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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part II: The County of York - Chapter IV


The Rebellion not altogether a Failure.—A York County Cause Celebe,.—The Tragedy of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery, near Richmond Hill.—Execution of James McDermott.— Grace Marks, the Female Fiend. — Her Sham Insanity.—Her Pardon and Marriage.

NOTWITHSTANDING the heavy stake for which the County of York played during the troublesome days of 1837, matters quieted down within its bounds much sooner than could reasonably have been expected, and within a year or two after the collapse at Montgomery's, matters, persons and things throughout the county had resumed their customary aspect. Lord Durham's mission was the medium of procuring for the Canadian people nearly all the privileges for which they had contended. Lord Durham s . mission was a direct result of the rebellion, so that it cannot be said that the latter was fruitless, or that the blood of the Canadian martyrs had been shed altogether in vain. The Union of the Provinces followed in the wake of Lord Durham's " Report," and ere long a Reform Government came into power, with a York County representative — the Hon. Robert Baldwin—as its Upper Canadian head. In due time pardons were granted to the exiled rebels, most of whom returned to their homes. The northern portion of the County of York abounds with the descendants of persons who were "out" in '37.

In the year 1843 a terrible crime was committed within the limits of the County of York—a crime which is still remembered by many old inhabitants, and which, even at this distance of time, can hardly be recalled without a shudder. As 110 account of it has been prepared for the sketch of the township wherein it occurred, and as no authentic account of it is accessible to the general public, the present would seem to be a suitable place for recounting the tragical story.

In the summer of the year 1843, and for some time previously, a gentleman named Thomas Kinnear resided in the Township of Vaughan, somewhat more than a mile northward from the northern outskirts of the village of Richmond Hill. He was possessed of considerable means, and lived a life of careless ease and self-indulgence. His house, which was of better construction than the common run of farm-houses in York Count , in those days, stood on the west side of Yonge Street, about twenty rods from the road. His housekeeper was a rather attractive looking woman named Nancy Montgomery, and the relation between the two seems to have been rather less than kin and considerably more than kind. The remainder of the domestic establishment consisted of James McDermott, a man-servant, twenty years of age, and a girl named Grace Marks, a sort of general household servant, who was but sixteen. Both the latter were Irish by birth and extraction, and had been only a few years in Canada. They had not been long in Mr. Kinnear's employ before a criminal intimacy was established between them. They became envious of the easy lot of Nancy Montgomery, who dined with their master, and was the supreme head of domestic affairs, while they were compelled to take their meals in the kitchen, and to perform whatever drudgery and menial offices were required of them. "After the work of the day was over," said McDermott,* "she [Grace Marks] and I generally were left to ourselves in the kitchen, [the housekeeper] being entirely taken up with her master. Grace was very jealous of the difference made between her and the housekeeper, whom she hated, and to whom she was often very insolent and saucy. Her whole conversation to me was on this subject. 'What is she better than us?' she would say, that she is to be treated like a lady, and eat and drink of the best. She is not better born than we are, or better educated. I will not stay here to be domineered over by her. Either she or I must soon leave this.' Every little complaint [the housekeeper] made of me was repeated to me with cruel exaggerations, till my dander was up, and I began to regard the unfortunate woman as our common enemy. The good looks of Grace had interested me in her cause ; and though there was something about the girl that 1 could not exactly like, I had been a very lawless, dissipated fellow, and if a woman was young and pretty I cared very little about her character. Grace was sullen and proud, and not very easily won over to my purpose; but in order to win her liking, if possible, I gave a ready ear to all her discontented repenings."

* See his story, as related by Mrs. Moodie, in Life in the Clearings, chap. X. Mrs. Moodie blunders grievously, both as to facts and proper names.

These two human tigers allowed their morbid envy and jealousy to work upon their minds until they were ripe for any deed of darkness. McDermott was careless in doing his work, and, after repeated admordions from Nancy Montgomery, received from her a fortnight's notice to leave. On the afternoon of Thursday, the 27th of July (1843)—a day or two before the expiration of the fortnight—Mr. Kinnear rode into Toronto on horseback to draw certain bank dividends which were due to him. He was to return on the day following, when McDermott was to be paid off. Grace was also to be paid off and discharged, in consequence of her impertinence to the housekeeper. Whether they had formed any murderous designs before this time is not clear, as there is a conflict between their respective confessions in this particular. At any rate, they now determined to kill both their master and the housekeeper, and to proceed across the borders to the United States with such plunder as they could get together. They believed that Mr. Kinnear intended to bring a considerable sum of money with him upon his return from Toronto, and this belief may possibly have had something to do with their resolve to kill and rob him.

