Friday, 19 June 2015

1884-08-11ww Tragic End of May Mckenzie


       “It will be remembered that last spring a man named Kenneth Mackenzie, who was in the employ of J. Martin, a spring-bed manufacturer in the city, ran away with a Mrs. Small and some of Martin’s money.”

Hamilton Spectator.   August 11, 1884.

When Kenneth Martin abruptly departed the city, his wife and child were left in a destitute condition.

Mrs. May Mackenzie was a sickly woman, unable to work very much. There was some household furniture left in her possession, plus her own stock of clothing:

“She gave up housekeeping and boarded with Mrs. Boviard, of 57 Robert street. She managed to live by selling her clothing and furniture, but had it not been for the kindness of her landlady and Mrs. Legerwood, a warm friend of hers who lived a few doors away, she would have died of starvation more than once.”1

1 “Her Unfortunate End : Mrs. Mackenzie’s Sad Death Yesterday : The Close of a Career That Was Blighted By a Man’s Villainy – An Inquest To Be Held.”

Hamilton Spectator.  August 11, 1884.

May Mackenzie had come to Hamilton with her husband in January, 1883 from the United States. Her husband used the name Kenneth Mackenzie after he came to Hamilton, but May confessed to her friend that his name was actually Holmes Mackenzie and that he was on the lam from New York state where he was facing an embezzlement charge.

The Mackenzie’s seemed to outsiders to be a reasonably happy family, but that changed :

“They always lived happily together and it was on account of no quarrel or disagreement with her that he left, but on account of his blind infatuation for another woman.”1

So much was known about May Mackenzie’s situation as of August 9, 1884 :

“On Saturday night, Mrs. Mackenzie retired, complaining of feeling unwell. She is subject to convulsions and since last spring, she has had them several times, Mrs. Legerwood, her friend, aiding her. She said Saturday evening that she thought she was going to have another attack.

“On retiring, she locked her door. This morning she did not open it, and as the day wore away the people began to get somewhat alarmed and finally at 5:30 o’clock, Police Constable McBride was called in. He broke open her bedroom door and she was found lying face downward, her face buried in a pillow, and her little year-old child beside her.”1

It was thought that a coroner’s inquest was necessary as the cause of death was unclear. There was a possibility in some minds that May Mackenzie had poisoned herself, although her friend, Mrs. Legerwood, was not favor of the idea of suicide feeling that May had simply died of natural causes.

The Spectator coverage of the tragic story concluded as follows:

“Mrs. Mackenzie was a quiet, unassuming, well-educated and lady-like woman, and was both respected and beloved by those who knew her.

“Her lot has been very sad and unfortunate, and she had the sincere sympathy of those who knew her, and the story of her husband’s cruel and heartless desertion of her, and her subsequent struggle for existence for herself and her helpless child. She was 44 years of age.”1



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