British Executions

Samuel Herbert Dougal

Age: 57

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 14 Jul 1903

Crime Location: Moat House Farm, Clavering, Essex

Execution Place: Chelmsford

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Samuel Herbert Dougal was convicted of the murder of Camille Cecile Holland and sentenced to death.

He killed her on 19 May 1899 but was not arrested until 1903 when his affairs were looked into after he was arrested for forgery following an affiliation order for an illegitimate child he had had with a maid that had been employed at his farm. During the investigation a drainage ditch was dug up at his home, Moat Farm, and the body of Camille Holland was found with a bullet in her head.

Samuel Dougal had been a civil engineer.

Moat Farm was between near Rickling Church south east of Clavering in Essex.

A timeline of some of the events is details below:

  • 15 May 1847: Samuel Dougal born in Bow, London.
  • March 1866: Samuel Dougal joined the Royal Engineers.
  • 14 August 1869: Samuel Dougal married his first wife.
  • 27 June 1885: Samuel Dougal's first wife died in Halifax, Nova Scotia where Samuel Dougal had then been serving.
  • 14 August 1885: Samuel Dougal married his second wife in Halifax.
  • 6 October 1885: Samuel Dougal's second wife died.
  • 11 May 1886: Samuel Dougal left Halifax and returned to Aldershot, bringing with him a woman as his wife from Halifax. However, she subsequently left him on account of his ill-treatment and returned to Canada. It was thought that he might have married her at some point.
  • March 1887: Samuel Dougal pensioned as a Quarter Master Sergeant. (pension forfeited in January 1896 after conviction for forgery).
  • 1889: Samuel Dougal acquired the Royston Crow public house on Baldock Street, Ware which burnt down. Samuel Dougal was tried for arson but acquitted.
  • 7 August 1892: Samuel Dougal married his fourth wife at St Pauls Church in Dublin. (it was noted that she was still alive and considered herself to be Samuel Dougal's lawful wife, but it was stated that if Samuel Dougal had married his third wife, who was thought to have been alive in 1900, then he had committed bigamy when marrying his fourth wife)
  • January 1896: Samuel Dougal convicted of forgery. He was sent to Pentonville Prison but faked a suicide attempt and was removed to Cane Hill Lunatic Asylum. (Army pension forfeited).
  • 8 December 1896: Samuel Dougal discharged from Cane Hill Lunatic Asylum perfectly sane.
  • December 1896: Samuel Dougal was provided employment by his youngest brother at Biggin Hill, Kent.
  • 1898: Samuel Dougal meets Camille Holland who had been living in Elgin Crescent, London.
  • 1898: Samuel Dougal and Camille Holland set up home in Brighton as a married couple.
  • January 1899: Samuel Dougal and Camille Holland buy Coldhams Farm, rename it Moat Farm and have it refurbished. The property was bought in Camille Holland's name at her insistence.
  • 9 May 1899: Samuel Dougal and Camille Holland moved into Moat Farm.
  • 14 May 1899: Servant complained to Camille Holland that Samuel Dougal had attempted liberties with her.
  • 19 May 1899 6.30pm: Camille Holland was last seen alive when she left in a pony trap with Samuel Dougal to go shopping. She left without luggage and after having told the servant she would be back soon.
  • 19 May 1899 8.30pm: Samuel Dougal returned home alone in the Pony Trap saying that Camille Holland had gone to London.
  • 19 May 1899 10pm: Samuel Dougal said he went to meet the return train from London but that Camille Holland was not at the station.
  • 19 May 1899 120pm: Samuel Dougal said he went to meet the return train from London again but that Camille Holland was again not at the station.
  • 20 May 1899: The maid left Samuel Dougal's service.
  • 21 May 1899: Samuel Dougal's fourth wife moved into Moat Farm (noting that when she did that there was no servant, the previous one having left the day before).
  • August 1902: Samuel Dougal brought an action against his wife in the Divorce Court where he obtained a decree nisi which should have become absolute on Monday 8 March 1903 but it was later quashed.
  • December 1902: A maid that worked at Moat Farm for six months gave birth to a child by Samuel Dougal.
  • 27 January 1903: The maid took out an affiliation order with respect to the child after Samuel Dougal refused to provide for it and was ordered to pay 5s per week to support it.
  • February/March 1903: Decree nisi was quashed by the King's Protector who proved that Samuel Dougal had himself been guilty of misconduct after the affiliation charge was brought. The interest in Camille Holland's whereabouts is aroused following the court action during which it was determined that Samuel Dougal and Camille Holland had not been married and that Camille Holland had not been seen for years.
  • 16 March 1903: The police issued a warrant for forgery against Samuel Dougal after finding that money from Camille Holland's bank account was still being drawn despite her absence.
  • 18 March 1903: Samuel Dougal arrested at the Bank of England for forgery.
  • 19 March 1903: Police take possession of Moat Farm, to the extent of moving in, and search every part of the grounds for evidence of Camille Holland's fate.
  • 27 April 1903: Camille Holland's body was found buried in a filled over ditch.
  • 23 June 1903: Samuel Dougal was committed for trial.
  • 23 June 1903: Samuel Dougal convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
  • 14 July 1903: Samuel Dougal executed by William Billington at Chelmsford Prison.

