Maggie Howie, a 17-year old maid at the Tichborne Hotel in Napanee

was brutally murdered at the hotel, on March 28, 1882.

The murderer was 23 year old Michael Lee, her former fiancee, and a hostler at the hotel.

Lee was apprehended shortly after the murder, stood trial, and was sentenced to hang.

He was later found to be insane, and he spent his life in the Kingston Penitentiary,

 until he died in 1901 at the age of 44.

The Napanee Express building later stood on the spot where the murder took place,

and Maggie's ghost was said to haunt the office of the newspaper.

Various accounts of the murder appeared in papers across Canada and the U.S.




Napanee, March 28 - A shockingly atrocious and cold-blooded murder of a girl by her discarded lover was committed here this morning about 8 o'clock. The victim was Maggie Howie, a kitchen maid in the Tichborne house here, and the murderer was the stableman, Michael Lee. The circumstances, briefly told, are these:  This morning the girl went out to milk the cow, but before going she told the head cook, Jane Shaw, to watch, for she was afraid of the stableman. The girl staying longer than usual at the stable, the cook went to the door to call her, but was met at the door by Lee, who gruffly asked her what she wanted there, and continued, "Go to the house;  I want to have a talk with Maggie," and he slammed the stable door in her face. She returned to the house, but Maggie Howie's help being needed to serve the breakfast, the cook went to the stable, and was horrified to find the girl lying dead on the stable floor. She ran to the house, shrieking, "Maggie's dead! Maggie's dead! and Mr. McDonald, the proprietor of the hotel, hastened to the stable, and found the poor girl stretched dead, her head at the manger. She was quite dead, but still warm. A ghastly wound, made with an axe which was lying at her feet was found on the top of the victim's head, which was lying in a pool of blood. Meantime the murderer had escaped. He was seen crossing the railway viaduct, and making for the country south of the town. He was followed and secured. Lee and the girl had been engaged and she discarded him. British Colonist April 14, 1882


Killed While Milking a Cow - Napanee, Ont. March 28

A girl named Maggie Howie, while milking a cow in the stables of the Tichborne House here, this morning, had her head split open with an axe and instantly killed by a man named Michael Lee. He was arrested while endeavoring to escape along the railway track to Kingston. he made no resistance, but tried to commit suicide by dashing his head against large stones on the roadside.

Maryland - Cumberland Daily Times Mar 29 1882


A terrible murder of a young woman by a reject of lover named Lee is reported from Napanee, Ont. Her head was split open with an axe while she was milking.

Sherbrooke Weekly Examiner - March 31, 1882



Tichborne House Napanee.JPG

The Tichborne Hotel on the North Side of Dundas Street, Napanee.

(Napanee Guide photo)



Murder of a Young Woman - Last week we mentioned the fact of a young woman having been killed by a rejected lover. The following are some of the particulars:

One of the most cold-blooded murders ever perpetrated in Canada was committed at Napanee Ont., on the morning of the 28th March. The victim was an attractive young woman, some twenty-three years of age, named Margaret Howie, and the perpetrator of the deed, Michael Lee, a young man aged twenty-five. Both were employed at the Tichborne House, the first named as a general servant and the other as hostler. It seems that the cause of the crime was unrequited love, the young woman having declined to marry Lee, who had been persistent in forcing his attentions upon her. For some days previous to the murder, since the return of an engagement ring, Lee muttered threats that if the girl did not have him she would never have any one else, but little attention was paid to his remarks. The horrible tragedy of to-day however, is evidence that Lee's threats were not idle ones, and that murder was determined upon.

The particulars of the crime may be briefly summarized as follows: At about eight o'clock this morning Lee was heard to call upstairs to Margaret Howie in relation to milking the cow, a rather unusual thing. Shortly after this the girl went out to the stable to do the milking and was followed a few minutes after by one of the other servant girls, who feared that Lee might carry out his threat. Lee who was about coming out of the stable closed the door and refused the other girl admittance, stating that he had work to do, and she could not come in there. The girl returned to the house, and upon going  back to the stable the second time she was horrified to find Margaret Howie lying in the farthest stall beside the cow, with her head split open, and a blood-stained axe near her. Lee had disappeared.

