KINGSWOOD & SOUNDWELL Local History Site
A story from the Bristol Mercury of Friday 17 March 1893. Reproduced with permission from the British Newspaper Archive.
THE KINGSWOOD MURDER
EXECUTION OF MANNING
THE SCENE ON THE SCAFFOLD
MANNING'S LAST MESSAGE
STORY OF THE CRIME
As stated in a second edition of the Bristol Mercury yesterday, Albert Manning , convicted of the wilful murder of Mrs Flew at Kingswood, was executed yesterday morning within the precincts of Gloucester gaol. Reporters had been provided with admission cards by the Under-Sheriff, and they presented themselves at the lodge door at 20 minutes to eight. They proceeded to one of the exercise yards, where Mr Deputy Chief Constable Philpott, inspector Elliott, Sergeant Collett, and four constables had already assembled. The prison bell commenced to toll at a quarter to eight, and about the same time one of the warders was to be seen on the roof near where the flagstaff had been erected the previous day, with cord in hand waiting to to hoist the black flag. Just before the clock struck eight the police and pressmen, in obedience to a summons from a warder, marched in procession along the corridors to the yard in which the scaffold stood. Here they joined with the Under Sheriff for the County (Mr John W. Coren), his clerk (Mr G. H. Romans), both bearing white wands in their hands; the Governor of the gaol (Major Knox), the prison surgeon (Dr O. Clark), Sergt. Theyers, and a number of warders. The gallows, which had been employed on previous occassions, were again erected over a bricked pit in a disused portion of the prison, adjoining the burial ground, where the other executed prisoners are interred.
The spectators had not taken up their position round the gallows many moments before it became apparent that the convict whose life was so soon to end had been taken from the condemned cell and was already on his way to the doom which awaited him. Billington, of Farnworth, the selected executioner, arrived in Gloucester at three o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, and was at once conveyed in a cab to the office of the Under Sheriff in Berkeley Street. Billington alighted from the cab and went into the office, from whence he proceeded, accompanied by Mr Coren, to the gaol, where he remained until after the execution. This is Billington's first visit to Gloucester in his "official" capacity, the last two or three executions having been carried ot by his predecessor Berry, who has now resigned. Billington was accompanied by an assistant named Scott, and they entered the condemned cell just on the stroke of eight, the prison chaplain (the Rev J. Hart Johnson) having been with the wretched man to the last, praying all the time. Billington quickly produced the pinioning straps from his pocket, and Manning's arms were fastened behind him. He was then led forth by warders, who walked on either side, and preceded by the chaplain, who was attired in full canonicals, the melancholy procession wended its way to the gaunt instrument of death, Mr Johnson reading the opening portions of the burial service, "I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord," was heard repeated in solemn tones, and then the chaplain, Manning, Billington, and his assistant appeared in the yard, where the little knot of spectators was awaiting them.
Manning walked from the condemned cell to the gallows with a firm, resolute step, and did not require any assistance from the warders, who remained close at hand to render any in case the prisoner gave way at the last moment. His demeanour was totally different to that which he maintained at the trial, for instead of keeping his eyes fixed on the ground, he walked with head erect, and the dreamy insane expression which he had assumed whilst he was in custody now gave way to a look of something approaching intelligence. Those who saw him at the trial immediately noticed the great change in the man's appearance. He looked better physically than before his committal, and all doubts to his absolute sanity were at once removed. He wore the same brown cloth suit which he was attired in at the trial, but his neck was laid bare. He appeared to be looking into the sky when he was motioned to take his place over the drop, and Billington and Scott - both of whom wore black velvet skull caps - knelt on either side of the convict for the purpose of strapping his legs. This was done in a moment, both the executioned and his assistant being exceedingly expeditious, and evidently imbued with the desire to spare the wretched man as much agony of mind as possible. Both arms and legs were now firmly pinioned; Billington put the noose round Manning's neck, adjusted it, whipped out of his pocket the white cap, which he slipped over his head, and the chaplain was repeating the words "Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery," when the hangman stepped aside in order to draw the bolt and complete his awful task, and although it was but the work of a moment, the painful silence - broken only by the solemn words of the Service for the Dead - was terrible to those who stood near. But the suspense was over, almost as soon as it had commenced in reality; the executioner, in a business-like way, coolly stepped aside, and the onlookers knew only too well what was to follow.. He quickly touched the lever - the only obstacle now between the wretched man's sojourn on earth and his entrance to the next world - and Manning was launched into Eternity. More than one eye was dimmed with tears as the executioner looked up as much to say "I have completed my task." A sigh of relief was heard as the man shot through the trap doors with almost lighting rapidity, and he was dead in an instant. He hung like a plummet at the end of a line, but for some moments after the trapdoors had been released the rope twitched convulsively. The reporters then drew near to the gallows, and looked in the pit where the dead murderer was hanging, and for some seconds the fingers - as is usual under such circumstances - moved slightly, and the body vibrated. It was, however, soon over, and all was still, and Billington bent forward and steadied the rope with his hand.
