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Executed English women


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Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield

Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield (both d. Ipswich, Suffolk, 19 February 1556) were two English women of Ipswich who were imprisoned and burnt at the stake in Ipswich during the Marian persecutions: both are commemorated among the Ipswich Martyrs. Their arrest followed immediately after the burning of Robert Samuel.

Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield

Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield were two married townswomen of Ipswich of the artisan class, the husband of one being a shoemaker and the other a brewer. Joan's husband Michael Trunchfield, and also John Trunchfield, both of St Leonard's, Ipswich, were at some time under condemnation to be burnt, but it is not recorded that the sentences were carried out. (St Leonard's is not known: this may be a copyist's error for St Laurence.) At the time of the death of Queen Mary I in November 1558 no fewer than seventy-seven people in Ipswich and the neighbourhood lay under condemnation.

They assist Robert Samuel

After the mandate against the married clergy, Robert Samuel, the displaced minister of East Bergholt, sent his wife to live in Ipswich. After Samuel's arrest, Mrs. Potten and Mrs. Trunchfield incurred the penalty of their own arrest and imprisonment by giving him aid and succour in the Ipswich town jail where he was first imprisoned. The Ipswich jailer John Bird had been sympathetic, and it was probably there, when Samuel was in company with other prisoners who belonged to the reformed faith, that Agnes and Joan ministered to him.

Decision to stay, and premonition

After Samuel's arrest, a friend named Rose Nottingham urged the ladies to escape from Ipswich while there was still time to do so. However one of them (it is not known which) replied "I know well that it is lawful enough to fly away; which remedy you may use if you list. But my case standeth otherwise. I am tied to a husband, and have besides a sort of young children at home... Therefore I am minded, for the love of Christ and His truth, to stand to the extremity of the matter."

While he was in prison in Norwich, and was both tortured and starved, Robert Samuel experienced various visions and dreams. In a certain dream which he related to his friends, he seemed to see "three ladders set up toward heaven, of the which there was one somewhat longer than the rest, but at length they became one, joining (as it were) all three together." When he dreamed this, the two ladies were still at liberty.

Arrest and Imprisonment

Robert Samuel was burned at Ipswich on 31 August 1555, and on the following day, 1 September 1555, the women were arrested and imprisoned in the town jail. They remained in prison for five and a half months, during which Agnes Potten was at times "cast into marvellous great agonies and troubles of mind," but she remained "ardent and zealous" in her chosen course.


The execution was carried out on 19 February 1556, in the presence of a crowd of people at the Cornhill in Ipswich. As they prepared themselves for the stake Joan Trunchfield 'much exceeded the other in joy and comfort.' They urged the bystanders 'to lay hold on the Word of God, and not upon man's devices and inventions.' Then, reciting words from the Scriptures, they were bound to the stake together, and when the fire was lit they held up their hands in the flames while they called upon God for help.

Mary Ansell

Mary Ann Ansell, a house-maid, was hanged at St Albans, on 19 July 1899 for poisoning her sister, Caroline, who was an inmate in an asylum. Her intention appeared to be to obtain 11 pounds, from an insurance cover on Caroline which she had taken out.

At 22 she was the youngest woman to be hanged in the 'modern era' (post-1868 reform act, so non-public, and also by the 'long drop' method).

Before her eventual execution there was considerable public pressure for a reprieve, on the grounds of her gender, youth and perceived lack of mental capacity (both of herself, and other members of her family). As against that, there was a significant reluctance within the Home Office to reprieve a poisoner (see paper by Wiener), since it was seen as an easy but premeditated act. Her case thus received a measure of Parliamentary attention (see Hansard for July 13, 17 & 18). In subsequent years the case was used to discuss the limits to criminal responsibility (see paper by Mercier).


Alice Arden

Alice Arden (1516–1551) was the daughter of John Brigantine and Alice Squire, who conspired to have her husband, Thomas Arden ofFaversham, murdered so she could carry on with a long-term affair with a tailor, Richard Moseby. The murder took place on 14 February 1551. She was tried, convicted, and burnt at the stake for her part in the murder.

Anne Askew

Anne Askew (née Anne Ayscough, married name Anne Kyme) (1520 – 16 July 1546) was an English poet and Protestant who was condemned as a heretic. She is the only woman on record to have been both tortured in the Tower of London and burnt at the stake.

