eyes closed. You could only tell he was alive by his respiration. At midnight I thought he was going, as he made a rattling sound in his throat. I remained in the room all the night. The doctor had been there before me, and it was on his instructions that I came. There were in the house at the time the brother of the deceased who had been here for about a fortnight, and the young woman who is housekeeper. They went to bed and left me to watch by the side of the deceased. There was no change in his condition until about nine o'clock this morning; and then of course I could see that he was sinking fast. He went off as 'quiet as a lamb' at 10.20, and I was alone with him at the time. As soon as I saw that death was drawing near I called out to Mrs Morrall's brother and he and the housekeeper came into the room shortly after he had taken his last breath. The deceased gave just like one gasp, and then all was over. He never mentioned for anything, and his eyes were closed the whole of the time I was in the house. I had got paper and everything there in case he did want to say anything, but he never spoke from Wednesday until his death. I and Mr Bagshawe, the undertaker, have laid the body out in the usual way in the parlour.'

Thomas Bagshawe stated that he was called to Balmoral about eleven o'clock, after the death, and he and Mr Hursthouse laid out the body ready for interment. The deceased was much attenuated, and though of a great height of stature he had a spare frame. The deceased measured 6ft 3in, and was over 70 years of age.

In answer to further inquiries, the two last named stated that the police had been to Balmoral House during the illness of Mr Morrall, and Inspector Hutchins was there Thursday night. This officer came in about eight o'clock, and he left again between ten and eleven o'clock. It was expected that the deceased might give some statement which would lead to the elucidation of the mysterious murder. The Inspector visited Mr Morrall several times in the parlour. When the deceased fell in the road on the first attack of paralysis he cut his right temple slightly, and there was also a skin abrasion under the right eye, both of which had bled. They had seen the deceased out for his usual outdoor recreation within the week, and Bagshawe said his wife saw him on the Wednesday morning going in the direction of the Friends Meeting House, on the Bank, which he attended regularly. All the blinds at the house were drawn, and about eleven o'clock in the morning a niece of the deceased gentleman arrived from Manchester. Dr Moxon, of Matlock Bank, had the case in hand, but said there was no hope of recovery.

On Saturday morning arrangements were made for the interment of the mortal remains of Mr Michael T Morrall, of Balmoral House, at St Giles Parish Church, on Monday afternoon. It will be remembered that Mrs Morrall, the wife of the deceased gentlemen, who was so mysteriously murdered, was buried at this churchyard, and the body of Mr Morrall will be placed in the same grave. Dr Moxon, of West View, Matlock Bank, the medical attendant of the family, has certified as to the cause of the death of Mr Morrall, which he stated to have been primarily, apoplexy, and secondly coma. The last time he attended the deceased was on the day preceding his death, and the age of Mr Morrall is recorded as 73. Since the death of Sergeant Ramshall, the case has been in the hands of Inspector Hutchins, of Matlock Bath, under his superior office, Superintendent Lytle, of Wirksworth. The niece of the deceased Miss Davis of Manchester is understood to be the beneficiate under the will of the deceased.


The mortal remains of Michael Thomas Morrall, who died somewhat suddenly on Friday last, were quietly interred on Monday afternoon in the Parish Churchyard. The funeral procession left Balmoral House, Matlock Bank at 3.30pm, and the remains were enclosed in a polished oak coffin, with brass furniture, and inscription. The body was borne through the grounds by four local bearers, including Mr W H Hursthouse, the attendant of the deceased gentleman. A hearse was provided by Messrs. S Boden and Sons, of Matlock, and there was a private carriage. There were about a dozen followers, principally relatives, and among these were the Misses Davis of Manchester, the nieces of the deceased; Mr Morrall brother of the deceased; Mr Jeffries, of Birmingham the family solicitor; two young men, and Miss Monk. A large number of people had assembled in the Bent Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . the procession. The service at the church was conducted half an hour later, and the body was interred on the western side of the sacred . . . . . . . . . . an ordinary grave, excavated at the side of that containing the body of Mrs Morrall, the wife of the deceased.

The last rites were carried out according to the Quaker belief, which is widely different in form to that of the Church of England. The bearers took the body straight to the graveside from the hearse, and all the mourners stood round in sorrowful attitudes. Silence prevailed for some time, until one of the gentlemen read a Psalm. Then there was another period of absolute silence, after which Miss Stevens, of Matlock Bank, dropped on her knees and prayed. This was followed by silence and then the mourners left the churchyard.

