A drunken fight between Irishmen after a christening party in a pub brought two of them to Newcastle Assizes on murder charges. Both men, George Matthews, 20, and James Welch, 23, were involved in separate incidents in the brawl on February 7th, 1847.
Welch, a labourer, turned up already drunk at the party and tried to fondle a woman guest. Her boy friend, Thomas Proud, intervened, whereupon Welch stabbed him to death.
In the other incident, Matthews, a railway navvy, and a friend of his named John Hughes got involved in an argument with Daniel Hives. Matthews drew a knife and stabbed Hives to death.
Welch was convicted on February 27th, 1847. Matthews the next day, while his friend Hughes, who was tried with him, was acquitted. In both cases the juries pleaded for mercy, but Welch and Matthews were nonetheless hanged on Wednesday, March 17th, 1847, in what was to be the last public execution held at the gates of Morpeth Prison.