The Late Murder at Port Hope - 1856


We have been requested by Mr. George Henderson to insert the following communication from himself in reference to his unfortunate brother and we accordingly do so as a matter of courtesy towards a person in the very painful and peculiar circumstances in which the writer is placed. We by no means endorse on single word of the statement. Many, perhaps most of our readers know more of Mr. Henderson than we do. All of them must just use their own judgement in the matter and take the statements on both sides for what they consider them worth. Our own judgement in the matter we shall withhold until the murderer has been brought to trial, when we shall endeavour to express it impartially from the whole array of evidence on the unfortunate transaction. For the present we shall only observe that the Coroner's jury appear to have had a most complete misconception of their duty which was simply to ascertain the cause of Henderson's death, considering which there was no doubt. If a bullet designedly fired by Brogden with intent to kill caused the death of Henderson, it was undoubtedly a case of "Wilful Murder". How far previous extenuating circumstances justified him in so acting was not for them to decide. THAT question will come before the proper tribunal for investigation at a future time.

To the Editor

DEAR SIR, - Now that the excitement occasioned by the cruel murder committed on board the steamer Arabian, while at the wharf here on Tuesday evening, in the 23rd instant, is considerably abated, I shall feel obliged by your giving the following facts a corner in your valuable journal. I would not touch the subject in its present state were not the misrepresentations already sent abroad apt to prejudice the public in favour of the murderer.

In the first place the deceased never had any intention of eloping with Mrs. Brogdin. Her husband turned her out of doors on the 21st of July; and I believe it would have been well for him if he had done so when he was first jealous, and perhaps not without cause, of a married man of this town, long before the deceased ever saw her, when she went to the house of the deceased and begged him to see her home to her mother. He immediately employed a carriage in open day, drove to Cobourg to catch the boat for Rochester. He returned the following day. She was placed in the hands of a highly respectable married gentleman, and duly delivered to her mother, Mrs. Hornby, of Niagara. The sympathy then expressed for the husband was very natural to those not acquainted with the facts.

Had the deceased been the first who interfered with Brogdin's happiness it would have been a very cruel affair; but the fact of her being a loose character before Brogdin every saw her, and as I have already said, the poor unfortunate fellow being jealous of a neighbour before they were six months married, alters the case in my opinion considerably. In speaking of her lord and master she generally used such loving terms as "the nasty, rough, drunken brute, &c., &c."

Mr. Henderson is accused of purposely exposing himself when he was warned to avoid Brogdin; but he truth is, Mr. H. was repeatedly told that Mr. and Mrs. Brogdin were together in Toronto, that they were negotiating to live again as man and wife, and Mr. Brogdin would never touch him. Indeed, the very day previous to his cowardly murder, he was told by respectable witnesses, by an old friend, a barrister of Cobourg, that he need not fear coming to Port Hope; that Brogdin would not touch him. So much for his having been warned to avoid his murderer.

Mr. Henderson, however, had not the least idea of living in Port Hope. He was busy in making arrangements for the removal of his three sisters to the west. His eldest sister was on the wharf by appointment, to accompany him to Cobourg, to talk of their future home, &c., and was witness to the cowardly murder of her favourite brother.

I intended informing the public at a distance of the farce enacted during the inquest, and the fact of the murderer being in a billiard room during the funeral of the deceased; that he was at large a whole day after the coroner's warrant had been issued. Yes sir, he was paraded round the barrooms and public streets, and exposed to the friends and brothers of the man he so cowardly assassinated for a worthless, guilty woman, who had imposed upon him from their first introduction, and as she often expressed herself, only married him for a home.

The Leader's correspondent, under date, says: "George Henderson was obliged to conduct his own case before the coroner's jury - no lawyer being found who would consent to take it for him." The writer of that article must be aware that the only professional gentlemen the town can boast of were witnesses, viz: Messrs. Kirchoffer and Scott; but what had George Henderson, or professional gentlemen to do with the coroner's inquest? The jury certainly took nearly a whole day to do business that in any other place would have been settled in fifteen minutes.

When the unfortunate affair is properly gone into at the proper time and place, I think the public will find the deceased not so much to blame as now supposed.

The deceased often left Mrs. B., with the determination of not returning again in her husband's absence; but if any time away he would be chased to his own house. Mrs. B. when Mr. H's own sisters would not speak to her would write him the most pressing notes to come to her. The following is a copy of one of them: - "Come up at once. George is home, drunk as usual, and sound asleep on the sofa." Such was the esteem in which the wife held the respectable young barrister. If the unfortunate husband had acted a manly, straightforward course and ordered the deceased from his house when he was told to look to his wife, he would not now be guilty of the foul murder. The deceased was so deceived that he was unarmed, and put such confidence in what he was told the day previous, that he expected Brogdin was coming up to speak to him.

Yours truly,


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