The alarm was at once given, when scores of persons turned out in pursuit of the perpetrator of the dastardly crime. He was captured about five miles out of town, he having gone east on the railway track. Several shots were fired at him before he halted and when he did stop he attempted to dash his brains out against a large rock. While on his way to the Lock he wanted his captors to hang him at once, and a good many were in favor of complying with his request. Miss Howie came from near Bath, her parents being farmers. Lee formerly lived in Perth, Lanark county, and although not much given to drink, was bad-tempered in disposition.

Sherbrooke P.Q.  Friday April 7, 1882






The Napanee Tragedy

The British Whig March 29 1882


   The stereotyped expression, one of the most horrible murders n the annals of crime in Canada, poorly describes the tragedy that occurred during the early hours of yesterday in Napanee.  When the poor unfortunate girl was picked up in the barn, with a great wound in her head, and when it was found that life was extinct, the news spread with great rapidity, and soon crowds were rushing wildly in the direction of the Tichborne House. The building and the yards adjoining were soon filled with an excited populace. Doctors were summoned, the police informed, and all necessary preparations made to arrest the person who had committed the deed. Our readers are fully aware of the sensation that the tragedy occasioned in this city, but to imagine the excitement existing in Napanee is impossible. A WHIG representative was despatched westward, but through the dilatoriness of the G.T.R., Napanee was not reached until 6:30 o'clock. At this hour there was still much excitement.




   The Tichborne Hotel is a large building, painted white, with the name in large letters emblazoned on the sides and front. It stands on the corner of Dundas and John streets, and is the oldest hotel in the town. It has had many proprietors, the last being Mr. Robert Macdonald, the present occupant. Entering by the front door a person passes through a long passage in order to reach the back door, which opens up on a yard, one side of which, that nearest the street is enclosed and used as a shed. At the furthest end of the yard stands the barn where the deed was committed. A Large door stood directly facing the kitchen in which the girls were engaged, and in a stall opposite the door was the usual place where a white and red cow was milked by Maggie Howie, who cheerily sang in the early morning hours as she worked. Often while engaged at this occupation Michael - or as better known - Mike - Lee would come around and stand or sit in the door way, and chat with the not unprepossessing girl.




   Yesterday morning, when she went to the barn to mild, she evinced a little fear that Mike would do her harm, as on the previous evening she had offended him by returning his love tokens. She seized the pail and entered the stable, but on arriving there found that the cow had been removed from its accustomed stall to one at the extreme end of the barn, adjoining John Street. After she had been it some time Jane Shaw, the head cook, ran to the barn, but was met at the door by Mike, who asked her to go away as he wanted to speak alone to Maggie. The cook thought that probably Mike was endeavoring to mollify Maggie, and wanted to be again taken into her affections, and when he closed the door in her face she returned to the house, to go out again when the milk was wanted for breakfast. Then Maggie was found lying in the manger with the blood gurgling from a deep and extended wound on the hear. With horror the cook stood back, and then, with the tears welling up in her eyes, and an agonized and startled expression on her countenance, she rushed to the hotel screaming frantically, "Maggie's dead! Maggie's dead!" The hotel men ran out and found that a tragedy had really occurred. The unfortunate girl, dressed in a common calico dress, with a cloud wrapped around her head, was lying beside the cow. Her head was near the manger. Life had fled although the body was still warm. An alarm was sounded and soon a vast crowd assembled.




