The Murder of Catherine Parnaby Raine

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THE BARNARD CASTLE MURDERS AUG 1845

 

The night of the 9th August 1845 was a stormy one on many levels.  It had rained all day in Barnard Castle, and the river Tees which ran through the town was at full spate.

 

Two friends were abroad that night, walking down Bridgegate where they lived towards the bridge that separated Barnard Castle from Startforth on the opposite bank of the River Tees.

 

Joseph Yates was a young man of twenty, working as a tailor.  He was described as being of slender build and low stature.  His companion was Catherine Raine who was just 17 years old and working as a household servant, her family lived on Bridgegate. 

 

Yates had spent the evening drinking, first in Collinson’s public house and at two other drinking establishments in town – kept by Brass and Lofthouse.  He had kept company with several people – including briefly those who were ultimately his attackers and two young ladies named Braithwaite and Chapman.  He was seen and spoken to by several people including John Robinson and a man named Dobson.

 

As they were walking at about midnight they were accosted by three young men, John Breckon, George Barker and Thomas Routledge Raine with whom Joseph Yates had previously been drinking at Collinson’s public house.  They had also spent the evening drinking in various places up and down Bridge-street.  With them was a young woman, Ann Humphreys, a friend of Catherine Raine.  Ann was 19 and lived at home with her father, older sister and a young baby (fathered either by one of Catherine Raine’s brothers or as elsewhere described Thomas Routledge Raine – who was not a close relation of Catherine’s).   She had worked as a shoe thread winder in one of the local factories.  Breckon was the oldest of the three men at 24, Raine and Barker were both 18 years old.  All three were local men, Breckon lived on Bridgegate, Barker on nearby Galgate and Raine also lived in the neighbourhood.

 

The party left Bridgegate and crossed the bridge, proceeding down the Yorkshire side of the river to the Tramwall, about a hundred yards from any dwelling on that side of the river.

 

During the course of their conversation earlier in the evening, George Breckon had discovered that Joseph Yates had a little money in his possession given to him by a master tailor named Kaye – some seven shillings - and was determined to get it from him.  Barker also had a grudge against Yates who had testified against him over the case of a robbery of a certain ‘Captain Bainbridge’ of Cotherstone.  Barker had taken a coat to Yates to be altered not realising that the Captain’s name was in the lining.  Yates saw the name, made the connection and informed the authorities that the stolen item was in Barker’s possession.

 

Barker asked Yates if he was going to appear against him at York and Yates answered that he was.  Barker then hit him several times and Breckon demanded that he give up the money.  Yates refused to give up the money and after a short scuffle during which he was beaten about the head, crying ‘Don’t knock my eyes out’, he was violently robbed and left senseless on the ground.  Catherine Raine started to shout for help but stopped, sobbing when she was threatened with a similar beating.  The three men divided the money up between them and then threw Yates over the wall into the Tees river.  The two young women were then threatened with the same fate unless they would swear to secrecy.  Ann Humphreys agreed to keep the pact but Catherine Raine did not and set off back towards the bridge intending to go for help.  The three men surrounded her and failing to persuade her to keep her silence, she was also thrown over the side of bridge into the swollen river.  Having now witnessed two murders Ann Humphreys was too terrified to speak of it to anyone.

 

It was almost a fortnight later before the bodies were recovered.  Yates’s body was found a few miles below Barnard Castle and some marks of violence were evident on his head that were judged to have been inflicted before death and his trouser pockets were turned out and empty of money, but at the inquest no incriminatory evidence could be obtained although the circumstances were suspicious and rumours were rife.  A few days later on 19th August, Catherine’s body was found further down the river near Hurworth on the outskirts of Darlington.  Ann Humphreys meanwhile kept her silence for almost a year before at last breaking down and confessing to a friend and neighbour, Mrs Elizabeth Sutcliffe, what had happened that night.  Mrs Sutcliffe took her to the parish constable Mr Snowdon where Anne repeated what she had seen and heard on the bridge that night.

