Audio credit: Interview conducted in 2017.
In the following audio clip, Dr. Joy Fraser describes the details of the Isaac Mercer murder case:
[Joy Fraser] We know a little bit. We know he was 29 years old. He was a fisherman. He was Anglican, we know that because of his burial record, you can look that up in the provincial archives here in St. John’s, and also because we have his marriage record. He was married just a couple of weeks before the incident. One of the things kind of made me cry a wee bit when I found it was a witness statement, a transcript of a witness statement, made by his widow just a few days afterwards, talking about how she couldn’t go into the room where he was, where he died, because it was just too hard for her. She couldn’t bear to see him there. Some of this stuff is quite emotional, you know.
It was supposedly his own hatchet. He had been out in the woods chopping timber that day. So he was carrying his hatchet with him. Supposedly, we don’t know for sure exactly what happened, because obviously we can only just go on the statements that were made by the two relatives of his who were with him at the time. They each gave evidence on several occasions during the investigation, and you can see how they build up a more and more elaborate account of what happened.
It was a brother in law of Mercer’s and another male relative, I can’t remember offhand exactly how they were related. He had stopped in to the house of one of those guys, his relatives, and said that he was on his way home. He was scared to go home on his own because he’d had a run-in with the mummers the previous year. He wanted them to come with him, home. I think at least one of the, the brother-in-law John Brown, was carrying a knife with him because they were kind of scared about this. So they wanted the knife for protection. As they were walking home they came to the entrance of Wilcox’s lane near the centre of the town. It seemed like it had a picket fence on either side which is marked on the map. Anyway, this is where they encountered these six guys, and some kind of altercation took place. At some point, Mercer’s hatchet got wrested off of him and used to hit him. I think the other two got knocked down as well but they weren’t as badly injured.