British Executions

Herbert John Bennett

Age: 22

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 21 Mar 1901

Crime Location: Yarmouth Beach

Execution Place: Norwich

Method: hanging

Executioner: James Billington


Herbert John Bennett was convicted of the murder of his wife Mary Jane Bennett 24 and sentenced to death.

He denied murdering her and at his trial there were several pieces of evidence that indicated that he might not have been the murderer but he was executed anyway.

Mary Bennett was found dead on the beach at Great Yarmouth on 22 September 1900 having been strangled with a mohair lace tied around her throat.

At first her identity was not known but she was identified as a woman who had checked into rooms at the Rows in Great Yarmouth on 15 September 1900 under a false name, Mrs Hood. But she was later traced to London through a letter and some of her laundry.

When her identity was found out the police questioned her husband Herbert Bennett but he denied ever having been to Great Yarmouth.

They were married on 22 July 1897. At the time Herbert Bennett was 17 and a petty thief and Mary Bennett was a music teacher.

After Mary Bennett realised that Herbert Bennett was not what he claimed to be they separated.

Before they separated though they went to Great Yarmouth together where they stayed at the Crown and Anchor Hotel.

After they separated Herbert Bennett met another woman.

The staff at the Crown and Anchor Hotel in Great Yarmouth said that on the night of the murder  Herbert Bennett had been a guest at their hotel and had got in a few minutes before midnight hand had appeared breathless.

When Herbert Bennett's rooms were searched they found a watch and chain that were identified as belonging to Mary Bennett.

However, in court evidence was also given that Mary Bennett had two identical watches and chains and that the one that Herbert Bennett had might not have been the one that was missing from the body of Mary Bennett when it was found on the beach.

Further, evidence was given that four days after the murder a man had gone into a news agents and asked for a newspaper that had a report about the murder in it and that the man had been wearing a pair of boots with only one lace in it which was a mohair lace similar to the one thought to have been used to strangle Mary Bennett.

Also, a man later said that he had been with Herbert Bennett in Lee Green, South London on the night of the murder.

Herbert Bennett was however convicted and executed.

11 years later another woman was strangled on the beach at Great Yarmouth with a mohair lace, however, her murder was never solved and the similarity cast suspicion on whether Herbert Bennett had actually murdered his wife, something that he had denied throughout.

see National Archives - CRIM 1/65/2, HO 144/567/A62336

see Reading Mercury - Saturday 09 March 1901

see Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 25 November 1900