British Executions

Edward Henry Palmer

Age: 23

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 19 Mar 1913

Crime Location: Mina Road, Bristol

Execution Place: Bristol

Method: hanging

Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint


Edward Henry Palmer was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Ada Louisa James 21 and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat near Mina Road, Bristol on 27 January 1913.

Edward Palmer was a chairmaker and had been seeing Ada James for between two and three years.

In June 1912 Edward Palmer got one month for stealing tools at the Bristol Petty Sessions and after his release he went to Canada but returned just before Christmas 1912.

Whilst away, he had written to Ada James and when he returned, they resumed their relations.

On 25 January 1913 Edward Palmer tried to redeem a revolver that he had pawned on 10 January 1013 but he had lost the ticket and could not. However, on 26 January 1913 he purchased a razor and on the evening of 27 January 1913 he went to Ada James's father's house.

Ada James had gone out with her brother to tea at a Mission Hall, but when she returned about 7.30pm, she and Edward Palmer went out. When they did so they were said to have been on good terms and Edward Palmer was sober although there was some evidence tha Edward Palmer had been drinking the previous day.

Ada James was later found lying in the street with her throat cut to her spine. However, when she was seen by a police constable she was still alive and able to write Edward Palmer's name on a piece of envelope that the police constable gave her. She had said that 'her husband' had done it.

About 298 yards along the path that she was found on, the police found Ada James's hat and her ring, lying in a pool of blood, and it was thought that after having her throat cut she had managed to walk that distance, crossing a stile, to where she was found by the policeman.

She was taken to hospital but died a few hours later.

It was noted that she was apparently not a virgin but was also not pregnant.

Later that evening at about 9.30pm, Edward Palmer purchased some paper and a pencil as well as 2 drachms of laudanum for 2d.

At about 4.30am the following morning he knocked up a relative and asked for a glass of water, saying that he had taken poison. However, he was not admitted into the house although he hung about, and he was later arrested at 6am by a policeman that recognised him as a wanted man.

When he was searched the police found a blood-stained razor and a farewell note to his mother that read, 'Our trouble is all over. I could not stand the disgrace any more'.

At his trial, his defence attempted to have the murder charge reduced to manslaughter on the grounds of provocation. Edward Palmer stated that whilst they were walking he had told Ada James that he was going abroad again and said that immediately before he cut Ada James's throat she had told him that she would go 'on the town as she had done before', and that she had taken off the ring that he had given her and thrown it in his face.

Edward Palmer said that two sailors had told him that they had slept with Ada James.

It was also heard that Edward Palmer had written to his father previously and told him that he had Ada James had been secretly married for some time and described Ada James as, 'One of the best women anyone could wish to meet'. However, the police report noted that nothing was known of any such marriage and that Edward Palmer was not asked to swear to it in evidence. However, the report noted that the fact that Ada James had told the police when she was found that 'her husband had done it' indicated that they might have been.

However, the police report noted that whether or not they were married, it was found that Ada James seemed to have been carrying on with at least one man while Edward Palmer had been abroad and thought that she may have been generally of loose character. The report also noted that Edward Palmer had written a letter which they had stopped in which he said that Ada James's own father had tried to, 'mess her about'.

Edward Palmer was convicted of murder and sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy.

see National Archives - HO 144/1253/234638