Dark History

The Last Man Hanged at Reading Gaol

The Last Man Hanged at Reading Gaol
Staff Writer

Last Hanging at Reading Gaol


John Gould went down in history (in more ways than one) as the last man to be publicly executed at Reading Gaol. NICOLA CARPENTER describes the unspeakable crime that led him to the gallows.


“Good people all I pray attend,
On earth my life will shortly end,
For dreadful murder my life is took away,
I my dear child is basely slay,
I gave her the sad and dreadful wound,
And left her bleeding on the ground,

John Gould is my name,
I bought myself to grief and shame,
To grief and shame it does appear,
In Windsor Town in Berkshire,

My early grave will be made soon,
No tears will fall on my earthly tomb;
No flowers or grass on my grave will rise,
No stone will mark where m body lies.”

(Verse written at the time of Gould’s execution in 1862)

On 30th December 1861 at his home in Clarence Clump, Clewer near Windsor, Berkshire, John Gould a hod carrier, aged 39, murdered his seven-year-old daughter, Hannah.

Little Hannah had spent the 30th December playing with her best friend, 9-year-0ld Harriet Clarke and Harriet’s younger brother.

Around one in the afternoon, John returned home after drinking at The Prince of Wales beer shop to find that Hannah had not cleaned the house to his satisfaction, nor did she have the fire ready for him to warm himself by. John started shouting at Hannah: “You naughty child, why didn’t you clean up the place!”

“Oh, father I couldn’t do it,” Hannah cried, but her tears only served to anger John further.

Taking his cut throat razor, John slit Hannah’s throat.

He then summoned his neighbour Mrs Clarke, Harriet’s mother, to his home.

Pointing at his daughter he exclaimed, “I have done it! I have done it!”

Horrified, Mrs Clarke ran into the street shouting for help to all that would listen.

John, still in a terrible rage grabbed Hannah’s limp body and threw her into the street shouting, “you little s**t, I will die for you!”

According to witnesses, John threw Hannah with such force that her head hit a wall with a “sickening squelching noise”.

Samuel Wilkins, aged 12, who lived next door managed to drag Hannah, hardly breathing and struggling for live, away from the house before shouting for help.

Another neighbour Mr Coker, helped Samuel carry Hannah to the nearest infirmary, where Hannah’s mother worked as a nurse.

Unfortunately, nothing could be done and Hannah died on the way.

Mr Coker and Samuel returned with PC Radbourne to find John waiting in the doorway of his home still with the blood-soaked razor.

John Gould was tried on 26th February 1862, evidence was submitted as a formality as John had repeatedly confessed his guilt.

The jury retired for a short time before finding him guilty of murder.

On 12th March 1862, 4000 men, women and children gathered to watch William Calcraft send John Gould to his maker.

Once the bolt was withdrawn, John struggled for a minute or two and then was gone.

Such was the outcry over the manner of John Gould’s execution that it was to become the final public execution performed at Reading Gaol.


For more creepy topics from Berkshire’s NICOLA CARPENTER, you can read her blog here.


View Comments (3)

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Dark History

More in Dark History

Welsh cottage

Meet the Welsh goblin called Bwbachod

LH Davies1st March 2015
Dragon

9 Weirdest Welsh Mythical Creatures

Nia Jones1st March 2015
Burke-and-Hare-do-the-rounds

The Life And Crimes Of Burke And Hare

MJ Steel Collins28th February 2015
Engraving depicting a witchtrial

Islandmagee, Witchtrials, Devil Worship and Paranormal Investigation

Guest Writer26th February 2015
Site of the Chapel of William of Norwich

The Boy Martyr of the Woods

Guest Writer26th February 2015
Pendle HIll 1612

Who were the Pendle Witches?

LH Davies23rd February 2015
Mary Kelly's shocking remains after the hands of Jack the Ripper

13 things you didn’t know about Jack the Ripper

Jon Rees21st February 2015
Bridget Cleary and husband

Ireland’s Top 5 Strangest Murders

Ann O'Regan21st February 2015
Spontaneous Human Combustion

Is Spontaneous Human Combustion Real?

Nia Jones16th February 2015