British Executions

Henry Phillips

Age: 44

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 14 Dec 1911

Crime Location: Frogmore Lane, Knelston, Reynoldstone

Execution Place: Swansea

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Henry Phillips was convicted of the murder of his wife Margaret Phillips 39 and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat in Frogmore Lane, Knelston, Reynoldstone on 26 July 1911.

Four days before the murder, on 22 July 1911, he had been served with a summons for cruelty towards her. He had tried to get Margaret Phillips to withdraw the summons, but she had refused.

He cut her throat on the morning of 26 July 1911. A person saw him cut her throat and Henry Phillips turned to him and said, 'If you follow I will blow your brains out'.

When he was arrested in a cornfield, he said 'Is my wife dead? I said I would do it', at which time he had a blood-stained razor in his hand.

At his trial his defence pleaded insanity. However, it was noted that it was a defence that would probably have never presented itself to any human mind if, instead of cutting Margaret Phillips's throat, he had only assaulted her.

He appealed his conviction but his appeal was dismissed.

Henry Phillips had been a farm labourer at Lake Farm where Margaret Phillips also worked, and had been married to Margaret Phillips for 13-years.

Margaret Phillips's mother, who lived in Frogmore Lane, said that Margaret Phillips came to live with her on 13 July 1911 with her four children. She said that Margaret Phillips stayed with her for 13-days and then went to a cottage further along in Frogmore Lane where she took a couple of rooms.

Margaret Phillips's mother said that Margaret Phillips and Henry Phillips had lived on very cross terms.

She said that on 26 July 1911 Margaret Phillips called at her house and then left with two cans to fetch water. She said that a little time later another daughter came into her house and told her something and that as a result she immediately went down the lane and met another woman and then saw Margaret Phillips collapse with blood flowing from a wound in her throat. She said that she took hold of Margaret Phillips and a doctor was called for.

Margaret Phillips's sister, who had been in Frogmore Lane at the time said that as she was coming from the well she met Margaret Phillips in the street and that as she then neared her own house she heard Margaret Phillips cry out, 'Harry, Harry!'. She said that she called her mother and then ran back to where Margaret Phillips was lying on the ground and saw Henry Phillips kneeling over her. She said that he had hold of Margaret Phillips's head and was holding it back with his right hand and said that she saw him draw something bright across her throat with his left hand. She said that she didn't know whether it was a razor or a knife. She said that she shouted, 'Get out of that, you beggar!', and said that Henry Phillips then ran across the fields.

The sister said that Margaret Phillips then got up and said that she could see that her throat was cut and was bleeding. She said that Margaret Phillips could not speak and that she then collapsed.

A telephone wireman said that he was in Frogmore Street at the time, around 6.40am and heard the sister call her mother. He said that he then went over and saw Margaret Phillips on whom he saw Henry Phillips kneeling. He said that Henry Phillips then ran away and said that he followed him for about 40 yards across a field. He said that Henry Phillips then turned and said 'Is she dead? I'll have no more of this. If you follow me I'll blow your brains out', and that whilst he was saying that he put his right hand into his pocket as if to pull something out. The telephone wireman said that he then gave up his pursuit and went off for medical assistance for Margaret Phillips.

Shortly after, Henry Phillips met a farm labourer that he knew and when the farm labourer asked Henry Phillips how he was, Henry Phillips replied 'I have hoed my last row. Go down and tell him I have cut Maggie's throat. So long'.

Henry Phillips later went to a pub where he was seen at 8.30am by another friend. The friend said that Henry Phillips called for a pint of beer and was served in addition with four small bottles. The friend said that Henry Phillips then asked him to go outside and said that Henry Phillips then said to him, 'I have done it'. The friend said that he asked, 'Done what?' and said that Henry Phillips replied, 'I have killed my wife'. The friend said that he said 'Don't be foolish', and said that Henry Phillips replied, 'It is a fact'. The friend said that he then noticed blood stains on Henry Phillips's clothes and said that as he went closer Henry Phillips said, 'Stand back. I've got what I did it with in my pocket. There are two men after me, and if they molest me I'll serve them the same. I am sorry for the children, and I'll now finish myself'. The friend said that Henry Phillips then left.

A policeman said that he traced Henry Phillips across a field and found him in a field of standing corn asleep. He said that near his right hand there was an open razor and said that he then pounced on him and seized him by both arms. He said that Henry Phillips then began to struggle, but that with the help of another constable, he managed to handcuff him.

The policeman said that Henry Phillips later said, 'I said I would do it and I did it'.

The policeman said that as they went back to the police station, Henry Phillips asked, 'Do you think my wife is dead?', to which the policeman replied that he didn't know but told him that she was in a serious state. He said that when he charged him with his wife’s murder, Henry Phillips said, 'I did it for the sake of my boy'.

A while later, whilst in custody, Henry Phillips said, 'I cannot make this out. I must have been asleep. It is just as well for me to have done two or three as for one'.

Shortly after Henry Phillips attacked Margaret Phillips she was taken to the Swansea Hospital in a state of collapse and in a pulseless state. She had a wound right across her throat and her windpipe was severed. A surgeon at the hospital said that she also had wounds on her fingers.

She died shortly after being admitted.

see National Archives - ASSI 72/37/5, HO 144/1175/216230

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 13 December 1911