During the afternoon of this same Thursday, several hours after Kinnear's departure from Toronto, Nancy Montgomery went out to pay a visit to some friends of hers in the neighbourhood, and during her absence this pair of wild beasts completed their arrangements. Nancy and Grace were to sleep together that night. After they had gone to bed McDermott was to enter the room and brain the housekeeper with an axe. "She always sleeps on the side nearest the wall, said Grace," and she bolts the door the last thing before she puts out the light; but I will manage both these difficulties for you. I will pretend to have the toothache ver}' bad, and will ask to sleep next the wall to-night. She will not refuse me, and after she is asleep I will steal out at the foot of the bed and unbolt the door." The doomed woman, in ignorance of the terrible fate impending over her, came home to supper before dark. "She was," says McDermott, in his confession to his counsel, "unusually agreeable, and took her tea with us in the kitchen, and laughed and chatted as merrily as possible. Grace, in order to hide the wicked thoughts working in her mind, was very pleasant too, and they went laughing to bed, as if they were the best friends in the world." A youth named James Walsh, who lived with his father in a cottage on Mr. Kinnear's farm, spent the evening with them, and remained until half-past ten at night, playing his flute, at the housekeeper's request. What happened after young Walsh left, and after the two women had retired to bed, is thus narrated by McDermott. "I sat by the kitchen tire with the axe between my knees, trying to harden my heart to commit the murder, but for a long time I could not tiring myself to do it." After some time spent in self-communing, he concluded to carry out his resolution. "I sprang up," he continues, "and listened at their door, which opened into the kitchen. All was still. I tried the door. For the damnation of my soul, it was open. I had no need of a candle; the moon was at full. There was no curtain to their window, and it [the moon] shone directly upon the bed, and I could see their features as plainly as by the light of day. Grace was either sleeping or pretending to sleep—1 think the latter, for there was a sort of fiendish smile upon her lips. The housekeeper had yielded to her request, and was lying with her head out over the bed-clothes, m the best possible manner for receiving a death-blow upon her temples. She had a sad, troubled look upon her handsome face, and once she moved her hand, and said 'O, dear!' I wondered whether she was dreaming of any danger to herself and the man she loved. 1 raised the axe to give the death-blow, but my arm seemed held back by an invisible hand. It was the hand of God. I turned away from the bed, and left the room—I could not do it. 1 sat down by the embers of the fire, and cursed my own folly. I made a second attempt—a third—a fourth— yes, even to a ninth, and my purpose was each time defeated. God seemed to fight for the poor creature, and the last time I left the room I swore, with a great oath, that if she did not die for I killed her she might I've on till the day of judgment. I threw the axe on to the wood heap in the shed, .went to bed, and soon fell fast asleep."

It is hard to know how much of all this is worthy of belief, for the more one ponders over the actions and language of this terrible pair, the more convinced does one become that neither of them was capable of speaking the whole truth. Their confessions, given independently of each other, and without collusion, differ materially on several important points. They would seem to have reached such a depth of depravity that they were incapable even of thinking—to say nothing of telling—the exact truth. It does not seem probable that McDermott could have entered the bedroom nine times without waking l is intended victim. Moreover, his antecedent and subsequent conduct would seem to indicate no such infirmity of purpose as would be involved n such a course of procedure as that above outlined. At any rate, even according to his own admissions, the taunts of his partner in iniquity were more potent with him on the following morning than any memory of his resolutions of the previous night. "In the morning," he proceeds, "I was coming into the kitchen to light the fire, and met Grace Maiks with the pail in her hand, going out to milk the cows. As she passed me she gave me a poke with the pail in the ribs, and whispered with a sneer, 'Aren't you a coward!' As she uttered these words, the devil, against whom 1 had fought all night, entered into my heart, and transformed me into a demon. All feelings of remorse and mercy forsook me from that instant, and darker and deeper plans of murder and theft dashed through my brain. *Go and milk the cows,' said I with a bitter laugh, 'you shall soon see whether I am the coward you ' take me for.' She went out to milk, and I went in to murder the unsuspicious housekeeper. I found her at the sink in the kitchen, washing her face in a tin basin. I had the fatal axe in my hand, and without pausing for an instant to change my mind, I struck her a heavy blow on the back of the head with my axe. She fell to the ground at my feet without uttering a word; and, opening the trap-door that led from the kitchen into the cellar where we kept potatoes and other stores,' I hurled her down, closed the door, and wiped away the perspiration that was streaming down my face."

A few minutes later Grace Marks came up with her pails, looking as innocent and demure as the milk they contained." McDermott told her what he had done, and demanded that she accompany him down into the cellar to dispose of the body of the murdered woman. She obeyed, and they went into the cellar, which presented a dreadful spectacle. Nancy Montgomery was not dead; she had only been stunned by the blow. She had partly recovered her senses, and was kneeling on one knee as the hideous pair descended the ladder with a light. "I don't know if she saw us," says McDermott, "for she must have been blinded with the blood that was flowing down her face; but she certainly heard us, and raised her clasped hands, as if to implore mercy. 1 turned to Grace. The expression of her livid face was even more dreadful than that of the unfortunate woman. She uttered no cry, but she put her hand to her head, and said : 'God has damned me for this.' 'Then you have nothing more to feat,' says I; 'give me that handkerchief off your neck.' She gave it without a word. I threw myself upon the body of the housekeeper, and, planting my knee on her heart, I tied the handkerchief round her throat hi a single tie, giving Grace one end to hold, while I drew the other tight enough to finish my terrible work. Her eyes l'terally started from her head. She gave one groan, and all was over. I then cut the body in four pieces, and turned a large washtub over them.

