British Executions

Alexander Arthur Mackay

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 21 Aug 1868

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


It was early in the morning of the 8th May 1868 when cafe proprietor George Grossmith left his shop at Norton Folgate to go out on business. When he left his wife, his son Walter (11), and Alexander Mackay were still there.  Mackay   was doing some odd jobs. Just before 9am Walter left for school and minutes later neighbours heard screams coming from the cafe. They thought the screams belonged to Mrs Emma Grossmith. She was heard to call out 'Oh, don't!'. three times, followed by, 'Oh. John. you'll kill me!' Although it was not his real name Alexander, Mackay was known to everyone as John.

A neighbour ran over to the café and on entering found Mrs Grossmith lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen. She had been battered to death with a rolling pin and a poker. When questioned by the neighbour Mackay said he had not done it. Mackay then said he would go and fetch Mr Grossmith and before the neighbour could stop him he had rushed from the house. Emma Grossmith was rushed to hospital but despite the efforts of the doctors she died in hospital a week later.  The police had been searching for Mackay but were unable to locate him for several weeks because he had been arrested on a minor offence and was locked up in the cells at Maidstone prison. He was eventually recognised from a photograph circulated by the police and charged with murder.

Sentenced to death at the Central Criminal Court on 21 August, he was hanged at Newgate.  When the time came for the sentence to be carried out he was so frightened that he had to be dragged to the drop whimpering in sheer terror.

see National Archives - MEPO 3/85