1891-xx Update



Archive - 1891

Homicide #1891-xx

Date - 1891-06.10

Victim - Rodway, Annie (49)
Accused - Pattenden, William (16)
Charge - Murder
Sentence - Death (hanging), commuted to 15 years (or life)

This particular homicide did not occur in Winnipeg but on a farm near Marquette, Manitoba, north of the city. I wanted to include it here in the archive because the prisoner was taken to Winnipeg after arrest and the trial occurred in Winnipeg. It is also an interesting story and one where according to media articles of the time, many involved in the case, appear to have more sympathy for the young accused than the reportedly abusive victim.

On the morning of June 11th, 1891, on a farm near Marquette, Manitoba, the body of Annie Rodway was pulled from a well, the top of her head had been blown off by a blast from a shotgun.

Sixteen year old William Pattenden, was arrested and charged with the murder.

At the age of thirteen, William was brought from Sussex to James Tadgell's farm, twelve miles north of Marquette by "a charitable instruction". The boy was an orphan and was brought from England and placed with Mr. Tadgell who adopted him.

Mr. Tadgell's wife had died, and some period later he had his recently seperated sister-in-law, Mrs. Rodway, come live with him and the boy.

According to William's court statements Mrs. Rodway was abusive and often beat him when Mr. Tadgell was not home.

Mr. Tadgell admited that the boy (William) was good, only irritable and somewhat stubborn. In court he stated that the boy had the best character and could just not believe he had committed such a horrible crime. He did not know much about his sister-in-law before she came to live with him and he only had to have words with the boy once. He did admit that the two did not get along well.

Tadgell also told the court that William suffered from frequent nose bleeds, after which he was light headed and he often thought it might affect his mind.  And almost on cue, during the trial, William was seized with a violent hemorrhage and the court was adjourned.

On the evening of June 10th, Mr. Tadgell went out at 5:35pm to attend a school meeting leaving William and Mrs. Rodway at home together. When he came home that night around 7:30pm, he noticed that the cattle had not been milked as they were still out on the prairie. He called out for Will as a he looked around the farm. He saw a shot bag and caps on the kitchen table, he also noticed a pile of fresh dirt by the door and drag marks from the door to the well. As he approached the well, he noticed blood on the stones. Looking down the well he thought something was there but wasn't sure what it was.

Unable to find Will or Mrs. Rodway, Mr. Tadgell went to get a neighbour, Mr. Langley. Langley and Tadgell returned to the well but decided to wait until morning to investigate further. Tadgell went off to stay at another neighbour's that night and Langley who had heard a gun shot that night, headed off to discuss the situation with another neighbour, Mr. Stogel.

That morning William was working on his alibi. He stopped by Mrs. Miller's house who lived in Woodlands, about a quarter mile from the Tadgell's farm. William went to the door asking for a drink, he asked Mrs. Miller if she had heard what happened last night. She had heard a shot, and William, who said he was just getting back from Winnipeg looking for a policeman, told her the following story.

He told her that just as he was leaving to go for the cows a man drove up to the house and asked Mrs. Rodway for some money. He said as he was walking away he heard the report of a gun, and he turned around and saw that the man had shot Mrs. Rodway. He said that the man then tied the feet of the woman with a rope and dropped her down the well. The man then got into his wagon and drove away. Mrs. Miller noticed that William had a bag on his shoulder and he said it was bread he had bought in Winnipeg.

William then headed over to Langley's house and told him the same story that he had told Mrs. Miller. William stayed at Langley's for dinner and after dinner they both went to Mr. Slade's where they found two Justices of the Peace and some neighbours. Langly handed William over to the J.P.'s and headed back to Tadgell's farm and the scene of the crime where by now, quite a crowd had gathered.

Earlier that morning a large number of neighbour's had gathered at the well on Tadgell's farm, including Rev. Mr. Atcheson who had been called out. The Reverend went to the well and could see what he thought to be a body at the bottom of the well. He got a rope and went down the well and tied the rope to the body, and those above drew it out of the well. When asked in court if he saw anything else when he was down in the well, he said. "Yes, I saw a pail of butter covered with blood." And on the ground? "A few yards from the house I saw some small pieces of flesh and particles of bone, which I judged to be part of the woman's skull."

The neighbour's moved the woman's body into the house and soon after Detective Mackenzie and the coroner Dr. Benson arrived from Winnipeg. Detective Mackenzie, gathered some of the shot from the ground at the point of the shooting, some shot from the tin on the kitchen table. He also collected a gun that was found tied to a post not far from the house. William later said he was going to use the gun to kill himself the evening of the crime.

