On the evening of Saturday last, a case of a very serious nature occurred at Holytown, which resulted in the death of a collier's wife named McGhee. It seems that McGhee and his wife had been partaking of liquor in the afternoon and evening. About eleven o'clock, their neighbours heard a dreadful screaming proceed from McGhee's house, and went to the spot to ascertain the cause, but the door was found to be bolted inside. The window was also secured, and the house so full of smoke that nothing could be seen. The window having been burst open, and the husband dragged out side, some of those present rushed in, when a most appalling scene presented itself. The wife was lying near the fire, with her head towards it upon a pillow, and her feet turned towards the door. Her clothing was in flames, and for the most part consumed, she herself being fearfully scorched. The bed-clothes, which had been dragged from the bed, were found partly consumed on the floor, and the bed mat, the hangings, and the bed itself nearly all destroyed. She was carried to her brother's, Patrick Slavin's house, and attended by Mr. Brisbane, assistant to Dr. Jackson of Holytown; but, after enduring great suffering, she died on Tuesday morning a little before six o'clock. McGhee absconded, but Constable Spiers, of the County Police, succeeded in apprehending him in No. 7 pit (Napier's) at two o'clock on Tuesday morning, and conveyed him to Hamilton prison. The husband states that he cannot tell how the accident occurred; that they were both stupid with drink; and he thinks when they went to bed his wife had lighted his oil lamp and hung it up at the head of the bed in order to light their pipe. After they bad fallen asleep the clothes took fire, and set fire to the wife's garments, when she rolled out of bed, taking the clothes with her, and leaving him lying safely at the back of it. The wife is said to have stated to the police that he set fire to the clothes, and held her in them until the neighbours came. Sheriff Veitch of Hamilton, along with James Dykes, Esq., Procurator-Fiscal, and Captain Mackay of the County Police, have made inquiries into the case.
Glasgow (Scotland) Herald, October 4, 1858.