British Executions

Samuel Rowledge

Age: 37

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 13 Jul 1904

Crime Location: Chaucer Street, Northampton

Execution Place: Northampton

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Samuel Rowledge was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Alice Foster 32 and sentenced to death.

He shot her at his mother's house at 29 Chaucer Street in Northampton on 15 March 1904.

He shot her three times with a revolver that he had redeemed from pawn earlier that day. It was said that there was apparently no motive for the murder.

The doctor said that there were three bullet wounds, one over the left breast, a second on the right temple and a third to the back of her neck.

They had been engaged for about 11 months. Alice Foster was a domestic servant. She had been out of work for the previous two weeks having left her last place so that they could get married.

Alice Foster had been living with her parents near Northampton and on 12 March 1904 Samuel Rowledge went to see her and stayed until 14 March 1904 when they went to Northampton together. Whilst there Alice Foster had made arrangements to stay at her brother's in Ashburnham Road.

It was heard that earlier in the day Samuel Rowledge  had called to see his brother and had a long conversation with his sister-in-law in the course of which he said to her that he thought 'the best thing he could do was to put a bullet through Alice Foster and himself'. However, the sister-in-law said that she didn't take that seriously, although she did say that she noticed that he had been in a worried state of mind but thought that was because he had been out of work for some time.

However, he later saw his brother and arranged to go and do a job that he had found for him in the afternoon. However, Samuel Rowledge didn't do it and instead at 4pm he went to a pawn broker where he pledged a coat and a metal watch and redeemed a revolver.

Samuel Rowledge and Alice Foster later went to 29 Chaucer Street where Samuel Rowledge's brother later arrived at about 7pm to find them sitting there by the fireside in the kitchen.

His brother then reproached Samuel Rowledge for not having done the work that afternoon that he had found for him, saying, 'You must be lazy, for you said that you had been to work this afternoon', and Alice Foster joined in, accusing him of being lazy and having deceived her.

Samuel Rowledge then turned round, mumbled something and then left the room. However, he came back moments later with the revolver in his hand. His brother thought that he was going to shoot him and escaped by the back door, however, Samuel Rowledge then shot Alice Foster in the head and when she fell to the floor he shot her two more times at close quarters, once in the head and another in the breast.

When a neighbour came in he found Samuel Rowledge kneeling over Alice Foster, however, Samuel Rowledge jumped up and drew the revolver and the neighbour retired.

Two policemen arrived soon after and found Samuel Rowledge lying on Alice Foster's body at which point Samuel Rowledge got up and surrendered, saying, 'You can come in, I ain't going to do any more'.

He admitted having shot Alice Foster but strenuously denied having attempted to shoot his brother.

He made no statement to explain his reason for committing the murder.

The medical officer at Northampton Prison found that Samuel Rowledge was not insane and he was found guilty of murder with the jury making no recommendation.

He was executed at Northampton by William Billington on 13 July 1904.

see National Archives - ASSI 13/34, HO 144/762/119660

see Gloucester Citizen - Wednesday 22 June 1904

see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Thursday 23 June 1904

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 25 June 1904