Born at Stallingborough into a gentry family of Lincolnshire, she was forced by her father, Sir William Askew (1490–1541), to marry Thomas Kyme when she was fifteen, as a substitute for her sister Martha who had recently died. Anne rebelled against her husband by refusing to adopt his surname. Anne had at least one child, William Askew. The Dictionary of National Biography says no more than that she left her children to go "gospelling". Her marriage did not go well, not least because of her strong Protestant beliefs. When she returned from London, where she had gone to teach against the doctrine of transubstantiation, her husband turned her out of the house. She then went again to London to ask for a divorce, justifying it from scripture (1 Corinthians 7:15), on the grounds that her husband was not a believer.

Eventually, Askew left her husband and went to London where she gave sermons and distributed Protestant books. These books had been banned and so she was arrested. Her husband was sent for and ordered to take her home to Lincolnshire. Askew soon escaped and it was not long before she was back preaching in London.

Background on 1546

In the last year of Henry VIII's reign, Askew was caught up in a court struggle between religious traditionalists and reformers. Stephen Gardiner was telling the king that diplomacy — the prospect of an alliance with the Catholic Emperor Charles V — required a halt to religious reform. The traditionalist party pursued tactics tried out three years previously, with the arrests of minor evangelicals in the hope that they would implicate those who were more highly placed. In this case measures were taken that were, according to McCulloch, "legally bizarre and clearly desperate", in the context of the king's failing health. The persons rounded up were in many cases strongly linked to Thomas CranmerArchbishop of Canterbury, who spent most of the period absent from court in Kent: Askew's brother Edward Ayscough was one of his servants, and Nicholas Shaxton who was brought in to put pressure on Askew to recant was acting as a curate for Cranmer at Hadleigh. Others in Cranmer's circle who were arrested were Rowland Taylor and Richard Turner.[3]

The traditionalist party included Thomas Wriothesley and Richard Rich who racked Askew in the Tower, Edmund Bonner and Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. The intention of her interrogators may have been to implicate the Queen, Catherine Parr, through the latter'sladies-in-waiting and close friends, who were suspected of having also harboured Protestant beliefs. These ladies included the Queen's sister,Anne ParrKatherine WilloughbyAnne Stanhope, and Anne Calthorpe. Other targets were Lady Denny and Lady Hertford, wives of evangelicals at court.[3]

Arrest and interrogation

Askew was arrested again. She was examined in June 1546 by Martin BowesLord Mayor of London.[4] Sir Anthony Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London, was ordered to torture Askew in an attempt to force her to name others.

According to Askew's own account, and also that of gaolers within the Tower, she was tortured only once. She was taken from her cell, at about ten o'clock in the morning, to the lower room of the White Tower. She was shown the rack and asked if she would name those who believed as she did. Askew declined to name anyone at all, so she was asked to remove all her clothing except her shift. Askew then climbed onto the rack and her wrists and ankles were fastened. Again, she was asked for names, but she would say nothing. The wheel of the rack was turned, pulling Askew along the device and lifting her so that she was held taut about 5 inches above its bed and slowly stretched. In her own account written from prison, Askew said that she fainted with the pain, and was lowered and revived. This procedure was repeated twice. Kingston refused to carry on torturing her, left the Tower, and sought a meeting with the King at his earliest convenience to explain his position and also to seek his pardon, which the king granted.

Wriothesley and Rich set to work themselves. Askew's cries could be heard in the garden next to the White Tower where the Lieutenant's wife and daughter were walking. Askew gave no names, and her ordeal ended when the Lieutenant ordered her to be returned to her cell.


She was burnt at Smithfield, London aged 26, on 16 July 1546, with John Lascelles and two other Protestants. Anne Askew was carried to execution in a chair wearing just her shift as she could not walk. She was dragged from the chair to the stake which had a small seat attached to it, which she sat astride. Chains were used to bind her body firmly to the stake at the ankles, knees, waist, chest and neck. Because of her recalcitrance she was burned alive slowly rather than being strangled first or burned quickly. Those who saw her execution were impressed by her bravery, and reported that she did not scream until the flames reached her chest.The execution lasted about an hour and Anne was unconscious and probably dead after fifteen minutes or so.


Elizabeth Barton

Sr. Elizabeth Barton (known as the Nun of Kentthe Holy Maid of Londonthe Holy Maid of Kent and later the Mad Maid of Kent; 1506? – 20 April 1534) was an English Catholic nun. She was executed as a result of her prophecies regarding the marriage of King Henry VIII of England to Anne Boleyn, which had taken place against the wishes of the Pope.


