Date Of Execution: 14 Jun 1910
Crime Location: Water Street, Chesterton
Execution Place: Cambridge
Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint
James Henry Hancock was convicted of the murder of Alfred Doggett 59 and sentenced to death.
He stabbed him to death at Water Street, Chesterton on 4 March 1910.
James Hancock had cohabited for the previous 14 years with a married woman in her house in Cambridge.
In the summer they would visit fairs in a caravan and in the winter hawked coke around the villages near Cambridge.
The business belonged to the woman who was Alfred Doggett's sister and James Hancock would assist her.
They were both much addicted to drink and had parted on several occasions, but the woman had always taken him back.
In 1906 James Hancock was fined 1/- for damaging her door and earlier in 1883 he had been sentenced to 28 days at Sheffield for not maintaining his father. However, it was otherwise noted that he had not been in trouble with the police.
Alfred Doggett had at first objected to James Hancock living with his sister and it was noted that they had had a quarrel nine years earlier during which, according to James Hancock, Alfred Doggett had kicked him in the jaw. It was noted in the police report that the murder appeared to have been due to that old grudge that was brought to a climax by the incident on the morning of the murder.
Early on the morning of 4 March 1910 James Hancock and the woman set out to go to Cottenham with a load of coke. However, soon after starting James Hancock refused to go on. The woman then met her brother, Alfred Doggett, who said that he would go with her. However, James Hancock then said that he would not give up the horse and cart and insisted on taking them back to the stable and unharnessing the horse.
After that he got his clothes from the woman's house and said that he was going to part with her. After that, the woman and Alfred Doggett then went off with the horse and cart.
James Hancock then sold his clothes for 6d and had three or four pints of beer. He then went back to the woman's house and gained admittance by removing a pane of glass, and when the woman returned at 5pm she found him in the kitchen having tea. They then had some words and then the woman went across the street to the stable where Alfred Doggett was unharnessing the horse.
James Hancock followed her, taking a sharp carving knife with him which was usually kept in a drawer in the house. When he went into the stable he asked Alfred Doggett if he had got over the temper he had been in in the morning, but Alfred Doggett, who was stooping down, didn't answer and James Hancock then struck him in the neck with the knife, severing his jugular vein.
Alfred Doggett then staggered a few yards and died.
The woman then tried to get the knife from James Hancock and got her hand cut.
James Hancock made no attempt to escape and when the police arrived he said, 'I have done it. it ought to have been the woman and all.'. When he was taken back to where Alfred Doggett lay, James Hancock said, 'you will find the knife in the stable, come here and I will show you where I did it'. Then, when he saw the woman he shouted, 'It ought to have been you, you sod.'.
He later said 'He went out with my horse and van and I will not let anyone do that. He kicked me in the jaw some years ago and I thought I should pay him out for that'.
When he was taken to the police station he said, 'She wanted me to go to Cottenham with her. When they got back the old woman started swearing at me and he started shouting. I bloody soon stopped him and I should bloody soon have stopped her if she hadn't just at that time got out of the way. I soon stopped him. I bloody well stuck the knife into him. They have both been against me. About 14 years ago he kicked me in the jaw. He has always been against me the bugger. She won’t be able to fly with him no more. Put some more fire on'.
At his trial he said that he had taken the knife to the stable to clean wurtzels and that Alfred Doggett had attacked him there and that as they fell the knife had accidently entered Alfred Doggett's neck. However, the police report stated that taking view of the things he said after his arrest and things he also said to other bystanders, that his defence could be disregarded. The police report also noted that the doctors report also contradicted James Hancock's defence and it was noted that there was already a knife kept in the stable for the very purpose of cleaning wurtzels.
James Hancock was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy and he made no appeal.
see National Archives - HO 144/1084/193250
see Illustrated Police News - Saturday 12 March 1910