Attempted Murder and Suicide – A Terrible Tragedy at Conisbro’. –

August 1890

Sheffield Independent – Monday 18 August 1890

Terrible Tragedy at Conisbro’.

Attempted Murder and Suicide Through Jealousy.

 A Sad Story.

A shocking occurrence took place on Saturday at the village of Conisbro’. A most deliberate attempted murder was committed by a desperate and successful effort at self-destruction. The tragic affair was brought about by a young man named Jesse Hoye aged about 20 years. The woman whose life he attempted is known by the name of Rebecca Beckett.

He is aged 26 years, and lives at a oottage adjoining the Star Inn, on the main turnpike to Doncaster. The tragedy was enacted about two o’clock in the afternoon. A succession of shots were heard to proceed from the dwelling house, and immediately afterwards the woman Beckett was seen rushing from the front door to the house of a neighbour. She presented an awful spectacle, blood pouring in a stream from her face and neck. The report of the firearm had caused a crowd to collect, and there was speedily a scene of the greatest excitement possible. The woman was followed into the adjoining dwelling by scores of persons, and quite as many rushed into the cottage she had just left to see who had caused the ghastly wounds.

A terrible sight met their gaze in the cottage yard. Passing through the sitting room, where a quantity of blood lay on the floor – having run from the woman whilst effecting her escape-they entered the kitchen, where there was also a spectacle like that of a slaughter-house. Looking through the window a man was seen lying on the ground, on his side. His head was in a pool of blood. It was found to be Jesse Hoye. A few yards from him, and near the back door, lay a six-chambered revolver. Blood was flowing from a ghastly wound in the right eye. The eye had been burst by a bullet, and the ball had evidently found its way to the brain. The unfortunate young man was alive, but unconscious. Efforts were made to restore consciousness by the administering of brandy, and by endeavouring to staunch the blood. The wound, however, proved to be of a fatal character, and Hoye succumbed after the lapse of about two hours.

It happened, at the time of the tragedy, that the wife of Mr. Hills, surgeon, was being driven along the street, from Doncaster, past the house where the attempt to murder had been made, and she saw the woman as she ran, screaming in horror, into the open air. Mrs. Hills at once alighted and did her best to render “first aid.” Saturday is the occasion when the West Siding Petty Sessions is held at Doncaster, and the local police, as well as the magistrates, were away from the village. Mr. Hills, surgeon, of Conisbro’, was also in the neighbouring borough. He was telegraphed for, and he arrived with all speed in a vehicle, no train being due. His assistant, Mr. Gibbs, was previously on the scene. These gentlemen were afterwards joined by. Mr. Sykes, surgeon, of Mexbro’ (for whom Supt. Blake had wired), and Mr. Twigg, of Conisbro’. Major Johnson, J. P., returned by an afternoon train, and he was interviewed as to the taking of the depositions of the woman, but he, of course, explained that that was needless, the man who fired the bullets being dead. A telegram was despatched to Mr. Blake, of Doncaster, the superintendent of the West Biding constabulary, and be soon came down to see that the necessary arrangements were made for the coroner’s inquiry.

The place where the sad deeds were enacted is on rising ground not far from where the ancient castle ruins stand frowning upon the vale. The house, though not a large one, is comfortably furnished, and is in clean order— apart, of course, from the exceptional circumstances. It has a parlour and sitting room fronting the main road, and a kitchen at the back, with three bed- rooms. The yard is only a comparatively limited area, and it is reached from the outside by entering a passage which intervenes between the Star Inn (kept by Mr. Williams, formerly of Rotherham) and the cottage. Two small houses are situate below the yard, and in contrast to the broken bottles and pots which lie in a heap in a corner is the decoration of the two windows of the adjoining dwellings by means of geraniums and marigolds. Where the deceased fell was denoted by the blood stains which were left.

The deceased, it appears, had lodged for about 12 months at the house where the attempted murder was committed. Living on the same premises were John Lindley and the injured woman, who went by the name of Lindley, but whose real name is Rebecca Beckett. Lindley and Beckett are not married. Lindley is stated to be married, but living apart from his wife. Rebecca Beckett is a native of Levitt Hagg, a hamlet which nestles in a wood about three miles away, in the direction of Doncaster. She has a child about two years old. The deceased came to the village with a contractor about a year ago, and was employed by him in connection with the construction of some houses. Afterwards the young man obtained employment at the Holywell Brewery. This he left, and, last Wednesday, went to work at the Denaby Main Colliery as a dataller. But he was only engaged on “two shifts ” there, and did not return to the pit. He was a native of a village known as Caston, in Norfolk. His character, as given by one who constantly saw him, was that of ” a quiet, decent young fellow ; about as nice a chap as there was in the village to all appearance.”

That the deceased had become attached to Rebecca Beck is is undoubted, and the fact of his having to leave the house made him melancholy. He had been told by the woman that he would have to get other lodgings, and he had in reality obtained them at the house of a Mrs. Fitzgeorge, on Doncaster road. He had purchased the food for the week and had taken some of his boxes there. But about one o’clock on Saturday he went to Mrs. Fitzgeorge and said ” he was not going to leave the old lodgings, and she need do nothing more.” About half-past one he went to the Star Inn, along with two other young men. They bad three pints of beer between them. Whilst there, the deceased remarked to Tom Barber, a mate, “I think I will be going home.” Barber answered, ” What, and get on your face a bit ? ” (meaning that he would lie down to rest before going on the next “shift.”) The deceased replied, ” Yes, I will go home. I might be back again in two minutes, or it might be twelve months before I come back.”

A significant statement was made by the deceased last Monday to a neighbour, Mrs. Tye. He observed, “If I have to leave those lodgings I will shoot the woman” (meaning Rebecca Beckett.) Mrs. Tye said, “You don’t mean it?” “Yes, I do,” he answered. “What will you do then ?” was the interrogation. ” Oh,” said he, “I expect I shall go to —-”  But Mrs. Tye naturally thought they were mere idle words, and attached no significance to them.

It is a singular coincidence that, four years ago, on that very day, a man named Hanley committed suicide in the same yard. Another circumstance worthy of mention is that the deceased had threatened vengeance against two persons known to frequent the house where he lodged, but it was fortunate they were absent on Saturday.

The revolver with which the terrible deeds were committed was a small one, with six chambers. It is believed to have been a second-hand one, which he is said to have obtained at Mexbro’. Five of the chambers contained empty cartridges, and an empty cartridge was found in one of the pockets of the deceased. The presumption, therefore, is that he had previously tried the weapon to see that it would answer its purpose. Four bullets were aimed at the woman, and the remaining one be had placed in his own brain. As to the wound in the head of the deceased, Dr. Hills says the bullet penetrated the skull and entered the interior of the brain. In the case of the woman, one bullet passed through the back of the neck, near the base of the brain, entering deeply ; another entered the right side of the chest, a third passed through the back, and must have been done as the woman turned round, while the fourth was merely a skin graze, and the hand of the would-be murderer had apparently become very unsteady; The weapon was taken possession of by Sergeant Simpson.