   The suspicious movements of Lee were at once laid hold of, and as he could nowhere be found a search was instituted. About 50 men scattered themselves all over the district, hunting the runaway. It would seem that after committing the deed the axe dropped from the hands of the murderer, falling at the feet of the deceased. He must have approached the door and seeing the cook advancing towards him used the subterfuge above mentioned to prevent Miss Shaw entering the barn. After her return to the house he appears to have walked around the barn to an adjoining lot from which he escaped to the street and then wandered off apparently not knowing hither he went. His capture we yesterday described. When he saw that he was surrounded he got upon his hands, and lowering his head and jumping off the ground like any angry bull dashed his head against a rock, hoping to knock out his brains. Jutting pieces of the stone had wounded and bruised the skull, and when the men took him in charge the blood was pouring from the wounds. His remarks on his arrest will be found in the evidence. With a guard of trusty men, several of whom had their hands upon revolvers, he was marched some 2 ˝ or 3 miles to town, most of the distance being travelled in silence. The news of the capture of Lee had precede the captors and when Centre Street was reached an infuriated crowd of people was met. With deep imprecations they demanded the life of the criminal. Such exclamations as "Lynch him!" "String him up!" "Shoot him!" were made. Chief Allen drew his baton as did also his assistants and conducted the cowering and trembling murderer to the lock up. A hooting mob followed. Chief Allen batoned some of the more forward ones off, telling them that the prisoner was in the hands of the law which had to be upheld. The prisoner presented a most uncouth appearance. His face was smeared with the blood from his self inflicted wounds, and it dripped upon his well worn clothes. He was safely locked up and a guard appointed to see that he attempted no further  personal violence. Only his relatives, the reporters and legal adviser were permitted to see him. He seemed to take the matter quite cool, and at times was rather sleepy, the wounds he had caused himself probably dulling his comprehension. He remained quietly in the cells until late at night when again he was taken out and conducted to the Town Hall, where the inquest was held.




   When Agnes Howie, after a four days visit to her sister, left the Tichborne House for her home yesterday morning, her sister cheerily bid her good-bye and as soon as the stage had departed she left for the stable. As soon as the tragedy became known a messenger was despatched to the home, where the announcement was received through the sister but a short time previously that Maggie was happy and getting along well, and sent love tokens to all her parents and sisters. What consternation and grief must have followed we leave our readers to imaging. The father seemed to be dazed by the news. He and several members of the family drove to Napanee with the greatest haste. The feeling of the father, as soon as the first shock had passed away, turned to revenge, and he exclaimed that had he been 15 minutes earlier he would have shot down the brute who dared to rob him of his darling. In an agonized way he cried to Mr. Macdonald."Oh, why didn't you shoot him down when you had a chance. Had I seen him he would never have had a trial."




   As soon as possible after the girl was found arrangements were made for her removal. She was laid out, awaiting the doctor's examination, after which she was place in a neat rosewood coffin with silver bolts and handles. Upon a silver plate was the following simple inscription:


     Aged 17 years 1 month

     Died March 28th 1882


   The coffin was placed in a large front room, and for several hours a stream of people passed up and down the stairs in order to view the body. Such was the crush of visitors that bannister bars on the stairs were forced off, and the steps were worn considerably. Passing into the chamber where the remains lay, men and youth uncovered  their heads, and in silence gazed upon the unfortunate woman. About 8 o'clock the body was removed from the hotel and conveyed to her father's house. She will be interred in Cataraqui Cemetery.




   Michael Lee was born in the Township of Drummond, County of Lanark. He is a painter during the summer months and in winter has generally done hostelry work. His father is a farmer and resides six miles from Perth. One of his brothers in turnkey in the Perth gaol, and a sister works in Napanee for Mr. J.B. McGuin. For several winters he has worked for Mr. McDonald at the Tichborne House and was found to be a very will servant. About three months ago he became desperately enamoured of the girl Howie, and with all possible rapidity would do his work so that he might bet into the kitchen and talk with her. At firs his attentions were reciprocated, but afterwards she did not receive him with the pleasure of a lover. She bore with his attentions, but tried to keep him from "boiling over" in his admiration of her. In the early stages of his courting he had prevailed upon the girl to accept the betrothal ring, but as her sisters and friends were




she returned it to him, but he forced it upon her again and she kept it until the night previous to the murder, when she threw it at him. This act seems to have precipitated the tragedy. During the long night he nursed his wrath. During the morning while sweeping out the was seen to go to the bar and do something never known before - draw himself a glass of beer. When Agnes left for home he spoke to her and went outside. It is declared that he was seen standing near the Dundas street gate with the axe under his coat. It is not thought he meant any violence towards Agnes, although he was displeased with her for advising her sister to refuse his proffer of marriage. During the past few days he seems to have been filled with the desire to have Maggie at all hazards, and when he found he was spurned his feeling got the best of him.




