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Alaska.
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Birmingham Hangings, Warwick Assizies, Executions.


I have had a great many requests for any information on Hangings in this area, as they included some from the Blackcountry.  Trials for crimes committed in Birmingham, and the area around it, were sent to the counties Warwick Assizies, which is where nearly all of the executions took place, at the nearby Gallows Hill. ( Now the site of the Warwick Technological Park.) There were though, a few exceptions. To deter repeat performances of some crimes, those found guilty were taken back to the area from where they came. On the 2nd April,1781, and in front of a very large crowd, Thomas Pitmore, and John Hammond, were hanged for the murder of William Barwick, a popular local Farmer, whom they had shot dead, during a highway robbery. The area chosen, was then called Washwood Common, ( later, Washwood Heath ) They were then taken down, and hung in Chains for all to see. In 1793, three Birmingham men robbed the Coach Office of a great deal of money, Edward Revey, James Clarke, and James Wilson, aged 16, were all hanged at Gallows Hill, on the 16th August,1793. The citizens of Birmingham, had to wait another 21 years, before they could all assemble again, for a bit of entertainment. Benjamin Baker, Joseph Carter, Edward Allen, and Joseph Hills, had all been found guilty of Forgery at the April 1802 Assizies. At the same sessions, Thomas More, and Francis Linney, were convicted of House Breaking, and Samuel Bryn, together with John Parkes, of Burglary. Most of them were natives of a growing Birmingham, or came from the surrounding area. Crime and civil unrest were on the increase, and Birmingham seems to have become the nations hotbed of Forgery and Coining, so they were sent back, as a warning to others, to be hanged on 19th April,1802. Again, the place chosen was Washwood Heath, and this time the crowd was vast, estimated at over 30,000 strong, who enjoyed a day of " great sport and entertaiment ", and much refreshment from the many stalls and beer tents. Just over 4 years later, an even bigger crowd, watched a convicted man hang in Birmingham. In July, 1806, Philip Matsell, being an armed robber, fired at his victim, almost killing him. Convicted at Warwick Assizies, he was sent back to the town to suffer the due punishment for attempted murder. This time however, Washwood Heath was not chosen, Matsell was hanged, on the 22nd of August, at the top of Snow Hill, in Birmingham itself. This was the last time, anyone would be publicly hanged in Birmingham. As for Warwick, the last one in public there, was in August,1863, when Henry Carter, was hanged for the murder of Elizabeth Hinkley, and the last one in Warwick itself, 1908.




With Birmingham expanding at a rapid rate, it was soon apparent that the Town needed it's own Prison. Looking round, it was decided to commence work at the northern edge of a site, that already included the Workhouse and Lunatic Asylum in Western Road, Winson Green. It was completed in 1849, although those charged with capital crimes, would continue to be sent to Warwick. During it's early years, it was referred to by the more polite, as 199, Winson Green Road. ( thats still the adress ) The first hanging at the Prison, took place on 17th March, 1885, when Henry Kimberley was executed for the murder of Emily (Emma) Palmer. Emily was the wife of the Landlord of the White Hart, Paradise Street, Birmingham, believed to be one Thomas Palmer. Unable to persuade his long time partner, Harriet Steward, to restart the relationship, he fired at both of them. Harriet survived.  The appointed Executioner was James Berry. After 1911, the Prison was also responsible for the executions from Staffordshire, and after 1916, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and most of the other midland counties. Between 1885, and the last one, Oswald Augustus Grey, aged 20, on 20th November, 1962, ( he had shot and killed a Newsagent, Thomas Bates, in Ladywood, Birmingham. ) there were only 39 executions. It should have been 40, but Christopher Simcox, a double murderer, was reprieved, prior to his scheduled departure from this earth on 17th March,1964, due to a change in the Law. Pity about that, he really deserved to swing.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 2, 2012 at 11:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Birmingham Hangings, Winson Green,


During the whole 77 years of Capital punishments carried out at Winson Green, there was just the one double execution. James Richards, real name James McCormick, aged 29, and Peter Barnes, aged 32, were hanged on the morning of 7th February,1940. They had been found guilty of being involved in the I.R.A. bomb, that exploded in Broadgate, Coventry, on 25th August, 1939, and which killed 5 innocent people, and wounded over 70 others. The device had been placed in the carrier of a bicycle, and left outside a Jewellery Shop. It killed, John Arnott, 15, Elsie Ansell, 21, Rex Gentle, 30, Gwilym Rowland, 50, and James Clay, 82. This was just one of several bombs, planted by the Coventry branch of the I.R.A, for which there were no warnings. This was the only one, deliberately planted to kill civilians. The man, or should we say " coward ",  who constructed, and planted it, was never found, and escaped, presumably, back to Northern Ireland. A detailed discription of the victims, and other reports, can be found in an article by Simon Shaw, on the following website.   historiccoventry.co.uk  There isn't a plaque or memorial, but the site does give directions to the spot where the explosion took place.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 3, 2012 at 11:00 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Birmingham Hangings, Winson Green.