 

Breckon was already in custody in Durham Gaol on another charge (his eighteenth custodial sentence) and Barker was taken quickly near Wolsingham but Raine made a run for it.  When he was finally taken into custody, he said “If they had not got him in bed, blood would have been shed before they got him away from the works.”  As to the charge itself he said nothing.  Barker, on reading the warrant over, seemed considerably agitated and observed it was all right – he knew where that came from.  Breckon, on being informed of the charges denied all knowledge of the affair.

 

The trial was delayed as it was necessary to obtain an order from the Home Secretary for the removal of Breckon from Durham Gaol.  This was initially refused.  It was left to Barker and Raine to face the county magistrates at Greta Bridge.  The bench were composed of the Venerable Archdeacon Headlam, Rev W F Whorton and Messrs Mark Millbank, W J S Morritt and G Witham.

 

Ann Humphreys was the main witness.  She was at the time of the murder working at a factory in Barnard Castle being about twenty one years of age, having had an illegitimate child, living in a house in Bridgegate with her father and sister and the child.  In her evidence she stated that she went to bed on the night of the 10th of August 1845 about the same time with her father, her sister having gone to bed before her; but being restless she rose, dressed and went down and stood at her own door.  Some time later she saw John Yates and Catherine Raine coming up the street.  She went over and spoke with them and then the three accused came down Bridgegate from Thorngate towards the bridge which spans the river Tees.  They all walked together towards the bridge.  Raine told Humphreys that Yates had money and they wanted to get it.  She replied ‘Poor fellow! He will spend it among you - let him alone.”

 

Apart from Ann Humphrey’s evidence, a former fellow-servant of George Barker , a young man called Harrison, gave evidence that about a week before Yates went missing, Barker had asked him to assist in beating the young man up, which he declined to do.  On the night of the murder, Barker did not come home until after two a.m.  Subsequent to the murder Barker’s sleep was so disturbed that he asked to be lodged elsewhere.  A further thirteen people gave evidence that day.  Barker sobbed audibly during the evidence but Raine was unmoved and when they had to retire, left the room with a smile.  The magistrates committed them to York Castle to take their trial at the next Yorkshire Assizes, on a charge of wilful murder.

 

In December 1846 the three men were taken before York Assizes and charged with the murder of Joseph Yates in the early hours of 10th August 1845.  Before Mr Justice Cresswell, Mr Bliss, Mr Pulleine and Mr Overend were counsel for the prosecution.  Mr Matthews and Mr Blanshard defended Barker and Raine and Mr Pickering appeared on behalf of Breckon.  As far as motive went, it was suggested Barker was afraid of Yates giving evidence against him regarding the theft of the coat, whilst Raine was completely motivated by getting his hands on Yates’s money.  Breckon’s motives were unclear.  Anne Humphreys testimony and character were severely questioned – both she and Catherine Raine were characterised as at best of immoral character at worst ‘prostitutes’ during the trial - and after a long deliberation of over nine hours by the jury, the three men were acquitted of the murder.  An attempt the following day to convict them of the murder of Catherine Raine was abandoned as it also relied on Humphreys testimony.  Barker and Raine were discharged, Breckon returned to Durham gaol to complete his term of imprisonment on a former conviction.

 

The verdict was nationally derided.  Some members of the jury subsequently declared that they had returned a not guilty verdict simply because a guilty verdict would have meant condemning the three men to death and if a lesser punishment had been available they would have found the men guilty.  An editorial in The Times (11 Jan 1847) described them as “shuddering at the contemplation of being the instruments whereby three of their fellow-mortals would be precipitated into eternity unprepared, and with the blood of innocent persons upon their souls, the jury who tried them preferred the lesser evil of again throwing upon society men against whom such reckless and inhuman atrocities had been alleged.

 

In March 1847, after more evidence and testimony came to light the three men were arraigned for the robbery of Joseph Yates.  Mr Bliss, Mr Pulleine and Mr Overend appeared for the prosecution; Mr Matthews and Mr Blanshard defended Barker and Raine; Breckon was undefended.

