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Priscilla BIGGADIKE

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Poisoner
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 30, 1868
Date of arrest: October 11, 1868
Date of birth: 1833
Victim profile: Richard Biggadike, 35 (her husband)
Method of murder: Poisoning (arsenic)
Location: Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Lincoln on December 28, 1868
 
 

 
 

Biggadike, Priscilla, was hanged at 9.00 a.m. on Monday, the 28th of December, 1868, at Lincoln by Thomas Askern for poisoning her husband with arsenic. It was alleged that she killed him because he discovered she was having an affair with one of their lodgers. Thirty five year old Priscilla was the first woman to be executed in private in Britain. She ascended the steps to the platform where she said "Surely all my troubles are over" and "Shame on you, you are not going to hang me." But Askern did, in his usual clumsy way and she reportedly died hard.


Biggadike, Priscilla Mrs.

The death of Richard Biggadike was so sudden and unexpected that an autopsy was immediately carried out.  Once again another murderer was detected.  Richard was a Lincolnshire well - sinker, and as such made a good living. Added to this they also took in lodgers, so all in all they enjoyed a pretty good standard of living.  He would get up and go to work quite early in the mornings and so he would leave his wife in bed.  He began to suspect that after he had left she was joined by John Proctor who was one of the lodgers.

On the 30 September Richard came home from work in the evening as normal and after eating his tea he settled down in front of the fire for a quiet evening.  He was soon writhing in agony and was dead by the following morning.  Up until then he had been a very healthy man and his death was so unexpected that the doctor decided to have his stomach contents analysed.  He was right to have done so as it turned out to contain quantities of arsenic.

When challenged Mrs Biggadike said that she had seen John Proctor put some powder in her husbands drink.  It is hard to imagine that if she had seen this happen she had not mentioned it or questioned Proctor as to what he was doing.  Anyway the police soon released him due to lack of evidence and continued with their enquiries.  It was not long before the police had arrested and charged Mrs Biggadyke with her husbands murder.

She was later convicted and sentenced to death. Her execution was carried out by Yorkshire hangman Thomas Askern on December 28th 1868. Mrs Biggadike, in a faint. had to be assisted to the scaffold and when the drop fell she struggled violently for several minutes before eventually succumbing.


Priscilla Biggadike
Thomas Proctor

To call the Biggadike home overcrowded would be a massive understatement. In the two-room hovel in the small Lincolnshire village of Stickney lived 35-year-old labourer Richard Biggadyke, his 29-year-old wife, Priscilla, their three children and two lodgers. The lodgers were 21-year-old fisherman George Ironmonger and thirty-year-old rat-catcher Thomas Proctor.

Proctor was described as 'very repugnant' but this did not prevent Priscilla having an affair with him and he may even have been responsible for the youngest of the Biggadike brood. Richard and Priscilla argued constantly, a situation that had been ongoing for some time.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 30th September 1868 Priscilla, Thomas and George sat down to a tea of tea and cakes, which Priscilla had just baked. A cake was saved for Richard and this he ate when he returned home around six o'clock. Within minutes Richard was sick. The doctor could do nothing to alleviate his symptoms and Richard died about twelve hours later. A post-mortem established that an irritant poison was involved and, by the end of October when the inquest could be held, it was determined that death had been caused by arsenic.

Since the post-mortem, Priscilla had been lodged in the Spilsby House of Correction and the governor, John Phillips told the court that Priscilla had made a statement in which she said that she had seen Thomas Proctor putting a white powder into Richard's tea cup while he was washing. He had also, she said, put more of the white powder into the medicine left for Richard by the doctor. At the conclusion of the inquest Thomas and Priscilla were remanded for trial on a charge of murder.

In December the pair appeared before the Winter Assizes at Lincoln. The judge, Justice Byles, told the jury they could discharge Proctor. This was done and Priscilla faced trial alone. The jury took only a few minutes to return a guilty verdict and Priscilla was sentenced to death. Priscilla, protesting her innocence to the end, was hanged at the side of the Crown Court, Lincoln Castle, on Monday 28th December by Thomas Askern.