Now I did say, that some of the hangings concerned a few from the Blackcountry, so here are a selection. In 1896. In Brearly Street, Lozells, lived a young girl, May Lewis, on March 10th, 1896, she was violated and brutally murdered, she was just turned 10 years old. Her murderer, 23 year old Frank Taylor, was a young Draper, born in Sutton Coldfield, in 1873. He was hanged at Winson Green Prison on 18th August,1896. The next execution that was sent down from Stafford Assizies was of one Henry Gaskin, his date of despatch being 8th August 1919. He had been born, Thomas Henry Gaskin, in Lichfield, Staffordshire, 1891, and was aged 28 when hanged and not 22 as listed on some sites. He had married Elizabeth Talbot, in Cannock, in March,1913, when she was just turned 17, and several months pregnant. The child died before the year was out. He wasn't happy about what she had been up to while he was way in the Army, and reportedly strangled her. The next year,1920, after a short marriage, in September 1920, Samuel Westwood,26, killed his wife, the former Lydia Vaughan, by stabbing her in the neck, outside the Prince of Wales public house, in Walsall Street, Willenhall.  He was hanged on Thursday 30th December,1920. Edward O'Connor, a Railway Clerk, for reasons not clear, in 1921, killed his youngest child, Thomas. Normally, any sign of insanity would have meant life imprisonment, but in this case, no mercy was granted, and he was hanged on 22nd December,1921. The next in this selection is that of Elijah Pountney, who, in 1922, cut his wifes throat in what was, a fit of insane jealousy. Whether or not Alice Gertrude Pountney was indeed playing the field, ( Covered in the " More Nasty Murders " topic ) the Home Secretary refused to change the sentence, and he was hanged on 11th August, 1922. The last one of the selection, like most of the executions, was another sordid case of sex. Jeremiah Hanbury was a 49 year old Widower, who had been having " relations " with a married 39 year old woman, Jessie Payne. On the afternoon of 17th October,1932, he left his cottage at 18, New Town, Brockmoor, near Brierley Hill, walked the short distance to Leys Crescent, hit Mrs Payne with a hammer, then slit her throat. After attempting to do the same to himself, and failing, he gave himself up. Not mentioned at the trial, which began on 8th December,1932, was that Jessie Payne had long been suspected of procuring abortions, including one which had been the result of her " relations " with Hanbury. He had clearly planned it all, and was found guilty, an appeal being dismissed on 16th January,1933. He was hanged, on 2nd February,1933, in the confines of Winson Green. ( More detailed accounts of some of these murders, can be found in the book, Black Country Murders, by Ian M. Bott. )

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 4, 2012 at 3:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Birmingham Hangings, Winson Green, Dorothea Waddingham, 1936.


The only really famous hanging at Winson Green Prison, was also the only time a female was executed there, and this came about by accident. Dorothea Waddingham, was born in Hucknall, Nottingham, in 1900. She began life working in a factory, but then got a post at Burton on Trents Workhouse Infirmary. By the time she got married, in 1925 to Thomas Leech, she had picked up a bit of medical knowledge. She gave birth to three children, Edwin, Alan, and Mary, but then, in 1933, disaster struck. Thomas Leech died of Cancer. Not one to waste time, Dorothea took up with the Lodger, Ronald Sullivan. In between two more pregnancies, Roanald J Sullivan,1934, and Margaret M M Sullivan, 1935, she opened a so called " Nursing Home ", at number 32, Devon Drive Nottingham. The authorities, amazingly, appear to have been just as lax as they are sometimes today, nobody checked her qualifications. In 1935, they sent her, with a fee of £1.50 a week, Mrs Louisa Baguley, a 75 year old widow, and her 50 year old disabled daughter, Ada Baguley. At some point, with money tight and bills to pay, "Nurse Waddingham " suggested that in exchange for being left everything in their wills, she would look after them both for life. Having agreed, and changed her will, old Louisa was soon buried, and not long afterwards, Ada joined her. They were both poisoned. "Nurse Waddingham" was found guilty of the murder, but Ronald walked free. It must have a bit disconcerting for Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint, when, on the day of execution, Thursday 16th April,1936, they could clearly hear the sound of hymn singing, from the estimated 5,000 people, who had gathered in protest, at a mother of 5 being hanged.



