Samuel Thorley – the murder of Mary Pemberton


This is a sorry tale that has differing versions; this is the basic version as I understand it, however I will endeavour when I have some time to investigate further. For the meantime…

Samuel Thorley was a trader in Northwich. In 1833 he spent the early part of the year preparing for his marriage to Mary Pemberton, a servant girl and his sweetheart. He bought a house, and was furnishing it, but something suddenly went cool between them. Perhaps Mary had changed her mind? It seems that Thorley had several illigitimate children locally, and was keen to get his hands on her money, although a relative of Mary’s stated to a newspaper that there was no agreement, no house, and no planned wedding

Thorley went to her house after the market had closed one Friday, in a bid to resolve matter. He sat talking to her, but the problem was not resolved. Whilst she was showing him to the door, he took a razor from his pocket, and slit her throat.

Thorley went home, told his servant what he had done, and he asked the servant to go to his father and tell him. He changed and washed, and at 04:00am began his walk to Chester Castle to give himself up. Some stories say he had hidden in Delamere forest for some time, but his story went he arrived in Chester at 09:30, and after a glass of port, went to the castle. At first they refused to believe him, and he had to swear a confession to a magistrate. News of the murder soon came, and he was tried and convicted of murder.

He was hanged by Sammy Burrows over the gates of the ‘house of correction’. This was Burrow’s last appearance as hangman.
wip sign