   Mr. J.C. Huffman, as soon as the murder was discovered, at once, at the county Attorney's request, ordered an inquest. At 2 p.m., the jury assembled in the Town Hall, taking positions on the platform, where a staff of pressmen, doctors and lawyers was already assembled.




   On the back of the Town Hall was the motto erected for a former occasion in evergreen: "Welcome". A sad one it was, to be sure. The place was packed, the lights burned dimly, and the atmosphere was terribly vitiated.

   It was a particular endeavor of Mr. H.M. Deroche M.P.P.  to see  if any coercion had been used to bet Lee to confess. The only inducement was that Lee was informed that Maggie was not much injured, and was able to be around. At the Cotting trial a similar defence to that in the Vankoughnet case will be put at; that he confessed under pressure and without being told that the confession made would be used against him.




   An inquest began in the Town Hall at 2:30 p.m. Mr. J.C. Huffman, Coroner. The jury was as follows;  D. Reid, foreman, Thomas Trinbly, Andrew Madden, James Collins, James Brown, Edward Lapam, Wm. Robinson, John Lowry, Miles Shorry, Nelson German, W.R. Membery, Robert Vande, John --, J. Montgomery, F. Hall, R. Day, Peter Frazer, W.H. Bruten, L. McGowan.

   After viewing the body the jury returned to the Town Hall when the inquest was proceeded with .

   Mr. W.A. Reeve watched the case for the Crown and Messrs. Deroche & Madden appeared for the prisoner.

   Jane Shaw was the first witness examined and she gave similar testimony to that published in last evening's WHIG. she had known Maggie Howie for two years. About 8 o'clock, Lee made a pail of swill for the cow, as he usually did. Suring the time Maggie was in the barn she heard a screeching or noise. Lee had told witness that he wanted Maggie to marry him, but that she would not. He had acted strangely for some time as though he was not in his right mind. He had acted so for three or four weeks. There seemed to be a difference between him and Maggie. This morning, Tuesday, he had acted differently to what he had ever done before. He looked wild and appeared to be in a  deep study all the time. No other person came to see Maggie.




   Robert Macdonald, proprietor of the Tichborne House, said deceased had worked for him since Dec. 6th. Michael Lee had been hostler since Nov. 3rd. It was part of his duty to feed the cow. He described the last actions of Maggie. He said he was in the kitchen when Jane Shaw rushed in saying that Maggie was dead. He ran to the barn and found her lying in the stall with her head towards the manger. The cow was tied and the pail of milk was tipped over. Life was extinct She had deep cut in her head. He picked up the axe and found blood marks upon it. The cow usually stood in front of the door and Maggie milked with it open. He could give no reason for the changed position of the cow. The axe was usually kept at the kitchen door. After finding the body the police were informed. Some time ago witness told Lee that he objected to his sitting up late with Maggie as there was a good deal of talk about the, Lee said they were engaged , that Maggie had his ring. This morning while the witness was sitting in a room, Lee came in and handed his brother, who was in the room some cards, one a photograph. Lee went out but returned and gave his brother some more cards and a key. He afterwards saw Lee talking to Maggie's sister who was going away on the stage. He suspected Lee of the murder, and accompanied by Chief Allen, telegraphed a description of him to various places, after which a rig was secured, and hearing that Michael had been seen going towards Newburg started, accompanied by Thomas Wilson, in that direction. On the way they learned that he had been seen




and they changed their course and gave chase. The woods were reached and they heard a crackling of brush and looked where the sound came from. Soon some person was heard to hallo and then a shot was fired. On reaching the spot Lee was found pounding his head against a stone. Mr. Bowen then came up with a spear, accompanied by young Kelly. Witness drew a revolver and told the men to take hold of him and that he would see that he did them no harm. He gave himself up and was walked into Napanee, followed by a large company. On the way in Lee acknowledged having committed the crime. He asked if the girl was dead and was told that she was all right. Lee said that if he had been given longer time they would not have got him, as he intended to hang himself. He said he would not run away but would give himself up, as he desired hanging, or something to that effect. He complained of intermeddling by people, tending to the breaking up of the engagement.

