British Executions

Henry Ison

Age: 45

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 29 Dec 1910

Crime Location: 47 Boynton Street, Leeds

Execution Place: Leeds

Method: hanging

Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint


Henry Ison was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Mary Jenkins 43 and sentenced to death.

He battered her to death at 47 Boynton Street, Leeds on 23 July 1910.

Henry Ison was a bricklayer's labourer and had lived with Mary Jenkins for 13 years. Mary Jenkins was married but had separated from her husband 20 years earlier.

Henry Ison had been employed by two firms over the previous 13 years whilst Mary Jenkins worked as a tailoress.

They were both addicted to drink but were described as good workers. It was noted that Mary Jenkins was in the habit of pawning things for drink during the week, unknown to Henry Ison and then redeeming them out of his wages. As a result, there were frequent rows at the weekend during which Henry Ison was said to beat Mary Jenkins and blacken her eyes.

On Saturday 23 July 1910 they were drinking with others at a public house and then later back to their own house with some other people where they continued to drink. They were both the worse for drink and Henry Ison had a fight with a man and fell and cut his face.

Later, the other people went away, and Henry Ison and Mary Jenkins were left alone in their two-roomed house.

Then, at about 8pm a prostitute that lived next door saw Mary Jenkins run from her house and trip and fall. She said that Henry Ison then followed her out and caught her by the hair and dragged her back, hitting and kicking her on the doorstep. She also said that she heard Henry Ison say 'I want my wage', and 'Dirty lousy cow I want my money back'.

Later, another neighbour said that at about 9pm she saw Mary Jenkins crawl out of her house on to the steps and then saw Henry Ison drag her back in by her hair.

The police report stated that it was possible that both women had been describing the same incident.

Later on, the prostitute that lived next door and the man that lived with her said that they heard sounds as though Henry Ison was knocking Mary Jenkins about and using bad language. They said they heard Mary Jenkins say, 'Harry don't! Haven’t you done enough?'.

The prostitute said that she then went to 47 Boynton Street but found it locked. She said that the sounds continued and that she heard a distinct dead thud. She said that she then heard Henry Ison say, 'May' two or three times and then heard him say, 'Won't you speak to me, you will have me lagged for this', but said that there was no answer.

Soon after at 10.15pm, Henry Ison went to Mary Jenkins's sister's house which was nearby and said to her, 'You had better go over. May and I have had a few words'. A police constable was called for and when Henry Ison got back home he unlocked the door for him and said, 'There the drunken b----r is. I gave her a sovereign and when she came home she said it had been taken from her and this will learn her a bloody lesson.'.

The police constable found Mary Jenkins lying unconscious on the floor of the lower room six to nine feet from the bottom of the stair. She had an indented vertical wound three inches long on her left forehead. The skin was only just broken but her skull was badly fractured. Then, below her left eye there was a jagged bleeding wound and many other bruises on her left jaw, shoulder, arm and leg.

She was taken to hospital where the operation of trepanning was performed but she died on the Sunday night without having regained consciousness.

When Henry Ison was charged at the police station with inflicting grievous bodily harm, he said, 'I have done nothing to her. If anyone has, she has done it to herself.'. He also then repeated what he had said about having given Mary Jenkins a sovereign and of Mary Jenkins having said that she had been done out of it.

At his trial, Henry Ison said that after the other people had left their house he left Mary Jenkins and went to bed. He said that when he woke up he found Mary Jenkins lying on the hearth rug and suggested that she had fallen down the stairs.

The police report noted that there was evidence of a scuffle having taken place in the lower room, broken crockery etc, and that there was blood and water splashed about in both rooms and signs of wiping up of the stairs having been done in the lower room. They said that a bent poker was also found under the sink in the lower room.

The police report also stated that they found a purse in a woman's apron in which there was 15/- and half-a-crown and 1d loose.

The police report also stated that Mary Jenkins's forehead injury from which she died had probably been caused by the poker and could hardly have been caused by a fall down the stairs. It went on to say that there appeared to be no doubt that Henry Ison had beaten Mary Jenkins with the poker and that the accounts given by the neighbours of what they heard were probably true.

The police report went on to state that Henry Ison's story of the sovereign was borne out to some extent by Mary Jenkins's habit of pawning things for drink as well as what the prostitute next door had heard Henry Ison say to Mary Jenkins as he was dragging her back into the house. It also stated that it seemed likely enough that some such incident as Henry Ison described regarding the sovereign was the immediate cause of his attack on her with the poker, noting that he had assaulted her on previous occasions for similar reasons, but said that a pleas of provocation which might have availed a steady husband in such a case lost much of its weight in the case of Henry Ison, who was himself a man of drunken habits and who might have left Mary Jenkins at any time.

Henry Ison was convicted of her murder but with a very strong recommendation to mercy. However, the police report stated that it was not clear upon what grounds the jury had made their recommendation.

Henry Ison appealed his conviction but his appeal was dismissed.

see National Archives - HO 144/1107/200683