THE HIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT JOHN MURPHY IN THE HISTORES OF CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN NOTTINGHAM - Part 1
Read the first instalment of three in another of our blogs on historical crime related stories from Nottingham and the East Midlands.
In another of our commission blogs we look at more interesting historical and crime related stories which connections to the East Midlands.
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Two hundred years ago, life was very unfair to women in their early age and also very unsettling to young girls who could become orphans at any stage in life.
John Murphy also known as Harriet was born in Sligo, Ireland in the early1800s. Her mother died in 1816, leaving her an orphan. Being an orphaned child, she was put out to service. Following the strict treatment meted on her she sought to travel. She put on her brothers’ clothes and, dressed as a boy, changed her name to John Murphy (her mother’s maiden name) as she feared travelling alone as a female and she set off to seek employment in another town.
Her first job was as a cabin boy during which time she accidentally fell overboard, and fearful of being discovered she escaped to shore and ran away. She then took employment as a footboy to a Rev. Mr. Duke where she remained for a year, during which time one of the maids, assumed that Harriet was a boy, fell in love with her. The maid told her employer that she had discovered John was really a woman. Upon questioning, Harriet swore that the maid was mistaken and that he was a male but Harriet being John had no option but to move on.
She sailed on board a ship to Liverpool and assisted one Mr. Lowther with driving his cattle to Leicester. Having travelled as far as Shardlow, in Derbyshire she left Lowther and took up employment at the Navigation Inn, Shardlow, working for a Mr. Clarke. After only a couple of months, still masquerading as a man, she was beaten up by one of the other servants for being Irish.