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THE SUSPECTED MURDER AT AUCKLAND.

Further particulars to hand respecting the death of the man Hugh Aitken Hamilton point strongly in the direction of foul play. Priestly, when arrested, made so many contradictory statements, however, that the police’s suspicions were strengthened against him, and when Mrs Hamilton was seen, and also gave contradictory information, it was resolved to lose no further time in proceeding to action. The dwelling places of both prisoners were visited, and sufficient evidence was obtained to justify superintendent Thompson to issue a warrant for the arrest of both Mrs Hamilton and Priestly. Priestly was found at his lodgings in the dwelling of Mr A. Neilson, Mount Eden, at which house Mrs Hamilton also resides. When the officers made known their business, ha made no statement, being apparently fully prepared. Mrs Hamilton was taken into custody later It would be idle and unfair to recite all the reported incidents alleged against the accused as bona fide, for many of them have yet to be tested. Two, however, which are vouched for on good authority, may be rightly mentioned. One is that Mr Richardson, deputy super intendent of the Sunday school, met Priestly about 7.30 o’clock on the night of the 28*11 ultimo going into Gorrie’s house in Pitt street, and in conversing with him Priestly mentioned that he intended to walk to Onehunga that night. Richardson remarked upon the singularity of such an undertaking, but got no explanation of it. They then parted, and on the following morning, when Hamilton’s death was reported, Priestly came to him and reminded him that ho had said on the previous night that ha was going out to Onehunga. Another circumstance is that Priestly purchased strychnine on two occassions prior to Hamilton’s death, but it cannot be found out that he made any use of it. Of course the news caused great sensation in town, both on account of Priestly’s character and repute as a Sunday school teacher and theological student, and Mrs Hamilton’s relationship to the alleged victim, as well as her supposed connection with the other prisoner. The case is one of the most sensational character, and so far it is built upon almost entirely circumstantial evidence. Thomas Priestly is by no means a stranger in Auckland, for being of a religious turn of mind and considered a most upright young man, he made numerous acquaintances, especially among tho<e of the Presbyterian persuasion. He conducted a Sunday morning Bible class, and when it happened, as it did upon one or two occasions, that the minister of the church could not attend the weekly prayer meeting, Priestly came to the front and proved a very able substitute. He generally appeared greatly affected by religious services, and, to a listener, had the appearance of a very pious young man. Indeed, he spoke slowly, deliberately, and impressively, and his discourses were usually much appreciated. In fact he was looked forward to as a most promising student. About a year si-ice he ceased manual labor altogether and devoted himself solely to study. He became connected with the Rev. P. Mason’s advanced class, and from that time until tho present has been a student there. Priestly’s labors in the cause of religion also extended rapidly, and while ho still remained a member of St. John’s Church he undertook to conduct worship in country churches, and on various occasions preached from the pulpits at Onehunga, Otahuhu, Epsom, and other places. He looks between 21 and 26 years of age. and is rather above the medium height. In short, Priestly is about the last man suspicions would connect with the crime with which he is now charged, without some evidence of a very impiicatory character was forthcoming. Hu ;h Aitken Hamilton, the deceased, was a till, powerfully-built man of thirty one years of age, of florid complexion and mild temper. For many years he worked with Messrs Sargood, Son and Ewen, wa-ehousemen, but for s ime short time prior to his d ath was in the employ of Archibald Clark and Sons, Shortland street. He took great interest in the Newton Orange Society, and held the responiblo position of secretary to the Lodge. Ho also was a regular church goer, and attended St. James’ with great regularity, and sometimes in company with his wife or mother, but oftener alone. Tho Sabbath school also occupied a good deal of his time, and he for many years taught a class of boys. For some time ho was very zealous in the work, but for the last few months of his lifo he appear 'd less inclined for it, and was very irregular in attendance. It has been stated he was inclined towards intemperance, hut few persons can be found to assort ho was unable to take care of himself. That his death should be caused therefore in any way by excessive drinking was difficult fpr many to believe, and great surprise was experienced by his friends when disclosures on this head were made at the inquest. Mrs Miriam Hamilton, wife of the deceased, who is also suspected to be implicated in this strange and reefon* choly case, is a woman of thirty-five years of age, somewhat tall, spare, and possessing rather hard features. So far as can bo learned she lived with her husband on good terms since their marriage up till a short time ago, when her husband’s j -alousy led to occasion d words. They had two or three children, of whom Hamilton was excessively fond, and they were one of the greatest attractions of his home. Mrs Hamilton’s mother, sisters and brothers are at present in town, and

she lived with them until within a few days ago, and then she removed to Eden terrace district. She has throughout the enquiry exhibited but little emotion, and when spoken to on the subject of her husband’s death, has answered all questions, ami given voluntary statements rn;r • - ling the circumstances clearly and with no apparent reserve. ■'dj A telegram from Auckland to-day states that Priestly and Mrs Hamilton were charged at the Police Court this morning with wilful murder, and remanded till Friday next. Priestly was represented by MrTyler, and Mrs Hamilton by Mr T. Cooper. The male prisoner was calm, but Mrs Hamilton was much agitated. Priestly has made three statements, each contradicting the other re his whereabouts on the night of the supposed murder.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18821216.2.8

Bibliographic details

THE SUSPECTED MURDER AT AUCKLAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 820, 16 December 1882

Word Count
1,069

THE SUSPECTED MURDER AT AUCKLAND. Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 820, 16 December 1882

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