THE TITHEBARN STREET OUTRAGE
‘My husband was murdered for sixpence’ -Alice Morgan
t was an August Bank holiday in 1874. Robert Morgan and his wife, Alice, spent the day on a trip to Birkenhead. They then caught the ferry back across the river. At around 9pm, the couple met up with Robert’s brother, Samuel, at the docks. The three walked up Tithebarn Street and on their way home, popped into a pub in Chapel Street for a nightcap.
As they departed at around 9:30pm, it was still light. They were surrounded by Cornermen. One asked Robert if he had six pence for a quarter pint. Perhaps because they were on one of the major seven streets of Liverpool, Robert, felt safe enough to goad them. He said they wouldn’t need to beg if they had a job? Even less wisely, Robert then turned his back on them.
Within a few steps, one of the Cornermen delivered a punch to the back of his head. It sent Robert sprawling across the street. Samuel retaliated. He knocked one of the assailants down. The gang whistled for back up. Campbell and Mullen attacked Samuel.
A third man began kicking Robert. When he started trying to choke him, Robert’s wife jumped on him. So someone took a running kick at her. She was hit in the ear so hard that she went deaf - the kick to her head was the last thing she ever heard as she would never regain her hearing.
The noise of the fighting drew crowds out of the pubs and families from their homes. But instead of protecting Robert and his family, some encouraged the beating. One woman shouted, “Give him it! Give him it!” Some men decided to join in the activity of kicking a human being like a football. Approximately seven men kicked Robert’s increasingly lifeless body for about 40ft down the street.
When Robert stopped moving, the gang fled down one of these side streets. Samuel tackled one but then McCrave pulled a knife. Distracted, and then attacked from behind, Samuel couldn’t stop the gang’s escape.
It was said that the police tried to intervene but too late. Robert bled out on the steps of a warehouse. Samuel returned to find an onlooker trying to revive Robert with brandy. But it was all too late.
Finally, at 9.50pm, the police took control. A PC Adam Green arrived and escorted Robert to the North Dispensary in Vauxhall Road. The coroner found his body shockingly cut and bruised. What appeared to be a stab wound was identified on the left side of his neck. Samuel set off to capture the assailants.