Monday, 14 August 2017

Female Soldiers of the American Civil War

BY MESSYNESSY



Today’s subject choice originated by stumbling across a photograph of Albert D.J. Cashier, born Jennie Hodgers in 1843. He served for a full 3 year term after enlisting in the Union army at the age of 19 and fought in over 40 battles against the Confederate Army. When the war was over, Albert continued to live as a man in small town Illinois, voting in elections and enjoying the freedoms that most women did not. He even received his military pension, but never married and lived in a one room house alone. No one knew Cashier’s secret until 1913, when he developed dementia in his old age. Attendants at a state hospital for the insane discovered that Albert was born a female during bathing. He was forced to wear a dress for the first time since childhood and ultimately died from a fall after tripping over his own skirt.

According to the National Archives, as many as 400 women secretly fought during the Civil War while attempting to conceal their gender. Stories of women in uniform being discovered by accident or through medical examination in hospital, were frequent enough that they became common gossip for the army’s trenches.



LEFT: ALBERT’S OBITUARY AND RIGHT: HIS ONE-ROOM HOME IN SAUNEMIN, ILLINOIS
Alas, Albert Cashier was buried in 1915 in full uniform with military honours and given an official Grand Army of the Republic funerary service. His former comrades, although initially surprised by the news of his gender revelation, rallied in support of Albert and protested his treatment at the hospital.

CIVIL WAR SOLDIER, BELIEVE BY SOME HISTORIANS TO BE SARAH ROSETTA WAKEMAN AS LYONS WAKEMAN
Other names left out of the history books include Sarah Rosetta Wakeman who enlisted in the Union Army under the false identity of Lyons Wakeman at the age of seventeen. Her letters written during her service remained undiscovered for nearly a century, stored away in the attic of her relatives.

ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH OF A CIVIL WAR SOLDIER, RUMOURED TO BE SARAH ROSETTA WAKEMAN. SOURCE © LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Wakeman was first stationed as a guard in a Union army prison in Washington. Ironically, during her duty there, she met a female prisoner who had been arrested for the crime of impersonating a man to fight for the Union army. Wakeman later died of illness from contaminated drinking water like so many thousands of other soldiers. Her identity was never revealed, not even at the time of her burial. Her headstone reads “Lyons Wakeman”, marked with full military honours at Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans.



Pictured above is Frances Louisa Clayton, who enlisted in the Union Army under the alias Jack Williams. Stories and accounts of her life are contradictory, most likely because of conflicting information she gave to keep her identity a secret. She was described as a “very tall, masculine looking woman bronzed by exposure” easily able to pass as a man by her “erect and soldierly carriage”. She was also known to drink any other soldier under the table and adopted masculine habits such as smoking, chewing tobacco, swearing, and gambling. Known by her fellow soldiers as an “accomplished horse-man” and a “capital swordsman”, little else is known of her life.



Sarah Emma Edmonds fought in the Union Army as Frank Thompson and was a purported master of disguise. First serving as a male field nurse before becoming a spy, one disguise required Edmonds to use silver nitrate for dying the skin black, wear a black wig, and walk into the Confederacy disguised as a black man by the name of Cuff. When Sarah contracted malaria, she abandoned duty and checked into a private hospital to avoid discovery. Upon return to her regiment’s station, she saw wanted posters for Frank Thompson who had been labelled a deserter (punishable by execution). To avoid such a fate, Edmonds had no choice but to switch back to her female identity and serve as a female nurse at a hospital in Washington, D.C..

Mary Seaberry was another soldier who was said to be so convincing as a male that none of her fellow comrades suspected for a second until she was admitted into hospital for a fever and discharged on the basis of “sexual incompatibility”.



In my digging, I even came across an online forum dedicated to guessing the gender of subjects in nameless antique civil war photographs. Females in disguise or teenage boys? The forum calls them “Maybe’s”….



Author Bonnie Tsui of She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers in the Civil War, spoke to the Smithsonian about how these women managed to fool the American army:

The lore is that the physical exams were not rigorous at all. If you had enough teeth in your head and could hold a musket, you were fine. The funny thing is, in this scenario, a lot of women didn’t seem any less manly than, for example, the teenage boys who were enlisting. At the time, I believe the Union had an official cutoff age of 18 for soldiers, but that was often flouted and people often lied. They had a lot of young guys and their voices hadn’t changed and their faces were smooth. The Confederacy never actually established an age requirement. So [women] bound their breasts if they had to, and just kind of layered on clothes, wore loose clothing, cut their hair short and rubbed dirt on their faces. They also kind of kept to themselves. The evidence that survived often describes them as aloof. Keeping to themselves certainly helped maintain the secret.




In many cases, being discovered and exposed as women couldn’t deter the female fighters. Lizzie Compton, who enlisted at the age of 14 kept getting discovered when injured in battle. Each time, she packed up her things and moved on to another regimen under a new male identity.



There are many reasons behind why women decided to conceal their identities and join such a horrific war– patriotism, a need for adventure or simply a means of earning money. But the consistent and long-term commitment to the male identity suggests that some of these women may also in fact have been transgender men. It’s an unknown part of history that perhaps leaves room for an untold story…



Of course transgender people have always existed, but from the average history class, you wouldn’t know it. Whether they truly were our modern definition of transgender or women trapped in a man’s world seeking the same freedoms, textbooks rarely mention these historical pioneers of the Civil War. So just a friendly reminder.

Monday, 7 August 2017

SUCKING THE MONKEY

                                     Marston's coopers posing with their casks in 19th century

by Richard Jones


Did you know that it used to be quite common for people to die from the effects of “Sucking The Monkey”?

Indeed, the newspapers of the latter half of the 19th century contain numerous reports of such deaths, and if the accounts of it are accurate, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant way to go.

The various reported cases illustrate one important aspect of the East End of London in the Victorian era – and on into the 20th century, for that matter – that drinking alcohol was a huge part of everyday life, and, as a consequence, drunkenness was a massive problem, that could sometimes have fatal consequences for the unwise, or over-enthusiastic, imbiber.


