The Museum of Policing in Cheshire
Feature Articles

Public Executions In Chester From 16th Century

1554 George Marsh burnt at Spital, Boughton
1558   Sept. 8th. A woman burnt at Boughton for poisoning her husband

John Taylor – Gaoler of the Castle


William Geaton – servant to the Bishop of Chester – his body hung on chains on Grappenhall Heath
1601 A woman named Candy was pressed to death at Chester Castle   
1602   Arnet servant of Saltney Side hung

Sir Timothy Featherstonhaugh shot in the Corn Market of Chester by order of Parliament

1750   Two Irishmen executed – gibbeted at Two Mills
1768   Three men hung for burglary
1776 May 4th  Execution of James Knight for murder
1776 Sept 21st

Christopher Lawless. Isaac Hutchinson, Alexander Solomon and Isaac Josephs executed for robbing the shop of Mr Pemberton, jeweller. They were buried behind the Rodney Cop opposite Overleigh

1777   April 10th S. Thorley executed for the murder of Ann Smith, a ballad singer near Congleton. He cut off her head and part of her he actually broiled and ate. He was hung in chains on the Heath
1779   April 16th William Ellis for burglary

William Loom for discharging a loaded pistol at Charles Warren

1779 Oct 2nd  Sarah Jones for stealing 28 yds. of chintz
1783 Resolution Heap and Martha Brown for burglary
1784  April 26th Elizabeth Wood for poisoning
1784  May 15th John Oakes hung for coining
1786  May 6th  Execution of Peter Steens
1786  Oct 1st Execution of Edwart Holt
1786  Oct 7th  Execution of Thomas Hyde aged 35yrs for horse stealing
1786  Oct 10th Execution of James Buckley for burglary in Newgate Street
1786  Oct 7th Execution of Thomas Buckley aged 20 yrs
1789  Feb 4th

Thomas Hoate for the murder of John Parry a constable in Handbridge – on the gallows he charged his wife with infidelity (she was 70 yrs of age)

1790 John Dean for the murder of his wife who was 7 months pregnant
1791  April 21st

Execution of  Lowndes for robbing the Warrington Mail. He was hung in chains at Helsby Hill

1791  Oct 8th

Allen, Aston and Knox for burglary. The gallows were moved to the other side of the road after

1796   April 30th

Thomas Brown and James Price for robbing the Warrington Mail. They were hung in chains at Trafford Green and remained there until 1820. In the skull of Price was found a robin’s nest.

1798 John Thornhill for the murder of his sweetheart
1798  Oct 4th Peter Martin for firing at a boat’s crew of the Actaeona in the Mersey employed in the impress service


Thomas Bosworth for forgery

Alexander Horton for felony

1800  Oct 12th Mary Lloyd for forgery
1801  May 9th    Thompson, Morgan and Clare for burglary.
1801  Oct 3rd

Aaron Gee and Thomas Gibson hung out of a temporary window way on the south side of the old Northgate. They were propelled from the window about 5 feet and dropped near 40 inches


1809   May 6th

Execution of George Glover and William Proudlove in front of the House of Correction for shooting at an excise officer. The drop was used for the first time and the rope broke. New ropes were procured and the sentence carried out about 1 hour later

1810   May 2nd

John Done was executed for the murder of Betty Eckersley, a woman of bad character. He denied the offence to his last moment.

1810  Oct 1st    Smith and Clarke for burglary. They were buried in St Martins Churchyard

Edith Morney for the murder of her husband. Immediately after conviction she pleaded pregnancy and a jury of matrons pronounced her quick with child.

1813  June 26th  

William Wilkinson. James Yarwood and William Burgess for a rape on Mary Porter near Weston Point

Simeon Betson. William Berson and James Renshaw for burglary.

1814   May 28th

William Wilson aged 70yrs for arson. The man caused a stir before and at the execution.

