Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1900 & 09

Sarah Alice Howarth (1862 - 1902)

Sarah Howarth was murdered by her husband Peter, at their home, No.3 Tudor Street, off Withington Street, Pendleton on New Year's Day 1902. She was 40 years of age.


Peter Howarth, aged 44, was a Carter, employed at Pendleton Cleansing Department. Their home was shared with lodgers, Peter's eldest brother's widow, Mary Ann Howarth and a Robert Parkinson. Sarah was known to take a drink and sometimes to excess. On the day she was murdered, Peter had given her 2 shillings to buy dinner. When he arrived home there was no Sarah and no dinner. He asked his sister-in-law Mary to go and look for her and she found Sarah in a drunken state at the Rob Roy beer house, Broad Street. Mary got Sarah out of the Rob Roy, but Sarah insisted on another drink at the Old House at Home Inn on Pimlott Lane. They arrived home at 5 pm and after an exchange of words with Peter, Sarah went to sleep on the sofa. Mary went out to buy a loaf of bread. Some time later Sarah woke up and there was another exchange of words. Peter went into the scullery, picked up an adze (which was used for cutting firewood) and struck Sarah on the side of the head. She died in a pool of blood. At 7.20 pm Robert Parkinson came into the house and Peter said to him "Bob, look what I have done".


The following day (2nd January) at Salford Police Court, Peter Howarth was charged with the wilful murder of his wife and was remanded in custody for trial at Manchester Assizes. On Friday 3rd January an Inquest was held at the Duke of Lancaster Hotel, Bexley Square. Dr Thomas Orchard of 54, Seedley Road had performed the post mortem. He said that the deceased had a large fracture to the skull above the right ear, 4 inches back to front and 3 inches vertically. The brain was lacerated and torn and portions of the broken skull were driven into the brain. He found a large jagged wound on the front of the neck about four and a half inches in length. The windpipe was cut, the injury going backwards to the spine. The cause of death was the injuries she received either of which would cause it. The Jury's finding was: Wilful murder under great provocation, with a strong recommendation of mercy.


The Funeral of Sarah Alice Howarth took place on Monday afternoon 5th January from Sarah's sister's house in Nashville Street. Following the hearse, which was drawn by two horses, came one mourning coach which contained Sarah's sisters and other relatives. The coffin was of oak and brass mounted. The plate was inscribed "Sarah Alice Howarth, died January 1st 1902, aged 40 years". Several Wreathes from the family covered the coffin. As the cortege wound its way to Weaste Cemetery, it was watched by large crowds of spectators and there were about 100 persons, mainly women, around the grave. The burial service was read by Rev.W. Hudson and the funeral arrangements were undertaken by Messrs Coop and Sons, Broad Street, Pendleton.


On 31st January, at Manchester Assizes, Peter Howarth confessed that he could not stand the conduct of his wife any longer. He was found guilty of the wilful murder of his wife and sentenced to death. His friends and colleagues decided to petition the Home Secretary for clemency. The petition of 32,000 signatures, including the Mayor of Salford, most of the Lighting and Cleansing Committee and many Council employees was duly considered. On Wednesday 12th February the Home Secretary announced that the "death sentence had been commuted to one of penal servitude for life".