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Albert Edwards BURROWS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Child molester
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: January 11, 1920 / March 4, 1923
Date of birth: 1871
Victims profile: His mistress Hannah Calladine and her two children / Tommy Wood, 4
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Glossop, Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Nottingham prison on August 8, 1923

This 62-year-old married farm labourer took 28-year-old Hannah Calladine as his mistress in 1918. She came from Nantwich, Cheshire, and was the mother of a 4-year-old daughter. She fell pregnant by Burrows and had a son later that year. Burrows married her but as he was already married it was a bigamous marriage.

Burrows was a farm labourer and did not earn a lot of money. Hannah moved into the Burrows' home at Glossop, Derbyshire, and, not surprisingly, his wife took exception to this and moved out. She claimed maintenance, plunging him into a bigger financial mess. his house rent was in arrears and he became desperate.

On 11th January 1920 Burrows took Hannah and their son for a day out on Symmondley Moor. He then murdered them and threw their bodies down a mineshaft. The following day he disposed of Hannahs daughter in the same way. He patched things up with his wife and they returned to living together. For the next three years Burrows wrote to Hannah's mother pretending that she was still alive.

Three years later a 4 year old boy was reported missing and he had last been seen with Burrows. After questioning Burrows took the police to the mineshaft where the sexually assaulted body of the boy was found. On further examination they found the skeletons of Hannah Calladine and her two children. Burrows was brought to trial at Manchester Assizes. He called no witnesses and didn't give testimony. It took the jury just eleven minutes to find him guilty. He was hanged on 8 August 1923 at Nottingham prison by Tom Pierrepoint. 


Albert Edward Burrows

This 62-year-old married farm labourer took 28-year-old Hannah Calladine as his mistress in 1918. She came from Nantwich, Cheshire, and was the mother of a 4-year-old daughter. She had a son by Burrows later that year and Burrows married her bigamously. He was imprisoned for this and had a child-maintenance order made against him.

Hannah moved into the Burrows' home at Glossop, Derbyshire, and, not surprisingly, his wife took exception to this and moved out. She claimed maintenance, plunging him into a bigger financial mess.

On 11th January 1920 Burrows took Hannah and their son for a day out on Symmondley Moor. There he murdered them and threw their bodies down a disused air-shaft. The next day he took Hannah Calladine's daughter up onto the moors and threw her body down the same shaft. He patched things up with his wife and they returned to living together. For the next three years Burrows wrote to Hannah's mother pretending that she was still alive.

On 4th March 1923 police received a report of a missing 4-year-old boy. Burrows had been seen with the boy and he was questioned by police. He took them to the air-shaft out on the moor and police soon discovered the sexually assaulted body of the missing boy. Burrows was arrested and the police continued to excavate the air-shaft. Eight weeks later they discovered the remains of Hannah and her two children.

Burrows came to trial at Manchester Assizes. He called no witnesses and didn't give testimony. It took the jury just eleven minutes to find him guilty. He was hanged on 8th August 1923 at Nottingham Gaol.


Derbyshire Pit Murders

Albert Edward Burrows was born in Cheadle Hulme in 1871. He worked in labouring jobs and had a criminal record for horse stealing, larceny, assault, and cruelty to animals. In 1914 he was living in a back-to-back house in Back Kershaw Street, Glossop, with his wife and daughter.

During World War One he obtained well paid employment in an ammunition factory at Northwich and while there became involved with a younger woman called Hannah Calladine. This relationship led to a child being born in October, 1918, who was also called Albert Edward Burrows. On the 27th of May that year he bigamously married Hannah after telling her that he was a widower with a child who was being looked after by a housekeeper in Glossop.

When he was employed at the ammunition factory, Burrows sent money to both 'wives' but with the end of hostilities, jobs were hard to come by, so Burrows was unable to keep up payments. Hannah began to suspect that she was not legally married and wrote to Burrows’ daughter in Glossop. His bigamous marriage was soon exposed and he received a six month gaol sentence in Walton Prison.

On leaving prison he returned to live with his wife and daughter. Hannah took out an affiliation order against him which he could not pay. As a result of the payment arrears building up, she obtained a committal order and he received a twenty-one day sentence in Shrewsbury Prison, coming out at the end of November. Burrows was in a tight corner, he had no money and no job and either woman could enforce payment. If he failed to pay up he would be sent to prison. Burrows had kept in contact with Hannah, writing to her several times and on leaving prison he visited her. In December she told her parents in Wrenbury, near Nantwich that she was going to live with Burrows in Glossop, taking young Albert and an older illegitimate daughter called Elsie Large with her. Hannah's elderly parents tried to dissuade her, but she arrived on Burrows’ doorstep together with the children on the night of 19th December, 1919. Burrows took her in despite his wife’s protests, saying that she could hardly be sent back on such a night. His wife left next day and Hannah stayed for three weeks.

