British Executions

Henry Mack

Age: 29

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 2 Dec 1902

Crime Location: 22 Hopwood Street, Oldham

Execution Place: Manchester

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington


Henry Mack was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Esther Elizabeth Bedford 32 and sentenced to death.

He had been beating her over a number of days between 2 and 12 August 1902 by kicking and hitting her as well as throwing boiling water at her.

On 12 August she was taken to the hospital where she died on 15 August 1902.

She was found to have had a ruptured bladder but when questioned by the police she denied that Henry Mack had ever hit her and even said that the scolding had been an accident.

It was noted that her devotion to the 'brute who slowly slew her', Henry Mack, was extraordinary and that it was difficult to understand how even in her dying depositions that she sought, by every means in her power, to screen him from harm and it was commented that it was the devotion of a brute creature to man, of a faithful hound to its master.

Esther Bedford was described as undoubtedly a woman of drunken and immoral habits and it was heard that she had left, on account of ill treatment, a man, later described as a hooligan, with whom she had formerly lived, to go and live with Henry Mack in June 1901 in Oldham, Henry Mack having promised to marry her.

However, it was noted that in the police report to the Home Secretary, that 'As the wretched woman said in her dying deposition they lived happily together for about 16 weeks'.

It was said that her ill-treatment had begun on 2 August 1902 and that from that day forward on 2, 8, 9, 11 and 12, Henry Mack's brutal ill treatment of her only seemed to increase in violence.

It was said that the details of his ill-treatment towards her were sickening to read  and that he had kicked her all over her body and more especially in those parts where fatal injury was likely to ensue. It was also said that he had also jumped on her stomach as she lay prostrate and helpless on the bed, the result of which he burst her bladder on the night of 11-12 August, the injury from which she died in the infirmary on 15 August 1902.

One instance of his brutality was described by their landlady who described Esther Bedford as having suffered from scalding on her face, which it was said in all probability was inflicted by Henry Mack. It was reported that that the blisters on her face were so large that she had declared that your hand would not cover the three and that when she had asked Henry Mack to fetch her some brandy that he had rushed across the room and hit her and 'bursted' the blisters.

It was noted that after Henry Mack had inflicted the fatal injury on her that Esther Bedford had been assisted on to the 'bowl' or 'mug' where she had passed a quantity of blood and that the landlady declared that as she was helping Esther Bedford into her bed that Henry Mack had 'kicked her right in her rear behind'.

It was noted by the judge at the trial in his summing up that it was possible that the landlady had exaggerated her evidence in certain particulars, but noted that she had been corroborated as to the brutal kicking of Esther Bedford in her private parts by Henry Mack with his boots on, and the judge pointed out to the jury that the sole question in the case was that of whether or not Henry Mack had inflicted the injuries from which Esther Bedford died and that further, in discussing her injuries, that they were narrowed down to the ruptured bladder and how that ruptured bladder was caused.

It was said that the jury had had no hesitation in arriving at their verdict. The jury also made no recommendation to mercy and it was noted that the papers disclosed no mitigating circumstances whatever.

However, the police report stated that whilst it was thought that no one that had read the terrible evidence of Henry Mack's brutality could come to a different conclusion, that in all that time, in spite of Henry Mack's horrible cruelty, Esther Bedford never seemed to have resisted Henry Mack in any way, or to have ever struck him back and that only on one occasion did a witness declare that Esther Bedford had used a foul expression towards him. It was further noted that even in her dying deposition that Esther Bedford had tried to screen Henry Mack to the utmost of her power, concluding in her statement in chief with the pathetic sentence, 'Mack has only struck me occasionally and sometimes he has kicked me, but it has always been my fault'.

It was further noted that in addition to her blind devotion to Henry Mack that it seemed only too likely that Henry Mack had been living upon Esther Bedford's earnings in the street, it being noted that he never did any work and that the landlady and neighbours had described how she used to dress up and go out most nights.