The death of Mr Morrall in six months after the horrible murder of his wife removes one of the last links in this terrible tragedy, and it is generally expected that there will be no revelations to lead to the arrest of the murderer, but there is still every possibility of 'murder . . . . . out' and our readers will not be surprised to learn that the real act of murder and the circumstances connected therewith, if revealed, would publish to the world one of the most terrible deeds ever recorded in the history of the world's crime. We have tenaciously followed this matter up from the very first time of the report of the . . . . . . . to the police, from the time when we . . . . . . . . on . . . . . . .Friday morning, the horrifying . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Balmoral House, and we are convinced . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .remains yet to be told to the world the real . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ., and that revelations may yet be made is still probable.

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald, Saturday 23 January 1892

Pursuant to the Statute 22nd and 23rd Vie, Cap. 35 intituled " An Act to further amend the Law of Property and to Relieve Trustees".
Notice is hereby given that all persons having any claims against the Estate of MICHAEL THOMAS MORRALL, late of Balmoral House, Matlock Bank, in the County of Derby, gentleman, deceased (who died on the Day of October, 1891, and whose Will was proved in the Principal Registry of Her Majesty's Court of Justice Probate Division on the 9th Day of December 1891 by George Sykes and John Sykes, executors therein named) are hereby required to send particulars of such claims or demands in writing to us the undersigned Solicitors for the said executors at our offices on or before the 18 day of February next, at the expiration of which time the said executors will proceed to distribute the assets of the said deceased among the parties entitled thereto having regard to the claims and demands of which they shall then have done notice.
Dated this 12th day of January, 1892,
Jeffrey, Parr & Hasell, Solicitors, 77 Colemore Row, Birmingham, Solicitors for the said executors.

Twelve or so years later

Manchester Evening News, Saturday 12 September 1903

A sensation was caused at Matlock last night by the statement that the murderer of Mrs. Morrall, of Balmoral House, Matlock, is at last known to the authorities. Fifteen years ago [sic] Mrs. Morrall, the wife of an independent Quaker gentleman, was found shot through the head through the window. No clue could be found at the time. It was ascertained last night that the police have incriminating documents in their possession, and the supposed murderer is said to have been identified at last.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 4 January 1904

Twelve years ago the aged wife Mr. Morrall, a wealthy Quaker gentleman resident Matlock Bank, was shot through the window where she was sitting by the fireside. No trace of the murderer could be found at the time. A sensational report was circulated in Matlock on Saturday morning, to the effect that a man had died in Manchester after confessing the murder. The local police have no knowledge of the truth of the rumour.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 9 January 1904

[Similar to the above, but with the addition of:]
... Inquiries made by our representative elicited that the news has been circulated by means of correspondence, and that among Quakers it is accepted as the final solution of the tragedy. The identity of the confessed murderer is, however, withheld, and the police have no details to hand. This story fits in with the police annals. These show that the police force at the time of the tragedy made an egregious error, and while watching suspected persons there was a stranger, who was near the scene of the murder at the time, who made his escape from Matlock by rail, and has never been seen since.

Derby Daily Telegraph, Saturday 9 January 1904

A Matlock correspondent writes :— Late on the night of March 26, 1891 — the eve Good Friday — an old lady named Mrs. Morrall was shot dead at a villa residence in Matlock, Balmoral Lodge, in very mysterious circumstances. Her husband Mr. Michael Thomas Morrall, while asleep upstairs, was awakened by a noise, and, going down, found that his wife had been shot through the head as she was reading by the fireside. Someone had apparently crept up to the house and fired a gun through the window. The murderer was never discovered, nor was the object of the crime ever made out, no property being missing. On Friday a report reached Matlock that the murderer had died at Manchester, and had made a confession as follows: —"I shot Mrs Morrall at Matlock, and it has brought me to this my deathbed. I did it for the money". The news has been circulated by correspondence among the relatives of the Morralls, but the identity of the man supposed to have made the confession is withheld, and the police have received no details.

Derbyshire Courier, 16 January 1904


Alleged Deathbed Confession.

Twelve years ago the aged wife of Mr. Morrall, a wealthy Quaker, residing at Balmoral House, Matlock Bank, was shot through the latticed window, the contents of the weapon passing into the side of her face and causing instant death. No trace of the murderer was ever found, but it is alleged that a few days ago a lady residing at a town eight miles away, wrote to a resident of Matlock stating : " You will be pleased to know that the murderer has now been discovered. He lived in Manchester, but is now dead. He made a deathbed confession as follows; —"I murdered Mrs. Morrall for the money, and it has brought me to this (my deathbed).' " The recipient of the letter conveyed the news to the friends of the late Mrs. Morrall, and paid a visit to the lady who wrote the first letter. She stated that the news was common property among the Quaker persuasion, and that it was thoroughly believed that the death of the murderer had occurred in Manchester. Seeing that death had stepped in, she thought nothing more need be said about it.

So who were all the people named in these articles?