Little is known of Barton's early life. She appears to have come from a poor background: she was working as a servant when her visions began in 1525. During that year, she suffered from a severe unknown illness and claimed to have received divine revelations. These either predicted future events (such as the death of a child living in her household) or, more frequently, took the form of pleas for people to follow the teachings of theChurch. In particular, she urged people to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to undertake pilgrimages.

Shortly after Barton began receiving visions, she became a nun. She rapidly became popular among both the masses and members of the élite. She held a private meeting in 1528 with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the most powerful man in England after the King, and shortly thereafter met twice with King Henry VIII himself. Barton was accepted by the government because her prophecies did not then challenge the existing order.

Unfortunately for Barton, that order changed when Henry VIII, in order to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, sought to seize control of the Church of England from Rome. Barton strongly opposed the English Reformation and, around 1532, began prophesying that if the King remarried he would die shortly thereafter. (In fact, he lived for another 15 years.) Remarkably, Barton went unpunished for nearly a year, largely, it appears, because she was more popular than the King in many quarters. She was attained for treason by Act of Parliament (without trial) only after agents of the King spread rumours that she was engaged in sexual relationships with priests and that she suffered from mental illness.

Her reputation thus undermined, the Crown arrested Barton in 1533 and she was forced to confess she had fabricated her revelations.However, all that is known regarding her confession emanates from Thomas Cromwell or his agents and all available documents are on his side. Furthermore, she and her companions were condemned without a hearing. She, along with seven of her chief supporters, was executed for treason and hanged at the Tyburn gallows. The next day she was buried at Greyfriars Church in Newgate Street.


Mary Bateman

Mary Bateman (1768–March 20, 1809) was an English criminal and alleged witch, known as the "Yorkshire Witch", who was tried and executed for witchcraft (murder by poison) during the early 19th century.

Born to a farmer in AsenbyNorth Yorkshire, she became a servant girl in ThirskNorth Yorkshire but was eventually released for petty theft. During the 1780s, she became a minor thief and con artist who often convinced many of her victims she possessed supernatural powers. By the end of the century, she had become a prominent fortuneteller in Leeds who prescribed potions which she claimed would ward off evil spirits as well as acting as medicine.

In 1806, Bateman was approached by William and Rebecca Perigo who believed they had been put under a spell after Rebecca had complained of chest pains and asked for her help in lifting the curse. However, over the next several months, Bateman began feeding them pudding which was laced with poison. While Rebecca regularly ate the pudding, her husband was unable to eat more than a spoonful. Rebecca's condition worsened however and she finally died in May 1806. William Perigo continued to pay her for more than two years until he discovered one of the "charms" which he and his wife had received from Bateman was worthless paper; he went to the authorities who arrested Bateman the following day after William lured her to a meeting.

Although she proclaimed her innocence, a search of her home turned up poison as well as many personal belongings of her victims including the Perigo couple. In March 1809, she was tried in York and found guilty by a jury of fraud and murder. Sentenced to death, Bateman attempted to avoid her execution by claiming she was pregnant however a later physical examination disproved this. She was finally hanged alongside two men on March 20, 1809. After her execution, her body was put on public display with strips of her skin being sold as magic charm to ward off evil spirits.

Bateman's skeleton is on display to the public at Thackray Museum in Leeds.


Bridget Bishop

Bridget Bishop (ca. 1632, England – 10 June 1692 SalemMassachusetts) was the first person executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials of 1692. (All together about 72 people were accused and tried.)

Recent historical interpretation: "A resident of Salem Town"

Bridget Bishop may have been a resident of Salem Town, not Salem Village, where the allegations started. Perhaps she was previously confused with another alleged witch, Sarah Bishop of Salem Village. However she may have been accused because she owned one or more taverns, played shuffleboard, dressed in provocative clothing, and was outspoken. One interpretation of the historical record suggests that she was a resident of Salem Town and thus not the tavern owner. Perhaps she did not know her accusers. This would be supported in her deposition in Salem Village before the authorities stating, "I never saw these persons before, nor I never was in this place before." The indictments against her clearly note that she was from "Salem" which meant Salem Town, as other indictments against residents of Salem Village specified their locations as such.

In the transcripts there is some indication of confusion between Sarah Bishop, wife of a tavern owner in Salem Village, and Bridget Bishop, not a tavern owner and a resident of Salem Town.


She was married three times:

Her first husband Samuel Wesselbe probably married her in England, and is referred to in the Boston Public Records as deceased at the time of the birth of their last child there.[5]

Her second marriage on 26 July 1666  was to Thomas Oliver, a widower and prominent businessman. She was earlier accused of bewitching Thomas Oliver to death, but was acquitted for lack of evidence. They had one daughter, Christian (born 8 May 1667), who later married Thomas Mason.