Dr. Benson's court testimony recalled that the top part of Mrs. Rodway's head was completely blown off. He thought it was from gun shot as he could see marks of powder on her face and the ragged edge of the flesh. Her clothes were muddy and dirty as though she had been dragged through the dirt.

William did ultimately confess that afternoon, to Detective Mackenzie, that he shot Mrs. Rodway. "Well the woman abused me a lot. She beat me last night. She told me to get the cows and I got all except one and when I came back she beat me with a big stick. I was running away from her and as I passed the door I thought of the gun and ran in and got it, and when I went out she was coming around the corner and I shot her. After I shot her I dragged her to the well and threw her in it."

The following transcript from the Manitoba Daily Free Press gives you a good impression of the feeling during the trial that day.

At 5 o'clock the jury retired and the prisoner was taken out of the court room. During the afternoon's proceedings the prisoner was taken with another slight attack of bleeding at the nose, but not very serious. As soon as the jury retired those in the court room gathered in small groups and discussed the prisoner's chances until 5:45, when a knock on the door of the room in which the twelve men were, in whose hands the prisoner's future rested, announced that they had decided upon a verdict. The door was unlocked, and as the men filed out one by one, the noise, which a moments before had filled the room, subsided , and in its stead a death like silence reigned. As the jury took their seats the prisoner was again brought into the box.

After calling the roll, prothonotary Walker said: "Gentleman of the jury, have you decided upon a verdict?"

"We have," answered the foreman.

"What is your finding?" again asked the prothonotary.

"Guilty, with a very strong recommendation to mercy"

The supressed feelings of the spectators then gave vent in smothered whispers, but were suddenly stopped by "order" from the crier.

After the verdict had been recorded, Mr. Howell moved for the sentence of the court upon the prisoner.

His Lordship then asked: "William Pattenden have you anything to say why the sentence of the court should not be passed upon you?"

The answer came out loud and clear, "No, sir."

His Lordship in passing sentence seemed somewhat moved with the solemnitry of the occasion and addressing the prisoner said: "Wm. Pattenden, the jury have found you guilty of a very serious crime that of murder, and there is only one sentence which I can pass upon you. The recommendation to mercy asked by the jury will be forwarded to the authorities in Ottawa and will be dealt with by them but do not busy yourself up with false hopes but rather spend the remainder of your time here in seeking forgiveness for all the sins you have committed, especially the great crime with which you have been found guilty, and give earnest heed to the spiritual advice which the Rev. Mr. Tudor, who has been attending you will no doubt, give you. And now William Pattenden but one thing remains for me to say. You shall be taken to the place from whence you came and there within the walls fo the jail of the eastern judicial district of Manitoba, on the 18th day of December, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and ninety-one, you shall be hanged by the neck until death, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul."

During His Lordship's address the prisoner stood in the box calm and collected, but to judge by the expression of his face, he fully reocognized the awfulness of his position. During the hearing of the evidence in the afternoon, at times, he would be seen to wipe away the tears which with all his efforts could not be kept back. During Mr. Hagel's address to the jury he did not try to control himself, but wept freely, and many a strong man among the spectators, moved with compassion for the youthful prisoner, not yet seventeen years of age, was seen to wipe away a tear of pity. No change could be noticed in the face of the prisoner when the death sentence was passed, he no doubt having reconciled himself to the worst.

Manitoba Daily Free Press, June 12, page 1

Manitoba Daily Free Press – Friday, June 12, 1891

Mrs. Godfrey (Rodway) Shot and Thrown Into a Well — The Young Murderer Confesses the Crime — His Revenge for Being Scolded.

MARQUETTE, June 11.— Jas. Tadgell, a farmer near Woodlands postoffice, left his house at six p.m. yesterday to attend a trustee meeting, leaving his sister-in-law and a young Englishman, about seventeen years of age, whom he was bringing up, at home, When he returned about 7:30 he could find neither. On search, blood was found near the door covered with earth, and also on the curbstones in the well and on a pail of butter down the well. On lowering a light into the well he saw feet projecting above the water, the body having been pitched down head first. It was the dead body of the woman. Mr. Tadgell's watch and gun were gone. A neighbor, Edward Langley, heard two shots fired shortly after six o'clock. There is no doubt the young Englishman is the murderer.

