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Murderer or Pawn: Grace Marks

Grace Marks from Alias Grace is not the most pleasant Netflix character of all time. However, there is so much more to know than what the Netflix mini-series will tell you.

So scroll down and read all you need to know about Grace marks from Alias Grace.  

Who Is Grace Marks?

who is Grace Marks

Chilling visuals of a murder are not pretty sights to behold. The Netflix miniseries Alias Marks managed to present this sight in the most artistic way possible. However, the story of a simple maid who turns into a murderer is much more than that.  

Grace Marks was born on July 1828 to Irish and Canadian parents. As per historical records, Marks was born in Ulster, Ireland. She mostly had a generic upbringing. However, she would end up committing one of the most cryptic double murders of all time.  

Till then, such a crime was unheard of. As a result, the double murder of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery became one of the biggest topics of discussion. As a result, it served as a subject for Margaret  Atwood’s novel Alias Grace.  

But what actually transpired, and who is Grace?

Stick around to know the answers to these questions. 

Early Life 

Marks was born in a small Northern Ireland province called Ulster. Ulster was full of small fishing villages. As a result, money was hard to come by. Sources suggest that Grace was one of the eight children of John Marks.  

Grace’s father was a stone mason by trade. In fact, this was one of the reasons that led John to uproot his family from Ireland and move them to Upper Canada.  

Grace’s family moved to Canada when she was 12 or 13 years of age. In Canada, Grace had to start working as a house helper in order to aid her family financially. She worked in some places till she landed the gig of her lifetime.  

Around 1843, Grace started working as a maid for Thomas Kinnear at his Richmond Hill home. This went on to be one of the biggest turning points of her life.  

The Murder

In actuality, there is no way to analyze the details of a murder that took place more than a century ago. However, the dual murder of Richmond Hill was one of the most prominent murders of all time. As a result, historians have pieced together the whole chronology of the murder using newspaper reels and confessionals. 

According to historical records, Thomas Kinnear was an upper-class Scottish Canadian citizen. Annals show that he was an affluent farmer. Thomas Kinnear was a bachelor and lived alone in a house on Richmond Hill with his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery.  

According to several unconfirmed reports, Nancy and Thomas were in a romantic relationship. In fact, Margaret Atwood also used this aspect in her story involving the murder of the duo. 

In June 1843, Montgomery hired two house helpers. One of them was 16-year-old Grace Marks, and the other was 20-year-old James McDermott. This started a saga that led to the murder of Kinnear and Montgomery.  

The double murder took place after about three weeks of employing McDermott and Marks. Montgomery and Kinnear were found dead in their Richmond Hill house.  

An autopsy report suggested Kinnear was shot in the chest, which resulted in immediate death. Subsequently, Montgomery was hit on the head with an axe. Further autopsy reports suggested that there were ligature marks on her neck. 

Doctors also claimed that Nancy was pregnant at the time of the death. Therefore, the dual murder became a hot topic of conversation.  

The Trail 

Soon after the murder took place, the news broke out. Sources suggest that the murder of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery brought droves of people to the court because it had everything: a child out of wedlock, a murder, and some promiscuousness. As a result, it became a huge topic of gossip. 

As per cops, the murder was not a murder of passion. In fact, police suggested that Marks and McDermott killed the duo in order to rob. The duo was apprehended near the America and Canadian border. The duo planned on crossing over to New York and split ways.   

However, things were definitely not easy for the cops. Marks and McDermott gave conflicting statements to the police. McDermott claimed that Grace instigated the murder.  

The Sentence 

Marks and McDermott served separate sentences. The former served her sentence in the Kingston Penitentiary from 1843 to 1872. In fact, she also served some time at the Provincial Lunatic Asylum from 1852 to 1853. On the other hand, McDermott was charged with first-degree murder. Subsequently, he was charged with a death sentence. Therefore, Victorian ideals played a major role in this trial.  

Grace Marks was found to be an alias and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Grace was pardoned and was relocated to New York after serving for 30 years in the penitentiary. Afterwards, she disappeared from historical records. Some sources suggest that she changed her name and moved back to Ireland.  

Pop Culture Representation 

The double murder of Richmond Hill was one of the biggest and most heinous crimes in Canada. As a result, it is natural to come across adaptations and retelling of the events. One of the most prominent and detailed retellings of the events includes Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and Susanna Moodie’s account called the ‘Celebrated Murdresses.’  

One of the most recent retellings of the event includes the 2017 Netflix and CBC series called The Alias Grace. The series tries to provide a detailed retelling of Margaret Atwood’s famed book of the same name. Sarah Polley created the series. 

This series became an instant hit and went on to win several accolades, including the award for Best Limited Series and Best Actress In A Limited Series.  

A Murderer Or A Pawn?

A Murderer Or A Pawn

It has been more than a century since the double Murder of Richmond Hill took place. Still, the general population seems to be in splits about the murder. Both the perpetrators pointed fingers at each other. As a result, it is a struggle to piece together the chronology of actual events.  

Nobody was able to come up with a foolproof theory. As a result, the perpetrators managed to shift blame and play smoke and mirrors with the authorities. For years, private detectives and freelance journalists took it upon themselves to debunk theories regarding the murder.  

In fact, there are several theories claiming that Marks was merely a pawn. She was the actual mastermind behind the murder. In fact, she was the one who coerced McDermott into the crime. However, there is no way to determine the truth. Hence, the question still persists.  

The Closing Thought

In the end, there is no way to decide whether Grace Marks was an alias or the mastermind behind the double murder that took place in Richmond Hills in 1843. As a result, it has become the subject of controversy and conspiracy. Keep following our page for more such content. 

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Samik has been a literature student all along and uses his fluidity to write about multi-niche topics. Aspiring to be a professional writer, he tries to analyze his topic from a critical standpoint but still adds a hint of personal perspective to the end product. Being a person having a general inclination toward global politics and documentary filmmaking, he also wishes to write and document more about numerous conflicts that are brewing in the different corners of the globe.

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