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Victorian Hangings

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From 1837 to 1901 Queen Victoria presided over the world’s biggest empire – and during her 64-year reign approximately 1,100 judicial hangings were carried out in Great Britain and Ireland. Here we present a month-by-month calendar of the fascinating stories behind some of them, set frequently against a background of dire poverty, short trials and public executions...

Victorian Hangings: December

Victorian Murder Cases:
Henry Bedingfield – Ipswich
“I’ll kill any man who tries to borrow Eliza’s pony and cart,” vowed stonemason Henry Bedingfield, 46. “In fact, I’ll kill any man who even looks at her.” Which was all a bit presumptuous of him, sin... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Arthur Covington – Bedford
Deciding she had picked the wrong man, Effie Burgin, 20, told her boy friend: “Our relationship is over.” The boy friend, Arthur Covington, 27, was shattered. This was yet another blow to his self-es... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Bernard Mullarkey – Liverpool
You might expect that three labourers who slept in the hayloft of the farm where they worked would get on well together, especially at harvesting time, when a day’s work was a day’s hard work. But Tho... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Joseph Holden – Bury
“Grandpa was drunk and he tried to kill me!” four-year-old Jimmy Dawes piped up to his mother. The child was badly cut, but because he was a bit of a dreamer, his mother and the rest of the family dec... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
John Carter – Watchfield, Oxfordshire (formerly in Berkshire)
Intrigued by the sudden disappearance of his stepmother, young Tom Carter asked his father: “Where’s Rhoda gone?” “She’s staying with relatives,” replied John Carter, 45, an agricultural labourer. T... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Samuel Crozier – Chelmsford
“She died of natural causes as a result of falling off the sofa.” So said Samuel Crozier, 53, the landlord of the Admiral Ross Inn, at Great Baddow, Chelmsford, when asked about how his newly wedded w... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
George Mason – Portsmouth
“You’re on a charge, lad!” Sergeant James Robinson, 36, East Surrey Regiment stationed at Fort Widley, near Portsmouth, snapped at Private George Mason, 19. “Report to the company office at 0800 hours... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
John Newell – Loughborough
“You’ve been sleeping with Herbert!” John Newell, 42, screamed at his wife. Herbert was their lodger, and there was no evidence that Mrs. Newell was sleeping with him or anyone else for that matter. ... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Charles O’Donnell – Chelsea, west London
The dinner guest was in a jaunty mood. He sat down at the table apologising for his wife’s absence, but remarking how pleased he was to be among the company. As the dinner went on, the guest, Charles ... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
George Harmer – Norwich
Another man who had too much to say as he sat down to a meal was George Harmer, 26, a plasterer and petty thief. On August 14th, 1886, he was released from Norwich Prison and a few days later went to ... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Robert Browning – Cambridge
Fifteen-year-old Emma Rolfe met Robert Browning, 25, on Midsummer Common, Cambridge, and told him: “You can have sex with me, but it will cost you a shilling.” Despite her age, Emma was a full-time p... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Robert Marley – London
A murder almost at the seat of government occurred on October 20th, 1856, when a robber bludgeoned to death Robert Cope, manager of a jeweller’s and “curiosity” shop in Parliament Street, London. A p... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Patrick Casey and Miles and Patrick Joyce – Galway
They call Maamtrasna, a wild, rugged part of County Galway at the foot of Lough Mask, “Joyce Country.” The Joyces who lived there had nothing to do with James Joyce, the celebrated author of Ulysses, ... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
William Lees – London
“I am a murderer!” declared William Lees, a 35-year-old hairdresser, when he arrived at his sister’s house in Islington. When he told her how and why, she went with him by coach to his hairdressing sa... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
William Betts – Teston, Kent
Literature is full of allusions to greedy, predatory children exploiting their aged parents. King Lear had a bad time at the hands of his daughters, and in the classic novel La Terre Emile Zola pointe... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Elijah Winstanley – Wigan
Hired as assistant hangman for an execution at Liverpool’s Walton Prison scheduled for Tuesday, December 17th, 1895, Thomas Scott, from Huddersfield, reported to the prison at nine o’clock on the nigh... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Patrick O’Donnell -– on board the SS Melrose
After a gang of Irish Republicans set upon and murdered two British diplomats in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in May 1882, one of them, James Carey, 45, turned informer. The information he gave to the police... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
William Waddell – Gateshead
Recently discharged from hospital, Jane Beadmore, 27, went to buy some sweets to take with her medicine on September 22nd, 1888, and failed to return home. A search party was organised at dawn, and he... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
William Jackson – Chester
After splitting from his wife, William Jackson, 35, took two of their four children, John, six, and Mary Jane, seven, with him. But after a few days the children vanished. The police were alerted, an... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
August Carlsen – York
Juliet Wood’s boy friend knew she was a part-time prostitute, but he was nonetheless always jealous of her sleeping with other men and regularly beat her up for it. Juliet, 38, may not have known much... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Mary Wheeler – Kentish Town
Men were the weakness and the undoing of Mary Wheeler, offspring of a family of notorious London criminals. At 16 she became a high-class prostitute, calling herself “Mrs. Pearcey” after a man she liv... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Frederick Baker – Alton
When seven-year-old Fanny Adams of Alton in Hampshire was offered money by a man to go for a walk with him, she took the coin but refused to go. So he picked her up, carried her into a hop field, out ... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
William Dukes – Bury
George Gordon, 29, and his father ran a furniture business with warehouses in Burnley and Bury, and they were stern Victorian employers. Young Mr. Gordon frowned disapprovingly when he found the manag... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
John Hannah – Leeds
Jane Banham, 25, a dancer in a travelling fair which arrived in Armley, Leeds, in the late summer of 1856, told her boy friend, 22-year-old John Hannah, with whom she lived on and off: “I’m leaving yo... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Thomas Smith – Winlaton, County Durham
Murder seemed to follow miner Thomas Smith, 37, wherever he went. In 1855, when he was 32, a doctor near his village of Winlaton, County Durham, was robbed and murdered. Smith was a prime suspect, but... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Alice Holt – Stockport
Stories of the grim lives of the poor in mid-Victorian England are legion and the tale of Alice Holt’s brief sojourn on Earth, while not exactly typical, is a reflection of those dark and sinister tim... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
John Kington – Coventry
Many a man was hanged in Victorian times who today would be judged insane. Such was John Kington, 22. He suffered nightmares in which he saw himself being hanged. He believed he and his wife Elizabeth... more »

Victorian Murder Cases:
Thomas McDonald – Belmont, Lancashire
On the morning of November 15th, 1890, a schoolboy found the body of his teacher, Elizabeth Holt, at Longworth Lane, in Belmont, Lancashire. She had been beaten, kicked, raped, and her throat was cut.... more »

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