The Limerick Chronicle, dated August 3, 1833, contains an account of the trial of James Quin for the murder of Mary Knight. The incident occurred during a disturbance at the residence of a sex worker, leading to the tragic death of Mary Knight.

During the court session, of the Limerick Assizes – City Court, Wednesday, July 31, 1833, the following individuals were sworn in as jurors: James O’Sullivan, Robert Gabbett, John Grantham, John Reddan, Michael Quin, George Morgan Goggin, William Elson, John Roche, Hugh M. Robinson, James Massy, Pierce Shannon, Thomas Worrall, Esqs.

James Quin was then charged with the deliberate killing of Mary Knight on the night of March 5th earlier that year.

Bridget Holmes, also known as Barclay, testified as follows: She was the daughter of the late Mary Knight, who had passed away. Mary Knight was killed by James Quin just before the previous Assizes concluded. Bridget Holmes positively identified James Quin. She recounted the events of that evening, stating that she was having dinner between 9 and 10 o’clock when James Quin rushed up the stairs.

Her mother asked who it was, and he responded by inquiring if any of his men were present. Her mother denied this, to which he insultingly replied, “you lie, you old w—–.” He proceeded up the stairs, and her mother grabbed his coat, prompting him to strike her.

Bridget questioned him about his intentions, and he insulted her in the same manner as her mother. Both Bridget and her mother pushed him down the stairs, but he re-entered, grabbed a knife, and when Bridget turned away, she heard her mother scream “Biddy, Biddy, my darling, I’m killed” and fall to the ground, bleeding. Bridget did not witness the stabbing but saw James Quin discard the knife and flee. Her younger sister attempted to restrain him, but he escaped. Bridget managed to apprehend him and held him until the police arrived and took him into custody. James Quin was intoxicated at the time.

During cross-examination by Mr. Freeman, Bridget clarified that she had been married for two years and had previously lived with a gentleman before marrying Holmes, with whom she had a child. She maintained that she ran an honest establishment for “for him and every gentleman who chooses to go there”. This caused the courtroom to erupt with laughter. There were no other women like her at the house, and everything was conducted openly. She refuted any allegations of wrongdoing, including the case of a ship captain losing money in her establishment.

On cross-examination the following exchange took place

Mr. Freeman – You did not like being called an old w—-?

Biddy – Would you like I should call you a scoundrel? (great laughter)

Baron Pennefather – He should not like to be called an old scoundrel (continued laughter) – Never bit a piece of the nose off Mary Gibson; very little she ever had of it. (great laughter)

Baron Pennefather – But what little she had you did not improve.

Margaret Knight, the step-sister of Bridget Holmes, corroborated Bridget’s account of the altercation with James Quin. She added that while her sister held James Quin, she had gone to fetch the police, placing the knife on a potato basket to hand over to them. Margaret did not witness the stabbing but found her mother bleeding on the floor.

Joseph Moore, a police sergeant, remembered arresting James Quin after being informed by Bridget Holmes that her mother was dead. He saw Bridget holding the prisoner and overheard her accusing him of stabbing her mother. James Quin denied this, claiming that Bridget had done it. When they reached the house, Joseph observed a large wound near the deceased’s shoulder blade. He took James Quin into custody and noticed blood on his right hand. Joseph produced the knife, which he received from Bridget, and it was still stained with blood.

For the defence of James Quin, Mary Gibson, who operated a neighbouring establishment, testified that James Quin had repeatedly accused Bridget Barclay that night of killing her mother and stated that he would prosecute her in the morning. She believed that James Quin could have escaped from Bridget if he had wanted to, but both were intoxicated.

Her view of Bridget might have been tainted given that Mary Gibson stated in her examination that

the woman Holmes is a terrible woman.

Baron Pennefather – I think she is the person who bit off your nose? (laughter)

Witness – She is, my Lord (much laughter)

Mr. Bennett – That has made you very fond of them all; has it not?

Witness – It was no affect to me, but it would be her business (continued laughter)

Sergeant Moore, in his re-examination, confirmed that Bridget was not drunk that night.

Surgeon Wilkinson provided medical evidence, explaining that the fatal wound inflicted on the deceased was deep and resulted from a powerful blow. The wound entered from behind, between the ribs, and penetrated the chest, injuring the lungs.

The presiding judge summarized the evidence and emphasized the gravity of the situation, particularly the malicious allegations made by James Quin against the deceased’s daughter. Subsequently, the jury retired and returned with a verdict of guilty of manslaughter.

The judge then proceeded to deliver the sentence, condemning James Quin to transportation. In response, James Quin vehemently denied any involvement in the murder, making fervent gestures and imprecations, and praying that Heaven would bear witness to his innocence.