England · Executions

Man hanged for murdering his grandson

December 5, 1900
Manchester, England
Joseph Holden is executed for the murder of his grandson

Holden took his grandson, John Dawes (8), from school, claiming the boy’s mother required him to run an errand for her. He instead lead John to a quarry (the lane to which is pictured, from “Bury Murders” by Sean Frain) and, his words to police, “I threw the boy down on the rocks, and he went on some soft stuff. I took him by the neck and breaches and threw him down the quarry. I then went down into the quarry and threw him into the water.” John was found drowned in 6 feet of water.

Holden had recently brought a different grandson, George Eldred, to the quarry and threw rocks at the child’s head, seriously wounding him. George was still bedridden at the time of John’s funeral but was able to witness the procession from his window. He is said to have fully recovered from the incident.

Holden attempted a defense of mental incapacity, claiming he was too feeble minded to know his crimes were wrong and therefore not guilty. His defense strategy did not work and he was hanged for the murder.

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