Billington gave the man, who weighed 12st 7lb, a drop of five feet, and the execution was declared to be one of the most expeditious that has ever taken place in the gaol.
Manning did not speak a word when on the scaffold, but his lips were noticed to be quivering, indicating that he was engaged in prayer. Early yesterday morning he sent for Warder Weeler, and , on his appearance in the condemned cell, Manning thanked him for his kindness to him whilst there.
Manning maintained the sullen demeanour which he had exhibited all along until Wednesday, when there was a decided change. He dictated three letters to Major Knox to friends, telling them of his repentance. One of these was to the Rev Mr Tomkins, vicar of Wick, near Bath, whose Bible class Manning had been in the habit of attending with the murdered woman some few years ago. He desired the Governor to tell Mr Tomkins that he would die in repentance and with faith in a loving Saviour. The last interview which he had on Wednesday with his mother was of a most affecting character. He appeared to sleep soundly that night; at two o'clock the Governor saw that he was fast asleep. He told the Governor that he had no fear, and that he was very happy. The Rev J. H. Johnson had been most constant in his ministrations, and was in the condemned cell at seven o'clock yesterday morning.
INQUEST ON THE BODY
At 10.45 Mr J. Waghorne, one of the county coroners, held an inquest in the board-room at the gaol on the body of the culprit. Mr G. Gough was foreman of the jury, and he proceeded to the yard where the execution took place, in order to view the body, which was lying in the coffin near to the gallows, which were still standing, with the rope attached. The face of the man bore a perfectly peaceful expression, and his lips were slightly parted as though in prayer. There was very little discolouration.
The first witness was Major Knox, and he having given formal evidence as to Manning's admission and execution, the Coroner inquired if, in his opinion, the death sentence was carried out speedily and properly.
Major Knox - Perfectly.
And satisfactorily? - Quite.
In reply to the foreman, who asked Major Knox whether in his opinion, there were any symptoms of insanity in the prisoner, or whether his attitude had only been thatof shamming,
The Governor made the following statement:- Up to yesterday the man assumed a condition of profound dementia. Since his trial he never spoke to me, or took the slightest notice of me, though I have seen him once or twice a day. Yesterday his mother came to see him, and I am told that after that visit he behaved in a perfectly rational manner. He spoke with me for upwards of half an hour yesterday evening - between seven and eight - and then dictated to me three letters which he desired that I should forward to the persons to whom they were addressed. He told me he had been contiually praying, both in the cell to which he was then, and "in that other place below." Immediately after he was sentenced he was removed to another cell on the upper floor, and that is what he meant by the place below. He said he had been praying for the forgiveness of a loving Saviour. Though he made no absolute confession to me of his crime, he said "That man is the cause of both our deaths."
The Coroner - I think that is a very satisfactory answer to the question of the foreman, and will no doubt satisfy both the jury and the public.
A Juror - Did he mention to you who he meant by "that man"?"
Major Knox - He did not.
The Coroner - You must draw your own inference from that.
Evidence was then given by Dr Oscar Clark as to the prisoner having been under his charge, and to his execution. He said he had viewed the body.
The Coroner - What is your opinion as to the way in which the judgement of death was carried out? - Very efficiently.
The Coroner - The cause of death was breaking of the neck, or asphixia? - Breaking of the neck.
The jury returned the formal verdict that the judgement of death was duly executed and carried into effect.
The body was allowed to hang the customary hour, and after the inquest it was buried in the clothes in the graveyard of the gaol. Manning's remains were interred near those of the other eight criminals who have been executed within the prison.
THE LAST MESSAGE
Among the last messages which the convict despatched, the day before his death, to the outside world, was the following:-
To Mr Johnson
Attendant at Zion Chapel
Soundwell Lane kingswood, Bristol.
The Governor, H.M. Prison, Gloucester, sends to you, by desire of Albert manning, and at his dictation, the following. He wishes you to tell the ministers:-
"I want it to be mentioned to them in chapel not to seek after the flesh, but after the spirit. I have found what that has come to seeking after the flesh. Let the ministers know, I am prepared to depart from this world clear from all my sin, as I believe the Almighty has forgiven me all my sins which I have committed in this world. I owe no one any malice - not a soul in this world. Send them two verses of the hym -
Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd'st me come to Thee-
O Lamb of God I come,
Just as I am Thou will recieve,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe -
O Lamb of God I come.
My kind love to my neighbours. Johnson was a good neighbour. I hope to keep in good spirits to leave this world to-morrow morning. I have all my trust in my loving Saviour. He loves me, and I love him. No fear. I feel beautiful. True faith that he will forgive me for all my sins. I have prayed to him with my heart and soul. He has given me peace and comfort."
