Missing, Presumed Dead
In the year 1819 a woman known only as Mrs Z, the wife of a well-to-do tailor based near Pownall Square, found herself locked up behind the bars of the Borough Gaol. Hers was a terrible case of mistaken identity resulting in her presumed fatality and unimaginable heartbreak.
One Saturday night the sister of Mrs Z was celebrating her recent marriage at their house on Brownlow Hill. At the jovial reception several male guests concocted a bowl of punch so judiciously mixed that its strength was mischievously more potent than its taste could ever possibly suggest. Mrs Z, unaware of the content, enjoyed her first glass so much that she was tempted to indulge in a second and she and her fellow partiers continued to drink none-the-wiser. As the festivities continued Mr. Z, her husband, received word that he was needed in town to take orders for mourning suits for a local family who had been suddenly bereaved. He kissed his wife goodbye and said that he would be as back as soon as he could.
The party played out late into the evening and one by one the celebrating guests began to disperse back to their homes in high spirits. Mrs Z waited for her partner until she was the last remaining guest. It was getting late and with still no sign of her spouse, and with unexplainable ‘Dutch Courage’ she decided to go home alone.
Outside the cold fresh air seemed like a catalyst to the considerable alcohol content in her system and the normally sober lady began to stagger her way through Liverpool’s darkened streets. On eventually arriving at Great Crosshall Street she found herself amongst a riotous fracas taking place between a group of undesirables. Soon local watchmen arrived on the scene to restore order to the neighbourhood and incarcerate the wrongdoers. Mrs Z managed to make her way haphazardly around the melee but suddenly felt the stern hand of Justice clamp down upon her shoulder. She turned to see the blurry face of a law enforcer and found herself unable to protest her innocence. Mrs Z was going to the Bridewell.
Several hours later the woman awoke in a daze and was surprised to discover such unfamiliar surroundings. The whole of Sunday was spent protesting her innocence and she repeatedly explained that her arrest had been made in total error. With her words falling on death ears she considered the disgrace that she had incurred and trembled at her husband’s reaction when he no doubt heard the news.
The following morning Mrs Z was brought before the Mayor. By that time her husband had still not come to see her and she could only assume that he had decided to abandon her in shame. The Mayor’s questions were only answered with unintelligible babbling as as Mrs Z’s upset was too great to control. The Mayor could only assume that she was indeed in league with those ruffians who were arrested alongside side the prisoner and Mrs Z was officially classed as a disturber of the peace. This label came with seven days imprisonment.
Unbeknown to the inmate Mr Z had indeed been looking for his wife. On the night of the party he had been kept at work so late that he decided to go straight home expecting to find his wife there on his return. She of course was not and it being past midnight he assumed that she had chosen to stay over at her sister’s house rather than risk walking home unaccompanied. On the Sunday morning he made his way up to Brownlow Hill and was horrified to learn that his spouse had actually left the previous evening and had not been seen by anyone ever since. He visited each of the evenings guests to see if she had perhaps sought accommodation with either of them, but each time the answer was saddening no. Mr Z later spoke to officers from the Dock Police and at some cost arranged to have the northern docks dragged in fear that his wife had found herself within the waters. Of course her body could not be found. He continued to peruse various avenues of research but each one yielded no results and he began to fear that he had lost his wife forever.
Later that week he advertised his house for rent unwilling to stay in such a place with so many memories and made plans to move in with his sympathising mother.
On the Thursday a local magistrate visited the gaol and was shown a prisoner most unlike the usual intake. It was Mrs Z and on this occasion she was able to relate the most unlucky circumstances that brought her into the position in which she now found herself. The magistrate was aware of a man looking for a lady matching the prisoner’s description, and the tale of the Saturday night wedding party was more than enough proof. Mrs Z. was released at once and her husband soon sent for; the reason however was not disclosed to him. His arrival later that afternoon was most melancholy and he appeared to be a man who would never smile again. His clothes were of shade of deep black and his disposition very similar to his miserable drapery. It was only when reintroduced to his supposedly deceased soul mate that his eyes lit up and his ardent joy became publically apparent. The sobbing couple wrapped their arms around each other in deep embrace and their reunited hearts beamed with unmeasured happiness once again.