                    Victorian Drinkers Outside A Beer Shop on Whitechapel Road.

SUCKING THE MONKEY


The Cheltenham Chronicle featured a case of someone who survived the practice in its edition of October 4th 1870:-

“Walter Burke was charged at Thames Police Court on the 26th, with illegally drinking wine from a cask in the London Docks.

The prisoner was detected by a cooper named William Etheridge, knocking the bung out of a cask of wine on the dock quay.

The prisoner removed the bung with a hammer and then commenced sucking the wine out with his mouth, just like a dog lapping; holding his head up to allow the wine to run down his throat.

Etheridge seized the prisoner before he had finished swallowing the first mouthful, and delivered him over to an inspector of the dock company’s police.

Mr. Paget sentenced the prisoner to a month’s imprisonment and hard labour.”

THE PRACTICE EXPLAINED


However, there were some who indulged in the practice who paid a much heavier price than a prison sentence with  hard labour, as is evidenced from the following report, that appeared in The Edinburgh Evening News on Wednesday August 18th 1875:-

“On Monday evening Mr Humphreys held an inquest at the London Hospital relative to the death of Thomas Collins, aged 29, a labourer employed in the spirit vaults of the London Docks, and living at 12 Flower and Dean Street, Spitalfields.

On Friday morning, the deceased left home in good health to go to his work as usual.

At a quarter to eight the same night he was brought home insensible, having been found by a fellow-workman lying on the pavement opposite the Princess Alice, Commercial Street.

He smelt dreadfully of spirits, and never becoming conscious was removed at two o’clock the following Saturday morning to the hospital, where the doctor pronounced life extinct.

Deceased’s wife stated that she had heard her husband speak about sucking the monkey; she knew he used a bone for that purpose.

The coroner said this was not the first case by many that had come under his notice.

No doubt most of the jury knew the meaning of  “sucking the monkey.”

A mutton bone was inserted in the bung of the barrel, which enabled the men to draw up the raw spirit into their mouths.

Deceased had contributed to his death, and no one was to blame but himself.

Dr. Hughes, assistant medical officer, having stated death to be due to congestion of the brain consequent on drinking strong spirits, a verdict to that effect was recorded.”

THE CASE OF JAMES MANN


The Grantham Journal, on October 28th 1876, carried a report of a similar case, that ended with less tragic consequences:-

“At the Thames Police Court, London, on Monday, George Rodgers, a powerfully-built, elderly man, was charged with stealing brandy from a cask in the London Dock.

James Mann, a constable in the service of the dock, said that on Saturday afternoon he was on duty on the brandy quay, when he saw the prisoner lying between two casks in a speechless state of intoxication.

He sent for a barrow, placed the defendant on it, and drove him to the station in the dock.

On searching him he found a large tube wet with brandy.

A surgeon was called in to attend to the prisoner, and on his regaining his senses and being told the charge he made no reply.

The witness said that on the 25th of July last the defendant was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour for stealing wine from a cask through a gutta-percha tube, commonly termed among the dock employees “sucking the monkey”, and was also sentenced to a further term of one month with hard labour for assaulting a dock constable.

The Magistrate now sentenced the prisoner to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour.”


                    A Policeman Wheels A Drunk Man Through The Streets Of The East End.
A TRAGIC CASE FROM 1888

The Evening Telegraph, on Monday January 16th, 1888, reported on another fatal case:-

“Among the prisoners charged on Saturday morning at the Thames Police Court was James Donovan, aged 40, a labourer, who was charged with being found drunk and incapable.

The Magistrate was informed that, after the unfortunate man was arrested, he died.

About half-past-four, on Friday afternoon, a constable found Donovan lying on the pavement in High Street, Shadwell, in an insensible condition.

He was conveyed to the Shadwell Police Station, when the inspector sent for the Divisional Surgeon.

On the latter examining the man, he found him to be suffering from the effects of drink.

By the doctor’s advice, Donovan was removed to the London Hospital, where he died about three hours afterwards, from the effects of alcoholic poisoning.

From inquiries made, it appears that the deceased man had been “sucking the monkey” from a cask of rum at Colonial Wharf, and so brought about the condition in which he was found.

Some months ago, the same constable found Donovan in a similar condition as he was on Friday afternoon. On that occasion he had been “sucking the monkey” from a wine cask.

Mr Lushington marked the sheet, “Died in Hospital.”

                                                             The London Hospital.
“SUCKING THE MONKEY”
FATAL OVERDOSE OF SHERRY

The Evening Telegraph And Star featured a similar report on Thursday June 7th 1894:-

“A sad case of what is known in the dock warehouse as “sucking the monkey” was yesterday brought under the notice of  Mr Haden Corser, the magistrate, at the Thames Police Court.

Among the charges was one against Richard Barry, 29, a dock labourer, of Hungerford Street, Commercial Road, for having in his possession a tube for obtaining wine from casks at the London Docks.

Inspector Newman informed the magistrate that the unfortunate man had since died.

When charged at Leman Street Police Station, Barry appeared to be all right, but afterwards showed signs of illness.

Dr Clarke, assistant Divisional Surgeon, was immediately summoned, and although every effort was made to restore the man to consciousness, it was not successful.

Barry had been consuming sherry, and there was no doubt the excessive drinking of that brought about his sad end.

Mr Haden Corser marked the sheet accordingly.”

SUCKING THE MONKEY AT THE LONDON DOCKS


The practice was also responsible for the death of William Ryan, as reported by The Illustrated Police News on the 15th of December 1894:-

“FRIDAY afternoon, at the London Hospital, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for East London, held an inquiry respecting the death of William Ryan, aged thirty-six years; a dock labourer, late of 110, Coventry Street, Bethnal Green, who died in the hospital on Tuesday from the effects of drinking stolen spirits in the London Docks.

Walter Lilley, a detective employed by the London and India Docks Joint Committee, deposed that, on Wednesday last, he was asked to get the ambulance and take it to the tobacco warehouse.

He went there and found the deceased lying on a box partly unconscious, and witness took him to the hospital.

