Date Of Execution: 2 Aug 1904
Crime Location: 9 Back South Railway Street, Seaham
Execution Place: Durham
Executioner: William Billington
George Breeze was convicted of the murder of Margaret Jane Chisholm 20 and sentenced to death.
He strangled her at her house at 9 Back South Railway Street, Seaham on 6 July 1904 where he had been lodging.
When he was charged with her murder he pleaded guilty. After being found fit to plead the judge asked him if he had anything to say and George Breeze replied 'I am ready to die at any moment. I am not sorry for what I have done'. The judge then asked him if he was still saying that he was guilty and he replied 'Yes, quite guilty' and when asked if he wanted to be defended he said 'No'. He later said 'I have nothing to say. I am ready to die at any moment if you have a mind to pass sentence of death upon me. It is no use being sorry when the thing is done.'
The judge then passed the sentence of death and George Breeze said 'I thank you very much. I hope there will be no reprieve.'.
After killing her he gave himself up to the police in Durham.
Margaret Chisholm's husband said that he and George Breeze had been friends and played football together for 2 years and said that George Breeze would often visit his house where he lived with his wife and child before he moved in as a lodger.
3 weeks before the murder George Breeze had a row with his father and Margaret Chisholm suggested that he could stay with them. Margaret Chisholm's husband said that he had nothing against that idea and George Breeze moved in as a lodger. However, they only had one room and so George Breeze would sleep on the couch in front of the fire.
Margaret Chisholm's husband said that only once did they had words whilst he was there, and that that was the night before the murder, saying that they had been talking about strong men and Margaret Chisholm had said 'Get away, thou knowest everything', to which George Breeze had replied 'I’m as good as anybody belonging to you' to which Margaret Chisholm said he was not. George Breeze then told her that her father and brothers were no good. However, that was where the dispute ended and they were soon as friendly as ever.
Margaret Chisholm's husband said that he last spoke to George Breeze before going to bed about 11pm and was called at 3.40am to go to work on the Wednesday morning and that while he was getting dressed Margaret Chisholm made some tea and he had some breakfast. He said that the last he saw of his wife she was pouring out a cup of tea for herself.
He said that at the time George Breeze was on the couch but he didn't know if he was awake or not and left without speaking to him.
He said that occasionally he and his wife had words but that during those occasions George Breeze would act as peacekeeper and tried to bring peace between them. He said that George Breeze paid 25s. a fortnight for his food and lodgings but the last time he had paid he had given Margaret Chisholm 30s. He said that that was George Breeze's own goodness given of his own free will. He said that Margaret Chisholm had not wanted to take it but that George Breeze had insisted.
Margaret Chisholm's husband said that he thought that George Breeze had murdered his wife because of the words that George Breeze had had with his wife the night before.
The court heard that George Breeze took in a publication called 'Famous Crimes' and often talked about what was in it and had received the latest number the Tuesday before.
A woman who lived next door said that she heard Margaret Chisholm calling her husband at about 4am but didn't hear anything after that time and up to when she later saw George Breeze walking off down the street. She said that she later showed a constable where Margaret Chisholm's house and when the constable got no reply she came to his assistance and found the door key on the floor protruding from beneath the door and let the police in. When they went in they found Margaret Chisholm's 2 year old child sitting on the bed undressed with the body of Margaret Chisholm clapping her hand. Margaret Chisholm was wearing a skirt and blouse and was lying on the bed on her back.
It was noted that the bed and couch were separated by only 2 feet.
When Margaret Chisholm was found she was foaming from the mouth and nose.
On a table the police found 2 notes. The first read:
The other note read:
When he went into the Durham police station on Court Lane he gave them a piece of foolscap that read:
After handing the police the foolscap note that he had written he made a statement which read:
see East Durhamsee
see The Scotsman - Monday 18 July 1904
see Dundee Evening Post - Friday 08 July 1904
see National Archives - HO 144/765/120419