They tried to plea ‘autrefois acquit’ claiming that as they had been tried for the assault and alleged murder of Joseph Yates and acquitted the previous year, they could not be tried again on a charge that relied on much the same evidence.  Baron Rolfe over-ruled the plea and the prisoners then pleaded not guilty to the charge.

On this occassion, as well as the testimony of Anne Humphreys, there were 53 witnesses for the prosecution and a small number for the defence:

 

Ann Humphreys said that she was in bed at twelve before getting up and going down to the door where she met with the three prisoners and Joseph Yates and Catherine Raine.  They all started off to walk towards the bridge, Yates and Catherine Raine first, then witness and the Prisoner Raine and Breckon and Barker last.  Yates and Catherine Raine were in liquor but none of the prisoners appeared to be so.  They went over the bridge and then down the sills.  As they were going along the flags there Raine stated that he would get Yates’s money from him.  Humphreys said “Poor little fellow, don’t meddle with him, he will spend it amongst you.”  Shortly after Barker confronted Yates asking if he intended to testify against him about the stolen coat, and as they approached the tram wall demanded that Yates give up his money before asking again if Yates would testify at York.  When Yates again affirmed that he would, Barker said, “then you b____ you shall never have the chance of it.”  After that the witness heard cries from Yates of ‘murder’.  He was surrounded by Raine, Breckon and Barker.  Yates cried out ‘O dear, O dear, is there no one to help me?”  Shortly after the witness saw the three prisoners dividing money up between them.  Yates was standing against the wall, groaning.  Then the three prisoners surrounded him again and there was a great splash in the water and Yates was gone.

 

Catherine Raine cried out and Barker threatened her that ‘if she did that again he would throw her into the water’.  Catherine’s cries were heard by persons occupying houses on the other side of the river.  Catherine Raine asked what they had done that for and Barker again threatened her with the same treatment.  The witness then recounted how she had been sworn to silence by Breckon who told her that God would strike her dead if she told now and Catherine Raine had refused to be silent and had been thrown into the river. 

 

Under cross examination she could not say exactly what time they went onto the Bridge, somewhere between one and two in the morning.  After the events she described she had gone home and gone back to bed, she did not give the alarm and did not tell anyone what had happened even after it was known that Joseph Yates and Catherine Raine were missing.  She had even attended Catherine Raine’s funeral and still remained silent.  She did not tell anyone the truth for almost a year.  For all that time she lived in fear of the three prisoners taking revenge on her and made sure she never went anywhere by herself.

 

James Lincoln, of Barnard Castle, weaver who lived in the same house as Ann Humphreys and Hannah Lincoln, his wife, Jan Humphreys, sister to Ann and John Humphreys her father and Elizabeth Hall who lived in the room below that occupied by the Humphreys were all called to corroborate Ann Humphrey’s evidence that she had gone out and come back in without disturbing the family:  that was, they had not seen or heard anything of her comings and goings that night.

 

Henry Alderson of Barnard Castle, mason, corroborated Ann Humphrey’s description of the manner in which the party walked down to the bridge. Catherine Raine and Joseph Yates passed him first, then Ann Humphreys and Thomas Raine, and then John Breckon and George Barker.  They were all going towards the bridge.  He had known all those concerned all their lives and was positive in his identification.  After they had passed him he went home were he arrived a little before two o’clock on the Sunday morning.

 

John Kaye, a tailor, at Barnard Castle, proved that on Saturday 9th August at about 5 pm he had paid Yates not less than 7s.

 

Thomas Scrafton of Stainton saw Yates at about 7.45 pm on the Saturday and saw him in possession of a sovereign.

 

Ann Rutherford was in Yates’s father’s house on the 9th between seven and eight p.m. and saw Yates in possession of a sovereign which he asked his sister to change.  Yates gave his father two half crowns out of the change and his sister two shillings and put the remainder in his pocket before going out for the evening.

