From the Darlington & Stockton Times of September 3, 1871

“THE usually quiet market town” of Thirsk was startled when middle-aged widower Joshua Varley, a basket maker, shot his housekeeper Margaret Nicholson on the stairs after a quarrel.

He killed her outright, and then tried to drown himself in a pond, but was stopped by one of his sons and held until police arrived.

It appears as if the couple had been living as man and wife for a couple of decades.

The D&S Times reported that Joshua had been an inmate of York Lunatic Asylum. “He was discharged about a year ago and has conducted himself well up to the present time,” said the paper.

However, in a very modern act of public relations, the asylum medical superintendent told the paper: “It is stated that Varley was discharged from this asylum which might convey the impression that such discharge was an act of the asylum authorities.

“I therefore beg leave to state that his removal was effected solely by his relatives and in opposition to my strongly expressed opinion that he was dangerous both to himself and others.”

It appears that Joshua lived out the rest of his days in the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in Berkshire.