Burrows' wife was suing him for maintenance and he was behind with the rent, but he had solved his problems by the time he appeared in court on the 12th of January. He told the justices that Hannah and the children had gone. At first Mrs. Burrows refused to return but four days later she relented, Burrows having told her that Hannah had obtained a good job in Seymour Meads in Stretford Road and that the children were staying in a creche during the day. On the day after Hannah and her son were last seen, Burrows was seen walking down Hollincross Lane at six o¹clock in the morning with Elsie Large. A couple of hours later he was alone. A neighbour who enquired as to the whereabouts of the child received the following reply:

“Yes, I was taking Elsie to her mother.”

“Why, where has she gone?” persisted the neighbour.

“I am not telling anyone, we have made it up not to let anyone know. We are keeping it a secret.”

This conversation was not forgotten and the story of the Pit Murders was never related without including the sentence about taking Elsie to her mother.

With Hannah allegedly working in Manchester. Burrows destroyed or sold her few belongings, even selling her wedding ring. The excitement died down until the 9th of March when there were great headlines in the local newspaper.


A sensation had been caused by the disappearance of a child, Tommy Wood of 96 Back Kershaw Street who lived across the way from Burrows. Little Tommy had left home around eleven o'clock on the previous Sunday morning and had not been seen since. When he failed to return, his parents were not concerned because he usually went to his grandmother's for Sunday dinner. When he had not returned by teatime, his mother went round to the grandmother's only to discover that he had not visited her that day.

News of Tommy's disappearance soon roused the neighbourhood to action and a search began with the aid of volunteers and the Borough Police. A story that he had been seen at about five p.m. in the company of two other boys down Slatelands Road led the police to suspect that he had fallen into the Turnlee Brook and been swept away. The brook was in spate due to heavy rains and the melting of a big snowfall a fortnight beforehand. On the Tuesday, a bloodhound was employed in the search and the dog followed a scent along the bank of the brook for some distance only to stop and sniff the air. The Turnlee and Glossop Brooks were dragged but all to no avail. Each day search parties with dogs scoured the area without success.

On Saturday, March 10th, Burrows had been assisting the police and had given a statement in writing to Inspector Chadwick whom he met in the street. This statement purported to show that the lad had been seen by Burrows near the bottom of Slatelands Road with two older boys. Burrows had asked Tommy to come home with him but he had refused. The statement also mentioned a purse belonging to Tommy which the boys had thrown into some hen pens and a whip which was described in detail.

The police were sceptical and Inspector Chadwick continued with his investigations. The purse had been recovered from the hen pen and during the search of the Turnlee Brook a whip exactly like the one described by Burrows had been found. When this whip was spotted by the police, Inspector Chadwick arranged for the public to be diverted while it was recovered. It had been fastened to a stone to stop it being carried away and the Inspector was convinced that it had been planted. On the bank close by, the print of a rubber boot was found and enquiries revealed that Burrows had borrowed a pair of waders from a neighbour.

As a result of these enquiries and information supplied by witnesses, Burrows was again interviewed by police on Monday 12th. A woman had seen a man and a small boy clambering over the shale heaps near Coal Pit House on Sunday 4th of March, and a farm worker with a horse had seen and spoken to Burrows at Bridgefields at 11.30 a.m. on the same day and he had a little boy with him.

Burrows volunteered a statement that at about eleven o'clock on Sunday, March 4th, he took the boy for a walk through the fields to Simmondley and while on the Moss near Hargate Hill he left the boy in a hollow while he went to catch a rabbit. When he returned, the boy was missing. He returned to Glossop by Hargate Hill fields and Simmondley Lane.

This information led the police to search a disused air shaft on the top side of the road from Simmondley to Charlesworth. This shaft was only fenced with wooden palings so anyone could easily have crawled through and fallen into the depths. Grappling irons were used for some time, but the rope gave way, the irons dropped to the bottom of the shaft and work had to be suspended for the day. This shaft was over a hundred feet deep and estimated to contain from five to nine feet of water. There was an outlet for the water into old workings, but insufficient flow to carry a body far from the shaft.

Inspector Chadwick noted that Burrows while apparently helping the investigation, had consistently tried to point the police in the wrong direction. There was the deliberately planted whip, the story about the boy being seen later in the day and his insistence that the lad could not have crossed High Lane. By a coincidence, while interviewing a man at Hargate Hill, the Inspector had cause to pass the air shaft of the Dinting Pit which is on the opposite side of the road to the shaft previously searched. This shaft was surrounded with a stone wall and he had noted that the wall had been disturbed on the side nearest to Hargate Hill Farm.

