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Forum Home > Other Crimes and Punishments. > Warwick Hangings.1845 - 1908.

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I have been asked to include a small section on Warwickshire, as some of those who were executed at both the old and new Gaols, came from Birmingham. All those I have listed, can be researched in the subsequent Census returns for the period covered. There are 21 executions in the list, and all were found guilty of one or more Murders. I have included some details where known, and if anyone can add anything further, please get in touch, and I will include it.

James Crawley, aged 31, murdered William Tibley, and was hanged on 18th April,1845.

Matthew Davis, 42, killed his wife Mary Jane ? in Birmingham. Hanged 14th April,1848.

Mary Ball, 31, poisoned her husband, and was tried at Warwick Assizes. She was sent back to Coventry for her hanging, on the 9th August,1849. ( The last one in Coventry )

John Kington, 22, killed his young wife Anne, in Hinckley. hanged on 10th December,1859.

Francis Price, 24, murdered a girl, Sarah Pratt, and was hanged on 20th August, 1860.

John Thompson, 42, killed Ann Walker, and was strung up on 30th December,1861.

William Beamish, 35, a native of Coventry, killed his wife Betsy, and 2 year old daughter Emily. He was rightly hanged, on the same day as Thompson, 30th December, 1861.

George Gardiner, age unknown, Killed Sarah Kirby. Hanged on 25th August,1862.

Henry Carter, age unknown, murdered Elizabeth Hinkley, and became the last public hanging in Warwick, at the old County Gaol, on 6th April,1863.

Edward Hancock, 50, brutally slew Elizabeth Horton, and became the first one to be executed at the new gaol, on 7th January, 1873.

Jeremiah Corkery, 20, murdered P. C. William Lines and was hanged on 27th July,1875.

Frederick Edwin Baker, 30, murdered Mary Saunders. He was hanged on 17th April,1877.

John Ralph, 28, murdered Sarah Vernon. He was executed on 26th August,1882.

Thomas Payne, 38, murdered his sister-in-law, Annie Jane Payne? Hanged on the 6th December, 1887.

George Nicholson, 54, murdered his wife, Mary Ann, 53,  in Aston, Birmingham. He paid the price on the 8th January, 1889.

Charles Higginbottom, 63, murdered his landlady, Winifred Phillips, over unpaid Rent. He was executed on the 7th January,1890.

William Harris, age unknown, murdered a girlfriend, Florence Clifford. he was hanged  on the 2nd January, 1894.

George Place, 28, slaughtered his common law wife, Eliza Chatwynd, her mother, also called Eliza, and his young child. Executed on 10th December, 1902.

John Davis, 53, killed his girlfriend, Jane Harrison. hanged by the neck, 1st January, 1907.

Edwin James Moore, 33, killed his mother, Fanny Adelaide Moore. Executed, 2nd April,1907.

Harry Taylor Parker, 32, blugeoned and murdered Thomas Tompkins. He was executed on the 15th December, 1908, and thus became the last ever Judicial hanging at Warwick, the process being removed to Winson Green Prison, Birmingham. The Prison continued to be used for offenders for a time, before being used to house Soldiers, and was finally demolished in 1934. All the remains of those executed at the prison, were removed to a Cemetery in Coventry, cremated, and re-interred. I have a futher list going back to 1800, so if you have a name you think might be on it, click the Contact Me Button, and I will do my best.


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

October 10, 2013 at 3:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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There are not only Birmingham Connections, when it comes to some executions at Warwick Gaol, there are a couple of Blackcountry ones as well. I have selected a double Hanging for this item, which really should have been a triple, but as you will see, sometimes having money counts. The motive of these dreadful acts all have the same theme, the lustful nature of the perpetrators.

John Thompson, a 42 year old wire drawer from Birmingham, had used the services of " Ladies of Easy Virtue ", for a number of years. Prior to August,1861, he had even had one live with him for a time, her name being Ann Walker. He wasn't always in work, and to make ends meet, Ann would go off back to the Brothel where she had a room. On this occasion, the 29th September,1861, John Walker went with her, presumable to try and persuade her to come back, after they had had an exchange of words. The Housemaid, on hearing a funny noise, went to investigate, and found Ann Walker, lying on the bed, with a wound to her neck, Thompson was standing by the window with a knife in his hand. She rushed back downstairs to tell the Lady of the house. and when they got back, Walker was on the floor, and John Thompson was on top of her, slashing at her throat with the knife. She did not of course survive the attack, and when the Police arrived, he readily admitted what he had done. So off to Warwick Assizes goes number one, charged with Wilful Murder.