This believed to be a photograph, of the crowd that had gathered, reading the Execution Notice hung on the main gate, after the event. The prison would not have been used, except that the equipment in Nottingham, not having been used for years, was obviously not in the best of condition, and not up to the job. Not a problem in Birmingham, the City of a thousand trades.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 6, 2012 at 3:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Birmingham Hangings, Winson Green, List of names Hanged.



Rather than deal with all the individual requests, ( thank you for asking.) for just who was hanged at Winson Green, I have compiled, in chronological order, the names, dates, and the poor victims.


      Name.                       Hanged.               Victim.

Henry Kimberley        17/3/1885    Emily ( Emma) Palmer.

Frederick Davies, 40. 26/8/1890   Shot and killed his wife.

Frederick Fenson, 32  4/4/1894   Florence N Elborough, 24

Frank Taylor, 23.        18/8/1896      May Lewis, 10.

John Joyce, 36,        28/8/1901     John Nugent, 61.

Charles Sam Dyer, 25.  5/4/1904    Martha Eliza Simpson, 21.

Samuel Holden, 43.    16/8/1904    Susan Humphries, 35.

Frank Greening, 34.   13/8/1913  Elizabeth Ellen Hearne, 27.

William Butler, 39.   16/8/1916   Florence Beatrice Butler, 29.

Louis Van Der Kerkhove. 9/4/1918. Clemence Vereslt.

Henry Gaskin, 22.    8/8/1919    Elizabeth Gaskin, 23.

Samuel Westwood, 26  30/12/1920  Lydia Westwood, 24.

Edward O'Connor, 43.  22/12/1921  Thomas O'Connor, 5.

Elijah Pountney, 48.   11/8/1922   Alice Gertrude Pountney, 47

William Rider, 40.    19/12/1922   Rosilla Patience Barton. 4.

John Fisher, 58.      5/1/1926       Ada Taylor, 46.

George Sharples, 20.  13/4/1926  Milly Crabtree, 25.

James Power, 32.  31/1/1928   Olive Gordon Turner, 18.

Victor Betts, 21.   3/1/1931   William Thomas Andrews. 82.

Jeremiah Handley, 49.  2/2/1933.  Jessie Payne, 39.

Stanley Hobday, 21.   29/12/1933.  Charles William Fox. 24.

Dorothea Waddingham, 36. 16/4/1936. Louisa and Ada Baguley.

Peter Barnes, 32.    7/2/1940.   Coventry Bombing.

James Richards, 29.  7/2/1940            "                "

Eli Richards, 45.   19/9/1941    Jane Turner, 45.

Arthur Peach, 23.   30/1/1942   Kitty Lyon, 18. ( see: More Ghastly Murders )

Harold Merry, 40.    10/9/1942   Joyce Dixon, 27.

William Quayle, 52.   3/8/1943    Vera Clarke, 8.

James Ferrell, 19.   29/3/1949   Joan Marney, 14.

Piotr Maksimdnski, 33.  29/3/1950  Dilys Campbell. 30.

William Watkins, 49.   3/4/1951  Killed his newborn son.

Horace Carter, 31.   1/1/1952     Shelia Attwood, 11.

Leslie Green, 29.    23/12/1952   Alice Wiltshire, 75.

Frederick Cross,33.  26/7/1955    Donald Lainton, 28.

Corbett Roberts, 46.  2/8/1955     Doris Roberts, 43.

Ernest Harding, 42.    9/8/1955     Evelyn Higgins, 10.

Dennis Howard, 24.   4/12/1957   David Keasey, 21.

Matthew Kavangh, 32.  12/8/1958   Isaiah Dixon, 60.

Oswald Agustus Grey, 20.   20/11/1962. Thomas Bates. 47.


There are, as you can see, a few details missing from some. If you can help fill in the blanks, I would be very grateful. For other Birmingham citzens, unfortunately Hanged by the Neck, pre 1908, please see the Warwick Hanging list.

 

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 12, 2012 at 10:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Warwick Assizies, Birmingham Hangings, Those that Escaped the Noose.


