April 26th 1861 Carlisle Journal
WILLIAM GRAHAM of AINSTABLE – William Graham was tried at the Spring Assizes held in Carlisle in 1857 for the wilful murder of Thomas Simpson, gamekeeper for C Fetherstonehaugh, Esq, of Staffield Hall. Our readers will remember all the circumstances connected with that melancholy affair. During the time Graham was in the House of Detention at Penrith he was visited frequently by Mr Jonathan Stalker of Penrith who is, we believe, a member of the Wesleyan Society. Mr Stalker was exceedingly kind to him, talked to him affectionately, and no doubt pressed him, if guilty of the horrid crime laid to his charge, to confess the same and thus make all the atonement he could to society. It will be remembered that Graham did make a confession. He was in a very low way at the time he did so, and not expected to live; the greater reliance is therefore to be placed on the veracity of that confession. He said that the keeper fired a pistol at him. However that may be, there is no doubt that Graham was a desperate man, and on that night especially, was prepared for any desperate or lawless enterprise which might offer challenge to a nature naturally exciteable – and when excited, vindictive and cruel. The confession which he made was strong evidence in his favour. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to transportation for life. Judging from what we have heard of the contents of a letter which has recently been received by Mr Stalker, Graham appears to be a much better man. He thanks Mr Stalker for the kindness shown to him while in prison in Penrith, and rejoices that there was one, at least, who took an interest in him in his miserable and forlorn situation. He is in Australia, and is about to get his liberty. He makes particular inquiry about another young man who was transported from Penrith. The letter throughout is said to bear evidence of a great change in the unfortunate young fellow, both as regards moral and religious sentiments. He can never wipe out the stain of blood shed on that November night, while “the bright and bonnie moon” shone down upon that scene of slaughter – he can never forget the splash made by the corpse of his victim as he plunged it into the Eden; but he may live to repent of his early indiscretion, and ultimately become a good member of society.
After Graham was sentenced, an attempt was made by some “padding ken” muse to make him a popular hero. The song, if such it could be called, was sung in the market towns of Cumberland, but fell stillborn on the public ear. It is probably that Graham would not now elect to be the object of such hero-worship.