British Executions

William Hughes

Age: 42

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 17 Feb 1903

Crime Location: Old Rhosrobin, Wrexham

Execution Place: Ruthin

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


William Hughes was convicted of the murder of his wife Jane Hannah Hughes 32 and sentenced to death.

He shot her at Old Rhosrobin, Wrexham on Monday 10 November 1902.

He had recently served three months' imprisonment for deserting his wife at Shrewsbury Gaol.

After being released he went to see her at a house where she was doing the housekeeping and shot her with a double-barrelled shotgun. She was found dead at the foot of the stairs. Her clothes had been set on fire and burnt from the shots which had passed straight through her side.

After he walked up to a policeman in High Street, Wrexham at about 3.25am and told him what he had done.

They had been married since 1892 and had three or four children. Jane Hughes had been William Hughes's first cousin. However, after William Hughes left her the children were placed in the workhouse. Whilst away William Hughes spent part of his time in the country.

Jane Hughes then took out magisterial proceedings against William Hughes for desertion.

After William Hughes was sentenced to three-months at Shrewsbury Gaol Jane Hughes engaged herself as a housekeeper to a collier.

When William Hughes was released from gaol he sometime later obtained a double-barrelled gun together with two cartridges and then went to the colliers house where he discharged both barrels into Jane Hughes.

The colliers’ 11-year-old son had been home at the time whilst his father had been out working the night shift and had yet to get home.

William Hughes arrived at the house early in the morning and knocked at the door and the boy answered and said that William Hughes asked whether his father was in and that he told him that he wasn't. Jane Hughes then woke up and William Hughes called up to her and Jane Hughes said, 'Oh, come in', or something of that kind.

Jane Hughes then got up and partially dressed herself and went downstairs. 

Immediately afterwards, the boy, who had gone back to bed, said that he heard what he described as the noise of a lump of coal falling and then heard Jane Hughes call out, 'I am dying' and that he then heard another noise like a lump of coal falling and then heard someone go out and the door slam. However, he said that he didn't think anything was the matter and went back to sleep and knew nothing more until the police called.

William Hughes went off and later gave himself up to a policeman in the street.

When the police arrived at the house at about 4.30am they found it in darkness with the front door latched but not locked. A police sergeant said that when he turned on his lantern and went in he saw Jane Hughes lying at the bottom of the stairs apparently dead and that he then sent for a doctor after which her body was taken by ambulance to the mortuary.

He said that Jane Hughes had been lying on her left side with her feet on the bottom step of the stairs with her knees drawn up and her head in the corner resting against the wall of the right-hand wall going upstairs. He said that her head was 18 inches from the floor and that her face was turned slightly upwards. He said that she had a wound to her right side a little to the side of the right nipple and about the size of a two shilling piece and that a portion of her bowels were protruding from her left side.

He said that she was partially dressed in a calico chemise, flannelette night dress and a black skirt that was partially burnt. He said that he found 13/9½ in money on Jane Hughes that fell from her clothing at the mortuary as well as the frame of a purse.

He said that there was no disarrangement of the furniture to show that a struggle had taken place and that there was an empty candlestick on the kitchen table with a quantity of burnt tallow on it some of which had gone onto the tablecloth as if a lighted candle been in it and had burnt to the finish.

He said that there were two bedrooms upstairs and that in the front room there were two beds about two feet apart and that in one of them there were three children, a girl and two boys and that the other bed appeared to have been laid in that morning but was empty. He noted that there was also a bed in the back bedroom but said that it didn't appear to have been laid in that morning. He noted that only Jane Hughes and the three children had been in the house at the time.

He said that the father came home at 6.10am.

When the police later charged William Hughes with the murder of Jane Hughes he replied, 'It is a pity he was not there, he would have had the same the two of them'. He then asked the police sergeant, 'Have you been there Sergeant? Is she dead?', to which the police sergeant replied, 'Yes'. Jane Hughes then said, 'God help me then'.

At his trial it was heard that William Hughes had undergone considerable provocation and a petition that was sent to the Secretary of State claimed that he had been insane at the time, however, the Home Secretary declined to interfere with his sentence.

William Hughes was convicted of murder on 19 January 1903 and later executed on Tuesday 17 February 1903 at Ruthlin Gaol..

see National Archives - HO 144/691/104599

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 21 February 1903

see Tamworth Herald - Saturday 15 November 1902