Fourteen years later Thomas Proctor confessed to the killing on his deathbed.

Murder-uk.com


The Boston Guardian (Extracts)
10th October 1868

Suspected Poisoning at Stickney

On Saturday last an inquiry was opened before W. Clegg Esq., Coroner on view of the body of Richard Biggadike aged 35 years. Deceased was a cottager and lived with his wife and three children and two young men lodgers. For some time past the deceased and his wife had not lived on good terms. On Wednesday afternoon September 30th, Mrs Biggadike and the young men who lodged with her (Thomas Proctor and George Ironmonger) had tea together at 5 O’Clock. Mrs Biggadike had made three short cakes and the above parties ate two. The third was reserved for Biggadike who came home to his tea at 6 O’Clock. A few minutes after he had taken his tea he was seized with sickness and purging, and other symptoms of poisoning. Dr Maxwell was sent for, but the man rapidly got worse and died in great agony at six the next morning.

Dr Maxwell made a post mortem examination and found extreme inflammation of the stomach. At the inquest he expressed an opinion the death had been caused by an irritant poison. The coroner ordered the contents of the stomach etc. to be sent to Doctor A. S. Taylor and the inquest adjourned.

*****

The Boston Guardian (Extracts)
24th October 1868

The Stickney Murder

On Monday last the two prisoners Priscilla Biggadike and Thomas Proctor, who are charged with the wilful murder (by poisoning) of Richard Biggadike, the husband of the former, at Stickney, were brought up before a full bench of magistrates at Spilsby. Mr J. F. Philips stated Professor Taylor had not been able to complete his analysis and asked for further remand until Friday 23rd Inst., when that Gentleman would be able to attend. They were remanded accordingly. - The adjourned coroners inquest was fixed for that day at 11 O’Clock at Stickney. The magistrates examination to take place immediatly after Mr Philips. Mr Philips also stated that the female prisoner had made a statement to him which he read. It was to the effect that she had herself administered the poison to her husband nd lso deeply implicated the male prisoner in the dreadful crime. The latter it is reported, said that he should say nothing until his examination, when he should tell all he knew.

*****

The Boston Guardian – Saturday 31st October 1868

The Stickney Murder

The horrible tragedy which on Monday last was subject of investigation recalls to our memory former terrible murders that occurred within a short distance of this village a few years since, and exhibits a state of demoralisation so disgusting as to almost surpass belief. In the centre of this village, situated a few miles from Spilsby, resided Richard Biggadike, a labourer in the prime of life, far more attractive in appearance than most of his compeers, ? in his habits, industrious in his pursuits, much respected by his neighbours, and valued by his employers. He was a married man, his wife about thirty-one years old, and they had five children. With them lodged Thos. Proctor, labourer, aged thirty, and George Ironmonger, fisherman, aged about twenty-one. The first mentioned lodger was probably the most uncooth-looking (sic) individual in the whole parish, his countenance is very repugnant. He has a high back and his legs appear to have a serious malformation. Ironmonger on the other hand, although by no means intellectual, has a rather smart appearance. But one miserable hut, with only two rooms, formed a home for the whole party! The deceased, his wife, family, and the two lodgers slept in one wretched compartment, in two beds, nearly side by side! Biggadike generally quitted his bed early in the morning; the other two were not, as may be supposed, from this fearful state of things, quite so regular.

Jealousy arises, quarrels between Biggadike and his wife increase with far more virulence, and the husband, who has been in the enjoyment of excellent health, is foully murdered. It is the Garner tragedy re-enacted, with all its sickly, immoral and terrible details.

The inhuman outrage, as might be imagined, causes great excitement to the district, and in the village itself, every man, woman, and child are discoursing on the indelicate particulars connected with the crime.

The adjourned inquest was held on Friday last, at the Rose and Crown Inn, before Walter Clegg, Esq., Coroner, who arrived about 11am., accompanied by Professor Taylor, the eminent professor of Medical juris-prudence.

