Stafford Hangings – others who faced the drop

Hangings at Stafford from 1793

A. J. Standley researched local history to produce a booklet in 1993, Her Majesties Prison Stafford Sentenced to 200 Years to celebrate the first two hundred years of the prison. Much of the following information comes from that publication.

The present prison at Stafford opened for use in May 1793, replacing a Gaol and a House of Correction that then stood in the area of the Town’s North Gate, at the end of the Town’s main street where it joins with the road by the roundabout. Before 1793 hangings were carried out at Sandyford Meadow along the Stafford to Sandon Road.

According to Mr. A. J. Standley there were no more executions at Stafford Prison after 1914. With the outbreak of the First World War the number of prisoners held in the prison declined as part of the prison was taken over by the military. In 1916 the prison was completely handed over to the military and remained under their control until 1923 when the prison was closed. In 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War the prison was re-opened by the Prison Commissioners as a special local prison and also as a precautionary measure to provide additional prison accommodation in the event that bombing of major cities resulted in a prison being hit. As a special local prison it did not deal directly with courts and those awaiting trial would not have been held at Stafford. A prisoner sentenced to be executed would have been returned to the prison “from whence he came” for the sentence to be carried out.

Date Prisoner Age Crime
August 17th 1793 Ebenezer Colston (soldier) 21 Murder of Henry Yates at Wolverhampton.
August 17th 1793 John Hackett (cordwainer) 40 .Burglary
11th April 1795 Thomas Jones (labourer) 55 Horse stealing
April 11th 1795 Joseph Foster (labourer)
William Nield (labourer)
Horse stealing – jointly charged.
August 22nd 1795 Joel Lunn (gun lock file) 29 House-breaking. his wife was sentenced to be transported to New South Wales.
March 14th 1796 Michael Dorricut (alias Dallicott) (labourer) 24 Murder at Bernall Green.
March 26th 1796 Thomas Brown (labourer) 25 Counterfeiting coins.
March 26th 1796 John Horton
James Nightingale
Burglary – jointly charged.
August 28th 1797 Thomas Millwood Oliver (surgeon & apothecary) 28 Murder at Burslem – Gallows broke and had to be re-erected.
April 14th 1798 Andrew Burns (weaver)
John Hill (labourer)
Highway robbery – jointly charged.
August 25th 1798 Robert Lander (alias Bradbury) (soldier) 25 Assault and robbery.
August 25th 1798 Edward Kidson (butcher) 37 Stealing cattle.
April 1st 1799 Charles Squires (locksmith) 35 Murder at Willenhall.
August 10th 1799 William Lea (labourer) 60 “Uttering forged note”.
April 19th 1800 Thomas Smith (baker) 25 Forgery.
April 19th 1800 Benjamin Perry (gun lock filer) 56 “Uttering forged note”
August 30th 1800 Zachariah Edwards (labourer) 28 Assault and robbery
March 28th 1801 Thomas Butler (bucklemaker) 22 “Uttering forged note”
March 28th 1801 John MacConville (weaver) 25 “Uttering forged note”.
March 28th 1801 John Bowyer (labourer) 66 Sheep stealing.
August 8th 1801 John Smith 19 Horse stealing
August 8th 1801 Thomas Spittle 23 Horse stealing.
August 8th 1801 John Palmer
John Harper
Horse stealing – jointly charged.
April 8th 1804 John Simpson 36 “Uttering forged notes”
April 13th 1805 John Waltho (labourer) 40 Arson.
March 30th 1807 George Allen (labourer) 42 Murder at Mayfield.
April 6th 1808 William Hawkeswood (servant) 20 Murder at Swindson – ‘The Pedmore Poisoner’.
April 3rd 1811 John Gold (farmer) 23 Murder at Alstonfield.
August 31st 1811 Thomas James (labourer) 60 Bestiality.
March 14th 1812 Benjamin Mycock (farmworker) 32 Murder at Ilam of his brother.