Such is the horrible narrative of McDermott to his counsel, the late Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie, as reported by Mrs. Moodie. It, however, contains some gross inaccuracies, and it seems probable that for some of the most revolting details the author of Life in the Clearings was indebted to her morbid, but by no means powerful imagination. In the published reports of the trial, for instance, there is no mention of the body laving been quartered. The witnesses who discovered the remains depose to having "found the body of Nancy Montgomery, the housekeeper, doubled up under a washtub, in the cellar, in a state of decomposition." The details are diabolical enough, in all conscience, without piling up fictitious horrors.

Mr. Kinnear returned about noon, not on horseback, as he had departed, but driving a light one-horse wagon. He was informed that the housekeeper had gone away to town in the stage ; to which he replied: *That is strange; I passed the stage on the road, and did not see her in it." After eating his dinner, Kinnear lay down to rest on his bed, and remained there until towards evening, when he got up and went out into the yard, and about the premises. He returned into the house and took tea about 7 o'clock. He was then inveigled by McDermott into the harness-house or back kitchen, and there shot through the heart. He staggered forward and fell, exclaiming as he did so: "Oh God, I am shot." The body was then thrown down into the cellar. "I heard the report of a gun," says Grace Marks, in her confession, made in the Toronto jai1 on the night prior to her removal thence to the penitentiary at Kingston— "I ran into the kitchen, and saw Mr. Kinnear lying dead on the floor. When I saw this I attempted to run out." McDermott called her back, and ordered her to open the trap-door, which she did, whereupon he threw the body down. "We then," continues Grace Marks, "commenced packing up all the valuable things we could find. We both went down into the cellar—Mr. Kinnear was lying on his back in the wine-cellar. I held the candle. McDermott took the keys and some money from his pockets. Nothing was said about Nancy. I did not see her,- but I heard she was in the cellar, and about 11 o'clock McDermott harnessed the horse. We put the boxes in the wagon, and then started off for Toronto. He said he would go to the States, and he would marry me. I consented to go. W o arrived at Toronto, at the City Hotel, about 5 o'clock; awoke the people, and had breakfast there. I unlocked Nancy's box and put some of her things on, and we left by the boat at 8 o'clock, and arrived at Lewiston about 3 o'clock, and went to the tavern. In the evening we had supper at the public table, and I went to bed in one room and McDermott in another. Before I went to bed I told McDermott I would stop at Lewiston, and would not go any further. He said he would make me go with lain, and about 5 o'clock in the morning Mi. Kingsmill, the high bailiff, came and arrested us, and brought us back to Toronto.

The arrest of the murderers was of the most informal and irregular character, and was effected through the vigilance and public spirit of Mr. F. C. Capreol, of Toronto, who accompanied Mr. Kingsmill to Lewiston, where the facts were laid before a local magistrate, who forthwith issued his warrant without waiting for any process of extradition. The culprits were arrested ami conveyed on board a steamer chartered expressly for the purpose by Mr. Capreol, and brought across the lake to Toronto, where they were lodged in jail. Mr. Capreol was not reimbursed, even for his actual outlay, unti1 some years afterwards.

The trials took place at the Court House, in Toronto, on Friday and Saturday, the 3rd and 4th of November following. The Crown was represented by Mr. (afterwards the Hon.) William Hume Blake, father of the present leader of the Opposition n the Dominion Parliament. The prisoners were defended with much ability by Air. Kenneth Mackenzie, who afterwards took high rank at the Upper Canadian bar. McDermott is described in the reports of the trial as " a slim made man, of about the middle height, with rather a swarthy complexion, and a sullen, downcast and forbidding countenance." The female prisoner is described as rather good looking, totally uneducated, and possessing a countenance devoid of expression. Upon being arraigned they both pleaded "Not Guilty. A demand was made by their counsel that they should be tried separately, which was granted. McDermott was then put upon his trial for the murder of Mr. Kinnear. The proceedings lasted until half-past one o'clock on the following morning. The evidence was necessarily circumstantial, as there had been no eye-witnesses of the actual commission of the murders except the prisoners themselves. It however left no doubt as to the guilt of the accused. The jury were absent about ten minutes, when they returned a verdict of Y Guilty»" The Judge then addressed the prisoner McDermott, pointed out the heinousness of his crime, and sentenced him to be hanged on the 21st of the month. The condemned man evinced not the slightest emotion, either of fear or anxiety, hope or despair,

Next day Grace Marks was placed on trial for the murder of Mr. Kinnear. The evidence was substantially the same as that given 011 the previous day. The jury speedily returned a verdict of guilty, but recommended the prisoner to mercy. This was one of those kindly but mistaken impulses by which juries are apt to be swayed where good-looking women are concerned. The only conceivable grounds upon which any claim for mercy could justly have been founded in the case of Grace Marks was her extreme youth. The Judge sentenced her to suffer the extreme penalty of the law on the same date as that assigned for the execution of her partner in iniquity. On hearing her sentence she fainted away, but soon revived. The Judge held out no hope of clemency, but stated that he would forward the recommendation of the jury to the proper quarter ; which being done, the prisoner was remanded to jail, and the trial was at an end. It will be observed that the criminals were tried for the murder of Air. Kinnear only. Capital sentences having been pronounced upon them, it was considered unnecessary to proceed with the indictments against them for the murder of Nancy Montgomery.

