The execution of Albert Edward Burrows.

Glossop Advertiser 10 August 1923

Pit Murderer Meets His Doom at Bagthorpe Gaol.

Albert Edward Burrows
Albert Edward Burrows.

The announcement was made on Monday that in response to representations as to the mental condition of Albert Edward Burrows, who had been condemned to death for the Glossop pit-shaft murders, the Home Secretary had intimated that he was satisfied as to his sanity, and that the law must take its course.

Wednesday morning broke out with fitful gleams of sunshine, and as the clocks struck the fateful hour of 8, Albert Edward Burrows, the Glossop murderer, entered upon his last earthly walk — a walk of a few yards to the grim gallows.
What a contrast to those long walks he used to undertake over a period of three years through the old world village of Simmondley, along the beautiful hillsides of Glossop-dale, to that pit of death from whence the remains of four human bodies were recovered a few weeks back.
We need not recapitulate in detail that this callous criminal had brought himself to the gallows by the brutal murders of Hannah Calladine and his own illegitimate son, or that he was also faced with the charge of having murdered Elsie Large, the four years illegitimate daughter of Hannah Calladine, and a bonny little Glossop boy named Tommy Wood.
The full story of the fiendish crimes is too well known, as also is the story of how women and men made frantic efforts on various occasions to reach Burrows whilst he was in the custody of the police. All that we need state here is how the fiendish creature went to his doom.
Again at these last earthly moments of Burrows it was the mothers of England who assembled in preponderating numbers outside the walls of Bagthorpe Gaol in a vain effort to obtain even a glimpse of the man who had caused a world sensation.
Many of the women scaled the railings and points of vantage in order to gain a view, but to no purpose, as the high walls obscured all vision.
There was a deep silence as the clock struck eight, and within a minute the tolling of the prison bell informed the awaiting crowd that justice had been done.

Subsequently on inquest was held by the City Coroner, Mr. C. L. Rothera, and the Governor of the gaol said that Burrows was admitted to the prison on June and was sentenced to death on July 4.
He was a general labourer, and according to his own statements was 62 years of age. He was born at Cheadle Hulme, and resided at 94, Back Kershaw Street, Glossop.
The sentence was executed at eight o'clock.
Dr. J. Watson said he was present at the execution, which was carried out without the slightest hitch or difficulty. He had since examined the body, and the cause of death was rupture of the spine and the neck.
The jury were satisfied that everything was carried out according to law, and recorded a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.
So there has taken place the final act in one of the most sordid dramas in modern English history.
Albert Edward Burrows, 62 years of age, poacher, thief, bigamist and murderer, will trouble neither Glossop nor Nantwich more, except in so far as the relatives of his victims — a woman he had pretended to love, her two children, one of whom was his, and a boy he had pretended to befriend — remember him despite any effort to forget him.
Rarely in the history of English criminal cases in recent years have there been public scenes such as were associated with the capture and trial of this big Glossop labourer, who, to escape his legal and moral obligation to a woman he had wronged, cast her body and that of her baby into a pit on the lonely Derbyshire moors, and on the following day threw down the same pit the body of the woman’s other child; and who, nearly three years later, his crime a secret still in his own bosom, cast into the same pit the little son of a neighbour, a boy whom, for reasons of a most abominable kind, he desired to hide away for ever.

In the charge sheet at Derby Assizes, when on July 3 this year, Burrows stood in the dock to take his trial for his crimes, there was printed this cold indictment:—
Burrows, Albert Edward (62), labourer, on March 4, 1923, at Glossop of his malice aforethought did kill and murder Thomas Wood.
On January 11 and 12, 1920, feloniously and wilfully and of his malice aforethought did kill and murder Hannah Calladine, Albert Edward Burrows, and Elsie Large.

Finally convicted on two counts only, the only two it was considered needful to go into, Burrows facing Mr. Justice Shearman almost defiantly, in reply to the question had he anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon him, retorted: “I am not afraid of death, but I am not guilty. I loved those children, and the woman, too. As true as I hope to meet my God, I am innocent.”
When the judge passed sentence of death upon him he appeared for one fleeting second to show a sense of fear. But pulling himself together, he turned in the dock and walked firmly.
In brief, the story of the crimes of this man with a heart of stone and an apparently totally blank conscience is that, while still a married man, with a wife at Glossop, he formed an association with a young woman named Hannah Calladine during mutual work upon munitions near Nantwich in 1917. Ho went through a form of marriage with her some months later, and took her to Glossop to the home in Back Kershaw Street where his wife was then actually living.

On November 8, 1919, he went to prison for non-payment of a maintenance order against him. Later on, faced with poverty and the continued upkeep of his lawful wife and his bigamous wife and her two children, he got rid of Hannah Calladine and her two children in the manner stated above on January 11 and 12, 1920.
It was only in March of this year, when he was practically self-convicted, by word and deed, of the murder of four-year-old Tommy Wood, and threatened with violence by an infuriated crowd of his fellow townsmen and women, that his older crimes were brought home to him, the remains of the bodies of his victims being recovered, after a long and arduous search, from Simmondley Pit, about two miles from his home.
On each occasion when Burrows travelled in public after the discovery of the four bodies, whether between Manchester and Glossop or between Nottingham and Derby, he was made the object of public outbursts of wrath.

The reconstruction of the crime by the police authorities was cleverly carried out, and left not a single loophole through which the prisoner could hope to escape.
Throughout the lengthy proceedings in the Coroner’s Court, the police court, and at the Assizes, the prisoner maintained an almost unruffled demeanour.
It was only on the closing day that he betrayed signs of nervousness in the twitching of the muscles of his face, and in the uneasy way in which his glance flitted from counsel to witness, and back again, as the net was being woven more closely around him.
Burrows was not called to give evidence, but right to the close he stoutly declared his innocence.
As a matter of fact, Burrows, in both letters and speech, has, all along the line, denied the crimes with which he was charged, and many of these letters, which we published during the police court and inquest proceedings, have evidently been written with a view to removing the guilt from his own shoulders.
Here again it is unnecessary for us to repeat the letters, but we can only wonder if this callous murderer lived up to his boast that he would not tremble when he stood on the scaffold.
Thus far nothing has leaked out from the inside of the prison walls as to how Burrows met his just punishment. We are left in doubt as to his being on this August morn when the gallows claimed its own, and so far we know not whether Burrows made any admission as to his guilt. So far as we know, there has been no confession by Burrows, though of course we are not in a position to know what may have passed between him, the Chaplain, Governor of the Gaol, or his solicitors.

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Last updated: 29 September 2023