On Tuesday there was a dramatic ending to the search. That morning, the police left the police station, equipped with fresh grappling irons, planks and ropes. On reaching the area they drove past the shaft searched the previous day and went instead to the air shaft on the other side of the road. Meanwhile Inspector Chadwick had arranged for Burrows' movements to be watched and reported to him.

While the police were working at this air shaft, Burrows was walking up Simmondley New Lane and got into conversation with some men who told him that the pit on the lower side of the road was being searched. On receiving this intelligence he became agitated and instead of continuing up the Lane he went through the fields until he was in a position to watch the search from a hiding place.

From a platform of planks across the top of the pit, grappling irons were used until the body of a small boy was brought to the surface. It was identified as Tommy Wood and the tiny body was taken to the mortuary at the Police Station.

The search had aroused tremendous interest and a large crowd had gathered to watch. Inspector Chadwick knew that Burrows was watching from the moor above and the police were instructed to arrest him. An angry crowd of civilians set off after him up the moor and a desperate chase ensued with Burrows being spotted from time to time as he headed towards Chunal. He had a good start as he ran towards the top of Whiteley Nab, but he must have known he was done for when he saw crowds of reinforcements pouring up the track past the Hobroyd.

Mr Frank Gee, who was a boy at the time working at the Hobroyd Rope works, said,

"I will never forget the excitement of that day, there were great crowds running across the face of the Nab."

Newspaper accounts of the chase over the moor above the pit to where Burrows was eventually captured in a field known as Garside's Intake in Herod Clough, make tame reading. He was found exhausted, hiding under a holly bush and secured by the civilians who promptly handed him into the custody of Detective Sergeant Wilson. Witnesses said that Burrows pleaded for mercy from his captors and they replied that he had not shown little Tommy Woods any mercy. There were also allegations by Burrows later that he had been threatened with sticks and a puncing, (a kicking) but this was denied. However, the newspaper account states that he was given no chance of escape because the civilians stuck to arms, legs and a scarf round the neck as he was taken down to the road.

Observers and participants tell a shocking tale. If they had known how Tommy Wood had met his death, it is likely that Burrows would have been even more roughly handled. As it was, when the police arrived, his captors were doing their best to hang him from an oak tree with a scarf tied round his neck. The police had a tremendous struggle to get Burrows out of the hands of the mob and escort him as far as the road.

It was fortunate for Burrows and the mob, that the police arrived when they did. He was conveyed back to the Police Station on the back of an open lorry belonging to the Sanitary Department, still with the scarf round his neck and would-be hangmen swinging on the other end.

News of his capture spread like wildfire and small boys ran through the streets shouting,

"They've ketched 'im."

The whole route to the Police Station was lined with a mob, booing, hissing and vowing vengeance. Burrows reacted by shaking his manacled hands at the mob and shouting,

"I shan't tremble on the scaffold like Charlie Peace."

It is easy to imagine how the news of the discovery of Tommy Wood's body and the capture of Burrows would spread through the town. Housewives left their baking and ironing and ran to see the prisoner. The police as well as Burrows were subjected to a hail of missiles. It was not just a matter of driving along Charlestown and down Victoria Street. The press of bodies was so thick that a way had to be forced through with the mob taunting Burrows and him shouting back as missiles rained about him. On arriving at the Police Station, he was hustled inside and the doors firmly closed.

Meanwhile inside the station, Inspector Chadwick asked Burrows how Hannah Calladine was getting on. He was badly shaken by this unexpected question and began to reiterate all the lies he had told in the past and to say that he had kept in contact with Hannah. She would come by train to Broadbottom and make her way to Simmondley where young Albert would play with Tommy Woods. This unlikely story confirmed Inspector Chadwick's suspicions and he decided to make enquiries into the whereabouts of Hannah Calladine and her children.

Shortly before ten o'clock on the Wednesday morning, Burrows was brought to the Town Hall in a taxi from the Police Station. A huge crowd had gathered and at the sight of the prisoner they surged forward. As Burrows left the taxi, handcuffed to two members of the local force, attempts were made to reach him and strike him. When the doors to the courtroom were opened to the public they swarmed in and all eyes were on Burrows seated behind the dock between the two police officers. Burrows was described by the press as a big-framed man, with head rather bold at the front and a little grey hair over the ears and an iron grey moustache.

Stories about Burrows have made him out as a man so powerful that the police were afraid of him and of his being irresistible to women. Inspector Chadwick describes him as a powerful and fearless man with an indefinable something in his nature which reflected itself in his face. Impulsive, and quick to show resentment, he was soon grieved, and that flush in his contracted eyes, that quivering and contracting of the lips was a danger signal that made men shun him, if not actually fear him. He also discounts the suggestion that he had any power over women. However, this is the sensational stuff of newspaper articles.

From the moment of his arrest, Burrows insisted that his true age was sixty-two. The reason for this was to surface later.