Her last marriage circa 1687 was to Edward Bishop, a prosperous sawyer, whose family lived in Beverly.

Nature of allegations

Bishop was accused of bewitching five young women, Abigail WilliamsAnn Putnam, Jr.Mercy LewisMary Walcott, and Elizabeth Hubbard, on the date of her examination by the authorities, 19 April 1692.

William Stacy, a middle aged man in Salem Town, testified that Bishop had previously made statements to him that other people in the town considered her to be a witch. And when he confronted her with allegation that she was using witchcraft to torment him, she refused to deny it.

Another local man, Samuel Shattuck, accused Bishop of bewitching his child and also of striking his son with a spade. He also testified that Bishop asked him to dye lace, which apparently was too small to be used on anything but a poppet, or primitive voo-doo doll.

John and William Bly, father and son, testified about finding poppets in Bishop's house and also about their pig that appeared to be bewitched, or poisoned, after a dispute with Bishop.

There were also allegations that Bishop's specter appeared in the rooms of several men while they slept and attacked them. This, along with the fact that she had worn red outfits, has been used to suggest that the good Puritan men of Salem feared Bishop's sexual prowess. However, as has been noted, red was not an unusual color for Puritan women to wear, Bishop would have been about 60 years old at the time of her trial and was not likely the most attractive woman in town. These incidents bear more of the hallmarks of sleep paralysis where the victims likely did imagine that Bishop really was there and was attacking them.

All of this together with Bishop's conflicting statements and spiteful attitude during her examination made the case against her appear to be very strong to the jurors and judges. The transcripts of Bridget Bishop's trial have been used in Cry innocent, an interactive theater performance that takes place in Salem.


Mary Blandy

Mary Blandy (1720 – April 6, 1752) was a female murderer in 18th century England. In 1751, she poisoned her father, Francis Blandy, witharsenic. She claimed that she thought the arsenic was a love potion that would make her father approve of her relationship with William Henry Cranstoun, an army officer and son of a Scottish nobleman.

On Easter Monday 1752, she was hanged outside of Oxford Castle prison for the crime of parricide. Her case attracted a great deal of attention from the press. Many pamphlets claiming to be the "genuine account" or the "genuine letters" of Mary Blandy were published in the months following her execution. The reaction among the press was mixed. While some believed her version of the story, most thought that she was lying. The debate over whether or not she was morally culpable for her crime continued for years after her death. In the 19th century, her case was reexamined in several texts with a more sympathetic light. People began to think of her as a "poor lovesick girl." Today, her case has been practically forgotten.


Mary's parents raised her to be an intelligent, articulate Anglican woman. Her reputation in Henley, where she lived her entire life, was that of a well-respected, well-mannered, and well-educated young woman. In 1746, Mary met Captain William Henry Cranstoun. The two intended to marry in 1751. However, it was exposed that he was married to a woman in Scotland and had a child by this marriage. Cranstoun denied the validity of this marriage and made several trips to Scotland over the course of his relationship with Mary to have the marriage annulled.

After months of stalling, Mary's father, Francis Blandy, became suspicious of Cranstoun and believed that he did not intend to leave his wife. Mr. Blandy made no attempt to hide his disapproval of Cranstoun's marriage. What happened next is unclear. Mary claimed that Cranstoun sent her a love potion (which later turned out to be arsenic) and asked her to place it in her father's food to make him approve of their relationship. Mary did this, and inevitably, her father died.


The trial was of some forensic interest as there was expert testimony about the arsenic poisoning that was presented by Dr. Anthony Addington. Addington had done testing that would be primitive by today's standards, but was quite fascinating in the 18th Century, based on testing residue for traces of arsenic. It was of such interest to 18th Century England, that Dr. Addington's career was made. 


Joan Bocher

Joan Bocher (died 2 May 1550 Smithfield, London) was an English Anabaptist burned at the stake for heresy. She has also been known as Joan Boucher or Butcher, or as Joan Knell or Joan of Kent.

Bocher's origins are unclear, but it is known that families named Bocher and Knell lived in the area round Romney Marsh. She was associated with Baptists and Anabaptists in Kent, some of them immigrants who had fled persecution in the low countries. In the 1530s and 1540s she was "much in favour in reforming circles" in Canterbury. Although there is a lack of definitive written evidence, there are long-standing traditions associating her with Eythorne Baptist Church.

