Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1900 & 09

Mary Jane Howarth (1866 - 1903)

Mary Jane Howarth was a 37-year-old woman with five children who was killed by her husband Richard.


Mary Jane Jones was born in 1866 in Cable Street, Salford, the daughter of Robert and Sarah Jones. She married Richard Howarth, who came from Kendal. They kept a watchmaker's shop at 148 Ellor Street, Pendleton, but in 1894 they had to dispose of the business. At that time they had four children and were well respected. It was also said that Mary Jane had a violent temper and both took drink to excess.


The Salford City Reporter on 9th January 1904 ran the headline "Alleged Manslaughter Case. A Salford woman the Victim". It went on: "A journeyman watchmaker named Richard Howarth, who some nine years ago kept a watchmaker's shop at 148, Ellor Street, Pendleton was committed for trial on Monday afternoon by the County Coroner Mr J.F.Price for the alleged manslaughter of his wife Mary Jane Howarth, at 17, Mees Square, Barton where they had lived with their five children for the past three months".


The evidence showed that on the evening of Boxing Day 1903, Richard and Mary Jane quarrelled and it is alleged that blows were struck and that Richard kicked Mary Jane. She went to bed with pains in her stomach, although the following day (Sunday 27th December) she appeared better. Then on Monday she was worse and was heard to say "you have done for me this time". Mary Jane's condition became serious on Tuesday and she was taken to the Workhouse hospital. She suffered from incessant vomiting and rapidly grew worse, until she died on the afternoon of Thursday, 31st December 1903, (although the gravestone records 1st January).


At the Inquest, a Porter at the workhouse hospital stated that when he remarked to Howarth that he'd heard that he and his wife had had a bit of a quarrel, Howarth remarked "well, I was in drink and I pushed her over". When the Porter remarked that he did not think his wife was going to get better, Howarth appeared very much upset and replied "it will be very hard on me". The post mortem examination disclosed a large contusion on the lower abdomen about five inches wide and nearly three inches long. The cause of death was diffused peritonitis.


The funeral of Mary Jane Howarth took place at Weaste Cemetery on 6th January 1904. The body was removed from Barton the previous night to the residence of her brother in Scales Street, Seedley. A number of former neighbours of Ellor Street contributed to the purchase of a wreath, which was placed on the coffin. Mary Jane was interred in her parent's grave in plot 34 in the Dissenters portion and the service was conducted by Rev. John Dyer Bray.


At Manchester Assize Court on Tuesday 2nd February 1904, Richard Howarth was indicted for the manslaughter of his wife Mary Jane. It was alleged that death was caused by a kick administered by the prisoner on 26th December at 8 o'clock in the evening. Their eldest child, 15-year-old Elizabeth, had to give evidence. She said that she worked as a Domestic Servant and on 26th December she went to work and returned as usual and gave her mother her wages of three shillings. Her mother left the house for the Bird in Hand Hotel to look for her father, this being an hour after the barman had refused to serve Richard. Her mother had told her that her father was drunk and he pushed, then kicked her in the stomach. She (Mary Jane) went outside and sat on the kerb. Richard and a neighbour assisted her home and she went to bed fully clothed. Elizabeth sat up with her mother all night. She gave her a drink, but it came up. On Tuesday 29th the doctor was called and he removed Mary Jane to the Workhouse Hospital.


Richard Howarth said that he had argued with Mary Jane and admitted striking her several times. He said on Christmas Day he had given her 10 shillings and had asked for 2 pence, but she refused. That started the argument. The next day Mary Jane became violent and fell against the dresser. He denied kicking her.


The Jury retired and after 30 minutes returned to give a verdict of guilty, with a recommendation of mercy. Justice Bigham sentenced Richard to three years penal servitude.