Witness believed the deceased had been stealing spirits, and asked him if it was so.

He said, “I met ‘C’ man in the docks, and he asked me if I  wanted a drink, “and the man took him to a cask of wine, and having removed the bung, they both had a drink out of the bunghole, and he remembered nothing more.

The cask was found to contain brandy, which had been put in a port wine cask.

James Warden, one of the dock constables, deposed that the deceased was brought to him on a man’s back about five o’clock in the afternoon, and witness saw he was ill and went for the last witness.

Robert Hailing, of 21, Bandon Road, Victoria Park, deposed that he was the deceased’s foreman that day.

He saw nothing of any man talking to the deceased.

Dr. Cook, house surgeon, deposed that the deceased was unconscious when admitted, and remained so for ten hours.

Death was due to bronchitis, following alcoholic poisoning.

The jury returned a verdict to that effect.”

A TWENTIETH CENTURY CASE


The practice – and resultant fatalities – most certainly continued into the 20th century, as the following case, reported in The Farringdon Advertiser, on Saturday May 17th 1919, demonstrates:-

“At an inquiry into the death of a dock labourer, Joseph Hyams, at the London Hospital, a Port of London Authority constable told the coroner that the accused lost his life through the practice known as “riding the pony,” or “sucking the monkey.”

This means that a man, after making a hole through the bung of a cask of liquor, got astride the cask and sucked the contents by means of tubing or glass, or even paper.

The evidence showed that death was due to asphyxiation consequent upon acute alcoholism.

Hyams was found lying unconscious by the side of a sixty-gallon cask of brandy at the London Docks, and it was found that three casks of over-proof brandy had been tampered with.”


https://www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com/generalnews/sucking-the-monkey/

Monday, 31 July 2017

The Thames Torso Murders of 1887-89




by Gerard Spicer

Dismemberment Murders


While Jack the Ripper's knife tore the social fabric of Victorian London to shreds another murder series played out, seemingly unnoticed, in the background. Dubbed the "Thames Mysteries" or "Embankment Murders," this series was overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding the Ripper's Whitechapel crimes. Although the Thames murders covered a longer time period and were more gruesome compared to the Ripper's work, they have inevitable become only a footnote in the chronicles of criminal history.

Evidence that a killer's was at work first showed up in May of 1887, in the Thames River Valley village of Rainham, when workers pulled from the river a bundle containing the torso of a female. Throughout May and June, numerous parts from the same body showed up in various parts of London -until a complete body, minus head and upper chest, was reconstructed.

Medical men, including Police Surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond, gave their opinion that a degree of medical knowledge was evident, however, in their view, the body was no dissected for medical purposes. The doctors could not give a cause of death or show that a violent act had taken place, so the jury had no choice but to returned a verdict of "Found Dead."

The second victim of the Thames series was discovered in September of 1888, in the middle of the hunt for the Whitechapel Murder. On September 11, an arm belonging to a female was discovered in the Thames off Pimlico. On September 28, another arm was found along the Lambeth-road and on October 2, the torso of a female, minus the head, was discovered. The torso was discovered on the grounds of the construction site for the New Scotland Yard building and was dubbed by the press the "Whitehall Mystery." Scotland Yard had a murder mystery to solve even before their new building was complete.

The medical men involved, along with Dr. Bond, agreed that a degree of medical knowledge had been used, but they could give no evidence pointing to the method of death. Dr. Charles Hibbert, who examined one of the arms, stated that, "I thought the arm was cut off by a person who, while he was not necessarily an anatomist, certainly knew what he was doing-who knew where the joints were and cut them pretty regularly." At the inquest, the jury, despite the fact that an obvious murder had taken place, returned a verdict of "Found Dead."

Eighteen eighty-eight is considered the "Year of the Ripper" in the chronological accounts of the history of London. Within his ten-week reign, the Ripper had managed to shake Victorian London to its core. Yet, by the end of the year, interest in Jack the Ripper began to dwindle rapidly. By June of 1889, almost seven months had passed without a Ripper type murder, and hopes were being entertained that his bloody wrath was over. The same could not be said for the Thames series, which was about to begin again.

On June 4, part of a female torso was fished out of the Thames at Horselydown, while at about the same time; a left leg to the body was plucked from under the Albert-bridge, Chelsea. Within the next week, numerous other parts of the same body were recovered in or near the Thames.

The London Times on June 11, reported that the remains found so far "are as follows: Tuesday, left leg and thigh off Battersea, lower part of the abdomen at Horselydown; Thursday, the liver near Nine Elms, upper part of the body in Battersea-Park, neck and shoulders off Battersea; Friday, right foot and part of leg at Wandsworth, left leg and foot at Limehouse; Saturday, left arm and hand at Bankside, buttocks and pelvis off Battersea, right thigh at Chelsea Embankment, yesterday, right arm and hand at Bankside."

It is an interesting fact that one of the body parts had been purposely thrown over the private railing to the Shelley Estate. It is ironic that Mary Shelley had earlier written a novel entitled Frankenstein, about a monster pieced together by various body parts.

The medical men who examined the pieces agree that some degree of medical skill was involved. At the inquest on June 17, it was stated that, "the division of the parts showed skill and design: not, however, the anatomical skill of a surgeon, but the practical knowledge of a butcher or a knacker. There was a great similarity between the condition, as regarded cutting up, of the remains and that of those found at Rainham, and at the new police building on the Thames Embankment." The London Times of June 5, reported that "in the opinion of the doctors the women had been dead only 48 hours, and the body had been dissected somewhat roughly by a person who must have had some knowledge of the joints of the human body."

Once again, the doctors were unable to provide a means of death. However, this time, the jury was confident in reaching a decision of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown." As in the other similar cases, the head of the victim was never found, however, the identity of the victim was clearly established. The body was identified as that of Elizabeth Jackson, a suspected prostitute, from Chelsea. This lead was of little use, as the murder was to remain, as the others, unsolved.

