"Adelaide is a thoroughly modern town, with all the merits and all the defects attaching to novelty. It does not possess the spirit of enterprise to so adventurous a degree as Melbourne, but neither does it approach to the languor of Sydney." - R. Twopeny, 1883

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The ghosts of Adelaide Arcade...[part 2]

On Saturday, 27 February 1904, there was a third death at the Adelaide Arcade. Florence Eugena Horton was a 21-year-old married woman with a 3-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. She was strolling down Rundle Street (now Mall) with some friends just past 9 o'clock in the evening when she was shot three times in the back. The shooter was Thomas Horton, her estranged husband, a bootmaker. He was better known as ‘Anglo the Juggler’.

On the night Florence Horton died, she was with two friends, Frances Isabel "Bella" Smith and Nellie Linnett, and they had been walking up and down Rundle Street for about an hour. Tom Horton approached them and tried to coax Florence away from her friends, but she refused. He tried to get Florence to follow him up a side street (Charles Street – opposite the Arcade) to give her a present. She and her friends refused again and headed up Rundle Street towards King William Street. That was when Tom opened fire and Florence was shot three times in the back. He immediately bolted down Charles Street and onto North Terrace. Florence was carried into Mr. Solomon’s tobacconist’s shop in the Arcade, where she “breathed her last”. Her last words, gasped while she was still in Rundle Street, were “My God”. A photograph of Rundle Street with a cross where Florence was shot appeared in The Advertiser on 29 February 1904. She was shot in front of the building to the left to the Arcade, near the fountain.

Florence’s two friends, Nellie Linnett and Bella Smith, were very clear witnesses of Florence’s murder and of Florence and Tom’s volatile marriage. Nellie claimed that Tom would ‘raid’ his wife every night at midnight and that they were separated after only three months. Florence feared for her life and had been threatened by her husband on many occasions. She once hit him after he accused her of being a prostitute and left him after he beat her so badly that she lost consciousness. Florence wrote a letter on 2 February 1904 (less than a month before she was killed) about her abusive husband and accounts of various beatings she received by him. It was kept in the care of Nellie Linnert and The Advertiser published it on 29 February 1904. She wrote it because she feared for her life, and believed she would be killed by Tom Horton:

“[Horton] has threatened me to my face, and my sister, my several friends, who if necessary will gladly appear if anything happens to me. This letter is for the protection of myself and others, who he said he would blame for [my death]. It will be by no other than Mr. Thomas Horton, false name Anglo, the juggler, Chief-street, Brompton, late McLaren-street off Regent Street, Adelaide. This letter will be produced on sudden death. Others will not suffer for him. … He held me down with a knife, but I got away from him. Then he said he would give me an overdose of ether, and go for the police, and swear he found me like it. I hope if anything does happen, and you read this letter, that you won’t bring it in that I am in an unsound mind. Everything I have written is true, and I know what I am doing. I am getting two witnesses to sign this letter as soon as I have written it, and will leave it in the possession of Miss Nellie Linnert, O’Halloran-street off Gilbert-street, Adelaide. Th murdered will be Mr. Thomas Horton, juggler, at present living in McLaren, otherwise Mr. Anglo, off Regent-street, Adelaide. Witnesses – I am, believe me, Mrs. T.F. Horton. In sound mind. 2/2/1904”

A post-mortem examination on Florence’s body took place on 29 February, performed by Dr. A.F. Lynch. Dr. Lynch discovered that Florence would have been unable to “fulfill the active duties of married life”, due to “certain physical conditions”. These “conditions” related to a certain disease and, in Florence’s case, of long-standing. Florence was shot three times, and all shots came from behind. There was a bullet in each of her breasts and another lodged in her spine. Two bullets perforated her right lung and the other went through her heart. Dr. Lynch ascertained that it was the shot through her heart that killed her.

Immediately after the shooting, Tom Horton went into hiding. It was initially believed that he had committed suicide by jumping in the Torrens Lake. However, he was arrested on 29 February 1904 at 3.30pm between Bridgewater and Ambleside [near Balhannah]. His movements between the shooting and his arrest were sketchy but he ended up at his brother-in-law’s house at Queenstown, where the police were notified. He ran away, spent another night at Blackwood and was heading to Bridgewater when he was arrested.

