Grace Marks

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Grace Marks (c. July 1828 – after c. 1873) was an Irish-Canadian maid who was convicted in 1843 of murder in the death of her Richmond Hill, Ontario employer Thomas Kinnear,[1] and was suspected of murdering her housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. Her conviction was controversial, and sparked much debate about whether Marks was actually instrumental in the murder, or merely an unwitting accessory.

Early life[edit]

Marks was born and raised in Ulster, Ireland, had eight siblings, with another three who were stillborn. The Marks' father John Marks, a stonemason, was an abusive alcoholic. The family immigrated to Canada in 1840 when she was 12. Her mother died on the ship en route to Canada, and was buried at sea.

Murder trial[edit]

In her murder trial, Marks was tried alongside James McDermott, Kinnear's stable hand. They were tried for the murder of Kinnear, and the trial for Montgomery's murder was to follow but was seen as unnecessary, as both were sentenced to death. Marks was initially committed to an asylum (May 4, 1852 - Aug 18, 1853) but was later transferred to Kingston Penitentiary, while McDermott was hanged. The sentence was commuted to life in prison and, later, after almost thirty years of incarceration, Marks was pardoned and moved to northern New York. After that, all trace of her is lost.[2]

In popular culture[edit]


  • Margaret Atwood: Alias Grace: London: Bloomsbury: 1996: ISBN 0-7475-2787-3
  • Gina Wisker: Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace: A Readers Guide; Continuum: 2002: ISBN 0-8264-5706-1


External links[edit]