British Executions

Samuel Atherley

Age: 30

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 14 Dec 1909

Crime Location: Robinsons Yard, Front Street, Arnold, Nottingham

Execution Place: Bagthorpe, Nottingham

Method: hanging

Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint


Samuel Atherley was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend and her 3 children Matilda Lambert 27, John Lambert 8, Annie Lambert 5 and Samuel Lambert 2 and sentenced to death.

He cut their throats at Robinson's Yard, Arnold on 10 July 1909.

Samuel Atherley was already a married man but had left his wife and had been living with Matilda Lambert for seven years. It was thought that Samuel Atherley was the father of Annie Lambert and Samuel Lambert.

However, their relationship was unhappy and Matilda Lambert had already previously left Samuel Atherley on four occasions and gone to live with her sister. Her sister said that Matilda Lambert had left Samuel Atherley several times because he was nasty and sulky and would not speak to her for a week. She said that Matilda Lambert would bring her children with her and stay a bit but then go back. She said that at those times Matilda Lambert was afraid of Samuel Atherley.

When Matilda Lambert had left Samuel Atherley on the last occasion, nine weeks before her murder she had been living with Samuel Atherley in Bond Street in Arnold but had left him and gone to Robinson's Yard which she took out in her own name. The landlady said that Samuel Atherley was often in the house.

Matilda Lambert's sister also said that she believed that Samuel Atherley was jealous of Matilda Lambert.

On 9 July 1909 Matilda Lambert told Samuel Atherley that he would have to go. Later that night they had a quarrel and the following morning Matilda Lambert and her children were found dead, all with their throats cut.

Samuel Atherley had also tried to use the razor on himself but survived.

The landlady said that she last saw Samuel Atherley, Matilda Lambert and the children in the yard on 9 July 1909 at about 7pm. She said that Samuel Atherley was cutting a piece of stick in the yard. She said that Samuel Atherley was very jealous of Matilda Lambert. She said that they had quarrelled on both the Thursday and the Friday and that she had told him that he ought to be ashamed of himself for quarrelling with her.

She said that she saw Samuel Atherley next on the Saturday morning, 10 July 1909, at about 7.30am at his bedroom window. She said that he broke the window and waved his hand but she didn't take much notice of him. However, she said that he rapped again and so she went and got a neighbour.

A neighbour that lived at 3 Robinson's Yard said that on Saturday 10 September 1909 at about 10.15am his attention was drawn by the landlady to Samuel Atherley who was at the bedroom window of his house. He said that Samuel Atherley pulled down the bedroom blind and motioned to him and so he went over to his door and Samuel Atherley let him in. He said that he had one hand to his throat over a wound which had a piece of rag on it and said that Samuel Atherley couldn't speak to him and that he then placed him on the sofa and then handed him a piece of rag to put to the wound, which he said was a large one.

The neighbour said that he then called upstairs but got no reply and so he went upstairs and found the four bodies laying on two beds. He said that Matilda Lambert and Annie Lambert lay on one bed whilst John Lambert and Samuel Lambert were on the smaller bed. He said that all their throats were cut and they were quite dead and cold and that they were all undressed and covered up with clothes. The neighbour said that he was the first in the house and that he then sent for the police and a doctor.

The neighbour said that he saw the razor in the fireplace and said that it was covered in blood. He said that he last saw Samuel Atherley the previous Friday night and that he seemed as usual then and said that Samuel Atherley was not a drunken man.

When the doctor came he examined the bodies and said that Matilda Lambert had a four inch wound to her throat which was gaping widely and that had cut all the structures including the large blood vessels. He said that at the bottom of the wound he could feel some rough bare bone which showed that very severe force must have been used and that in the wound he found a piece of steel that looked like a piece of razor. He said that there was also a scalp wound just above the left temple about three inches in length extending from the front towards the back of the head which he said he thought had been caused by a blunt instrument.

The doctor said that when he examined Annie Lambert's body he found that her throat had also been cut and that she too had a wound to the temple that looked like it had been caused by a blunt instrument. He said that she had been lying in an easy posture as though she had been asleep when she was killed.

When the doctor examined John Lambert he found that his head was thrown back and that he had a large gaping throat wound and that he had a two and a half inch circular fracture to his skull just above his temple caused by a blunt instrument.

The doctor said that Samuel Lambert's throat wound was the worst of them all and that his head was thrown back to reveal the spine and that the wound went from ear to ear. However, he said that there was no apparent injury to the skull.

The doctor concluded that the cause of death for Matilda Lambert, John Lambert, Annie Lambert and Samuel Lambert was shock and haemorrhage caused by the wounds in the neck. He said that he had no doubt that a blunt instrument was used either before or after their throats were cut and said that the hammer that he was shown could have been used to produce them.

The doctor said that he asked Samuel Atherley what time he killed them and said that Samuel Atherley put up three fingers to indicate the time. He said that he then asked him what time he cut his own throat and he again held up three fingers.

Samuel Atherley was a bricklayer's labourer.

see National Archives - ASSI 13/39, HO 144/1048/185670

see Nottingham Evening Post - Tuesday 14 December 1909

see Alfreton Journal - Friday 16 July 1909