Author Topic: Attempted Murder at Burham 10th June 1907  (Read 110 times)

Offline Invicta Alec

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Re: Attempted Murder at Burham 10th June 1907
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2021, 02:48:19 PM »
John,


Thank you. A fascinating read.


Alec.


Offline johnfilmer

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Re: Attempted Murder at Burham 10th June 1907
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2021, 05:33:41 PM »
Under questioning Isobel admitted travelling to Canada under the name of Kemsley.
She and James Kemsley were listed as man and wife (he 44, her 45) on the Ionian travelling from Liverpool to Montreal departing 12th July 1906. She also stated that she became his housekeeper in September, presumably back in Burham, so their stay in Canada was short.
Was this all to avoid the threats from Henry? Did they come back once they knew that Henry was in prison?
Slightly off topic, but the Ionian was lost in 1917 to enemy action near Milford Haven. One report has it on 20th October, by a Uboat firing torpedos, the other on 21st due to a mine. Both agree that 7 lives were lost.

Offline johnfilmer

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Re: Attempted Murder at Burham 10th June 1907
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2021, 06:35:42 PM »
 I found that the Kent Messenger keeps a digital archive, much of which early stuff from the Southern Gazette, is free for personal and educational use.
 
 After a bit of trawling I found the initial report, an interim one and then the report of Henry John Smitherman's death.
 
 I took screenshots so you can read the actual 1907 news items which are attached. Note that the first mention was on Saturday June 15th, which was reprinted in the next edition on Tuesday 18th. As the the reprint is in one piece rather than the two of the original that's what I've posted. The next instalment on Sat 22nd is again spilt across the paper, so is in two parts. The last is from Sat July 6th, and is one part.
 
 Putting my pistol shooting hat on, the report mentions him using a 5shot revolver, which fitted into a coat pocket, and was loaded with "ball". Ball is military-speak for solid ammunition, not by this time necessarily actual ball shaped, but not multiple shot as in shot gun cartridge. A 5shot weapon is probably a small calibre, maybe 32, and if easily concealed a very short (2"ish) barrel. It may well have been black powder (gunpowder not smokeless propellant) at this time. Such a low powered weapon is inaccurate and as I can vouch, no revolver is very accurate unless at very close range, hence James Kemsley was able to grab at it.
 
 Firearms legislation was pretty much non existent at that time, and private sales of pistols uncontrolled. It was only after WW1 when huge amounts of weapons were brought home, and following the Russian Revolution our politicians got nervous and a more effective scheme was applied.
 
 By the way, Isobel died in 1920, aged 63, and James Kemsley in 1923 aged 60.
 
 

Offline johnfilmer

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Attempted Murder at Burham 10th June 1907
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2021, 06:29:01 PM »
 I was doing some "tidying" around our Ancestry family tree, and found some hints in the Smitherman family.
 
 When I got to Henry John Smitherman (often just John) things got interesting, as the hint showed him dying in prison (Maidstone) shortly after his arrest for trying to kill James Kemsley at Burham. Screenshot attached.
 
 So I got delving. He aged 7, and his family were living at 1 Bakers Cottages, Capstone at the 1871 Census. Ignoring number 2, next there was "Clements Cottage" - which obviously caught my attention, that was occupied by the Howland family, son William (18) was a farm labourer.
 
 In 1881 he was 17, still living with his parents, and both he and his father were described as Woodmen. The addresses of all the properties were lumped together as "Capstone Houses". The Howlands were still next door but one, but the son was no longer there.
 
 1891 saw him still with his parents, still at Capstone, both being Wood Dealers. Also in those houses were his brother George and his wife, as well as his sister Kezia and her husband. The Howlands were still there, with an 11 year old grandson.
 
 In 1899 Q2(April - June) he married an Isobel Mary Howland in Lambeth. Isobel was born in Sheerness in 1857 according to various Census returns, and aged 14 in 1871 she was living with her family, the Purdues in Upper Luton Road. She had married William Howland, the son of the Smitherman's near neighbour. In 1881 she and her husband and one son were living in Cage lane, Chatham which even then was a distinctly dodgy area. It ran up the hill, roughly between Luton Arches and The Brook. William Howland was a Railway Porter at that time. They had another son, and in 1891 were living in Lower Darland Cottages, he being a Farm Labourer. William died in 1898 Q4(Oct-Dec), so Isabel didn't waste much time...
 
 You may note that Henry's previous convictions included drunkenness and assaulting his wife, the latter in 1899 when recently married.
 
 1901 Census finds them at the Robin Hood Public House, Burham. He was still a Wood Dealer, she now the Pub Manageress. Her two sons, aged 21 & 19 lived with them. She had shed a few years, Henry was correctly recorded as being 38, she said 41, but was actually 44.
 
 I have not found out who Henry was convicted of threatening to get his two 1906 convictions. However he tried to kill a James Kemsley on 10th June 1907, which is why he was in Maidstone Jail when he died in Prison awaiting trial in July 1907.
 
 James Kemsley had lived his whole life in Burham, and there is a half mile or so Byway that leads to the Robin Hood Pub. 
 
 In 1909 James Kemsley married Isobel Smitherman, and in 1911 they were living at 250 Castle Road, Chatham. Isobel's younger son was at 353 Luton Road. By the time of Henry's death the Smithermans were established at the Woodyard at 152 Luton Road, which is where the Probate records have him living. He left £16 10s 0d.