August 15th 1812 William Booth (farmer) 32 Forgery.
March 18th 1813 William Howe (alias John Wood) (carpenter) 30 Murder of Benjamin at Kinver
   After the hanging of William Howe, because of the brutal nature of the murder, his body was “hung in chains” on Dunsley Heath, that is, his corpse was put in a metal cage in a public spot and left to rot.
August 28th 1813 William Cox (collier)
Peter Howell (collier)
Burglary – jointly charged.
August 28th 1813 Thomas Green (labourer) 37 Horse stealing.
August 5th 1815 Daniel Douglas (draper) 24 Forgery.
March 21st 1817 Ann Statham 28 Murder at Whichnor Bridge – Last execution on top of the Lodge Gate
   Ann Statham was the last prisoner to be hanged on top of the Lodge gateway. Ann a single mother had murdered her infant daughter, as she knelt in prayer on the platform the scaffold gave way and Ann, the Chaplain and other officers all fell to the roof below. The scaffold had to be re-assembled so that the execution could take place. From then on executions were performed on a portable gallows.
August 16th 1817 Samuel Campbell (shoe trader) 52 ‘Uttering forged notes” – First to be hanged on the new portable ‘drop’.
March 18th 1818 Joseph Dace
Samuel Haines
Housebreaking – jointly charged – Sang a hymn on the ‘drop’. Joseph only 19.
August 21st 1819 John Duffield 47 Counterfeiting.
April 15th 1820 Dan Collier
William Toft
John Walklate
Rape – jointly charged.
July 27th 1820 Abel Hill (mining engineer) 23 Murder at Bilston.
March 7th 1821 Amos Drew 24 Burglary and assault.
March 7th 1821 James Buckingham 24 Housebreaking. His wife was sentenced to be transported.
March 7th 1821 Robert Bunny 51 Sheep stealing.
March 7th 1821 John Garmston 23 Burglary
April 6th1822 Charles Taylor 36 Counterfeiting.
March 15th1825 Thomas Powell 32 Murder at Bushbury.
April 1st1826 Theodore Moore 41 Counterfeiting.
August 5th 1826 James Adams
John Williams
John Bosworth
Highway robbery jointly charged.
April 27th1827 Benjamin Hodges (labourer) 22 Attempted murder.
April 5th1828 Joseph Preston (alias Douther) 48 Rape
August 16th 1828 John Highfield (farmer) 58 Forgery – Last man to be hanged for this offence.
April 16th 1831 John Swathin (labourer)
William Lloyd (labourer)
Arson jointly charged.
August 10th 1833 John Reynolds 19 Assault and robbery.  He was the last person to be hanged for a crime other than murder.
From this time onwards the bodies of hanged prisoners were buried within the prison grounds.
March 19th 1834 Richard Tomlinson 22 Murder at Ranton with Mary Smith first to be buried within the prison walls.
March 19th 1834 Mary Smith 24 Murder at Bloxwich
May 5th 1838 Ann Wycherley 28 Murder of a child at Chipnall Mill.
April 11th 1840 James Owen
George Thomas (alias Dobell) both boatmen
Murder – “Bloody Steps Murder” of Christina Collins at Brindley Bank near Rugeley. This was the first time George Smith assisted hangman Calcroft.
April 3rd 1841 Matthew Fowles 22 Murder of Martha Keeling at Newcastle-under-Lyme.
April 2nd 1842 Joseph Wilkes (labourer) 18 Murder of Matthew Adams at Wednesbury.
August 26th1843 Charles Higginson (labourer) 26 Murder of his son (5) using a spade at Bishops wood near Eccleshall.
January 13th 1844 Sarah Westwood (housewife) 42 Administering arsenic.
August 17th1844 William Beard (servant) 35 Murder of Elizabeth Griffiths at Wednesbury.
January 25th 1845 Paul Downing
Charles Powys
Jointly charged with murder.
April 5th 1845 John Brough (farmer) 39 Murder of his brother, Thomas, at Biddulph.
April 9th 1853 Charles Moore (labourer) 36 Murder of a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Blackbourn at Castle Church, Stafford.
June 14th1856 William Palmer (surgeon) 31 Murder of John Parsons cook – He was the first person to be convicted of poisoning by strychnine.
