1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

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1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby escotregen » Mon Jan 24, 2005 5:01 pm

Did anyone else catch yesterdays R3 documentary on a mass murder incident in August 1937 Glasgow? It was seemingly a sensation at the time.

A young Indian graduate name of Biswas came to Scotland to attend Jordanhill College – described as “then the pre-eminent teaching college in the entire Commonwealth”. Unusually for the time, he married and stayed on in Scotland, but a disintegrating marriage and his exclusion due to general joblessness and his minority Indian status, seemingly drove him over the edge. It ended with him getting a taxi to his estranged wife’s family home where he shot her, his father-in-law, sister-in-law, baby son and even the taxi driver before killing himself.

One wee odd element was that Lawrence Street where the shootings took place, and adjacent Havelock Street, were named after a couple of British Raj top knobs who were involved in suppressing the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

Another element that will be of interest to HG members, especially Ronnie, is that the two in-laws and the baby son were buried in the Western Necropolis. The wife had escaped with her life. Biswas himself was cremated and his ashes returned to his devout Muslim parents who had previously disowned him as a ‘bad Muslim’. Police did not want his ashes in the Necropolis as they feared desecration of the site by angry members of his wife’s own family (Miller).

The funeral caused the city to stop for the day and scenes of near public disorder erupted at the Necropolis.
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Postby Sharon » Mon Jan 24, 2005 5:04 pm

I wonder what finally made him snap?
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Postby duncan » Mon Jan 24, 2005 5:33 pm

I lived in Lawrence Street for 5 years and never knew about this (guess it's something they don't boast about too much). any links to more info escot?
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Postby escotregen » Mon Jan 24, 2005 6:00 pm

Duncan, I'm going to be following it up. I have a contact who is researching Glasgow's hidden black history, so I'll keep you posted.
Sharon, according to the narrator of the story the frustrating part is that we may never know what the final tipping trigger was. However, he suggested that this was a brilliant young man who did well in his studies, married into the local community and therefore thought he 'was accepted' in his social and professional life. This was all the more exceptional because almost all of the people from his ethnic minority were doorstep hawkers etc. and of very low status. Part of the cost along the way was estrangement from his blood relatives.
It's suggested that when the marriage and his work and social position all fell apart he couldn't take the status of being no better off than his ethnic peers.
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Postby Ronnie » Mon Jan 24, 2005 6:28 pm

Small point, but if he was a Muslim, he would not have been cremated.
His name sounds more Indian, and perhaps he was a Hindu, who are into cremation. Top tale, though.
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Postby escotregen » Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:56 pm

Ah, but Ronnie this was part of the tragedy of the man; it was a police decision and there was no to speak on his behalf
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Postby duncan » Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:23 pm

any idea what number on Lawrence Street?
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Postby escotregen » Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:15 pm

Duncan, no but as I said I will be following this up
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Re: 1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby hound dog » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:39 pm

This is an old thread but I've just discovered it having done a google search about the murder. I read about in a book I'd borrowed from the library about Glasgow murders - just returned it today and can't remember the title :oops:

It was no 1 Lawrence Street at the home of the local dentist John Miller. a few facts in this thread are contradictory to the story in the book e.g. he was a Hindu and he was not out of work, but it was the wife having started divorce proceedings the previous day that was the trigger. The story took my interest because I was born in White Street in Partick and all the extended family lived around the area. In fact, my grandparents were living at that address the previous year.

I took some notes before I handed the book back - will give some more info later if folk are still interested.
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Re: 1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby dmf » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:13 pm

Hi Hound Dog,

Is the book you are referring to 'The Book of Glasgow Murders'? If so, I am the author.


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Re: 1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby hound dog » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:20 pm

Ah right - yep, I've checked my loans history on the library website and that's the one :) I wasn't familiar with that incident, tho' when I read the chapter there was something very vaguely familiar about it. It took place well before I was born, but it may be that I heard it mentioned by family when I was a youngster. As I said, the extended family lived all round that area - Lawrence St, Havelock St, Roxburgh St. White St and they all congregated in my grandmother's house at 295 Byres Road on the 1st floor corner flat.

I just know my grandmother was there in 1935 as that was the address she gave when reporting her brother's death. Checked the voters rolls and they seem just to have been there for the 1 year, but would have known the Millers as everyone knew their neighbours back them. The Millers were there for years according to the voter's rolls. I can well believe it would have caused a sensation at the time, and no doubt my family would have spoken about it for years afterwards.
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Re: 1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby dmf » Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:45 pm

I'm glad that it brought back memories for you, Hound Dog.


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Re: 1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby HollowHorn » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:34 pm

How did I miss this thread? Most interesting. One for the 'Index' Mods, if you please. 8)
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Re: 1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby Sharon » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:44 pm

HollowHorn wrote:How did I miss this thread? Most interesting. One for the 'Index' Mods, if you please. 8)


Added under general history :)
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Re: 1937 Lawrence Street Mass Murder

Postby hound dog » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:52 pm

I didn't know about the index thread - will while away many a happy hour in there :D
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