The Coroner re-opened the inquiry without any comment, when the following evidence was produced:-

Professor Taylor deposed: I am a fellow of the College of Pysicians and Professor of Medical Juris-prudence at Guys Hospital. On Tuesday 6th October, I received certain jars from Supt. Wright containing the contents of the stomach of Richard Biggadike. I now put in my report. It is as follows:- [the report was read, It was rather lengthy, full of the usual scientific details, and terminated by stating there was not the slightest doubt deceased had died through the administration of Arsenic.] Those were the only conclusions (continued Dr Taylor) that I could draw from the result of my analysis.

Dr Maxwells report was then put in. It related to his being called in to see the patient, his suspicion of foul play, the death of the deceased, and the post-mortem examination which followed.

Dr Taylor: how long did deceased live?

The Coroner: he was taken ill about seven o’clock and died about six next morning.

Dr Taylor: I have heard the depositions, and I have no doubt in my own mind that death was caused by arsenic. Everything is in accordance with death by arsenic, when approved remedies have failed. I infer that the deceased had taken a large dose of arsenic, but some of this had been discharged from the body by vomiting and purging. There was enough left in the body to destroy the life of another person. Here (showing a phial) we have vomited liquid and the coats of the stomach. I never saw a clearer case of death from poison. Death took place rather earlier than usual. The average time is from eleven to twelve hours. The coats of the stomach showed great indammation. The case is so perfectly clear that portions of the arsenic were found even in its perfect state. It is impossible to state what the arsenic was taken in, because it always mixes with whatever is in the stomach.

Eliza Fenwick deposed:- I was accustomed to see Biggadike and his wife. I was there three or four months ago, when I remarked the “mice had eaten a hole in my dour bag”. Mrs Biggadike replied “if you like I will give you a little white mercury to kill the mice”. My husband said that he would not have any of the old stuff in the house. She got up and was going towards the stairs, but my husbands remark stopped her. I once heard Biggadike and his wife quarrelling. On Friday 2nd Oct., I went to see Biggadike. Proctor, who was in the house as a lodger, said “Here I want you”. He spoke to Mr Biggadike, who went out with him. He said to her, “mind what yah say.” She replied “Do yah think I’m a fool and knows note (sic)?: don’t tell me more than I know”.

Edwin Fenwick, labourer, confirmed the evidence of the wife.

Mary Ann Clark, widow, deposed:- I reside about 50 yards off: on Wednesday night, 30th Sept., about seven o’clock, I heard a noise in Biggadikes house as of several people talking, and went to see what was the matter. Proctor sat against the door. I said to him “what is the matter?” He said “Dicks took very bad since he got his tea.” The doctor was coming downstairs, and I went away. In the morning, at quarter-past six, Proctor called me in saying, “will you come, Dicks dying.” I went, picked up a tea cup and asked her what it was laid on the floor for? She replied that Biggadike had thrown it at her. She also said that while ill Biggadike had knocked her backwards. Proctor was not in the room when Biggadike died.

Jane Ironmonger, widow, Stickney: I live under the same roof as Biggadike. On Monday, the 28th Sept., Mrs Biggadike came into my house, said her husband was very ill, and began to tell me one of their dogs was poisoned last winter. She then asked me how those Garners got on about their poisoning. I told her I did not know. She replied she thought they were transported. She also said the police and doctors, she understood, could not find poison in the meal or sago. Biggadike told me he could not either read or write. I have heard Mrs Biggadike say she wished her husband would be brought home dead and stiff.

John Yarr Phillips, Governer of the House of Correction, Spilsby:- On the 15th October, Priscilla Biggadike, who was in my custody, applied to see me: she came into my office, and said she wished to make some statement, and tell me all about her husbands death. I cautioned her in the usual way, that whatever she said I should be obliged to take down in writing and produce against her at the inquest and in her trial. She spoke as follows:-

