A very brutal murder took place on the evening of Saturday the 10th of October 1857, between eight and nine o’clock, which caused great distress in the town. David Paterson, a weaver to trade, had proceeded to the house of Thomas Reilly an Irishman, living in 46 Quarry Street, who kept a “wee pawn” establishment, and dealt in buying and selling cotton waste and such like material, including weavers’ weft, when an altercation arose between the two, and a scuffle took place within the house, in the course of which Reilly dealt the David Paterson several blows, in consequence of which he died in a few minutes.
Some individuals who were outside saw, through the window of the house, and seen the several of the blows given; and a woman, who was in the house at the time, says that Paterson took off his coat at first, and challenged Reilly to fight with him; while another eye-witness says, that after Paterson had seated himself in an arm-chair at the side of the fire, Reilly deliberately barred the outer door, and then passionately struck him while a sitting on the chair.
The first blow sent his head right against the jamb at the fire-place, and after he was in that twisted and helpless position, Reilly continued to strike him several heavy and brutal blows, till the cries of parties at the window compelled him to stop. It seems these blows had been more than enough to finish the unfortunate man.
Reilly afterwards attempted to revive him by throwing cold water in his face and bathing his head. On finding that Paterson was apparently dying, Reilly left the house immediately and absconded. Dr. Miller was sent for, who arrived just at the moment the deceased breathed his last.
The woman that was in the house at the time of the incident, gave a statement to the police and it was noted that should the woman’s statement prove correct, the case against Reilly was not ultimately so serious as It would otherwise have been, and only be a charge of manslaughter or culpable homicide. It was also noted, both parties were the worse of liquor. David Paterson left a widow and three young children.
The body of David Paterson was taken charge of during the night of Saturday and Sunday, in Reilly’s house, where the Vicious attack occurred, by Quintin, one of the town’s officers, until Sunday, when a post mortem examination was made.
David was buried at the Hamilton Parish Church yard and on his death cert, there was no parent’s names recorded. The stated time of death was 8:30pm and the cause of death was effusion of blood from the skull. The death was registered Five months later on behalf of the procurator fiscal Thomas Dykes.
When the story of the murder went to press in the Hamilton Advertiser on Monday the 12th of October 1857, Reilly was still at large and had not been apprehended, although several of the officers of justice were on the alert. It was rumoured that Thomas Reilly was still lurking about Hamilton. Thomas Reilly was an Irishman, and a private in the 1st Regiment of Royal Lanarkshire, Militia.
I would like to thank Angela at the Hamilton Reference Library for taking the time to look for further info on the murder and what became of Thomas Reilly, however, the trail go’s cold after 17th of October 1857. I can only assume that Thomas Reilly left Hamilton,