The Execution Of Richard Davies

On Friday the 11th of April, 1890, despite a dedicated campaign to commute his sentence to one of life imprisonment, Richard Davies was executed for the murder of his father, which had taken place in the January of that year.

The Falkirk Herald published the following report on the execution in its edition of Saturday, 12th April, 1890:-


“Richard Davies was executed yesterday morning within the precincts of Knutsford Jail for the murder of his father at Crewe.

The weather was cold and showery, but about 500 persons assembled in Love Lane, close to the boundary wall of the prison. It is stated that from this point the drawing of the fatal bolt can be distinctly heard.

The utmost sympathy was expressed for the unfortunate youth.

About twenty minutes to eight the few representatives of the press, who were armed with the order of the High Sheriff, were admitted to the prison.

Illustrations showing the execution of Richard Davies.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 19th April 1890. Copyright, The British Library Board.


Davies slept well during the night, and awoke about six. He had breakfast in the condemned cell, the meal consisting of coffee and bread and butter, which he appeared to enjoy.

At seven o’clock the Rev. Mr Truss, the jail chaplain, arrived, and remained in the condemned cell till nearly eight o’clock.

A few minutes before eight Berry, the executioner, entered the cell and proceeded to pinion the youth, an operation to which he quietly submitted.


The procession to the scaffold was then formed.

On quitting the cell Davies gave a heavy sob, and looked very distressed. He kept his eyes fixed on the ground, but walked firmly towards the scaffold.

Before coming in sight of the trap Berry drew the white cap over the condemned man’s face. At this act he staggered slightly, and tried to feel his way with his feet, but Berry led him on.


He was speedily placed on the fatal trap, and Berry then definitely adjusted the rope round his neck, Davies saying audibly, “Lord, I commend my soul to Thee. Lord, receive my spirit.”


At the stroke of eight the bolt was pulled, and the youth disappeared.

He got a drop of six feet, his weight being 9st. 2lb.

Death was almost instantaneous, though for a second or two there was slight evidence of muscular contraction.


A few minutes before leaving the condemned cell, the youth made the following statement to the chaplain “I, Richard Davies, declare in my heart that I never struck my father the night of his death; that I never had the axe my hand.”

He also enclosed a statement to the same effect in a letter to his mother, which he entrusted to chaplain, as well as asking the chaplain to say farewell for him to his mother, brothers, and sisters.

On Saturday the youth made a statement to the chaplain protesting his innocence of his father’s death, and this was telegraphed by the Governor of the jail to the Home Secretary, but no reply was received.”