British Executions

Frederick Foreman

Age: 45

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 14 Jul 1910

Crime Location: East Hall, Wennington

Execution Place: Chelmsford

Method: hanging

Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint


Frederick Foreman was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Elizabeth Ely 35 and sentenced to death.

He battered her to death at East Hall, Wennington, near Grays on 16 May 1910.

Frederick Foreman and Elizabeth Ely had been living together in some railway carriages for some time and were employed at East Hall Farm in Rainham.

On the Whit Monday they had been drinking in the Three Crowns Inn in Rainham Ferry and it was said that when they left for Rainham, Elizabeth Ely was cursing and swearing nearly all the way. Frederick Foreman was seen to threaten her with a stick and Elizabeth Ely was heard to say, 'If you go on like that you will break my heart'.

Another man that had been in the Three Crowns Inn said that he saw them leave at about 6.30pm, with Frederick Foreman leading and Elizabeth Ely following him. He said that they were quarrelling and jangling all the way about a woman who was not present, and that Elizabeth Ely was nagging Frederick Foreman all the way up the road.

They were then seen to disappear into a field in the direction of the railway carriages and then afterwards screams were heard and a woman was heard to call out, 'Don't hit me'.

The screams were also heard by another man at East Hall Farm who said he heard a woman scream out, 'Don't Fred, don't Fred'. The man said that he heard the screams two or three times but didn't go near and it was noted that it wasn't very courageous or proper as one could not help feeling that it was the duty of the man on hearing screams to go to the spot whence they proceeded.

It was said that the screams and blows were heard to go on for about 20 minutes and a woman that also heard then heard Frederick Foreman saying, 'Shut your mouth'.

Another woman said that she saw Frederick Foreman and Elizabeth Ely go up the lane to the field where the railway carriages were and that as they were passing her house she heard Frederick Foreman use a foul expression towards Elizabeth Ely and said that she then saw Frederick Foreman hold a stick over Elizabeth Ely who then shrank into the hedge. She said that she didn't see them after that, but she later heard screams coming from the direction of the railway carriages and heard Elizabeth Ely say, 'Oh, don't hit me', and said that the screaming went on for about half an hour.

The screams ended at about 9.30pm.

The next morning Frederick Foreman told the occupier of the next railway carriage that 'his missus was dead', and she was found about 60 yards away from the railway carriage in a battered condition with one leg broken below the knee. The neighbour then advised Frederick Foreman to go to the police. On the way to the police station Frederick Foreman said, 'If she had come home with me this would not have happened'.

When the police arrived, they found signs of a struggle and clots of blood near the lane up which Frederick Foreman and Elizabeth Ely had walked towards the railway carriages.

When a policeman asked Frederick Foreman if he had been knocking Elizabeth Ely about, Frederick Foreman said, 'No'.

The police also found blood on the mattress and a sack in the railway carriage as well as blood on Frederick Foreman's clothes. When asked about the blood, Frederick Foreman said that he had got the blood on his clothes when he had bound up a boy's cut thumb and said that the blood on his mattress had come from his wife's face after he had smacked her because she kept on chewing.

The next morning Frederick Foreman's stick was found about 47 feet away from where Elizabeth Ely had lain and although it had been washed it still had signs of blood on it.

When Elizabeth Ely's body was found, about 180 feet away from the railway carriages, she was covered in bruises and there were five cuts on her head such as might have been caused by the sharp end of a stick which had belonged to Frederick Foreman. Her broken leg was said to have been caused by great violence, possibly with either a stick or a boot.

When Frederick Foreman was arrested he said that they had rowed when he had found out that Elizabeth Ely was married and said that people had also told him that Elizabeth Ely had been with other men and that that also caused rows.

Whilst he was being taken from Grays to Brixton gaol, Frederick Foreman said, 'Do people think I killed her? I hope they will let me live. I hope they will have mercy upon me. I cannot remember doing it. I want to be defended. I do not mind what it comes to if it does not come to that. Do you think the farmer will give me a character? I am sorry I ever knew her. I have had nothing but bad luck since I have been with her. I should not have knocked her about so many times if she had not made me angry'.

In court Frederick Foreman denied murdering Elizabeth Ely. He said that they had had a bit of a jangle after leaving the Three Crowns Inn and that Elizabeth Ely had then run away and said that he didn't know anything more about it until she was found the following morning. He said that Elizabeth Ely had taken his stick with her when she had run off.

His defence said that Elizabeth Ely had died from shock due to the kick on her leg and that the man that had inflicted it would have been guilty of manslaughter and suggested that she might have been killed by a rough character such were to be found in market garden districts.

The judge summed up saying that the intention of the attacker need not be to kill in order to constitute murder and that if one started to beat a man or woman to within an inch of their life, and then went over that inch then the law said that it was murder, just as if it had been intended from the first.

The jury retired for ten minutes and returned with a guilty verdict.

When Frederick Foreman was asked by the judge whether he knew of any reason why the judgement of death should not be passed Frederick Foreman's reply was not audible.

see National Archives - HO 144/1086/194114