CARRUTHERS family file: The Fatal Quarrel - James Henry LEGG 23 June 1892, Barraba / Manilla River NSW Australia
On a cold, frosty night on Thursday, 23rd June 1892, James Henry LEGG (carrier), brother of our ancestor Leah LEGG died in a tragic domestic dispute. He was killed by his wife at their house 8 miles from Barraba on the Manilla River. The report in the "Tamworth News" on Tuesday, June 28, 1892 began:-
"...Early on Friday morning last, the townspeople were startled with a report that James LEGG, a well known resident, had been killed during a quarrel with his wife and further enquiries proved the report to be true. The deceased, who was a powerful man, and his wife had never lived happily together and were constantly quarrelling. Except the eldest boy, no one so far is known witnessed the occurrence which took place at night and the statement of the boy at the inquest does not throw much light on the matter. It will be seen by the evidence that Mrs LEGG admitted doing the deed, the weapon used being a switch stick about three feet long and five or six inches in circumference..."
In the early hours of Friday 24th June Mrs Elizabeth Legg was charged with murder by Senior Constable JOHNSON at Plumthorpe Station where she had gone for assistance after a violent dispute with her husband. An inquest began on Saturday 25th June and was held before Mr Corbett Lawson and a jury comprised of James BOOTH, E.TURNER, J.ROSE, W.DOUGLAS, J.MCALPINE, S.LILLIS, H.SAUNDERS, B.CHAMBERS, A.WITTEN and A.CUTMORE. Accounts were heard from a variety of witnesses and Mrs LEGG herself. The jury returned a charge of manslaughter on Monday 27th June 1892. Five weeks later, on the 2nd August 1892, Mrs Legg was tried, apparently in Tamworth on this charge. Evidence was heard from witnesses including a Dr Loftus CAMPBELL, Senior Constable JOHNSON, Alfred James LEGG (son of Elizabeth and James), Cl ifford WILSON (part owner of Plumthorpe), and Alfred MARKWELL (overseer of Plumthorpe). It was revealed that James LEGG had a long record as a very cruel, violent man. Particular incidents which were revealed included his having tied his wife up behind a dray, inflicted severe injuries upon his young daughter, broken his brother-in-law's leg and having being gaoled for in Tamworth for acts of violence. He had been summoned and arrested a total of 23 times in the past eight years.
Most importantly the trial also revealed that Elizabeth LEGG had unintentionally killed James LEGG when defending herself against a knife attack.
In the final stage of the trial, the Judge stated "...I think with regard to all the circumstances of this case that it would be properly met by a nominal punishment it becomes lawful for me under the section I have been referred to, to discharge you without asking you return any verdict. And that operates as an acquital. I discharge you gentlemen (the jury) without you giving a verdict." ...Mrs Legg you are discharged".
Mrs Legg replied, "Thank you Sir".
Unconfirmed research indicates that Mrs Legg later moved to Bingara and raised her family there.