 

Joseph Brown, shoemaker of Barnard Castle saw Yates between eight and nine p.m. and paid him 5s in two half crowns.  Yates already had money in his possession.  Brown was sure about the night because when Yates was reported to be missing next morning he made the remark that he wished he had not paid him as he was afraid he had gone and spent it in drink.  Yates was ‘a gay young man and spent his money freely’.

 

George Sparrow of Barnard Castle, carter was in Collinson’s public house between seven and nine on the night in question.  He saw Yates and his father with 15s to 20s in silver.

 

Relton Dowson Bowron of Barnard Castle, plumber, was in Brass’s public house at just after ten that evening where he saw Yates who stayed about two hours.  He was in a drunken state and paid for his drink with silver – about two shillings worth.  When Yates left so did two young men who had been drinking with him, but Bowron was unable to identify them.

 

William Graham of Barnard Castle, mason, was also in Brass’s public house and also saw Yates pay for his drink with silver coins.

 

John Etherington of Barnard Castle, shoemaker corroborated events in Brass’s public house and had left there in Yates company and walked with him to Loftus’s public house.  Yates went inside and Etherington went home.

 

James Grunskill of Barnard Castle, tailor saw Yates in Loftus’s about twelve o’clock along with Matthew Wright, Francis Wright and James Cooper.  Shortly after twelve Yates left Loftus’s with the three named and the witness.  They went down Thorngate and over the bridge to Startforth intending to visit Hunton’s public house, but it was closed.  They met James Minnikin and Robert Longstaff.  They remained together until about one o’clock.  James Cooper and Matthew Wright left them at the end of the bridge.  Francis Wright also left them and went home by himself.  The witness and Joseph Yates went back to Bridgegate alone.  They saw Minnikin and Longstaff about 30 yards ahead of them.  At Greenacre Lonning they saw two women – Hannah Todd (also known as Chapman) and Ann Braithwaite.  Yates stopped to talk to them and Grunskill went home alone.  It was then about one o’clock.  Grunskill had not seen any money in Yates’s possession.

 

Ann Braithwaite corroborated that Yates had stopped to talk to her.  He had wanted her and Hannah Chapman to go drinking with him but they had refused.  He showed them that he had money enough to pay for drinks for them and pulled about ten or twelve shillings out of his pocket.  Hannah Chapman corroborated this evidence.

 

John Robinson of Barnard Castle, carpet weaver, told the court that he had seen Joseph Yates at about one thirty.  He had first seen Catherine Raine on Greenacre Lonning and saw Yates come up and put his arm around her and they walked on towards the bridge together.  He saw no one else with them.  He admitted being a little concerned for their safety as the path they took was dangerous on a wet night and it was very dark.

 

Emanuel Tenwick, blacksmith of Barnard Castle said that he had eaten his supper with Thomas Routledge Raine just before twelve at Stockdale’s.  They left at twenty to one and Raine, who he thought was of good character, went in the direction of his home.  This would have taken him by Barker’s house.

 

George Dobson, accountant of Barnard Castle was outside smoking a pipe when he saw Yates and Catherine Raine and spoke to them.  He later saw Barker in company with some other men going from the bridge.  It was late but the witness could not fix the time.

 

Robert Wandlass of Barnard Castle, carpet weaver got his supper at half past twelve and about half an hour later was walking from Bridgegate to Thorngate.  He met all three prisoners who were going towards the bridge.  On cross-examination he stated that he had said he did not see Barker and Raine in  Green acre lane that night as he had previously stated before the magistrates.

 

James Lincoln of Barnard Castle, weaver, who lived the same house with Ann Humphreys, Hannah Lincoln, his wife, Jane Humphreys (sister to Ann), Elizabeth Hall, who lived in the room below that occupied by the Humphreys and John Humphreys the father were called on to corroborate Ann Humphrey’s statement of her movements on the night in question.

