British Executions

Noah Woolf

Age: 58

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 21 Dec 1910

Crime Location: The Home for Aged Hebrew Christians, 43 St Johns Villas, Upper Holloway, London

Execution Place: 1910

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Noah Woolf was convicted of the murder of Andrew Simon 67 and sentenced to death.

He stabbed him to death at The Home for Aged Hebrew Christians, Upper Holloway, London on 28 October 1910.

Noah Woolf was a bookbinder and a German Jewish subject. He had resided in the United Kingdom since 1871 and in 1907 he and his wife went to live in the Aged Hebrew Christian Home at 43 St Johns Villas in Upper Holloway. His wife later died there on 22 March 1909.

Later, in February 1910 Andrew Simon became an inmate at the home.

However, Noah Woolf left the home on 4 July 1910 under circumstances that left him feeling animosity towards Andrew Simon. It was heard that Andrew Simon had made complaints against Noah Woolf, saying that he was disturbed by Noah Woolf's atheistical utterances, and said that as he had come to the home to live and die as a Christian, in peace, he felt disturbed by Noah Woolf's presence and behaviour.

It was heard that Noah Woolf was spoken to about these claims and that in response he had said the people that had complained were Russian Polish Jews and told lies, but said that he was a German Jew and never told lies.

However, the superintendent of the home decided that Noah Woolf should leave and he went on 4 July 1910 and was allowed a weekly sum for three months. It was noted that the weekly sum ran out in the first week of October.

Later on 27 October 1910, Noah Woolf went to the home and met Andrew Simon with whom he was alone for some time. The following day Noah Woolf went back to the home and went to Andrew Simon's room. He was then seen running down the steps about an hour later and then soon after went to the Holloway Police station where he gave himself up for killing a man in his room and then gave them a blood-stained knife.

When the police went to Andrew Simon's room, they found him there huddled up in a corner dead.

The police saw signs of a struggle and found four wounds on Andrew Simon's neck, one of which had severed his jugular vein and another of which had cut through to his spinal column. There were also other wounds to his left side and chest and deep cuts on both of his hands which were thought to have been caused as Andrew Simon was struggling to keep the knife away.

In his statement Noah Woolf said that he was a Hebrew Christian, having been converted by the London Society for promoting Christianity amongst the Jews. He said that when he was asked to leave the committee had said that they were going to make some alterations and that he had to go and find lodgings outside and that they would pay for his lodgings and allow him five shillings a week for three months.

He said that he left the institution and went to live at 68 Myddleton Street in Clerkenwell where he remained for about three months after which he said that he was told that the institution could not make him any further allowance. He said that in consequence he had to dispose of his goods in order to enable him to live. He said that he then moved into 118 Canonbury Road in Islington.

He said that he made several applications to the institution by letter asking for further assistance and had also applied to go back to the home, but said that he was refused and told that they could do nothing more for him. He said that he also applied to the honourable secretary of the society, a vicar in Lambeth, but said that he was told that the secretary could not interfere with the decision of the committee.

Noah Woolf went on to say that the superintendent of the home told him that Andrew Simon had told him that he was not a true believer of the Prophecies of the Bible and that in consequence of that he was not fit to be in the home. Noah Woolf then said that he always believed that Andrew Simon was the cause of him being asked to leave the home.

Noah Woolf said that on 27 October 1910, at about 6pm, he called at the institution and saw Andrew Simon first in his room and that they then went out together. He said that they were together in all for about three quarters of an hour during which he said that he argued with Andrew Simon about the truthfulness of his statement, but said that he could get no satisfaction. He said that he left Andrew Simon at 6.45pm and went off in the direction of Holloway Road where he said that he waited about with the intention of seeing Andrew Simon again and said that at about 9.40pm he called at the home again and asked the matron there if Andrew Simon had come in and said that the matron told him that she thought that he had gone to bed. He said that he then left, saying that he would call again in the morning.

He said that he had a sleepless night and then in the morning went again to the home at 10.15am, taking a sheath knife with him that he had been carrying fastened inside his overcoat breast pocket for several nights.

He said that the matron then let him in to see Andrew Simon in his room where he said he argued the question with him, telling him that if he withdrew the lies he had told about him that he might get re-admitted into the home. However, Noah Woolf said that Andrew Simon told him that he could not withdraw what he had said whether it was lies or truth. Noah Woolf said that he then stabbed Andrew Simon in the neck and chest and that he fell to the floor. He said then, that to make sure of his death, he stabbed him two or three more times as he was on the floor. He said that his blood was boiling as he would not withdraw what he had said. He said that he had spent about a quarter of an hour to thirty minutes trying to get Andrew Simon to withdraw what he had said about him.

He said that he then went to the Upper Holloway police station where he told the officer in charge what he had done.

He said that he bought the knife a few weeks before he had left the home in Old Street, for the purpose of mending some books. He said that he had the knife ground about four weeks earlier, and again about a week before he left Myddleton Street, the same time the society told him that they could not help him anymore. He said that he had the knife ground for the purpose of using it on Andrew Simon if he would not withdraw his words. He said that if he had withdrawn his words, then he would not have done it, and noted that his blood was boiling.

He said that he was suffering innocently and that it was more than flesh and blood could stand.

At his trial the judge explained the difference between murder and manslaughter and noted that in law the crime of murder could be reduced to manslaughter due to provocation under certain circumstances but said that provocation could not be claimed if that provocation had only been in the form of words. He went on to say that blows could do it, stating that a blow was a kind of sudden provocation which the law noted often made a man so angry, so suddenly angry, for that is the point, that he absolutely loses control of himself and will do that which in his calmer moments he would not do.

However, Noah Woolf was convicted of murder but with a recommendation to mercy, but was executed.

see National Archives - HO 144/1106/200426, CRIM 1/118/3

see Illustrated Police News - Saturday 05 November 1910