At the time of his death on the 29th October 1872, aged 28, John Worthington worked as a file cutter and was living in Parkwood Springs, North Sheffield. In his life he was no one out of the ordinary, but the story surrounding his death displays a unique story. As his gravestone depicts, John Worthington died as a result of a stabbing.
Worthington was stabbed on the night of the 27th October 1872 and died two days later at the infirmary. It was reported that Worthington was arguing with a friend, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, and the attack, by a drunk woman, was completely unprovoked. Anne* Bishop was recorded as the assailant and her husband, Henry, was also arrested after the incident but was soon released with no charges against him.
Several weeks after the event, on the 7th December 1872, extended coverage of the new event was published in the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. Annie* Bishop, a milliner aged 30, was reported to be the murderer. The article states that Worthington had gone to his friend Fisher’s house and whilst there “some disagreements and a scuffle or two” occurred between some “unneighbourly residents.” Fisher’s 15 year old daughter is then reported to have ran in accusing Annie* Bishop of calling her abusive names. Fisher confronted Mrs. Bishop who grabbed him by the necktie, at which point Worthington came to his defence. The confrontation, the article states, attracted many witnesses to gather. With Fisher out of Mrs Bishop’s grasp the men began to leave the scene but were rushed by Bishop who stabbed Worthington in the lower left abdomen. It is reported that “on placing him on a bed, and partially removing his clothing, they found his bowels were protruding through the wound.” Worthington is said to have received treatment after a cab ride to the infirmary but died a few days later.
Anne*/Annie* Bishop was trialled at the Leeds Assize, was charged with “wilful murder” and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Accounts of her reaction to the sentencing vary; one states that she fainted on hearing the sentence, however another contrastingly states she “did not display any emotion when the sentence was pronounced upon her.”
Worthington left behind wife Sarah, and young sons Joseph and John aged 3 and 1 respectively.
He shares his grave with son Joseph who died aged 19 in 1888, and son James* who died aged 7 in 1879. Looking at dates it is possible to conclude that this James is the ‘John’ mentioned above and in the 1871 census. Also in the grave are Hannah and James Worthington, presumably his parents.
*Bishop has been referred to in newspaper reports as Anne, Annie, Hannah and therefore it is hard to place who exactly she was in censuses.
“Fatal Termination of the Stabbing in Smithfield”, The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. Supplement. (Sheffield, England), Monday, October 30, 1872; pg. 3b; Issue 5135. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900.
“Summary of News”, The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. Supplement. (Sheffield, England), Monday, October 31, 1872; pg. 2; Issue 5136. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900.
“The Fatal Stabbing Case in Smithfield,” The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Friday, November 01, 1872; pg. 4; Issue 5137. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900.
“The Alleged Murder in Sheffield,” The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Thursday, November 7, 1872; Issue 10789. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900.
“The Sheffield Manslaughter Case,” The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser (West Yorkshire, England), Saturday, December 07, 1872; pg. 8; Issue 1666. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900.
1871 England, Wales + Scotland Census
“Leeds Assizes: Alleged Murder By a Female at Sheffield,” The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Saturday, December 07, 1872; pg. 7; Issue 5168. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900.
Profile Researched by Beth Keever
Profile Written by Miriam Emanuel