British Executions

Henry Thompson

Age: 61

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 22 Nov 1910

Crime Location: 18 York Street, Liverpool

Execution Place: Liverpool

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Henry Thompson was convicted of the murder of his wife Mary Thompson 48 and sentenced to death.

He strangled her at 18 York Street in Liverpool on 31 July 1910.

They had been married for 8 years and were both addicted to drink. It was also noted that Henry Thompson had a bad record of drunkenness and assaults and that in 1904 he had been convicted for wounding Mary Thompson after he cut her throat with a razor, however, he was only sentenced to three months on that occasion because Mary Thompson made a plea for mercy before the judge.

However, it was still noted that Mary Thompson was afraid of Henry Thompson when he was in drink and Mary Thompson had slept the night in a neighbour's house on 19 July 1910 on that account.

Later on the night of 30 July 1910 they had retired to bed. Mary Thompson was sober, but Henry Thompson was described as half-drunk. However, shortly afterwards Mary Thompson took refuge in a lodger's room and hid behind her bed, but Henry Thompson followed her and kicked her out from her hiding place and took her back to their room.

Then, a few minutes later, the lodger heard Mary Thompson cry out, 'Harry don't choke me'. The lodger said that she called out, 'Let the woman alone' and said that Henry Thompson replied, 'Mind your own business we are going to bed'.

Then at 3am the lodger said that she heard the sounds as of a body being dragged about and bumped on the floor. She said then that at about 6am she heard Henry Thompson at his window and then later in the street shouting 'Mary, Mary'.

It was heard that Henry Thompson pretended for the whole Sunday that Mary Thompson was still alive and well and taking food and drink. It was also heard that he drank hard all day and strenuously resisted attempts by neighbours to go up and see his wife.

Later, on the Monday morning the lodger slipped up into their room and saw Henry Thompson in a drunken sleep and Mary Thompson lying dead beside him.

It was thought that she had been strangled by a strip of linen or a strap that was found in the kitchen. She had a mark round her neck and abrasions on her body showing signs of a struggle.

When the police arrived he said, 'You knew this business was coming off some day with this piece of goods'. He then later said, 'I don't know anything about this. The bloody thing lying like a stuffed dummy beside me. I may have struck her or knocked her down. It was done in drink. She was a good woman when sober but a perfect nag when in drink. I know I am fixed this time. I will go on the drop this time and that is an end of it'.

At his trial his defence put forward two defences, the first being that he was in drink at the time and that the crime was manslaughter, and the second that of insanity due to epilepsy.

However, it was said that Henry Thompson was sober enough to have known what he was doing on the Saturday night when the murder took place and further that there was no evidence of Henry Thompson having had a fit on the night of the crime, with it being noted that his coherent answer to the lodger’s cry, 'Mind your own business we are going to bed' and his concealment on the Sunday of Mary Thompson both being quite inconsistent with a theory of epileptic unconsciousness. However, it was noted that he had had an epileptic fit whilst in prison on 23 October 1910 and the doctor at the prison had said that he appeared to be a nocturnal epileptic.

The jury found him guilty in 15 minutes and he was sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy.

When he was sentenced and asked if he had anything he wanted to say he said, 'No. Let 'em go ahead with it. I don't care. I never was frightened of death'. Then, when the judge assumed the black cap and began speaking to Henry Thompson, Henry Thompson broke in by saying, 'I'm not guilty'. One of the police ushers cried 'Silence' and Henry Thompson retorted 'I'll not silence', whilst glaring at the usher in a savage manner. Then, before the judge could resume Henry Thompson said, 'I'm not guilty. You can sentence away now!'.

see National Archives - ASSI 52/167, HO 144/1104/199749

see Western Times - Wednesday 23 November 1910