Date Of Execution: 1 Dec 1915
Crime Location: SS Antillian, Canada Dock, River Mersey, Liverpool
Execution Place: Liverpool
Executioner: John Ellis
Young Hill was convicted of the murder of James Crawford 25 and sentenced to death.
He cut his throat on board the SS Antillian whilst docked in Liverpool on 26 July 1915.
Young Hill was a muleteer/cattleman and coloured man, native to Louisiana, United States.
He had sailed from New Orleans on 3 July 1915 on the SS Antillian with a cargo of mules for Avonmouth where the mules were disembarked after which the ship went on to Liverpool. It was noted that before the vessel had left New Orleans with the mules and about fifty coloured men to look after them, that the captain and officers had given them orders that all knives and other weapons should be given up by the men until they arrived at their destination.
At about 7.30pm on 26 July 1915, whilst the ship was in the River Mersey off Canada Dock, several of the coloured muleteers were in the forecastle, and one of them was ill and was in his bunk and asked for some water.
Young Hill then fetched some water for him in a slop pail and poured it into a tea-kettle and then put it down beside the man. However, James Crawford said, 'Don't drink that water, it's dirty, I have washed my feet in the bucket, I'll fetch some clean'. It was said that up until that time Young Hill had been on friendly terms with the other muleteers but that when James Crawford had remarked about the bucket being dirty he had resented it and that when James Crawford had offered to get some clean water he had told him that if he did so that he would kill him. However, James Crawford then picked up the kettle and made for the door.
However, Young Hill, who had taken a razor in its case out of his left hip pocket, opened it and put the razor in his right hip pocket, ran after James Crawford and caught him with his left hand round the forehead, put his right knee in his back and cut his throat to the bone on the right side of his neck. He then slashed James Crawford superficially across his ribs at his back.
James Crawford then ran out onto the deck and collapsed.
Young Hill then brandished the razor and threatened to kill anyone who came near him.
However, some officers effected his arrest with loaded revolvers.
It was noted that the razor was his and that his name was scratched into the case.
When Young Hill was arrested, he claimed that James Crawford had taken his razor from his bunk and had attacked him with it and that in the struggle he had gained possession of the razor and had cut James Crawford in self-defence.
However, the evidence was stated as being quite clear, that there was no struggle and that Young Hill was the aggressor.
One of the other muleteers also said that he saw Young Hill take the razor from his pocket and had, in order to prevent trouble, asked him for the loan of it. He said that Young Hill then told him that he could have it in the morning and had then run after James Crawford.
Young Hill was convicted of murder, but with a recommendation to mercy on the grounds of his nationality. However, the judge did not attach much weight to their recommendation and the police report to the Home Secretary stated that the jury probably meant that the cause of the quarrel was a trivial one that among white men would not have led to murder. It was noted that judges often dealt leniently with foreigners charged with using knives or revolvers in their own countries, but the police report stated that they felt that it was more important to impress upon foreigners that whatever they may do in their own countries, they needed to respect the law in the United Kingdom or abide the consequences.
The police report noted that so far as the dispute was concerned that Young Hill was clearly in the wrong and that he had had no provocation of any kind and that they didn't see any sufficient reason for interference in his sentence.
Young Hill was executed at Liverpool on 1 December 1915.
see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 30 November 1915
see National Archives - ASSI 52/233, HO 144/1441/302481