Murder UK

We are proud to be on the recommended reading lists of many university and colleges around the world, and are regularly used by TV and film companies conducting research. We are delighted to be acknowledged in many leading crime books. We are the original murder site since 1993.

Murder UK is a site dedicated to documenting and investigating murder in the UK. We aim to be precise with facts and avoid speculation. If however you find discrepancies please contact us




Kill Total: 1 Kill place:  
Kill date: 24th February 1900 Victim(s): Henry Smith
Date of Birth: unknown Marital Status: Single






Henry Smith was killed because of a debt of one shilling.

Sweetshop owner Henry also had a yard and stable at the back of his shop, where he would let people keep their horses and carts, for the princely sum of six pence per week. One of those who took advantage of this hospitality was Smith's next door neighbour, a hawker named Henry Grove.

By 24th February 1900, however, Grove had not paid his rent for two weeks and Smith had told him that he would not be allowed to keep his horse and cart in the yard again, at least until he had paid the shilling he owed. Late that night though, Grove, returning home rather the worse for drink, ignored the order and attempted to use the yard anyway.



Smith came out of his shop and tried to prevent Grove entering the yard, whereupon an argument started. At one stage Grove said he would kill Smith and Mrs Smith, who had witnessed this argument, told her husband to let Grove do as he wished, in order to avoid further trouble. Henry Smith did as his wife asked and returned to his shop. Grove though was not prepared to let the matter rest. He followed Smith into the shop and struck him twice with his fists.

For a time it seemed as if that would be the end of the matter but Grove now went back into the yard, picked up a couple of rusty scythes that were lying about, and took them back to his own garden. A few minutes later he returned to Smith's yard with one of the scythes. Finding Henry there, Grove proceeded to batter him to the ground with the handle and the flat of the blade. When Mrs Smith tried to intervene, she too was hit, but her cries caused neighbours to call in the police and Groves was arrested on a charge of assault.

Henry Smith was very badly injured. His right arm and leg were both fractured. His left leg was broken, as was one of his ribs, and he had received two severe blows to the back of his head. So poor was his condition that a magistrate called at the hospital to take a statement from him, in the presence of the man who had assaulted him; Henry Grove.

Smith managed to hang on to life for another few weeks but finally died from his injuries on 20thMarch 1900. The assault charge was now changed to one of murder.



At his trial, Groves' defence was that Smith had struck the first blow and that he had merely defended himself. He also stated that he had not used the scythe, or indeed any other weapon, and that all the blows had been with his bare fists. This was refuted by the statement Smith had made before he died and from the evidence of Mrs Smith and other witnesses.

The jury were out for an hour before returning a guilty verdict, though they also gave a strong recommendation to mercy, which the judge said he would pass on to the proper quarters. It did nothing to save Groves who became the first man hanged in the 20th century.

Henry was Hanged at Newgate, 22nd May 1900.