In her dying deposition, Esther Bedford said, 'I am a single woman and am 32 years of age. I came from Manchester to Oldham 16 weeks last Sunday, and since then I have been passing under the name of Esther Elizabeth Thompson. I was living in Manchester with a man. I came over to Oldham to live with the prisoner Henry Mack. I left the man to come to live with Mack because of the man's ill treatment of me. Prisoner Mack knew that the man had illtreated me and he persuaded me to come to Oldham and he promised to marry me if I would come. For about 16 weeks after I came to Oldham I lived comfortably with Mack. We were both at times under the influence of drink and occasionally quarrelled. When we quarrelled he used to strike me and I screamed out. Prisoner and I lived together at Bk Hopwood Street, Oldham, as man and wife. On Saturday last about 4.30 in the afternoon I was in the house when the Prisoner Mack came in, and said to me, 'You have been having some drink'. I said, 'Yes'. He then said 'You should not get any drink'. He then hit me in the face and I fell on my back. The blow was accidental. While I was on the floor he hit me on my back. I then screamed out 'Oh my back!'. I told him he should have more sense than doing that. He then left the house. I did not see him again that day until about 11 o'clock at night when I went for him to the Museum Inn, and we came home together. We were both quite sober. Prisoner and I had no quarrel on the Friday before he hit me and hurt my back.  On Monday the 11th inst about the middle of the afternoon I was at home partly drunk. I had been out during the morning and had had some stout. After I came home I went to sleep and slept for an hour or two. When I awoke I got up to make some Tea and accidently knocked over the kettle and scalded my face with the boiling water. Prisoner Mack was not in the house at the time. When I scalded myself, I screamed out and the landlady came to see what was the matter. I said I had scalded myself, and she went to the Museum Inn and brought back the Prisoner Mack who brought with him some goose grease and they put it on my face. Towards night I became worse and went to bed. I suffered a great deal of pain while in bed, and rolled about very much. Mack was in the same bed and was sleeping all the time I was rolling about. About midnight I got worse and parted with a lot of blood. On Tuesday morning I became worse and was brought to the Infirmary. Mack has only struck me occasionally and sometimes he had kicked me, but it has always been my fault'.

When Esther Bedford was cross examined by Henry Mack, she said, 'A week last Saturday I fell from the upstairs window. We had only one room and it was upstairs. Mack had locked me in. I caught my heel on the window underneath and fell into the road and hurt my head and it bled a little. I hurt my side a little in falling. I just catched it a bit. I was drunk when you put me to bed, and told me to stay there until I was sober. After I fell, you put me to bed and I told you I had only got a bit of a shake. You did not beat me just after I fell from the window. There was nobody in the room when you brought me back after my fall. A young woman across the road dressed my head and I walked up our stairs myself unaided. On Friday the 1st inst a strange man kicked me and hurt me about 9 o'clock at night. I don't know who he was. He was a middle aged man. I didn't know him. He gave me one good kick and never spoke a word. I have never had any quarrel with any man in Oldham except Mack. When the man kicked me I said, 'Oh! What have you done that for?'. About 5 or 6 weeks ago I was going to Manchester to get some articles of clothing from the man I have lived with and on going down Clegg Street, Oldham, two men, strangers, stopped me near Clegg Street Station and charged me with stealing a sovereign. I told them they were mistaken, but they called a Constable and I was taken to the Police Station but I was afterwards allowed to go. I have been taken to the police station once only for taking a sovereign. Those 2 men kicked me a few nights after they had taken me to the police station. You have never kicked me while I have been on the bed. On the Saturday when you kicked me you were in your stockinged feet. You struck me on Monday, when I knocked the kettle over. You struck me on the head with your fist'.

The landlady made a statement which read: 'I live at 12 Hopwood Street, Oldham and am the wife of a hawker. I have furnished rooms at 20 and 22 Hopwood Street. The accused who is named 'Mack' occupied the bedroom over no. 22 with the deceased. They had occupied it about 2 months and lived there until 12th inst. This room can be entered by the back door in Back Hopwood Street. During the time they lived here Mack has done no work as far as I know. I cannot say if deceased did anything. She used to dress up at night and go out. I don't know what for.

About 2.30pm on Saturday the 2nd inst I went to the room used by deceased and Mack because I heard quarrelling. I saw deceased lying on the floor. Mack had hold of her head with one hand and was striking her with the other about the face and head. Deceased kept saying, 'Mack, give over'. He kicked her on the floor and threw her on the bed, her head banging against the wall. I got Mack to sit down. Then he jumped up, dragged her off the bed and as he was dragging her off, he kicked her several times about the body. Then he threw her a second time on the bed called her a dirty name and left her. After hearing her called a dirty name I left the room and Mack followed immediately. Mack came to my house in a few minutes and said he had locked deceased in and I mustn't let her out. deceased had had some drink. I think Mack had had drink but he wasn't drunk.

On Friday the 8th inst about 3pm Mack came to my house with a pan of boiled potatoes and said, 'This is what she's made me for my bloody dinner (I understand 'she' to mean deceased), do you think it is good enough?'. He said he would take it back and put her for a dead 'un'. He returned to his room and I followed him. He was in a passion. On getting into the room I saw deceased sitting sideways on the bed. Mack was kicking her and striking her. He had boots on. I saw the pan, it was empty on the corner of the table. The potatoes were over the bed and the floor. I interfered. The deceased's eyes were black, one eye being very swollen, the other not so bad but cut and discoloured. I could not say either deceased or Mack had had drink on this occasion. I got him quiet but as soon as I moved away at all, he began at her again. I saw him get hold of her feet whilst she was on the bed, raise them, and kick her on the back of the legs. Ultimately he left the room.