There are a few, who should have added to the list of murderers hanged at Winson Green, but who escaped the noose by the skin of their teeth. In 1862, all seemed friendly, as Jesse Watts, William Henshaw, Hannah Simms, Mary Dowling, and Henry Swinnerton, enjoyed a convivial drink in a Birmingham Public house. Once outside though, and on the way home, things turned a bit nasty. Swinnerton had made the mistake of showing a bit too much of his money in the Pub, and the rest of this motley crew decided to relieve him of it. There followed a rather one sided fight, as the poor man refused to part with his money, and he was punched, beaten, kicked, and finally stamped on, the women joining in as well. Henry Swinnerton died from his injuries in Hospital, and his 4 attackers, possibly far to drunk to run far, were soon apprehended and charged with Wilful Murder. Unable to prove who had struck the fatal blow, and taking into acount they were all drunk, ( including the victim ) the Grand Jury at Warwick, reduced the charge to one of Manslaughter.  Watts was sentenced to 9 years Penal servitude, Simms got 6 years, as did Dowling, and Henshaw a miserly 15 months hard labour. The sentences for the time seem quite lenient, and I have included this case, as it more or less reflects the sentences of the present day. As does the next case, a year later in 1863. Michael Lundy, born in Ireland about 1837, had arrived with his family some years before. His sister, Winifred Lundy, had married another Irishman, John Killgallon, who turned out to be, unlike his wifes young brother, a drunken workshy oaf. He had no skills other than labouring, and both of them secured jobs at a local manufacturing company in Duddeston, Aston, which processed Manure. This was next door to another Factory, which processed animal bones into glue. They all lived in the rather aptly named Oxygen Street, Duddeston. I cast no aspirations on anyones lifestyle, but after shifting loads of **** all the week, I suppose a good drink was called for. On returning home however, John Killgallon, in his drunken state, began smashing up the furniture. There would of course not have been much to smash, but his wife objected, and her brother sided with her. The resulting scuffle ended with Michael fatally stabbing John, and Michael then promptly ran from the house. He was again soon caught, and charged with Wilful Murder, and again at his trial at Warwick Assizes, this was downgraded to Manslaughter. He was of course found guilty, and sentenced to 14 years Penal servitude, being released in 1878. He returned to Ireland shortly after, no longer welcome in the Irish community, and died at Tobercurry in 1884. So the real killer, or killers, in both cases, appears to be that ever present demon, drink, and not the actions of the people involved, whom I assume had to be forced to drink strong spirits. Which is of course, another likely story.

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November 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Birmingham Hangings, The Axe Murder. 1884.


Amongst the many questions and enquiries I get, there sometimes lurks the rather odd assumption,  that the poor victim in someway was asking to be murdered. Breaking off a courtship, having an argument, getting pregnant, or simply saying no, doesn't give anyone the excuse or the right,  to batter, strangle, shoot, or stab another human being. Provocation has been put forward, in mitigation, on many occasions in a Court of Law in order to procure a lighter sentence, by throwing some of the blame on the unfortunate victim. I can understand, that relatives searching for past family members, who then find a murderer in their family tree, will not want it discussed, or even published, if the facts are on the rather gory and gruesome side. Take the case of William Harris, who, after an argument with his girlfriend, Florence Clifford, in Aston, Birmingham, in 1884, attacked her with a recently sharpened Axe. The injuries she received were truly shocking, as she was quite litteraly " hacked to pieces ".  Its inconceivable that someone should suggest that she somehow " asked for it ", when she clearly did no such thing. A few have suggested, that what has been recorded in the archives is actually not the whole story, again implying, that somehow, the victim contributed in some way to their own violent demise. Its a highly commendable thing, to defend your family honour, but murder is murder, and I make no appologies for telling the tale as it is, and not how others would have it. In the list of hangings at Winson Green, there are 5 victims innocent of absolutely anything, except being in the wrong place at the wrong time. May Lewis, aged 10, was lured into his empty parents house in Vyse Street, Hockley, Birmingham, by 23 year old Frank Taylor, in July 1886. He viciously raped the child, and then battered her to death, after which he ran to the nearby canal, and threw himself in. ( It was only a few feet deep at the spot, and there were plenty of folks about to pull him out ) If he was expecting to get away with a plea of insanity it failed and he was hanged at Warwick Prison on 18th August 1886. The same lust which drove Taylor, also accounted for the deaths of Vera Clarke aged 8, in 1943, Joan Marley aged 14, in 1949, Shelia Attwood aged 11, in 1952, and Evely Higgins aged 10, in 1955. Perhaps, as someone suggested, one of the men involved, was a kind and gentle man, who wouldn't hurt a fly. On the other hand, perhaps he was indeed as described, a nasty, vicious, sexual predator, who should have had the offending apendage painfully ripped out by the roots before they executed him. It is in the end, a matter of one's own opinion on the matter. Then there are the two other young women on the list, Olive Gordon Turner aged 18, and Kitty Lyon, also 18, who, simply because they did what a good many young women do, ( changed their minds and found another boyfriend ) had their lives ended, by two inadequate and immature men who couldn't take no for an answer. So I ask the question, in what way, did any of them, " Ask to be Murdered ".