The prisoners maintained a stolid silence as to their crime until shortly before the day appointed for their execution. On the 17th of the month Grace Marks, whose sentence had been commuted to imprisonment for life in the Penitentiary, made a voluntary confession. With the exception of some portions which are relevant,-and of others which are unfit for publication, it was iw the following words : —

"My name is Grace Marks, and I am the daughter of John Marks, who lives in the Township of Toronto. He is a stone-mason by trade. We came to this country from the north of Ireland about three years ago. I have four sisters and four brothers, one sister and one brother older than I am. I was sixteen years old last July. I lived servant during the three years I have been in Canada at various places. ... In June last I went to live with Thomas Watson, shoemaker, 011 Pot Street. Nancy Montgomery used to visit there, and I was hired as a servant by her for Mi. Kinnear at $3 per month, and I went there the beginning of July last, and saw at the house Mr. Kinnear, Nancy Montgomery, and McDermott. McDermott had been, I understood, about a week at the house. Everything went on very quietly for a fortnight, except the housekeeper several times scolding McDermott for not doing his work faithfully, and she gave him a fortnight's warning that when his month was up he was to leave, and she would pa)' him his wages. He often after this told ine he was glad he was going. . . but would have satisfaction before he went. . ' . About a week after this McDermott told me if I would keep it a secret he would tell me what he was going to do with Kinnear and Nancy. I promised I would keep the secret, and then he said Mr. Kinnear was going to the city in a day or two, and would, no doubt, bring back plenty of money with him. He would kill N ancy before Kinnear came home, would shoot Kinnear when he came home, and would take all the money and all the valuable things he could, and would go over to the United States. Air. Kinnear left for the city on Thursday afternoon, the 27th July, about three o'clock, on horseback. McDermott, after Mr. Kinnear was gone, said to me it was a good job he was gone; he would kill Nancy that night. I persuaded him not to do so that night. He had made me promise to assist him, and I agreed to do so. He said the way he intended to kill Nancy was to knock her on the head with the axe, and then strangle her; and shoot Kinnear with the double-barrelled gun. I slept with Nancy Montgomery that night, and on Friday morning after breakfast she told me to tell McDermott that his time was up that afternoon. She had money to pay him his wages. I told him so, and he said: "Tell Nancy I shall go on Saturday morning'—which I did. He said to her, is that what she is at? Ill kill her before the morning;' and he said: 'Grace, you'll help me, as you promised, won't you?' I said yes, I would. During the evening James Walsh came in, and brought his flute with him. Nancy said we might as well have some fun, as Mr. Kinnear was away Nancy said to McDermott: 'You have often bragged about your dancing; come, let us have a dance.' He was very sulky all the evening, and said he would not dance. About ten o'clock we went to bed. 1 slept with Nancy that night. Before we went to bed McDermott said he was determined to kill her that night with the axe, when in bed. I entreated him not to do so that night, as he might hit me instead of her.

He said: I got up early on the Saturday morning, and when I went into the kitchen McDermott was cleaning the shoes. The fire was lighted. He asked ine where was Nancy. I said she was dressing, and I said : ' Are you going to kill her this morning ?' He said he would. I said : ' McDermott, for God's sake don't kill her m the room, you'll make the iloor all bloody.' ' Well, says he, ' I'll not do it there, but I'll knock her down with the axe the moment she comes out.' 1 went into the garden to gather some shives, and when 1 returned McDermott was cleaning the knives in the back kitchen. Nancy came in. She told me to get the breakfast ready, and she soon after called me to go to the pump for some water. McDermott and her were at this time in the back kitchen. I went to the pump, and on turning round I saw McDermott dragging Nancy along the yard leading from the back kitchen to the front kitchen. This was about seven o'clock. I said to McDermott, 'I did not think you was going to do it that minute.' He said it was better to get it done with. He said : ' Grace, you promised to help me. Come and open the trap-door, and I'll throw her down the cellar.' I refused to do so, being frightened. He presently came to me and said he had thrown her down the cellar, and he said he wanted a handkerchief I asked him what for. He said, ' Never mind; she is not dead yet.' I gave him a piece of white cloth, and fcUowed him to the trap-door. He went down the stairs. I saw the body lying at the foot of the stairs. He said, ' You can't come down here.'

