Date Of Execution: 7 Jul 1896
Execution Place: Reading
Charles Wooldridge was a 30-year-old soldier serving in the Royal Horse Guards and was stationed at Regent's Park barracks, London. His wife, Ellen, who had recently married was living in the village of Clewar, near Windsor. They met whenever they could but the forced separation put an inevitable strain on their relationship. By March 1896 Ellen had started to use her maiden name again and, during one of their meetings, Wooldridge struck his wife. On 27th March Ellen requested her husband to sign a document undertaking not to molest her further. They had arranged to meet later that day outside Regent's Park barracks and, when Ellen failed to turn up, Wooldridge became highly agitated. He told the sentry that he was going to Windsor and that 'I'm going to do some damage.'
His wife's neighbours, alarmed by screams, found Wooldridge standing over his wife's body in the street. Her throat had been cut. When he was arrested he told the officer 'Take me! I have killed my wife.'
At his trial the jury took just two minutes to find him guilty, despite his attempts to get the charge reduced to manslaughter because of his wife's unfaithfulness. He was sentenced to death and was hanged at Reading Gaol on 7th July 1896. He passed into immortality as the subject of the poem 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' by Oscar Wilde, who was serving time in Reading Gaol during the execution.
see National Archives - HO 144/268/A58000
see Executed Today