Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - The 'eternal triangle'
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 13, 1776
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1877
Victim profile: John Broadingham (her husband)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: York, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by burnt at the stake, after having first been strangled, on March 20, 1776

Thomas Aikney
Elizabeth Broadingham

The 'eternal triangle' again. The players this time in this eighteenth-century story were Elizabeth Broadingham, her husband John, who had served time for smuggling, and a younger man, Thomas Aikney whose company she had enjoyed during her husband's incarceration. Thomas resisted the pressure from Elizabeth to dispose of John but, after daily pestering from the woman, finally agreed.

Elizabeth slapped her husband awake on 13th February 1776 and told him that there was someone knocking at the door of their York home. He went and opened the front door. Aikney rushed in, slashing at Broadingham with a knife. He cut John's leg and plunged the knife into the man's stomach before rushing off down the street.

Broadingham tottered after Aikney shouting "Murder! Murder!" One account tells of neighbours coming to his assistance finding 'in one hand the bloody instrument that he had just drawn out of his body, and the other supporting his bowels, which were dropping to the ground.' He died the following day.

Aikney was arrested after the knife was traced to him. He confessed. Elizabeth was promptly arrested and both were tried and condemned. Aikney was hanged on 20th March 1776 and Elizabeth was burnt at the stake, after having first been strangled.


BROADINGHAM, Elizabeth (England)

Taking advantage of her husband John’s temporary imprisonment in York Castle, Elizabeth enjoyed an intimate relationship with a younger man, Thomas Aikney, and when John was released, she, having tasted the fruits of illicit love, left him and went off to set up house with Thomas. Why she did not just leave matters as they were is not known; perhaps she wanted marriage, rather than just cohabitation with Thomas.

Whatever the reason, over the next few weeks she slyly suggested to Thomas that John be removed – permanently. The man vehemently refused to have anything to do with the idea, but Elizabeth was nothing if not determined to get her way, and one night she plied her lover with liquor before turning on the pressure again. Intoxicated both with the drink and her, he finally agreed to help her.

Elizabeth’s next move was to ingratiate herself with her husband, a simple and decent man who longed for his wife to return to their family home. Within days she had moved back in with him, and then contacted Thomas.

He tried to persuade her to abandon the murderous scheme, to elope with him, but without success, and on the night of 8 February 1776 she woke her husband up and told him that someone was knocking at the door. Half asleep, John made his way downstairs and opened the door – to be attacked by Thomas, who proceeded to stab him in the thighs and body, finally leaving the knife inserted in the husband’s stomach before fleeing. The badly wounded man staggered out into the street, calling for help, and the neighbours who rushed out ‘found him holding the bloody knife in one hand and the other supporting his bowels, which were dropping to the ground’. He died the next day.

Thomas was captured, Elizabeth arrested, both confessing their guilt. On 20 March 1776 Thomas Aikney was hanged at York, his body subsequently being sent to the Leeds Infirmary as a surgical specimen to be used in the training of students.

Petit treason having been committed by Elizabeth by instigating the murder of her husband, she was tied to the stake, and after the executioner had strangled her she was burned, her ashes being collected by some of the onlookers as souvenirs (in eggtimers, perhaps?).

John Howard, the famous prison reformer, visited gaols across the Continent in the 1770s. In his report on prisons in Stockholm, he noted that Swedish executions are by the axe, and that women are decapitated on a scaffold, that structure afterwards being set alight at its four corners and consumed by the flames, together with the victim’s body.

Amazing True Stories of Female Executions by Geoffrey Abbott



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