Her first conflict with church and state came after she spoke against the sacrament of the altar, but she was released from imprisonment by a commissary of Thomas Cranmer and Christopher Nevinson. This leniency was held against Nevinson when he was charged in 1543 with involvement in the Prebendaries' Plot.

Bocher developed an interest in Anabaptist ideas, and took up the idea of Christ's celestial flesh, "not incarnate of the Virgin Mary".. She was arrested as a heretic in 1548 and convicted in April 1549. Then followed a year's imprisonment during which various well-known religious figures were enlisted to try to persuade her to recant. She was unmoved, and Cranmer was involved in bringing her to the stake on 2 May 1550, though accounts of him forcing Edward VI to sanction this - with Edward "driven to pen the mandates", as Wordsworth put it - may be inaccurate.

Some well-known stories about Bocher were first recounted by Robert Parsons in 1599: for instance, Joan's friendship with Anne Askew and her involvement in smuggling Tyndale's New Testament into England, and into the royal court under her skirts. According to Parsons in A temperate ward-word, he had learned these things from someone who had been present at her trial.


Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn ( /?b?l?n//b??l?n/ or /b??l?n/);[2][3] c.1501/1507– 19 May 1536) wasQueen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. A commoner, Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as amaid of honour to Claude of France. She returned to England in early 1522, in order to marry herIrish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; however, the marriage plans ended in failure and she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII's queen consort, Catherine of Aragon.

In the spring of 1523 there was a secret betrothal between Anne and Henry Percy son of the 5th Earl of Northumberland. However, in January of 1524 Cardinal Thomas Wolsey broke the betrothal, Anne was sent back home to Hever Castle, and Percy was married to Lady Mary Talbot, to whom he had been betrothed since adolescence.

In February/ March of 1526 Henry VIII began courtly pursuit of Anne. She resisted his attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress as her sister Mary had. It soon became the one absorbing object of Henry's desires to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine so he would be free to marry Anne. When it became clear that Pope Clement VII would not annul the marriage, the breaking of the power of the Catholic Church in England began. In 1532 Henry granted her a peerage in her own right; and that one of the highest in England, the Marquesate of Pembroke.

Henry and Anne married on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533 Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine's marriage null and void; five days later, he declared Henry and Anne's marriage to be good and valid. Shortly afterwards, the Pope decreed sentences of excommunication against Henry and Cranmer. As a result of this marriage and these excommunications, the first break between the Church of England and Rome took place and the Church of England was brought under the King's control.

Anne was crowned Queen of England on 1 June 1533. On 7 September she gave birth to the future Elizabeth I of England. To Henry's displeasure, however, she failed to produce a male heir. Henry was not totally discouraged, for he said that he loved Elizabeth and that a son would surely follow. Three miscarriages followed, however, and by March 1536, Henry was courtingJane Seymour.

Henry had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536. On 2 May she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers and found guilty on 15 May. She was beheaded four days later on Tower Green. Modern historians view the charges against her, which included adultery and incest, as unconvincing. Following the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe.[6] Over the centuries, she has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works. As a result, she has retained her hold on the popular imagination. Anne has been called "the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had," since she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon, and declare his independence from Rome.


Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford

Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford (by courtesy) (c. 1505 – 13 February 1542) was anEnglish noblewoman who lived in the reign of Henry VIII. She was a sister-in-law of Henry's second wife Anne Boleyn and lady-in-waiting to his fifth wife Catherine Howard, with whom she was executed.

Early life Possible portrait of Lady Jane Parker by Hans Holbein

Born Jane Parker, she was the daughter of Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley and Alice St John, the eldest daughter of Sir John St John (1426–1488) and wife Alice Bradshaigh, and granddaughter of Sir Oliver St John and wife Margaret Beauchamp of Bletso. Jane was a half second cousin of King Henry VIII. She was born in NorfolkEngland around the year 1505 and her family was wealthy, well-connected, politically active and respected members of the English upper-classes. Her father was an intellectual, with a great interest in culture and education.[1] She was sent to Court in her early teens, certainly before her fifteenth birthday, where she joined the household of the King Henry VIII's wife,Catherine of Aragon. She is recorded as having accompanied the royal party on the famous state visit to France in 1520, which was known as "The Field of the Cloth of Gold".

