An Historic Murder Story

Recently the Bradling Stone, Norton in Hales’s monthly magazine, published the details of the murder of an old Nortonian resident and I was intrigued to find out more, here is what I discovered.

“1920 45 Main Road, Norton in Hales lived Mrs Pruce and Bert Pruce. In 1930 Mrs Pruce moved to Shrewsbury because Bert, her son wanted to get married and she didn’t want him to leave home. Shortly after they moved to Shrewsbury we heard Mrs Pruce had killed Bert and his dog with an axe.” – Extract from – The Bradling Stone – Issue 4 – July 2019.

Alice Annie Stevens b.1891, of 38 Great Western Road, Gloucester, married Albert Edward Pruce b.1889 a gardener of Asylum Lodge, Hyde Lane, Gloucester, on 3rd September 1913 at the Parish Church of St Mary-de-Lode in Glouchester. They had a son, Albert Edward Pruce Jnr (Bert) born in 1915. In 1917 Corporal Albert Edward Pruce died in action (6th Battalion Shropshire Light Infantary) and is buried in Belgium, Tyne Cot Memorial. At the time of his death, his widow Annie Pruce is listed as living at 45 Main Road, Norton in Hales Shropshire.

Corpl. A. E Pruce

The 1939 register lists Alice and Bert, living at 29 The Oval, Market Drayton Shropshire. Alice’s occupation is recorded as unpaid domestic duties and Bert’s as Railway Porter (trained as signalman). On the 28th October 1945, at 19 Roseway, Harlescott, Shropshire Bert was murdered by his mother.

On Tuesday 20th November 1945, the Daily Mirror reported: To Mrs. Pruce there was no Judge or jury. Judge, jury, barristers and witnesses just might not have been there for Mrs Alice Annie Pruce, in the dock at Shrewsbury yesterday, charged with the murder of the son she doted on. Mr Pruce, 58, rocked backwards and forwards, inconsolable because Bert her son, wasn’t with her. She had killed Bert because she loved him so much: because it tore her heart to hear him cry, night after night, after his girl had jilted him. Everybody in court knew, Birmingham’s prison doctor, Dr Humphrey, went into the witness-box. “So wrapped in her misery”, he said “that her mind has no room for anything else.” He paused. Mrs Pruce, unheeding, swayed and crooned. “She is not interested in what is going on. She is obsessed with her grief.” said the doctor. Briefly her story was told and her statements were read and the jury found her unfit to plead. Because Mrs Pruce could not bear to hear her son’s crying she had reached for a hatchet in their home at Harlescott, Shrewsbury, and killed him. Neighbours saw her running down the road in her nightdress that day. Judge and jury were gentle, Mrs Pruce will be kept and cared for “during his Majesty’s pleasure” – which means until she can face the world again.

WIDOW KILLED TEARFUL JILTED SON, POLICE SAY. 23rd November 1945. A widow killed her son after he had “cried for hours” because he had been jilted, it was alleged at Shrewsbury court. The widow, Alice Annie Pruce, 58, of Harlescott, told the court; “I do not remember anything about it.” She was committed for trial on a charge of having murdered her son Albert Edward Pruce. Police found the son dead in bed at his home. He was lying in a pool of blood with severe head injuries. In the kitchen was a dead dog and an axe. Mrs Pruce was found suffering from what appeared to be disinfectant poisoning. A neighbour said that Mrs Pruce told her: “I had to do it. He said Mother what have we to live for? You are unhappy and so am I.” She also said “He cried every night over being jilted by his young lady.” The court was told that when Mrs Pruce was charged she said “I could not kill Bert. I loved him too much, I must have been mad if I did.”

Alice Annie Pruce died on 18th Febraury 1979, her last address was listed as 24 Alms Houses, Victoria Street, Windsor.

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