English Executioners from 1850 to 1964. Part 4.
Thomas Henry Scott from Huddersfield.
Period on Home Office List; 1893 – 1910.
Thomas Scott was a rope maker and a stone mason by trade who worked as an Assistant to James Billington on 13 occasions and acted as a chief executioner on two occasions, both at Stafford. His last execution in England should have been the assisting James Billington with the hanging of Elijah Winstanley on the 17th December 1895 at Walton Prison. On the preceding evening he left the gaol and got in a cab with a prostitute who stole his wallet after having sex with him. He was not allowed to work the following morning and was immediately removed from the Home Office List.
Most of his work was carried out in Ireland, his last job there was the execution of John Toole at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin on the 7th March 1901. However, the Irish authorities decided that they would no longer employ him as he was no longer on the Home Office list.
William Warbrick from Blackburn, Lancashire
Period on Home Office List 1893-1910.
William Warbrick assisted James Billington at 21 hangings in the 19th Century, including that of ‘baby farmer’ Amelia Dyer and a further three in the 20th Century. He assisted James Billington at Newgate Prison with the first hanging of1900, that of Louise Massett. His last job was assisting Thomas Pierrepoint, with the execution of John Coulson at Armley on the 9th of August 1910.
James Billington of Farnworth, near Bolton, Lancashire (1847 – 1901.)
Period on Home Office List. – 1847 – 1901.
James Billington had a life long fascination with hanging and had unsuccessfully applied for Marwood’s post but managed but did manage to secure a hangman’s position and then founded a dynasty of hangmen. James ran a barber’s shop in Farnworth when not engaged in executions. He executed 141 men and five women in England and Wales, one man in Ireland and three men in Scotland, a total of 150 persons.
His first execution was at Armley Gaol in Leeds on the 26th August 1884 when he hanged Joseph Laycock, a Sheffield hawker for the murder of his wife and four children. Laycock was to have said, just before being hanged, ‘you will not hurt me? To which James Billington said ‘No, thaal nivver feel it, for thaal be out of existence I’ two minutes.’ This execution was judged to be successful and he carried out a further seven hangings at Armley and one at York Castle before succeeding Berry as the executioner for London and the Home Counties in 1892 and then effectively worked nationwide. His first commission outside Yorkshire was at Shepton Mallet on the 15th December 1891 where he hanged Henry Dainton for the murder of his wife at bath. James Billington hanged 24 men and three women at Newgate Prison, including Henry Fowler and Albert Milsom on the 9th June 1896 for beating to death 79 year old widower, Henry Smith.
Perhaps the most interesting execution was that of poisoner Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, on the 15th November 1892, again at Newgate Prison. Cream waited to the very last minute as he felt the mechanism under the trap begin to move, and to utter the words ‘I am Jack the …..’ It is highly unlikely that Cream could have been ‘Jack the Ripper’ but it certainly caused quite a stir at the time.
He hanged Amelia Dyer at Newgate for the murder of four months old Doris Marmon, a baby who had been entrusted to her care, having received £10 to look after her. This particular form of murder was known as ‘Baby Farming’ and it is thought that Dyer had murdered at least six other babies for money. Each baby had been strangled with white tape. As Mrs. Dyer said that was how you could tell it was one of hers, at 57 years of age she was the oldest woman to go to the gallows since 1843.
The last female hanging of the 19th century was that of Mary Ann Ansell at St. Albans Prison on the 19th July 1899. She was executed for poisoning her sister.
James Billington conducted Britain’s first hanging of the 20th Century, that of 33 year old Louise Massett at Newgate Prison on the 9th January 1900 for the murder of her illegitimate son. In all James Billington carried out 146 executions in England and Wales including five women.
His last execution was at Strangeways prison, Manchester on 3rd December 1901, the hanging of Patrick M’Kenna, who was to die for murdering his wife. James Billington died of severe bronchitis on the 13th December 1901 and was then succeeded by his two sons, William and John Billington.