Leeds nostalgia: A hanging

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Dateline: January 7, 1919: A hundred years ago today, the Yorkshire Evening Post carried a report of an execution at Armley Gaol. It was that of Een Hindle Benson, who was sentenced to death at Leeds Assizes for the murder of Annie Mayne, a woman with whom he lived in Hunslet prior to joining the Army.

The report ran: “During the whole of the time he has been incarcerated, Benson has shown fortitude and the news that the petition for his reprieve had failed did not appear to surprise him greatly. Indeed, on learning that, in the event of a reprieve being granted, the alternaitve would be a long term of imprisonment, Benson replied he would far rather suffer the full penalty of the law.”

It went on to describe how the condemned man had “interviews” with his family and close friends, to bid them farewell.

As the hour of execution approached, Benson showed no sign of fear, said the report. It went on: “This morning, as usual, he ate a healthy breakfast and walked quite calmly from the condemned sell to the shed where the execution took placed, a distance of some twenty or thirty yards.”

Benson was 41 and had been in the Army about 18 months when, in July the previous year, he heard that the woman, Mayne, had been “carrying on” with another man. He confronted her on August 26 after finding her drunk and with another man. She was said to have taunted him, he cut her throat with a razor.

Two more executions, that of Percy George Barrett and George Walter Cardwell, were also reported upon, they being planned for January 8. The pair had earlier been found guilty of the murder of Pontefract jeweller, Mrs Rhoda Walker. Cardwell vociferously protested his innocence.