Though it has long been supposed that nothing is recorded of Jane's appearance (and there is no surviving portrait which can be identified as her), her biographer Julia Fox ("Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford") suggests that a Holbein likeness represents a very remote chance of an extant likeness of Jane (pp. 317–319). She was probably considered attractive in her day, given that she was chosen to appear as one of the lead actresses/dancers in the prestigious "Château Vert" masquerade at Court in 1522. The seven performers were selected from the ladies of court in large part for their attractiveness. Two of the other performers included Jane's future sisters-in-law, Anne and Mary Boleyn.


In late 1524 or early 1525, she was married to George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, brother of Anne Boleyn, who later became the second queen of King Henry VIII. At this stage, however, Anne was unattached to the King, although she was already one of the leaders of fashionable society. These first encounters with the more sophisticated and glamorous Anne helped create the legend that Jane instantly hated and resented her. However, if this was true, there were no signs of it at the time or for several years to come.

As a wedding present, the King gave Jane and George Grimston Manor in Norfolk.Since she gained the courtesy title of Viscountess Rochford by marriage, she was usually known at Court (and by subsequent historians) as "Lady Rochford". As the Boleyn family's wealth and influence increased, the couple were given Beaulieu Palace as their chief residence, which George and Jane decorated with a lavish chapel, a tennis court, a bathroom with hot-and-cold running water, imported carpets, mahogany furniture and their own large collection of silverware. Their marital bed was draped in cloth of gold with a white satin canopy, linen quilts and a yellow counterpane.

The marriage of Jane and George made her sister-in-law to the Queen Consort as well as aunt to the Princess Elizabeth, future Elizabeth I of England.

Traditionally, George and Jane's marriage has been portrayed as an unhappy one. One modern historian has suggested that George was homosexual, thus explaining why the marriage was so miserable. British historian Alison Weir concludes that the marriage was unhappy, principally because of George, although she concludes that the exact nature of his sexuality is difficult to ascertain: - "[A]talented young man ... He was very good-looking and very promiscuous. In fact, according to George Cavendish, he lived in 'bestial' fashion, forcing widows, deflowering virgins... [and] it has been suggested he indulged in homosexuality activity too, but there is no evidence for this, although he may well have committed buggery with female partners..." However, Jane's most recent biographer disagrees with both arguments and concludes that the exact nature of the marriage is unclear, but suggests that it was by no means unhappy.

The exact nature of her relationship with her royal sister-in-law is not precisely clear either and there is absolutely no evidence on what she thought of her other sister-in-law, Mary Boleyn, who had been at Court with Jane since they were both teenagers. It is generally assumed that Jane was not overly fond of Anne, allegedly because of Jane's jealousy of her. Regardless, Jane plotted with Anne to banish one of the King's young unnamed mistresses from Court in 1534. When the King discovered her involvement, Lady Rochford was herself exiled for a few months.

Role in Husband's Execution

After eleven years of marriage, George Boleyn was arrested in May 1536 and imprisoned in the Tower of London, accused of having had sexual intercourse with his sister, the Queen. It was Jane's supposed testimony which helped convict him of incest and treason, stating that she believed that he and his sister Anne had been involved in a sexual relationship since the winter of 1535, thus strongly implying that George had been the biological father of a foetus Anne had miscarried early in 1536. There was no truth in these rumours, according to the vast majority of contemporary witnesses, but they provided the legal pretext which the Boleyns' enemies needed to send Lord Rochford to the block.

Anne Boleyn, Jane Boleyn's sister-in-law and Queen of England, Henry VIII's second wife.

Jane's sensational testimony against her husband may have been an act of malice, due to their difficult relationship and possibly due to her jealousy of his close relationship with Anne. Certainly this was the conclusion formed at the time and for many generations afterwards. Subsequent generations of historians also believed that Jane's testimony against her husband and sister-in-law in 1536 was motivated by spite rather than any actual belief in their guilt, hence her generally unfavourable historical reputation. Within a generation, George Wyatt, whose father Thomas Wyatt the Younger had known the Boleyns personally, described Jane as a "wicked wife, accuser of her own husband, even to the seeking of his own blood." A century later, an English historian asserted that the reason Jane had testified against them was based purely on her "inveterate hatred" of Queen Anne, which sprang from jealousy at Anne's superior social skills and George's preference for his sister's company to his wife's.Georgian and Victorian histories pointed to Jane's own eventual violent death in 1542 to suggest that moral justice had triumphed because "the infamous lady Rochford... justly deserved her fate for the concern which she had in bringing Anne Boleyn, as well as her own husband, to the block".

