Date Of Execution: 4 Nov 1913
Crime Location: Brampton, Huntingdonshire
Execution Place: Cambridge
Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint
Frederick Seekings was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Martha Jane Beeby 45
He cut her throat on the way home from a public house in Brampton, Huntingdonshire on 28 July 1913.
Frederick Seekings was a labourer and had lived with Martha Beeby for some years as man and wife, both using his name, Seekings. However, it was noted that Martha Beeby was already married to another man. They also had a boy living with them who they referred to as their 'nephew'.
Frederick Seekings went to the Bell Inn in Brampton at about 8pm on 28 July 1913 for the annual village 'feast'. He stayed there drinking where he was joined by Martha Beeby at about 9pm. It was later suggested that he had not wanted Martha Beeby to join him at the 'feast' and had previously threatened her over it and had also commented on him not wanting to be fetched from the Inn by a woman.
They left the Bell Inn together at about 10pm, both very drunk and swearing at each other and were seen to fall down on the gravel path outside the pub.
A little further along, Martha Beeby either fell or was pushed by Frederick Seekings into a ditch. They then both fell into the ditch. They were helped up by friends and then the landlady's son then helped Martha Beeby up, who was apparently the more drunk of the two, taking her by one arm whilst Frederick Seekings took her by the other and together they went down the road towards their home.
It was noted that the landlady's son was bent on getting Frederick Seekings and Martha Beeby away quietly and had made the least of their drunken condition. However, he left them about a mile from the Bell Inn.
However, at about 10.30pm a man that had also just got back from the ‘feast’ with another married couple said that his wife told him that she had heard a noise and so the man and the other husband went off to look, taking a bicycle lamp with them for visibility. Then, about 75 yards from the last of the cottages, at about 11pm, they saw Frederick Seekings and Martha Beeby lying on the grass at the side of the road.
Frederick Seekings had his left hand over Martha Beeby's body and his right-hand underneath her. Martha Beeby's throat had been cut, almost from ear to ear, and there were two separate gashes severing her windpipe.
A clasp knife covered in blood, which was closed, was later found in Frederick Seekings pocket and he was found to have blood on both his hands and right forearm.
Martha Beeby's skirt was off and was found covering the upper part of her body and face. Her clothes were also found to be disarranged and the grass round the area was trampled as though there had been a struggle.
Frederick Seekings was asleep when he was found and became aggressive when roused.
When the police arrived Frederick Seekings said, 'I did not do it. She took the knife away from me and done it herself.
The police report noted that the wound could not have been self-inflicted and stated that the remark by Frederick Seekings that Martha Beeby had cut her own throat showed that Frederick Seekings knew what he had done and that it was wrong.
At his trial, Frederick Seekings's defence stated that Frederick Seekings was so drunk that the verdict should be reduced to manslaughter. The police report stated that there was no doubt that Frederick Seekings had been very drunk before the murder and that he had fallen into a drunken sleep immediately after it, but noted that when he was rouse and tried to get up, he had fallen back but that after that he had got into the cart without assistance.
The police noted that a piece of evidence heard at the inquest however threw light on the crime. It was heard that a chimney sweep had met Martha Beeby on 25 July 1913 and had asked her if she was going to the 'feast' and said that she replied, 'Yes, if I live but if I go there my old man says he will cut my bloody head off'. The police report noted that that evidence was not heard at the trial. However, the report noted that it was proved that when Martha Beeby had joined Frederick Seekings at the Bell Inn, she had said to him, 'I guessed you was there' and that Frederick Seekings had appeared to be annoyed that she should have come and on the way down the road he had said to someone that he had not wanted any bloody woman to fetch him home.
Frederick Seekings was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy.
see National Archives - HO 144/1291/243889