British Executions

Charles Maidment

Age: 22

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 18 Jul 1899

Crime Location: Swanwick, New Faversham

Execution Place: Winchester Gaol

Method: hanging

Executioner: Billington


Charles Maidment was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, 18-year-old Dorcas Houghton and executed.

He killed her after she broke off their relationship. They had been courting for 18 months.

They had arranged to meet up on 19 April 1899 so that Dorcas Houghton could return his gifts and when they did he shot her in the head. After shooting her he surrendered to the police. When he was arrested he was found to have a parcel containing the presents that he had previously given her. Charles Maidment said that she gave it to him and said, 'come to her no more'.

Charles Maidment had been a gardener and an agricultural labourer.

Swanwick was described as having been in the heart of the strawberry district between Fareham and Southampton in Hampshire.

Dorcas Houghton was the daughter of a market-gardener and had lived with her family at Pavilion Villa in Swanwick.

They had earlier had a quarrel after which Dorcas Houghton told Charles Maidment that she would have little more to do with him.

Dorcas Houghton had left her home on the Wednesday evening after telling her parents that she was going to visit her sister living at Swanscombe Terrace, Swanwick Shore, near the sea shore, and informing her mother that she did not intend to see Charles Maidment any more.

She then went down Swanwick Lane reading a book where she met Charles Maidment who had been sitting on a gate. They were seen together at about 6.30pm in the road by a rural postman who passed by. However, shortly after he heard the report of a firearm and saw Charles Maidment walking off across a field.

The postman said that he then retraced his steps and found Dorcas Houghton lying dead by the side of the footpath.

She had been wounded behind the right ear and blood was flowing from the injury.

Assistance was then obtained and her body was removed to the home of her parents where a doctor soon after declared life to be extinct.

About an hour later Charles Maidment presented himself at Farnham Police Station and informed the constable there that he was the man that was wanted for the murder of a girl and asked to be locked up. At the same time he handed over a Belgium revolver, saying, 'You might as well take this'.

When he was formally charged, he said that he had shot her, but enquired as to whether she was dead.

When the revolver was examined, it was found to be loaded in five chambers with the sixth chamber having been recently discharged.

Charles Maidment confessed, stating that he shot her because he was jealous.

Her inquest took place at the Railway Hotel in Swanwick on Friday 21 April 1899, however, Charles Maidment declined to be present.

At his trial his defence put up a plea of insanity, however, experts from the Home Office opposed that theory.

He said that when she told him to not to come to her again that he was so worried that he didn't know what he was doing. He said that he then pulled out his revolver from his pocket and fired, 'but didn't know if he was going to hit her or not'.

He was executed at Winchester Gaol on Tuesday 18 July 1899. He was said to have been quite resigned and penitent over his fate and to have borne himself in his last hours with wonderful firmness. He was given a drop of 6 feet, and his death was said to have been instantaneous.

Then, after the usual inquest, his body was placed in an elm coffin and, with suitable prayers, was buried in the prison garden.

A number of people were said to have witnessed the hoisting of the black flag outside the gaol.

see National Archives - HO 144/276/A61140

see HGS Family History

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 20 April 1899

see Carmarthen Weekly Reporter - Friday 21 July 1899

see Lincolnshire Chronicle - Tuesday 27 June 1899

see Hants and Sussex News - Wednesday 26 April 1899

see Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 22 April 1899

see Hampshire Advertiser - Wednesday 19 July 1899

see Morning Leader - Friday 28 April 1899