Date Of Execution: 20 Jul 1909
Crime Location: Vicarage Row, St Erth, Penzance
Execution Place: Bodmin
Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint
William Hampton was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Emily Barnes Trewarthen Tredea 16 and was sentenced to death.
He strangled her at Vicarage Row, St Erth, near Penzance on 2 May 1909.
William Hampton had been working for some years in America and had returned in 1907 when he met Emily Tredea who was 15 years old. Around May 1908 William Hampton went to lodge with Emily Tredea's mother and then in autumn they became engaged.
However, on the Friday or Saturday before the murder Emily Tredea was heard to tell William Hampton that she didn't think that she would go with him anymore.
Then, on the Sunday 2 May 1909 Emily Tredea went out with a girlfriend and got home at 10pm. When she got home her mother gave her the baby to look after and then went out to a house close by to nurse William Hampton's mother, leaving William Hampton, Emily Tredea and the baby alone in the room. There were also two younger children in bed upstairs at the time.
A few minutes after Emily Tredea's mother went out the 9-year-old brother upstairs heard a rattling noise from downstairs and said that when he got out of bed and came down the stairs he saw Emily Tredea on the floor with her head in the corner and William Hampton with his right knee on her chest and his thumbs against her throat. He said that he called out 'Get back' but said that William Hampton took no notice of him. He said that he then ran back upstairs and put on his stockings, trousers and coat and ran back downstairs where he saw William Hampton still kneeling on Emily Tredea with his thumbs still against her throat but only now with her head against the door. The boy said that Emily Tredea's face was white and that her lips were swollen and that after a while William Hampton took her up and tried to balance her body on a chair but said that it rolled off. The boy said that he then opened the door, but William Hampton pulled him back and shut it. He said that William Hampton then took Emily Tredea's body and placed it sitting in a wicker arm chair.
The boy said that he then ran out and told his mother. Just after the boy ran out William Hampton also ran off, however, he gave himself up to the police a few hours later saying that he was the man who had choked the girl.
When Emily Tredea's body was found she was quite dead. Her death was stated to have been due to strangulation by prolonged pressure lasting about 3-4 minutes. It was also noted that there were no foreign bodies in her throat such as tart or cake, as it had earlier been noted that there had been tart and cake on the table which had been cut up.
At his trial the defence said that William Hampton had only meant to give Emily Tredea a hard nip and had unintentionally pressed too hard and was therefore only guilty of manslaughter. However, it was noted that his claim was negated by the 9-year-old boys story who said that the attack had lasted for the time that he had had to go upstairs, get dressed and come back down.
The prosecution claimed that William Hampton had harboured the thought of killing Emily Tredea from the moment that she had told him that she didn't want to go out with him anymore. However, the police report said that they had appeared on friendly terms after that and that it was more likely that William Hampton was annoyed that Emily Tredea had kept out of his way all that Sunday evening when he would have been expecting her to walk out with him and that he had taxed her about it as soon as Emily Tredea's mother had gone out and that Emily Tredea had probably definitely told him that their engagement was off and that in an impulse of rage he had seized her by the throat and slowly choked her.
He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death but with a recommendation to mercy but with no grounds stated.
However, the judge had noted that he thought that it was a brutal murder and that the law should take its course.
The police report stated that it was the sort of case where a reprieve might be granted on the grounds that there was no proved premeditation such as the procuring of a weapon. It was also noted that he had a good character. The police report noted that the case was on the borderline with the jury recommending mercy and the judge indicating that that the sentence should be carried out. It was also noted that the 9-year-old boys evidence was central to the prosecution and that his evidence should be held with caution because of his age.
William Hampton recieved no reprieve and was executed at Bodmin on 20 July 1909.
It’s not clear where Vicarage Row, which was also referred to as Church Row in St Erth was. The address was also referred to as Vicarage Row, Church Town, St Erth. It was described as a row of four with the cottage where the crime took place being the fourth from the road.
see National Archives - HO 144/1037/180624