British Executions

Samuel Herbert Dougal

Age: 57

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 14 Jul 1903

Crime Location: Moat Farm, Clalvering, Essex

Execution Place: Chelmsford

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


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

He killed her on 19 May 1899 but was not arrested until 1903 when his affairs were looked into and he was arrested for forgery. During the investigation a drainage ditch was dug up and the body of Camille Holland was found with a bullet in her head.

Samuel Dougal was a civil engineer.

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, but the year prior to that, in January 1897, she 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 from were the same ones. They were lined with curly lamb's wool and bore the name of 'Mold' as the maker.

It was heard that Samuel Dougal had first visited Camille Holland in 1898 at Elgin Crescent 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.

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

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

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 spent six weeks digging up the grounds at Moat Farm looking for her 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 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.

The investigation at Moat Farm had attracted large crowds.

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 the 7 July 1903, the tolling of the bell had thrown him into 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.

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.

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

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

see Gloucestershire Echo - Friday 22 May 1903