   Cross-examined. - Witness did not tell Lee that the girl was not dead. He seemed to be in love.




   Jane Howie, sister of the deceased, saw her sister alive for the last time a week ago to-morrow (Wednesday). Deceased and Michael Lee did not seem to be on friendly terms. She was afraid of him. She had heard Lee abusing Maggie, and he had sworn at her in witness's presence. He said that if he did not get her no one else would. "I'll murder you, Maggie, if you don't marry me." he said. They were engaged to be married. Maggie did not want to marry him at all, because she was a Protestant and he a Roman Catholic. He seemed to be jealous of nobody in particular. Her sister told her that Lee threatened her on several occasions.


An Evening Session

John Kingsbury testified that he followed Lee and found him hiding in a swamp behind some bushes. He was peeping out from one side, and again from the opposite. Witness had borrowed a revolver, and when he saw Lee running, first shouted to him and then fired in order to alarm him. When he got near to Lee he found him butting his head (describing the motion)against a stone. Young Bowen came up with the spear, and also Macdonald. the latter told Lee to give himself up, which he did. the prisoner said, "I did it, but you (Macdonald) were the cause of it. You set her up against me." Witness said, "That's all right, come along, it will only be a small fine anyway; the girl is all right." Lee asked if the girl was up, walking about, and somebody answered that she was. Lee was asked if the girl was sitting down or standing up when he struck her, and he replied, "She was standing up." "was she facing you when you struck her?" witness asked, and he replied, "Yes." Witness next asked if she said anything, and he answered that she simply remarked "Oh!" when he struck her. Lee said she had promised to marry him, and that she had went back on him without any reason, that she had his ring and handkerchief to prove what he said.




To Mr. Deroche - Witness said no one had cautioned Lee not to commit himself as what he said would be used against him. Lee volunteered to give the whole thing away. The prisoner had been given to understand that the girl was not dead. Lee said he only struck her once. He was asked why he did so with an axe, and he replied that he had it in his hand. At one time he said he intended to tear up his coat and hang himself. He also said that if a train had passed along when he was on the track he would have thrown himself in front of it.




Jeremiah Storms testified that a man named Michael Lee had been brought to the lockup by Chief Allan, and the witness heard a conversation between Lee and his brother in which the prisoner said he struck Maggie, and that others were the cause of it, setting her against him. He asked if the girl was dead and witness said she was. the prisoner did not say who he struck. He did not know that Maggie Howie's name was mentioned.

Prisoner when told that the girl was dead said he did not intend to kill her, but something came over him and he could not help it. The prisoner declared that parties at the hotel had set the girl against him. He was much excited.




Chief Constable Allen testified that he met the party bringing the prisoner to town and took him in charge. After he put him in the lockup and put a guard over him to prevent him repeating the attempts at suicide. Witness went to dinner and on returning came across the prisoner's brother, Jas. Lee. He heard a conversation between the prisoner and his brother. The latter said "You knew she had my ring and they all did all they could against me."

To Mr. Deroche - He seemed to think some person was interfering between them. He did not mention Maggie Howie's name. So far as the witness knew the prisoner was a good character.




   Drs. Ruttan and Bristol, having been deputed to make the necessary post mortem examination handed in the following report of their investigations.

"We, the undersigned medical practitioners, held an autopsy upon the body of Margaret Howie, now lying dead in the Town of Napanee, this 24th day of March, 1882, and report as follows.

