British Executions

Frederick Henry Thomas

Age: 38

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 15 Nov 1911

Crime Location: Rothbury Terrace, Azof Street, Greenwich

Execution Place: Wandsworth

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Frederick Henry Thomas was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Harriett Ann Eckhardt 32 and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat in a jealous rage at Rothbury Terrace, Azof Street, Greenwich on 19 August 1911.

Frederick Thomas was a bookmaker and had a wife and three children but had been being intimate with Harriett Eckhardt for about three years. Harriett Eckhardt was the wife of a fireman on a collier ship trading between Goole and London. Her husband was only at home about two nights a week and Frederick Thomas would visit Harriett Eckhardt while he was away.

Harriett Eckhardt's husband had suspected that Frederick Thomas had been seeing his wife around December 1909 and had spoken to to her about it.

Earlier in 1911 Harriett Eckhardt left her home and lived with Frederick Thomas but her husband later took her back.

However, latterly, Harriett Eckhardt had also become intimate with another man that had been a shipmate with her husband and Frederick Thomas became jealous of him.

Harriett Eckhardt's husband joined his ship on the Tuesday night 15 August 1911.

On the Thursday night the shipmate slept with Harriett Eckhardt and then later returned to her house at 2pm on the Friday 18 August 1911. He went to bed with her that night and was later awakened at about 1-2am by a noise downstairs. Harriett Eckhardt then got up and went downstairs whilst the shipmate hid in the kitchen on the first floor.

The shipmate said that he heard voices and a man's step come up and go into the bedroom and said that he then heard a tired voice come from downstairs. The shipmate said that he stayed in the kitchen until 7am when he went downstairs and found Harriett Eckhardt's body. Her throat had been cut to the bone.

It was noted that there were bloodstains on the stairs and that Harriett Eckhardt had apparently staggered up a few steps and then fallen back.

When Frederick Thomas was arrested on 21 August 1911 he made a full confession and told the police that they would also find a written confession that he had placed on his mantlepiece in which he indicated that he had also intended suicide.

Frederick Thomas had entered the house by the window and had found the shipmates coat and vest in the parlour with the shipmate’s discharge book with his name in it in the pocket.

He had then met Harriett Eckhardt in the passage who had admitted to him that the shipmate was in the house but had told him that the shipmate was sleeping alone. Frederick Thomas said that he then went upstairs and satisfied himself that that was not true and then came back down the stairs and cut Harriett Eckhardt's throat with a razor.

It was noted that Frederick Thomas had then waited outside for the shipmate for some hours but that as no one came, he went home.

He had been seen at the corner of the street by a workman at 4.40am.

After murdering Harriett Eckhardt, Frederick Thomas then slipped a postcard accusing the shipmate and Harriett Eckhardt through the letter opening and later that day posted a similar card to Harriett Eckhardt's husband in Goole. The postcard that he had left for Harriett Eckhardt and the shipmate as well as a couple of other people in the house read, 'Hoping you both had a good night', and had dried blood on the side.

The police report noted that his confession was amply corroborated by other evidence, including blood stains on his clothes which he had tried to get rid of, and concluded that there was no doubt over his guilt.

The day following his arrest, Frederick Thomas attempted suicide in his cell by cutting his throat with the razor that he had cut Harriett Eckhardt's throat with which he had secreted in his boot.

At his trial his defence pleaded insanity, but it was heard that there was no evidence whatsoever to support such a plea and he was found guilty of her murder with no recommendation to mercy. The judge also noted that he was against any interference with the sentence and Frederick Thomas's appeal was dismissed.

It was noted that Frederick Thomas had suspected that the shipmate had been with Harriett Eckhardt and stated that he had possibly intended to murder him as well if he had got the chance. The police report also noted that Frederick Thomas had no right to expect fidelity from Harriett Eckhardt.

Frederick Thomas was executed on 15 November 1911 at Wandsworth Prison.

see National archives - CRIM 1/124/5, HO 144/1165/213962

see Illustrated Police News - Saturday 02 September 1911