22 February 1910 – Joseph Wren

Depression was said to be to blame for Joseph Wren’s crime, which took place just two days after Christmas.

He was executed on 22 February 1910 for slitting a toddler’s throat in Burnley.

Navy man Wren was hanged in Strangeways Prison in Manchester for the murder of three-year-old John Collins. According to reports in ‘The Times’, he confessed to abducting the little boy and strangling him and cutting his throat.


In his signed confession Wren was convinced he’d never be able to get married or work. So, he’d apparently wanted to run off with the child and adopt him as his own. But that wasn’t to be. The child was killed and Wren put his actions down to the fact that he was depressed. And that, as a result, he had no idea what he was doing.

Wren was found guilty of his crime and was resigned to his fate, saying ‘I know what the end will be and am fully prepared to meet it’. Nevertheless there was an appeal for clemency, which was denied, and he was executed, aged just 23.

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