British Executions

Thomas Henry Orrock


Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 6 Oct 1884

Crime Location:

Execution Place: Newgate

Method: unknown

Executioner: unknown


Thomas Henry Orrock was a Dalston born criminal from a respectable religious family, who purchased a revolver from the 'Exchange & Mart' and used it to murder a policeman. On 1 December 1882, he set off alone to commit a burglary, armed with a selection of chisels and his gun. On that night, London was immersed in a thick fog and Orrock took the opportunity of this natural cover to carry out his first job, and therefore earn the respect of the criminal fraternity he had recently started mixing with. He selected the local chapel as his target but as he carried out his reconnaissance, he was seen by two police officers, one of whom, a Sergeant Cobb, knew him well. Orrock acted naturally and the two officers walked past and out of sight. A few minutes later, as he was trying to force one of the chapel's windows, Orrock was seized by another police officer, PC Cole, and dropped his chisel during the struggle before Cole took a firm hold of his arm and escorted him to the station. Fearing that the arrest and probable subsequent imprisonment would make him a laughing stock among his new friends, Orrock decided to pull out the gun with his free hand and frighten the officer into releasing him. PC Cole merely responded to the threat by taking a tighter grip and so Orrock pointed the gun and fired four shots at the constable, fatally wounding him. The gunman then fled into the fog and escaped. Two women who had witnessed the shooting gave a description to Sergeant Cobb who, remembering seeing Orrock, quickly had a suspect. The chisel dropped by Orrock when he was apprehended by Cole was found and had the letters R-0-C-K scratched on the side. Orrock was brought in and placed on an identity parade but the two women witnesses failed to recognise him and when he was released. he quickly disappeared from the area. It was over a year later when Sergeant Cobb. who had vowed to bring his colleague's killer to justice, learned that Orrock had been practising shooting his gun on some marshes just before the murder. He was taken to a tree and was able to find several bullets which later were discovered to match those removed from the murdered officer. A search eventually located Orrock in Coldbath Prison. where he was serving a stretch for burglary. He was arrested for PC Cole's murder and as more evidence against him was amassed, he was charged. Sergeant Cobb even managed to find the person who had scratched the name on the chisel when Orrock took it to him to be sharpened. He was convicted at the Old Bailey on 17 September and sentenced to death. He did not have long to wait and was hanged on the 6th October 1884 at Newgate.