Went down himself, and shut the trap-door after hiin. He came up in a few minutes. I asked him if she was dead. He said yes, and he had put her behind the barrels. He said to me, ' Grace, now I know you'll tell; if you do your life is not worth a straw.' I said, "1 could not help you to kill a woman, but as I have promised you, 1 will assist you to kill Kinnear.' McDermott then had some breakfast. I could not eat_ anything, I felt so shocked. He then said: ' Now, Mr. Kinnear will soon be home, and as there is no powder in the house, I'll go over to Harvey's, who lives opposite, and get some.' He soon came back. He took one bullet from his pocket, and cut another from a piece of lead he found in the house. Mr. Kinnear came home about eleven o'clock in his one-horse wagon. McDermott took charge of the horse and wagon as usual, and I took the parcels out. 1 asked Air. Kinnear if he would have anything to eat. He said he would— was there any fresh meat in the house? Had Jefferson, the butcher, been there? I told him no. He said that was curious. He then said he would have some tea and toast and eggs, which I provided for him. Mr. Kinnear went into the dining-room, sat down on the sofa, and began reading a book he had brought with him. When I went into the kitchen McDermott was there. He said, ' I think I'll go and kill him now.' I said, ' Good gracious, McDermott, it is too soon ; wait till it is dark.' He said he was afraid to delay it, as if the new man was to come he would have no chance to kill him. When Mr. Kinnear first arrived home he asked me, ' Where is Nancy?' I told him she has gone to town in the stage. He said that was strange, as he had passed the stage on the road, and did not see her in it. He did not mention Nancy's name afterwards to me.' After Mr. Kinnear had his dinner he went to bed with his clothes on, I think, and towards evening he got up and went into the yard, and about the premises. When Mr. Kinnear was in bed, McDermott said, ' I'll go in now, and kill him, if you'll assist me.' I said, I Of course, McDermott, I will, as I have promised ' He then said, ' I'll wait till night.' When Mr. Kinnear was in the yard, McDermott always kept near to me. 1 said to him, ' Why, McDermott, if you follow me about so, Air. Kinnear will think something. He said, ' How can he imagine anything except you'll tell him 1 said I should not tell him anything. Air. Kinnear had his tea about seven o'clock. I went into his room to take the things away, and, coming into the front kitchen with them, McDermott said, ' I am going to kill him now. How am I to get bun out? You go and tell him 1 want him I said, 'I won t go and call him.' I then took the tea things into the back kitchen. The back kitchen is in the yard adjoining the end of the house. As I was putting the tea-tray down 1 heard the report of a gun. I went into the kitchen and saw Mr. Kinnear lying dead on the door, and McDermott standing over him. The double-barrelled gun was on the floor. When I saw this I attempted to run out. He said '-you, come back and open the trapdoor.' I said, ' I won't.' He said, ' You shall, alter having promised to assist me.' Knowing that I had promised I then opened the trap-door, and McDermott threw the body down. 1 was so frightened that 1 ran out of the front door into the lawn, and went round i no the back kitchen. As I was standing at the door, McDermott came out of the front kitchen door into the yard, and fired at me. The ball did not hit me, but lodged n the jamb of the door. I fainted, and when I recovered McDermott was close to me. I said, 'What made you do that?' He said he did not mean to do me any harm; he supposed there was nothing in the gun. This was about 8 o'clock, and the boy James Walsh came up to the yard. McDermott had just then gone across the yard without his coat on, having the gun in his hand. He went into the poultry yard. He said if any one came and asked about the firing he would tell them he had been shooting birds. I went out to speak to Walsh, and McDermott, seeing me talking, came up to us. The boy said, 'Where is Nancy?' I said, 'She ;s gone to Wright's.' . . After talking a short time the boy said he would go home, and McDermott went part of the way across the lawn with him. McDermott told me when he came back that if the boy had gone into the house he would have made away with him. He then told me how he had killed Mr. Kinnear; that when I had refused to call bun out, and when I was taking the tea things away to the back kitchen, he went to the door of the dining-room and told Air. Kinnear his new saddle was scratched, and would he come and look at it in the harness room. Air. Kinnear rose from the sofa with a book in his hand, which he had been reading, and followed McDermott towards the harness room. The harness room is a small room at one corner of the kitchen. McDermott got into the harness room, took up the gun which he had loaded during the day, came out and fired at Air. Kinnear as he was crossing the kitchen. He told me he put the muzzle of the gun very near his breast. We then commenced packing up all the valuable things we could find, ' etc. The rest of her confession has been quoted on a former page.

Three days later—i.e., on the day before Mc.Dermott's execution, his counsel, Mr. Mackenzie, had a final interview with him, in the course of which the murderer admitted his guilt, and made the several communications already quoted. He was profoundly disgusted to hear of Grace Marks's reprieve. " Grace," said he, " has been reprieved, and her sentence commuted to imprisonment in the penitentiary for life. This seems very unjust to me, for she is certainly more criminal than I am. If she had not instigated me to commit the murder, it never would have been done. But the priest tells me that I shall not be hung, and not to make myself uneasy on that score." "McDermott," replied Mr. Mackenzie, "it is useless to flatter pop with false hopes. You will suffer the execution of your sentence to-morrow, at eight o'clock, in front of the jail. I have seen the order sent b) the Governor to the Sheriff, and that was my reason for visiting you to-night. I was not satisfied in my own mind of your gu It. What you have told me has greatly relieved my mind, and, I must add, if ever man deserved his sentence, you do yours." When the unhappy wretch realized what was before him, and that he must pay the penalty of his crime, his abject cowardice and mental agonies were indescribable. He dashed himself on the floor of his cell, and shrieked and raved like a maniac, declaring that he could not and would not die: that the law had no right to murder a man's soul as well as his body, by giving him no time for repentance: that if he was hung like a dog, Grace Marks, m justice, ought to share his fate. "Finding," said Mr. Mackenzie, "that all I could say to him had no effect in producing a better frame of mind, I called in the chaplain, and left the sinner to his fate."

