Liverpool Mercury

Feb 1st 1913



John WILLIAMS who was convicted at the last Sussex assizes for the murder of Police Insp WALLS at Eastbourne and Edward HOPWOOD, who was found guilty of the murder of Florence Alice Bernadette STILES a music hall artiste, professionally known as Florence DUDLEY, by shooting her in a taxi cab in a London St were hanged on Wednesday.

WILLIAMS was hanged at Lewes Gaol at 8 o’ clock, shortly before that time the executioner, ELLIS, and his assistant WILLIS, entered the cell.

WILLIAMS was quickly pinioned, and as the prison clock struck the hour the procession emerged from the main building at the west end of the gaol. The prisoner looked pale but walked firmly. A warder was on either side and just touched his arm but no support was necessary.

When WILLIAMS had taken his place on the platform, ELLIS adjusted the white strap around his legs, and placed the white cap over his head. The executioner quickly stepped back and pulled the bolt, and WILLIAMS disappeared.

Death was instantaneous, the drop allowed being 7ft 7 ins.

The prisoner made no confession.

It will be recalled WILLIAMS was found guilty of the murder of Insp WALLS at Eastbourne at the beginning of the month at Leves assizes.

The murder was a cold-blooded one, as WILLIAMS, who was hiding on the portico of a house, fired point-blank at the Inspector when told to come down.

After his conviction and his High Court appeal had failed he applied to the Home Secretary to marry Miss SEYMOUR, with whom he had been living.

Mr MC KENNA did not allow this and his decision aroused controversy, a second application was also refused.

A petition of 35,000 signatures praying for a reprieve was then sent to the Home Secretary, who could see no reason why he should interfere with the law.

During the hearing of the charge against WILLIAMS the principal evidence against him was a statement made by Florence SEYMOUR to the police. She described how he had left her for half an hour near the Countess’s house on the night of the murder, returning without his trilby hat, and afterwards throwing away a burglar’s rope with a hook on the end of it, also with him burying a revolver on the beach he had broken in two.

Another damaging piece of evidence was that made by his friend, Edgar POWER, the medical student, to whom WILLIAMS on being chaffed about his ability to use a revolver, said, “Well, that was a good shot anyhow.”

“What shot?” said POWER.

“That shot,” replied WILLIAMS

The dangerous boast being made on the day the papers were full of the murder.

A career of crime

At the inquest on the body of “John WILLIAMS,” the Eastbourne Murderer, known as the, “Hooded Man” who was hanged on Wednesday, the Governor of Lewes gaol stated that, they only had circumstantial evidence of the deceased proper name by his writing to his father and receiving letters from him.

Both parents knew about it. In records he was described as the sculptor from America, but no credence was attached to that as at the time WILLIAMS was anxious to hide his identity. His only known occupation was burglary.

Mr MC KENNA told the House of Commons that his parents so distressed by the outcome that his mother was in danger of losing her life. The Governor of the gaol said his parents were only aware of their son’s crime after the trial.

The story of WILLIAMS life will remove any doubt about his part in the murder at Eastbourne, from the days of his childhood he was continually doing wrong.

He was born in Edinburgh in 1883, being 30 yrs old. From early childhood he was a trial to his family. His education and surroundings were the best, but aged 9 he was charged at the local police courts for stealing pigeons. The charge was withdrawn because of his age, but he continued a career of juvenile criminal adventure.

He would climb like a cat, being, small, agile and athletic, explaining why, just before the murder, outside the house of the Countess SZTARAY in South Cliff Ave, Eastbourne he was engaged in a number of ,”portico,” burglaries at Bournemouth, Brighton and Seaford.

He was in turn, sailor, soldier, burglar, blackmailer and thief, he crowded in the last 12 yrs of his life more excitement than most criminals in a lifetime.

He had a dozen different names.

While a brief period as a ship’s boy his ability at climbing earned him the nickname of, “Monkey.” He deserted just before committing his first burglary in Edinburgh, when he climbed into a house by the fan light.

In 1899 he enlisted into the Royal Scots Regt and was drafted to South Africa at the outbreak of war. He soon afterwards served 3 mths for robbing the regimental stores.

He deserted and for 2 yrs served in a Rhodesian Horse Regt, but was sentenced by court martial to 2 yrs hard labour for stealing a comrade’s money.

He was deported from Johannesburg as undesirable in 1906, on arrival in England he called himself, “Sydney HAMILTON.” On which name he was sentenced for house breaking in Somersetshire the next year.

In September 1908 in the name of John WILLIAMS he was sentenced to 21 mths hard labour for burglary at Folkestone.

November 8th 1910 convicted at London sessions and sentenced to a years prison for house breaking.


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