British Executions

Edward Johnstone

Age: 32

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 19 Aug 1908

Crime Location: Collyford, Saline, Fife

Execution Place: Perth

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Edward Johnstone was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Jane Wallace Withers 25 and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat at Collyford in Fife on 7 June 1908.

They had been living together but there had been an issue between them about her kissing other men.

On 7 June 1908 at their home he caught her round the neck apparently in an embrace and then cut her throat.

Edward Johnstone and Jane Withers went to the house of a woman at Collyford on Wednesday 3 June 1908 and then left on the Thursday but returned on the Friday 5 June 1908 and stayed until the murder.

On the night before the murder, Saturday 6 June 1908 Edward Johnstone and Jane Withers slept in the kitchen.

The woman whose house it was said that she rose between 9am and 10am on the Sunday and spoke to Jane Withers and gave her half a glass of whisky with sugar in it. The woman said that when shew spoke to Jane Withers, Edward Johnstone didn't move. The woman said that during their conversation Jane Withers motioned towards Edward Johnstone and drew her finger in front of her throat.

The woman said then that Jane Withers then got up to help make the breakfast and that she then went into the room to kindle the fire. She said that she then cried for Jane Withers to come and help her but when she did Edward Johnstone came into the room and took Jane Withers into the kitchen where he put his arm around her and she then dropped to the floor. The woman said that immediately after Jane Withers dropped to the floor Edward Johnstone ran out of the door.

It was heard that whilst they had been drinking the night before a man had joked about kissing Jane Withers. He had said to her 'Give me a kiss, and lend me ninepence'. It was said that it had been said quite publicly and friendly.

After Edward Johnstone had run out of the house a pitheadman went out looking for him and then saw him rise up out of a hollow. The pitheadman said that he went after Edward Johnstone who then agreed to go with him.

When Edward Johnstone was then asked why he had done it he asked whether Jane Withers was dead. When he was told that she was he said that he was now a happy man and later said that he had been meaning to do it for some time.

He was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death but with a strong recommendation to mercy. However, he was executed in Perth on 19 August 1908.

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Tuesday 18 August 1908

see Western Times - Thursday 20 August 1908

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 19 August 1908

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 19 August 1908