Friday 27 September 2013

Book ~ "The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country"(2013) Charlotte Gray

From Goodreads ~ A scandalous crime, a sensational trial, a surprise verdict - the true story of Carrie Davies, the maid who shot a Massey.

In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. 

But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? 

When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing face of a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.

This is the true story of Carrie Davies, a poor 18-year-old British girl who was working as a domestic in Toronto for Bert Massey and his family.  Though part of the wealthy Massey family, Bert's side of the family was forgotten/neglected when his father, Charles, died when Bert was a child.  Bert made a living selling cars.

Bert came home one evening and was shot and killed on his porch.  Carrie was found with the gun and admitted to shooting him.  She said she did it because he had tried to "ruin" her ... he had kissed her the day before and had put the moves on her when she was making his bed.  She said she was defending her virtue.

The book details the nine days from the time Carrie was arrested to when she goes to trial for his murder ... the three choices the jury had were murder (which would bring the death penalty), manslaughter or justifiable homicide (no punishment).

Toronto Evening Telegram, Tuesday, February 8, 1915
A picture I took of Bert's house (169 Walmer Road) today, now split into
three apartments.  I wonder if the tenants know they are living in a house
where there'd been a murder.

It was an interesting story ... Torontoist has a great summary if you want to know more of the details (I don't want to give away what happened).

Not only did I learn about murder but it was interesting to read more about what Toronto was like back then ... so different from today.  There is also a lot of information about what was going on at the time ... World War I was happening, women were fighting for their rights including the right to vote, Toronto was growing as a city and Canada was becoming an independent nation.   I live near where the old Massey plants used to be.

I'd recommend this book if you like reading true murder stories and/or you want to learn more about Toronto and Canada at the beginning of the 20th century.

1 comment:

Masshole Mommy said...

This sounds like a great read.