British Executions

William Yarnold

Age: 50

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 5 Dec 1905

Crime Location: Brickleys Buildings, 31 The Moors, Worcester

Execution Place: Worcester

Method: hanging

Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint


William Yarnold was convicted of the murder of his wife Annie Yarnold 42 and sentenced to death.

He stabbed her in the back at The Moors, Worcester on 4 October 1905.

William Yarnold was a reservist in the Worcestershire Regiment and while he was serving in South Africa Annie Yarnold had lived with another man.

When William Yarnold came home Annie Yarnold returned but soon after left him to live with her new lover.

William Yarnold spent some time living with another woman and sometime later after meeting her in a pub he went to find her and stabbed her in the back where she was then living. She was taken to hospital but later died there.

They were married on 7 April 1890 in Kidderminster. They had lived for about 11 years in Newport Street, Worcester and during that time William Yarnold did very little work and for a while Annie Yarnold kept him on the proceeds of prostitution. Whilst living there at one point he assaulted her by kicking her on the leg.

William Yarnold later went to South Africa during the late Boer War during which time Annie Yarnold left Newport Street and went to reside in Farrier Street to live with another man. Altogether she lived with the man in Farrier Street, Britania Run and then Bickley's Buildings, 31 The Moors for over two and a half years before William Yarnold murdered her.

When William Yarnold returned his wife went back to live with him for three to four days during which they had quarrels and on one occasion he broke a quantity of china in the house. William Yarnold then went to stay at Links Lodging House in Newport Street and then rented a furnished room from a man where he cohabited with another woman who was the wife of another man. However, she left William Yarnold on 17 August 1905.

William Yarnold was normally a rag and bone collector and in the hop-picking season he would go hop-picking. He was described as a very quiet man.

He had twice been convicted. The first time was on 19 November 1900 for general disorderly behaviour when he was fined 10/- with costs of 2/6 or 14 days in prison, and the second was on 28 June 1901 for wilful damage to windows when he was fined 12/- including costs and damage of 2/6 or 14 days in prison. The second conviction was for damage done to windows where his wife was living.

On Wednesday 4 October 1905 at about 3pm William Yarnold and Annie Yarnold were in the Hope and Anchor Inn in Newport Street. He was in the front room whilst she was in the yard. Whilst there they had a conversation.

Annie Yarnold and her new partner had been living in Bickley's Buildings, 31 The Moors for about two and a half years at the time and were described by neighbours as being very quiet people.

A neighbour who had known Annie Yarnold for about two years said that she was talking to Annie Yarnold on 4 October 1905 at about 4.30pm at the palings in front of her house. She said that Annie Yarnold was dusting her window with a hand broom. She said that in front of Annie Yarnold's house there was a paved square piece of ground with palings and a gate round it. She said that whilst they were talking William Yarnold came through the gate into the square piece of ground and walked straight up to Annie Yarnold. She said that Annie Yarnold said 'What brings you here? How white you are!'. The neighbour, who was a yard and a half away said that she didn't hear William Yarnold say anything and said that Annie Yarnold then walked away from William Yarnold towards her door and bent herself in a bending position as if to reach her key which was inside the door to bring it outside. She said that whilst she was doing that William Yarnold put his hand inside his breast pocket and took something out and struck Annie Yarnold in the back and then immediately ran off towards the waterworks. The neighbour said that she caught Annie Yarnold as she was falling and saw that she had a knife sticking in her back. She said she shouted 'Murder' and several people came out and someone took the knife out of her back and the police were sent for.

The murder was seen by another woman who lived at Balmer's Shop. She said that she was walking up the street past Annie Yarnold's house when she saw a man go into Annie Yarnold's yard. she said that she would not recognise him again but said that he was wearing a dark cap and a red muffler. She said that she saw him raise his hand as if to strike her and then struck her and then went through the gate and up the moors past the York House Inn.

When the police arrived they assisted Annie Yarnold into a cab and she was taken to the infirmary.

William Yarnold was later arrested at 8pm in the Driotwich Road in Worcester. A policeman stopped him and said that he wanted him for the attempted murder of his wife. William Yarnold then replied 'Is it me, or the man she's living with?'. He was later charged with her murder on 13 October 1905 when Annie Yarnold died.

Annie Yarnold was admitted to the infirmary soon after 5pm on 4 October 1905 with a wound in her back. The next morning it was found necessary to perform an operation to prevent haemorrhage and to cleanse the wound. It was performed at 2pm on 5 October 1905 and everything that could be done for her was done for her but she later died on 7 October 1905 at 6pm.

At her post-mortem it was found that the wound had cut her spinal cord three parts across. The ultimate result of the wound was stated as being congestion of the lungs which had caused death.

In her dying deposition Annie Yarnold said:

I live at Brickley's Buildings, The Moors, Worcester, and am the wife of William Yarnold. I was dusting yesterday, the 4th October 1905, between 5 and 6 in the afternoon, the window ledge, and saw my husband coming up the street. I was outside the house talking to my neighbour. He came inside the garden gate. I did not think he was coming inside, or I should have got away from him. I asked him what he wanted. He said 'Not much'. I went to get the key out of the door from the inside. The door was open, and I was reaching round to get the key. I had to bend somewhat. I said to him 'You are not going in there'. He said 'I don’t want to go in'. He stabbed me then, and I fell. He went at me with great revenge. I could not see what he had in his hand. My back was towards him. I lost my senses at once. I saw him raise his hand. By great revenge, I mean savage, as if to kill me. He hit me very hard. I have not lived with my husband since a week after he came back from the front during the last war. I have been married to him for 15 or 16 years. He threatened me once in the street with a knife. This was quite two years ago. This was before he went to the front, when I was living in Newport Street. About two years ago when I was living in Farrier Street he saw me in the street. I was not close enough to hear what he was saying. I got away from him. The same evening he came to my house and he knocked the pan off the fire and threatened to put me out of mess. I have seen him several times since then. I saw him last Saturday at the Hope and Anchor Inn when he asked me to have a drink with a loving husband or something like that. I did not answer. I walked out. I saw him yesterday at the Hope and Anchor where I was having a peppermint. He said nothing, only looked very queer in the face at me. When he went into the WC I left the Inn. I lived with another man while my husband was away at the front. My husband went under the name of Collins when he was in the Army. I got my money as his wife while he was away at the front. When he came back I lived with him for a week. I then separated from him and went to live with the same man again with whom I have lived up to the present time. My husband has said something to me about my fancy man. The reason I separated from my husband after he came back from the front was because he started knocking me about again. While I was living with my husband we were very uncomfortable. He was a horrible brute to me. Most of the time he was living with me he did not work. I had to keep him by prostitution. He knew it.

When she was cross examined she said:

The man used to come to the house while I was living with my husband. My husband used to get in the closet and hide while I was talking to the man.

William Yarnold was executed at Worcester on the morning of 5 December 1905. He was said to have walked unassisted to the scaffold but to have made no comment.

On the eve of his execution he made a will leaving to Worcester Infirmary £30, the amount that Annie Yarnold had insured him for some time previously.

see Surrey Mirror - Friday 08 December 1905

see The Scotsman - Saturday 18 November 1905

see The Scotsman - Wednesday 06 December 1905

see National Archives - ASSI 6/40/1