British Executions

Alexander Claydon

Age: 43

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 13 Dec 1901

Crime Location: 7 Portland Street, Northampton

Execution Place: Northampton

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Alexander Claydon was convicted of the murder of his wife Louisa Claydon and sentenced to death.

He beat her to death with a heavy file and stabbed her multiple times on Sunday 7 July 1901.

After he went for a four mile walk but was picked up by the police who thought he needed help and he admitted that he had just killed his wife.

Alexander Claydon grew up in Islington with his mother and father and had three brothers and a sister. His father was a shoemaker and very much given to drink and committed suicide by cutting his throat in about 1868 in the vicinity of Balls Pond in Islington. After his father committed suicide Alexander Claydon went to live with his uncle for about seven years and then went to America where he met a woman and married her. He later returned with her to England and lived with her in Dunster Street and Portland Street and when she died he married Louisa Claydon in 1890.

They had a son together aged 10, although Louisa Claydon already had another daughter from a previous marriage who was 19 at the time of the murder.

It was noted that their marriage had been an unhappy one on account of the drinking habits of Alexander Claydon.

In 1899 Louisa Claydon was granted a judicial separation although from time to time Alexander Claydon was summoned for non-payment of the instalments due on the maintenance order and he had once gone to prison for it.

However, at Christmas 1900 Louisa Claydon consented to live with him again  although there was no permanent reformation and from late June 1901 he had done no work and had started drinking heavily.

They were seen together in the Old Globe beerhouse in Kettering Road. Alexander Claydon was seen in the tap room and was described as perfectly sober. Louisa Claydon was also seen in the beerhouse when she brought in some washing which she took into the private room at the back of the bar. There were not drinking together but Alexander Claydon was seen to go over to Louisa Claydon as she was sitting with another woman and whisper something to her to which Louisa Claydon was heard to reply, 'All right', after which he had gone back to where he had been standing in the tap room. He was seen to leave at 9.45pm. Alexander Claydon was not seen to have drunk anything whilst he was there and when he had left he was described as being perfectly sober. Louisa Claydon had stayed with her friend until about 10.40pm and was said to have gone home perfectly sober.

Louisa Claydon's daughter said that Alexander Claydon got home at about 11.30pm but she said he was sober. She said that her mother had just gone to sleep and that she then went to sleep herself.

Later, at 2am, on the Sunday morning, Louisa Claydon's daughter said that she could hear Alexander Claydon and Louisa Claydon talking quietly in their bedroom. She said that there was a light on in her room and that she asked Alexander Claydon why it was alight and said that Alexander Claydon told her that he wanted something to eat. She said that she asked him to put it out which he did and then went towards Louisa Claydon. She said that at the time he didn't seem excited. However, she said that when she went to call her mother the next morning at 10am she found Louisa Claydon with her head battered in and her arms badly gashed. Louisa Claydon also had stab wounds to her neck and breast and she was quite cold and it was evident that she had been dead for some hours.

The landlord who came to see what the matter was said that when he went into the bedroom he saw Louisa Claydon lying on the bed covered in blood. He said that there was a piece of bed quilt in her mouth that he removed and that underneath the bed quilt he found a blood-stained file. He said that Louisa Claydon was quite dead.

Alexander Claydon was later found in a field at Moulton by a labourer who took him to a village constable to whom he confessed to murdering Louisa Claydon.

When the labourer met him in the fields he showed him his hands and sleeves that were quite blood stained. He said that he had been on the booze for the last two weeks and that he had met his wife in a pub and then later gone back home. He said that when he got home she was asleep and that he went to bed and went to sleep as well. However, he said that they later woke up and said that Louisa Claydon told him that she would rather have a serpent sleeping by her side than him. He then said, 'I then got up and went down to the shop and fetched a rasp and struck her three or four times as hard as I could and also struck her head. I then went down stairs and had some eggs as I had scarcely eaten anything for a fortnight. I then went back and went to bed and tried to sleep. I put my hand on my wife and found she was cold. I heard the clock strike four. I got up and came out'. Alexander Claydon then asked the labourer if he would buy him a pint of beer which he did and then they went to the police station.

Louisa Claydon's post-mortem stated that there was an incised wound about an inch above her ear on the left side of her skull about two inches long cutting through to the skull. To the left side about an inch below her jaw there was a gaping puncture wound about half an inch square at the back of her throat that was four inches deep that had grazed her Carotid Artery. On the right side of her head there was a similar wound close to the eye that had fractured her skull and another similar wound an inch behind that had reached the skull but not fractured it. She had seven bruises on her arm, two of which were associated with underlying compound fractures and there was another bruise on her left shoulder. She had another gaping wound near her left nipple that had pierced her heart although it was thought that that wound was caused after her death. The head wounds were considered to have been sufficient to have caused her death. The doctor who was given a blood-stained file thought to have been the murder weapon said that it might have caused the various wounds that he saw.

Alexander Claydon was convicted at the Northamptonshire Assizes on 22 November 1901 and sentenced to death.

He was due to be executed at Northampton by James Billington on 13 December 1901, but on the day of the execution James Billington died. It was said that when Alexander Claydon was informed of the fact that he smiled.

It was said that James Billington died from a broken heart after he had been called upon to execute Patrick McKenna, a close friend of his, ten days earlier at Manchester.

Alexander Claydon was however executed the same day by William Billington.

Alexander Claydon was also known as Alick Claydon.

see National Archives - ASSI 13/31, HO 144/573/A63007

see Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Saturday 14 December 1901

see Gloucestershire Echo - Monday 08 July 1901

see Western Evening Herald - Monday 16 December 1901