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Timothy Topping

There was one planned execution that never occurred at the Gaol, as intended. Timothy Topping was to be hanged on June 16, 1874, for crimes he had committed the previous year. On December 21, 1873, Topping, of West Oxford Township, killed his four youngest children and his wife with an axe before attempting to kill himself but was stopped by his older children.  Following the failed suicide attempt, Timothy sat down and wrote a confession letter of his crimes, saying he did it out of love. It was believed that with his business affairs failing and the death of his oldest daughter Jane ten years prior, he struggled with depression and was fearful that he would be unable to provide for his family and they would become  destitute.

Topping was tried in April 1874, where several medical experts held that Topping was of “unsound mind” at the time of the crime.  Regardless, he was found guilty and sentenced to hang on June 16th. While awaiting his execution, he was sent to the London   Lunatic Asylum where he lashed out at a guard who struck him in the head with a night stick, killing him almost instantly.


Thomas Cook