British Executions

Charles William Ashton

Age: 19

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 22 Dec 1903

Crime Location: Scampton Grange Farm, Scampton, Malton

Execution Place: Hull

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Charles William Ashton was convicted of the murder of Annie Marshall 16 and sentenced to death.

He violated, beat her and shot her at Scampton Grange Farm, Near Malton and then thrown her into the river on Sunday 20 September 1903.

Charles Ashton was employed as a farm labourer at Scampton Grange Farm whilst Annie Marshall was a domestic servant at the same place.

He confessed to the murder to the police.

Annie Marshall was last seen at 5pm on Sunday 20 September 1903. When she had not returned by the next morning the farmer sent for the police. The farmer's son had said that he had heard two shots the night before and they went to look at where they thought the might have come from in a barley field. The farmer's son had asked Charles Ashton if he had seen Annie Marshall and Charles Ashton said that he had last seen her on the Sunday evening at a gate.

A man said that he had been on the way back to the Grange when he had heard two shots which he thought had come from the barley field. He said he heard the first shot and then a scream which he thought was a hare and then heard another shot immediately afterwards. He said he got back to the Grange at about 10pm to 10.30pm and found Charles Ashton there. the man said that he thought that he had been about 500 yards away from where he had heard the shot's being fired.

At about 9pm a waggoner said that he was walking down the road with a woman in the direction of Scampton and when they got to the second field from the Grange he saw a man and a woman lying on the grass on the roadside. He said that he couldn't see who they were and was about to turn back and strike a match when the man said to him 'Goodnight waggoner', and he said that he replied 'Goodnight, I know who it is now' adding that he recognised the voice as that of Charles Ashton, the third lad at the farm. The waggoner said that the girl didn't get up but he did notice that her clothes were disarranged.

Another man said that he had a revolver and Charles Ashton had asked him for the loan of it and then offered to give him 4s for it which he agreed to but said that he didn't get the money. He said that he was present when Charles Ashton's box was unlocked and identified his revolver as being in the box. He said that Charles Ashton had not said what he wanted it for.

On the Tuesday morning Charles Ashton had been leading corn and at 9am he brought Annie Marshall's hat back. He said 'There's Annie's hat, I've found it in the wheat field in hedge bottom'. They went to have a look along with a policeman at the location in the wheat field.

Charles Ashton then went back to work and the policeman and the farmer's son started to look around but then the policeman said that he might do better with Charles Ashton helping him and so the farmer's son swapped places with Charles Ashton. By noon they had found the body of Annie Marshall in the river.

When Charles Ashton had been helping the policeman the policeman said he remarked on how wet and dirty the hat had been when the place that it had been found under a hedge was so dry. The policeman said then that Charles Ashton suggested that someone had killed Annie Marshall and carried her to either the river or Scampton Beck and went on to say that if it was the river then she would have been thrown over the Black Bridge. The policeman asked him why he thought that and advised him to be careful what he said saying it was a serious matter and then let Charles Ashton go back to his work.

The policeman then later asked Charles Ashton to show him where he said he had seen some poachers on the Sunday night. They went to the spot where he said he had seen the poachers but found nothing and then Charles Ashton said that he had heard two shots on the Sunday and then something like a child's scream. He then said that they would never find Annie Marshall where they were and suggested that they go and try the river saying 'Some one may have chucked her over the bridge'. The policeman said that his suspicions were aroused and they went to have a look at the bridge and after going up the river for a quarter of a mile Charles Ashton shouted 'Look, here she is, that's her'. The policeman said 'No, it looks like a piece of wood'. They then went to have a look and found out that it was a piece of wood. Charles Ashton then said 'She can't be very far from here. She'll be between here and the bridge'. Then about 50 yards on Charles Ashton pointed out again and said 'Here she is, here's poor Annie' and pointed to a spot a yard from the bank in the weeds. The policeman said that it wasn't her and was just a carpet-bag but Charles Ashton said that it was and pointed out her leg. The policeman then blew his whistle for assistance and Annie Marshall was pulled from the river.

On the way back to the Grange the policeman cautioned Charles Ashton and told him that he should arrest him on suspicion of murder and Charles Ashton replied, 'I've done nothing to her, but she always was a mucky ----'. The policeman told him to hold his tongue as she was someone's child.

Later they found that Charles Ashton had Annie Marshall's purse, and Annie Marshall's clothing that he had been wearing on the day which was all bloodstained.

Annie Marshall was found with two bullet wounds to the head and her mouth had been stuffed with grass. However, the bullets had not penetrated the skull and were found at the back of her nose although they had fractured the skull. The cause of death was given as bullet wounds to the head and suffocation with grass.

Later that day at 10pm at Norton Police Station Charles Ashton confessed to killing Annie Marshall.

When he was questioned he said, 'First thing I was coming on the road. I did shoot at the girl twice. I don't know what I shot her for. I took the police to the wrong box upstairs. I dare not take him to my own. My own box is locked up. The revolver is in my jacket pocket, and there are some cartridges in a box in the locker. I did not intend to shoot the girl. Have you seen her? She looks a queer sight, doesn't she? Poor thing. I wish I had done naught at her. We were always such good mates, me and that girl. I don't know how it was that night, it seemed to go wrong. Poor lass, I wish I had done naught at her. I have never had an hours sleep since Sunday night. I seemed as though I could not do without her. I took the girl to the river, and where we found her I threw her in. I thought she would go away'.

At the Coroner's inquest the Coroner concluded that Charles Ashton had met Annie Marshall whilst walking up the road, violated her, stuffed her mouth full of the grass that grew there and shot her twice in the head.

He was convicted of murder but with a recommendation to mercy but the Home Secretary declined to interfere with his sentence and he was executed at Hull on Tuesday 22 December 1903. He was said to have had a restless night before his execution but to have met his end with fortitude.

see National Archives - HO 144/735/113681

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 23 December 1903

see Western Times - Wednesday 02 December 1903

see New Ross Standard - Friday 01 January 1904

see Northampton Mercury - Friday 25 September 1903

see Leeds Mercury - Friday 25 September 1903

see Lincolnshire Chronicle - Tuesday 08 December 1903