Birthplace of last woman hanged in UK, Rhyl

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button_lang_welshbutton_lang_frenchBirthplace of last woman hanged in UK, Rhyl

The block of four-storey houses facing the promenade here includes the birthplace of Ruth Ellis. She was hanged - controversially – for murder in 1955, the last woman to be executed in the UK.

Ellis was born in a house on Rhyl’s West Parade in October 1926, before moving to Hampshire in childhood. Often described as a “platinum blonde”, she was a bar hostess and call girl.

She became romantically involved with ex-public schoolboy and motor racing enthusiast David Blakely. He had other women and Ruth also had another lover. This provoked jealousy and drunken rows between them, during which Blakely was physically violent toward Ellis. In March 1955, according to Ellis, she suffered a miscarriage after Blakely punched her in the stomach. In April, after desperate attempts to contact him, Ellis waited outside a pub in London and shot Blakely dead.

At the Old Bailey in June, it took the jury less than half an hour to find Ellis guilty of murder.  She declined to plead insanity and maintained that she had acted under provocation. She believed she deserved the death penalty and said: “I am quite happy to die.” She was hanged at Holloway Prison in London on 13 July by hangman Albert Pierrepoint.

Prior to her execution, thousands of people signed petitions asking for the death penalty to be lifted in this case. Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George (son of Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George) rejected the final appeal to reprieve Ellis.

Her case increased the debate about criminal justice and the death penalty. The last male execution occurred in 1964 and the death penalty was formally abolished in Britain in 1969.

With thanks to Ruth Pritchard, of Rhyl History Club

Postcode: LL18 1HN    View Location Map

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