January 5, 1926
Birmingham, England
John Fisher is executed for the murder of his romantic partner, though the executioner nearly hangs a guard in his place

Fisher had been romantically involved with Ada Taylor (some sources erroneously report her name as Ida) for 14 years. The couple lived together with Taylor’s daughter from a previous relationship, Jessie Dutton.

Around 9 a.m. on October 25, 1925, Dutton awoke to overhear an argument between Taylor and Fisher. Fisher explained to Taylor he had recently pawned one of her tablecloths to finance his gambling; it was noted during trial Fisher had been late with rent payments on multiple occasions in the past due to his propensity for gambling. Taylor — who had owned the house and all the furniture within before she had met Fisher — stated her plans to lock up her possessions to prevent Fisher from selling those, as well. The argument ended with Fisher promising to buy the tablecloth back from the pawnbroker the following day, after retrieving his winnings.

Taylor, Dutton, and Fisher ate together around 2 p.m. and at 4 Dutton left to visit with friends. She returned at 9:55 p.m. to find the door locked. After borrowing a spare key which had been left in the care of a neighbor, Dutton entered her home and checked on her mother who appeared to be asleep in her bed. Dutton pulled back the sheets to find her mother and the bed covered in blood.

Dutton’s screams alerted neighbors who came to investigate. “I believe he’s done my mother in,” Dutton told a neighbor, referring to Fisher.

Taylor had been battered and sliced. A postmortem revealed a 4-inch (10-cm) deep cut to her throat which completely severed her trachea. A second cut of the same length was found 2 inches (5 cm) below, though this cut was superficial, and another superficial cut was found below her collarbone. Additionally, Taylor had a deep, triangular wound to her forehead above her right eyebrow. Beneath the wound, her skull was fractured.

Around the time Dutton discovered her mother’s body, Fisher was aboard a train. An off-duty police officer, still in uniform and returning home, happened to sit in the seat next to Fisher who suddenly confessed, “I have done murder in Wright Street and I want to give myself up to you.” The officer advised Fisher to speak no further until they could reach the police station.

Fisher was convicted of his wife’s murder, which the jury found to be premeditated on the basis he had sharpened the carving knife used to kill Taylor — as well as several other knives, as was his custom on Sundays. After he was sentenced, Fisher stated, “I would like to say a few words in favour of Jessie Dutton, the daughter, to prove that I have not an atom of jealousy against the girl. I idolised that girl. I worshipped her. I hope she lives a long and happy life and God bless her. That’s all I want to say sir.”

Fisher reportedly had to be assisted to the scaffold, with two guards positioned close to him in an effort to help him stand. The hangman, William Willis, apparently mistook one of the guards as the condemned man, and placed a cap and noose around his neck. The error was quickly resolved and Fisher was executed as planned, rather than the guard.

Sources:
John Fisher. British Executions. Accessed: January 5, 2021. http://www.britishexecutions.co.uk/execution-content.php?key=457&termRef=John%20Fisher
Eddleston, John J. Murderous Birmingham: The executed of the Twentieth Century. Derby: The Derby Books Publishing Company Limited, 2011
Fielding, Steve. The Executioner’s Bible. John Blake, 2007
Deaths Registered In October, November and December, 1925. Digitized: https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7579/images/ons_d19254az-0961?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=c63a88ca091429e646059632c3c6e656&usePUB=true&_phsrc=NPh1&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&_ga=2.241458438.527791974.1609820301-1974064398.1608518424&pId=19083137
“Drinks Tea After Killing.” The Miami Tribune. January 26, 1926

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