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

November 21, 2012 at 3:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Birmingham Hangings and Punishments, Rick Burning/Arson/Vandals.


In stark contrast to what would have happened 90 years earlier, John McKenzie, was lucky. He still though, managed to attract a fairly stiff sentence at Warwick Assizies in 1911. He was, at the time, 62 years old, and a Watchmaker by trade, living in the delightful village of Wotton Wawen. He seems to have had the reputation as a bit of a nutter, especially when he had been drinking, which was mainly the reason he was facing a Judge and Jury. After a night on the booze in Henley-in-Arden, he was heard to say, that he would find a bit of warm work for the local Fire Brigade. Whether or not he had a grudge against local Farmers Richard Sweet, or Joseph Hawkes, isn't clear, but later that night, he set fire to a rick of Straw, belonging to Sweet, and a rick of Hay, belonging to Hawkes.. The local Firemen couldn't control or put out either blaze, resulting in damage totalling almost £111. Now it would appear that McKenzie may have done something similar before, because the Judge suggested that he was only safe when he was securely locked up. He then sentenced him, using the word " again " to 3 years penal servitude. The Lunatic Asylum at Warwick must have been full, for the previous case, also had a hint of madness about it. John Ruyane, apparently had a mania about glass. He simply couldn't walk past a plate glass window without smashing it. Maybe he couldn't stand the sight of his own reflection. The sufferers on this occasion were Messers Hilton and Sons, Warwick, who had to pay out the grand total of £7, to replace the window. The only thing the Judge could do, was sentence him to 12 months hard labour. No doubt when he came out, he went back to his old habits, doing a Harry Worth impression, only with a brick.

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February 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Mentioned already, was the murder of local Farmer and Butcher, William Barwick, in January 1780. A Soldier, Thomas Pitmore, trusted to do his job, set off for Birmingham to recruit more men to the colours. Along the way, as it happens, he fell in with another soldier, John Hammond, and they proceeded to have a high old time, on the money carried by Pitmore. They ran out of money long before the supply of beer and women did, so thet decided on a spot of highway robbery. Knowing that it was market day in nearby Coventry, they concealed themselves on the Coleshill Road at Ward End, and settled down to wait for those returning with full purses. Three riders appeared, all local farmers and well dressed, so Pitmore sprang out and shouted for thenm to stop. It all went badly wrong for the two would be robbers, for the first rider escaped. Hammond now shouted at the second rider, William Barwick, " stop your horse ", firing his pistol at the same time, and Pitmore also dischrging his weapon. Two bullets hit Barwick in the stomach, and he fell to the ground shouting " I am murdered ". The two robbers panicked, and fled the scene, only to be caught later that day after a mob had tracked them through the snow to a tavern . There was only one sentence these two were ever going to get, and sure enough, they were condemned to death for the crime. On the cold morning of 22nd April,1780, in front of a large and unruly crowd, both men swung on the end of a rope. Taken down, they were to form an exhibition, for the next 5 years, till their bodies fell apart, at a Gibbet, near the spot of the fatal shooting. Thankfully, they were not typical soldiers of the day, or we should never have won any wars, but it was cases like this, that led the public to believe they were all scum of the earth. Illustrations in the Criminal Intent Album.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 10, 2013 at 3:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Prison Burials, Judicial Executions.


I suppose I should have included this subject earlier, so, better late than never, here goes. It was the custom, in the earlier years, to hand back to the family, the mortal remains of all those who had been hanged for Capital Crimes. The family then made arrangements for the burial. Prior to a change in the Law, the Judge handing down a sentence, could, and frequently did after 1832, order the corpse to be disected for medical purposes. This led to some very nasty scenes when fights broke out between the deceased's family and the Medical Collage, over the possession of the body. Some families, also took to displaying their relatives Corpse, to paying customers, before it was decently interred. The more infamous the crime, the bigger the crowd. When executions were removed from thepublic gaze, in 1868, and with Prisons now specially built to house many prisoners over a longer time period, all those executed for the Capital Crime of murder, were buried within the confines of the prison walls. The usual place would be somewhere close to a boundry wall, no markers, just a cross, date, and name, carved into the stonework. In some of the smaller prisons, when the need arose for an extra number of cells, burials could end up underneath a passageway, or an excercise yard. All prisons now come under the control of the National Offenders Management Service, and it is they who decide what happens when it may become neccessary to move some remains.( as far as I know, that is. )


