Richmond Hill Public Library News Index
Letter concerning murder of Thomas Kinnear
Media Type
Item Type
The is addressed to J. Shelton, Esq., sheriff of Peterhead, Scotland. It was sent from Toronto in August 1843. The letter describes the circumstances of the murder of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery.
Size: 16x10 in.
Date of Original
11 Aug 1843
Personal Name(s)
Kinnear, Thomas ; Shelton, J. ; McDermott, James ; Marks, Grace ; Montgomery, Nancy
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Scotland, United Kingdom
    Latitude: 57.5 Longitude: -1.78333
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.65011 Longitude: -79.3829
Creative Commons licence
by-nc-nd [more details]
Copyright Statement
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Richmond Hill Public Library
Agency street/mail address:

1 Atkinson St, Richmond Hill, ON L4C 0H5

Full Text

Toronto (City), August 11, 1843

Dear Sir

From a long and happy acquaintance with Mr. Thomas Kinnear, and being his professional friend in this Colony I feel obliged to (?) upon to me a most painful task and one would that no cause existed for - but my duty to you and his other relatives renders it unavoidable to me & I trust that He on whom all may lean for support in the hour of deep distress & afflictions may sustain his aged and affectionate Mother and his other relatives under the (trying tidings?) of which this is the harbinger. I need hardly tell you poor Thomas Kinnear is now no more. He died on the 29th July & by the hand of ruffian murderers. An ungrateful & wretched villian of a Servant man named James McDermott perpetrated the foul deed on the evening of the day above. The details are too horrible, too painful to the feelings of humanity to ... upon, & too dreadful for his surviving relatives to listen to, alas it must be disclosed sooner or later. The brief outline is that he (TK) had been at this place for two days (on business?) and it was expected on his return he (would) bring (home) money with him. He had three servants the man McDermott & woman calling herself Grace Marks (both of whom were only three weeks in his employment) and an old faithful housekeeper named Nancy Montgomery all of whom he left at his farm. On his return home he (missed?) his housekeeper Nancy and enquired where she was gone to. The other two pretended she was gone to a neighbour at a distance to visit a person very ill. He seems then to have thought little about it & spoke about getting his tea & was in the (meantime? ) reclining on a sofa with a book - it seems McDermott called him from the Hall and poor fellow he came to the Hall with the book in hand and the ruffian instantly discharged a gun at him & shot him dead upon the spot. He seems to have spoken only in a dying groan of oh, oh & have (pressed? ) the book to his bleeding bosom & expired. The wretch shortly after took the book and placed in a small (apartment? ) in the cellar and he & the servant Grace Marks (... ) (... ) the night stole as many clothes and light articles (...) (...) as they could conveniently take in a one horse carriage & took poor

Kinnear’s horse & carriage & the above property and absconded to (the?) United States on Sunday following (being?) the next day the house was found vacant and suspicion was awakened & search made & the body found in the cellar. No tidings were to be had of any of the servants but doubts were entertained (as) to the fate of Nancy. (Strict?) search was made but in vain. On Monday further search was made & by accident a tub in the cellar was overturned and beneath it & as it were (...) it was found the body of the murdered Nancy Montgomery.

She had been strangled a bandage was tightly & strongly tied on her neck & in that manner the unfortunate woman was murdered but the guilty parties were promptly followed & apprehended & are now in jail here and will shortly be tried for their diabolical deeds. The woman Grace Marks declares she knew nothing of the murder of the housekeeper, but she saw and heard the murder of Mr. Kinnear, & that McDermott shot him in hopes of getting some money. I send a newspaper herewith in which some of the particulars are therein. I have given directions that an inventory be taken of all the property and effects and examined myself minutely, for a will among his papers. The only document of the kind found is a draft of a deed a copy of which I herewith enclose. It will be desirable that some person should administer to his Estate or that some of his relatives should come out and look after in the meantime. I shall keep watch on it and endeavour to keep every article forthcoming. The Coroner is at present in charge and he is acting under my advice. I shall be happy to be useful in any way in my power to the relatives of one to whom I was so much attached & whom I so much respected as my worthy but departed friend Thomas Kinnear. I (intended) to have been brief & await your reply but I have perhaps indulged in expressions natural if not necessary. Deeply sympathising with his afflicted relatives and endeared friends, I remain

P.S. I saw among the papers of your deceased relative a letter which he received from his mother & as recent a date as July 1 st.

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Letter concerning murder of Thomas Kinnear

The is addressed to J. Shelton, Esq., sheriff of Peterhead, Scotland. It was sent from Toronto in August 1843. The letter describes the circumstances of the murder of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery.