Charles "Charlie" Peace was an English criminal in the nineteenth century.
Charles Peace was born in 1832 in Sheffield, England. When he was fourteen, he lost a finger in an accident at a steel factory. In 1854, he was sentenced to four years penal servitude for burglary. Just a few years later, Peace married Hannah Ward, just days before committing a major burglary in Manchester and nearly killing a police officer on the scene. For this, he was imprisoned for six years. Charles was later arrested trying to burgle another house nearby, this time going to prison for eight years. After this, Peace worked at the North Eastern Railway for a considerable amount of time until he was sacked for not going to work too often. He moved back to the suburb of Darnall, where he was born and where he met an civil engineer called Dyson and developed an obsession with Dyson's wife.
Killing of Nicholas Cock
On the first of August, 1876, two police officers spotted Peace breaking into a house in Whalley Range and one, PC Nicholas Cock, intercepted Peace as he tried to escape. Peace pulled a revolver and shouted at Cock to stay back. When Cock ignored his warning, Peace fired, fatally injuring Cock and allowing him to escape. Peace later attended the trial of two men suspected of Cock's murder, one of whom was acquitted, in order to be sure that he was not suspected.
On the Run
In July 1876, Peace approached Dyson's wife and told her he would kill her husband and her. When Dyson moved to a different suburb, Peace followed her and accosted her, saying he would follow her wherever she went. That night, he entered her garden and scared her into the house. When Dyson emerged from the house, Peace murdered him and escaped to Hull by train.
A reward of one hundred pounds was offered to anyone who captured Charles Peace, forcing him to conceal his missing finger with a prosthetic arm and move around the country in disguise. While in Nottingham, Peace met Sue Thompson and began a relationship with her, despite still being married. He later moved to Peckham, where he sent for his wife and son to be brought to him.
Capture and Trial
After committing a spate of burglaries, Peace was spotted by Constable Robinson of Blackheath breaking into a house. After a struggle, during which Robinson was shot in the arm, Peace was captured and tried for burglary and the attempted murder of a police officer under the alias of John Ward. He was recognized as Peace through a letter he sent to a friend and put on trial for Dyson's murder. Despite his plea of self defence, which was disregarded, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. He later pleaded guilty to killing Nicholas Cock in order to exonerate William Habron, who had been previously convicted of his murder. He was hanged and buried in Armley Gaol.