Many of the older Gaols have now closed down, and some contained from 60 to 100, executed men and women in the former grounds. When found, these remains are Cremated, and re-interred in a Communal Grave. This happened in Durham Gaol, in the 1990s, when refurbishments were carried out. Among the many exhumed, were the bones of Mary Ann Cotton, complete with a shoe she had been wearing, on the day she was hanged. A slightly different outcome occured after the terrible damage done to Strangeways, Manchester, when rebuilding work was under way. In the way of a new car park, were the remains of Ernest Kelly, who had been hanged in December 1913, for the murder of Daniel Wright Bardsley. His family requested his remains, and the Management Service agreed to pay the reasonable costs of ex-humation and re-burial. It's not unusual to find Prison Graveyards being used for car parking or other activities, they are mostly small places to begin with, it's just a very economic way of using the space.  Now I don't know if any relatives are allowed to visit these site's, for it's been over 50 years since the last execution at Birmingham Prison. ( Winson Green )  Perhaps a polite letter to the present Govenor, or N.O.M.S will give some guidence on the matter. The address's can both be found online. I am unable to respond to one who enquired, Cathy, the reply was returned, " Permanent Failure to Deliver ".

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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It's a total Myth, that the Law of the land bought about the execution of thousands, during the period of Capital Punishment. It's true to say, that a great many were indeed sentenced to Death, but as the records show, such as the one below, for the County of Warwickshire, in 1823, hangings were in very short supply.


In August, 1823, twenty nine men, and three women, were condemned to Death. The charges range from petty theft, Horse stealing, Breaking into Houses, Burglary, Highway Robbery, and Forging coins of the realm. Out of the 32, only one suffered the supreme penalty, the rest of the sentences were commuted to Transportation, from life, to 7 years, and at least two,served out some time in the dreaded Hulks, before being released. Among the five persons, who burgled the house of wealthy Joseph Waring, in Birmingham, were James Mears, and Henry Haydon. The latter may have been from Oldbury. They both received 14 years transportation to New South Wales, but the leaders of this wicked event, Benjamin Hanslow, and two women, Susannah Evens, and Ann Pope, all got a sentence for life. The men were put aboard the " Guildford ", on the 22nd August,1823, swift justice at the time. The two women ended up on the " Brother ", bound for the delights of sunny Van Diemans Land, and the port of Hobart. John Robinson, the fifth gang member, was left aboard the hulks to serve 7 years, but around 1842, he transgressed again, and this time there was to be no second chance. The same thing happened to John Hope, after he took up the life of a Burglar again, neither of them ever came back. Henry Lewis, a prolific burglar, got 14 years, and sailed on the same ship as Mears, Haydon, and Hanslow. Horse thief William Millard was also onboard the " Guildford ", but he did not arrive in New South Wales, for he died during the passage. Some of the men used different names in court, only to revert back when transported. Thus George Shears, disappears, but his partner in crime, Joseph Rhodes is recorded as being transported for life, aboard the " Chapman", bound for Tasmania. William Dolman, Joseph White, and Thomas Bilson, three of four who carried out several burglarys, were transported for life, the fourth man, James Yates, getting 14 years, and again. was aboard the good ship " Guildford ". Highway robber James Thrupp, and burglar James Smart, had to wait until 1826 before they were shipped out, aboard the Earl St Vincent, bound again, for Tasmania. Three more names appear on the manifest of the " Guildford ", James Simmonds, and William Hughes, both sent away to serve 14 years transportation for house breaking, and Henry Hudson, convicted of stealing 5 Silver Watches, for which he was condemned to life in Australia. The fate of some others isn't clear, but the only man who was hanged, was William Astbury, who was executed at Warwick on the 25th April,1823. He was part of a gang of forgers, making fake silver coins from stolen lead. Just one of the thousand trades, Birmingham, was famous for at the time. ( see William Booth ) It's to be hoped, that the £2.17s.6p, that John Atkins stole from  Mr Charles Jackson, wasn't all fake, for it earned him a term of the full 7 years, in the filthy hulks, moored on the Thames in London. Any further information, on any of the names mentioned, would be greatly appreciated.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 24, 2014 at 3:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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There were of course, those who escaped full justice,and the Hangmans Noose. John Wallowes Hampton, born in 1828 was one such man, although the circumstances are a bit of a tragedy. In 1847, at Yardley, Worcestershire, he married a young woman named Eliza Karen-Happuch Jones, who was the same age. They first lived in Bartholomew Street, Birmingham, where he worked as an engraver of Gold and Silver. His problems seem to have started when they moved to a house at the back of 3, Nursery Terrace, Lozells, when he began to suspect that his wife was being unfaithful. She wasn't, but nothing would shift the idea out of his head. Things came to a head on the night of the 23rd November, 1866, when, after following his wife upstairs, she rebuffed his advances, and promptly fell asleep. Not surprising this, for she had four children to look after and was no doubt exhausted. He waited for a while, then slipped his hands around her neck, and strangled her to death. She did not of course put up much of a struggle. He then turned her face down on the bed, and fearful that someone would come into the room, he loaded a small Cannon, and positioned it the back of his now dead wifes legs. Some time later, full of remorse, he positioned himself in front of the cannon, and pulled the lanyard fixed to the firing device. It made a fearful noise, and also produced a terrible injury to his chest, but it failed to kill him. He was transported to the General Hospital where he lay until the 29th of November, when he died from the complications of this wound. The Coroners Jury, sitting at The Crown Inn, Villa Street, found him guilty of the wilful murder of his wife, and that he died by his own hand. A verdict of " while he was of unsound mind " was rejected by the Jury. A sad little tale, and a awful way to start life for the now parentless children.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 18, 2015 at 3:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Returning to the execution at Snow Hill, in 1806, more research reveals a few more facts. The man shot, and very badly wounded,  in the early hours of 9th July, 1806, was Robert Tywford, one of the Towns Watchmen, the forerunners of the Birmingham Police Force. He had challenged three men, behaving in a suspicious manner, near the junctions of Great Charles Street, and Bath Street. An immediate hue and cry failed to find any trace of them, the birds had rapidly flown. Birmingham's Constable however, did not give up, and began making life very unpleasent for some the towns more light fingered citizens, one of whom, Joseph Jennings, realising he would be facing a hangman if caught, decided to shop the man who had pulled the trigger.

