British Executions

Thomas William Jesshope

Age: 32

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 25 May 1910

Crime Location: Empire Music Hall, Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell

Execution Place: Wandsworth

Method: hanging

Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint


Thomas William Jesshope was convicted of the murder of John Healy 43 and sentenced to death.

He stabbed him to death at the Empire Music Hall in Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell, London on 28 March 1910.

Thomas Jesshope had for the previous twelve months been the fireman at the Empire Music Hall in Camberwell. He had previously been in the merchant service until he was 24 and came out with a certificate of very good. He then served five years in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade until 1907 when he was invalided out with a gratuity of £32.10. He was fined 5/- in 1905 for being drunk on duty.

Three months before the murder, Thomas Jesshope had been discharged from the music hall for being drunk but was taken back.

John Healy was the stage carpenter at the music hall.

On the Friday, 25 March 1910, Thomas Jesshope came on duty at about 6.30pm the worse for drink and was sent home by the stage manager. He was reported for it the next day to the manager and when the manager saw Thomas Jesshope that evening, 26 March at about 7pm, the worse for drink again, he discharged him on the spot, making it the second time that he had been discharged for drinking.

On the same night that he was discharged, Thomas Jesshope was told by John Healy to clear off the stage as he was in the way, however, it was noted that John Healy had nothing to do with Thomas Jesshope being dismissed.

Thomas Jesshope came back to the stage door later that night at 8pm and had a scuffle with John Healy and some other people that were keeping him out. Thomas Jesshope and John Healy both fell on the pavement during the scuffle and the manager then ordered Thomas Jesshope off.

As he went off, Thomas Jesshope said, 'I will wait for Jack and get my own back.'.

The next day, Sunday 27 March, Thomas Jesshope came to the hall again at about 11am and inquired for John Healy and then said, 'Never mind I'll wait on him some other evening'.

Then, the next night, Monday 28 March at about 11.30pm Thomas Jesshope found his way into the hall which was being shut up for the night and followed John Healy into the pit and stabbed him through the heart with a shoemaker's knife. He had borrowed the knife from another employee about two months earlier, apparently for a legitimate purpose, however, it appeared to have been recently sharpened on the top edge so that it was double edged.

Thomas Jesshope then left the hall. As he went the hall keeper asked him, 'Have you done anything to old Jack?' and Thomas Jesshope took the knife from his pocket and said, 'Yes and that's what I have done it with'. Then, soon after, outside the hall, Thomas Jesshope met a passer-by who asked him if he had got another job and Thomas Jesshope replied, 'No, I shan't do any more work. I've just given Jack six inches of steel'.

Thomas Jesshope was arrested soon after outside the hall and was taken back in by the police to where John Healy was lying where he said, 'You have got what you asked for. I know he is dead, I meant it. He got me the sack last week'.

At his trial his defence said that he had been suffering from impulsive insanity, which was based mainly upon the evidence that his mother and grandmother had been subject to fits, but it was not established that such fits were of an epileptic nature. Thomas Jesshope had also said that he had once been confined for a night in a padded room at an infirmary some years before, but the police report suggested that it was probably the result of a drinking bout while he was offshore between voyages. It was also noted that the medical officer at Brixton reported that he could find no trace of insanity about him although he was not called to give evidence.

The police report stated that Thomas Jesshope had been under the impression that John Healy was responsible for his dismissal and as such his motive was clearly revenge. It also stated that his own utterances before and after the crime also showed that he knew perfectly well what he was about.

He was convicted of murder by the jury with no recommendation to mercy.

see National Archives - HO 144/1076/192217

see Cinema Treasures