The Police Watch-House on Long Row was utilised as a temporary morgue. By nightfall it contained eight dead bodies, which had been moved from a warehouse on High Pavement where they were first taken. All the victims were either young or female, or both. The oldest was just 22 years of age and the youngest just 9 years. Eliza Hannah Shuttleworth of Albert Street was just 12 years of age. Mary Easthorpe 14, of New Lenton was laid out with her brother Thomas, the youngest victim. Nearby lay a number of other fourteen year-olds; James Marshall of Isabella Street, and John Bednall of old Basford. Hannah Smedley of Carlton was just 16 years old. Eliza Smethurst of Daybrook was just 19 years old and had watched the hanging with her older sister Mary Stevenson who was now missing. James Fisher aged 22 years and from Bulwell was the eldest victim. As the day ended the public execution had claimed the lives of eight innocents. Many more seriously injured had been taken away for treatment at the General Hospital, the Dispensary or the Union Workhouse. The death-toll was expected to rise.
On Friday August 9th the three Nottingham newspapers went to press and had more news than they knew what to do with. Over several columns each newspaper reported in some depth about Saville’s life and/ or his last days, his confession, the execution and the terrible scenes immediately after the drop. The Nottingham Journal set the tone with three very full columns of information under a heading of Execution of Saville – Fearful loss of Life.
The extraordinary and cold-blooded atrocity in cutting the throat of his wife and children, his unshrinking nerve and lack of feeling exhibited by him in the dock and stoical indifference to the consequences of his guilt since condemnation has excited the curiosity of the lower classes to the highest degree. All resulted in a greater concourse of people assembled at the execution to catch a sight of this inhuman monster. When the unhappy man was turned off, the immense crowd ruptured¸a great rush to move away took place and a number of persons were thrown down and many trampled underfoot by the crowd above them.
This introduction was then followed by account of the life and parentage of Saville as communicated by Saville at various times to The Reverend W Butler, Chaplain at the gaol at Shire Hall.
“My name is William Saville and I am aged 29-30 years. I was born and baptised in Arnold and put in the frame at 19. My father was a framework Knitter. I learnt the frame at George Lynchs of Daybrook, I lodged there two or three years as did my father. My mother died when I was very young as did my two brothers. My sister is Sarah Hardstaff, wife of John Hardstaff, framework knitter of Earl Street, they have four children. I never exactly knew my age, my father was a soldier when I was born and he could not tell me. I met my wife when she went to lodge at Lynchs; she had only one eye, the other was lanced by a surgeon. She had previously had two children, one was still alive. She had a child with him who died after about four months. Our first house was in Red Street, Meadowplatts, my father lived with us. We lived there for one year and my wife bound boots and shoes. We moved next to Pelican Street in New Radford. My wife left me and went to live with Mr Buchan on High Pavement. She stayed there nine or ten mothss, meanwhile I had moved to a house in Booths yard in Sneinton. We lived in Booths yard for seven years. My wife then went to Carrington and then the workhouse. When I went to the workhouse to fetch her Barnett had me sent to prison for three months for deserting her. When I came out of prison, she was also out and had had her second child. I then lived with her at Revills back kitchen on Sun Hill with our own furniture. We then lived in Washington Street and Brougham Street for three years. We then agreed to part as we were both filthy with the itch. Her legs were so bad she could not go about the house. The work being so bad and six of us to maintain we could not keep the house open. I sent the furniture to Samuel Wardles in Wood Street. We agreed that I should say she has gone to her brothers in Long Sutton Lincolnshire. When in the workhouse I sent her tea and sugar every week until the week before Easter. I sold all our things just before Easter and got 27 shillings for the goods. I sold these things before Mrs Brownsword went to tell my wife about this.”