He sent information to the Towns Gaoler in Moat Lane, that two of the men involved, William Oflick, and Philip Matsell, had fled to London, Matsell being the one who had fired the shot. Together with information of Matsell's alias, " Frederick Drake ", the gaoler was sent post haste to London, to contact the Bow Street Runners. They didn't waste much time, and within three days, Matsell found himself in chains, and being escorted in a coach, to Warwickshires County Prison. Jennings gave himself up, and. as he hadn't actually committed an offence, and he was willing to testify at the trial, he wasn't charged.


Philip Matsell was born in Norwich, Norfolk, in 1773, the family name at the time being spelt Mutsell. He was apprenticed to a London Surgeon when he was 12, but two years later, not liking the conditions, ran away. Now you could be sent to prison for this at the time, so he needed a place where he would be safe, he chose to go to sea. Crews were being sought at the time, for a small fleet of ships which were to take the first of thousands of convicts, to the other side of the World. One, the newly built ' Charlotte ', was about to sail to Plymouth,  from the River Thames, to load convicts for this first venture, a round trip of nearly 18 months. I believe Matsell, with his newly gained experience ot the Medical profession, was on board when it left. on the 19th January, 1787.  Philp Matsell did not return to London until March 1791, and just six months later, was facing a Judge, having been caught stealing several lengths of cloth. In his defence, he said he had only returned from the sea sixs months before, so the Judge only fined him one shilling, but added 12 months imprisonment as a reminder not to do it again. Between 1793 and 1801, back home in, Bourne-Norton, Norfolk, he married Margaret Edmonds, who, in 1802 bore him a daughter,( Sarah ) and in 1805, a son. ( Matthew )  His trade was listed as Toymaker working for a Mr Barber. Whatever else he was up to in this time is anyones guess, but I suspect it was all illegal, for although Birmingham was a center of this trade, it was also full of Coiners, Forgers, and Thieves. 


