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William James Irwin

Kill Total: 1 Kill place: London
Kill date: 22nd June 1900 Victim(s): Catherine Irwin
Date of Birth: unknown Marital Status: Single






Catherine was the second wife of William Irwin and they had married in 1888. Before they then parted, in May 1899, they had had four children, the last being born in February of that year.

The parting had been amicable enough and the couple still saw each other quite frequently. As William was not working, Catherine would help him out with gifts of money whenever she could, but William was jealous of a mutual male friend named Sexton who, in his opinion, seemed to be spending rather too much time with Catherine, although Sexton would later deny that any impropriety had taken place.

There is little doubt that this jealousy was an important factor in the break up of Catherine and William's relationship. It was Sexton who visited her in hospital when she was confined with her last child and it was also Sexton who found rooms for her when she first left William. Indeed, on June 20th, Sexton was with Catherine until eleven thirty at night and William was fully aware of that fact as he had been waiting and watching, outside her home.

On the night of 21st June 1900, William had again tried to borrow money from Catherine but she had said she had none to give him. Angry words were exchanged and William was heard to say that she had just driven the last nail into her coffin. William left the house in Great Titchfield Street, where Catherine was living, and stormed off into the night.



The following morning, at eight o'clock, Catherine was leaving home for her job as a draper's assistant at Mesrs Peter Robinson's of Oxford Street, when she was accosted by her husband.

William demanded to speak to Catherine, even though she was in the company of a fellow worker, Emily Wright. Catherine pulled away, saying she had to get to work and at that point William again demanded to speak to her but emphasised the words by plunging a knife into Catherine's breast.

Catherine was rushed to hospital and William was arrested and charged with attempted murder. Later that same day, Catherine died, from a pierced right lung, at the Middlesex Hospital. Before dying she had made a deposition, outlining what had happened to her. In that statement she said that William had asked to speak to her and upon being told that she was on her way to work, he had replied; "Tahe that, then." and had stabbed her.

William's defence at the Old Bailey was that he had inflicted the fatal wound in a moment of passion. It was true that he had been jealous of Sexton, and the relationship he believed existed between Sexton and Catherine. When William had been in work, Sexton had been in the habit of visiting Catherine during the day and had carried on seeing her after the marriage had failed. Under these circumstances, William held that he could only be guilty of manslaughter.

The jury though found him guilty as charged, but added a recommendation to mercy. It was to no avail.

William James Irwin was hanged on 14th August 1900, at Newgate..