British Executions

Patrick McKenna

Age: 53

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 3 Dec 1901

Crime Location: 17 Kestor Street, Bolton, Lancashire

Execution Place: Manchester

Method: hanging

Executioner: James Billington


Patrick McKenna was convicted of the murder of his wife Anne McKenna.

He cut her throat on 30 September 1901 whilst drunk.

They had been married for a while but after Patrick McKenna lost his job as a joiner he began to drink. They had lived at 5 Kestor Street in Bolton.

On 30 September 1901 Anne McKenna had been to the pawnbrokers to pawn some goods and get some money. When she returned Patrick McKenna demanded 2p but Anne McKenna refused to give it to him and they had a violent row and Anne McKenna ran off and went to her daughter-in-law’s house at 17 Kestor Street.

Patrick McKenna went to the house but was told that Anne McKenna was not there and he went away. However, he later came back and saw Anne McKenna through the kitchen window and he forced his way in.

They had a violent row during which Patrick McKenna picked up a knife that had been used to chop up some meat and threatened to cut her throat. However, it was claimed that she stood her ground and dared him to stab her and so he stabbed her in the throat and then ran off back home where he was found hiding beneath the stairs. However, her daughter-in-law denied that Anne McKenna had dared him to stab her.

Anne McKenna's daughter-in-law said that Patrick McKenna had been a joiner by trade but that for some time past he had been labouring. She said that she believed that he had been working up to noon on 28 September 1901 and that she saw him that night drunk in his own house. She said that she heard them quarrelling and saw Patrick McKenna and their lodger on the floor fighting. She said that Anne McKenna then joined in and that she tried to separate them, noting that both Patrick McKenna and the lodger were drunk.

She said that the lodger had been lodging at 5 Kestor Street for the previous couple of months.

However, she noted that except for that that she had not heard any complaints about the lodger and Anne McKenna.

She noted that when Patrick McKenna and Anne McKenna were sober that they got on very well together. She said that up to 28 September 1901 that Patrick McKenna had been working steadily and that she visited their house frequently.

She said that she saw him again drunk at his house on the Sunday night.

She said that the first time that she saw him on 30 September 1901 was about 12 noon at which time he was also drunk and that at that time Anne McKenna came into her house and Patrick McKenna followed her in. She said that Patrick McKenna said to Anne McKenna, 'I suppose you have been to the pawn shop' and that she replied, 'Yes'. She said that Patrick McKenna then said, 'Give me two pence' and Anne McKenna replied, 'No, I'll not give you anything'.

She said that Patrick McKenna then said, 'I'll cut your bloody throat before the day is out with a razor', and that he also used other filthy talk.

She said he then said, 'I suppose you took a cup of beer up to the lodger and how do I know but that he may have fucked you'.

Anne McKenna's daughter-in-law said that she then told Patrick McKenna to go out and that he went but that he came back about ten minutes later, but said that she saw him pass by the window and bolted the door, but didn't have time to turn the lock.

She said that Patrick McKenna then tried to break open the door and so she opened it in fear that he might be worse and she then pushed him and he fell owing to his being drunk. She said that he then got up and tried to get hold of her and she shoved him down and ran into next door's house, 19 Kestor Street.

She said that Patrick McKenna then went away and that she then went back into her own house. However, she said that he came back ten minutes later at which time Anne McKenna went upstairs to bed.

She said that Patrick McKenna said, 'What have you been doing to me?', and that she laughed it off and told him that she had only touched him and he had fallen. She said that he then asked, 'Where’s the old woman?', meaning Anne McKenna, and that she replied, 'Oh, she has gone to her daughter's', noting that her daughter lived in Bullock Street and that she had said that to get him away, adding that as a matter of fact that Anne McKenna was then upstairs in her house.

She said that her answer had the desired effect and that he went away.

She said that she went out at 5pm and left Anne McKenna and another woman in the house and went to 1 Kestor Street, being away for about five minutes and that when she got back Anne McKenna was in the front place and the other woman was still in the house.  She said that after she had been back for about a minute or two that she saw Patrick McKenna pass the window and said, 'Oh, he's here' and that Anne McKenna then ran towards the back kitchen and Patrick McKenna came in and saw her running into the back kitchen and went towards her and got her by the shoulder and brought her back into the front place.

She said that Anne McKenna then sat on a chair near the cupboard. She said that there was a knife on the table and Patrick McKenna picked it up and said, 'I'll cut your bloody throat', but that Anne McKenna took the knife off him an put it back on the table.

She said that Patrick McKenna then said, 'You took the lodger a cup of beer upstairs to him this morning. I'll cut your bloody throat for you', and that he then plunged the knife into her throat and cut her throat.

Anne McKenna's daughter-in-law noted that the other woman was not in the house at the time as she had gone out.

She said that she then ran into the other woman's house and brought her back to the door of her house, by which time Patrick McKenna had gone.

She said that Anne McKenna had by then got up off the chair near the cupboard and was sat on one near the dresser and that there was blood coming out of her mouth and she was dead in five minutes. She said that a doctor was sent for but that Anne McKenna was dead before he arrived.

At the trial Anne McKenna's daughter-in-law denied that Anne McKenna had taken the knife from the cupboard and say it was there, stating that the knife was not put on the table for him. She said that she had been cutting meat with it for her husband and that it had been on the table for some time. She also denied that Anne McKenna said, 'The knife is there, use it'.

Patrick McKenna was convicted at the Manchester Assizes on Wednesday 13 November 1901 and executed at Manchester on 3 December 1901.

The case is also notable for the friendship between Patrick McKenna and James Billington, the executioner who later executed him. James Billington was the landlord of the Derby Hotel where Patrick McKenna often drank. James Billington's son had been called to the aid of Anne McKenna and had held her as she died. They had been close friends for years.

Ten days following the execution James Billington died. It was said that he had died from a broken heart following the execution of his friend Patrick McKenna. Following the execution he had contracted a severe chill.

As he had been unable to attend the execution of John Miller and John Robert Miller on 7 December 1901 his son took his place.

James Billington had been 50-years-old and had been appointed public executioner about thirteen years earlier and had carried out a large number of executions all over the kingdom.

see National Archives - ASSI 52/58

see Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 03 December 1901

see Boston Guardian - Saturday 16 November 1901