Date of Birth:
William Burrett married Ada
in July 1900, and thereafter lived off her earnings as a
It was not a state of affairs that Ada relished and she
repeatedly begged her husband to find work so that she
could give up the profession she had been forced to
follow. The pleas fell on deaf ears, even though she
threatened to leave William, if he did not get a job.
In mid July, the Burrett's took a room in Alexander
Street, Plaistow, but the arguments over his reluctance to
find work continued.
On the morning of Saturday 25th August, Mrs Fitzpatrick,
the landlady of the house, heard the front door slam. At
about the same time, a young boy selling newspapers in the
street, looked in at the open door of the same house and
saw what he took to be a bundle of rags at the foot of a
flight of stairs.
The bundle turned out to be the body of Ada Burrett. She
had been stabbed a number of times. The same boy reported
that he had then seen a man leave the house and that he
had a large knife sticking out of one of his pockets.
Ada though was not dead. She was taken to hospital where
she made a statement outlining the attack her husband had
made upon her. She had been stabbed nine times in all, the
fatal wound being one in her abdomen. She died in the
hospital at eight thirty that same evening.
At the subsequent inquest, the doctor who had been called
to the scene of the crime, Doctor James Parker, confessed
that he had not attended to the unfortunate woman until
the police had arrived as he wanted them to see exactly
what state she was in! Once the police had arrived this
so-called medical man did dress some of Ada's wounds and
then had her taken to hospital. He had not believed her
wounds to be all that serious and had believed she would
recover. Had this doctor shown a more caring attitude, it
is perhaps possible that William Burrett might well have
eventually faced a much lesser charge.
Burrett was tried at the Old Bailey, where the dying
deposition of his wife was read out. She stated; "I was
quarrelling with my husband; I told him he would have to
go to work. He has not done any work since I was married.
He took a big knife and stabbed me all over.....He then
ran away. It was about twenty past seven in the morning."
Other witnesses were called who testified that they had
heard William make repeated threats to his wife. For his
part, William's defence was that as he had killed his wife
in the heat of an argument, he was guilty only of
The jury did not agree and found William guilty of murder.
He was hanged at
Chelmsford, 8th October 1900.
At his execution, the Times
recorded that Burrett had been given a drop of over nine