Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Adelaide Arcade: Part Six: Horton Hears His Punishment

The Adelaide Arcade
Part Six:
Horton Hears His Punishment

In our previous entry we visited the horrible torture one human being can inflict upon another, this week we look into the consequences of that action.

In our last post we published a letter Mrs Horton had written and asked her friend to keep hold of in case anything happened to her, in it she speaks of Mr Horton raping and beating her, and accusing her of adultery and prostitution.
During the post-mortem upon Florence Horton's body, Dr A.F. Lynch discovered that Florence had been suffering from “Certain physical conditions” and would therefore have been unable to “fulfill the active duties of married life”. It would appear that Mrs Horton suffered from a venereal disease for rather some time and the condition of her genitals would have made sexual intercourse almost impossible for her (as reported in The Advertiser Friday April 15th 1904)

Dr Lynch also surmised that Mrs Horton was shot three times through the back, a bullet was lodged in each of her breasts and another went through her heart, it was this last shot, through her heart, that killed her

Thomas Horton, if you remember, ran after shooting his wife in Rundle Street, was presumed dead for sometime, a rumour had spread that he committed suicide in the River Torrens, this was of course untrue, and eventually he was caught near Bridgewater by Mounted-Constable Schumann.
Mr Horton was heading for Murray bridge and was found with a loaded five chambered revolver as well as copious amounts of ammunition, milk and biscuits.

On Tuesday the first of March 1904, Mr Thomas Horton was brought before the Police Court. A large crowd had gathered outside the Court. It was deemed, the following day, that Mr Horton did indeed have a case to answer and was remanded at Adelaide Gaol until his trial could begin later in March 1904.

On March 3rd Thomas Horton was officially charged, the following was reported in The Advertiser on said date:
The jury, after a short retirement brought in the following verdict:—"That the deceased, Florence Eugena Horton,came to her death by a pistol shot wilfully inflicted by her husband,Thomas Horton."

In the time between his remand and trial Horton attempted to escape the Adelaide Gaol as reported in Barrier Minor ( Tuesday 22nd March 1904 page 1):

Adelaide: Monday Afternoon.
Thomas Horton, awaiting trial at the next criminal sitting for the alleged murder of his wife, made an attempt to escape from the Adelaide Gaol yesterday- Between 1 and 2 o'clock the warder noticed him on the roof of the prison. As soon as he was observed Horton was asked to descend and, knowing that the warders were armed, he readily responded to the Invitation, and was soon safely under lock and key.

On the 14th of April 1904 Thomas Horton faced a jury of his peers, pleading “not guilty” and, after all witnesses and evidence was presented, was found guilty of charges brought against him.
Horton also tried to use the “insanity” defence but was found of sound mind by Dr. Cleland, resident medical officer of the Parkside Lunatic Asylum.

Thomas was sentenced to Death by Hanging for the murder of his wife, Florence Horton.
An appeal was lodged for a life imprisonment, but the attempt was unsuccessful. A special Cabinet meeting was held on the 6th of May that sealed Mr Hortons fate. He was to be hung at Adelaide Gaol on the 12 of May 1904 ( Read here for complete court proceedings http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/4961688?searchTerm=Thomas%20horton%20&searchLimits=l-decade=190|||l-year=1904|||l-title=34|||l-month=04) )

In the short time between his sentencing and his death, the Prison Chaplain, spent a considerable amount of time with Horton, a man he considered intellectually weak with no knowledge of the Bible, something which, at the time, was an indication of not being educated as Bible Studies were then a part of a childs education.
In the last few days before his death, Thomas Horton, who was illiterate, dictated some letters to be sent to friends and relatives
Hangmans Noose in Adelaide Gaol Museum
photo ©2012 Allen Tiller
Here is one of Thomas Hortons final letters, to a former employer in London:
Dear Messrs. Hamley:
I thought that I would just drop you a line to tell you of my misfortune. Since I left London, I have had varied luck. The first thing on landing at Adelaide I was greeted with the news of my wife's death, which took place two days before. A few months after I married again, and then my troubles commenced afresh.
My second marriage was in every way a complete failure. I had no idea what sort of a woman I was taking for my wife. Everything that I could do to try and live with her in happiness was futile. She so worried me that I hardly knew what I was doing. She left me after we had been married 3-1/2 months and went home to her people. Had she been satisfied and contented with leaving me, all would have been well, but unfortunately for me such was not the case.
She used to carry on with other men and one Saturday night I met her in the street. I got wild and shot her dead. You may quite imagine my position then. I, of course, was put on trial and the jury brought in a verdict against me. So tomorrow, the 12th, I die. I do not think that I have any more to write about, so will thank you in anticipation and wishing you all success and a long farewell, I am,
Yours Sincerely, T. Horton.
Thomas Horton was executed at 9am on the 12th of May in Adelaide Gaols “New building” the permanent gallows of A-Wing. It was reported in the local media that Horton didn’t look around as he was walked to the Gallows, that he kept his eyes looking at the window straight across from him. One can only wonder what went through his head in his final moments.
Hortons body was buried in the Gaols courtyard and marked 14 TH

Florence Horton was buried in West Terrace cemetery on the 1st of March 1904. Her funeral was well attended by family and friends. Her only child, daughter “Tottie” was raised by Florrie's parents, Philip and Miriam Lovell
Adelaide Gaol, Where Horton was hung
photo by Allen Tiller © 2012

There is a good chance that Florence, who died in the tobacco shop in Adelaide Arcades Rundle street facade could be haunting the location of her tragic death, much paranormal activity has been reported in the Arcade, including that of a young lady seen in the area where Florence was murdered, is it her? Well, that we don’t know, but what we do know is that is the end of our Adelaide Arcade series....for now

© 2012 The Haunts of Adelaide
written and researched by
Allen Tiller