 

Henry Alderson of Barnard Castle, mason, corroborated Humphrey’s description of the manner in which the party walked down to the bridge – Catherine Raine and Joseph Yates first, then Ann Humphreys and Thomas Raine and then John Breckon and George Barker.  He positively identified all three men having known them nearly all their lives.  After they had passed him he went home where he arrived a little before two’o clock on the Sunday morning.

 

Margaret Walker, Mary Hall and Mary Ann Dalkin confirmed hearing screams from the direction of the river at the time which Ann Humphreys alleged.

 

William Hall confirmed he had seen the three prisoners coming from the bridge at around two o clock.  He could not confirm seeing Ann Humphreys with them.  Hannah Hall his wife confirmed his testimony.

 

George Raper who kept a public house near the Sills confirmed that he had closed up at twelve o’clock and gone to bed at one.  At around two he heard screams and loud voices from the sills.  Five minutes later he heard voices under his window, a woman saying ‘I’ll tell, I’ll tell’ and the voices of men.  They headed towards the bridge and he heard no more.  Mary Raper his wife corroborated his evidence.

 

Isabella Clarkson, John Headlam Esq and John Wilkinson spoke about finding Yates body in the river and the discovery of a knife and sundry other items in his pockets but no money.  George Wrightson gave evidence about finding the body of Catherine Yates in the river on 19th August 1845.

 

William Raine, father of Catherine Raine, Jonathan Harrison, the person with whom the prisoner Barker lodged and Mary Alderson gave evidence tending to criminate the prisoners Barker and Raine.

 

This concluded the case for the prosecution and at seven pm on Tuesday March 16 court was adjoined, the jury being given lodgings in the Castle overnight.

 

On the morning of the 17th March, the case for the defence began.  Mr Matthews addressed the jury and then called witnesses.

 

Ann and Jane Parkin gave evidence that she had heard Barker come in the house and go to his room at around one o’clock.  Ann Oliver stated that she had seen Barker smoking a pipe in the house at around one o’clock.  He was still there when they went to bed at around half past one.  She did not hear him leave.

 

Thomas Gunson told the court that when he saw Yates during the evening he showed him that he only had around 6s on his person.  Ann Minikin and John Howie were in company with Yates at various times during the evening and did not see him with as much money as other witnesses had said.

 

Matthew Wright was at Collinson’s public house and afterwards at Loftus’s and then accompanied Yates into Startforth returning to Barnard Castle between twelve and one o’clock.  He did not see any of the prisoners that evening.

 

John Proctor saw Thomas Raine at Stockdales public house that night but not Barker or Breckon.  He lodged with Wandlass who had previously given evidence for the prosecution and told them that Wandlass was in bed by one o’clock on the night in question.  Thomas Taylor gave evidence as to the bad character of Wandlass.

 

William Thomas Lambert was in company with Mary Yates, sister of the deceased on the night and did not see her change the deceased a sovereign.

 

Thomas Oliver countered the evidence of Alderson who could not have seen the party by the light of the gas lamp as they were not lit that evening.  Oliver’s testimony was called into question under cross-examination due to his bad character.

 

Dorothy Dover told the court how Ann Humphreys had said to her that she saw Yates and Catherine Raine down the Sills twice after their deaths and that there was a smell of brimstone about them.  George Burrill confirmed he had heard Ann Humphreys tell the same story.

 

Finally Alexander Purvis, policeman at Barnard Castle was on duty on the night in question and did not see Ann Humphreys or any of the prisoners nor was he alerted to any trouble on that night.

 

This concluded the main business for the defence.

 

 

Baron Rolfe began his summing up at a quarter to seven.  He reminded the jury that although the case under judgement was the robbery itself - a grave enough offence, the accused had already been acquitted of two ‘barbarous murders’.   The result of the current trial could not affect the prisoners as regards their criminality or non-criminality, though it was totally out of the question to forget the decision whether they were really guilty of the murder or not.  He drew their attention again to the only witness to the robbery: Ann Humphreys “for if for any reason they could not give credit to her testimony, there was an end to the whole case”.  He further reminded that she had kept silent about the whole affair for many months.  Two hours later the judge concluded his remarks.  The jury retired and after an absence of no more than ten minutes returned with a guilty verdict.