On Saturday the 9th inst after 9pm I was in the room underneath the room occupied by deceased and Mack. I again heard quarrelling. I heard the woman screaming. I went to the room. I saw Mack thumping and kicking deceased. First he had her head under his arm and was thumping it, then she was on the floor and he kicked her, then he would raise her head and bang it on the floor. He got her by the feet and dragged her over the floor. Kicking her at the time. He kicked her about the body. The woman's face and mouth were bleeding. I got him quiet and he left the room. He had had some drink . I don't think deceased had had any.

On Monday the 11th inst about 3.30pm I was stood at my back door and heard a noise coming from the room of deceased. It was like a scream. I went towards the room and saw Mack coming from it and he left the house. I went into the room. I saw deceased lying on the bed with her face in the pillow. I saw the kettle produced on the bed at the foot and the lid of it near the pillow. The pillow was wet and the wall on the side was splashed. There was water on the floor. I turned the face of deceased over and saw that side covered with blisters. Also that side ot the neck was blistered.

About 9pm same day I was again called to the room. Deceased was sat on the edge of the bed. She asked me to go for some brandy. Mack came in at that time and said, 'You big bleeding cow you want is brandy'. Then he rushed at her and struck her on the blisters which burst. Then he took off her shoes, gripped her by the lower part of the body and struck her several times with her shoes. Deceased hid her face in the bedclothes as well as she could. She said, 'Oh Mack you'll kill me'. He said, 'I intend to kill you', or something like that. He left the room and I remained a little time.

I saw Mack at 11.15pm same night. I said to him, 'If I let you in will you be quiet', and he promised he would and would not touch her again.

Soon after I had retired to bed I was roused and went to deceased's room. Deceased was undressed lying on the floor. Mack was holding her down and thumping her with his fists. I saw him take her by the feet and drag her and kick her at the same time. He was wearing boots. He picked her up and flung her on the bed. Then he jumped on the bed on her belly. Then he raised her up a little and began kicking her about the body. Then he put one foot on her face. He cooled down shortly after and I sent for a policeman but could not find one. Deceased then asked me if I'd assist her whilst she got up. I got her on the floor and got a 'mug' that was in the room. She used the mug and parted with a quantity of blood. Whilst she was getting into bed again, Mack kicked her in the 'privates'. Afterwards he sat on the edge of the bed, partly lying on it, and I left the room.  A woman was with me most of the time and left the room with me. Another woman helped me to empty the 'mug'. Mack had had some drink but knew what he was doing.

On Tuesday the 12th inst I went into the deceased's room about 9pm. Deceased and Mack were in the room. Deceased asked me if I'd help her on the 'mug' again. I did so. She passed a further quantity of blood. I had some words with Mack. Then Mack left and I remained in the room for a few minutes. Mack was away half an hour and then returned. He went into the room and I followed. I said, 'Now Mack if you don't get a doctor to this woman I'll fetch a doctor and a policeman too'. He went into the yard and I followed. He cursed and threatened me. Whilst I was in the room I saw no water. There as a kettle but no water. The woman had not been freshly scalded. Shortly after, a doctor came. I don't know who had been for him. The doctor said Mack had fetched him. Deceased was ordered to the Infirmary. Ambulance came. Mack refused to allow the woman to be taken. The police were sent for and the woman taken to the infirmary. Before the woman was removed, Mack said to deceased, 'Esther have I done this', and she said, 'No'. I said 'Now Esther don't tell stories, tell the truth'. She replied 'Are they taking Mack, oh dear, don't give Mack away'.'.

Henry Mack's real name was Henry McWiggins and he had been born in Blackhorse Street in Bolton and was a fireman.

It was reported that Henry Mack had at one time laid pretensions to some ability as a boxer and that in a contest he had knocked out the hangman William Billington, whose duty it was later to launch him into the presence of his maker.

Esther Bedford was also known as Esther Thompson and was a native of Bolton and had been born in Mechanic Street off Fold Street in which locality her mother still resided. It was reported that she had originally worked in the cardroom in a Bolton cotton mill, but that an early age had formed evil associations and had become linked with a hooligan whose name was mentioned at the trial and with whom she had lived until Henry Mack took her away to Oldham.

It was further reported that Elizabeth Bedford had developed the worst habits to which a human being could become addicted and that she had frequently been in gaol for drunkenness and riotous behaviour as a disorderly character and that both she and Henry Mack had been a pest to the police and a menace to society.

Henry Mack was executed at Manchester on 2 December 1902.

see National Archives - ASSI 52/67, HO 144/681/102278

see Tamworth Herald - Saturday 22 November 1902