The crime of which Manning was found guilty at the last Gloucester Assize, his trial having been postponed from November to ascertain whether he was fit to plead, was committed at Soundwell road, Kingswood, on the 28th of September, under circumstances which showed that he was suffering at the time from a severe and overmastering fit of jealousy. Both he and his victim - Jane Elizabeth Flew - were married, the one living apart from his wife, and the other having left her husband; and they had cohabited together for some years. Apparently he was always of a jealous temperament, for he had quarrelled with her on more than one occasion because of the attentions other men had paid her, she, it was stated, being of prepossessing appearance. Some time before September he undoubtedly became very angry on account of her acquaintance with a man called George Bryant, although in his own statement to the police after the murder showed that the causesof his jealousy were merely that he had seen the two talking together, and that once Bryant took her to Compton. He also fancied that Bryant had endeavoured to turn the woman and her family against him. The result, however, was that Manning and the woman parted. Between this event and the day of the crime she found it necessary to complain about his conduct, and the police cautioned him as to molesting her. On the 28th of September he appeared to be in his usual frame of mind, but in the morning he rather surprised his fellow workmen at some new buildings which were being erected by Mr Bullock, his employer, by obtaining a sheet of paper from one of his mates and asking another to write out a sort of will, which left all his belongings to his mother. About four o'clock in the afternoon he left work suddenly and walked to Mrs Flew's shop in Soundwell Road - a distance of about two hundred yards. The woman was the only person at home when he got there, and according to the account he gave of the occurrence at Lawford's Gate afterwards, he begged her to make it up and be friends. She refused, and ordered him to leave, and commenced shouting out. Upon that he took out a pistol which he had bought some weeks before "to make the shop of work for him hot if ever I caught Bryant in there alone with her any more." As she started to run from the kitchen into the shop, where he was standing, he fired through the glass door, and the bullet struck her in the left breast. A young man - Walter E. Rowe - chanced to be passing at the moment, and hearing the report of firearms he stepped back a couple of paces to ascertain what had occurred. He saw Mrs Flew rush out into the shop, and fall down, as though dead, by the door and immediately he gave the alarm. The woman died within a few minutes, and her destroyer was found a little time afterwards hiding in one of the rooms upstairs. He struggled desperately but was eventually secured by the police and taken to Lawford's Gate, where he made a full confession to Supt. Matthews. The defence set up by Mr Holman Gregory before the magistrates, and by Mr Gwynn James at the trial at Gloucester, was that there was the taint of insanity in Manning's family, and that he was not responsible for his conduct at the time he committed the murder. After the first outburst of popular anger, the feeling of the Kingswood people settled down into one of sympathy for Manning, who was always looked upon as a good workman and a most civil and obliging fellow; and this was shown by the eagerness manifested by all classes of residents to sign the petition for a reprieve.
END OF STORY
I wonder if the shop is still there?
Did some folk think she deserved all she got?!
Newgate Prison, Bristol
Here some inquest reports from Bristol concerning the Kingswood area and surrounds in the 18th and 19th centuries:
30 May 1723 - We had a very unhappy accident happen'd near this place; a Gentleman walking from hence to Stapleton, in Gloucestershire, meeting a Collier Boy on the Road, ask'd him some Questions, the Boy returned him some very impudent answers, which so provoked the Gentleman, that he pulled a Knife out of his Pocket and Cut his Throat; the Gentleman is since Committed to Newgate.
5 June 1723 - A Collier in this City got very drunk, coming up towards Kingswood, rode over a Boy about 12 Years old and kill'd him on the spot; the Coroner's Inquest brought it in Wilful Murder, the Man rode off and has not been heard of since.
The same Day we have an account from Kingswood that 9 Colliers were kill'd by the Fall of a Mine.
5 October 1728 - One Day last Week ELIZABETH GOUGH, the Landlord's Wife of the Boarded House in Kingswood, was convey'd from Bridewell without Lawford's Gate, to Gloucester Castle, for maiming, and in an inhuman manner stamping on the Body of a Woman six Months gone with Child, who came to call her Husband home from the Alehouse, of which Bruises she died in a few Days, and the Child within her.
26 December 1737 - On Wednesday Morning ABRAHAM HODGES, a Kingswood Collier, was found on his Belly in a Lime Kiln without Lawford's Gate, miserably burnt to Death: Being in Liquor the Night before, 'tis thought he fell asleep on the Kiln.
19 October 1743 - We hear a Tinker and his Wife are taken up on London Road on a violent Suspicion of murdering a poor Woman, in one of whose Pockets were found two Fingers, which they had cut off the Hands of the Deceased for the sake of her Rings.
