Documents relating to the
murder of Mrs Hannah Helliwell

The following documents mention Thomas Cockcroft who was charged with the murder of his sister Mrs Hannah Helliwell

On 20th June 1865, Mrs Helliwell and her brother were left alone in the house.

At noon, a visitor found Mrs Helliwell lying injured and speechless on the floor of the cottage.

A pair of bent tongs were found near her body.

She never recovered to be able to give an account of the incident before she died on the 27th June


The Leeds Mercury [Thursday 28th June 1865] reported

Murderous Attack at Sowerby

Thomas Cockroft of Sowerby was charged with an attempt to murder his sister Mrs Hannah Helliwell, who was found alone in her house lying upon the floor in a pool of blood, and of fearful bruises upon her head and face.

Cockroft, who lived with his sister, when arrested admitted the assault.

The reason he had done it, he said, was that his sister wanted to mend his coat, but he did not want her to do so until he got some new cloth for the purpose, but she wanted to repair it.

Mrs Helliwell was reported to still be alive, but her death was hourly expected.

The prisoner is believed to be in unsound state of mind


At the trial, the Jury returned a verdict of Guilty with a recommendation for mercy.

The Judge disregarded the recommendation and passed the death sentence.

The Home Secretary commuted the sentence to penal servitude for life


© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 17:43 / 3rd May 2024 / 3535

Page Ref: X470

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