On the last day of September, on a Wednesday, I was standing against the tea-table and saw Thomas Proctor put a white powder of some sort into a tea-cup, and then poured some milk, which stood on the table, into it. My husband was at that time in the dairy washing himself. My husband came into the room directly after and sat himself down to the table, and I then poured his tea out and he drank it, and more besides that. And half-an-hour afterwards he was taken ill.  He went out of doors and was sick, and came in and sat about a few minutes, and went out and was sick again, and then went to bed, and he asked me to send for the doctor, which I did.  The doctor was an hour before he came. I went to the doctor’s about a quarter of an hour after he left and he gave me some medicine and ordered me how to give it to him - two tablespoons every half hour – and I was to put a mustard plaster on the stomach, and he came no more until eleven o’clock at night. I came downstairs to go out of doors and asked Thomas Proctor to go upstairs and sit with my husband.  When I went upstairs into the room, as I was going up, I saw Proctor putting some white powder into the medicine bottle with a spoon, and he then went downstairs and left me in the room with my husband.  As soon as he had left the room I poured some medicine into the cup and gave my husband, and I tasted it myself. In an hour afterwards I was sick and so I was for two day’s after.  What I have just stated about the medicine took place about two o’clock in the morning, and after the doctor had gone. I wish you to send a copy of what I have said to the Coroner, and I wish to be present at the inquest to state the case before them, as it is the truth.

- Priscilla Biggadike X her mark.

Supt. Wright of Spilsby , deposed:  On the 2nd Oct., I received one jar and three bottles, sealed and ? by Dr Maxwell. I took them home, locked them up in my office, and no other person had access to them. On Tuesday the 6th, I delievered them to Dr Taylor at Guy’s Hospital. On the 3rd, I apprehended the female prisoner, and charged her with wilfully murdering her own husband. I cautioned her very strongly not to incriminate herself. She replied “It’s hard work I should bear all the blame, I am innocent.” On our way to Spilsby, when near the railway station, I said “We have not been long ? from Spilsby, the last train is not in yet.” She replied “I was not thinking about the trains, I was thinking what I should say that I haven’t yet. I found a piece of paper in his pocket wrote upon, saying that he had done it himself, and the reason was stated, he was so much in debt.” I said “I understand from someone your husband could neither read nor write.”  She replied “No, some one must have done it for him, he could not write himself.” I said “What have you done with the paper?” She replied “I have burn’t it, will you tell the gentlemen?” I said, “I will.” I apprehended Proctor, and charged him with the murder. He replied, “I am innocent. I know no more about it than I stated at the inquest.”

The Coroner then summed up. He said accidental or suicidal death was quite out of the question.  The jury had heard the statement of Mrs Biggadike that the prisoner Proctor alone had administered the poison, but this had not been corroborated. Therefore they must give it what credence they thought it bore. The tea was provided by the wife, and it was therefore important to know whether this woman was in possession of poison. Now they had the evidence of these two witnesses distinctly showing that three or four months since she had poison. It might justly be inferred that she had. Then as to the motive. The jury had in evidence that the female prisoner and her husband often quarrelled, and that on one occasion she said she wished he might be brought home dead and stiff. Mrs Biggadike admitted she saw Proctor put a white powder in the tea. Now she knew the effect it had had, and yet she was present in the morning when a second dose was administered. The jury must also recollect the part Proctor took in the administration, and the intimate connection which existed between him and her.

The jury, after a brief consultation, returned a verdict of “wilful murder” against both the prisoners.

Examination Before The Magistrates.

Directly after the inquest had terminated, the prisoners Priscilla Biggadike and Thomas Proctor, underwent an examination before the Revs. D Rawnsley and T. H. Lister.

Captain Bicknall was present, and there was an immense crowd in the school-room. The prisoners, although looking somewhat downcast, did not seem to be severely affected, especially the female. The evidence was exceedingly voluminous, but in substance it was the same as appears above.

Both prisoners were then formally committed for trial at the next Lincoln Assizes on a charge of wilfully murdering Richard Biggadike.

Proctor: “Well gentleman, I shall be innocent, take me where you like.”

The female prisoner, without manifesting the least appearance of grief, applied to be admitted to bail. But was told the application could not be entertained.

*****

The Boston Guardian – Saturday December 19th 1868

Lincolnshire Winter Assizes.

The Stickney Murder
SENTENCE OF DEATH.

Priscilla Biggadike, widow, 29, was charged with the wilful murder of Richard Biggadike, her husband, at Stickney, on the 1st October 1868.

