British Executions

Sidney George Smith

Age: 23

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 9 Mar 1904

Crime Location: 1 Bubbs Cottages, York Street, Cheltenham

Execution Place: Gloucester

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Sidney George Smith was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Alice Woodman 21 and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat at 1 Bubb's Cottages, York Street, Cheltenham on the night of 14 December 1903.

Afterwards he attempted suicide, cutting his own throat and almost killing himself.

They had lived together and had intended to get married.

The night before in the pub he had said that that he had been out of work and on the tramp and rather than do it again he would have a bit of rope. He had also previously threatened to do for both of them. It was concluded that he had carried out the act as a result of their extreme poverty and the prospects of him finding work being low.

Sidney Smith had been living in Cheltenham and had been courting Alice Woodman, who lived with her parents at Uckingham, from March 1904

On 10 September 1904 he induced her to leave her home, without her parent's knowledge, and go to live with him in Cheltenham.

However, her mother a day or two later found out where she had gone and tried to induce her to return home, but Sidney Smith refused to allow her to go, saying, 'She is here, isn't she? She is going to stop here', and according to Alice Woodman's mother's account, he struck her, (Alice Woodman's mother), twice.

Alice Woodman afterwards went into service for a few weeks, but in early October 1904 returned to Sidney Smith's home after which they took a house at 1 Bubb's Cottages.

On 25 October 1904 Sidney Smith sent Alice Woodman with her sister to 'put up the askings' for their marriage, but later drew back and said that they could not be married as he was out of work.

On 5 December 1904 Sidney Smith and Alice Woodman went to a shop together and bought a razor with which the murder was later committed.

It was heard that there was evidence to show that Sidney Smith never shaved himself at home but it was thought that Alice Woodman had no suspicions regarding the purpose for him having bought the razor.

It was noted that there was evidence of Sidney Smith having made vague statements at various times before about committing suicide and killing Alice Woodman, but said that much importance could not be attached to them.

However, it was stated that it was clear that on 10 December 1904 and again on 13 December 1904 that he had spoken to three people about killing himself and Alice Woodman.

On 10 December and again on 13 December he had said to one man that he would 'do for' himself and her, and that to a woman on 10 December, in the hearing of another woman, he had said that 'living with Alice Woodman, that he did not like her, that he would do for himself, and the reason was that she had brought him down to ruin and starvation and that he could not get rid of her'. He was also said to have said again on the evening of 13 December 1904, 'If I don't go to Worcester tomorrow morning I shall put a rope round my neck'.

Sidney Smith and Alice Woodman spent the latter part of the evening of 13 December 1904 with a friend, a married woman, at which time Sidney Smith was described as sober and that they had appeared to have been on friendly terms.

A policeman saw them going home at about 1am in the early hours of 14 December 1904 and noticed Sidney Smith stagger, but didn't think that he was very drunk. It was noted that that was the last time that Alice Woodman was seen alive.

A neighbour had been asked to call them the following morning, but after knocking several times she got no response.

However, at 2.30pm she broke into the house and found Alice Woodman lying dead on the bed and Sidney Smith lying in the bed beside her with his throat cut.

He had been unable to speak but he made a statement to the effect that he had killed her at about 3am.

The medical evidence showed that her death must have been instantaneous.

At one time Sidney Smith was noted for having spoken of being driven to commit the murder by his brother's unkindness and another time attributed it to drink, however, the police report stated that it seemed clear that his reason for committing the murder was because they had become reduced to extreme poverty and that he had little or no prospect of getting work. It was noted that they had parted with all their furniture and had received notice to quit their house on account of non-payment of the rent, a notice that expired on 14 December 1904.

see National Archives - ASSI 6/39/1, HO 144/741/115024

see Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 19 February 1904

see Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 11 March 1904