A History Of
George Alfred Beckett

In 1930, George Alfred Beckett left Old Perlican,  Newfoundland in search of employment. Upon landing in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, he had a local taxi driver named Nicholas Marthos drive him a short distance to Tower Road where Beckett killed Marthos with an iron bar. The origin of the song is listed as "unknown" but it was long suspected that George Alfred Beckett wrote the song himself while in jail awaiting his execution by hanging. The song, however, has been discovered to be written (in first person) by a gentleman named Phil Penney from Cape Breton Island. 

To my knowledge, this is the only known recording of The Ballad Of George Alfred Beckett. If you know of another recorded version of this song in it's entirety, I would be interested in hearing from you.

www.duncanwells.ca

 

Nicholas Marthos Glace Bay, NS - Sept. 22, 1930

Nicholas Marthos, known locally as "Nick the Greek," usually waited for fares on a stand in Glace Bay. He had not been seen for several hours when motorists found his car parked on a lonely road outside of town. Marthos had been beaten unconscious with a blunt object and died an hour after being discovered. A nearby householder reported hearing a woman's scream at about the time Marthos was thought to have been attacked, but there were no other obvious clues. On November 7, 1930 Canadian detectives went to Old Perlican, Newfoundland and arrested a 40-year-old former resident on a charge of murder. Since Newfoundland was not part of Canada at the time the man had to be extradited to face trial. He was tried in Sydney NS the following February. The jury deliberated only 20 minutes before finding the killer guilty and he was hanged on April 30, 1931.

Beckett's Confession

September 1930 George Alfred Beckett had made a full and complete confession to the murder of Nicholas Marthos, Glace Bay taxi driver, on Sept. 22nd. Beckett was arrested several weeks ago at his father's home in Old Perlican and extradited to Glace Bay, C.B.

 Other Related

January, 1931: Following examination of 14 crown witnesses at Glace Bay, George Alfred Beckett, of Old Perlican, was committed to stand trial at the February term the Supreme Court for the murder of Nicholas Marthos.

Sydney, Feb. 21, 1931 - George Beckett was found guilty of the murder of Nicholas Marthos by trial jury. After deliberating an hour and twenty minutes the Supreme Court petit jury returned a verdict of guilty in the Beckett case, and Judge Hugh Ross will impose sentence at the close of the court term, a week or so hence. J.W. Maddin, K.C. and N.R. McArthur, K.C., summed up the case for the Crown, which produced 36 witnesses at the trial. No witnesses were brought forward on behalf of the accused, his council, M.A. Patterson, confining his defence to his address to the jury yesterday.

The Ballad Of George Alfred Beckett

Original Words & Music by Phil Penney
Arrangement & Performance by Duncan Wells

If your speakers are turned on this song should be playing automatically. If your speakers are turned on and you still can't hear the song please click here.

George Alfred Beckett is my name as you may understand
Brought up by honest parents I belong to Newfoundland
From a pleasant little village so beautiful and grand
Near the Atlantic Ocean, a place called Old Perlican

My parents reared me tenderly the truth I will make known
And good advice they gave to me when I was leaving home
My mother prayed for my return as she had done before
As I left home that day to roam far from my native shore

To the coalfields of Cape Breton my course I then did stray
And for to get employment I landed in Glace Bay
But little did my parents think when they bid me good-bye
This awful crime I would commit and be condemned to die

One evening late last autumn as you may understand
To take me out on Tower road I engaged a taxi man
He little thought as we rode on I had an iron bar
These dreadful wounds for to conflict and rob him in his car

From thence I made a quick escape to get home was my plan
I left Glace Bay and sailed away back home to Newfoundland
It was 'bout three weeks later the police were on my trail
Arrested me for murder and brought me to St. John's jail

From there back to Cape Breton my trial for to stand
And never no more to see again my own dear native land
The jury found me guilty the judge made this reply
On the thirtieth day of April for this murder you must die

Here's to my aged parents I now must bid adieu
My sisters and my brothers and likewise my children too
My not forgetting my dear wife wherever she may be
So loving kind and gentle for the fault as all with me

I wish to thank all my dear friends who were so kind to me
My clergymen and lawyers who tried to set me free
Likewise the warden of the jail who courage to me gave
Long may he live to enjoy his health when I am in my grave

My life is almost to an end my days are just a few
Take my advice and live and avoid those troubles too
And never murder anyone no matter what you do
Or like me you'll die on the gallows at the age of forty-two

Now to conclude and finish from this world I must depart
For the murder of Nick Marthos I 'm sorry to the heart
And let all men take warning to heed to what I say
May the Lord have mercy upon my soul when I do pass away

 

 


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