British Executions

Thomas Austin

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 1 Aug 1694

Crime Location:

Execution Place: Exeter

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


Austin was executed in Exeter in August 1694. Born in Cullompton to good, honest parents, he had inherited their farm upon their deaths. The estate was quite substantial, being worth about £80 per year. Shortly afterwards he married a girl who brought with her a dowry of about £800. All this wealth seems to have unhinged Thomas and he started to neglect the farm. Within four years he had spent all his wife's fortune and had mortgaged the farm.

In dire need of money he now turned his hand to the criminal. He tried swindling his neighbours but, when caught, he was forgiven. He then tried highway robbery. He accosted Sir Zachary Wilmot on the road between Taunton Dean and Wellington and, when the man tried to protect his possessions, murdered him. The assault yielded fourty-six guineas and a
sword. This booty did not last him long.

One day he went to visit his uncle, who lived about a mile distant. When he got there he found that his uncle was out and that the house was occupied by his aunt and her five small children. Taking hold of an axe that lay to hand he battered his aunt to death. He then cut the throats of the five children and ransacked the house.

When he arrived home his wife pointed out that he had blood on his clothes. When she asked him how it had arrived on his person he took a razor from his pocket and cut her throat as well. Not content with the current body count he then disembowelled his two young children. Unfortunately for Thomas, his uncle arrived unexpectedly. The pile of corpses was rather obvious, though the uncle was not to know that a similar sight awaited him when he returned to his own home. He grabbed Thomas and immediately took him before the local magistrate who had him incarcerated in Exeter Gaol to await his fate.