Trail of Blood & Feathers

1900s Shuttle Row

According to the justices, on 2nd June 1908, Thomas Murray, a miner living at 9 Shuttle Row took drastic action to put food on the table.

Shuttle Row, pictured around this time was a slum and conditions were most difficult. It was said that on that day, he approached the entrance to the nearby Linoleum Mill on the banks of the Clyde and broke into a henhouse. The henhouse and hens belonged to Alexander F Miller of Millgate House, next to Shuttle Row and temptation may have literally been right outside Murray’s own window.

Thomas stole a Leghorn Cock and Leghorn Hen and when the discovery was made, the police were called.

Clues were easy enough, with a clear line of blood and feathers all the way from the hen house up the embankment, right up to the door of Shuttle Row, then indeed inside, right up to Murray’s own door. The police had an easy time of it, as the chapped the door to make their enquiries.

Inside the house, drops of blood and some feathers were quickly spotted on the floor but Thomas Murray proceeded to give a defence. He stated that two men had late the night before knocked his door, asking for some shelter and with them had brought the two birds, with a meal offered in return.

They had cooked the two birds and taken away in the morning what they couldn’t eat. In court later the next month, it was only Thomas standing in the dock, the two men never traced. The judge admitted he couldn’t sentence Thomas for stealing, but did want to convict him on the suspicion of arranging the whole theft. Stating that there was too much hen stealing going on in Blantyre at the time, he was harshly convicted of one months imprisonment.

This postcard illustrates the story well, with chickens freely walking about outside the building. Finally, I don’t know if an injustice was carried out here. The story of two men arriving at the door and offering food, in return for a place to sleep is perhaps plausible. Maybe thats just me being naïve? What do you think?

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  1. Hi Paul, I hope your recovery is going well and you are safely ensconced back in the arms of your family! If it were myself going out to capture birds for my family to eat, then I would have made sure there was no trail to my front door, just saying?? I think the poor man was set up, but he did get a good feed so perhaps worth a month in Jail?? One less mouth to feed at home??

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