Later on the same day McDermott, having become somewhat more composed in his mind, made a voluntary confession, which is worth preserving for the purpose of comparison with that of Grace Marks. The reader will notice certain contradictory statements in the two confessions. Each of these human monsters did all that was possible to throw blame upon the other.

The following are the details of the confession of McDermott, as taken down by Mr. George Walton, in the jail of the Home District, at four o'clock in the afternoon of Monday, the 20th of November, 1843.

"I am twenty years and four months old, and was born in Ireland, and am a Catholic. I have been six years in Canada, and was, previous to 1840, waiter on board the steamers plying between Quebec and Montreal. I enlisted into the First Provincial Regiment of the Province of Lower Canada in the year 1840. Colonel Dyer was the Colonel. The regiment was disbanded m 1842, and 1 then enlisted as a private in the Glengarry Light Infantry Company, and we were stationed at Coteau du Lac. The Company consisted of seventy-five men. I did not serve as a private in the regiment, but was servant with the Captain, Alexander Macdonald. The Company was disbanded 1st May this year. I had been in the Company just twelve months. After being discharged I came up to Toronto seeking employ. I lived in the city for some time at various places, upon the money I had saved during the time I was in the regiment, and I then determined to go into the country. I thought I would go in the direction of Newmarket. I set out about the latter end of June, and on my way 1 was informed Mr. Kinnear wanted a servant. I went to the house and saw the housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. She hired me subject to the approval of Air. Kinnear when he should return home. Air. Kinnear, when he came home, approved of what the housekeeper had done as to hiring me. Grace Marks was hired as a servant a week afterwards. She and the housekeeper used often to quarrel, and she told me she was determined, if I would assist her, she would poison both the housekeeper and Mr. Kinnear, by mixing poison with the porridge. I told her I would not consent to anything of the kind. The housekeeper, Nancy, after I had been at the house a short time, was overbearing towards me, and I told Mr. Kinnear I was ready and willing to do any work, and did not like that Nancy should scold me so often. He said she was the mistress of the house. I then told him I would not stop with them longer than the month. Grace Alarks told me a few' days before Air. Kinnear went to town that the housekeeper had given her warning to leave, and she told me, ' Now, McDermott, I am not going to leave in this way. Let us poison Air. Kinnear and Nancy, I know how to do it. I'll put some poison m the porridge. By that means we can get rid of them. We can then plunder the house, pack the silver plate and other valuables in some boxes, and go over to the States.' I said, ' No, Grace, I will not do so.' When Air. Kinnear went to the city on Thursday she commenced packing up the things, and told me I was a coward for not assisting her. She said she had been warned to leave, and she supposed she should not get her wages, and she was determined to pay herself after Air. Kinnear was gone to the city. She said now was the time to kill the housekeeper, and Mr. Kinnear when he returns home, and I'll assist you, and you are a coward if you don't do it. I frequently refused to do as she wished, and she said 1 should never have an hour's luck il I did not do as she wished me. I will not say how Mr. Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery were killed, but I should not have done it if 1 h\d not been urged to do so bv Grace Marks. After Nancy Montgomery was put in the cellar, Grace several times went down there, and she afterwards told me she had taken her purse from her pocket, and she asked me if she should take her ear-rings off. I persuaded her not to do so. The gold snuff-box and other things belonging to Mr. Kinnear she gave me when we were at Lewiston. Grace Marks is wrong in stating she had no hand in the murder. She was the means from beginning to end."

On the following morning, a short time before his execution, McDermott confirmed his confession of the previous afternoon. He added some further particulars. He said that when the housekeeper was thrown down into the cellar, after being knocked down, Grace Marks followed him into the cellar, and brought a piece of white cloth with her. He held the housekeeper's hands, she being 'then insensible, and Grace Marks tied the cloth tight round her neck and strangled her.

A few minutes before noon, the condemned was brought pinioned into the hall of the jail. The Rev. J. J. Hay, a Roman Catholic priest, prayed with him for a few minutes. He appeared perfectly cairn and penitent. He then walked with a firm step to the scaffold, accompanied by Mr. Hay and another Catholic clergyman. In two minutes more he was launched into eternity. At one o'clock the body was taken down and handed over to the Medical School for dissection.

