British Executions

James Smith

Age: 23

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 10 Aug 1926

Crime Location: 6 Silver Street, Newcastle-uponTyne

Execution Place: Durham

Method: hanging

Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint


James Smith murdered his wife Catherine Smith 26 by stabbing her to death at 6 Silver Street, Newcastle on 26 April 1926.

James Smith was a ships fireman.

James Smith and Catherine Smith had seperated and Catherine Smith had moved into a tenement. On 26 April he called for her and she went to the head of the stairs to speak to him when he went up to her and stabbed her several times with a dagger. He then dragged her down the stairs by the hair of her head. She died within a few minutes with stab wounds to her chest and back. He then gave the knife to an aquaintence. When charged he replird 'Not guilty. I did not know what i was doing.'

James Smith and Catherine Smith were married in January 1925but  had been living apart since February 1926 after having a number of quarrels when Catherine Smith had gone back home to her family at 6 Silver Street. The father left for work at 7.20am but was called back at 3.20 by his other 15 year old daughter who told him that 'Marler' had stabbed Kitty. When the father got home he found that Catherine Smith had been taken to the infirmary and when he got to the infirmary he found that she was dead.

The sister said that she had known James Smith for as long as she could remember but that he was greatly given to drink and did not provide her with sufficient money to keep a home. they had been living in Nixon Street, Gateshead until two months before when they parted. Since they seperated James Smith would visit each Friday and give Catherine Smith 7/- a week out of his unemployment benefit. Catherine Smith had complained that James Smith didn't give her enough money to live on but James Smith refused to give her any more money.

Catherine Smith's mother had seven furnished rooms to let to sub-tennents at 23 Silver Streetand on 18 April the mother went there and found James Smith and several other men gambling  there with cards in the wash house and she informed the police at 6pm. The daughter later saw James Smith at the corner of City Street at 10.05pm who shouted at her but she ignored him.

At 3.30pm on 19 April the sister heard James Smith shouting at Catherine Smith and her mother who were at the window from Pilgrim Street. They then went out and quarreled with James Smith who were complaining that he and some other men had had their names taken for gambling the previous day. James Smith said he would take it out on Catherine Smith and attempted to strike her. Catherine Smith and her family then went home and informed the police.

At 4.15pm they were going upstairs in their house when they saw James Smith in the kitchen with Catherine Smith. The mother told James Smith to 'Get out of here this is not your house'. James Smith then pulled out a dagger and said 'I'll do the fucking lot of you in'. They then threw James Smith out into Silver Street and they didn't see him again until 26 April.

The sister went out at 1.50pm on an errand and when she returned at 2.30pm she saw James Smith and Catherine Smith talking on the top landing. The mother was in the kitchen. The sister said that they James Smith appeared sober and that they were talking quietly. The only other people in the house were the sister, her mother and Catherine Smith's baby who was in the cradle. At about 2.45pm Catherine Smith shouted 'Oh mother, mother.'

The sister went to see and saw Catherine Smith with blood on her jumper and about her left breast and moaning. The sister ran out for a policeman in the Royal Arcade. when she returned with the policeman James Smith was standing at the corner of Silver Street and Pilgrim Street.

When arrested James Smith said 'Yes, I have stabbed Kate, I am very sorry'. He then started to cry and sob and said 'I could not help it, she made me do it'.

see National Archives - HO 144/6926, ASSI 45/86/4

see Western Daily Press - Thursday 20 May 1926

see Western Daily Press - Friday 30 July 1926