In July, Whitechapel was awakened to the possibility of another Jack the Ripper crime. A known prostitute, Alice McKenzie, was found murdered in the heart of the district. While police and citizens were entertaining the theory that Jack was back in business, the torso killer would strike again, and this time in the Ripper's backyard.

On September 10, Police Constable William Pennett was walking his beat along Pinchin Street, Whitechapel, when he discovered the torso of a female under a railway arch. As in the McKenzie case, this murder created a flurry of police activity in the district. Within minutes of finding the body, the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of Police, as well as numerous detectives who had been engaged on the Ripper investigation, were on their way to the crime scene. Officially, the police were to place this murder in the same category as the rest, unsolved and of the Thames type.

An account of the Thames Embankment Murders could not be complete without a reference to other similar crimes:

Thames Mysteries of 1873 and 1874

On September 5, 1873, a Thames Police patrol near Battersea, picked out of the water the left quarter of a women's trunk. Soon after, other discovers were made including: a right breast at Nine Elms, the head at Limehouse, left forearm at Battersea, pelvis at Woolwich, and so on, until an almost complete body was found. As in the Rainham case of 1887, there was an almost daily report in the press, during the month, of body parts being found.

On the advice of the Acting Chief Surgeon, Metropolitan Police, Dr. Bond, the corpse was "built up" by sewing together the parts. The face was more of a challenge, as the nose and chin had been cut off, and the head had been scalped. The skin on the face of the victim was fitted "as naturally as possible" over a butcher's block. Even though this early attempt at forensic reconstruction was carried out with "ingenuity and skill," the body would only be recognizable by those "intimately acquainted with the physical characteristics of the deceased."

Naturally, the police had to turn away many people who had a "morbid curiosity" to view the body. This included "dealers in horrors" who were trying to obtain a sketch of the remains. Anyone the police believed had reason to see the remains were first shown a photograph.

Commenting on the injuries, the Lancet reported that, "Contrary to the popular opinion, the body had not been hacked, but dexterously cut up; the joints have been opened, and the bones neatly disarticulated, even the complicated joints at the ankle and the elbow, and it is only at the articulations of the hip-joint and shoulder that the bones have been sawn through."

A verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown" was reached by the jury. The government offered a reward of 200 pounds, and a free pardon to any accomplice who could lead them to the actually murderer. No one came forward, no arrests were made, and the case remained unsolved.

In June, of 1874, the dismembered body of a female was pulled from the Thames at Putney. The News of the World for June 14 reported that the headless and limbless (except one leg) torso was conveyed to Fulham Union Workhouse. Dr. E.C. Barnes, surgeon, stated that the body had been divided at the spinal column, and had been decomposed in lime before being dumped into the Thames. Despite what appeared to be an obvious murder, the jury returned an open verdict. Like the similar crime the previous year, no further evidence was presented, and both crimes become lost to history.

Tottenham Court Road Mystery of 1884

On October 24, 1884, the Times reported that, "Yesterday considerable excitement was caused in the neighbourhood of Tottenham-court-road by the discovery of human remains, supposed to be those of a woman, under circumstances suggesting foul play." A skull with flesh still adhering to it, as well as a large piece of flesh from the thighbone, were discovered. Around the same time, a parcel containing a human arm was found in Bedford-square. The arm, which had been thrown over the railing, contained a possible clue to the victim's identity-a tattoo, which more then likely, meant the woman had been a prostitute.



Five days later, a police constable was passing Number 33 Fitzroy square, when he noticed a large brown paper parcel. Upon investigating, he found it contained a portion of a human torso. The murderer, it would seem, was one who was exceedingly daring or lucking in depositing the remains. According to the Pall Mall Gazette, "the side walk in front of the house is constantly patrolled by police…it is believed that the parcel was deposited between ten o'clock and ten fifteen, when the police relief takes place." The building that the remains were placed in front was also a military drill-hall and armoury.

The inquest began on November 11 and was held at St. Giles Coroner's Court. Evidence was presented from those who were unfortunate enough to find the body parts. The Times reported that medical evidence supported the conclusion that the parts came from the same female and had been "divided by someone skilled, but certainly not for the purpose of anatomy."

The inquest was adjourned for several weeks in the hope that new information would come forward. On the resumed date of December 9, evidence was given concerning a parcel found in the "Mornington-crescent inclosure" consisting of bones of the right arm, right and left foot, and right forearm of an individual. Dr. Jenkins, Divisional Surgeon, S Division, concluded that the bones were "those of a women, and had been skillfully dissected." The parts, which were from a total different female then those found at Tottenham Court, were stored at St. Pancras Mortuary for a short period and then buried. These two mysteries, as with the others, were to remain unsolved.

The River Thames


          Officers from the Thames Division of the Metropolitan Police on duty near Tower Bridge

The criminal history of London has recorded numerous dismemberment murders; however, at no time have the crimes been as frequent as in the years surrounding the Thames Embankment Murders. The torso mysteries of 1873 and 1874 were very similar to the Embankment Murders.

Is it possible that one man was responsible for both series? Could a man, perhaps a young medical student, have been imprisoned on unrelated charges or locked in a mental institution in the mid 1870s only to have been later released-to continue on with his killing spree? A good example is John Crawford Martin, who was sentenced in 1981 to ten years in prison on a murder charge. Upon his later release, he proceeded to kill and dismember the bodies of three females in Saskatoon, Canada.

The river Thames has long been the end of the road for suicidal lunatics, victims of crime, and those involved in unfortunate accidents. Parliamentary returns for 1882 record that 544 corpses were found in the Thames, of which 277 cases resulted in open verdicts.

The London Times, ran an article on June 15 of that year entitled "Undetected Murders," pointing out that "the facilities afforded by the river for the perpetration of secret murders" was one that need to be addressed. "It is not a pleasant thing to reflect that there may be many ruffians prowling about London who have already committed riverside outrages with impunity, and may be tempted to commit others owing to the general laxity that prevails in our arrangement for ascertaining the causes of suspicious deaths."

A body recovered from the Thames was treated differently then one found on land. The actions of the river on a body made the medical experts job difficult. Factors involving decomposition, amount of time in the water, injuries to the body by boats, made the job of discerning murder from suicide or accident, a formidable task.

Unfortunately, in the case of the Thames Mysteries, the river may never give up its secrets.

References:

http://www.casebook.org/dissertations/thames-torso-murders.html
  Pimlico Mystery
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 14 September 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 12 September 1888
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 12 September 1888
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 29 September 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 12 September 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 13 September 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 14 September 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 15 September 1888
       Press Reports: People - 30 September 1888
  Pinchin Street Torso
       Message Boards: The Pinchin Street Murder
       Official Documents: Pinchin Street Torso Inquest
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 11 September 1889
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 12 September 1889
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Republican - 12 September 1889
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 14 September 1889
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 21 September 1889
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 28 September 1889
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 14 September 1889
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 28 September 1889
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 14 September 1889
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 28 September 1889
       Press Reports: Freeborn County Standard - 19 September 1889
       Press Reports: Galveston Daily News - 12 September 1889
       Press Reports: Gettysburg Complier - 17 September 1889
       Press Reports: Lima Daily Times - 11 September 1889
       Press Reports: Lima Daily Times - 12 September 1889
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 11 September 1889
       Press Reports: New York Times - 11 September 1889
       Press Reports: Newark Daily Advocate - 25 September 1889
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 12 September 1889
       Press Reports: Times - 11 September 1889
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 12 September 1889
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 13 September 1889
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 14 September 1889
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 25 September 1889
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 10 September 1889
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 11 September 1889
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 12 September 1889
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 14 September 1889
       Press Reports: Williamsport Sunday Grit - 15 September 1889
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 13 September 1889
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 27 September 1889
       Victims: The Pinchin Street Murder
       Victorian London: Pinchin Street
       Witnesses: John Arnold
  Torso Murders
       Victims: The Whitehall Mystery
  Whitehall Mystery
       Message Boards: The Whitehall Mystery
       Official Documents: Whitehall Mystery Inquest
       Press Reports: Alderley and Wilmslow Advertiser - 19 October 1888
       Press Reports: British Daily Whig - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: British Daily Whig - 9 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 16 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 23 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 4 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 5 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 6 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 8 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily News - 9 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 19 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 23 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 4 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 5 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 8 October 1888
       Press Reports: Daily Telegraph - 9 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 10 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 15 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 16 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 17 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 19 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 20 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 22 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 30 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 4 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 5 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 6 October 1888
       Press Reports: Echo - 8 October 1888
       Press Reports: Evening News - 10 October 1888
       Press Reports: Evening News - 11 October 1888
       Press Reports: Evening News - 17 October 1888
       Press Reports: Evening News - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Evening News - 19 October 1888
       Press Reports: Evening News - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: Evening News - 30 October 1888
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 3 Octo...
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 4 Octo...
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 6 Octo...
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 9 Octo...
       Press Reports: Illustrated Police News - 20 October 1888
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 23 October 1888
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 8 October 1888
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 9 October 1888
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 19 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 17 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 19 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 22 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 23 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 31 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 4 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 5 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 6 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 8 October 1888
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 9 October 1888
       Press Reports: Munster News - 17 October 1888
       Press Reports: Newark Daily Advocate - 9 October 1888
       Press Reports: North Eastern Daily Gazette - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 03 October 1888
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 05 October 1888
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 06 October 1888
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 08 October 1888
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 6 October 1888
       Press Reports: People - 14 October 1888
       Press Reports: People - 28 October 1888
       Press Reports: People - 4 November 1888
       Press Reports: People - 7 October 1888
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 6 October 1888
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 8 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 10 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 3 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 30 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 4 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 5 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 8 October 1888
       Press Reports: Star - 9 October 1888
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 18 October 1888
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 19 October 1888
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 23 October 1888
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 9 October 1888

Monday, 24 July 2017

Jesse Pomeroy: America’s Youngest Serial Killer




                                                                Jesse Pomeroy

On December 22, 1871, the little son of Mrs. Paine, of Chelsea, a suburb of Boston, was inveigled by an unknown boy, evidently about twelve years of age, to Powder Horn Hill, near Boston, where he was stripped naked, tied to a beam and beaten with a rope until he become unconscious. The larger boy then disappeared.

On February 21, 1872, little Tracy Hayden was taken to the same place by a boy of the same description and in addition to undergoing torture similar to that inflicted upon the Paine boy, he was struck across the face with a board,  the blow breaking his nose and knocking out several of his teeth.

On July 4, 1872, this same mysterious youth enticed a boy named Johnny Balch to the same scene of torture, where he received treatment similar to that administered to the other victims, but when the child had regained enough strength to enable him to walk, his companion forced him to accompany him to a salt water creek nearby, where his wounds were washed with salt water.

In September, 1872, another child named Robert Gould was persuaded by this same boy to accompany him, to the Hartford and Erie Railroad track, where he was tied to a telegraph pole, stripped, beaten and cut about the head with a knife.

A few days after this, a little chap named Harry Austin met this mysterious young fiend at South Boston, and he was stripped, bound and punctured with pins until he became unconscious.

Within a few days after this, the sixth child, named George Pratt, was enticed into the cabin of a yacht at South Boston, and after being bound, was stripped, beaten and stabbed in the back and groin with a penknife.

Scarcely another week elapsed before little Joseph Kennedy was inveigled to a secluded spot in the Old Colony road, in South Boston, where he was maltreated in identically the same manner as was the Pratt child.

A great number of boys were arrested on suspicion, but were discharged.

Finally suspicion fell upon a boy named Jesse Pomeroy, a twelve-year-old youth who lived with his widowed mother, a poor dressmaker, on Broadway Street, between D and E streets, South Boston.

He was positively identified by several of the children he had tortured, and as it was proven beyond all doubt that he was the much-sought youths he was sentenced to serve the remainder of his minority at the West Borough Reform School. According to the custom, if the boys confined at this school were exemplary in their behavior and the authorities felt confident that the good conduct would continue after their release, they were often released on probation, providing they had a good home to go to.

