Trooper Wooldridge


Trooper Wooldridge

The execution of Trooper Charles Thomas Wooldridge

Date: 1896 | Reference: P/RP1/14/1

On 30 March 1896, the subject of Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol was admitted to the prison.

The day before, Wooldridge had travelled from his Army barracks in London to see his wife, Ellen, in Clewer. They had been married for 15 difficult months, and had been forced to live apart for most of those. Ellen had recently asked him not to visit her again. The letter incensed him. Now, as he crossed the threshold of their terraced home, he cut her throat.

Wooldridge gave himself up immediately to the police. He explained that he and Ellen had quarrelled, that he suspected her of having an affair, and that his anger had driven him to murder.

There was some expectation locally that, despite his guilt, Wooldridge might be spared the gallows. But mercy was not forthcoming, and he was condemned to death at the assizes on 18 June 1896.

Some 19 days later he was hanged at the gaol in the hut that served as the photographic studio. This register entry records the mechanics of his death, as well as providing feedback on the conduct of his executioner.