It was heard that in 1899 Camille Holland was about 56 years old and had about £6,000 or £7,000 as well as a quantity of jewellery and furniture.

She had been living in Elgin Crescent in Bayswater in 1898, and the year prior to that, in January 1897, she had had a pair of boots made for her by a bootmaker in Edgeware Road. It was later noted that the boots that she had been found wearing when her body was recovered were the same ones. They had been lined with curly lamb's wool and bore the name of 'Mold' as the maker.

She was also identified by a doctor that had treated her.  It was heard that after reports of the body being found were made in the newspapers that a doctor that had attended to Camille Holland 17 years earlier came forward to note that he had treated Camille Holland, who had at the time been living in Cranfield Road, Brockley, after she had an accident whilst sitting on a chamber pot that had broken under her weight. He said that the wound had required several stitches and left a noticeable scar and that he thought that in consequence that he might be able to make an identification, which he did. Although the police files detail the identification being based on the scar on her buttock, it was also reported that when her body was found all the flesh was quite gone and that her head was merely a skeleton and that the doctor had affirmed his identification by more ways than the scar alone.

Evidence was also given by a woman that had identified some of the clothing found on Camille Holland by repairs that she had made at Camille Holland's request. She said that she had put pieces of trimming and silk on a greenish-black bodice at the request of Camille Holland before her murder, which she had been wearing at the time of her death and which was presented in the court at the trial.

It was heard that Samuel Dougal had first visited Camille Holland in 1898 at Elgin Crescent after she had advertised for a husband and that at the end of the year she went to live with him in Hassocks, Sussex, but that almost immediately afterwards they bought Moat Farm for £1,500. The farm at the time had been called Coldhams Farm but upon purchasing it, which Camille Holland had done with her own money, they changed its name to Moat Farm. They didn't move into Moat Farm immediately as the had it refurbished.

Camille Holland's furniture, which was stored, was moved to Moat Farm in April 1899 and they then both later went to live there.

However, they soon took on a servant, who on the morning she arrived at Moat Farm, Samuel Dougal was said to have tried to kiss. It was then heard that later that night he tried to violently enter her room, but she screamed, and Camille Holland came to her assistance and spent the night with her. It was heard that they also spent the nights of 17 and 18 May 1899 together as well.

The court heard that Camille Holland was last seen alive on 19 May 1899.

It was heard that Samuel Dougal had brought a trap round to the front of the house and that Camille Holland, who had no luggage or parcels with her, got in, and that before she went off, she said to the servant, 'Goodbye, I shall not be long'. The court heard that the inference on the remark was that she would be back within an hour. However, she was never seen again.

