British Executions

Thomas McGuiness

Age: 25

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 16 May 1917

Crime Location: 101 Blackburn Street, Govan, Glasgow

Execution Place: Duke Street, Glasgow

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Thomas McGuinness was convicted of the murder of Alexander Imlach 5 and sentenced to death.

He battered him to death at 101 Blackburn Street, Govan, Glasgow on 8 March, 1917.

Thomas McGuinness had been a stableman.

Alexander Imlach was the illegitimate son of a woman that he was seeing who had run away with Thomas McGuinness.

The indictment against him also alleged that he had previously abused the child at various addresses in Glasgow between June 1916 and March 1917 by assaulting him and burning him.

Alexander Imlach's mother said that she had seen Thomas McGuinness putting the red hot end of cigarettes against Alexander Imlach's face and marking it. When she was asked whether she had ever seen Thomas McGuinness put a cigarette up Alexander Imlach's nostrils, she said that she had seen him put a cigarette beside his nostrils. She added that Thomas McGuinness frequently assaulted both of them and that they had lived in terror of him. However, she noted that he didn't take drink.

The court also heard that Thomas McGuinness had placed Alexander Imlach on the ribs of a fire.

She said that on the morning of 8 March 1917 they had a quarrel as Thomas McGuinness had given her only three shillings the day before and that she was without food and that she went out at about 10am to see if she could get some. She said that when she left that Alexander Imlach was sleeping in bed. She said that on her return about 15 minutes later that she saw Thomas McGuinness sitting at the fire with Alexander Imlach on his knees gasping for breath. She said that his eyes were closed and that he could not speak and that his upper lip was swelling and his face blue on one side.

She said that Thomas McGuinness then said 'Alick has taken a fit'.

Alexander Imlach's mother said that she then called in a neighbour and they then saw blood coming from Alexander Imlach's ears and nose. She said that the neighbour then said to her, 'Your boy has been done in. It will be a case for the police'.

She said that Thomas McGuinness left the house shortly after and didn't return. It was heard that when Thomas McGuinness had first left that he had said that he was going for a doctor but he later returned saying that he could not get one.

Alexander Imlach died before the doctor arrived.

Following his death Alexander Imlach was removed to the mortuary at Albert Street Post Office where he was examined by the casualty surgeon.

Alexander Imlach's mother sad that she was from Banffshire and that she had met Alexander Imlach whilst working in a restaurant in Aberdeen and that in March 1916 he told her that he was going to Dundee and pressed her to accompany him. She said that at first she refused but then later yielded to persuasion. She said that they lived in Dundee one night and later stayed at several places but that because of his ill-treatment she ran away from him.

However, she said that they met again in Edinburgh and Alexander Imlach pleaded with her to return to him and that upon her showing reluctance to comply with his wishes that he threatened her and that they ultimately made their way by road to Glasgow.

She said that they stayed in Baltic Street in Bridgeton and that Alexander Imlach would beat both her and Alexander Imlach. She said that Thomas McGuinness was fond of cigarettes and would frequently put the lighted ends of them against Alexander Imlach's face. She said that they later moved to lodgings in Springfield Road but that his conduct became worse.

She said that when she asked Alexander Imlach how he came by his injuries one day that he replied, 'My daddy burned me'. She noted that the burns were on his face, hands and legs. She added that it was no exaggeration to say that the child had lived in terror of Thomas McGuinness.

When Thomas McGuinness was arrested he had said that he had had a wild life and that he had been in America and Mexico and all over Scotland and that he had had nothing to eat and that he was tired of life and wanted to be hanged and was going to drown himself.

At his trial Thomas McGuinness's defence claimed that Thomas McGuinness had suffered from an epileptic fit at the time of the murder but a medical witness for the Crown said that following an examination of Thomas McGuinness hat they found no trace of epilepsy in him. When the judge summed up he said that he defence had failed to prove that, even if Thomas McGuinness was epileptic, that he had been under the influence of fits when the murder was committed.

Thomas McGuinness was convicted at the Glasgow High Court on Wednesday 25 April 1917 and executed on 16 May 1917 at Duke Street Prison.


see National Records Of Scotland - AD15/17/72

see Western Daily Press - Thursday 26 April 1917

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 15 March 1917

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 16 May 1917

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 26 April 1917

see Daily Record - Wednesday 25 April 1917

see The Scotsman - Monday 12 March 1917

see Daily Record - Friday 09 March 1917

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 25 April 1917