Lurgan Coat of Arms The Armagh Guardian

21 April, 1888  


On March 9 a terrible tragedy was enacted in Knocknamuckley Church, about midway between Lurgan, Portadown, and Gilford. A young man, a widower, named Thompson, residing at Gilford, was about to be married to a young woman named Moffet. When he had proceeded a short distance up the aisle of the church a brother of his first wife named William Thompson stepped out of a pew and, placing a revolver close to the bridegroom's back, shot him through the left lung. The injured man turned around and caught the revolver in time to save himself from a second bullet. Two men named Phoinix and Fromen rushed to his assistance and secured the revolver, which was handed to the rector, the Rev. Mr. Oates, and by him given to District-Inspector Leathem. After the revolver was taken from William Thompson be remained about the churchyard until arrested.

The deposition of the injured man was taken as follows:- 'On this day I was going to Knocknamuckley Church to get married. The young man now present pulled out a revolver and deliberately discharged it into my left side. I gave him no provocation nor any cause for firing at me. He is a brother-in-law of mine, I was married to his sister, who is dead. She was buried on March 17th last year. I have not been speaking to him since my wife died. There was a bit of unpleasantness with him while my wife was alive; it was more with his mother. His sister and I got on well together.'

The prisoner was subsequently conveyed to Portadown, and at three o'clock he was brought before Mr. John Fulton, J.P., when the depositions of the wedding party were taken. The greatest interest was manifested in the proceedings, the court being crowded to excess.

Elizabeth M'Gresdy, of Ballygargin, was the first witness examined. She deposed:- My mother is sexton at Knocknainuckley Church. I live with her. I opened the door of the church this morning about ten o'clock for a wedding party. After I opened the church the Rev. Mr. Oates, the rector, went in. William Thompson (the prisoner) came into the church after Mr. Oates. He asked me was there any person in the church, and I replied, ' No one only Mr. Oates.' He asked me what time the wedding was to be, and I told him ten o'clock. He walked in and sat down in the fourth seat from the door on the left hand side. I went out to look for the wedding party, and I saw it coming some little distance from the church and saw William (prisoner) still sitting looking towards the door, with a smiile on his face. The wedding party came into the church a few minutes afterwards. When they had walked as far as where the prisoner was sitting, I heard the groom Thomas Thompson moan after the shot. I was frightened and ran out into the graveyard. I saw smoke where William Thompson had been sitting. I saw the prisoner in the graveyard afterwards and he appeared to be sober.

Other witnesses were examined and gave corroborative evidence. The prisoner was remanded till next Friday. The bullet was extracted by Drs. Clarke and Stewart. The wounded man died the same day.

At the inquest on the ill-fated bridegroom, in reply to a point raised, the Coroner said that whether the prisoner was insane or not was not a question for the jury, but for the judge of assize when the prisoner would be on his trial. Two of the jurors stated that they thought the prisoner was of an unsound state of mind from a statement that he had made a short time ago. He said, on that occasion, that they were very poorly fixed with a clergyman, for that he (the prisoner) put two questions to him and he could not answer them.'

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that Thomas Thompson came to his death from the effects of a bullet wound inflicted by William Thompson, and that the said William Thompson did, feloniously and with malice aforethought, kill and slay said Thomas Thompson, but there was not sufficient evidence before them to show whether the said William Thompson is of unsound mind or not. At a special court of petty sessions at Gilford on Tuesday a woman named Elizabeth Thompson was charged with counselling and inciting her brother-in-law, William Thompson, in connection with the tragedy at Knocknamukley Church. The proceedings were private, and the prisoner was remanded, pending further inquiries, to Armagh Gaol.


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