British Executions

Edward Hill

Age: 41

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 17 Oct 1911

Crime Location: 22 Caledonia Street, Kings Cross, London

Execution Place: Pentonville

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Edward Hill was convicted of the murder of his wife Mary Jane Hill 45 and sentenced to death.

He strangled and asphyxiated her at 22 Caledonia Street, King's Cross in London on 25 July 1911 and then set fire to the room.

They had been married for nine days.

He had just been released from prison on 21 June 1911 after serving 10 years' penal servitude for setting fire to a dwelling house in which 19 people were sleeping by putting a lighted paraffin lamp under a bed. He had set fire to the same house on a former occasion because his mother would not let him take the coppers from a gas-meter. He also once stabbed his father because he would not give him 2d and had in all about twenty previous convictions for stealing, wounding, wilful damage, assault and arson.

He had not done any work since he was released from prison and had become friendly with Mary Hill, who was a laundry worker, and they got married on 16 July. They lived for a week with Edward Hill's mother in Lambeth and then move to a room at 22 Caledonia Street in Kings Cross on 22 July 1911. They both appeared to have been drinking heavily since their wedding.

On the night of 24 July 1911, they were in their room and Mary Hill complained to a caller that she had lost 22/- that she had borrowed from Edward Hill's brother to loan out to lsome women at the laundry.

Edward Hill then went out and came back drunk at 2am.

He was later seen lying on the bed at about 8am on the morning of 25 July 1911 and another witness saw a man on the bed a little later but could not swear that it was Edward Hill.

Later, Mary Hill said that she had recovered 10/- of her money from Edward Hill's pockets. She was fully dressed but had said that she was not going to work till after dinner time.

Later, at about 10am, the landlady heard footsteps of a man running downstairs and then back up, and then back down.

Then, at about 10.45am she discovered that Edward Hill's and Mary Hill's room was on fire.

Mary Hill was found inside lying on her back dead on the floor with her head on a bolster and two pillows covering her face.

There was a piece of white rag tied tightly round her neck and knotted in a reef-knot at the left side.

Her death had been due to failure of the heart, which was somewhat fatty, caused by strangulation. She also had two small bruises on the back of her head and burns on her wrists and forearms as well as three small burns on her abdomen near her ribs.

She had been wearing just a small chemise and petticoats with a nightdress over them.

A lighted paraffin lamp, from which the funnel had been removed, had been placed underneath the bed, from which the fire had originated.

The police report noted that the evidence left no doubt whatever that Mary Hill had been strangled and that an attempt had then been made to destroy the evidence by burning out the room.

Edward Hill said that he had woken up at 5am that morning and had had words with his wife about the stolen money. He said that he then went back to sleep and that when he woke up again he was alone.

He said that he then went off to Lambeth to fetch some curtains. He called witnesses to prove that he had been drinking in Lambeth at about 10.30am but it was heard that their evidence as to the time that they had seen him in Lambeth during the morning was quite unreliable.

When he was first arrested in Lambeth later in the day he had denied that he had been at Caledonia Street that morning, or that he was the husband of Mary Hill or knew anything about her.

He was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy and his appeal was later dismissed.

The judge said, 'Your previous record, which I have looked at since I have summed up this case to the jury, throws considerable light on the conduct of which they have now found you guilty. Since 1891 you have been leading a persistently dishonest and violent life. In the year 1903, at this very Court, you were convicted of setting fire to a dwelling house, persons being therein at the time, and sentenced to ten years' penal servitude'.

He was executed at Pentonville.

see National Archives - HO 144/1164/213780