This negative view of Jane has been rejected by her only modern-day biographer, Julia Fox, who believes that Jane actually enjoyed a warm and supportive relationship with Queen Anne and that it was the terror of the palace coup against the Boleyns in 1536 that provoked Jane's testimony, which was twisted by her family's enemies anyway. On the fall of the Boleyns, Fox writes:-

"Jane Rochford found herself dragged into a maelstrom of intrigue, innuendo and speculation. For when Cromwell sent for Jane, he already had much of what he needed, not only to bring down Anne and her circle, but to make possible the King's marriage to Jane Seymour... The questions to Jane [Rochford] would have come thick and fast... Faced with such relentless, incessant questions, which she had no choice but to answer, Jane would have searched her memory for every tiny incident that occurred to her... [But] Jane had not been quick to tell tales, but she had buckled under the pressure of relentless questioning... And it was her weakness under interrogation that gave her future detractors - happy to find a scapegoat to exonerate the King from the heinous charge of callously killing his innocent wife - the ammunition to maintain that it was her evidence that had fooled Henry and destroyed Anne and George...".


George Boleyn was beheaded on Tower Hill on 17 May 1536 before a large crowd. His final speech was chiefly concerned with promoting his new-found Protestant faith. Four other men, one of them a commoner, were also executed alongside him, also accused of having been Anne's lovers. Only the commoner, a musician, had confessed and it was reported that he had been savagely tortured into doing so. (Members of the aristocracy and gentry could not legally be tortured.) Anne was executed two days later, beheaded by a French swordsman, within the walls of the Tower of London. Anne's poise and courage at the scaffold were much commented upon and public opinion in the weeks and months after often "made of Anne a persecuted heroine, bright with promise and goodness as a young woman, beautiful and elegant." It is not known whether Jane witnessed the execution of either her husband or her sister-in-law, but the posthumous sympathy Anne aroused in many (particularly sentimentalists) meant that many of those linked to her fall were cast in the roles of villains. According to historian Julia Fox, this mindset explains how Jane's actions were construed as being those of a cruel and jealous intriguer.

Whatever the truth of Jane's involvement in the fall of the Boleyns, or her feelings towards it, the immediate aftermath was very hard for her, both socially and financially. The lands which the Boleyns had built up during Anne Boleyn's reign and over the last four generations, including the titles Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond (Ireland) were to pass through the male line only, and thus were lost to the family with George's death. Jane continued to use the courtesy title of Viscountess Rochford but without a son she could not really benefit from what remained of the Boleyn family fortune. (Modern rumours that George Boleyn, Dean of Lichfield, a colourful character, was the child of Jane and George are now thought to be false.)

Later political intrigues Catherine Howard, Jane Boleyn's cousin-in-law and Queen of England,Henry VIII's fifth wife.

Following her husband's execution, Lady Rochford was absent from court for a time, during which she spent much of her time attempting to stabilise her financial position, which she did through negotiations with her father-in-law, father, but mainly with Thomas Cromwell, the king's chief minister. The Boleyns eventually allocated her the sizable annual pension of £100, precisely what they had given their eldest daughter Mary, when she had been widowed eight years earlier. It was nowhere near the amount she had commanded when she had been sister-in-law to the queen-consort, but it was enough to finance a moderate upper-class lifestyle, essential for her return to life at Court, which was something Jane worked doggedly for throughout 1536 and 1537. It is unknown when she returned to court, but she was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Jane Seymour, which means she probably returned within a year of her husband's death. (Jane Seymour died soon after childbirth, within eighteen months of becoming Henry's wife.) As a viscountess, she was allowed to bring a number of her own servants with her, lodge in the palace, and be addressed as "Lady Rochford". Fine meals were provided for her every day from the budget of the queen's household.

Following Jane Seymour's death, the King subsequently married a German princess recommended by Thomas Cromwell, Anne of Cleves, and Lady Rochford would later testify in July 1540 to aid the King's divorce from her, stating that this Queen had confided in her that their marriage had never been consummated. This allowed the king to annul the marriage with Anne of Cleves and marry his teenage mistress, Catherine Howard. In later years, however, Henry became fond of Anne of Cleves, and she would visit him to play cards, a passion they shared. In the first instance, though, the King's anger at Cromwell for recommending Anne to him (a move Cromwell thought would move England closer to the Protestant German princes, whose cause he championed) cost Cromwell his head.