The younger criminal was duly forwarded to Kingston Penitentiary, where she remained for many years. In 1848 her counsel, Air. Mackenzie, visited her there. He found that she retained a remarkably youthful appearance. "The sullen assurance," said he, in his account of the interview, "that had formerly marked her countenance had given place to a sad and humbled expression. She had lost much of her former good looks, and seldom raised her eyes from the ground." She informed her visitor that it would have been better for her to have been hanged with McDermott than to have suffered for years, as she had done, the tortures of the damned, and misery," said she, "is too great for words to describe. 1 would gladly submit to the most painful death if I thought that it would put an end to the pains I daily endure. Put though 1 have repented of my wickedness with bitter tears, it has pleased God that I should never again have a moment's peace. Since I helped McDermott to strangle Nancy Montgomery her terrible face and those horrible bloodshot eyes have never left me for a moment. They glare upon me by night and day, and when I close my eyes in despair I see them looking into my soul. It is impossible to shut them out. If I am at work, in a few minutes that dreadful head is in my lap. If 1 look up to get rid of it, I see it in the far corner of the room. At dinner it is in my plate, or grinning between the persons that sit opposite to me at table. Every object that meets my sight takes the same dreadful form. At night, m the silence and loneliness of my cell those blazing eyes make my prison as light as day. They have a terribly hot glare, that has not the appearance of anything in this world. And when I sleep, that face just hovers above my own, its eyes just opposite to mine; so that when i awake with a shriek of agony I find them there. Oh, this is hell, sir ! These are the torments of the damned ! Were I in that fiery place, my punishment could not be greater than this."

It may be reasonably inferred that Mr. Mackenzie and Mrs. Moodie between them have somewhat polished and idealized the foregoing sentences, which are certainly not likely to have emanated from an uneducated and ignorant woman such as Grace Marks undoubtedly was. Several years later Mrs. Moodie paid a visit to the Penitentiary, and having heard Mr. Mackenzie's account, she was desirous of beholding this unhappy victim of remorse. "Having made known my wishes to the matron.*' she writes, she very kindly called her (Grace Marks] in to perform some trifling duty in the ward, so that I might have an opportunity of seeing her. She is a middle-sized woman, with a slight, graceful figure. There is an air of hopeless melancholy in her face which is very painful to contemplate. Her complexion is fair, and must, before the touch of hopeless sorrow paled it, have been very brilliant. Her eyes are a bright blue. Her hair is auburn, and her face would be rather handsome were it not for the long, curved chin, which gives, as it does to most persons who have this facial defect, a cunning, cruel expression. Grace Marks glances at you with a sidelong, stealthy look. Her eye never meets yours, and after a furtive regard, it invariably bends its gaze upon the ground. She looks like a person rather above her humble station, and her conduct during her stay in the Penitentiary was so unexceptionable that a petition was signed by all the influential gentlemen hi Kingston, which released her from her long imprisonment. She entered the service of the Governor of the Penitentiary, but the fearful hauntings of her brain have terminated in madness. She is now in the Asylum at Toronto; and as I mean to visit it when there I may chance to see this remarkable criminal again.l"

This partly-expressed hope was soon afterwards realized. Mrs. Moodie visited the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, at Toronto, and was there once more brought face to face with the strangler of Nancy Montgomerv. "Among the raving maniacs," writes she, "I recognized the singular face of Grace Marks; no longer sad and despairing, but lighted up with the fire of insanity, and glowing with a hideous and fiend-like merriment. On perceiving that strangers were observing her, she fled shrieking away like a phantom into one of the side rooms. It appears that even in the wildest outbursts of her terrible malady, she is continually haunted by a memory of the past. Unhappy girl! when will the long horror of her punishment and remorse be over? When will she sit at the feet of Jesus, clothed with the unsullied garments of His righteousness, the stain of blood washed from her hand, and her soul redeemed and pardoned, and in her right mind?."

This hysterical effusion, like a good many others from the same source, was utterly thrown away upon its subject. According to the opinion of Dr. Workman and other leading experts in matters pertaining to cerebral disease, Grace Marks never was insane, but was a fiendish impostor to her heart's core. She became weary of the monotony of life in the Penitential and feigned madness in order to excite sympathy, and in order that she might be transferred to the Lunatic Asylum, where she would not have to work, and where she would enjoy certain indulgences not vouchsafed to her at Kingston. She was successful in her attempt, and was for some time under Dr. Workman's charge in the Provincial Asylum. That shrewd judge of shams was suspicious of her from the first, but did not conclusively make up his mind about her until he had had ample time and opportunity for forming a positive opinion. It was during this interval that Airs. Moodie visited the Asylum as above narrated, when Grace Marks " came out from her hiding-place, and performed a thousand mad gambols round her. ' Dr. Workman in due course made his official report, upon the strength of which the incorrigible Grace was re-transferred to Kingston. But she so wrought upon the sympathies of visitors and others that a succession of petitions to the Government were sent in, praying that a full pardon might be granted to her. Various well-meaning but weak-minded persons made periodical appeals to Dr. Workman to beqin in these petitions, but in vain. On one occasion, alter Grace's return to the Penitentiary, the Doctor was waited upon by a deputation consisting of several clergymen and a number of ladies. They made an urgent and final appeal to him on behalf of their protege, urging that she had been incarcerated for many years; that she had suffered untold mental agony and that she had bitterly repented her great crime. "If she were at liberty," urged the reverend gentleman who acted as chief spokesman for the deputation, "something might easily be done for her temporal, as well as her spiritual weal, and she might enjoy a few brief years of quiet happiness before the grave closes over her. She would thus have an opportunity of meditating over the past, and of preparing for a future life." After continuing in this strain for some time he concluded by asking: "And now, Dr. Workman, will you still persist in refusing to join in the petition for her release, and thereby perchante close the gates of Paradise to a repentant sinner." The Doctor's reply was eminently characteristic of the man. He said: "Sir, I have no control whatever over the gates to which you refer, and if she is worthy to enter there she will doubtless be admitted without any interference on my part. But certainly the gates of the Penitentiary will never he opened to her through any act of mine. I have studied her carefully, and know her character and disposition better than you can possibly do. She is a creature devoid of moral facilities, and with the propensity to murder strongly developed. She is not safe to be entrusted with the ordinary privileges of society, and if her liberty were restored to her the chances are that sooner or later other lives would be sacrificed." But persistence at last met with its reward. One petition after another went in to the Government, and doubtless other influences were brought to bear. Tkjfc almost unique malefactor received a pardon, and was conveyed to New York, where she changed her name, and soon afterwards married. For all the writer of these lines knows to the contrary, she is living .still. Whether her appetite for murder has ever strongly asserted itself in the interval is • not known, as she probably guards her identity by more than one alias. Such is the astounding narrative of Grace Marks, which will doubtless be perused by many readers of these pages with greater avidity than any other portion of the volume.

