Birchall, John Reginald
John Reginald Birchall, murderer (b at Accrington, Eng 25 May 1866; d at Woodstock, Ont 14 Nov 1890). Birchall, a confidence man, gambler and wastrel, lured 2 young Englishmen, Douglas Pelly and Frederick C. Benwell, into a partnership with him to purchase a farm near Woodstock, Ont. Under the Farm Pupil scheme, a system much abused by dishonest promoters, they agreed to pay Birchall £500 each. Birchall's plan was to kill them and take their money. On 17 February 1890, he shot Benwell to death in a swamp. Later he tried unsuccessfully to kill Pelly. Birchall was arrested for the murder by John W. MURRAY
, Canada's "Great Detective."
Because he was an English gentleman, the son of a clergyman and educated at Oxford, Birchall's case drew considerable attention in Canada, the US and Europe. He was executed in Woodstock by a hangman whose use of an experimental noose which caused slow death by strangulation, was greatly criticized.