Mr. Wilkie gave his report and asked for the prisoner to be remanded in custody until the following Wednesday at 10.30. The Mayor agreed and the inquest on the boy's body started at around 10.45 in the same room.

During the inquest, Burrows got up and said,

"About that shaft higher up, where I took the police, where I saw the boy safe. The top shaft had no fence round it. There is a wagon road between the top and bottom shaft and water flows from one to the other. Anything falling down the first goes to the second. I have a clear conscience." This was an attempt to suggest that the boy had fallen accidentally into the upper shaft and been carried by the water.

To avoid another scene after Burrows' remand, the police brought a taxi to the front of the Town Hall and two officers stood guard. Meanwhile Burrows was being escorted to the back of the building and onto the market ground, where he was whisked away to the Police Station in another car before the huge crowd at the front knew what was happening. Later in the day he was taken by train to Strangeways. As he was taken to the station he was booed all the way and as the train pulled out, a crowd continued to shout threats and abuse.

The funeral of Tommy Wood took place on Saturday the 17th of March. He was laid to rest at the far end of the new burial ground at Saint James', Whitfield. The schoolchildren at Whitfield School would go and look at poor Tommy Wood's grave from time to time and everyone knew about the tragedy. Today, few would know where to find it.

At the Town Hall, the following week, the pathologist gave evidence that Tommy Wood had been sexually abused before being thrown into the air shaft. Few revelations could have done more to increase public anger. Here we have the reason for Burrows' falsification of his age. He would be able to say that a man of sixty-two was incapable of such an act. Burrows was sent to Derby for trial on a charge of murder. When this was announced the public broke into wild cheering.

By this stage, the news of the murder of Tommy Wood had reached a wider audience and pressmen and sightseers were flooding to the scene. The field around the airshaft became a mud bath and visitors started to throw stones off the wall surrounding the shaft into the bottom, creating a problem for the police at a later date.

With Burrows due to appear at the Derbyshire Assizes early in July, it was imperative to find out if Hannah Calladine and her children were still alive. If not, then it was possible that they were buried in the same airshaft.

Inspector Chadwick managed to locate Elizabeth, the sister of the missing woman. She supplied a wealth of information including the fact that she had received cards from Burrows but none from Hannah since she disappeared. Enquiries with Seymour Meads established that Hannah was not working for them and never had. Once Hannah's parents came to Glossop to see their daughter, but Burrows told them that he had given her £3 to take the children to New Brighton and escorted the couple back to the station.

It was time to examine the bottom of the air shaft where Tommy Wood's body had been recovered. On the 7th of May, the police rigged up a tripod over the shaft and for some days the police were engaged in baling out the water by means of a metal pail which was raised and lowered by a rope and winch. Good progress was made and the water lowered sufficiently for a start to be made on raising the stones which had thoughtlessly been thrown down.

Then the weather broke and the rain was so heavy that it proved impossible to keep up with the inflow of water. To improve the rate at which water could be withdrawn, a steam pump was installed in the shaft just above the level of the water and connected to the town's old steam fire engine at the top by pipes.

After this setback, the weather improved and steady progress was made until some corrugated iron sheets were brought out on 21st of May. Shortly afterwards, human remains were discovered among the debris when it was brought to the surface.

By the 4th of June, sufficient had been recovered to assemble almost a complete adult female skeleton, plus that of a girl of four years and the bones of an infant. Some of the most grisly finds were a woman's boots and a child's clogs with stockings and foot bones protruding. The female skull was identified as belonging to Hannah Calladine because of an abnormality in her eye tooth. Items of clothing were recognised by Elizabeth Calladine and a Nantwich clogger was able to say that the child's clogs had been made by him.

The trial of Albert Edward Burrows for the murder of Hannah Calladine aged thirty-two, and her fifteen-month-old son Albert Edward Burrows was held at the Derbyshire Assizes commencing on the eighth of July, 1923, before Mr. Justice Shearman.

The evidence against Burrows was overwhelming thanks to Inspector Chadwick's investigations. The jury took less than a quarter of an hour to bring in a verdict of guilty. Mr Justice Shearman put on the black cap and pronounced the death sentence, ending with the words, "And may the Lord have mercy on your soul." In view of this verdict, Burrows was not charged with the murder of Elsie Large or Thomas Wood. He was hanged at Bagthorpe Gaol in Nottingham on the 8th of August, 1923, at 8 am.

The remains of Hannah Calladine and her children were buried in the 'free ground' at Glossop Cemetery and the grave marked with a wooden cross. Today no sign of the wall round the air shaft remains, just a few stakes and wire, while cows graze peacefully in the surrounding fields.

This story kindly supplied by Neville Sharpe.



MO: "Bluebeard" slayer of wife and two children (1920); molested and killed a four-year-old boy (1923); bodies dumped in mine shaft.






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