British Executions

Leonard Patchett

Age: 26

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 28 Jul 1903

Crime Location: Boultham, Lincoln, Lincolnshire

Execution Place: Lincoln

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Leonard Patchett was convicted of the murder of his wife Sarah Ann Patchett and sentenced to death.

He strangled her in a field at Boultham near Lincoln on Tuesday 26 May 1903. Her body was discovered three days later on 29 May 1903 behind a manure heap.

They had been married for three years, but Sarah Patchett had repeatedly left Leonard Patchett on account of his conduct towards her, it being noted that he had twice been convicted of assaulting her.

Leonard Patchett was a bricklayer had been living in lodgings in Gainsborough at the time.

At the time of the murder Sarah Patchett had been working as a housekeeper for a woman in Lincoln for the previous two months and on 23 May 1903 Leonard Patchett spent the evening with her in Lincoln and apparently tried to induce her to come back and live with him in his lodgings.

Later, on 25 May 1903 Sarah Patchett wrote Leonard Patchett a letter stating that she would not live with him unless he would find her a home and give up going to public houses.

Leonard Patchett went to Lincoln again on 26 May 1903 and induced Sarah Patchett to go for a walk with him. They were seen between 7pm and 8pm going down Boultham Avenue and standing together at the gate of the field where her body was later found, and a little later Leonard Patchett was seen walking back alone.

At the trial the prosecution claimed that Leonard Patchett had induced Sarah Patchett to accompany him into the field to have connection with him and that whilst she was on the ground that he had strangled her.

Leonard Patchett denied murdering Sarah Patchett at his trial, saying that he had left her in Lincoln at the station at 8.10pm.

A livery-stable keeper said that he had been driving along Houltham Lane with another man when he had passed the gate in the field and saw Leonard Patchett and Sarah Patchett standing by the gate. He said that as they passed the gate, which would have been nearly 7pm, he saw a man and woman there, saying that the woman had her back towards the field and that the man had his back towards them. He said that the woman appeared to be in distress and crying and that as they passed the man turned round and that he had full view of him. The livery-stable keeper added that when they returned a short whilst later they saw Leonard Patchett and Sarah Patchett still standing there. Both men later identified Leonard Patchett as the man they saw and Sarah Patchett, whose body they were later shown, as the woman they had seen.

The court also heard that Leonard Patchett was later seen walking back from the field alone.

It was also heard that Leonard Patchett had made statements both before and after the murder that showed evidence of his guilt.

Firstly, it was heard that about two months before the murder after Sarah Patchett had left Leonard Patchett that he had said that he would kill her. Although it was said that not much importance could be given to that first statement alone, it was also heard that just before the murder that he had told a woman in Gainsborough, 'I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to Lincoln now and if you get the 'Lincoln Echo' you will see it in it'.

It was also heard that when Leonard Patchett had gone to see Sarah Patchett at Lincoln that he had had a conversation with her neighbour who had commented on how Sarah Patchett 'had a pleasant face' to which it was heard that Leonard Patchett had replied, 'She won't have a pleasant face much longer'.

Further, it was heard that after the murder that Leonard Patchett had said to the man that he had spent the night with, 'I have done a murder' and that he had repeated that statement several times in a public house the following morning.

It was also heard that whilst he was at work a fellow workman had asked Leonard Patchett whether he was going up on the scaffold and that Leonard Patchett had replied, 'No, the next scaffold I shall go on will be with a rope round my neck'

He was also said to have said to a police sergeant, 'She will be dead by now. What should you do if your wife had been keeping other fellows houses'.

He was also said to have told another man, 'I'll go and give myself up for manslaughter'.

It was also noted that the statement that Leonard Patchett had made stating that Sarah Patchett had accompanied him to the station and that he had returned to Gainsborough on the 8.10pm train from Lincoln was incorrect as Leonard Patchett had been seen in Lincoln by more than one person after that time.

It was also heard that statements that Leonard Patchett had made regarding his treatment of Sarah Patchett were also absolutely incorrect and that his assertion that she had wanted to return to him was contradicted by her own letter that she had written to him the night before the murder.

Leonard Patchett's trial was held at the Lincolnshire Midsummer Assizes at Lincoln Castle on Monday 6 July 1903 and it was reported that his case caused a great demonstration of public interest and that people had assembled at the outer gates of the Castle as early as 9am despite the fact that the court was not to sit until 11am. It was said that there were about 100 people waiting when the gates were open at 9.30am and that the space outside the court was then promptly taken up by an increasing crowd. It was reported that when the court opened there was a great rush for seats but that the police were on the alert and that the gallery allotted to the public was quickly taken up whilst the two balconies were filled with ladies and the great entrance hall of the courts held numbers of other people, who, unheeding the police advice that there was no room for others, waited on in the hope of passing the door. It was added that numbers of other people waited in the carriage drive whilst on Castle Hill a further crowd waited the departure of the judge from his lodgings.

It was reported that when Leonard Patchett arrived he was driven by the low road to the cells beneath the Assize Courts and the people rushed to the wall to see the carriage pass along.

After the trial began at 11am Leonard Patchett pleaded not guilty.

Following Leonard Patchett's conviction it was reported that he made a full confession.

It was said that Leonard Patchett had walked calmly to the scaffold but that on the drop he had made a palpable effort to nerve himself for the dreadful ordeal. His death was described as instantaneous.

see National Archives - ASSI 13/33, HO 144/715/109632

see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Thursday 04 June 1903

see Worcestershire Chronicle - Saturday 01 August 1903

see Eastern Daily Press - Wednesday 29 July 1903