Executed for the murder of Broadingham's husband, 20th March, 1776
THOUGH a more wicked and premeditated murder has not presented itself in the course of our researches than that we are about to report, yet we can find no connected narrative, in any legal form, of the horrid case: from detached communications, however, we have gleaned the following particulars:--
John Broadingham was a smuggler, and had been a prisoner in York Castle for offences against the excise laws.
During his confinement his wife, Elizabeth Broadingham, basely cohabited with Thomas Aikney; and, soon after the husband's release, she went off with her paramour, and continued to live with him, in open adultery, upwards of three months.
During this time she proposed the murder of her husband to Aikney, who, struck with horror at her words, declared he never would imbrue his hands in innocent blood. Upon this, for a time, she refrained from naming the subject: yet the horrid purpose remained fixed in her mind; and so powerfully did her evil genius work upon her, that she could no longer rest without again mentioning her determination to Aikney, and which she took an opportunity to do after supplying him with liquor until he was nearly intoxicated. When his brain was thus heated, he heard her without interruption; and she urged him, at every future opportunity, to assist her in the murder of her husband.
To effect this she returned to the unsuspicious and too-forgiving man, who received her rather with kindness than upbraidings.
Aikney lodging hard by, she still pressed him to fix a time for executing the horrible deed; but he endeavoured to persuade her once more to elope with him: nothing, however, but the blood of her husband would satisfy this wicked woman; and, finding no cessation from her importunity, he at length gave a reluctant consent, and the woman planned the dreadful work.
On the 13th of February, eight days only after her husband had taken her back to his little home, and while yet enjoying the hope of the partner of his heart being fully reclaimed, and that she had returned from a sense of duty alone, she, in the dead hour of the night, awoke her slumbering husband, and told him there was a knocking at the door. The unsuspecting man, conjecturing that some acquaintance, perhaps pressed by custom-house officers, required a temporary hiding-place, opened the door, when the villain Aikney, who was waiting his coming, rushed upon him, stabbed him first in the thigh, and then cut him across the belly, leaving the knife which gave the wounds in his body.
Broadingham made to the street, crying out 'Murder!' Some neighbours came to his assistance, who found in one hand the bloody instrument which be had just drawn out of his body, and the other supporting his bowels, which were dropping to the ground.
This miserable man languished until next day, and then expired.
On the trial the principal proof against the murderers was the bloody knife, which was proved to have been the property of Aikney. But can conscience long permit such heinous offenders to conceal their crimes? Oh no! awhile they may evade justice, at the expense of torment of mind; but murder will he discovered.
Under these irresistible impulses both these wretches made a full confession, not only of the crime itself, but they also related the above particulars.
The woman was first strangled, and then her body was burnt to ashes. The man was hanged, and his body sent to the surgeons of the infirmary at Leeds for dissection.
These malefactors suffered March the 20th, 1776, at York.