Mr Bristowe and Mr Horace Smith appeared on behalf of the prosecution; Mr Lawrence defended the prisoner.

Mr Bristowe, at considerable length, detailed to the jury all the principal facts of the case, and the circumstances under which the murder was committed revealed a depth of moral depravity and social degradation we could fair hope has no parallel in the county of Lincoln.

It appeared that in the entire of the village of Stickney, a wall-sinker named Richard Biggadike, about 30 years of age, resided in a miserable hut, which served as a home for himself, his wife, three children, and two lodgers named George Ironmonger, fisherman, and Thomas Proctor, a rat-catcher, the former about 21, and the latter about 30 years of age. The cottage contained only one bedroom, and in it slept the whole of the party just enumerated, the two beds which accomodated them standing not more than 15 inches apart. It not infrequently happened that Biggadike , who rose early, quitted this room, and went off to his work before the lodgers left their bed. The result, as might naturally be expected from such a state of things, was an improper intimacy between Mrs Biggadike and one of the lodgers.  This led to the husband becoming first suspicious, next jealous, and finally exasperated, when quarrels between him and his wife became fierce and very frequent. At length, alienated in her affections,  and apparently as tired of her husbands presence as she was of his complaints, she seems to have conceived the idea of resorting to murder to get rid of both. How long she cherished the dark design before putting it into execution it is impossible to say – probably some considerable time, as evidence has arisen since the murder to prove that she had arsenic in her possession fully three or four months ago. Be this, however, as it may, Biggadike, who had returned from his daily toil in the perfect enjoyment of health only a few minutes before, was suddenly taken ill immediately after tea on Wednesday evening, the 30th of September, and in spite of medical aid, which was called in as soon as possible, he died, after enduring 11 hours’ pain of the most agonising description, at six o’clock the following morning.

Voluminous evidence was then given, as before published in this journal.

Mr Bristowe reviewed the whole case in a calm and dispassionate manner, calling the particular attention of the jury to those parts of the evidence most damaging to the prisoner, and urging that the case for the prosecution had been most clearly and satisfactorily laid out.

Mr Lawrence then in a most eloquent address of nearly three quarters of an hours duration, appealed to the jury on behalf of the unhappy woman, urging apon their serious consideration every and the slightest point which could in any way tell in her favour.

His Lordship then summed up the whole case in a most careful and patient manner, which occupied about an hour. He said there could  not be the slightest doubt in the minds of the jury, from the scientific and medical testimony, which had been adduced before them, that the deceased man, who was in the prime and vigour of manhood, had been suddenly cut off by the hand of death, such death being caused, unmistakably by arsenical poisoning. It was for the jury – to be satisfied by whom that poison was administered – whether by the deceased himself or whether by any other person; and that when they had satisfied themselves on that point, it would be their duty to say, according to the evidence laid before them, whether they were satisfied or not that it was the prisoner who had administered it. If they had any reasonable doubt of the prisoner’s guilt, he exhorted them to give her the benefit of such doubt; but if, however painful it may be, involving, as it did, a question of life or death to the unhappy prisoner, it would be their bounden duty to find her guilty of the awful offence with which she stood charged.  After calling special attention to the different statements which the prisoner had made to the Governor of Spilsby House Of Correction, the Coroner, and Supt. Wright, His Lordship left the case entirely in the hands of the Jury, whom, he was pleased to observe, had paid the most earnest attention to the case throughout the day.

The jury, after a few minutes consultation, but without leaving the box, returned a verdict of GUILTY, accompanied by a recommendation to mercy, but upon the judge asking upon what grounds, the foreman of the jury seemed perplexed, and again consulted with his fellows for a short time, and then answered that the only grounds for such recommendation was that the evidence was entirely circumstantial.

The Clerk of the Assigns then asked the prisoner, who throughout the trial had presented an appearance of  the most stolid indifference, what she had to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon her, but she made no reply, and then it was for the first time, that she exhibited the slightest emotion, and a few tears were observed to fall down her cheeks.

