British Executions

Joseph Hume

Age: 25

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 5 Mar 1908

Crime Location: Lhanbryde, Elgin

Execution Place: Inverness

Method: hanging

Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint


Joseph Hume was convicted of the murder of John Barclay Smith and sentenced to death.

He battered him to death at Lhanbryde, Elgin around 24 September 1907 at his home during a robbery.

John Smith was not found for a few days but on 29 September 1907 a neighbour began to smell a foul odour coming from his flat upstairs and she told the police who forced their way in and found him dead on his bed. His head had been smashed in and his watch was missing.

There were three empty spirit and beer bottles on a table and in the room the police found John Smith's mash hammer which was covered in blood.

There was no sign of a struggle although the wooden frame of the bedstead was smashed as though the murderer had missed his target and hit it instead.

When the police carried out their investigations they found that John Smith had been seen with a man early that day and a description of the man was taken and it was found to match that of a man that had recently deserted from the Highland Light Infantry called Joseph Hume.

He was later arrested in Stirling on Wednesday 23 October 1907 where he had been using the name Joseph Middleton. He had been in Stirling since 11 October 1907 when he had arrived with a man that was supposed to be his brother and had obtained lodgings in Mulbearn's lodging house in St Mary's Wynd. However, the following day he had left and gone to Ballingham's lodging house in St John Street. After that he had got work as a mason's labourer. He was found after police visited lodging houses in the area showing people photos of Joseph Hume. He was immediately identified and the police then went to his place of work where they arrested him.

When he was arrested he said that his name was Joseph Middleton but later admitted that it was Joseph Hume and that he had deserted from the Highland Light Infantry and then later re-enlisted in the same regiment under the name of Joseph Rutherford but said he knew nothing about the murder.

The police later went to a number of pawnshops and a pawnbroker from Edinburgh came forward to say that Joseph Hume had pawned a watch with him and the watch was later identified as being John Smiths.

The evidence against Joseph Hume was mostly circumstantial. Joseph Hume was identified as the man that had been seen with John Smith during the two days before the murder and it was proved that the watch that Joseph Hume had pawned was John Smith's.

John Smith was a road contractor.

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 25 October 1907

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 27 February 1908

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 05 March 1908 (includes picture)