In 1894 the Broadway was a popular walking route between Whitley and Tynemouth, and Holy Saviour’s Church a favourite meeting place for courting couples. This was where Polly met her boyfriend, Samuel Emery, age 20, a private in the South Staffordshire Regiment.
Polly and Samuel originally met and fell in love whilst he was based at Tynemouth Barracks, but then he was posted to Strensall, near York. Young and in love, Polly vowed to be faithful, and they regularly wrote to each other. All was going well until Samuel received anonymous letters saying that Polly was seeing other men, and as a result he absconded from camp and boarded a train to Tynemouth.
It was late afternoon on 23rd July when Polly opened the door to an upset Samuel. Polly was shocked to see him so upset and agreed to go with Samuel to their favourite place near Holy Saviour’s Church where he told her about the letters.
Polly pleaded that she had been faithful and that whoever wrote the letters was lying but Samuel would not listen and pulled a knife from his pocket. Polly screamed in terror as she tried to ward off the attack, suffering wounds to her arms and hands before he stabbed her in the throat. Witnesses, including the Vicar, Reverend T. B. Nichols, and other couples chased Samuel as he ran off in the direction of Tynemouth Village. Meanwhile, Polly was carried into the Church where she died.
Samuel escaped and hid on the railway line until dark before making his way to the Crescent Tavern, in Hudson Street, North Shields. Hearing customers talking about the murder, and worse the wear for drink, he finally confessed. The police were called and Samuel was arrested as he left the pub.
On the 20th of November 1894, after being charged with murder, Samuel appeared at Newcastle Assizes where he was found guilty and sentenced to death.
In the next few weeks Samuel realised his jealousy was unfounded. In a letter to Polly’s father, Samuel asked for forgiveness and said his crime was committed in a temper that had overpowered his judgement.
Just before 8am on the 11th December, Samuel was led to the gallows with a hood on his head and a noose round his neck. As the Chaplain prayed, Samuel began to cry and said “Pray for the poor girl whose life I have taken”. The trap door then fell open, and Samuel’s fate was sealed.
One of the boundary wall stones of Holy Saviour’s Church is marked with the worn initials M.M. (Mary Marshall), with a heart beneath which signifies Mary’s love for her former sweetheart.
by Charlie Steel © 2015
Further reading for many of Charlie’s articles can be found in his books: ‘Monkseaton Village’ (Vol. 1 & 2), North Shields Public Houses, Inns & Taverns’ (Part 1 & 2) and ‘Tynemouth Remembered’ all published by Summerhill Books.