Lincolnshire Village
News Report
A Strange Story
The Times, Thursday, Jun 23, 1864; pg. 7; Issue 24906; col B
A well-educated woman about 45 years of age , National schoolmistress at Springthorpe, has been 

committed for trial at Gainsborough for a deliberate attempt to shoot and murder a young lady named Miss

Emma Johnson, a teacher of music living at Gainsborough.  The prisoner and Miss Johnson were on terms 

of pretty close intimacy.  The latter was in the habit of going to a village called Springthorpe to teach, and on

those occasions she generally spent the night at the prisoner's.  Latterly she has ceased going to the 

prisoner's to sleep on visiting the village, preferring to go to the house of a friend with whom the prisoner had

had a quarrel, and this seems to have given the prisoner some offence.  On Saturday last the prisoner came
to Gainsborough by the carrier, arriving at about six o'clock.  She went to Miss Johnson's and asked her to

go back with her to Springthorpe to spend the Sunday.  Miss Johnson declined to do so.  The prisoner 

remained with Miss Johnson until about 8 o'clock, and they then went out together accompanied by several 

young ladies who had been having their music lessons.  When about two miles from Gainsborough (on the 

way to Springthorpe) the prisoner again asked Miss Johnson to go and spend the Sunday with her, but she 

once more declined.  On arriving at a wood-side at Somerby, where there is a footpath leading across a 

field, Miss Johnson gave way for the prisoner to pass through the hand-gate first.  The prisoner then turned 

round, and, pulling out a pistol from her pocket, said, "I'll shoot you."  Miss Johnson said "Oh, don't."  The 

prisoner pointed the pistol close to Miss Johnson's left eye , and fired it.  The pistol, as it subsequently 

appeared, was loaded to the muzzle, and contained a ball and some shot.  Owing to the immense charge, 

the pistol when discharged flew upwards, and the greater part of the contents, including the bullet, passed 

over Miss Johnson's head, the powder only scorching her forehead.  The prisoner's own hand was 

wounded just above the thumb by the rebound of the pistol, the cock of which tore the flesh considerably. 

Miss Johnson fell down, and on getting up she saw the prisoner apparently preparing to reload the pistol. 

Some of the young ladies who had accompanied the two were coming to Miss Johnson's assistance, but 

the prisoner warned them back, telling them that if hey stayed where they were she would not hurt them, but 

but if they came nearer she would shoot them.  Miss Johnson then ran away as fast as she could, leaving 

her hat and umbrella on the ground.  The prisoner pursued her for some distance, but she could not 

overtake her.  Prisoner afterwards told a neighbour the same evening that she had shot Miss Johnson, and

that her only regret was that she had not shot her dead, her intention having been to kill her and then die at 

her feet.  On being taken into custody a pistol covered in blood, and some powder, shot, two bullets and 

some caps were taken from the prisoner's pocket.  On being charged in the usual way she said, "I did it, 

and I won't deny it."  It appeared from the evidence that the prisoner and Miss Johnson had some words 

about a year and a half ago, and on several occasions when the latter has been sleeping with the prisoner 

she had got up in the night and, presenting a pistol at her, threatened to shoot her.  It did not transpire what 

this quarrel was about, and as far as the evidence went no motive for the commission of so dreadful an 

offence beyond the going to the friend's with whom the prisoner had quarrelled was disclosed.  

The prisoner was sent to Lincoln Castle.

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