   "The body of the deceased is well formed and well developed, and apparently about 20 years of age. in our examination of the head we found a fracture of the skull through the frontal bone, extending backward, about two inches long, the skull being depressed to the depth of about half an inch. A wound in the scalp corresponding to the fracture and about three inches long, produced, in our opinion, by a blow with the head of an axe or a similarly formed instrument, in the hands of another party. There was also a clot of blood found in the venticles of the brain, and the wound so produced was, in our opinion, sufficient to cause the death of the same Margaret Howie. We also found that deceased had received a blow on the left arm by some obtuse instrument, and an abrasure on the left side of the neck. We examined also the visera  of the chest and abdomen and found them healthy. It is our opinion that the deceased came to her death by shock and compression of the brain, caused by an axe or other similar instrument in the hands of another party.




   Dr. Ruttan testified that he had seen the body in the stall before it was removed to the house. The body had been raised up when he saw it. He saw an axe, but it was left on the ground in the manure and people were walking upon it. The wound was one which could likely be produced by the back of an axe rather than the front.

To Mr. Deroche - He thought there was one blow. There was a severe blow inflicted on the left arm which might have been caused by the blow when she held up her arm to ward off the blow of the axe.


    Dr. Bristol corroborated Dr. Ruttan's evidence, and reported that there was an abrasure on the neck which the doctor could not account for.




The prisoner was brought into the court. He is a young man about 24 years of age, 5 ft. 10 in. in height, of medium build He has dark brown hair, moustache and side whiskers. He has a very mild face, much browned by exposure to the sun, and has not the looks of one who would commit such a crime. His eyes are a very bright blue. His clothes were black, and his boots very muddy. His former habiliments had been changed, as the old garments, worn when he ran away, were wet. His hands were held together by a pair of wristlets. As he entered the hall a low murmur ran through the audience, but no demonstration was made. He was conducted to the platform and placed in a  chair between the reporters and Coroner. His back was to the former. The Coroner asked him if he had any statements to make, but he replied "Nothing." The room was then cleared and the jurymen were conducted by the Constable to an ante room where they were locked in to consider the verdict.

   A great crowd congregated around the door of the hall and there, in a cloud of tobacco smoke, discussed the evidence presented and speculated upon the probable verdict. They waited patiently for the result. Inside the hall sat the coroner, counsel, constables and reporters. The prisoner sat immovable, with the exception that of  his hands which twitched convulsively. He gazed patiently at the Coroner, and when spoken to by various parties answered in monosyllables. A faint trace of blood was seen upon his high forehead. It had trickled from his self-inflicted wounds, in which the matted hair lay.




   The jury remained out about half an hour, when a knock was heard at the ante room door and the constable released them and they quietly moved to their places on the platform. The foreman handed in his verdict, to the effect that Margaret Howie came to her death on the morning of march 28th from a would inflicted on her head by an axe, or other instrument, in the hands of Michael Lee, and that the murder had been committed with intent. In answer to the question whether the jury concurred in the verdict, they exclaimed with one voice, "So say we all."

   Lee heard the verdict without emotion and seemed not all to realize the trying position he was in. He never moved but sat quietly in his place and only looked up when Mr. Deroche approached him and made a few remarks to the effect that he must not say anything more.

   After his commitment he was taken by the officers to the gaol and there incarcerated in a cell. He will remain there until the opening of the Assizes, which occurs next week before Judge Cameron.




   Lee yesterday morning, before committing the terrible deed, went to Mr. Macdonald, the proprietor of the hotel and drew $5, the balance of wages due to him and a trifle more. This was a circumstance worthy of note, in Mr. Macdonald's mind. Mr. Macdonald more than once noticed the desire of Lee to be in the kitchen oftener than he should. He was continually hanging around where Maggie was, and would not regard her repulses.




   Lennox has never before had such a tragedy and old citizens "pray God they will never have another." The last crime of the kind occurred in that town in October, 1867, when Sandford Woods killed his child by pinching and throwing it around the room. He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to be hanged, but through executive clemency the sentence was commuted in imprisonment in the penitentiary. He died in prison some years ago.


   A girl was detained in Napanee gaol for about one year in the expectation of evidence being secured, by which she would be convicted of drowning her child, but it was not forthcoming, and the girl was discharged. Our readers are well aware of the circumstances of the Navin tragedy.


