Edith Jessie Thompson (25 December 1893 – 9 January 1923) and Frederick Edward Francis Bywaters (27 June 1902 – 9 January 1923) were a British couple who were executed for the murder of Thompson’s husband Percy. A few days before their executions, Thompson was told that the date of execution had been fixed, at which point lost her composure. She spent the last few days of her life in a state of near hysteria, crying, screaming, moaning, and unable to eat. On the morning of her execution she was heavily sedated, but remained in an agitated state. On January 9, 1923 in Holloway Prison, twenty-nine year old Thompson was half carried to the scaffold where she had to be held upright while the noose was placed around her neck. In Pentonville Prison, twenty year old Bywaters who had tried since his arrest to save Thompson from execution, was himself hanged. The two executions occurred simultaneously at 9.00 am, only about a half-mile apart, as Holloway and Pentonville prisons are located in the same district. Later, as was the rule, the bodies of Thompson and Bywaters were buried within the walls of the prisons in which they had been executed. Edith Thompson was one of only seventeen women hanged in the United Kingdom during the 20th century.
Several years later it was revealed that when the gallows trapdoor opened and Thompson fell, the sudden impact of the noose caused her to suffer a massive haemorrhage. The large amount of blood spilled, combined with the fact that Thompson had gained weight during her imprisonment even while resisting food, led to conjecture that she had been pregnant. However, no subsequent post-mortem examination was made. John Ellis, her executioner, eventually committed suicide, with his closest associates stating that he had remained haunted by the horror of Thompson’s final moments. All women hanged in Britain after Thompson were required to wear special knickers made of canvas which would prevent a recurrence of the massive bleeding suffered by Thompson.