On January 15, 1853 the Weekly Freeman’s Journal reported on the execution of Henry Horler who had been convicted of the murder of his wife. This report names her as Anne Horler, although other reports refer to her as Mary Horler.
EXECUTION OF HENRY HORLER
REMARKABLE DECLARATION OF THE CRIMINAL.
“This wretched man, who was convicted at the December sessions of the Central Criminal Court of the murder of his wife, Anne Horler, under circumstances of great atrocity, suffered the extreme sentence of the law yesterday morning, at eight o’clock, in front of Newgate. About ten days since the sheriffs, Messrs. Aldermen Carter and Croll, accompanied by the reverend ordinary of Newgate, waited upon Lord Palmerston at the Home-office, for the purpose of urging the royal clemency in the case. The sheriffs dwelt particularly upon the fact of mercy having been extended in similar cases. Lord Palmerston listened attentively to the application, and expressed an opinion that the sheriffs had only done their duty in laying before him certain facts that had not transpired at the trial, but his lordship added that, after conferring with the judge who tried the prisoner, he saw no reason to recommend the exercise of the Queen’s prerogative; in fact, he was not sure that the frequency of crimes similar to the prisoner’s had not arisen from the clemency referred to.
The unfavorable result of this application was communicated by the ordinary to Horler, who appeared little affected by it. He evidently still clung to the hope that his life would be spared. His mother and his father and his wife’s aunt visited him subsequently, to take their last farewell. The interviews are described to have been very painful, but it is feared the prisoner exhibited little sign of true repentance. The sheriffs have been exceedingly attentive to the wretched man since his conviction, and the reverend ordinary has used the most unceasing efforts to bring him to a state of mind becoming his awful position. In the course of conversation with the Rev. Mr. Davis on Saturday, he made a remarkable admission, which will probably shake the faith of some of those gentlemen who are just now loudly urging the propriety of abolishing the punishment of death. After expressing the great fear he had of undergoing the actual pain of a violent death, he stated that he did not think his crime would have cost him his life — that he expected he should have been imprisoned for life or transported; but that if he had looked forward to the punishment of death as a probable contingency, he should not have committed the crime.
The remarkable statement made by the prisoner, that if he had known his own life would have been the penalty, he would not have commuted the. crime, will scarcely surprise those who remember that the following capitally convicted murderers, tried at the Old Bailey, have had their sentence commuted to transportation during the last ten years : William Stolzer, October, 1843; Edwin Dwyer, November, 1843; Mary Farley, April, 1844 ; Augustus Dalmas, June, 1844 ; John Smith, August, 1846; William Newton Allnutt, December, 1847; Mary Ann Hunt, August, 1847 ; Annette Meyers, February, 1848 ; William Tomkins, May, 1848 ; George M’Coy, December, 1849 ; S. A. Jordan, October, 1849 ; Anne Merrett, April, 1850 ; and William Smith, November, 1851.”