It was suggested that shortly after, Samuel Dougal shot Camille Holland in the head. The bullet, which was said to have been fired at close range, had penetrated her skull on one side and was found in her skull on the other.

It was said that Samuel Dougal then took her to the grave in the ditch that he had already dug.

When Samuel Dougal returned he told the servant that Camille Holland had gone on holiday and the servant left the same day.

Samuel Dougal then later had the ditch in which he had buried her body filled in and planted trees on it. The ditch had formerly been used to drain the farmyard but it was said that an attempt had been made to drain the farm buildings in another direction. The spot were the body was found was 173 feet from the house and the body was found about four feet from the surface.

Samuel Dougal then brought another woman to his house who he described as his widowed daughter, but she was in fact his fourth wife.

It was said then that Samuel Dougal started to deal with Camille Holland's stocks and money and started to transfer considerable sums of money into his bank account. He also later transferred ownership of Moat Farm into his name.

When attention was later directed to Camille Holland's disappearance in the early part of 1903, Samuel Dougal withdrew his money from his bank account and changed it to £5 notes and hastily packed his luggage. When he was arrested on a charge of forgery, he gave a false name and attempted to escape.

The police first started to look into Samuel Dougal after one of his maids took out an affiliation order against him.

The affiliation order was brought against Samuel Dougal on 27 January 1903 by a maid that had worked at the farm until the end of 1902 and Samuel Dougal was ordered to pay 5s per week to support the child.

It was heard that the affiliation order had been vigorously defended by Samuel Dougal who had admitted that he had lost his Army pension through being convicted of forgery and that he and Camille Holland had lived together in apartments in Cross Street at Saffron Walden for about three months prior to their going to Clavering.

It was said that as a result of the case that interest was taken into the disappearance of Camille Holland in the light of Samuel Dougal having no apparent source of income.

It was noted that Camille Holland had come from a well-known family residing in Liverpool and Maida Vale, London, but that after March 1899 that she had not been heard from by any of them. It was said that Camille Holland was thought to have possessed between £5,000 and £6,000. It was heard that she had usually maintained frequent correspondence with her relatives and that after her disappearance that all efforts by the police to trace her had been unsuccessful, however, money had been drawn from her bank since, with the signatures on the cheques being forged.

Samuel Dougal was noted to have absconded from Moat Farm on 13 March 1903.

During the investigation the Essex County Constabulary issued a stop on certain notes that Samuel Dougal was thought to have had.

On 16 March 1903 a police 'information ‘was circulated by the Criminal Investigation Department at New Scotland Yard to the Metropolitan Police, the City Police and the Great Eastern Railway Police, putting them on the alert for Samuel Dougal, late of Moat House Farm, Clavering, Essex, wanted on a warrant for forgery at Saffron Walden. It gave the age of Samuel Dougal as fifty-five, his height 5ft 9in and his complexion fresh. He was described as having a beard cut to a point and his heavy brown moustache to be turning grey. Noted as distinguishing marks were a mole over his nose and a scar over his left eye. He was described as being well-built and well-dressed and thought that he would probably be wearing a corded velvet and double breasted waistcoat with a gold open curb-pattern double albert.

Samuel Dougal was arrested on 18 March 1903 at the bank of England. A clerk there said that at about 1.30pm that Samuel Dougal was conducted into his office and that the clerk was handed 14 £10 notes that were numbered:

  • 13856 to 60 dated 11 July 1902.
  • 84572 to 80 dated 11 July 1902.

He said that he then verified that nine of the notes had been stopped by the police and then sent for an inspector with the City Police who was then on duty at the bank. He said that whilst he waited for the inspector that he asked Samuel Dougal where he got the notes from and said that Samuel Dougal replied, 'I got them from the bank'. The clerk said that he noted that the notes bore the stamp of the Birkbeck Bank on them and assumed that he had got them from there.