His lordship then put on the black cap, and amid the most solemn silence passed sentence of death on the unhappy woman. In addressing her, his Lordship said: Priscilla Biggadike, altho’ the evidence against you is only circumstantial, yet more satisfactory, and conclusive evidence I never heard in my life. You must now prepare for your impending fate, by attending to the religious instruction you will receive, to which if you had given heed before, you would never have stood in your present unhappy position. The sentence of the court is that you will be taken to the place from whence you came, and thence to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck until you be dead, and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul! Your body to be buried within the precincts of the prison.

The prisoner then walked firmly away from the dock, the trial having lasted 7 hours.

*****

The Boston Guardian – Saturday January 9th, 1869.

Execution of Mrs Biggadike, The Stickney Murderess.

The first execution for some years took place within the precincts of the Castle on Monday morning. The criminal was Priscilla Biggadike, aged thirty-nine, convicted at the recent assizes of the wilful murder of her husband, at Stickney, on the 1st of October last.

The particulars of this shocking case will be fresh in the recollection of our readers. The prisoner, her husband, three children and two lodgers (Thomas Proctor and George Ironmonger), lived together in a small two roomed cottage, all the parties sleeping in the same room.

During the last few months of his life the deceased frequently quarrelled with his wife, and openly accused her of conduct unbecoming a married woman. She was frequently heard by her neighbours to express a wish that her husband might be brought home dead. On the afternoon of 30th September Biggadike returned home from his work in his usual health. The wife, children, and lodgers had partaken of tea, and the husband sat down to his meal alone, and ate heartily of short cake and mutton. Ten minutes afterwards he was seized with violent vomiting and purging, and appeared to be in dreadful agony. After a night of intense suffering he died. A post mortem examination was made, which clearly showed that Biggadike had died from the effects of a large dose of arsenic.

The prisoner, while in Spilsby House Of Correction, made a statement to the Governor, which was written down at the time, and to which she attached her mark. It was to the effect that she saw Proctor, one of the lodgers, pour some white powder into her husbands tea; that he afterwards when upstairs placed some more white powder in the medicine bottle, and that she then gave some of the medicine to her husband. Upon this Proctor was also apprehended, and with the woman committed for trial. Justice Byles, however, suggested to the grand jury that the bill against Proctor should be thrown out, and this was done.

The jury found the prisoner guilty, but by some extraordinary reasoning coupled with the verdict a recommendation to mercy. The query of the Judge- “On what grounds gentlemen?” staggered the foreman but he quickly recovered himself, and answered “Simply because it is circumstantial evidence.” After her conviction the wretched woman appeared to pay considerable attentions to the ministrations of the chaplain, but she declined to make any confession of her guilt.

Last week she addressed a letter to the employer of George Ironmonger, one of her lodgers, which the authorities, for certain reasons, do not think it right to publish. In this letter, the prisoner, although utterly callous and indifferent to her own position, implored Ironmonger to seek forgiveness of his sins, and to mourn her sad end, and she also expressed a hope that he would not despise those (alluding to her children) who were left behind.

On Saturday, Ironmonger presented himself at the Castle, and begged for permission to see the prisoner, which was, of course, refused. On the same day, however, the unfortunate woman was visited by a brother and three sisters, who stayed with her about two hours and a half. But all the distress and agony of the interview appears to have been borne by them. They exhorted her to confess her guilt, of which they obviously had little doubt, but their earnest entreaties, instead of moving her to a declaration of her crime, roused her only into passionate excitement. None of her children have seen her since her conviction. It is believed the miserable woman fully intended to commit suicide, but the opportunity never presented itself. Once she had a garter, and on another occasion, a handkerchief, with which it is feared she purposed strangling herself, but they were taken away from her. On Sunday evening she implored one of the female wardens to change clothes with her, in order to give her an opportunity of escaping, but, of course, her request could not be acceded to.