Tom Horton was 24 years old and was married to Julia Chapman (deceased) before marrying Florence Lovell on 5 November 1903. He had three children from his first marriage and Florence had an illegitimate daughter. Horton was reportedly jealous of the father of Florence’s child and believed they were still on ‘affectionate terms’. He and Florence lived together in a house in McLaren Street, Adelaide, but Florence had been with her mother at Rundle Street, Kent Town since separating from her husband and Horton also lived with his mother in Chief Street, Brompton. He was illiterate and had a stutter. He made a living as a bootmaker, although he had been an accomplished juggler (“Anglo the Juggler”) and performed at the Tivoli Theatre in Adelaide. Two of his children from his first marriage were adopted to his stepsister and the other, “a little girl with flaxen hair and laughing blue eyes”, was cared for by his mother.

At the inquest into Florence’s death and the subsequent murder trials, Tom Horton’s family and his own history were placed under great scrutiny. His father had died at the Parkside Lunatic Asylum and his mother had been detained there. Horton suffered heatstroke as a child and had sustained a head injury after falling 13ft from a tree when he was 10 years old. The resident doctor at Parkside (now Glenside), Dr. Cleland, deemed Horton insane and “not able of distinguishing between right and wrong [at the time of the shooting]”. However, three other medical men contradicted Cleland, including the Coroner (Dr. Ramsay Smith), who claimed Horton was malingering.

Thomas Horton was found guilty and sentenced to hang for the murder of Florence Eugena Horton. There was an appeal for life imprisonment, but it was unsuccessful. A special Cabinet meeting on 6 May 1904 sealed his fate – he was to be hanged at the Adelaide Gaol. The last person before Horton to be hanged at Adelaide Gaol was Lollie Kaiser Singh, “an Afghan”. Horton became the first man hanged at the Gaol since Federation, when he met his end on 12 May 1904.

The gaol’s chaplain spent the most time with Horton in his final days and believed him to be “intellectually weak”. He had no knowledge of the Bible (at a time where the Bible was taught in all schools), indicating that he did not attend school as a child. However, Horton spent his last night writing letters to his friends and relatives.

Horton was executed shortly after 9 o’clock in the morning of 12 May 1904. Prior to his execution, Horton was “somewhat pale, but walked with remarkable steadiness to the spot underneath the gallows … He never glanced round and his face was kept turned toward the opposite window, which opened into a sun-bathed world.” He was buried in the gaol’s courtyard, as were all executed men, at 1.30pm on 12 May. His grave was marked with '14 T H' painted on the courtyard wall.

Florence was buried at the West Terrace Cemetery on 1 March 1904 – immediately after the coronial hearing. Although she was shot on Rundle Street and newspaper articles relating to her death referred to the 'Rundle Street Tragedy', she was pronounced dead in Adelaide Arcade. Her child, who was only referred to by her nickname 'Tottie', was cared for by her parents. Her father, Philip Lovell, died in 1907 and her mother, Miriam, died in 1922. 


‘Startling Street Tragedy’, The Register, 29 February 1904, pp. 5-6
‘Murder in Rundle Street’, The Advertiser, 29 February 1904, pp. 5-6
‘The Inquest’, The Advertiser, 1 March 1904, p. 5
‘The Rundle Street Murder: Horton Arrested’, The Advertiser, 1 March 1904, p. 7
‘Horton to be Executed’, The Register, 7 May 1904, p. 6
‘The Rundle Street Tragedy: Execution of Horton’, The Advertiser, 13 May 1904, p. 6


  1. Very informative and intriguing.

  2. Thanks very interesting.

  3. I always suspected that the centre of Adelaide, especially Rundle Mall, had a dark past. Thank you for the conformation.

  4. he was my great grand uncle

    1. So your grandparent could be one of his children adopted by his sister then. Or your great-grandparent could be the child adopted by his mother. You could be a direct descendant. Not something I would admit to in either case because its stated above that his parents were both unstable and were institutionalized (His father had died at the Parkside Lunatic Asylum and his mother had been detained there).


Thank you for your comments; I really appreciate them :)