British Executions

Charles Wood Whittaker

Age: 43

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 2 Dec 1903

Crime Location: 99 Husband Street, Collyhurst, Manchester

Execution Place: Manchester

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Billington


Charles Whittaker was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Elizabeth Range 43 and sentenced to death.

He stabbed her at 99 Husband Street, Collyhurst in Manchester on Saturday 8 August, 1903.

Elizabeth Range was married but had separated from her husband and gone to live with a man for a time. They had married in 1895 but she had left him in 1896 and travelled the country with the man for 5 or 6 years. However, her husband who worked at the Newton Heath Railway Works, said that she could come back and live with him as long as she promised to reform which she did. However, when she returned she had a son that was not her husbands and although they lived in the same house, they did not live as man and wife. Her husband noted that although he had taken her back, Elizabeth Range had been drinking ever since. He said that for the last two months that Elizabeth Range had been drinking heavily and abusing him and that they had slept in separate bedrooms and were not on speaking terms.

Although she had returned, Charles Whittaker would visit Elizabeth Range secretly while her husband was away or at work. They had known each other for about six months.

Elizabeth Range's husband had left home that morning for work leaving Elizabeth Range in bed. When he returned he was told that his wife was dead.

The son, who was 14-years-old, said that when he came down for breakfast on the Saturday morning he, his mother and a man he knew as 'Charlie' were together in the front room. He said that he then saw Elizabeth Range give the man a glass of beer and then heard her say, 'This won't do, I must wash myself and go out'. He said that she then went into the scullery and took off her jacket and went to the slopstone to get some water. He said that he then saw Charles Whittaker go into the scullery with his mother and draw a knife from his inside breast pocket and then push Elizabeth Range into a corner. He said that they then both went out of sight around the corner but he then heard his mother screaming and shout 'Murder!'. The son said that he then ran into the scullery and that Charles Whittaker then ran past him and into the backyard.

He found his mother sitting on a stool bleeding from the left side of the neck. He then went out to get a policeman and a doctor and when he got back he found his mother bathing her wound under the water at the slopstone.

When a police sergeant arrived he found Elizabeth Range lying on the sofa in the front kitchen in a semi-conscious condition. He said that as soon as she recovered consciousness that he asked her, 'Will you tell me who stabbed you?', however, he said that she didn't reply at first but that after a few moments she said, 'Yes, I will tell you, look what he's done'. The police sergeant said that he then asked her, 'Well, who is he?', to which Elizabeth Range said, 'Charley Whittaker'. When the police sergeant asked, 'Can you tell me where he lives?' she replied, 'I don't know'.

However, she made no more statements to the police sergeant and died soon after and was then taken to the mortuary.

Charles Whittaker surrendered the following day at Albert Street Police Station. He said, 'I believe you want me'. The policeman then asked him what for and Charles Whittaker said, 'For the murder yesterday'. He was taken into the office and when the Inspector looked at the 'description list' Charles Whittaker said, 'Oh, it's all right, you need not look at that. I should have come before only I wanted some drink'.

The knife that he used was described as being brand new, having been bought for the occasion, and had been expressly sharpened for the purpose.

It was said that the motive was jealousy.

Elizabeth Range had been a laundress by trade.

Husband Street has since been demolished and the area redeveloped but was approximately where Biddisham Walk is today, between Thornton Street and Collyhurst Park.

see National Archives - ASSI 52/92, HO 144/731/113145

see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 11 August 1903

see Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 04 December 1903

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 21 August 1903

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 14 August 1903

see Dundee Evening Post - Wednesday 02 December 1903

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 10 August 1903

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 14 August 1903