Christened on 27th January, 1823, John Greyson Farquhar was destined very rarely to get his hands dirty. His father, Alexander, was a prominant Builder of houses, and although John took over the business in the 1840s, by August,1861, he was described as a Gentleman, living in some comfort, in Grange Road, Small Heath, Birmingham. At the time, this was a rather greener Small Heath than it is now. Sadly though, the woman he had married in 1847, Ann Eliza Smith, having born him two children, died a few years before, and unable to cope, he had taken in a housekeeper. Her name was Elizabeth Brookes, and by all accounts, she was a very good looking young woman, being barely 19 when he employed her in 1859. There must have been a few wagging tongues, even in the middle class area of Small Heath, about the goings on in the house, which proved to be only too true. On the morning of the 29th August,1861, after cleaning his Pistol, and leaving it on the table, Mr Farquhar took his housekeeper into Birmingham to buy her a new coat. He seems to have taken a dislike,to the fact that she had been in conversation with a young man while in Birmingham, and they had a few words on the way back. This row must have continued for shortly afterwards, picking up the Pistol, he shot and killed Elizabeth Brookes. He told both his neighbours and the Police what he had done, and of course was arrested. Thus he found himself, on the way to the Warwick Assizes, also charged with Wilful Murder.

Over to Coventry for the next one, which had occured sometime before the other two, the only difference being that instead of reading about bloodstains and gore, the population was faced with the more horrifying crime of Poisoning. There's something, about the act of quietly slipping a deadly concoction of poison into food or drink, that appalls us all. This sneaky, cowardly way of murder, is usually more associated with women, mainly, some say, because they are physically the weaker sex. I suspect it's more to do with the lack of any moral fibre, and it's seen as an easy way out of a situation without any confrontation. Certainly, William Beamish doesn't seem to have had any scruples when he was faced with making a choice. He was a Weaver by trade, not a very well paid profession, and he wasn't alone, there were hundreds like him in Coventry. Most of them lived a hand to mouth existance, just like in the black Country, Tea, Coffe, Bread and scrape, soup, and the odd bit of meat, their only sustanance. About 1858, he secured a job at a local factory, leaving his wife Betsy, and two servants, to work the Loom in his little workshop in Spencer Street. One of these was a young woman called Emma Statham, and it wasn't long before the neighbours began to notice a little change. William Beamish was seen many times, out and about with the giggling young woman, sometimes, quite late at night. They were seen in Pubs and taking walks along very quiet country lanes, and on one occasion, he was observed with his hand up her petticoats. It wasn't long before Betsy found out. It's not surprising that she didn't do anything, for they had three children, one of them only a few months old, Emily. He went off to work on the morning of the 14th August, not partaking of the days breakfast, but taking something with him. A few hours later, the family came down with sickness, and summoned from his work, Beamish called the Doctor. There were all manner of stomach upsets about in the crowded cities of the Country, and after proscribing a common remedy, Arrowroot, he left. The next day, William Beamish appeared at the Doctors and asked for, and was given, without checking, a Death Certificate for little Emily. The rest of the family seemed to have made a bit of a recovery, so when the Doctor was asked to provide a second one for Betsy Beamish, a few days later, he refused, suspecting that she had been poisoned. He was right, and the babies body was then exhumed, which also proved to contain poison, deadly Arsenic. Some time later, after an adjourned inquest, and a Magistrates Court hearing, William Beamish found himself on the way to join John Farquhar, and John Thompson, in the Gaol at Warwick, all awaiting, with some trepidation, their appearence in the Dock at the Assizes, and the sentence they could all face, Death By Hanging.

Now I did say that one case may have been influenced by money, by which I mean the ability to engage the best Lawyer money can buy. Nothing wrong with that, each to his own, but a man with eloquent words can sometimes pursuede a Jury that black may very well be white, and in the case of John Greyson Farquhar, thats indeed what he did. Concidering it to be little more than a Pistol going off in a friendly little struggle, the Jury bought in a verdict of Manslaughter, and amongst great anger at the verdict, Farquhar escaped the noose. Although there was only circumstancial evidence against William Beamish, ( nobody of course had actually seen him put the poison in the Tea or Coffee ) it was so overwhelming, that the Jury only took a few minutes to convict him. Emma Statham had been released without charge at the Magistrates Court. It took the Judge, a lot longer to spell out to Beamish, exactly what he thought of him prior to the sentence of death. He also admonished  the Doctor, who had stated that it was the regular practice to sign death certificates without viewing the deceased. This was of course a condition of the Registration of deaths, so we are left wondering, just how many murderers of the past, escaped detection and punishment. John Thompson, who had already confessed his crime, expessed his sorrow for what he had done, and showed very little emotion, when he to, was given a death sentence and sent off to await his fate.