Unfortunately this was done in Pomeroy’s case on February 6, 1874.

On March 8, 1874, John Curran, whose residence was in the neighborhood of the Pomeroy home, notified the police that his ten-year-old daughter had mysteriously disappeared. The only clue obtainable was the statement of a child who saw a little girl, of the same description as Curran’s daughter, enter a buggy with a strange man. As the missing girl was very pretty and well developed, it was suspected that it was a case of abduction, and the investigation was made along those lines.



On April 22, 1874, the body of a four-year-old boy named Horace Mullen was found in a marsh near Dorchester, a suburb of Boston, Mass.

The body was horribly mutilated, the head being nearly severed from the body, upon which there were thirty-one knife wounds.

Having in mind the past record of Jesse Pomeroy, the officials naturally suspected him, and he was taken into custody on the following day. A knife was found in his possession, upon the blade of which some blood was found near the handle, but the remainder of the blade was clean. Upon his shoes was found mud similar to that found only on marsh lands.

Footprints could be very easily traced through this marshy land to the spot where the body was found. Plaster casts were made and it was found that they not only fitted Pomeroy’s shoes in every respect, but it was seen that the tracks were made by a person, who in walking, planted his foot in the same manner as Pomeroy.

In addition to this, other circumstantial evidence was procured and then Pomeroy was taken into the room where the body of the child lay. The following conversation occurred between the officer and Pomeroy :

Officer: Do you know this boy?

Pomeroy: Yes, sir.

Officer : Did you kill him?

Pomeroy : I suppose I did.

Officer : How did you get the blood off the knife ?

Pomeroy: I stuck it in the mud.

An examination was then made, and it was found that the boy was perfectly sane, but was naturally a fiend and derived pleasure from torturing others.

He selected children only because he had the physical ability to force them to do his will.

In July of the same year Mrs. Pomeroy’s landlord sold the property where she resided, and the new owner proceeded at once to make extensive improvements. Laborers began to excavate the cellar and about 5 p. m. on July 18 they found the badly decomposed remains of a little girl buried under a pile of ashes and stones.

Among those who viewed the remains were Mr. and Mrs. Curran, and while the features were not recognizable, they readily identified the wearing apparel as that of their lost child. Pomeroy had been seen with the child, and he finally confessed that it was he who murdered her and buried the remains.

On December 10, 1874, Pomeroy was convicted on the charge of murdering the Mullen child and was sentenced to be hanged.

An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court, which sustained the lower court on February 12, 1875. Governor Gaston refused to sign the death warrant because of the extreme youth of the murderer.

His successor, Governor Rice, also refused for the same reason, and on August 31, 1876, Pomeroy’s sentence was commuted to solitary confinement for the remainder of his life. He has made frequent attempts to escape, but always failed. In some mysterious manner he obtained an explosive, which he placed near the door of his cell, but when the explosion occurred it did more damage to him than it did to the door.

Notwithstanding the fact that Pomeroy has been in solitary confinement for thirty-three years, he has developed into a powerful man, and in 1909 was enjoying perfect health.

As he is seldom permitted to receive visitors he devotes nearly all of his time to reading and study and has become a highly educated man.

                                                       Pomeroy as an old man

Source: “Celebrated Criminal Cases of America,” Thomas A Duke, 1910.

From Wikipedia:

It remained for the Governor to sign the death warrant and assign a date for Pomeroy’s execution. However, Governor William Gaston refused to comply with this executive responsibility. The only legal means of sparing Pomeroy’s life was through the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, and only if a simple majority of the nine-member Council voted to commute the death penalty. Over the next year and a half, the Council voted three times: the first two votes upheld Pomeroy’s execution, and both times Governor Gaston refused to sign the death warrant. In August 1876, the Council took a third vote, anonymously, and Pomeroy’s sentence was commuted to life in prison in solitary confinement. On the evening of September 7, 1876, Pomeroy was transferred from the Suffolk County Jail to the State Prison at Charlestown, and began his life in solitary. He was 16 years and 9 months old. Pomeroy remained incarcerated at the Charlestown State Prison.

In prison, Pomeroy claimed that he taught himself to read several foreign languages, including Arabic, and one visiting psychiatrist found that he had learned German with “considerable accuracy.” He wrote poetry and argued with prison officials over his right to have it published, and he studied law books and spent decades composing legal challenges to his conviction and requests for a pardon. A psychiatric report on Pomeroy made in 1914, and quoted extensively in the Boston Globe after his death, noted that Pomeroy had made 10 or 12 “determined attempts” to escape, and that handmade tools were frequently found in his possession. A prison warden reported finding rope, steel pens and a drill that Pomeroy had concealed in his cell or on his person. According to the Globe, Pomeroy lost an eye after attempting to destroy the side of his cell by redirecting a gas pipe. The 1914 psychiatric report claimed that Pomeroy had shown the “greatest ingenuity and a persistence which is unprecedented in the history of the prison.”

In 1917, Pomeroy’s sentence was commuted to the extent of allowing him the privileges afforded to other life prisoners. At first he resisted, wanting nothing less than a pardon. He eventually adjusted to his changed circumstances and appeared in a minstrel show at the prison. In 1929, by this time an elderly man in frail health, he was transferred to Bridgewater Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he died on September 29, 1932.

There is a book about this case written by crime historian and author, Harold Schechter. Fiend: The Shocking True Story Of America’s Youngest Serial Killer

http://www.historicalcrimedetective.com/jesse-pomeroy-americas-youngest-serial-killer/

Monday, 17 July 2017

Bridgeport Murder Case 



In September 1898, the mutilated body of a young woman was found in a pond in Bridgeport, Conncecticut. Her name—let alone the name of her murderer—remained a complete mystery until Frank Perkins, a resident of Middleborough, Massachusetts, identified the body as that of his twenty-year-old daughter Grace. Her dental records confirmed the father’s identification. Grace Marion [or Marian] Perkins had disappeared several weeks previously. She was last seen with her boyfriend of two years, Charles Bourne, who was also missing. After Miss Perkins’ body was identified, newspapers announced, “The friends of Bourne hope that when he returns he can give an account of himself that will clear him of any guilt,” but it was clearly looking bad for the young man.