MARQUETTE, Man., June 10.—Magistrate A. E. Hainesworth arrived on the scene of the tragedy at 11:50 a.m to-day, and with a number of other men examined the premises thoroughly. He found the house in the usual order. Near the door of the house were found blood stains, pieces of flesh and brains on the ground. The pail and spade near by had on them marks of blood. There is a trail all the way from there to the well, about thirty yards distance, and there was blood all along the trail. One of those present went down the well, attached a rope to the body, and pulled it out. He discovered the top of the head and face blown away. The body was lightly clad. It was removed to the house and arranged. The murdered woman's name was Mrs. Godfrey (Rodway).


About noon the young man, Patenton (Pattenden), suspected of the crime came to Mr. Langley's house. He is an adopted boy, and had been with Mr. Tadgell three years. He was taken to the scene of the tragedy and in the presene of Squire Hainsworth and others, made a statement on oath to the following effect: He said a man named Godfrey (Rodway) came to the house and asked Mrs. Godfrey (Rodway) for the loan of money. She said she had none to lend. In the meantime he, Patenton (Pattenden), went after the cows. On returning when near the house he heard a shot fired and saw the man drag the dead woman to the well and throw her into it, and also saw him gather up the blood, brains and flesh and throw them down the well.


Chief of police Clark and Detective McKenzie arrived about 4.30 p. m. and after viewing the body and surroundings and having a consultation with Magistrate Haineswortb. they took the boy and two magistrates and two others into the house, handcuffed the boy and received a confession to the following effect: That he and Mrs. Godfrey (Rodway) had quarrelled about the cows. He took the gun down, went out in the garden about ten yards from the door, and shot the woman as she was coming out of the house. He then took a rope and tied her feet and dragged her to the well and threw her down head first. Then he gathered up the flesh, etc., and threw it clown the well. Then he reloaded the gun and fastened it to the fence near by, put it on full cock, fastened a string to the trigger in order to shoot himself when his courage failed, and he left the gun where it was found.


Detective McKenzie took the boy in charge and sent a message to Stonewall for a coroner to come from Winnipeg. The inquest will be held to-morrow forenoon. Mr. Tadgell is an old man and did not know that the boy had been found until the boy had confessed. The meeting between the old man and the boy was affecting Tadgell said : "You see what trouble your disobedience has caused," and asked why he had done the deed. He replied : ''She scolded me and I shot her." The boy is about five feet six inches high, fair complexion, light blue eyes, prominent nose and appeared perfectly collected and cool. He did not look like a murderer.

Dr. Benson, the coronor, received a telegram last night, summoning him to the scene of the murder. The Attorney-General's department baa also been notified.

Manitoba Daily Free Press, November 19, 1891, page 2

Fifteen Years Prison.
Young Pattenden's Death Sentence Commuted - Capital Notes

Ottawa, Nov. 18 - The Governer-in-council, taking into consideration the lad's youth and manner of his bringing up, and also the fact that the evidence showed the deed was done in a moment of passion occasioned by hard words if not blows, has commuted to penal servitude for fifteen years the sentence of death passed upon Wm. Pattenden by Chief Justice Taylor in Winnipeg recently for the murder of Annie Rodney (Rodway).

Manitoba Daily Free Press, November 20, 1891, page 6

Applications for the Job of Executioner - Reprieve May not be Received for Some Days.

In conversation with deputy sheriff Currie yesterday morning a Free Press reporter learned that it would probably be a few days before the date set for the execution of young Pattenden, before the official notification of the commutation of the death sentence to imprisonment for fifteen years, would be received here. In his experience as sheriff in the east Mr. Currie says that he has a number of times, in cases similar to this, been compelled to write to Ottawa asking if he would go ahead and erect gallows and secure a hangman, before he would receive the official notice. The young prisoner may, therefore, not be informed of his good luck until within a couple of days before the date fixed for hanging.

In conversation with an official at the jail it was learned that young Pattenden was in the best of spirits and fully expects that he will not hang. He sleeps and eats well and one would never think by his manner was under sentence of death. He is visited daily by the Rev. Mr. Tudor, who is his spiritual adviser and who will be one of those to inform him of his repreive.

Sheriff Currie has received a number of applications from persons wishing to secure the job of hanging Pattenden, some from the west and some from the coast.  One of those applying has evidently been in the business before as he states in his letter that he never made a “bull" in hanging a man in all his experience. Every one of those connected with the jail were very glad to hear that young Pattendon would not hang as during his stay there he has made friends with all connected with the place.