The scene of the frightful tragedy has undergone little change during the last forty-one years. It was visited by the writer of this chapter on the afternoon of Saturday, the 20th of September, 1884, the object of the visit being to give completeness to the narrative by ascertaining the present condition of the locus in quo. The house still stands intact, and neither the building itself nor its immediate surroundings are sufficiently altered to prevent their being recognized by any one who had been familiar with them in bygone times. The orchard intervening between the house and Yonge Street has grown up in the interval, and now almost excludes the view of the building from the passer-by. The harness-house, adjoining the kitchen, where Mr. Kinnear met his doom, has been pulled down, and a new structure erected in the near neighbourhood; but with these exceptions the general aspect of the place is pretty much the same as it was in 1843, and if poor Kinnear were permitted to revisit the glimpses of the moon, he might well be permitted to marvel that time has wrought so few and so trifling modifications in the aspect of his earthly tenement. The parlour—the bedrooms—the hall—the kitchen where Nancy Montgomery's terrible fate came upon her—the trapdoor, and the cellar into which the bodies were cast—all remain precisely as they were, except that they have grown older, and that one may here and there perceive more or less distinct traces of dilapidation.

The present owner of the property is Mr. John C-lubine, who resides a short distance north of Aurora, and who purchased the place in the autumn of 1883. He intends to tear down the old house, and to replace it by a new brick mansion next year. The occupant of the place is Mr. James McWilliams, who has resided upon it between four and five years, and who declares most solemnly that he has not been subjected to any ghostly visitations since taking up his abode there.

As mentioned early in the present chapter, the house is situated on the west side of Yonge vStreet, about a hundred yards from the highway. It is approached by a gate leading down from Yonge Street to the barnyard. The barns are twenty-live or thirty yards north of the house. The writer upon his arrival, was greeted by Mrs. McWilliams, a genial old lady, who cheerfully communicated all the information she possessed on the subject, and afforded every facility for inspecting the premises.

"So, Mrs. McWilliams," remarked the writer, "this is the actual kitchen in which McDermott struck down Nancy Montgomery with the axe?"

"Yes, Sir" was the reply, "and there <s the trap-door to the cellar where the body was thrown down. Mr. Kinnear was not killed m the house, but in the harness-room, which has been pulled down. It stood there," continued Mrs. McWilliams, pointing to a contiguous outhouse of modern construction. "He was shot through the lungs, and his body thrown into the cellar, where the housekeeper's body was. Would you like to go down into the cellar?"

The implied invitation was accepted, and, the trap-door having been raised, the writer stepped down into that gruesome slaughter-house. It is of large dimensions, and is lighted at one end by a window, over which the cobwebs of years have clustered. Sure enough, there was the awful spot where Nancy Montgomery was strangled, and where her maimed body was doubled up beneath the washtub. A considerable quantity of vegetables are kept there at the present time, which necessarily create an odour. To the writer, who was familiar with the whole ghastly story, including many particulars not set down in these pages, that odour was sickeningly suggestive. It seemed as though forty-one years had been all too short a time to cleanse the spot of its impurities. There was no inducement to linger in such an atmosphere, clogged, as it was, with such unhallowed and nauseating memories, and the writer soon rejoined his hostess at the top of the landing.

"It's not much of a place, is it, Sir?" resumed the Lady.

"No, indeed; and do none of you ever see or hear any ghosts?"

"We don't, and we are not afraid. Some of the neighbours used to try to frighten us when we first moved in, but we paid little attention to theni. We have no objection to the place, except that it is too old to be comfortable. This kitchen is awfully cold in the winter, but Mr. Clubine

won't bother repairing it, as he intends to demolish the place and build a new house next spring. Yes, I have heard that Grace Marks is still living in New York, and that she got married there. I think they might better have kept her in the Penitentiary."

The writer thought so too, and, having expressed his assent, he bade Mrs. McWilliams a cordial farewell. It seemed a relief to get away from the murder daunted spot, and as he drove through the gateway Wordsworth's lines emerged from the chambers of his memory:—

"A merry place, 'tis said, in times of old;
But something ails it now; the spot is cursed."


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