And now to the Black Country connection, for in front of a very large crowd, that had come from all parts of the County, and indeed even from London to see the event, appeared that old favourite, and reprobate, George Smith, billed as the Hangman from Dudley. Onto the scaffold he walked, to great cheers from the mob, dressed in his usual attire of smock and tall hat, for they were expecting a bit of entertainment. There was a delay, while the confession of William Beamish was announced, and then both men came onto the drop. Against all expectations, George Smith swiftly pulled down the hoods and secured the ropes around their necks. Then, in a surprising turn of speed, drew the bolt and cleared the drop, as the two men went to meet their maker. He had though, slightly miscalculated, for John Thompson was heavier than Beamish and died very quickly, the latter having life still in him for at least 30 seconds, as he struggled on the end of the rope. So, the end of two men who richly deserved what they got, but what, you may ask, happened to the "Birmingham Gentleman", Mr Farquhar.  He was sentenced to Penal Servitude for a life term, but he appears to have died in 1866, the death being recorded in West Bromwich. The registration area also covered Handsworth, Perry Barr, and a bit of Aston, so did he get released early? His demise went unmourned by all except his family, who had good reason I suppose, for he left them all his money and properties.


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

October 16, 2013 at 3:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1413

The good folk of Coventry, were well used to sensational happenings in their City. Just 12 years before, in 1849, another case of poisoning had occasioned a great deal of gossip. This time though, it was the wife who had got rid of her husband. Mary Ball, was born in Nuneaton, about 1814, her father being a local Publican. She married a Thomas Ball, a weaver, most of the population of north Warwickshire were weavers, a trade, like that of Nailmaking, earned them very little. During the twelve years of the marriage, Mary had produced 6 children, five of whom had died, and her life was one of endless and grinding poverty. This caused a few rows, but as Mary was described as a " Handsome looking woman ", this was the cause of the more violent arguments. Thomas Ball, a jealous man, frequently beat his wife, and she threatened, that one day, she would poison him. The neighbours had heard it all before, and after the latest violent row, promptly forgot all about it. It was a habit of Thomas Ball, to regulary go fishing with a friend, Joseph Petty, and on the 18th May,1849, off then went. Anything they caught of course would have gone towards the daily meal. It was also a habit, after the fishing trip, to go for a drink, but when Petty called at the house, he was surprised to find Thomas had been taken very ill. Knowing it wasn't anything they had eaten, for they had both consumed the same, he was a bit puzzled, and worried. So much so, that he called back before he went to bed and found Thomas much worse. Joseph Petty called the Doctor, who diagnosed inflammation of the Stomach, although the signs of something worse, numbness in the legs and feeling cold, were apparent. Thomas Ball died in agony about 3am, and the Doctor wrote " Gastritis " on the certificate. All would have passed unnoticed, but the neighbours, remembering what she had previously said, began to gossip. So much gossip in fact, that before poor old Thomas could be laid to rest, he was on the cold slab in the Mortuary. Inevitably, the real cause of his demise came to light, Arsenic Poisoning. A quick search of the mean little house, soon uncovered what remained of the penny worth of Arsenic, that Mary had purchased from a Chemist, on the other side of Nuneaton. She had served him his dinner of gruel after the fishing trip, adding as a dressing, most of the Arsenic.

Now, as the reports stated, Mary Ball was a good looking woman, a fact she must have played on during her trial. There was no doubt that she murdered her husband, but the Jury, taking over an hour to arrive at a Guilty verdict, then asked the astonished Judge to show mercy. He wasn't pleased, and sent them out again, and this time it was just the Guilty bit the foreman announced. Before he pronounced the only sentence he could, he told Mary Ball that she not hold out hope of any mercy, as she certainly hadn't given her husband any. Mary Ball, now sentenced to Death, had a week to wait before her execution. She said little, refusing to confess, which seemed to bring out the worst in the Coventry Prison Chaplain, the Rev Richard Chapman. Taking it as a challenge, he spent hours of praying, admonishments, and the threat of the eternal flames of Hell, and still she wouldn't confess. Then he did a dreadful thing. calling for a candle in her cell, he grabbed her hand, and held it the flame, telling her the pain would be as nothing to what awaited her should she not repent her sins. Mary Ball, although in great pain, and with a blistered hand, remained silent, never uttering a sound. On the morning of her execution, she saw the Gibbet, and knowing time was short, she finally confessed. Meanwhile, news of the appalling actions of the Chaplain, had reached the Prison Governor, Mr Stanley,  He called the visiting magistrates, and the Rev Chapman was suddenly out of a job. Mary Ball spent her last hours, and spoke her confession, to the Rev Collisson, her bandaged hand, mute evidence of what she had been subjected to.

When she finally walked out to the scaffold, on that warm morning of 8th August,1849, it was in front of one of the largest crowds ever gathered in Coventry for a single hanging. Some had been waiting all night, and they were so many, that those at the back could barely see the event. Although no one had much sympathy for a poisoner, the news that the confession had been tortured out of her, and by a Clergyman, made for much grumbling from the mob. It had you see, together with her late confession, taken the edge of a mornings entertainment. Not that it was much consolation for Mary Ball, who was buried within the Prison, as there was no one to claim her body, not even her family.


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

October 18, 2013 at 4:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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