 

Barker, Breckon and Raine were convicted of the crime of stealing one sovereign and other monies from Joseph Yates and sentenced to fifteen years transportation.  The judge, Mr Baron Rolfe told them that everyone present must be convinced that they had been guilty of two of the most barbarous murders that the annals of criminal justice could furnish.  He expressed his heartfelt regret that the law had failed to reach them on the capital charge and passed upon them the severest sentence that he was empowered to pass.  “This I will say – although I will not use the expression I have the satisfaction of knowing, for I will not harbour so barbarous a sentiment – that whether your lives shall, by the pleasure of God, be terminated early or protracted late, you will live the objects of abhorrence and detestation even among your guilty associates amongst whom you will be placed, who will be ashamed and contaminated at being with you; and I hope that you will devote every instant of your lives, if you have any wisdom or prudence, to endeavour to atone and expiate, as far as you can, by the innocence of your lives, the horrible crime which you have committed.”

 

The case led to a debate on the whole trial by jury system and capital punishment, condemning those jurors who in their view had shirked their duty ‘and deemed the lives of thee murderers of greater value than the peace of society’.

 

Thomas Routledge Raine and George Barker were transported to Western Australia on board the ‘Scindian’.  The ship – the first convict ship to transport convicts to Western Australia - left Portsmouth on 4th Mar 1850 bound for the Swan River Colony, arriving in Fremantle on 1st Jun 1850.  Raine was Convict 63 and George Barker Convict 39. 

 

The arrival of the convicts was a surprise to the Swan River Colony settlers as Western Australia had petitioned for convicts but had not yet received a reply when ‘Scindian’ arrived.  As no preparations had been made for their arrival, the colony had no jail capable of housing so many convicts.  The convicts were initially housed in the harbourmaster’s warehouse and one of their first jobs was to build their own prison.

 

In the ‘Scindian’ Manifest Thomas Routledge Raine is described as being 24 years of age, a carpenter by trade, unmarried, 5ft eight inches tall with light brown hair and grey eyes.  His face was oval with a fresh fair complexion and he was of a stout build.  He had his initials and a thistle tattooed on his left arm.  His convict record describes him as literate and of the Protestant Faith.  His Ticket of Leave date was 11th Jan 1851 after which he was placed with W.L. Brockman to work at his trade as a carpenter and his sentence expired on 6th Jun 1863 although it is recorded that an escape was not reported on the 16th Aug 1854.  He received his Certificate of Freedom on 22nd May 1871.

 

From the convict records Thomas Routledge Raine died on 3 Mar 1899.  He never married.

 

 

George Barker is described as being 23 years of age, a labourer by trade, also unmarried, 5 ft nine inches tall with brown hair and grey eyes.  His face was oval and darkly complexioned.  He was of ‘smart’ build and somewhat marked with smallpox.  His convict record describes him as literate and of the Protestant Faith.

 

From the convict records George Barker died in Fremantle on 27 Jul 1869 having received his ticket of leave date on 24 Nov 1851.  His sentence expired on 14 May 1862 and he received his Certificate of Freedom on 8th Jul 1863.  He married Ellen McInerney on 27 Oct 1851 and then Elizabeth McTaggart.

 

At the time of the trial John Breckon was already in Durham Gaol on a previous conviction for robbery.  I have not traced what happened to him or whether the sentence of transportation was ever carried out.

 

I have one potential record for him in the 1871 census where aged 53 he is a patient in North Riding of Yorkshire Lunatic Asylum in Clifton, Yorkshire.

 

 

Sources: Daily News, 18 Dec 1846, The Times 11 Jan 1847, Leeds Mercury 20 Mar 1847 and transcripts of the trials,