Skip to main content

Thomas Brennan Murder Trial Globe 27 September 1848 Transcript

On the 4th day May last, Mary O'Connor, Brennan, and the daughter of the latter, went in company from Queenston to Chippewa. They returned in the evening: and when about half way between the two places mentioned, the daughter went into the house to get a drink. On going out she missed her companions, and proceeded ownwards, it being after dark when she reached home. She found Patrick O’Connor and his little boy in the house, and they all went to bed. It was late in the night when her father returned, and Mrs O’Connor she never saw again. On awaking the following morning, she found that her father and O’Connor and his son had left the house – a small one belonging to Mr. Brown, situated near the old church, below the macadamized road at Queenston. She went to the riverbank, and there saw a person lying dead, whom she believed to be Patrick O’Connor, as at the Coroner’s inquest subsequently held on the body, it proved to be. Her father came home around twelve o’clock. She mentioned to him what she had seen, and his observation with respect to it was, that some other person might have killed him, but he could not tell for what reason. On the same day, about two o’clock in the afternoon, the little boy four years of age, went to the house of Mrs Margaret Hopkin, in Queenston, in great distress of mind and suffering great pain of body; one of his little arms was broken between the elbow and the shoulder, and his face, head, hips and other parts of the body were much bruised and discoloured. The daughter of Brennan went the following day to entice the boy away, but he shrank from her, as if terrified by her appearance: Mrs Hopkin refused to give him up until he should be claimed by his parents, the girl alleging that they had gone to Lockport, and would be back in two or three days; which allegation, coupled with her acknowledgement of having seen O’Connor’s dead body the previous morning, bears hardly upon herself.

The little boy was produced in Court, but his evidence was not taken, as from questions put by the Judge it appeared that he knew nothing of prayer, or of the nature of an oath. We must now narrate certain circumstances which in connection with the leading facts above given, placed the guilt of the prisoner beyond doubt. About 6 o’clock in the morning on the 5th he was seen by the mail carrier at the top of the precipice [of the Niagara Gorge] below which the bodies of the unfortunate O’Connors were found: and there too, were found a rope and a hammer, bearing marks of blood, which the prisoner had been in the habit of using. The coat he wore was also stained with blood, and stains of it were in the house and on the main road at the place where it would be crossed by persons ascending the mountain by the footpath leading to the old barracks, and going thence to the precipice. O’Connor was seen just before his death with 10 or 12 dollars in his possession, and when the prisoner was arrested at Toronto by Mr. Foster, the constable, he had upon him a larger sum of money than it was likely from his habits he could have honestly obtained possession of: and after her death, Brennan offered for sale a plaid dress belonging to Mary O’Connor. Brennan’s daughter deposed that in reply to a question put to him by her as to why Mrs. O’Connor had not returned with him from Chippewa, he said that she had gone to Mr. Kennedy’s: and after she had communicated to him that she had seen O’Connor’s dead body lying on the bank of the river, he told the witness that the O’Connors had gone to Lockport to look for work, another, that they had gone to Lewiston in order that O’Connor’s eyes, which were diseased, might be treated by a surgeon.

The body of O’Connor was discovered by some boys on the 10th, and that of his wife on the 28th May – the latter in such an advanced state of decomposition, and so destitute of clothing, that it could only be identified by the laced half-boots she wore.

Newspaper Clipping - Murder Trial of Thomas Brennan, Globe, 27 September, 1848