British Executions

Samuel Holden

Age: 43

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 16 Aug 1904

Crime Location: Court 11, 2 Back 109 Coventry Street, Birmingham

Execution Place: Birmingham

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Samuel Holden was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Susan Humphries and sentenced to death.

He stabbed her to death at Court 11, 2 Back 109 Coventry Street, Birmingham on 2 July 1904.

They had been living together having just moved into 2 Back 109 Coventry Street on 30 June, taking a room there.

Samuel Holden had been a market porter at Birmingham and had been living with Susan Humphries, who had previously been a prostitute, for some time.

Samuel Holden was seen by neighbours attacking Susan Humphries with a knife and afterwards running out into the street crying, 'Fetch a doctor. I have done her in'.

Samuel Holden had come home on the Saturday afternoon 2 July 1904 under the influence of drink and had quarrelled with Susan Humphries because she had given him eggs for dinner and not meat.

At about 3.30pm Susan Humphries ran down to a neighbours who saw that she had a cut on her chin, but although the neighbour advised her not to go back up, she did and Samuel Holden stabbed her four times in the neck, once behind the ear and once on the right shoulder. It was noted that the last wound had cut an artery and that she died a few minutes later from blood loss.

It was noted that two neighbours living in houses opposite saw Samuel Holden through the window strike Susan Humphries with a knife.

A woman that had known Susan Humphries under the name of Annie Humphries for 5-6 years said that 4-5 months earlier when she was living at 2 Court, 4 House, Coventry Street that Samuel Holden and Susan Humphries had both lived with her. She said she had seen them quarrel and had seen Samuel Holden strike Susan Humphries but not violently. She said that on one occasion Samuel Holden told Susan Humphries that he would do for her the same as Dyer did saying that he was referring to a man named Dyer who had murdered a woman in Inge Street.

After Samuel Holden and Susan Humphries moved into 2 Back 109 Coventry Street they had a quarrel. A woman who lived below them said that on 2 July, 1904, a Saturday, in the afternoon she could hear them having words and said that shortly after Susan Humphries came down into the kitchen and said, 'He's on again, he's stabbed me in the chin'. The woman said that she saw a slight mark that was bleeding slightly. She said that she said to Susan Humphries, 'Don't go upstairs again till his temper has cooled, let him go to sleep'. However, Susan Humphries said, 'I will go up', and she went upstairs.

The woman said that she scarcely heard any words after that but that 20 minutes later she said that Samuel Holden came downstairs and said, 'Fetch a doctor. I have done her in'. She said that Samuel Holden then went out of the house and she went up to see Susan Humphries who was lying on her face on the floor nearly under the table with her feet opposite the window. She said that there was blood on the floor and that Susan Humphries was unconscious and did not answer her at all. She said she then went to get a doctor.

She said that at the time the only people in the house were herself and her baby downstairs and Samuel Holden and Susan Humphries upstairs.

When Samuel Holden gave an account of the affair, he said that when they had quarrelled about the eggs that Susan Humphries had tried to attack him with a chair and that he had given her a clout under the chin and that she had again come at him with the chair and that after that he remembered nothing else.

It was noted therefore that Samuel Holden had himself shown that there was no sufficient provocation to reduce the crime to manslaughter and his assertion that she had attacked him with the chair was not supported by evidence and was even possibly entirely negated by the accounts given by the other witnesses that had seen the affair through the window.

It was noted that Samuel Holden had been drunk, but not so drunk as to not know what he was doing was wrong.

The jury made no recommendation to mercy, and whilst the Lord Chief Justice stated that he thought he was right to call attention to his service in the army, he added that there was nothing else in the case to enable him to suggest that the death penalty should not be carried out.

Samuel Holden  was executred at Birmingham on 16 August 1904. It was noted that he had insisted on smoking a cigar on the way to the scaffold and was said to have puffed away calmly throughtout the grim preliminaries. After the cigar was finally taken away from him he made a cheerful farewell to the officials, saying, 'I will see some of you again'.

Court 11, 2 Back 109 Coventry Street had been at the corner of Coventry Street and Allison Street and is currently occupied by Hennessey's Bar.

see Dundee Courier - Saturday 30 July 1904

see Shields Daily Gazette - Tuesday 16 August 1904

see National Archives - ASSI 13/34, HO 144/766/120809

see National Library of Scotland