August 8th1857 George Jackson (labourer) 20 Murder of Mr. Charlesworth, at Abbots Bromley.
January 5th1861 Samuel Twigg (bricklayer) 35 Murder at Bilston.
January 4th1862 David Brandrick (puddler) 30 Murder at Bilston.
December 26th 1864 Charles Brough (collier) 24 Murder of George Walker at Audley – Charles Brough was the nephew of John Brough hanged in 1845.
January 9th1866 Charles Robinson 18 Murder at Wolverhampton.
March 27th1866 Charles Bentley (soldier) 27 Murder of John Poole at Offley Brook.
August 7th1866 William Collier (farmer) 35 Murder at Whiston Eaves – he was a poacher and shot the landowner’s son.  When they first tried to hang him the rope slipped and he fell through the trapdoor.  He was dragged back up on the scaffold and hanged at second attempt.
   William Collier was the last person to be hanged outside the gaol. In 1868 an Act of Parliament prohibited public executions.
August 13th1872 Christopher Edwards (locksmith) 35 Murder of his wife Rosannah at Willenhall.
December 29th 1874 Robert Taylor (miner) 21 Murder of Mary Kidd (57) at Yoxall.  He confessed his guilt.  He showed no fear and ate a massive breakfast on the morning of his execution.
March 30th 1875 John Stanton (shoe finisher) 22 Murder of his uncle at Stafford.
July 31st 1877 Henry Rogers (plasterer) 27 Murder of his wife Sarah Jane Rogers (nee Mitchell) near Dunstall Hall near Wolverhampton.
February 22nd 1881 John Williams (tailor) 24 Murder of his girlfriend Edith Bagnal (23) at Tixall.
August 17th1885 Thomas Boulton (jewellers assistant) 47 Murder of his niece, Elizabeth Bunting, at Handsworth.
January 1st1889 Thomas Clews (collier) 23 Murder of a woman at Washerwell.
   From August 1893 hangings were carried out in a purpose built chamber for executions
August 15th1893 John Hewitt (collier) 19 Murder – Shot William Masfen, a farmer’s son, who caught him poaching at Norton Canes.
August 20th 1895 Thomas Bond (labourer) 29 Murder of Frederick Bakewell and George Hackett at Orgreave.
April 2nd1901 James Shufflebotham (collier) 38 Murder of his wife, Elizabeth, at Biddulph Moor.
August 12th1902 William Lane (inquiry agent) 47 Murder of his lover, Elizabeth Dyson, at Tividale, West Bromwich.
March 29th1904 Henry Jones (collier) 50 Murder of Mary Gilbert at Hanley.  He confesseed to killing her out of jealousy (he slit her throat).
December 27th 1905 William Edge (billiard marker) 23 Murder of Edmund Clarke.
March 26th 1907 Joseph Jones (iron stocktaker) 60 Murder at Quarry Bank.  When hangman, Pierrepoint, arrived to pinion the old man and escort him to the gallows, Old Joe is said to have commented, “This is a damned sight better than the workhouse.”
April 14th 1909 Joseph Edwin Jones (miner) 39 Murder at Wolverhampton.  He was found guilty of shooting his wife.
December 28th 1911 George Loake (engine driver) 64 Murder at Walsall.  He stabbed his wife, Elizabeth, with his pocket knife.  She died from ten wounds.
March 10th1914 Josiah Davies (ironworker) 53 Murder of his landlady, Martha Hodgkin, at Wolverhampton.


Milestones in Legislation in Regard to Hanging
1832 The crime of shoplifting of goods to the value of five shillings or less no longer carried the death penalty.
1841 Hanging for the crime of rape is abolished the death penalty only used for treason or murder.
1868 The practice of public execution was abolished.
1908 Abolition of the death sentence for children below the age of sixteen.
1931 The execution of pregnant women prohibited.
1932 Abolition of the death sentence for persons below the age of eighteen.
1965 The Murder (Abolition of Death penalty) Act 1965 becomes law and the death penalty suspended for five years.
1966 Both Houses of Parliament agree to abolish the death penalty for murder.