Grace's dentist provided police with details of the dental work he had done on her. Oddly, they all apparently matched the work found on the teeth of the dead woman. The two of them had similar scars, too.

A tragic, but fairly routine crime, right?

Well, no. Miss Perkins’ father brought his daughter’s remains home for burial, the grave was dug, and grieving family and friends gathered for the funeral.  Police continued their manhunt for the chief suspect in the girl's murder, Charles Bourne. And then, right before the funeral services took place, the Perkins home received unexpected visitors: Grace Perkins, alive, well, and cheerful, accompanied by none other than Charles Bourne. The pair had secretly run off together to Providence, R. I.

Grace, who had absolutely no idea that she was a murder victim, was quite shocked by the news, and who can blame her?

The body was eventually identified as a young woman named Emma Gill. She had gone to a midwife named Nancy Guilford for an abortion, which accidentally killed her. Guilford was found guilty of manslaughter and served eight years in the state prison.
                                                                 Nancy Guilford

[A footnote: Alas, the two runaway lovers did not have a happy ending together. The last we hear of Miss Perkins was in 1902, when she married, not Charles Bourne, but a George Sylvester Pierce.]

http://strangeco.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/newspaper-clipping-of-day_18.html

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Lambeth Poisoner

                                                            Dr. Thomas Neill Cream


Between October 1891 and April 1892 a series of murders in London racked the city with a terror reminiscent of the fear surrounding Jack the Ripper’s murders, just three years earlier. Once again the victims were prostitutes but this time the method was poisoning. The killer was captured and identified as Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, who had already been convicted of murder by strychnine in the United States. In fact, if he had not been released early from Chicago’s Joliet Prison, four young London women would have been spared excruciating death.

Date: June 11, 1881

Location:  Belvidere, Illinois

Victim: Daniel Stott and at least four others.

Cause of Death:  Poisoning

Accused:  Dr. Thomas Neill Cream

Synopsis:

Thomas Neill Cream was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1850 and emigrated with his family to Canada in 1854. His father, William Cream, became the manager of a lumber and shipbuilding firm in Quebec and was successful enough to send Thomas to McGill University in Montreal.

At McGill, Thomas studied medicine with an emphasis on pharmaceuticals. He graduated in 1876 after completing a thesis on the effects of chloroform. Around the same time he became engaged to Flora Eliza Brooks whose father, Lyman Henry Brooks, owned a small hotel outside Quebec City. That September Flora became ill and her father had her examined by a physician who told him that Eliza had recently undergone an abortion. Enraged, Lyman Brooks forced Thomas to marry his daughter at gunpoint.

Leaving his new wife behind, Thomas Cream went to the British Isles to further his studies. In 1878 he qualified for a license in midwifery from The Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh. While he was away, Flora contracted bronchitis and in August 1877 died of consumption. Her death would later be viewed with suspicion since Cream had prescribed medicine for her before he left and told her to take nothing else.

Murder

Cream returned to Canada and began a private medical practice in London, Ontario. In May 1879, Kate Gardener, one of his patients was found dead in an outhouse behind his office. She had died of an overdose of chloroform. At the inquest her roommate, Sarah Long, testified that Kate had been pregnant and had gone to Dr. Cream to “bring her right.” Cream claimed he was treating her for “senescence” and had not given her an abortifacient. He concluded her death was suicide.

There was not enough evidence to indict Cream, but his reputation was damaged when Sarah Long testified that he not only gave her medicine, but suggested that money could be made by accusing a wealthy resident of her boardinghouse of being the father of her child. A doctor testified that it would be impossible for a person attempting suicide to hold a chloroform soaked sponge over her own nose long enough to cause death. The coroner’s jury ruled the death was murder by persons unknown. Dr. Cream quickly left for America.


Chicago



Cream moved to Chicago and set up a practice near the notorious red light district in the West Side. By 1880, Dr. Cream was known to Chicago police as an abortionist, sometimes assisted by an African-American midwife named Hattie Mack. In August of that year Mack hastily moved out of her Madison Street apartment; soon after the decomposing body of Mary Ann Faulkner was found in the apartment.

Mack was arrested and quickly turned on Cream. She confirmed that he was an abortionist who had performed as many as fifteen abortions from a single sporting house. He told her he had performed at least 500 abortions in total. Mack claimed that Cream had forced her to take in Faulkner while she recovered. Cream countered that Mack had come to him for help after she had tried an abortion with instruments on Faulkner. Cream was tried for murder, but the jury was unwilling to take the word of black woman against a handsome young doctor. Cream was acquitted.

Later that month another of Cream’s patients died after taking medicine he had prescribed. He tried place the blame and extort money from the druggist who filled the prescription, Frank Pyatt. Pyatt went to the police but the investigation was inconclusive. Cream had also tried to blackmail one of his patients who had not paid his bill.

Murder Again


In February 1881, Mrs. Julia Stott, from Belvidere, Illinois, came to Dr. Cream’s office to obtain pills for her husband, Daniel, after seeing an advertisement Cream had placed for a cure for epilepsy. Daniel began to show signs of improvement, and Julia returned several times for more pills. In June, Daniel died and epileptic seizure was given as the cause of death. Cream telegraphed the coroner saying the real cause of death was an error made by the pharmacist who filled the prescription. He also helped Julia Stott file a law suit against the druggist. The skeptical coroner gave a sample of the prescription to a dog. Fifteen minutes later the dog was dead. Daniel Stott was exhumed and it was found that Stott’s stomach and intestines contained enough strychnine to kill him three times over. This knowledge did not have the effect that Cream hoped; he, not the druggist, was charged with the murder of Daniel Stott.

Cream fled to Canada but was arrested in Belle Riviere, Ontario and returned to Belvedere, to stand trial.

Trial: September 1881 


Thomas Cream was disowned by his father. Though his brother and sister provided a little financial support, Cream could not afford the quality of legal counsel that he was used to. Julia Stott turned state’s evidence and told the court that Cream had seduced her. He had come up with the plan to poison her husband and blackmail the drug company. Cream had tampered with the pills and when her husband took them he died almost instantly.

