Monthly Archives: May 2018

Indignation Meeting at Monk Bretton

The cross at Monk Bretton, depicted above was the scene of a meeting held there in May 1888. The gathering of locals and was called in protest to the hanging of a man called Richardson, who was not granted the clemency that Dr. Burke was.The biggest issue of the crowd is that Dr. Burke because of his position received preferential treatment because of his position in society.  Richardson from a working class background was not so lucky and he hanged for his crime on the morning of 28th May 1888. Both prisoners were held at Armley Gaol, one walked to the gallows the other sat alone in his cell.

Sheffield Independent 29 May 1888
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 29 May 1888

Emily visits her brother in prison

In late May 1888 Emily crossed the Irish Sea, made her way to Leeds, Yorkshire to visit her half brother, William. Earlier that week he received a telegram from the home office re-spiting the death sentence. He expressed his gratitude, but was far from happy, not only had he the death of his daughter to morn and regret but that was not all he had to contend with.

Emily visit with her brother carried the news that their brother Richard was on his death bed. He had been suffering from chronic Brights Disease, an serious kidney ailment. At the time it wasn’t treatable and at the age of only twenty three it had all but consumed him. At the time of Emily’s visit he did not have long to live. At that time Emily was only nineteen, not fully an adult, but she was by no means a stranger to the hardships of life. In her short lifetime she had lost both parents and a niece, had stones thrown at her, had to flee her home and take refuge in a church vestry. Her half brother¬† suffered the same trials, in his early life too.

Leeds Times 26 May 1888


Her Majesty’s Pleasure

The call from the reprieve of Dr. Burke gained momentum quickly. A fortnight after his sentence to death by hanging, he was granted respite and to be held at Her Majesty’s Pleasure until there was anything other piece of significance evidence came to pass.

His brother Rev. H. M. Kennedy’s influence and the petition signed mostly by doctors helped to stave off his execution for a while anyway.

Rev. Kennedy wrote to the Home Secretary, regarding the sentencing of his brother Dr. Burke. should have received a sentence befitting a man who was not responsible for his actions due to his heavy drinking and underlying depression.

Manchester Times 26 May 1888
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 30 May 1888

The petition comes to Ireland

The petition for the reprieve came of Emily’s brother was signed in Ireland as well as the UK. It was signed mostly by other doctors and delivered to the Home office.


Dublin Daily Express 22 May 1888
Belfast Telegraph 19 May 1888

Rev. Kennedy, Brother of Dr. Burke Intervenes

Emily was the half sister of Dr. William Henry Emeris Burke, they shared a father. Long before the birth of Emily and her three full siblings, her father Rev. William John Burke was married to the Widow Kennedy, who had seven children from her first marriage. The Kennedy’s were originally Catholic, but Mrs. Kennedy converted, when she met Emily’s father and after the death of her first husband. All but one of her children converted with her and at least two of her sons became clergymen. One such stepson was Rev H. M. Kennedy, who was vicar of Plumpton in the diocese of Carlisle, wrote to the Home Secretary making a case for his half brother.