He said that he then gave Samuel Dougal a piece of paper and said, 'Please write your name and address on that' and said that in his presence Samuel Dougal wrote, 'Sidney Domville, Upper Terrace, Bournemouth'. He said that the reason that he asked Samuel Dougal to write his name was that he observed that one of the notes bore an endorsement.

The inspector said that when he went into the office and saw Samuel Dougal at about 2pm on 18 March 1903 that he explained who he was and said that he had been informed that nine of the £10 notes that he had offered were part of the proceeds of a forgery and asked him to account for his possession of them and said that Samuel Dougal replied, 'I would rather not say anything now'. The inspector said that he then asked him whether his name was Sidney Domville and Samuel Dougal replied, 'No'. The inspector then said, 'Your name is Samuel Dougal', to which Samuel Dougal replied, 'Yes'.

He said that he then told Samuel Dougal that he would have to accompany him to the detective office at 26 Old Jewry pending inquiries and that Samuel Dougal replied, 'All right'.

He said that they walked together as far as the entrance to the police office at which point Samuel Dougal suddenly ran away and headed for Cheapside. However, he said that he caught him in Fredericks Place, a cul-de-sac, with the assistance of another policeman and that they took him back to the detective office where he was searched at which point they found Bank of England notes to the value of £500 and £60 in cash on him along with several articles of jewellery.

Following his arrest the police took over Moat Farm as a base for their investigation into Camille Holland's suspicious disappearance.

During the investigation the police spoke to everyone that they could trace who had had dealings with Camille Holland both personal and financial.

It was determined that during his tenure of the farm that Samuel Dougal had put corn land into grass, planted trees, kept poultry and stocked the moat with rainbow trout.

The police said that it would be impossible to drag the moat as it was so full of holes. It was described as being 35 feet broad and to entirely surround the house which therefore stood on a little island, the sole means of approach being a brick bridge.

The farmhouse was noted as being of a type that still lingered in Essex, having a high-pitched tiled roof and many windows in the front. It was described, with its pink plaster, neat curtains and air of tidiness, as being no means a gloomy place although it was said that the farm buildings that were grouped nearby and the condition of the occupation road, rather spoke of neglect.

It was said to stand alone, with no neighbours nearer than a farmhouse at Hickling, while Clavering village was three miles off.

When the maid was questioned she said that Camille Holland had left with Samuel Dougal at 6.30pm on 19 May 1903 and that Samuel Dougal had returned alone at 8.30pm.

When Samuel Dougal was questioned he said that Camille Holland had taken a train to London and that he had not seen her again although he said that he had gone to meet her on her return at 10pm and 12pm but that she did not show up. However, the police noted that the nearest railway station was Newport, about three or four miles away and that according to the time that Samuel Dougal said he had been away on each trip that he would not have had enough time to get halfway. The police also noted that the last train from London was due at Newport at 9.37pm.

The police spent six weeks digging up the grounds at Moat Farm looking for Camille Holland's body. The police had ordered the mud to be dug out of the moat, however, the continuous downpour of rain rendered that impossible and so the four labourers employed by the police turned their picks and shovels to new ground on a piece of land near to Samuel Dougal's steam motor-car shed facing the Moat House about 30 yards away from it. The new ground was on the part of the ditch that had previously been there running from the farmyard to the moat. Samuel Dougal had ordered a man that worked at the farm to fill it in previously. The man said that when he asked Samuel Dougal where the water would go when it rained, he said that Samuel Dougal had said, 'Oh, I'll have another drain cut'. They worked from just after breakfast through the day and at 3pm one of the labourers dislodged with his pick, about three feet below the surface, a lady's shoe. They then found the foot and then the rest of the body. The place where her body was found was where young trees had been planted a few years earlier. The man that had filled it in said that he had done so about one or three weeks after Samuel Dougal moved in.

On Camille Holland's skull they found a wire frame, some hairpins and a tortoise-shell pin and comb.

