British Executions

Benjamin Hindle Benson

Age: 41

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 7 Jan 1919

Crime Location: 1 Atkinson Hill, Hunslet, Leeds

Execution Place: Leeds

Method: hanging

Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint


Benjamin Hindle Benson was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend 30-year-old Annie Mayne and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat in Hunslet on 27 August 1918.

Benjamin Benson had been a carting agent and had joined the army in June 1917.

He was married, but his wife had left him seven years earlier.

Annie Mayne had been the wife of a man employed by Benjamin Benson and about two years earlier she and her husband had gone to live in the same house as Benjamin Benson at 1 Atkinson Hill, Hunslet. However, shortly after they moved in, Annie Mayne's husband found that Annie Mayne was being too intimate with Benjamin Benson and he moved out, and since then Benjamin Benson and Annie Mayne had lived together as man and wife. Annie Mayne's husband later started living with another woman.

When Benjamin Benson was called up Annie Mayne drew a separation allowance as his dependent. However, in Benjamin Benson's absence, Annie Mayne took to drink and led a loose life.

However, letters later found at the house showed that Benjamin Benson had heard of her behaviour and had remonstrated with her. It was heard that in particular, that she had been carrying on latterly with a certain soldier who later accused her of having infected him.

On 24 August 1918 Benjamin Benson returned home unexpectedly at about 9.30pm. When he arrived, he found his house locked up, and as he was enquiring with neighbours as to whether they had seen her, she came along with a soldier who had his arm round her waist. There had been another couple with them, and it was said that all four of them were doubtless about to make free of Benjamin Benson's house.

Benjamin Benson spoke to the soldier and the soldier told him that Annie Mayne had told him that she was a single woman.

Benjamin Benson then sent him about his business and he and Annie Mayne then retired to their house.

Nothing seemed to happen after that until the morning of Monday 26August 1918, when Annie Mayne got up at 6am, pretending to go to work, but then returning almost at once.

It was said that she was evidently expecting a letter and she waylaid the postwoman and got a letter from her that a soldier had written her.

However, Benjamin Benson had been watching her and when she returned to the house he demanded to see the letter. However, she refused and he then attacked her, first with a razor, and then with a carving knife, cutting her about the jaw and throat.

The bloodstained razor and carving knife were later found in the room.

The edge of the razor was broken and two small pieces were found in one of the wounds.

After attacking her, Benjamin Benson left her in a dying condition and locked up the house and gave himself up to the police, to whom he made a long statement, which it was thought that as far as it went, was true.

Benjamin Benson was convicted of murder and sentenced to death but with no recommendation to mercy.

He appealed, but his application was refused.

However, the police report described Annie Mayne as a worthless woman and stated that Benjamin Benson's jealousy was well founded.

It was noted additionally that he had also resented having spent his money on her.

It was also noted that Annie Mayne appeared to have also recently forged his name on a cheque for £5, but had not cashed it.

Benjamin Benson also said that immediately before he had attacked her that she had taunted him with having had most of his father's money off him. However, it was stated that such provocation was clearly insufficient to have reduced the crime to manslaughter, and neither did it appear to afford any ground for a reprieve.

The police report added that they thought that they were likely to have many more such cases, and submitted that their number would increase if the death sentences were not carried out.

Benjamin Benson was executed at Leeds on 7 January 1919.

It’s not known exactly where 1 Atkinson Hill was, but the area of Atkinson Hill was roughly centred around the top of where Pepper Lane is today.

see National Archives - HO 144/1506/372702