The Journal then went on to explain what Saville did in his final days and last moments under a heading of Saville Condemned. This section included Saville’s late confession. The story was complete with a brief explanation of the chaos and loss of life in the immediate aftermath of the execution. The names and some details of those who perished were then listed. To the names of the eight who perished on the day of the execution were added four more. Three had died of serious injuries at the General Hospital. Mary Stevenson 33 of Daybrook was the mssing sister of younger victim Eliza Smethurst. Mellicent Shaw 19 of Kimberly also expired as did Mary Percival 13, of Convent Street. The last death noted was that of Thomas Watson, 14 of Kent Street. He was not taken to hospital, he was taken home where he died on he Thursday. The known death-toll on Friday 9th of August was now 12.
The Nottingham Mercury also had a very detailed account of events. Under heading of EXECUTION OF WILLIAM SVAVILLE FOR COLWICK MURDERS it started like the Journal with an Editorial comment,
The last and closing scene of this awful tragedy was performed last Wednesday, at eight o’clock in front of the County Hall before an assemblage of from 30,000-40,000 persons of whom, we regret to say, the principal portion were females and whose determination to see “justice done to the villain” as they termed it, was so resolute that many of them were upon the spot as early as three o’clock in the morning, in order to secure a view of the disgusting scene so shortly to be enacted, indeed a few bent upon witnessing the prisoner pay the last full penalty of the law, were absolutely stationed in St Marys churchyard shortly after one o’clock, where they patiently waited til it was all over. About five o’clock numbers of people began to flock into the town from the surrounding villages and long before eight o’clock every street and avenue leading to the County Gaol was densely crowded; the housetops and windows were also densely occupied with spectators, as well as the lamp posts, the cornices and every other spot where a footing could be obtained.
The Mercury was not privy to the notes taken by the Prison Chaplain so did not report on Saville’s life and parentage. It did however contain full details of his confession and his final days and something the Journal omitted; details of Saville’s final meal;
About half past six the prisoner partook of a hearty breakfast, consisting of a pint of tea, half a pound of bread and a fizzle of ham or bacon, all of which he ate with the utmost relish.
The execution was described briefly and then followed the Mercury’s account of what followed it;
“Then followed a scene which is almost impossible to describe; the pent up feelings of the mob seemed to break forth in one loud and dismal yell of execration, which resembled the bursting of a fearful tornado, accompanied by the most fearful execration.”
The Mercury then presented a report from a witness at the execution, reporting what he saw and heard. Following this came a tribute to the mayor who was watching the execution from his nearby warehouse;
“Too much praise cannot be given to his worshipful the Mayor for his personal exertions and kindness in offering his warehouse into which many were taken. The sight in this place was most appalling; five or six disfigured mutilated bodies lay lifeless, there were about twelve seriously crushed and injured, alive but in the greatest agonies, some breathing forth the most pitiable cries, others groaning under their suffering and some dying.”
The Mercury concluded its account detailing the dead and injured . Twelve dead were listed and there were still 20 people being treated at the General Hospital with ages ranging from an infant not yet one to a seventy year old. The eldest was the most seriously injured. John Spinks, who worked as a watchman at Messrs Thackerays mill in New Radford had required the amputation of one of his legs. He also suffered several broken ribs. Those incarcerated in the hospital could mostly be considered local people. They either lived in the town or in nearby Sneinton, Basford, Lenton or Radford. Mary Hewitt, 22 and a mother of two children was the most travelled as she lived in Hucknall Torkard. There was a single patient being treated at the infirmary within the Union Workhouse. James Whitehead, 43 had travelled a long way to witness the execution; he was from Preston, Lancashire. In addition another thirty people had been taken to the Nottingham Dispensary for treatment to crush injuries. These same would then have made their own way home.
The sudden and unexpected deaths of August 7th required yet another Coroners Inquisition. As with the inquisition into the Colwick murders, a jury would have to sit through lengthy evidence at Shire Hall and decide exactly how each person had died and who or what was responsible. The Nottingham Police would have to make their own enquiries ,witnesses would have to be called, and depositions taken. If the execution of William Saville had seen justice served it seemed it had also created another more serious problem; the serious deaths and injuries of many innocents who had come to witness a public execution. Sadly many of the victims were young and some were just children.[i] / [ii]
[i] The Nottingham and Newark Mercury Friday August 9th 1844
[ii] The Nottingham Journal Friday August 9th 1844