British Executions

John Bowes

Age: 52

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 12 Dec 1900

Crime Location: Seaham Harbour, Sunderland

Execution Place: Durham

Method: hanging

Executioner: James Billington


John Bowes was convicted of the murder of his wife Isabella Bowes 50 and sentenced to death.

He battered her to death with a railway sleeper at Seaham Harbour, Near Sunderland on 8 September 1900.

Isabella Bowes worked at the New Seaham Colliery where her father worked. She spent a lot of time at The Blast at Noses Point, near Dawdon Colliery on the South side of Seaham Harbour where she collected coal.

Refuse from the New Seaham Colliery was tipped over the cliff onto the beach below and people would then go down and collect any coals that had been included with it. They would climb the steep cliffs up a circuitous path often carrying 4-6 stones of coal and it was said that Isabella Bowes must have carried tons of coals during her time.

Of late, Isabella Bowes and John Bowes and their children were living in an underground cellar in Back South Terrace but about 3 weeks earlier Isabella Bowes left John Bowes for alleged ill-treatment and went to live with a friend. Later she took out a separation order but her husband didn't turn up at court.

Then on the Saturday John Bowes saw Isabella Bowes at The Blast and was seen to be asking her to return to him again but she was heard to tell him 'No, I want nothing more to do with you'.

He then picked up a railway sleeper about 4ft long, 6in broad and nearly 3in thick and hit her with it on her forehead. She staggered back and he hit her again a few more times and she then reeled to the ground. Her features were described as being literally beaten to a pulp. She was taken to the infirmary but never recovered consciousness and died 3 hours later.

When a policeman arrived he denied having hit her and said that she had fallen.

see Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough - Monday 10 September 1900

see Murder UK