Shocking Tragedy Near Appleby - Murder and Suicide
The inhabitants of the ancient and usually quiet borough of Appleby and neighbourhood were, on Saturday last, thrown
into a state of considerable excitement through a report being freely circulated that at woman had been shot dead, and
that the murderer had himself committed suicide. The rumour, alas, proved too true, and the sad event has been the
subject of grave conversation, in fact the almost absorbing topic of the day throughout the Vale of the Eden since the
terrible occurrence took place.
The tragedy, which is one of the most melancholy and distressing that has occurred in Westmorland during the present
century, happened about three o'clock in the afternoon at the little hamlet of Burrells, about two miles from the county
town. The family in which the sad affair took place, we may state, consisted of two brothers, named JOHN and THOMAS
WAISTELL (the last named being the murderer), an older half-brother, called MATTHEW BURRA, and HANNAH WILSON, their
housekeeper (the murdered woman).
The house in which the dreadful tragedy was enacted is the second on the right hand side of the highway leading between
Appleby and Kendal; it is situate close by the roadside and to the passer-by it presents the appearance of a quiet and
The facts connected with the tragic event are very brief. About three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, the housekeeper
and THOMAS WAISTELL had a quarrel in the kitchen of the farmhouse, respecting a matter of very trivial import. The
brother of the murderer was the only other occupant of the house at the time; but unfortunately, he is not able to stir
about very quickly, being afflicted with rheumatism, so that he was unable to prevent the dreadful affair which ensued.
The murderer, it appears, was of an excitable temperament and occasionally worked himself up into such a violent rage
that he had often to be restrained by his elder half-brother. He was, however, of sober and industrious habits, but was
of a somewhat weak intellect, the incoherent manner in which he often conducted himself having frequently attracted the
attention of those who were acquainted with him.
On this occasion he took umbrage at a mere trifle, and, on its being hinted by the housekeeper that he was not sane, he
became very much exasperated, got up his double barrelled muzzle-loader, and fired two shots, the first missing the
object of his aim through the gun being diverted by his brother John. The housekeeper then fled from the house, but she
had not proceeded many yards, before the desperate man fired a second shot, and this time with fatal effect. He then
ran down a field at the back of the house, and, entering what is known as the Lime Kiln Close, endeavoured to put an end
to his existence by shooting himself. When found he was suffering the most intense pain, his cries being heard all over
Medical assistance was sent for immediately after the woman was shot; but on the arrival of DR. DINWOODIE and his
assistant, and DR. DICKSON of Appleby, the woman was breathing her last, and the murderer did not live many hours after
her. In his dying moments he confessed to committing the murder, and to shooting himself, and passed away with the
prayer on his lips "O God, have mercy on me!"
An inquest was held on both bodies Monday.