British Executions

James Honeyands

Age: 21

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 12 Mar 1914

Crime Location: Courtney Arms, Courtney Street, Plymouth

Execution Place: Exeter

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


James Honeyands was convicted of the murder of Amelia Bradfield 18 and sentenced to death.

He shot her outside the Courtney Arms public house in Courtney Street, Plymouth on 18 October 1913 and she died ten days later on 28 October 1913.

James Honeyands was a stoker in the Royal Navy having entered the navy in 1910 as a second-class stoker and soon rising to the rank of first-class stoker, and around Christmas 1912 he made the acquaintance of Amelia Bradfield who was the wife of another stoker aboard the China Station.

James Honeyands later arranged with Amelia Bradfield's mother to lodge at their home in Stonehouse Lane in Plymouth at the weekends, paying 5/- a week. That arrangement continued for some time and it was thought possible that James Honeyands might have been intimate with Amelia Bradfield, although her mother denied it and said that she had repudiated James Honeyands suggestion that he should 'live' with Amelia Bradfield.

The police report noted that a good deal turned upon the question of what the real relations between James Honeyands and Amelia Bradfield were.

It was noted that one witness said that on one occasion in June of July 1913 that he had heard James Honeyands say to Amelia Bradfield that if she would not have him that he would see to it that she had no one else, and that he would rather shoot her. The dock labourer who lived in the same house that heard him say it said that James Honeyands said to Amelia Bradfield whilst he was drunk, 'I hope your husband will get drowned before he gets back to Plymouth. If you don't have me, I will watch you don't have anyone else, for I will shoot you'.

It was noted that as such Amelia Bradfield might have been faithful to her husband, but that at any rate, she refused to live openly with James Honeyands.

Another witness, a warehouse porter, said that on 4 October 1914, that he heard James Honeyands say, 'I nearly did for Amelia once. It's a pity I didn't do for her right out'. The warehouse porter noted that James Honeyands had been pretty sober at the time.

Soon after that incident, James Honeyands went away on mobilization and on 18 October 1913, he came out from doing 42 days in detention. On that night Amelia Bradfield's mother heard that Amelia Bradfield was in a public house, the Courtenay Arms, where she was with James Honeyands and sent a friend in to fetch her out, and Amelia Bradfield came out but went back in again.

However, Amelia Bradfield then went out of the pub again and was followed by James Honeyands and they had a quarrel in which James Honeyands accused Amelia Bradfield of having given him the 'bad disorder'. When Amelia Bradfield had come out of the Courtney Arms she was heard to say 'What's the matter? I'm all right'. James Honeyands was then heard to make an offensive remark about Amelia Bradfield's husband, calling him a cur, to which Amelia Bradfield replied by saying that her husband was not a cur, whereupon James Honeyands pulled out the revolver from his jumper and fired straight at her as she stood about arm’s length from him.

James Honeyands fired three shots at Amelia Bradfield at close range, hitting her in the arm and through the lung. It was said that it was obvious that he fired with the intention of killing her. The first shot had hit her in the chest and as she was stooping down, James Honeyands fired two more shots, both of which hit her.

James Honeyands then put the revolver to his mouth and clicked the trigger, but the remaining cartridges had apparently fallen out.

He then ran off but was caught by a postman just after he put the revolver to his head again.

When James Honeyands was taken to the police station, he said that Amelia Bradfield had given him a dose of clap.

Amelia Bradfield was taken to hospital but died on 28 October 1913.

When James Honeyands's medical sheet was examined, it showed that he had been treated for syphilis in April 1913. However, Amelia Bradfield's post-mortem disclosed that there was no evidence to show that she had ever suffered from any venereal disease and as such, it was thought that even if James Honeyands had had relations with Amelia Bradfield, that he had contracted syphilis elsewhere.

His defence at his trial was described as a half-hearted defence of insanity based on his grandmother having been in Colney Hatch Asylum and his mother having died in an Inebriate Home.

When he was convicted, the jury strongly recommended him to mercy, however, the police report to the Home Secretary said that upon the evidence they did not think that were sufficient grounds for interference in his sentence.

see National Archives - HO 144/1303/248253