220 Surgeon Phillip Henry Eustace Cross
15 Apr 1825 [Magowiney Co Cork] – 10 Jan 1888 [Cork]
Surgeon Phillip Henry Eustace Cross, of Shandy Hall County Cork, was tried at Cork Assizes on Thursday 14 December 1887 for the murder of his wife Laura Cross. In 1869, while in the army, he had married Mary Laura Marriott Cross at St James Church Piccadilly, London. In 1874, he received £5000 on the death of his wife's father. On his retirement he lived with his wife at Shandy Hall.
In October 1886, a Miss Skinner was employed at his house as governess, but left after three months. In March 1887, Cross and Miss Skinner stayed at a hotel in Dublin as a married couple. In April, a Miss Jefferson, an old friend of Mrs Cross, visited Shandy Hall and found Mrs Cross to be in ordinary health but had been desponding for some time. In the presence of Miss Jefferson, Mrs Cross had an attack of
spasms of the heart, with vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea. These had begun on 10 May and had continued until her death. Dr Cross who attended his wife said that she was suffering from some form of bilious fever, possibly typhoid. His wife died on 2 June and was buried on 4 June at six o'clock in the morning.
On 17 June, Dr Cross married Miss Skinner, in the same church in which he had married his deceased wife. The couple returned to Dublin, and soon afterwards moved into Shandy Hall. Suspicion being aroused, the body of the late Mrs Cross was exhumed on 23 July 1887.
A post-mortem examination was conducted by Dr Pearson, Professor of Materia Medica in Queen's College Cork. Arsenic and traces of strychnine were found in the deceased. Dr Cross was arrested. He protested his absolute innocence stating that he had bought arsenic for the dipping of sheep. At 63 years of age he alleged that he did not stand to benefit from her death, but on the contrary, he was losing a stipend of £40 a year and other money that he was likely to gain from her brother. He said that his wife had used arsenic for her complexion and that he had married Miss Skinner because
he had done her a wrong and because he wanted her to look after his children. The jury found Dr Cross guilty of murder. He was hanged at Cork on 10 January 1888.1
Service Record — Phillip Henry Eustace Cross
22 Dec 1848 Acting Assistant Surgeon.
3 Apr 1849 Assistant Surgeon 1st West India Regiment.
18 Mar 1853 Appointed Staff Assistant Surgeon vice Staff Assistant Surgeon Robert Cooper promoted Staff Surgeon of the 2nd Class on the demise of James Archibald Duncan McBean, at Jamaica on 17 January 1853. The vacancy in the 1st West India Regiment was filled by Gentleman Walter William Harris.
15 May 1855 Promoted Staff Surgeon 2nd Class. Served in Turkey.
7 Sept 1855 Surgeon 97th (The Earl of Ulster's) Regiment of Foot.
Malta 22 Oct 1855 Arrived from Turkey. Served in the
26 Nov 1855 Left for England.
16 June 1857 Surgeon 13th (1st Somersetshire) (Prince Albert's Light Infantry) Regiment.
Served in the
19 Nov 1858 Exchanged with Staff Surgeon of the Second Class James Jackson, who became Surgeon 13th Foot.
1859 Served in the East Indies.
1860 Served in Colchester and China.
1861 Served in China and Aldershot.
14 Jan 1862 Exchanged with Surgeon Henry Downes 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot.
30 Mar 1866 Reduced to half-pay.
31 July 1869 Recalled from half pay as Surgeon 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot.
1869 Married Mary Laura Marriott Cross at St James Church Piccadilly London. The couple moved to Canada where they lived for the first five years of their married life. Their eldest three children were born in Canada. A fourth child was born in Notting Hill, London.
27 Feb 1872 Promoted Surgeon Major 53rd Foot.
14 Apr 1875 Returned to London from Canada. Retired on half-pay.
1877 Birth of a fifth child at Coachford Co.Cork.
2 June 1887 Death of Laura Cross.
14 Dec 1887 Tried at Cork Assizes for the murder of his wife Laura Cross.
17 Dec 1887 Removed from the list of Retired Departmental Officers.
10 Jan 1888 Hanged at Cork for poisoning his wife with arsenic in order to marry his mistress Effie Skinner.
- Drew R., 1968. Entry No: 4992. Medical Officers in the British Army 1660 – 1960. Volume 1: 1660 – 1898. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.
- RAMC/PE/3/27/Drew. Manuscript for Drew's Roll.
- Succession Book Vol 5 (1 May 1846). Returns of service of medical officers in the Regular Army.
- 1The British Medical Journal – The Trial of Surgeon Major Cross for murder. Br Med J (1887), 2: 1399-1400 (Published 24 December 1887).