In the early part of the 19th century, the Chester historian Hemingway made a record of some of the executions that had taken place at Chester between 1554 and 1829. The following list has been left in Hemingway’s own words,
(Above Northgate Gaol, Chester)
1658 – A woman burnt at Boughton for poisoning her husband.
1689 – John Taylor, gaoler of the castle, for murder of Mr. Hockenhaff, a prisoner in his custody tor recusancy (refusal to attend Church of England church services).
1692 – William Geaton, servant to High bishop of Chester, for the murder of James Findlove, s Scottish peddler, his body was hung in chains on Groppenhall (Grappenhall) Heath
1601 – A women named Candy, executed for conspiring to murder her husband; her paramour, Boon, refusing to plead, was pressed to death in the castle.
1602 – One Arnet, servant to a Mr. Manley, of Saltney side, hung for murdering his fellow servant.
1654 – Sir Timothy Fetherstone, shot in the corn-market of Chester, by order of the Parliament.
1768 – Three men hung: the rope of one of them broke, when lifting up his cap. He exclaimed in horrible agitation, “My God What am I to suffer?”
1776 – Execution of James Knight, for burglary at Odd Rode. Christopher Lawless, Isaac Hutchinson, Alexander Solomon, and Isaac Josephs executed for robbing the shop of Mr. Pemberton, jeweler. They were buried behind the Roodee-cop, opposite Overleigh.
1777 – S. Thoriey, executed for the horrible murder of Ann Smith, a ballad-singer, near Congleton. After cutting off her head, he severed her legs and arms from her body. Which he threw into a brook! Part, however, he actually broiled and ate! He was hung in chains on the heath, near Congleton.
1779 – William Ellis for burglary, and William Loom, discharging a loaded pistol at Charles Warren, of Congleton, executed at Boughton.
1779 – Sarah Jones, executed for stealing 28 yards of chintz, from the shop of Mr. Meacock, at Chester.
1783 – Resolution Heap, and Martha Brown; the former a burglary at Whaley; the latter for a similar offence at Over.
1784 – Elizabeth Wood, hung for poisoning James Sinister, at Bredbury. John Oakes, hung for coining (forging).
1766 – Executions of Peter Steers, for the murder of his wife, by poison. Edward Holt, for a burglary at Knutsford. Thomas Buckley, age 20, for a burglary at Chester. Thomas Hyde, aged 35. For horse stealing. James Buckley, aged 22, for a burglary in Mrs. Lloyd’s house in Newgate Street, Chester
1789 – Thomas Mate, for the murder of John Parry, a constable, in Handbridge. He was 64 years old, and when at the gallows, he charged his wife, 70 years with infidelity
1790 – John Dean, from Stockport, for the most brutal murder of his wife, who was seven months advanced in her pregnancy. He was hung m chains on Stockport Moor
1791 – Execution of Lowndes, for robbing the Warrington mail. His prosecution, it is said cost £2 000. He was hung in chains on Helsby Hill; but the gibbet pole was in short time after cut down by some people in the neighborhood, and was not again erected, Allen Aston, and Knox, for burglary at Northern. Upon this occasion, the fatal tree was removed from Gallows hill to the opposite side of the road, where it remained until 1801 when the place of execution was finally removed within the walls of the city.
1796 – Thomas Brown and James Price, for robbing the Warrington mail. They were hung in chains on Trafford-green, and remained there till 1820, when the pole was taken down, the place having been previously enclosed. In the skull of Price was found a robin’s nest.
1798 – John Thornhill, for the murder of his sweetheart, Sarah Malone, at Lymm. Peter Martin, alias Joseph Lowther, for firing at a boat’s crew of the Actaon, in the Mersey, when employed on the impress service.
1800 – Thomas Bosworth, for forgery, and Alexander Morton, for felony. Mary Lloyd for forgery at Stockport.
1801 – Thompson, Morgan, and Clare, for burglaries. When near the gallows, Clare Made a spring from the cart, rushed through the crowd, which made way for him, rolled Down a gutter-way towards the Dee a rapid descent and plunged into the river. He Was drowned, having immediately sunk, from the weight of his chains, but the body Was found, and afterwards hung up with the others, the other two malefactors beingKept in the cart in the interval. These were the last criminals hung at Boughton, which Had been the place of execution for some centuries.
(Above: Gallows Hill, On The Banks Of The River Dee, Chester)
1801 – Aaron Gee & Thomas Gibson, hung out of a temporary window way in the attics, on the south side of the old Northgate, a building now not in existence. The unfortunate men were men were propelled from the window about five feet (about 1 1/2 meters) and dropped nearly forty inches (just over one meter), their bodies beating against the window below, so as to break the glass
1809 – Execution of George Clover & William Proudlove, in front of the house of correction for shooting at an officer of excise at Odd Rode. When the drop sunk the drops broke, and the poor men fell to the platform, half strangled; new ropes were procured and the sentence was carried into effect about half an hour after the incident.
