Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Last Execution in Cambridgeshire

The last execution to take place in Cambridgeshire happened in 1913, this is the story of what took place.

The north Cambridgeshire village of Brampton every year held it's annual feast. The festival always continued into the early hours of the morning and was a good opportunity for many to consume a large amount of alcohol.

Cambridge Gaol in the 1930s
Two people who attended the festival were Fredrick Seekings and Martha- Jane Beeby. Fredrick was aged between 35 and 39 and originally come from the Chatteris area. Martha was in her mid-forties, and by standards of the time led a very wild life.

The couple were known to be heavy drinkers and many rumours had circulated that their heavy drinking had fueled nasty fights between them.

On the feast day (28th July 1913) Fredrick had been working with another labourer Albert Wood, they had been doing work for a man named Tom Stocker, a local butcher - They were thought to have worked right up to 8pm.

After drinking throughout the day Fredrick finished his work and went to the Bell Inn, where he was found just after 8pm by Martha who was reported to say ' Oh, this is were I find you? '

At closing time, which would have been almost 10pm there were reports by eyewitnesses that they had consumed a large amount of alcohol.

Edward Abraham who saw them both outside the Bell Inn just after 10pm said: ' They had just left the building when they both fell down about five minutes later, only ten yards further along the road, Martha fell again this time into a hedge, one of the staff at the Bell helped her up, only to fall in the hedge again along with Fredrick'

After leaving the pub Edward Abraham is said to return home to have his supper with his wife, then after finishing his meal along with their neighbour Ernest Favell he returned to the feast.

They stayed at the feast till just before eleven and returned to Favell's wife who told them that someone had been moving around outside the house and asked them to investigate.

The two men took a bicycle lamp and looked along the road outside where they found Martha laying on her back on the grass verge.

Fredrick lay across her lower body with his left arm around her leg and his right arm along the side of her body.

Abraham called Fredrick's name several times with no answer, it is believed he then shone the lamp at them and touched Martha's face to find it cold. Abraham gave the lamp to Tavell and returned to the feast where he told a Sergeant and Constable.

When the officers arrived at the scene Fredrick became very un co-operative and the Sergeant warned him what had happened was a very serous matter.

Fredrick is reported to keep saying : ' I didn't do it, she took the knife from me and done it herself''

The search of Fredrick uncovered a pint bottle of beer and another in the grass. He came very rude and kept swearing why they waited for transport. While on his way to Huntington police station he kept repeatedly saying he was innocent.

Martha's body was took to Fredrick's house where her clothes were searched, she was found to have 6d and a few copper coins in her pocket.

The following morning Dr. McRitche examined her and said the cause of death would have been  a 6 inch knife wound that ran from the right of her neck to the left.

On Thursday 31st July 1913 Martha was buried in Brampton.

Two days later on Saturday 2nd August 1913 Fredrick was removed to the Cambridge gaol to await trial.

On Tuesday 14th October 1913 his trial began in which he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.

On Monday 3rd November 1913 he was the last person to be executed in Cambridgeshire.

These articles may also be of interest: Murder in Midsummer Common
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