   The prisoner Lee is partially deaf, and he construed any interchange of hilarity between his fellow servants into a conspiracy to separate him and his sweetheart. This wretched feeling of distrust grew on Lee until he could see his betrothed only through the green eyes of jealousy.





Spring Assizes - The Howie Murder Case in Court at Napanee - The prisoner Lee Pleads Not Guilty

Lennox - Napanee, April 3 - The Court of Assize opened here to-day before Judge Sinclair, who is taking the place of Chief Justice Wilson. The docket is unusually heavy, there being no less than twelve civil cases and eight criminal charges including murder and arson.

The grand jury brought in a true bill against Michael Lee for the murder of Maggie Howie last Tuesday. The prisoner was arraigned, and pleaded not guilty. Mr. Deroche, his counsel, moved for the postponement of the trial until the next assizes, on the ground that he had not had sufficient time to prepare the defence.

The Toronto Daily Mail Apr 4 1882


To Be Hanged - Michael Lee, who murdered Maggie Howie because she refused to continue an engagement to marry him, was today found guilty and sentenced to be hanged on the 17th of November

Winnipeg Free Press Oct 14 1882


Maggie Howie, aged 17, employed as a kitchen girl in the Tichborne House, Napanee, Ont., is brutally murdered with an axe by Michael Lee, the hostler of the hotel, who had been paying his addresses to her, but whom she had lately discarded. The girl was in the stable milking the cow when Lee went in and asked her to marry him, and on her refusing he killed her with an axe, which he had previously left near the stall to which he had previously removed the cow so that he could not be observed from the house. Lee is arrested, and the Coroner's Jury returns a verdict of wilful murder against him. At the Assizes at Napanee on 6th Apl., County Judge Senkler, of Lincoln (acting for Chief Justice Wilson) enlarges the case until the fall Assizes, when Lee is tried, convicted, and sentenced to be executed on 17th Dec. Lee's sentence, however, is commuted for imprisonment for life, on the ground of insanity.

Dominion Annual Register and Review 1882, Journal of Remarkable Occurrences 1882 - March 28


Persons Sentenced to Death in Canada 1867-1976 (from the Canadian National Archives)

Lee, Michael



Victim- Howie, Margaret

Trial - 1882/10/11-1882/10/13

Judge - Wilson, Adam

Execution fixed to 1882/11/17

Recommendation for mercy - no

Result - O in C of 1882/12/06

Commutation - life imprisonment Kingston Penitentiary


Convict Deaths at Kingston Penitentiary 1835-1915

Michael Lee - died Feb 17 1901, age 44



The Murder of Maggie Howie
Traditional Folksong, author unknown

I am an Irishman by birth, my name is Michael Lee.
I fell in love with a pretty girl, which proved my destiny.
I fell in love with a pretty girl, Maggie Howie was her name.
It’s true that I have murdered her, I own it to my shame.

Maggie Howie was a farmer’s daughter, the truth to you I'll tell
She resided in Napanee where she was known quite well.
It’s true I loved her dearly, as you will understand
For she is wearing my own gold ring upon her lily-white hand.

For a long time I courted her, I was filled with joy and pride.
For a long time I courted her, I thought she’d be my bride.
Night and day both passed away in my love’s company.
Her parents interfering, she would not marry me.

It was early one Tuesday morning, my love along did stray.
I overtook my darling, those words to her did say,
“My dearest dear, I must be severe and take away your life
Unless you promise to marry me and become my lawful wife.”

She wrang her hands with anger and wept most bitterly
Saying, “Michael, do have mercy and do not murder me.”
But I was deaf to all her cries, no mercy could I show
And in my hands I took the axe, and struck that fatal blow.

My love she fell, dead, down at my feet, it was a mortal wound,
And over her fair bosom the blood came pouring down
I ran away into the woods, my sorrow to prevail
But I was overtaken and sent to the county jail.

So it’s now I am a prisoner in the town of Napanee
It’s there I’ll stand my trial and the judge will sentence me
For I know that I am guilty and I do deserve to die
For the murder of my own true love, all on the gallows high.