|Emily Swann at 42|
|Me at 17|
|Emily's daughter Elsie at 18|
Here we are at last!
The penultimate evening before the morning of the showing of the reopening of Emily's case and the subsequent re-enactment of the final judgement of her trial.
I find that I feel quite emotional and I can't pinpoint the reason why. I feel a real sense of change in the air. But I don't know why. As I drove to school this morning, my car became my church as I gave thanks for the whole process that I have lived through this last 6 months, and somehow through that rambling, musing prayer - I found the answer. I wanted the world to have sight of the misjustice and injustice that I feel not only Emily faced, but those who went before her along with those who came after her. Many have read her story but many have not, and I am so pleased that they too will now have the chance to meet this brave but perhaps misguided little lady who I am quite proud to say was my great-grandmother and the great-great grandmother of my three sons.
Recently I gave a talk whereby I read out one of Emily's final letters from jail. In that letter, my great-gran told us that she knew she had sinned, but then went on to challenge the hypocritical who 'hide their sins under their very large salvation bonnets.' To err is human, to forgive is divine and this is what Emily does. In those final moments before she is brought to the gallows, Emily forgives all.
After being sat in Armley Jail myself and trying so very hard to walk in her shoes and imagine Emily writing that last letter, I can only say how difficult I believe putting pen to paper must have been. To forgive all (including her accusers) must have taken every last ounce of strength - but she does, and she does it with grace and a touch of humour and humility. This I believe shows great courage.
This little lady who in the statement as recorded by the most sexist police sergeant Quest states that she only had an affair with her lover John Gallagher because her husband was 'cruel' and he was 'kind' - tried to find love in a world that had seen her lose 11 children, beaten by her abusive husband and prosecuted for prostitution as she had tried to find the money to feed her children. Emily wanted to feel loved. Don't we all? But Emily lived in a time when women were not treated equally; especially women of a lower class, and where a woman who tried to take control of her own destiny was considered to be immoral. Not only an immoral wife but also an immoral mother.
So as you all watch Series 2: Episode 7 of Murder Mystery and My Family - I hope that you see the Emily Swann that I first met 14 years ago - a woman who chose 'kindness' over 'cruelty' and battled against all odds to live her life as she chose. A modern woman who wanted to find love on her own terms. Who essentially fought as a single mother to feed and clothe her children; a woman who would do whatever was needed to make sure that they were loved and cared for. And a woman who was not willing to take the daily beatings without fighting back. A fight she was to lose when she faced a Victorian patriarchal penal system as a battle-scarred, illiterate woman.
Now it is your turn to form your own opinion.
Emily Swann - guilty or not?
Won't be long now.
- Short interview: Thoughts preparing to meet the barristers
- Meet the barristers: In a conversation, briefly introduce my case to them, tell them about my connection and my own research, outline any questions about the original case/verdict. The barristers will then tell me about their process when it comes to re-examining the case, and some of the challenges they might face.
- Short interview: Thoughts on meeting the barristers
I hope that I will be able to take the judgement; whatever that be, with grace and dignity. As long as I feel that I have done everything that I could possibly have done, to have Emily Swann's case re-visited for the great miscarriage which I believe it to be - I feel I will not have let her down.
The three questions that I asked Murder Mystery and My Family as I started this journey were -
|Filming at Huddersfield University|
|Final resting place of Emily Swann|
|Time to reflect|