On Sunday she ate heartily, and attended a divine service in the prison. She slept well during the night, and was visited at seven o’clock in the morning by the Rev. H. W. Richter, the chaplain, who again implored her, without avail, to confess her guilt. At a quarter to nine she was pinioned by Askerne, the executioner; and although she fainted under the operation, she immediately recovered. Five minutes afterwards the sad procession left the Castle, and proceeded to the drop, which was erected on the east side of the Crown Court, a distance of 200 yards from the prison door. The unhappy woman, who was supported on by two of the warders, moaned piteously, and appeared to take little heed of the chaplain while reading the service for the dying. While on her way to the place of execution, she said to the warders, “I hope my troubles are ended.” And then asked “shall we be much longer?” to which a warder replied, “No, not much.” The service was brought to a close at the foot of the drop, and the chaplain, turning to the prisoner, asked her whether she still persisted in her declaration of innocence-whether she had anything to do with the crime in thought, word, or deed? In a firm voice she replied, “I had not, Sir.” She was then accommodated with a chair, and the chaplain addressed her as follows:-

“I have spent half an hour with you this morning in endeavouring to impress upon you a proper sense of your condition, for you are about to pass from this world into another, and to stand before God, to whom the secrets of all hearts are known. I implore you not to pass away without confessing all your sins, not only generally, but especially this particular one for which you are about to suffer. I had hoped that you would have made that confession, and thus have enabled me, as a minister of Christ, to have pronounced the forgiveness of your sins, under the promise that Christ came into this world to save sinners. It has grieved me very much to find that you still persist in the declaration that you are not accountable for you husbands death; that you still say you did not administer the poison yourself, that you did not see any other person administer it, and that you are entirely free of the crime. Do you say so now?”

The prisoner, still in a firm voice replied “Yes.”

The Chaplain-“There is only one hope left- that you have endeavoured to confess your sins to God, though you will not to your fellow-creatures. All I can now say is that I leave you in the hands of God, and may He have mercy upon your soul. What a satisfaction it would be to your children, to your friends, and to your relatives it would be to know that you had passed from death into life in the full persuasion that your sins were forgiven you, and that you would be admitted into the blessed kingdom of God. I fear I can hold out no further consolation to you. The matter rests between yourself and the Almighty. Had you made a declaration of your sins, I should have done what, as a minister of Christ I am entitled to do. I should have told you that your sins, though many, are forgiven. I am sorry that I cannot exercise that authority at the present moment. I must leave you to God.”

The condemned woman was then assisted up the steps of the platform, and placed on the trap door. When the noose was being affixed she stood firmly, without assistance. The cap was drawn over her face, and she then exclaimed “All my troubles are over; shame, you’re not going to hang me. Surely my troubles are over.” The bell of the Cathedral then tolled forth the hour of nine, and at that instant the bolt was drawn, and the struggles of the unhappy woman lasted at least three minutes.

A crowd of people had assembled out of curiosity on the Castle Hill, and were informed of the completion of the execution by the raising of a black flag on the keep tower. A report was circulated in the city to the effect that the poor creature struggled for at least twenty minutes, and that her shrieks were heartrending in the extreme. This, as will be seen from our report, was totally devoid of truth, and it is regretted that its author should have endeavoured, by disseminating it, to create a painful impression in the public mind.

The body, after hanging an hour, was cut down.

The last execution in this City took place in 1859, when Pickett and Carey suffered the penalty of the law for the shocking murder they committed in Sibsey.

The Inquest.

In accordance with the new act of Private Execution, an inquest was held on the body, in the afternoon, by Dr Mitchinson, in the Debtor’s Court.

The Jury then proceeded to view the body, which was lying in a cell near the place of execution. The face and hands were quite white, the features well set, and there appeared to be no distortion whatever.

Mr Broadbent, surgeon of the Castle, was then examined. The execution, in his opinion, was carried out with decency, humanity, and the average amount of skill. The rope was adjusted in a different manner to what he had hitherto seen it. The rope was placed round the neck, with the knot under the chin, so that deceased breathed for some minutes before death. The executioner had told him that by the body hanging in that way the head was thrown backwards on to the spine of the back, so that all sensation was destroyed, but at all events it did not prevent the deceased from breathing.She was about three and a half minutes in dying, from the fall of the drop.From what the executioner had told him, it might be that the moment she fell, her head being thrown back, all sensation might be destroyed. 

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that they were satisfied as to identity, and that the execution was carried out according to the sentence, properly, and with humanity.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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