Found Guilty, at the Warwick Assizes in September 1806, he soon found himself, under directions from the Judge, being taken by Coach, under an armed escort, back to Birmingham. Shooting at an Officer of the Law, wasn't, even in 1806, the done thing, and Matsell was going to made a lesson of. The Coach stopped at Knowle, Warwickshire, where refreshments were taken, and Matsell enjoyed a few glasses of wine a well. Just before the party reached Deritend, Matsell was transferred to a cart, covered in a black cloth which concealed his next wearing apparel,  A six foot Wooden Overcoat. The escort was exchanged for a mounted Troop of Dragoons, more refreshments were served, and the final leg of the journey began. The following crowd at this stage was huge, but when they arrived at the appointed spot, an elevated scaffold, erected half way down Snow Hill, ( about where the island now stands at the bottom of Gt Charles Street ) the assembled mass was 40,000 strong. From 11.30am, untill just before 1.15pm, was filled with prayers for his soul, a bit of hymn singing, and several attempts to get him to confess his sins and ask for forgiveness. He didn't obliged, and at 1.20pm, with the rope comfortably seated around his neck, and a nice clean handkefchief tied around his eyes, the Executioner, with an agreed signal from Philip Matsell, duly sent him off into the unknown. Cut down after an hour, his body was taken away, and later that night, as no relatives had claimed his mortal remains, quietly buried in St Philips graveyard.


Robert Twyford, the 41 year old Watchman seems to have recovered from his wounds. William Oflick, ( or Flack ) if that was his real name, appears to have never been found. Joseph Jennings, in 1810, was sentenced to a years hard labour for passing forged coins, something of a hobby for a great many Brummies.







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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

March 2, 2017 at 10:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

carol roberts
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Posts: 2

Alaska. at August 4, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Birmingham Hangings, Winson Green.


Now I did say, that some of the hangings concerned a few from the Blackcountry, so here are a selection. In 1896. In Brearly Street, Lozells, lived a young girl, May Lewis, on March 10th, 1896, she was violated and brutally murdered, she was just turned 10 years old. Her murderer, 23 year old Frank Taylor, was a young Draper, born in Sutton Coldfield, in 1873. He was hanged at Winson Green Prison on 18th August,1896. The next execution that was sent down from Stafford Assizies was of one Henry Gaskin, his date of despatch being 8th August 1919. He had been born, Thomas Henry Gaskin, in Lichfield, Staffordshire, 1891, and was aged 28 when hanged and not 22 as listed on some sites. He had married Elizabeth Talbot, in Cannock, in March,1913, when she was just turned 17, and several months pregnant. The child died before the year was out. He wasn't happy about what she had been up to while he was way in the Army, and reportedly strangled her. The next year,1920, after a short marriage, in September 1920, Samuel Westwood,26, killed his wife, the former Lydia Vaughan, by stabbing her in the neck, outside the Prince of Wales public house, in Walsall Street, Willenhall.  He was hanged on Thursday 30th December,1920. Edward O'Connor, a Railway Clerk, for reasons not clear, in 1921, killed his youngest child, Thomas. Normally, any sign of insanity would have meant life imprisonment, but in this case, no mercy was granted, and he was hanged on 22nd December,1921. The next in this selection is that of Elijah Pountney, who, in 1922, cut his wifes throat in what was, a fit of insane jealousy. Whether or not Alice Gertrude Pountney was indeed playing the field, ( Covered in the " More Nasty Murders " topic ) the Home Secretary refused to change the sentence, and he was hanged on 11th August, 1922. The last one of the selection, like most of the executions, was another sordid case of sex. Jeremiah Hanbury was a 49 year old Widower, who had been having " relations " with a married 39 year old woman, Jessie Payne. On the afternoon of 17th October,1932, he left his cottage at 18, New Town, Brockmoor, near Brierley Hill, walked the short distance to Leys Crescent, hit Mrs Payne with a hammer, then slit her throat. After attempting to do the same to himself, and failing, he gave himself up. Not mentioned at the trial, which began on 8th December,1932, was that Jessie Payne had long been suspected of procuring abortions, including one which had been the result of her " relations " with Hanbury. He had clearly planned it all, and was found guilty, an appeal being dismissed on 16th January,1933. He was hanged, on 2nd February,1933, in the confines of Winson Green. ( More detailed accounts of some of these murders, can be found in the book, Black Country Murders, by Ian M. Bott. )

The first murder you mentioned was 10 year old May Lewis who was brutally murdered by 23 year old Frank Taylor, a draper from Sutton Coldfield. My late mother related to us what she was told as a young girl. She even remembered the mans name. May Lewis would have been her Aunty (Mom was born in 1920) and she was told May was murdered but, in those days, she would not have been told that she was raped. This information you have given me is very much appreciated, as it will be entered in a family tree for my grandchildren to keep. I am now going to research Frank Taylor, as I now have his date of birth and home town. Thank you very much
August 8, 2017 at 11:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

carol roberts
Member
Posts: 2
Any ideas where I can find details of his arrest and trial?
August 8, 2017 at 11:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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