British Executions

John (Thomas) MacDonald


Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 10 Aug 1874

Crime Location:

Execution Place:

Method: unknown

Executioner: unknown


MacDonald was a discharged marine convicted of the murder of his girlfriend, Bridget Walsh, at Stonehouse, Plymouth. On Sunday 28th June, MacDonald quarrelled with Mrs Walsh - whom he had lived with while her husband was at sea - over some furniture they had bought and disputed the ownership of. A fierce row ensued during which he pinned her to the ground with one hand around her neck, while brandishing a poker in the other. Fortunately her life was spared - temporarily - when her son came home and dragged him off. Next day, MacDonald bought some lead acetate poison, and after paying off some debts, he burst into her house and battered her to death with a bed post. He then made two attempts to end his own life. First he drank the poison, then while waiting for it to take effect he cut his own throat. He was arrested before he could finish the job and removed to prison where he recovered, despite a third attempt at suicide when he tried to starve himself to death. He pleaded insanity at his trial held before Mr Justice Brett at Devon Lammas Assizes in July. After being convicted, he admitted that he killed her because she had provoked him with her unfaithfulness. He made a will shortly before his execution leaving eleven pounds which he asked to be used to pay for her funeral. He was hanged by William Marwood in Exeter on the 10th August 1874.