A doctor that examined Camille Holland's body said that when he saw her body at Moat House that it was lying on its right side with the left leg drawn up and the right leg slightly bent and with her head inclined towards her chest.

He noted that she was 5ft 1in tall and confirmed that the body was that of a female.

He said that the remains were very much decomposed and that he thought that they must have been in contact with the wet soil for a very long time.

He noted that her left foot had become detached during her removal from the ditch.

He said that he found what appeared to be the remains of blood on the left side of her neck. He also said that he found no bone fractures elsewhere.

He said that he found a quantity of hair still adhered to her body and that when he examined her skull he found on the right side above and behind the ear a round aperture situated 3 inches vertically above the tip of the mastoid process and 1¼ inches behind.

He said that the margin of the aperture was sharply defined and was a quarter of an inch in diameter and that a fragment of the inter-table of the skull was lying just within the aperture at which there was a fine piece of lead, apparently cut off the bullet as it traversed the bore. He then said that on the left side of her head he found a more or less circular aperture, the centre of which was an 1½ inches behind the external angular process of the frontal bone and 1½ inches above the bone across the cheek. He said that the outer table of the skull was splintered off more than the inner, especially at the forepart of the aperture and that there were three portions of detached bone lying close to the aperture.

He said that the bullet was found in the skull immediately below the aperture on the left side and that it was elongated in shape and weighed 85 grains.

He said that the outer covering of the brain was remarkably preserved considering the generally advanced state of decomposition of the body.

He said that he thought that the bullet must have caused immediate insensibility that would have continued until death.

He said that from the amount of injuries done that the shot must have been fired at a comparatively short distance but noted that he could not say what the distance was because of the absence through decomposition of scorching, singeing of the hair, or blackening by powder.

When he summarised he said that the bullet had had entered the right side of the head and had been arrested by the bone after driving out the bone on the left side.

He also said that he was of the opinion that the wound could not have been self-inflicted, stating that the bullet must have been fired from behind because of the direction taken by the bullet from above, down, forward and then to the left.

He added that the state of preservation in which the brain had been pointed to the body having been interred shortly after death which happened before the usual form of decomposition had set in.

He added that he thought that the height of Camille Holland when she was alive would have been about 5ft 4in and that she would have been between 40 and 60 years old. He also said that he had formed the opinion that she had been dead for between three and five years.

He added that when he weighed one of the bullets from the box found at the farm it was 88 grains and that the part of the bullet that had not struck the bone was the same size as the corresponding portion of the bullet taken from the box. He noted that he had not weighed the small piece that had been detached from the bullet but guessed that it would probably have weighed two or three grains.

When the doctor was asked at the trial whether he had read the details of the case in the newspaper before he carried out his examination and came to his conclusions he said that he had not and that he didn't read things like that as a rule and that if he saw the headline that he would skip it.

When the police searched the farm they found a box load of ammunition. A policeman said, 'I found in the house a box of loaded cartridges. There were thirty-four of them. I discovered six other cartridges in a tin box amongst some vegetable seed in the kitchen produce.

A gun expert later stated that the type of bullet that was found in Camille Holland's skull was consistent with the rounds found at the farm.

Other witness's recalled Samuel Dougal using a revolver to start an event sometime earlier in the village, presumably using blanks.

The investigation at Moat Farm had attracted large crowds and it was said that there had been a carnival or festival like atmosphere.

Moat Farm was described as a lonely place with the surrounding country being thinly populated.

At the trial, evidence included cheques that had been written and supposedly signed by Camille Holland which were shown to be false and items of her jewellery were identified by her relatives.

Samuel Dougal was also identified as the man that had frequently visited Camille Holland from June to December in 1898. Camille Holland was described as a shrewd and strong-willed woman who would not allow people to interfere with her plans.

At the trial, Samuel Dougal said that he had driven his 'wife' to the station three years earlier and had never seen her again. He added that he had never received money from her or anything else belonging to her.

