The Kinnear murder

At the trial conclusive evidence was brought against McDermot, and he was sentenced to death, a sentence carried out in the old jail yard, Berkley St., Toronto.

Grace Marks was convicted as an accessory, and sentenced to the Penitentiary at Kingston for life. Thirty years after, on a petition signed by a large number of gentlemen in Kingston and elsewhere she was pardoned and liberated and taken to the home of a wealthy citizen of the United States.

As an offset to the terrible charges made by McDermot against Grace Marks, may be taken into consideration. McDermot’s own bad reputation in as far as his earlier history was known, his utter disregard for truth — the girl’s irreproachable character before she came under his evil influence — her pliable nature — her expression of horror — “What have you done,” when she saw her master fall — McDermot’s attempt on her life in fear of her becoming evidence against him — he exceptionally exemplary conduct during the whole of her 30 years incarceration in the penitentiary — the later portion of which she spent as a trusted inmate of the home of the Governor, and that so large a number of influential gentlemen in Kingston should think that she merited and deserved a pardon, all tend to show that there is room for grave doubts as to her having been the awful feminine demon incarnate that McDermot tried to make the public believe that she was.

When at the close of the confession, that the accusations had availed nothing in lessening his responsibility, that the girl’s life was to be spared, that he was to pay the penalty for his crime in front of the jail at eight o’clock on the following morning, his abject cowardice, and mental agonies, it was said, were too terrible to witness. He dashed himself on the floor of his cell, shrieked like a maniac, declared that he could not and would not die, that the law had no right to murder a man’s soul, as well as his body, by giving him no time for repentance, that if he was hung like a dog, Grace Marks in justice should share his fate.

He was told by his adviser who received his confession, that if ever a man deserved his sentence, he deserved his.

Grace Marks went into the penitentiary. A good-looking, comely girl of 18 years, she came out a gray haired old-looking woman, yet with traces of a once handsome countenance, which 30 years of incarceration failed to obliterate. The bodies of Captain Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery were interred in our village cemetery. In the course of the trial it was found necessary to have a post-mortem. Dr. W L. Myers was appointed Coroner to hold the inquest. A jury was impaneled, the bodies disinterred and taken to the driving shed of the hotel opposite the graveyard. When the coffins were opened the odor from the fast decaying remains was terrible. The whole surrounding atmosphere was saturated with it. It permeated everything within its reach. The jurors, doctors, lawyers and all the others who had to be in close proximity to the coffins had a most sickening experience. The effects were felt for days afterwards. The coroner Dr. W. F. Myers, contracted blood-poisoning and died the following September 3, 1843.

After the postmortem the remains were returned to the cemetery. Around the Captain's grave was placed a fancy railing six feet by six feet, three bars high, through which were framed inch square pickets, the whole painted white. Around Nancy Montgomery’s grave was a six feet by four feet railing painted black. There was no monument at the head of either. On the dead woman’s grave someone planted a June rose bush. This grew until it filled the railing and reached above the pickets, shedding its fragrance to passersby and supplying bouquets for children for many summers.

In course of time an order came from the Cemetery authorities that all wooden monuments were to be cleared from the limits of the graveyard. The railings disappeared with them, and perhaps with few exceptions the memories of the spots where lay all that was mortal of the murdered gentleman and his faithful housekeeper, victims of the most dreadful tragedy in the annals of the village of Richmond Hill.
Letter concerning murder of Thomas Kinnear
Letter concerning murder of Thomas Kinnear Details
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