|Friday, 12 February 1892|
S U I C I D E
A T T E M P T E D M U R D E R
Last evening, shortly before 8 o'clock, those who were in the Feathers Hotel, Clayton-square were startled by the report of firearms. On going upstairs to the bar adjoining the billiard room a scene of the most tragic nature was witnessed. On the floor was lying a young lady who for the last four months had been a barmaid in the establishment, bleeding from a wound in the head, and across her was lying the body of a gentleman named Harry Thompson, of the firm of Messrs. Low, Thompson, and Co., provision merchants, Victoria Street, Liverpool. Mrs. Hamer, the manageress of the hotel, immediately summoned police assistance, and the horse ambulance from the Northern Hospital was telephoned. In the meantime, Dr. Fisher attended Miss Gelleburn - for such was the name of the lady - who was conscious, but Mr. Thompson was dead.
It was some time before the facts of the case could be ascertained, and meanwhile, a crowd of the curious were round the doors of the hotel. When matters had become more settled the story of the affair, and the exact circumstances under which the tragedy occurred, became better known. Mr. Thompson was a member of the firm of Messrs. Low, Thompson, and Co., and lived in Alexandra Road, Waterloo. He was a married man with two children, the youngest being only 14 days old. For some time past there had been an attachment between him and Miss Gelleburn, and it is understood that only of a recent date did that lady become aware that Mr. Thompson was a married man. In consequence of this, relations between them became somewhat strained. We are given to understand, by a gentleman who will not give his name, that about a month ago the deceased gentleman sent a note to Miss Gelleburn in which he made use of rather extraordinary language, and said that by the time she received the note he would be dead. The gentleman, in answer to entreaties from Miss Gelleburn, took a cab in company with the lady to Mr. Thompson's office,
and finding he was out, came back again. Miss Gelleburn was in a very disturbed state of mind, and shortly afterwards they met Mr. Thompson, who made further use of wild language and produced a revolver. Matters as far as we can learn, went on smoothly till Wednesday evening, when Miss Gelleburn took her evening's holiday, and went to a theatre with another gentleman. Mr. Thompson in the meantime was waiting at the Feathers Hotel for Miss Gelleburn to return, and shortly before eleven o'clock he was seen sitting in the dining room in the dark beside the lady, and evidently in Ernest conversation with her. Yesterday he was in the house practically the whole of the day drinking and playing billiards. At half past he sent the "boots," named O'Rourke, over to his office for his silk hat and other articles. O'Rourke returned shortly afterwards. He gave the hat to Miss Gelleburn and went downstairs again to attend to his business. About an hour afterwards, so he says, he had occasion to go the coffee room again, and there saw Miss Gelleburn with one of the barmaids, and she was then crying. Her companion asked her what was the matter, and she said that she could not tell her. Again O'Rourke went upstairs and found the ladies talking together, and Miss Gelleburn had then a box of cartridges in her hand, and said that she was going to die that night. The barmaid who was with her at the time, however, does not remember any such statement being made.
Mrs. Hamer , the manageress, noticed Mr. Thompson coming in at half past six, and thought that he had enough drink, and as she was going to have some tea, asked him to have a cup, as she thought it would do him good. He, however, did not take advantage of her offer. She went alone, therefore, and had her tea. While she was thus engaged she heard the report of firearms, and on going to the bar saw the scene which has been described above. She sent for the police, and Police Constable 289A came in and summoned the ambulance. Dr. Fisher, who was close at hand, attended temporarily to the wants of Miss Gelleburn, who, it was afterwards stated, lived on the premises, but her home was with her parents at 62, Radcliffe-Street, Brunswick-road. Dr. Nott came with the ambulance, and both the deceased, and Miss Gelleburn, who was wounded in the head with a bullet, which had lodged there, were removed to the Northern Hospital.
The detective department at Dale-street having been appraised of the affair, immediately put their resources into play, and Detectives Jackson, Lamothe, and Allison were sent down to the hotel to make inquiries. The result of their investigations, which, we believe, are corroboration of the story given above, will be given in full at the inquest on Mr. Thompson's body. On examination at the hospital it was resolved that search was to be made for the bullet, which is supposed to have entered Miss Gelleburn's head. Dr. Pumy and other doctors were summoned, and it was decided to perform an operation. After some labour, however, no bullet was to be found, and it was evident that the ladies hair had saved her from being killed. At an early hour this morning it was reported that the program towards recovery was most satisfactory, though the patient was not out of danger.
There will be many in the city who know Miss Gelleburn, for she was for a considerable period, though she is only a young woman of 21 years of age, an assistant in Butter's Restaurant, Dale-street, In the hotel itself, which for some little time was closed to the general public, a scene approaching utter consternation was witnessed. On inquiry at the hotel at half past eight, no information could be obtained, for all those in the place were more or less at wits' end to account for the occurrence. The conversation was carried on in a subdued tone of voice, and it appeared to be useless to endeavour to obtain anything like the real facts of the case.
With extraordinary rapidity the news of the terrible tragedy which had been enacted at the Feathers Hotel spread throughout the city. The deed was perpetrated at a quarter to eight, and so quickly did the news spread that before the next chimes of the clock garbled accounts, even more sensational in their character than the actual facts, were being eagerly discussed both amongst the numerous habitant's of similar resorts and amongst the groups of men and women who are wont to congregate in less fashionable saloons and public houses. To those whose business lies in similar lines to that of the unfortunate young women who has received so terrible a warning, the news was naturally fraught with an intensity of melancholy interest. Barmaids - whether in large hotels or in ordinary public houses - have often a very difficult position to sustain. Much tact is required in dealing with a large proportion of the class of customers whom they serve, and there must doubtless be many girls who in their association with men of strong and unbridled passions run great risk, from the peculiarly embarrassing nature of their work, of giving offence. But it was not alone in such places that the news was discussed. In the clubs and
theatres the distressing occurrence quickly became known, and, as always happens in cases of sensational interest, the rumours floating about were of a grossly exaggerated character. Until late at night a large crowd gathered around the vicinity of the Feathers Hotel, and eagerly discussed the circumstances of the terrible tragedy whilst watching and waiting for further and more authentic details. Since the horrible tragedy enacted by the wretched man Conway some months ago, no more sensational event than that which occurred last night has been enacted in Liverpool.
From another source we have the following facts: - The tragedy took place in an upper story of the hotel, where a bar has been constructed contiguous to the dining room. It is somewhat singular that no one was about at the time, the suicide and his intended victim having been quite alone. From what could be learned at the hotel, it would appear that shortly before eight o'clock sounds of firing were heard, and great excitement was caused amongst the people in the hotel when it was ascertained that one of the assistants had been shot and that her assailant was himself lifeless, having put an end to his existence by the use of the same weapon with which he apparently intended to destroy his victim. The deceased, who carried on business as a provision dealer in Victoria-street, is described as being a man of about 30 years of age, and it is stated that he was married, and had a family of two or three children, his residence being in the Waterloo district. Those who observed him yesterday say that he was strange in his manner, and that he had apparently been drinking, but no suspicions were entertained that he was likely to commit the desperate act that he did. The lady whom he shot, Miss Emily Gelleburn, was about 23 or 24 years of age, and had only been engaged at the hotel for a period of a few months. The injured lady. immediately upon the shot being fired, fell on the floor of the room, near the entrance of the bar, and her assailant, who had at once discharged a second bullet at himself, fell lifeless, on the same spot. When the alarm had been given, and it was realized what had taken place, an ambulance was sent for from the Northern Hospital, to which institution Miss Gelleburn was removed. On the news of the tragedy becoming known in the streets a large crowd collected in Clayton-square, and for a time there was considerable excitement, which did not subside until some hours after the occurrence of the tragedy. No definite reason is assigned for the suicide's attempt on the life of Miss Gelleburn, but it is said that for some time he has seemed to be infatuated in regard to her.