British Executions

George Henry Parker

Age: 23

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 19 Mar 1901

Crime Location: Wimbledon Station

Execution Place: Wandsworth

Method: hanging

Executioner: James Billington


George Henry Parker was convicted of the murder of William Pearson 43 and sentenced to death.

He shot him on a London and South-Western train near Wimbledon, London.

George Parker had got on a Southampton to London train at Eastleigh around midday on 17 January 1901. At the time there was already another woman in the compartment and then at Winchester William Pearson got on. They had been in carriage 169.

As the train left Wimbledon George Parker shot William Pearson dead and then went through his pockets. He then saw that the woman was looking at him and told her to be quiet or she would get the same but then immediately shot her in the head hitting her in the cheek. However, she survived.

When the train got to Vauxhall Station William Pearson jumped out but the woman shouted out for people to stop him and he was chased by some porters and passengers and captured near the gasworks.

George Parker had lived at 1 Christ Church Road in Winchester and had been a gentleman farmer and had been going to London on business.

The woman had been a married woman and had lived in Southampton. She was the principle witness against George Parker and when she appeared before the Westminster Police Court on Friday 1 February 1901 she was described as having looked very weak.

She said that she had travelled by rail from Southampton West to London by the 11.15 morning train, 3rd class in a lavatory compartment, furthest end and back to engine. She said that when she got on there was no one else in the carriage but that George Parker got on at Eastleigh and sat with his back to the engine in the other corner seat. She said that she noticed nothing strange about him.

She said that William Pearson got on at Winchester and sat in the opposite corner seat to her.

She said that William Pearson began reading a paper and then appeared to go to sleep.

The woman said that none of them spoke until the train got to Surbiton, noting that before the train got to Surbiton that she moved to the other end of the seat facing George Parker, nearest to the lavatory door.

She said that before the train arrived at Surbiton that George Parker went into the lavatory, shut the door, and was about three minutes in there after which he came back out and sat down.

She said that as soon as they passed Surbiton that she took her ticket out of her purse and stood up and looked towards William Pearson with her back to George Parker.

The woman said that she then heard something go off twice, quickly one after the other and thought that it was fog signals, noting that she didn't feel any bullet wound but felt herself bleeding.

She said that she then turned round and, realising what had happened, she said, 'My God what did you do it for?' and said that George Parker replied, 'I did it for money. I want some money. Have you got any?'.

She said that she told him that she had a little and that she then took her purse out and gave him 1/- which he took and put in his pocket.

She said that before she noticed William Pearson that she implored George Parker not to kill her, to save her life and said that he told her that he would not hurt her if she kept perfectly still and told her that he was sorry that he had hurt her.

She said that she then noticed that William Pearson was bleeding from the eye, noting that she thought that he was already dead and that she could hear a little gurgling in his throat, but that that was all. She noted that he never moved.

The woman said that George Parker, with his back to her, then took things out of William Pearson's pockets after which he sat down and she saw that he had taken a cigar case and a purse and that he then opened the purse and counted out the money. She said that he then offered her a sovereign, asking whether that was any good to her and said that she replied, no and that she didn't want it.

She said that she had blood on her face and that she used two handkerchiefs and asked George Parker for his which she said he gave her.

She noted that she had blood on her hands and that she was going to put her hands on his arms to implore him not to kill her but that he said, 'Don't touch me’, and she said she didn't.

She said that she then asked him where he came from and said that he told her Birmingham and that he was going to Liverpool and if he could then get clear, to South Africa.

She said that she kept him in conversation for some time and that he then said, 'What have I done with that dammed thing', and looked around  and saw that it was behind him, but said that she didn't see it. She said that he then said, 'It won't do for me to keep this thing about one. I've a good mind to put it in his hand, then they'll think he done it himself'.

The woman said that she then said, 'If I was you I'd throw it out of the window', and said that he was going to throw it out of the window but said that there were some men looking, saying, 'I can't throw it there, they are looking at me'. She said that she then advised him to wait for a bit for some sheds and to then throw it on the roof of them. She said that he then threw it, but it fell on a rail and that she then saw a revolver.

She said that he threw the bullets out too, saying, 'There are four more here'.

She said that she then advised George Parker to take William Pearson's handkerchief out and put it over his face and then use the newspapers to keep the handkerchief up, which she said he did.

The woman said that George Parker then said, 'As soon as I get to Vauxhall I shall make a run for it and mind you say nothing about it', noting that he repeated that two or three times. She said that she then advised him to run for his life.

She said that George Parker then opened the door and ran with all his might, but that she got out and told two porters close by to stop him because he had murdered a gentleman in the train and had shot her.

She said that she was then taken to hospital where she remained for eight days.

When George Parker was arrested he said, I did it. It's an old grievance as he injured me when in the army and also out'. He also said, 'I wish I had killed that woman, and then I would have got away. I shot him to get my own back. The woman pushed her face near the trigger, and it went off again, and the shot grazed her cheek. If I had killed her too I should have got away'.

He later claimed that the shooting was an accident that happened whilst he was drunk.

The revolver was found by a platelayer on the line about 50 yards from Wandsworth Road Bridge along the Windsor up line.

The post mortem stated that George Parker had been shot at a range of about 9 inches.

George Parker was executed at Wandsworth Gaol on the morning of Tuesday 19 March 1901. He was said to have risen at 7am and to have been provided with a breakfast of tea, bread and butter and eggs, but made a poor meal . James Billington came into the cell a few minutes before nine and pinioned him, it being said that he showed no sign of fear at his approaching doom. He was said to have walked the whole distance to the scaffold without assistance and when the drop fell he was said to have died instantaneously.

Following the murder it was reported that there was a growing demand for corridor trains, with it being noted that ordinary passenger trains on some lines were being greatly improved by the provision of a pneumatic system of communication such that it could be operated from no less than four different positions in each compartment, with it being immediately effective in distinctly intimating that a passenger required an official's attention.

However, it was noted that in the case of William Pearson that no such arrangement would have been of the slightest use as he had been shot through the head with practically no warning, the bullet causing instant death and the woman having been injured and under close observation by George Parker.

George Parker was also known as George Hill.

note - The photo is Vauxhall Railway Station, London, from 1908.

see BTP

see Edinburgh Evening News - Saturday 19 January 1901

see Dundee Evening Post - Tuesday 19 March 1901

see Leeds Times - Saturday 26 January 1901