“Is the bugger dead?” Henry Phillips shouted. He was inquiring after his 29-year-old wife Margaret, and if she wasn’t dead she was certainly dying. He had cut her throat minutes earlier, and now he was making off across fields, pursued by his mother-in-law’s lodger, who gave up the chase when Phillips turned and threatened to kill him too if he came any closer.
Henry Phillips’s 13-year marriage had long been troubled by his violence, especially when he’d been drinking. His wife had left him several times, and on July 13th, 1911, she had walked out again after he struck her. At 1.30 that morning she had turned up at her mother’s home at Knelston, near Swansea, with three of her children, having left the fourth with a neighbour. Nine days later her husband had been served with a summons for cruelty, and ordered to appear in court on August 8th.
On July 24th Margaret Phillips moved out of her mother’s home and rented two rooms at a neighbour’s house in the same road. Her mother’s home had no running water, and at 6.45 a.m. on JULY 26th Margaret’s sister Ann was making her way back there, carrying two buckets of water drawn from the nearest well.
As she walked down the road she met Margaret, and the sisters stopped to talk for a few moments before Ann moved on, saying she must get home with the water. She had gone only a short distance when she heard Margaret cry, “Oh, Harry! Harry!”
Ann ran home for help, returning with her mother and their lodger Thomas Casement in time to see Henry Phillips attacking his wife, whose neck was bleeding profusely. Then as Phillips ran off Margaret collapsed in the arms of her sister.
Phillips did not run far. At 8.30 he walked into the Welcome to Town Inn, run by his old friend John Thomas. After drinking a pint of beer and buying four bottles to take away, Phillips asked the landlord to step outside as he wished to tell him something. When Thomas did so Phillips told him he had just killed his wife. Thomas thought he was probably joking, and did nothing.
A hunt for Phillips had already been launched, and he was found a few hours later when a constable followed a trail through a cornfield. At the end of the trail Henry Phillips lay asleep, his four bottles empty beside him. He was very tired, he explained on his way to the police station. He had been lying in wait for Margaret since three o’clock that morning.
Convicted of her murder when he was tried at. Cardiff Assizes, he was hanged at Swansea Prison on December 14th, 1911.