Dr. Crippen was hanged at Pentonville Prison on 23rd November 1910, under the terms of his will completed in the condemned cell at Pentonville on the eve of execution, this watch along with other effects passed to his mistress Ethel Le Neve. Ethel, who married and became Mrs. Stanley Smith kept the watch until 1962 when, in old age she gave it to her close friend and confidant Rex Manning, thence by descent.
Hawley Harvey Crippen (1862-1910) better known as Dr. Crippen was born on 11 September 1862 in Coldwater Michigan and studied at the Michigan University school of Homeopathic Medicine. In 1884 he graduated from the Cleveland Homeopathic Medical College. Crippen's first wife Charlotte died of a stroke in 1892 and he later married a Music Hall Singer Corrine 'Cora' Turner whose stage name was Belle Elmore.
In 1897 Crippen and his wife moved to England and worked for Munyon's a homeopathic pharmaceutical company as a distributor of patient medicines. His wife pursued her stage career and was open with her various affairs. Crippen was later sacked from Munyon's and he became manager of Drouet's Institution for the Deaf. It was here that he met a young typist called Ethel Le Neve. In 1905 the Crippens moved to 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Camden Road, Holloway, London. Crippen's marriage deteriorated and he established Ethel as his mistress.
After a party at their home on January 31st. 1910, Cora disappeared. Crippen claimed that she had returned to the United States, later died and had been cremated. After suspicions were raised by friends of Cora the police searched the house but found nothing. When Crippen was interviewed by the police he admitted that he had made up the story of Cora's death to save personal embarrassment and stated that she had apparently left him for another man and sailed to the United States. Although Crippen's story was accepted by Chief Inspector Walter Dew, Crippen and Le Neve were unaware of this and fled to Brussels in panic catching the Canadian Pacific Liner the SS Montrose bound for Canada.
The police now suspicious searched Crippen's house again and found human remains later identified as being that of Cora, under the bricked up basement floor.
Once aboard the Montrose Crippen and Le Neve were later recognised by the Captain who telegraphed the authorities sending the famous telegram 'Have strong suspicions that Crippen London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers'. The ship was intercepted and Crippen promptly gave himself up, reputedly saying 'Thank God it's over'
Crippen and Le Neve were tried separately at the London Assizes.
It was discovered that the remains contained the toxic compound hyoscine and Crippen had purchased this drug prior to Cora's death. After the evidence was put forward Crippen was found guilty of murder after only 27 minutes deliberation by the jury.
He was hanged at Pentonville Prison, London on 23rd November,1910 Ethel Le Neve was acquitted.