top of page

The Murder of William Wood Esq






A transcript of a report in The Northampton Mercury on 7 October 1854




On Thursday afternoon a most lamentable occurrence took place at Brixworth Hall, the residence of Vere Isham, Esq. Mr Isham had set out for London to make preparations for a journey to Italy, and on Thursday afternoon, his lady, Major Isham, and a young lady named Miss Hughes, were dining together. Mr Wm. Wood, Mrs Isham’s brother, who resides in the village, had gone up to the hall to take his farewell of his sister. Whether he went into the dining room or not, is not clear, but Major Isham, for some unexplained cause, appears to have suddenly risen from the table, and with a knife in his hand ran towards the hall door for the purpose of apparently leaving the house. The lady’s maid, who was in the kitchen, attracted by his halloo, ran out, and endeavoured to persuade him to give her the knife. At this moment Mr Wood ran towards him, exclaiming ‘Tom, come back!’ The Major ran at him, kicked him two or three times, and ultimately stabbed him three times in the shoulder.


Mr Wood ran out, exclaiming, ‘I am stabbed!’ and went in the direction of his own residence. Major Isham also went out, but turned in the opposite direction, towards the Coach and Horses, in a state of great excitement, and hallooing Murder! Mr Wood reached a cottage, and there, unhappily, bled to death, it would appear literally from the want of proper aid. At the Coach and Horses Major Isham became calm, and gave up the knife to Miss Manning, the landlord’s daughter, without hesitation. Major Isham and Mr Wood lived upon the most friendly terms, and the dreadful act appears to have been committed in a moment of temporary mental aberration. The lady’s maid and the Major’s valet described him as quite like a man out of his mind. During the absence of Mr and Mrs Vere Isham, it was arranged that the Major should go into lodgings, and the proposed change appeared to affect his spirits. It would seem that he had been before subject of some degree of mental derangement, but there was no evidence at the inquest of any violent paroxysm like the present. An inquest was opened yesterday afternoon at the Coach and Horses, Brixworth, before P. E. Hicks Esq., when the preceding facts transpired. It was adjourned to Monday next to allow a post mortem examination, and to obtain other evidence. Major Isham remains in custody, in perfect possession of his mental faculties, and without the slightest recollection of any of the circumstances connected with the terrible event.


After the post mortem examination, the Coroner, contrary to his expectation at the adjournment, resumed the inquest. The evidence of Miss Hughes was taken, to the effect that Mr. Wood entered the dining room soon after Atwood, the waiter, left, and that the Major almost immediately went out shouting in a strange manner. No words had passed between him and Mr. Wood. Dr. Kerr and Mr Morris stated that death was occasioned by the wound which had divided the brachial artery, and the jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Major Isham. He was committed under the coroner’s warrant, and brought to Northampton the same night.


A transcript of a report in The Northampton Mercury on 14 October 1854

(Sections where the text cannot be read are marked ………………………………)


THE MELANCHOLY AFFAIR AT BRIXWORTH – DEATH OF MAJOR ISHAM – It was stated in a part only of our impression of last week, that the inquest on the body of Mr. Wood was unexpectedly resumed on Friday evening, instead of being adjourned to Monday, as the Coroner had intended. The additional evidence went to show that Mr. Wood went into the dining room, but that, although no words passed between him and Major Isham, the latter rose suddenly and left the room in a very excited state. The medical evidence of course went to prove that Mr. Wood’s death was occasioned by the wound given him by Major Isham, and the jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against the Major, who was forthwith committed to the county goal under the coroner’s warrant. On Wednesday evening the melancholy tragedy was brought to en unexpected close by the death of the Major. An inquest ……………………on Thursday evening, before P.E. Hicks Esq. and the following respectable jury :- Mr. H. B. Taylor, foreman, Mr. Cooper Cardwell, Mr. Brice, Mr. Pressland, Mr. S. J. Blunt, Mr. W. Jeffs, Mr. B. Capell, Mr. W. Lea, Mr. D. Oswin, Mr. R. Page, Mr. John Perkins, Mr. John White.


Thomas Rust, the deputy governor of the goal stated that deceased was brought into his custody on the 6th October, about nine at night, committed on the coroner’s warrant for wilful murder. In consequence of information he had received he considered it his duty to place warders in his cell. He was placed in the infirmary ward. Did not put the usual questions to prisoner, thinking they might excite him at the moment, which, from what he had heard, he did not consider prudent. Has seen him daily since. About half an hour after he came in witness asked him his age. He said he was 52. Mr. Terry, jun., who is acting for his father as surgeon to the gaol, was at the door when he came in. Had not had any conversation with deceased as to the offence for which he was committed. Dr. Kerr had, during witness’s presence. On Monday evening he appeared to have been taken with a fit, which deprived him of the use of one side. He died last night at fifteen minutes past ten. Has sent a messenger to his family on Tuesday, stating that he had been taken much worse. This is usual in all cases when a prisoner is seriously ill. – By Mr. Markham : From what I saw of Major Isham, I thought he was not in a sane state of mind, and on Saturday I suggested to the Magistrates that he should have two warders with him, fearing he might commit suicide.

Wm. Betts, assistant warden, was appointed on Saturday last to look after deceased. Was in the same ward with him night and day, and slept in the next bed to his. He made several statements. On Monday evening he said he was troubled in his mind about the sad circumstances that had brought him there. That evening he was seized with a fit apparently. He was black in the face. Witness said to him, Major, you are not so well are you? He said , No; he was very ill. Witness sent for Mr. Terry, and he and Dr. Kerr attended. He continued to get worse, and all night, he hallooed Thieves! Murder! Tally-Ho! He continued in the same state on Tuesday. The last time he hallooed was on Wednesday. The authorities of the gaol afforded witness every facility for supplying him with everything he wanted and witness fetched from the George whatever he wanted – sherry, bitter, ale or anything he fancied. He knew perfectly well what he was committed for and the con sequences. Has been accustomed to attend on persons in that state, and is satisfied he was insane. He died calmly and easily.


On Monday evening, he asked witness to have the kindness to pray for him. He had to the last an idea that he should recover. Is quite satisfied he had no opportunity of taking anything to destroy himself.


Thomas Robbins, another warder in attendance on deceased stated that he was with him on Friday night, and remained with him till his death. He had no opportunity of taking anything to destroy himself. He had nothing which was not given to him by witness or Bates – By Mr. Matkham: Has seen insane people here before. Is decidedly of opinion that he was insane.


Mr. Henry Terry, jun. Now deceased, on his arrival at this place in custody. Considered that he was not of sound mind at this time. In bodily health he was in a weak state. Was sent for to see him on Monday when he seemed to be seized with epileptic fits, attended with paralysis of the left side, and also with severe cramps of the whole of the left side. Seeing him in so dangerous a state, witness called in Dr. Kerr. He died that night. Considering the cause of death to be extreme exhaustion consequent upon the ………………………………



Brixworth Village Thomas Roe & Buttercross
All Saints` Church Brixworth 1_Exterior Post-1865

Murder of William Wood

Brixworth Hall
Brixworth Pubs_Coach and Horses_00005

The Coach and Horses

Brixworth Hall

bottom of page