There was nothing about John Gallagher, a 30-year-old miner, and his landlady Mrs. Emily Swann to indicate they would share a unique distinction. They were destined to become the only man and woman hanged together in 20th-century Britain.
Gallagher lodged with William and Emily Swann at their home in Wombwell, Yorkshire. But it didn’t work out. Gallagher was outraged by the frequent beatings Swann gave his wife, and he left the house in June 1903 after a series of arguments.
He revisited the home several times in the day or two following his departure, however, and on each occasion there was a row or fight with Bill Swann, a burly glassblower.
Then on JUNE 6th Emily walked into the home of a neighbour. “See what our Bill has done,” she said, indicating a black, swollen eye.
Gallagher happened to be there. “I’ll go and give him something for himself for this,” he said, and rushed out, followed by Emily. Moments later neighbours heard a commotion at Swann’s home, with Emily shouting, “Give it to the bastard, Johnny, give it to him!” And when Gallagher and Emily emerged from the house 10 minutes later William Swann lay dead in the wrecked room they left behind them.
Emily was soon arrested, but Gallagher had disappeared. Two months passed before he was arrested at his sister’s home in Middlesbrough. Then at Leeds Assizes he and Emily were convicted of Swann’s murder.
“Good morning, Johnny,” said Emily when she joined Gallagher on the gallows at Armley Gaol, Leeds, on December 30th, 1903. “Good morning, love,” he replied.
“Goodbye. God bless you,” said Emily.
Then the trap-doors crashed open and they disappeared into the pit.