menu

REYTA Finalist Just Beverley shortlisted nominee o2 community publication award 2017 Just Beverley Saver
Railway image of Lady in carriage

Tales from the Treasure House - 1853 mystery on the Hull to Beverley railway line

Nowadays rail travel is one of the most efficient and safest modes of transport.  In the nineteenth century, the ease of rail travel gave women in particular a form of independence that few had previously experienced. 

However, the reporting of events on 18 January 1853 on a train travelling from Hull to Beverley must have sent a shudder through many a female rail traveller. 

The first murder on a British railway is widely believed to have been committed by Franz Muller, who was hanged for the murder of Thomas Briggs on a London train in 1864.  However, the attack on Beverley resident Caroline Duffill on a train 11 years earlier deserves some mention, as the inscription on her grave has recently been discovered in some scrapbooks deposited at the East Riding Archives at the Treasure House in Beverley.

On 18 January 1853, Caroline Duffill, wife of Thomas Duffill, landlord of the Freemasons Arms on Ladygate (Beverley), took a train to Hull on business.  On her return trip an acquaintance she had met in Hull called William Holliday updated his third class ticket to second so he could sit in the same carriage as her.  During the trip something happened which caused her to jump out of a moving train, shouting ‘Thief! Thief!’ as it left Cottingham station.  She later died of head injuries sustained from her jumping onto the rails.  She was buried in Beverley Minster churchyard on 30 January 1853.

William Holliday was soon charged with the manslaughter of Caroline Duffill at Cottingham.  On the judge’s direction the jury threw out the bill due to the lack of physical evidence and William Holliday was acquitted.

Bernard Bradford, a former secretary of the East Riding Antiquarian Society recorded the inscription in his scrapbook in the 1940s.  At the time, the information on the headstone was clearly visible and could be well documented for the scrapbook’s purposes, but now, unfortunately, all evidence has been erased due to the weather and age of the headstone.  Only the scrapbook notes remain.

An excerpt reads:

‘Mysterious was my cause of Death

In the prime of life, I Fell

For days I lived yet ne’er had breath

The secret of my fate to tell

Farewell my child and husband dear

By cruel hands I leave you

Now that I’m dead and, sleeping here

My Murderer may deceive you

Though I am dead, yet I shall live

I must my Murderer meet…’

And the innocence shall give

My cause of death complete

Forgive my child and husband dear

That cruel man of blood

He soon for murder must appear

Before the son of God. 

Caroline Duffill’s death might not have the notoriety and excitement that the 1864 London murder created, but whatever happened in that carriage on that fateful evening, the family of Caroline Duffill believe that she was murdered.  Did she jump?  Or was she actually pushed?  Perhaps we will never know full truth.

Latest from Arts and Culture

Peter Snow and Ann Macmillan coming to Beverley this week : Heroism and humanity in the hands of two top journalists

Peter Snow and Ann Macmillan coming to Beverley this week : Heroism and humanity in the hands of two top journalists

Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan are familiar and popular names in journalism.  Their careers have ranged across ITN, BBC’s Newsnight, Global TV and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporat...
ERT Candlelight Sessions feature Pete Dilley

ERT Candlelight Sessions feature Pete Dilley

Join us for an evening of live music in the relaxed Café Bar of the East Riding Theatre, where the Candlelight Sessions brings you up close and personal with the artist; candlelit, in...
DiscovER Stories by John Godber coming to East Riding Libraries

DiscovER Stories by John Godber coming to East Riding Libraries

Lit Up Festival is thrilled to present a newly commissioned work by one of the UK’s most performed playwrights, John Godber, which will tour East Riding Libraries at the end of this month, as pa...

Latest from News

Have yourself a ‘handmade’ Christmas at East Riding Adult Learning Centres

Have yourself a ‘handmade’ Christmas at East Riding Adult Learning Centres

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has launched its 2017 Christmas courses, which are available to view and book online.  The courses are suitable for adults aged over the age of 19, plus there ...
Peter Snow and Ann Macmillan coming to Beverley this week : Heroism and humanity in the hands of two top journalists

Peter Snow and Ann Macmillan coming to Beverley this week : Heroism and humanity in the hands of two top journalists

Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan are familiar and popular names in journalism.  Their careers have ranged across ITN, BBC’s Newsnight, Global TV and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporat...
Council completes removal of sunken vessels from the River Hull

Council completes removal of sunken vessels from the River Hull

Contractors working on behalf of East Riding of Yorkshire Council have removed 13 sunken vessels from the River Hull, between Tickton and Beverley Beck, during the month of September. Removing the ...

Features

Todays Events

Friday - 20th

Billy Kemp - all the way from Baltimore

Monks Walk, Highgate, Beverley
7:30pm

Upcoming Events

Saturday - 21st

Jacob's Well Appeal Drive Sale

Toll Gavel United Church, Beverley
9:00am

Village History Study Day

Treasure House, Champney Road, Beverley
9:30am

The Britten Sinfonia present Mother Goose

Toll Gavel United Church, Beverley
2:00pm

Sunday - 22nd

Monday - 23rd

White Horse Folk Club Singers and Musicians Night

Beverley Conservative Club, Wylies Road
8:30pm