Date Of Execution: 10 Nov 1914
Crime Location: Parson Street, Porlock
Execution Place: Shepton Mallet
Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint
Henry Quartley was convicted of the murder of Henry Pugsley 59 and sentenced to death.
He shot him in Parson Street, Porlock on 3 June 1914.
Henry Quartley was a builder and lived with his sister in Parson Street.
Henry Pugsley was a fish-hawker and had also lived on Parson Street, on the opposite side to Henry Quartley, a few doors away.
It was heard that in November 1913, that whilst Henry Pugsley had been out, Henry Quartley had gone across the street to his house and called on his wife whereupon he abused her and told her that she was going to be turned out of her house as she was a bad woman and that her husband, Henry Pugsley, was as bad as she was.
As a result, Henry Pugsley's wife summoned Henry Quartley for using indecent language, but the summons was dismissed in December 1913.
However, in May 1914, Henry Pugsley summoned Henry Quartley for using indecent language which resulted in an incident on 1 June 1914 at about 10pm in which Henry Quartley stood outside Henry Pugsley's house swearing and abusing them about the summons.
Following that, on 3 June 1914, Henry Quartley concealed a gun in a sack and snuck out into Henry Pugsley's garden on the opposite side of the street at about 6pm as Henry Pugsley was stood talking to carter about 12 yards from the corner of Henry Quartley's garden, and then shot him.
The charge entered the back of Henry Pugsley's shoulder and pierced his lungs. The pellets also struck another woman who was standing by him but didn't hurt her much.
Henry Pugsley died about half-an-hour later.
Henry Quartley then went back across the street into his own house and went upstairs and fired another shot at his own head but missed, the shot going through the ceiling and only scorching his face.
A policeman was then called and when they arrived they disarmed Henry Quartley and handcuffed him.
However, at first, the police didn't know that Henry Pugsley had been killed and when they charged him with shooting the other women who was only slightly wounded, he said, 'No, I didn't intend it for her. I intended it for Tacker (Henry Pugsley). I intended to kill that B.....r. He and his wife have been on long enough'.
Henry Quartley pleaded guilty to the charge of murder and refused to withdraw his plea and no evidence was given at his trial.
When he was called up and the judge read out the charge, he pleaded guilty. When the judge then suggested that Counel should speak to him, Henry Quartley objected strongly, saying, 'I know I am guilty, and what is the use of bamboozling about it. I know I killed him. I shot him and there's an end of it'. His Counsel then intimated that even if Henry Quartley did kill Henry Pugsley, it did not necessarily prove that he murdered him. However, Henry Quartley replied, 'I don't want to squeeze out of it. I shot him, there'. His Counsel then appealed again to the judge for Henry Quartley to be allowed to withdraw his plea, but Henry Quartley persisted in his guilt, saying, 'What's the use of telling a lot of lies about it? I don't want to hear any more about it. I said before I killed him, and there's an end of it. What's the use of telling a lot of lies about it?'.
The judge then told Henry Quartley that he had pleaded guilty, and asked him if he had anything to say why the sentence of the law should not be passed upon him. Henry Quartley then took up a piece of paper and said, 'This all happened through the dead man's wife. She was the cause of all the trouble, began it and left her husband to bear the brunt, and I shot him. I can only die once, and I fear no foe. I am leaving many friends behind me and I hope they will all cheer up and keep up their peckers. I only wish I had shot her'.
The Judge then put on his black cap and said, 'Life for life, was the law. Prisoner seemed full of envy and spite now towards the woman he had deprived of her husband, almost in front of her eyes. He had taken life, and there was only one punishment known for that crime'. He then passed the sentence of death.
When Henry Quartley left the dock he said, 'Goodbye, all'.
The trial was noted for being one of the shortest murder trials on record, lasting only twelve minutes.
The police report noted that it was thought that the cause of the problems was that Henry Quartley had previously been intimate with Henry Pugsley's wife when she had been a widow before her marriage to Henry Pugsley and that after her marriage to Henry Pugsley she had refused to continue their relations.
It was also noted that Henry Quartley was addicted to drink and was excitable when drunk, but quite sane and no cause for interference in the sentence was given.
see National Archives - HO 144/1388/269117