He was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to death and executed on 14 July 1903.

He was said to have seldom betrayed signs of agitation following the sentence and to have, on the whole, seemed to regard his fate with calmness. However, it was heard that when he had been in a cell by another convicted murderer, Charles Howell, who was executed on 7 July 1903, the tolling of the bell had thrown him into a state of great agitation, and he afterwards betrayed some nervousness when he was then put into the condemned cell which Charles Howell had previously been in.

Following his conviction Samuel Dougal also furnished his solicitor with a statement in which he detailed how Camille Holland had met her death, saying that she died after his revolver accidently exploded. He said that they had gone out for a drive in the pony and trap as detailed at the trial, stating that it had been a fine night and that they had driven to Stanstead, returning at about 8.20pm. He said that as he was unyoking the pony out of the cart that Camille Holland told him that she would stay out whilst he put the pony in the stable, remarking on the beautiful silvery moon and saying that she would like to sit under a tree for a while.

He went on to say that when he returned from the stable that he saw Camille Holland seated on a box and noticed that she had picked up his revolver that had been lying there with her left hand and that as he approached her the revolver exploded and she fell forward. He said that he then caught her in a fainting condition an called out, 'Speak, Camille, speak' and was astonished to see that there was no blood and became greatly excited and didn't know what to do.

He said that her pulse beat feebly and that he went to the house for brandy thinking that he could bring her round but that after giving her the brandy he found that her pulse was much weaker. He said that he then took her in his arms some distance into a field beside the hayricks in the hope that the evening breeze would revive her where he remained with her a considerable time until she died.

He said that he then carried her back to the place where she had been sitting when the revolver had exploded and then saw the partly filled ditch and decided to bury her in it. He said that he removed her hat and covered her face with her veil and kissed her and laid her in the ditch and then covered her with some straw and then put a twig over her face to stop the birds from pecking at her face. He said that he then went back to the house.

Samuel Dougal was said to have slept fitfully on the Monday and to have had some breakfast after which, at 7.30am, he saw the Chaplain with whom he prayed. The goal officials and the executioner, William Billington, then went into his cell half an hour later and led him to the scaffold.

Samuel Dougal was said to have walked steadily to the shed where his execution was to take place and when the white cap was placed over his head, the chaplain asked him if he was guilty or not, but Samuel Dougal said nothing. The chaplain was said to have then asked him again, in a nervous higher pitched voice, whether he was guilty or not and Samuel Dougal then said, 'Guilty', no sooner after which the bolt on the trap door was drawn and he was sent to eternity.

The bell of the prison then rang, announcing that the sentence of the law had been carried into effect. There were said to have been about 100 people outside the gaol at the time for his execution.

The remains of Camille Holland were interred at Saffron Walden Cemetery on Tuesday 19 May 1903. The coffin plate bore the inscription, 'Camille Cecile Holland. Died May 19, 1899. Aged 56 years. RIP'.

The name Clavering means, 'the place where clover grows'.

Moat Farm was later renamed s Orchard Farm and is just off the Rickling Road between Rickling and the B1038.

see National Archives - MEPO 3/159B, PCOM 8/38

see Essex Police

see Wikipedia

see Murderpedia

see Saffron Waldon Historical Society

see Essex Live

see Historic England

see Essex Highways

see Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 11 July 1903

see Barking, East Ham & Ilford Advertiser, Upton Park and Dagenham Gazette - Saturday 20 June 1903

see Daily Telegraph & Courier (London) - Friday 20 March 1903

see Gloucestershire Echo - Friday 22 May 1903

see Illustrated Police News - Saturday 28 March 1903

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 06 May 1903

see Boston Guardian - Saturday 27 June 1903

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 08 April 1903

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 07 May 1903

see Illustrated Police News - Saturday 23 May 1903

see North Down Herald and County Down Independent - Friday 17 July 1903