British Executions

William Wallace Galbraith

Age: 27

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 20 Dec 1912

Crime Location: 39 North Ormesby Road, Middlesbrough

Execution Place: Wakefield

Method: hanging

Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint


William Wallace Galbraith was convicted of the murder of his wife Mary May Galbraith 20 and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat at 39 North Ormesby Road, Middlesbrough on 14 August 1912.

She was four months pregnant at the time and had obtained work as a barmaid.

William Galbraith had served for three years in the Army Medical Corps and in April 1912 he married Mary Galbraith and they went to live with William Galbraith's mother but on 3 August 1912 at 11.30pm Mary Galbraith left him and went to live with her mother at 39 North Ormesby Road in Middlesbrough. She had told her mother that she was afraid to remain with William Galbraith and also told a friend, 'I am terrified for my life and must go'.

It was noted that William Galbraith had been addicted to drink and that after Mary Galbraith left him he was drunk nearly every night.

On 12 August 1912 William Galbraith saw Mary Galbraith at her mother's house and it was arranged that he should rejoin her and live with her at her mother's house until after her confinement.

On 13 August 1912, it was heard that although William Galbraith had been drinking that day, he was sober all day. That night he took up his abode with Mary Galbraith and slept that night with her.

However, at about 6.30am the next morning, 14 August 1912, Mary Galbraith was heard to scream and when her mother came into her room, she found her there with her throat cut. William Galbraith was sitting on the bed and he then made a rush at Mary Galbraith, who was still alive, to get hold of her throat, but he was pulled off by Mary Galbraith's mother and brother.

After, William Galbraith said, 'I have done it and will go to the Town Hall'.

Mary Galbraith's throat had been cut with a razor and she had a deep gash on the left side and died a few hours later at 11am.

It was heard that William Galbraith had said to a woman a few days earlier, 'I will go to work and keep her. If I do not keep her no one else shall for I will kill her rather than anyone else shall keep her'.

He had also told two other men that they would see 'The bloodiest headlines in the papers next day'.

At his trial, his defence said that William Galbraith's charge should be reduced to manslaughter owing to his drunken state, however, all the evidence showed that he had been sober on 13 August 1912 and the murder was committed the following morning. It was also heard that there was no suggestion that he had been drinking during the night.

see National Archives - HO 144/1239/230808