1810 – Execution of John Done, for the murder of Betty Eckersly, a woman of bad character at Lymm. He denied the offence to his last moment. Executions of Smith & Clark for burglary & felony in the shop of Mr. Fletcher, a watchmaker. East Gate. The conduct of Smith on the drop was exceedingly unbending and audacious, and the night before his execution he played at cards with some of his companions. They were bulled in St. Martin’s churchyard.
1812 – Temple and Thompson for rioting. They were connected with the Luddites. Execution of John Lomas, for the murder of Ms master. Mr. Money, of Hankelow.
1813- Edith Munat. Executed for the murder of her husband. She was tried with Lomas, and with him found guilty on the clearest testimony, immediately after Conviction she pleaded pregnancy, and a jury of matrons being impaneled. She was Pronounced quick with child, and her sentence of course respited till her delivery. It Appeared that an illicit intercourse had for some time existed between her and Lomas, Which led her to exciting him to destroy her husband, and the crime was perpetrated With circumstances of peculiarly savage atrocity.
1813 – Execution of William Wilkinson, James Yarwood, and William Burgess, for rape on Mary Porter, near Weston Point. They were flat-men (flatboats are a type of boat), and when Wilkinson (a tine stout man about six feet high) mounted the scaffold, he exclaimed to his companions, “Keep your spirits; never mind, my lads we are all murdered men; I’m just as happy as if I was going to a play!” and when the halter was placed round his neck, he added, “My new handkerchief fits me nice and tight”
1814 – William Wilson, an old sailor, in Ms. 70th year, executed for arson, at Tiverton, near Tarporley. His exit was most extraordinary: on the morning of Ms. death he entertained a number of persons in the parlor to the constables house, with an account of his naval exploits; and in his way along the streets to the city gaol he chewed bread in his mouth, and threw it at the beadle, observing he was like Peeping Tom at Coventry On the drop he said, “What a many people are here to see an old man hung; here’s as much fuss as it there were a hundred to be hanged.
1815 – Execution of Griffith and Wood, for burglary in the house of John Holme, near
1817 – Execution of Joseph Allen, for uttering bank of England notes to a large amount, in a declaration on the morning of the execution he said he had been wrongly accused, and that he did not know good notes from bad ones. For six days alter condemnation, he took no other refreshment than water.
1819 – Joseph Walker, for robbing his former master on the highway between Northwich & Manchester, He denied his guilt until the last. Sam Hooley & John Johnson (a man of colour) for burglary at Bowden
(Above: The Bridge Of Sighs, Chester)
1820 – Jacob McGhinnes, for shooting Mr. Birch, at Stockport. He was connected with the radical reformers, and his intention was to have shot Mr. Lloyd, then solicitor of the town, and now notable prothonotary of the county court. The unfortunate man had not only embraced the politics both the theology of Tom Pain, but during his confinement and before his execution, he was brought to embrace the Christian system and died with great composure. Thomas Miller, for a burglary at Bowden. Ralph Eills, for a burglary at Elton And William Ricklington, for setting fire to the rectory house at Coddington
1821 – Execution of Samuel Healey, for highway robbery at Stockport.
1822 – William Tongue for rape on an infant, and George Groom for a highway robberv on a man named Joseph Kennedy. Thomas Briefly, for highway robbery near Congleton.
1823 – Execution of Samuel Fallows, for the murder of his sweetheart. Several galvanic experiments were made on his body previous to dissection. Execution of John Kragon, for rape of an infant at Stockport. Execution of Edward Clark, for a highway robbery at Stockport.
1824 – Joseph Dale, for the murder of Mr. Wood, near Disley. He had been convicted at the preceding assizes, but execution deferred, in order to take the opinion on a point of law urged in his favour by Mr. D.F. Jones, his counsel. He died with great composure.
1826 – Philip McGowan, for the robbery of Mr. Marsden, a gentleman of upwards of seventy years of age, near Cow Lane-bridge, under circumstances of great violence. On this melancholy occasion, the apparatus for execution, was removed from the east to the west end of the city gaol, where these melancholy spectacles have ever since been exhibited. John Green, for burglary.
1829 – John Proudlove, for highway robbery, and John Leir, for burglary in the house of the Rev. Matthew Bloor, attended with aggravated circumstances of violence. Joseph Woodhouse, for a rape on his own daughter; and Joseph Henshall, for firing a gun at the keepers, while poaching in the ground of the Earl of Stamford and Warrington.