Catherine Mandeville Snow

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Catherine Mandeville Snow, (c. 1793 – July 21, 1834) was the last woman hanged in Newfoundland.

Born Harbour Grace, Conception Bay, Newfoundland, Snow as a young woman moved to Salmon Cove near Port de Grave where she took up residence with one John William Snow, a native of Bareneed. Together they had seven children, and married on October 30, 1828. Their marriage was unhappy, and there were frequent fights. According to reports, Catherine would fight back and throw things at him. On the night of August 31, 1833, John Snow disappeared, and neighbours wondered quietly and then loudly if he had been murdered. Magistrate Robert Pinsent launched an investigation, and the general suspicion was confirmed when dried blood was discovered on John Snow's fishing stage.

Catherine and her first cousin Tobias Mandeville were implicated in the murder, along with Arthur Spring, one of Snow's indentured servants. Catherine ran away to the woods, but eventually turned herself in to the courthouse at Harbour Grace. According to the confession, John Snow was shot while going from his boat to the stagehead, but his body was never found. The trial took place at St. John's on January 10, 1834, and despite their confessions, all had pleaded not guilty. Snow and Mandeville were represented by George Henry Emerson, while Spring's lawyer was Bryan Robinson. The attorney general told the all-male jury, I can't prove which one fired the shot, both were present for the murder. As to Catherine Snow, there is no direct or positive evidence of her guilt. But I have a chain of circumstantial evidence to prove her guilty.

During their trial it was discovered that Snow was pregnant with her eighth child. Nevertheless, the jury returned a guilty verdict in thirty minutes and on January 13, 1834, both Arthur Spring and Tobias Mandeville were hanged. Many in Newfoundland were determined that Snow not meet the same fate. Bishop Michael Fleming made Snow a cause célèbre. The governor, Thomas John Cochrane delayed her hanging until the baby was born.

On July 21, 1834, as crowds gathered on Duckworth Street, Snow walked out on the platform. Her last words were,

I was a wretched woman, but I am as innocent of any participation in the crime of murder as an unborn child.

According to the Public Ledger, The unhappy woman, after a few brief struggles, passed into another world.

2012 Re-trial[edit]

On April 1, 2012, a re-staging of Snow's trial was held in St. John's. Approximately 400 local residents attended. Snow's modern-day defence lawyer argued, "the evidence of the affair is so prejudicial, it's impossible to extricate it from the statements ... there's no way she could have a fair trial." After hearing the evidence, the modern jury acquitted her [1].

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