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Branxholme Murder 

From:    THE ARGUS   July 27th 1883

Hamilton, Thursday

John Grey, who shot his wife at Branxholme on Tuesday night, was brought up at the police court today. He expressed surprise at having been arrested, declared his innocence of the crime, and was remanded to the inquest, which will be held tomorrow.

  From:    THE ARGUS   July 28th 1883

[By Telegraph]


The inquest on the body of Elizabeth Grey, who was shot by her husband on Tuesday morning, commenced at 10 o’clock this morning, and occupied all day. Mr. Orme P.M., officiated as coroner, and Superintendent Drought conducted the case on behalf of the police. The prisoner, who was in attendance in custody, had not the services of a legal adviser, and frequently had to be cautioned by Mr. Orme not to make statements which might, if he were committed, be used against him on his trial. He several times burst into tears, as also did his son William, who gave his evidence clearly enough, and most positively identified his father as the man who fired the shot. The prisoner appeared to be in a weak state of health and much shaken. William Grey’s evidence was very similar to that already reported, but he added that, believing his mother to be dead, he ran away at seven o’clock to the Audley homestead about a mile away and remained there until daybreak. In explanation he said he lay down there, being thoroughly exhausted. During the night he heard someone cooeying in the direction of his hut, and believed it might be his father who would shoot him if he went back. When he struggled with the man, he said, “ Father, what are you doing, or what are you going to do?” or words to that effect. His father made no reply, but strove again to strike him with the gun, at the same time kicking him to throw him down. Subsequently his father, alluding to the rifle said, “Let go that.”  When falling his mother said, “Oh William” and he never heard her speak again. He fully recognised his father by his voice and features; he could not be mistaken. He exhibited scars on his legs, where his father had kicked him, and also circular wounds to his forehead which might have been caused by the muzzle of a rifle. He recognised an old Enfield rifle produced as like the one he had seen at his father’s and like the one used by the man on the night of the murder. There was nothing new in the other portions of his evidence.
 On being asked if he had any questions to put, the prisoner inquired if he would be allowed to summon witnesses? Mr. Orme replied he would be allowed to do so at his trial, but was not committed yet.
 The prisoner saluted the magistrate, and said “Thank you , Sir” and looking intently at his son, exclaimed “ That is all I have got to say. God knows what you have done.”
 Thomas Scott, a legally qualified medical practitioner, said that he had been summoned to attend, and on arriving at Grey’s hut on Tuesday morning, about daybreak, found the woman dying. In fact, she died just after he arrived. On examining her he found that she had suffered from a compound comminuted fracture of both bones of the left leg under the knee. He had no doubt it was caused by a gunshot wound, and thought it possible, owing to the size of the wound, that there had been more bullets or shot than one. The bullet had taken a down ward course, but owing to the laceration, it was impossible to ascertain the point of exit. He had that day examined the wound and could find no foreign body or substance in it, which he attributes to the fact that the gun must have been fired close at hand, and the bullet have gone with great force right through the leg. He attributed death to the gun shot wound, haemorrhage, and the shock to the system. The woman possessed such a strong constitution that he did not think the shock to the system alone would have caused death. The man must have stood erect when he fired the shot and have very much depressed the muzzle of the gun. A round piece of lead, about 1/2 in. long with flat ends, was here produced. It had been found in the prisoner’s residence, and had been cast in a piece of hard wood. Such a piece of lead could he said, have been flattened  like the piece produced, and found near where Mrs. Grey fell. When he arrived a calico bandage had been placed around the leg. If there had not been much bleeding, he would have used such a bandage, but if there had been he would have put on a tourniquet.
 William Johnson MD said that at about eight o’clock on Tuesday night he received an intimation that his services would be required, and he arrived at Grey’s hut at about half past 10 in company with Constable Moore and Mr. Gough. They found the deceased on the floor of the hut, whither she had dragged herself after her son had left, and placed her on a bed or sofa in the kitchen. They found her pulseless and in a state of collapse. The witness’s description of the wound tallied with that given by Dr. Scott. He added that the broken bones protruded through the underclothing and kept it fastened to the leg. When he first saw the deceased there with no haemorrhage, only a slight oozing. He administered brandy, and subsequently laudanum, ether, and ammonia. She did not lose an ounce of blood whilst he was there, and he had seen a person bleed more in a few minutes than she had done altogether. He attributed this to the cessation of the heart’s action through fright. She was, perfectly sensible, and strange to say, although he could no where detect any pulsation, her voice was as strong as it had ever been. He considered that shock to the system, attended by haemorrhage, was the cause of death. The extensiveness of the wound was caused by the woman dragging her injured limb along the ground.
 In answer to Superintendent Drought, the witness said he put on the bandage as quickly as possible, but there was no arterial haemorrhage. He asked the deceased who did it, and at first she said it was a tall man. Subsequently she asked after her son William, and said it was a tall man who shot her. The witness was about to give further particulars in this direction but the coroner checked him, the prisoner not being there when the remarks were made. He then said, “She made a statement about a particular person.”
 Edward Gough, examined, gave corroborative evidence. He said he had examined the rifle produced, and thought it had been recently discharged and reloaded. The barrel was wet.
 Prisoner said he could give a reason for that, but was checked by the coroner.
 Constable Moore gave evidence as to his finding traces of a struggle near the hut, a broken pipe, a bullet, grey hairs & c.
 Constable Horan deposed to the arrest of the prisoner at 5 o’clock on Tuesday morning, when he was in bed. The latter denied being outside his own garden that night. He found the rifle produced lying alongside the prisoner on a table near his bed. His boots looked as though they had been traversing mud and water. He was perfectly sober, cool and collected.
 The jury, after a few minutes deliberation, returned the following verdict:- “The jury are unanimously of the opinion that Elizabeth Grey came to her death by a gun shot wound inflicted by John Grey, her husband, at William Grey’s selection, on Audley Station on the 24th inst.” The prisoner, who had nothing to say was committed for trial at the next Hamilton assizes.

From:    THE ARGUS   July 28th 1883

From:    THE ARGUS   February 26th 1884

The Hamilton Assizes

[By Telegraph]

This morning the sentence of death was passed on John Grey,convicted of wilful murder of his wife.


   This page is copyright and has been produced from family research material collected by CAROL JUDKINS wife of George Judkins, Elizabeth's Great, Great Grandson.

Created 25 May 1998

Modified 31 July 2005