Hanged in Staffordshire: The 35 last killers to face the rope


Not so long ago those convicted of taking a life in the UK paid the ultimate price – by having their life taken.

The last execution in Britain was in 1964 – when Peter Anthony Allen was executed at Walton prison in Liverpool and Gwynne Owen Evans at Strangeways in Manchester for the murder of John Alan West on April 7 of that year.

Before then the number of people killed for their crimes had reduced dramatically – although decades ago the opposite was true, with many people executed for a variety of seemingly minor crimes.

The website Capital Punishment UK details every execution that’s taken place in the UK, including dozens in Staffordshire.

Several took place in public too, until the practice was outlawed in 1868.

Here in Staffordshire, executions took place in Sandyford, near Stafford, up to 1793 and from then on on the flat roof of the gatehouse of the Stafford County Gaol in Gaol Road, Stafford.

One of the most ‘famous’ hangings was that of William Palmer – otherwise known as the Rugeley Poisoner.

Palmer was convicted for the 1855 murder of his friend John Cook but was suspected of poisoning several other people including his brother and his mother-in-law, as well as four of his children.

The death penalty remained a technical option for punishment of those found guilty of treason until it was abolished in 1998, and further enshrined by the European Convention of Human Rights in 2004.

The eight executions in Staffordshire since 1901

  • April 2, 1901- James Shufflebotham (collier) aged 38, for the murder of his wife, Elizabeth, at Biddulph Moor.
  • August 12, 1902 – William Lane (inquiry agent) aged 47, for the murder of his lover, Elizabeth Dyson, at Tividale, West Bromwich.
  • March 29, 1904 – Henry Jones (collier) aged 50, for the murder of Mary Gilbert at Hanley. He confessed to killing her out of jealousy by slitting her throat.
  • December 27, 1905 – WIlliam Frederick Edge (billiard marker) aged 23, from Newcastle, for the murder of five-month old Francis Walter Evans. He cut his throat at Wilson Street on September 28 1905.
  • April 14, 1909 – Joseph Edwin Jones (miner) aged 39, for a murder in Wolverhampton. He was found guilty of shooting his wife.
  • March 26, 1907 Joseph Jones (iron stocktaker) aged 60, for a 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.”
  • December 28, 1911 – George Loake (engine driver) aged 64 for a murder at Walsall. He stabbed his wife, Elizabeth, with his pocket knife. She died from ten wounds.
  • March 10, 1914 – Josiah Davies (ironworker) aged 53, for the murder of his landlady, Martha Hodgkin, at Wolverhampton.

The eight executions in Staffordshire between 1868 and 1899

  • August 2, 1872 – Christopher Edwards (locksmith), aged 54, for the murder of his wife Rosanna, at Willenhall on 20th April 1872.
  • December 29, 1874 – Robert Taylor (miner), aged 21, for the murder of 57-year-old Mary Kidd.
  • July 31, 1877 – Henry Rogers, aged 27, for the murder of his wife.
  • February 22, 1881 – James Williams, aged 24, for the murder of Elizabeth Bagnall.
  • August 17, 1885 – Thomas Boulton, aged 47, for the murder of his niece.
  • January 1, 1889 – Thomas Clewes, aged 27, for the murder of his wife.
  • August 15, 1893 – John Hewitt, aged 19, for the murder of William Masfen.
  • August 20, 1895 – Thomas Bond, aged 29, for the murder of Frederick Bakewell.



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The 19 executions in Staffordshire between 1837 to 1868

  • May 5, 1838 – Ann Wycherly, aged 28, for the murder of her daughter Ann Wycherly.
  • April 4, 1840 – George Thomas, aged 29, and James Owen, aged 39, for the murder of Christina Collins.
  • April 3, 1841 – Matthew Fowels, aged 22, for the murder of Martha Keeling.
  • April 2, 1842 – Joseph Wilkes, aged 17, for the murder of Matthew Adams.
  • August 26, 1843 – Charles Higginson, aged 26, for the murder of his five-year-old son.
  • January 13, 1844 – Sarah Westwood, aged 42, for the murder of her husband.
  • August 17, 1844 – WIlliam Beards, aged 35, for the murder of Elizabeth Griffiths.
  • January 25, 1845 – Paul Downing, aged 19, and Charles Powys, aged 17, for the murder of William Cooper.
  • April 5, 1845 – John Brough, aged 39, for the murder of his brother Thomas.
  • April 9, 1853 – Charles Moore, aged 36, for the murder of Mr and Mrs Blackbourn.
  • June 14, 1856 – William Palmer, aged 32, for the murder of JP Cook.
  • August 8, 1857 – George Jackson, aged 20, for the murder of Mr Charlesworth.
  • January 5, 1861 – Samuel Twigg, aged 35, for the murder of his wife.
  • January 4, 1862 – David Brandrick, aged 30, for the murder of Mr Bagot.
  • December 27, 1864 – Richard Hale, aged 30, for the murder of his bastard daughter.
  • December 27, 1864 – Charles Brough, aged 24, for the murder of George Walker.
  • January 9, 1866 – Charles Robinson, aged 18, for the murder of Harriet Seagar.
  • March 27, 1866 – George Bentley for the murder of John Poole.
  • August 7, 1866, William Collier, aged 35, for the murder of Thomas Smith.


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