11 February 1782 (From Gloucester) - On Friday the 1st inst. an inquisition was taken before James Rudge, gent. coroner, on the view of the body of WILLIAM MILLARD, of the parish of Mangotsfield, in this county, labourer, who was found early that morning, most inhumanly murdered in his bed. The poor man was 75 years of age, and was supposed to have saved some money. The same morning a pair of leather breeches, and a flannel jacket, the property of the deceased, were offered for sale to a broker in Bristol, by a thin faced man, about 36 years of age, five feet nine inches high, sallow complexion, short strait black hair, had on a light coloured coat, which appears to have been turned, and wore a round hat.
18 February - The villain who committed the atrocious murder mentioned in our last is apprehended. His name is STALLARD, a native of Yatton in Somersetshire.
4 March - STALLARD, who is committed to our castle for the murder of WILLIAM MILLARD, at Mangotsfield, says, that he assisted in breaking open the window of the house, but that the robbery and murder was committed by one JOHN TAYLOR, who entered the house; and that he soon after heard the deceased cry out, "the Lord have mercy upon my soul," which so terrified him, that he ran into the garden, and staid there till Taylor came out.
1 April - On Saturday at our Assizes, Richard Eynon, for the murder of his wife, and THOMAS STALLARD, for the murder of WILLIAM MILLARD, of Mangotsfield, were ordered to be executed on this day, but Eynon has since been respited to the 22nd of April. Stallard is to suffer.
8 April - On Monday last THOMAS STALLARD was executed here for the murder of WILLIAM MILLARD of Mangotsfield, in this county. The man was a deplorable instance of the shocking hardness to which the human heart is to be reduced by long habits of vice and profaneness. His behaviour before he was taken to the place of execution was like one that defied the Almighty to punish; but when he was brought to the gallows the dreadful apprehension of eternal torments could no longer be concealed, and he died in the greatest agonies of fear.
Gloucester Castle - demolished in 1787
2 June 1788 - Afew days ago, RICHARD HOBBS, of the parish of St George, was committed to our county gaol, for killing SAMUEL MILLSOME at an ale house, both being very much in liquor, they fought, and MILLSOME was killed.
18 October 1790 - Monday last was found floating on the water in Hanham's Mill pond, a new born female child brought up by the tide. It appeared to have been strangled, as a small cord was tied twice round its neck, and a cloth wrapped around the head. It is imagined, that the child must have lain near three weeks in the water, as it was in a very putrid state. An inquest was taken by Mr Phelps, coroner, at Chipping Sodbury, and the nearest coroner in that part of the county. The jurors verdict - Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.
2 October 1797 - On Tuesday last an inquest was taken before Mr Joyner, at Stapleton Prison, on the body of Louis le Brison, a Frenchman, who was shot the preceeding day by one of the sentinels belonging to the Royal Buckingham Militia. The jury, after a full investigation, found a verdict of justifiable homicide.
23 April 1798 - On Thusday last an inquest was taken before Mr Joyner, on the bodyof a new born female child found, the morning of the 16th inst. tied up in a striped cotton handkerchief, and floating down the river Froome, near Stapleton, in this county. On opening the body of the child, it appeared to have been strangled by a small cord previous to its being cast in the river. Two strange women were observed to pass through Stapleton towards the French prison on Monsay evening with a child, and to retun the same afternoon without one to Bristol. The Jury found a verdict of Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown.
28 July 1800 - On Wednesday was committed to our county gaol, by Mr Joyner, Coroner, EDWARD WILMOT, lat of the parish of Siston, in this county, yeoman, for the wilful murder of Mr SAMUEL FUSSELL, of Warmley. On Tuesday morning last, Mr FUSSELL, collector of the taxes for Siston, attended by the constable and other persons, went to take a distress at the house of EDWARD WILMOT. As FUSSELL passed the house, WILMOT fired a gun at him, the ball of which entered the eye and went through the back part of the head, and he instantly expired.
4 August - EDWARD WILMOT, for the murder of SAMUEL FUSSELL, was condemned, and ordered to be hanged this morning.
11 August - Monday last EDWARD WILMOT, of Siston hill, was executed here pursuant to his sentence for the wilful murder of SAMUEL FUSSELL. WILMOT, from the time he was apprehended appeared to be insensible to the heinousness of his crime, and at the place of execution shewed no sign of remorse. He was an old man of considerable property, but generally very litigous in his disposition, and gave much trouble to the persons appointed to receive his taxes; and it was in this situation that FUSSELL stood, who had several times made application to him for payment, previous to the fatal morning of his death, when he was about levying an execution on some of his property. It is hoped the example of WILMOT, will be a lesson to all persons who resist officers in the discharge of their duty, and who give way to those unbridled passions which generally terminate in their own distruction.
To be continued