Another witness, Mary McClellan, testified that she heard Cream talking about Stott’s murder before it was reported. It was not public knowledge, but Cream had seduced, aborted and abandoned Mary McClellan’s daughter.

Cream countered that the wrong person was on trial. Julia Stott was a bad woman who had uttered threats against her husband and had tampered with the pills herself. This time the jury did not believe Cream and he was found guilty of murder.

Verdict:  Guilty of murder




Aftermath:


Thomas Neill Cream was sentenced to life at the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet, with one day each year in solitary confinement, “for the rest of his natural life.” Cream served ten years of this sentence, then in 1891, shortly after inheriting $16,000 at his father’s death, he was declared, “a fit and proper subject for executive clemency.” His sentence was reduced to 17 years and, with time off for good behavior, he was released soon after. It is assumed that payments were made by Cream’s brother to leading Illinois politicians to secure his release.

Cream tried to track down Julia Stott for revenge, even employing the Pinkerton Detective Agency, but eventually gave up the search and moved to England. Prison had not rehabilitated Cream; he had become obsessed with women and had picked up a severe drug habit. Someone who knew him in London described Cream this way.

Women were his preoccupation and his talk of them far from agreeable. He carried pornographic photographs, which he was ready to display. He was in the habit of taking pills, which, he said, were compounded of strychnine, morphia, cocaine, and of which effect, he declared, was aphrodisiac. In short he was a degenerate of filthy habits and practices.

On October 13, 1891 a 19-year-od prostitute named Ellen Donworth died of strychnine poisoning. A week later a 27-year-old prostitute named Matilda Clover died of what was believed to be alcoholism. At the time there was nothing to link Cream to these deaths, but there is evidence that he tried to blackmail some prominent citizens concerning Donworth’s death.

After a trip back to Canada—during which Cream bought 500 strychnine pills from a drug company in Saratoga, New York—Cream returned to London and the poisonings resumed. Two more young prostitutes, Alice Marsh and Emma Shrivell were murdered by strychnine. The killer was now referred to as the “Lambeth Poisoner” in the press.

Cream’s attempt to blackmail two innocent doctors for the murder of Matilda Clover brought him to the attention of the police. Since Clover had supposedly died of natural causes, the case was reopened and Cream was charged with her murder. On October 21, 1892 he was convicted and sentenced to hang.



Dr. Thomas Neill Cream was hanged at Newgate Prison on November 15, 1892. According the executioner, James Billington, Cream’s last words, before being interrupted by the noose, were: “I am Jack…”

The implication was that Dr. Cream was Jack the Ripper. This would have been impossible because Cream was still in Joliet Prison in 1888 when the Whitechapel murders took place. Some still believe this theory, saying Cream had a double serving his prison sentence. More likely the quote was a hoax perpetrated by the executioner.

Sources


Websites:

http://www.murderbygaslight.com/2010/08/lambeth-poisoner.html

Dr Thomas Neil Cream

Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (1850-1892)

Books:

Mclaren, Angus.A Prescription for Murder: The Victorian Serial Killings of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (The Chicago Series on Sexuality, History, and Society). New Ed ed. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1995.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017



The Pimlico Poisoning Mystery 





Adelaide Blanche de la Tremoille was 19 when she married successful grocer Thomas Edwin Bartlett (29 and known as Edwin) in 1875. It would seem that theirs was not a happy marriage with some reports claiming that Thomas refused to have sexual relations with his new wife. Some also say that within a year of her marriage Adelaide had embarked upon an affair with her brother-in-law.

More strangely still, when Adelaide struck up a close friendship with a Wesleyan minister called Reverend George Dyson, Edwin enthusiastically endorsed the relationship and drew up a will leaving his estate to his wife with George as executor.


                                                     Adelaide Bartlett, wife of the victim

After Edwin and Adelaide moved to Pimlico in south London in 1885, Edwin fell dangerously ill. Adelaide asked George to source a large amount of chloroform to treat her husband. George did this by buying four small bottles from four different shops. When Edwin’s father came to visit his son, Adelaide refused him entry, much to the father’s ire.

On New Year’s Eve 1885, Edwin returned from a visit to the dentist and went to bed alongside his wife. However, around 4am the next morning, Adelaide shouted and woke her landlord with the words ‘Come down! He is dead! He is dead!”.

When Edwin’s father visited the body of his son he said that it smelt strongly of chloroform and demanded an inquest be held. This went ahead and the post-mortem revealed that Edwin had died with a large amount of chloroform in his stomach. However, his throat and larynx showed none of the burning that would have been expected from the drinking of chloroform.

                                   An account of the case from the press at the time

Nevertheless, the inquest concluded that Edwin had been murdered and both Adelaide and George Dyson were arrested.

At the trial, George was immediately acquitted so the prosecution could focus on the case against Adelaide. However, this did also mean that the defence could use his testimony in support of Adelaide’s plea of not guilty.

Adelaide had employed the considerably impressive services of top barrister Sir Edward Clarke who successfully argued that the forensic evidence of the case did not prove murder. Although the law at this time prevented a defendant giving their own testimony and the fact that the defence called no witnesses, Adelaide was acquitted.


                                                            Adelaide Bartlett on trial
The foreman of the jury said:

“Although we think grave suspicion is attached to the prisoner, we do not think there is sufficient evidence to show how or by whom the chloroform was administered”.
Following the end of the trial, surgeon Sir James Paget quipped:

“Now that she’s been acquitted for murder and cannot be tried again, she should tell us in the interest of science how she did it”.
Adelaide disappeared shortly after the trial; some say she never saw George again and he emigrated to the US or even Australia, some say the couple married. Regardless of the truth, one fact remains: Adelaide never did tell how she did it and the true circumstances of Edwin’s murder remain a mystery.


https://www.realcrimedaily.com/the-pimlico-poisoning-mystery-who-killed-thomas-edwin-bartlett/