1815   April 22nd Griffith and Wood for burglary
1817   May 10th Joseph Allen for uttering Bank of England Notes
1818 Abraham Rostern and Isaac Moors for burglary
1818   Sept 26th John Moor for burglary
1819   May 8th Joseph Walker – highway robbery
1819   Sept 25th Samuel Hooley and Jon Johnson (a man of colour) for burglary
1820 Jacob McGhinnies for shooting Mr Birch
1820 Sept 16th

Ralph Ellis for burglary and William Ricklington for setting fire to a rectory house at Coddington


1821   May 5th Samuel Healey for highway robbery at Stockport
1822   May 4th William Tongue for a rape on an infant

George Groom for highway robbery

1822   Sept 14th   Thomas Brierley for highway robbery
1823   April 14th Samuel Fallows for the murder of his sweetheart
1823   May 20th John Kragan for a rape on an infant
1823   Sept 13th Edward Clarke for highway robbery
1824   April 21st Joseph Dale for murder
1826   April 26th

Philip McGowan for robbery and Abraham Stones for robbing Mr Marsden. A gentleman of upwards of 70yrs of age near Cow Lane Bridge. On this occasion the  apparatus for execution was removed from the east to the west of the city gaol

1826   Aug 26th John Green for burglary
1829   May 9th John Proudlove for highway robbery

John Levi for burglary

1829   Sept 26th Joseph Woodhouse for a rape on his own daughter

Joseph Henshall for firing at gamekeepers

1832 Samuel Cumberledge for arson
1834  Samuel Thorley for murder
   John Carr for felonious shooting
  James Mason for attempting to procure a miscarriage
1841 Bartholemew Mourray for murder
1843 James Ratcliffe for murdering his wife
1844 Mary Gallop for poisoning her father at Crewe
1848   William Bates for murder
1856   Dec 26th   William Jackson for the murder of his two children in Handbridge, Chester
1857 John Blagg
1861 Martin Doyle
1862 Alice Hewitt
1866   April 23rd Samuel Griffiths
  The Northgate Gaol taken down in 1808. The City Gaol erected in 1807. Over the West Entrance the County and City prisoners were publicly executed. It ceased to be a gaol in 1871 and prisoners moved to the County Gaol at the Castle.


By Order of the Visiting Magistrates – 10th April 1805

 We the publicans permitted to serve the prisoners within the Castle of Chester with “ale” etc do hereby publicly declare, that from the date hereof. We will exonerate every prisoner, on his discharge, from all debts whatever we may have permitted him to contract with us, either for ale, porter or wine.

Witness our hands

Signed Rob Oldham

Rob Goff

  In 1877 the Government took over all the local prisons numbering 113 and closed 38 of them at once. The County (Chester) Gaol continued to be used for prisoners and Mr J B Manning remained in charge until 1884 when it was closed as a County Prison and the prisoners removed to H M Prison at Knutsford. A small part of the prison was used as a military prison under the charge of Mr J Martin. Military prisoners were afterwards moved to Stafford.
  The following is a list of condemned prisoners whose names appear on Chester Castle Tombstones in the possession of Mr W G Parker. The executions are listed previously but this gives additional details.
1843   Sept 2nd James Ratcliffe for the murder of his wife at Stockport on the previous 22nd June. - R Huxley Sheriff

Mary Gallop for poisoning her father, Richard Gallop, at Crewe – Edward Tilston, Sheriff

1848   April 22nd

William Bates for the murder of William  ……………. At Arlington - John Green (?) Sheriff

The first execution at Chester at 8.0.a.m.

1856   Dec 20th

William Jackson native of Handbridge for the murder of his two children, Mary Jane aged 7 and John aged 6, by cutting their throats and afterwards burying their bodies in a pit in Richard Roger’s orchard. Old Wrexham Road. – J Jones, Sheriff

1857   Aug 20th

John Blagg for the murder of John Bebbington a gamekeeper to W Corbett of Tilston Lodge – J Jones, Sheriff

1861   Aug 27th

Martin Doyle for cutting and wounding (with intent to kill) Jane Brogine at Holmes Chapel – James Rowe, Sheriff

1863   Dec 28th

Alice Hewitt for the murder of her mother, Mary Bailey, at Stockport – Robert Little, Sheriff

1866   April 23rd

Samuel Griffiths for the murder of Isaac Newport at Dunham – C Dutton, Sheriff

The first malefactor to be buried in the City Gaol




What had become an odious duty to the City and its Officials was this year transferred by Act of Parliament to the Sheriff of the County

JG Lady Day 1906