Lady Rochford kept her post as lady-in-waiting to the new Queen Catherine and exerted considerable influence over her, eventually becoming one of her favourites. When the teenage Queen grew bored with her aged and obese husband, it was Lady Rochford who helped organise secret meetings between Queen Catherine and the handsome courtier Thomas Culpeper. The affair progressed with Lady Rochford's help throughout the royal tour of the North in 1541, but Queen Catherine's past was uncovered in the autumn and an investigation was launched into her private life.

At first, the Queen was detained in her apartments and then eventually placed under house arrest at Syon Abbey, a disused convent far from Court. Her confidantes and favourites were questioned and their rooms searched; many of the servants and ladies-in-waiting recalled Lady Rochford's suspicious behaviour with Catherine and Culpeper, with the result that Jane was herself detained for questioning.

Subsequently, a love letter from Catherine to Culpeper was discovered and it explicitly mentioned Jane's role in arranging their meetings. This was a crime of misprision of treason, which carried the death penalty in Tudor England. Jane was taken to the Tower of London and imprisoned there for several months, whilst the government decided how and when to proceed against the accused.

Downfall and execution

During her imprisonment in the Tower, she was interrogated for many months, but as she was an aristocrat she was not tortured. Under psychological pressure, however, she seems to have suffered a full nervous breakdown and by the beginning of 1542 was pronounced insane. Her 'fits of frenzy' meant that legally she could not stand trial for her role in facilitating the queen's adultery, but since he was determined to have her punished, the King implemented a law which allowed the execution of the insane.[22] Jane was thus condemned to death by an Act of Attainder (that is, without trial) and the execution date was set for 13 February 1542, the same day as Catherine Howard's.

The Queen died first, apparently in a weak physical state, although she was not hysterical. Jane, who had been on the scaffold to watch the girl's death, then spoke before kneeling on the just-used scaffold. Despite her nervous collapse over the last five months, she was calm and dignified and both women won mild posthumous approval for their behaviour. One eyewitness, a merchant named Ottwell Johnson, wrote that their 'souls [must] be with God, for they made the most godly and Christian end.' [23] The French ambassador Marillac merely stated that Jane gave a 'long discourse'; Johnson says that she apologised for her 'many sins', but neither man's accounts supports the later legend that she spoke at length about her late husband or sister-in-law. According to Alison Weir, the dead queen was not much more than seventeen at the time of her death and Jane was about thirty-six.[24]

The execution was carried out with a single blow of the axe and she was buried in the Tower of London alongside Catherine Howard, and very close to the bodies of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn.

Mary Ann Britland

Mary Ann Britland (1847–1886) of Ashton-under-Lyne was the first woman to be executed by hanging at Strangeways PrisonManchesterEngland by James Berry on 9 August 1886.

Early life

Mary Ann Hague was born in BoltonLancashire. She married Thomas Britland in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1866. They lived in a rented house, 133 Turner Lane, Ashton-under-Lyne with their two daughters. Britland held two jobs; she was a factory worker by day and barmaid by night

Criminal career

In February 1886, she is said to have had some mice infest her home; to eliminate these, she went to the nearby chemist's and bought some packets of "Harrison's Vermin Killer". As this contained both strychnine and arsenic, she was required to sign the poison register.

Britland's first victim was her eldest daughter, 19-year-old Elizabeth Hannah, in March 1886. Elizabeth's death was attributed to natural causes by the doctor who was called to attend the teenager. Mary Ann Britland then claimed £10 on Elizabeth's life insurance policy. Her next victim was her husband, Thomas, aged 44. His death on 3 May was diagnosed as epilepsy, and once again Mary Ann claimed on the insurance. She had been having an affair with her neighbor, Thomas Dixon, and after her own husband's death, was invited to stay at the Dixon's house just across the street at number 128 by Thomas' 29-year-old wife, Mary. On 14 May Mary Dixon was to become Britland's third and final victim.

Trial and sentencing

The three deaths, all with their near identical and somewhat unusual symptoms, raised suspicion; Mary Ann Britland was finally interviewed by the police in connection with Mary Dixon's death and her body was examined by a pathologist. It was found to contain a lethal quantity of the two poisons and Britland was immediately arrested along with Thomas Dixon. She confessed to Ashton police that she had wanted to marry Dixon and that she had first poisoned her daughter, Elizabeth, because she believed that she suspected her intentions. She then killed her husband, and finally Mary Dixon.

Britland was charged with the murder of the three victims, but Thomas Dixon was found to have played no part in the murder of his wife. Britland came to trial on 22 July 1886, before Mr. Justice Cave at Manchester Assizes. Since there was an absence of motive, in her defence she argued that the small sum of money from the insurance payouts were in no way compensation for the loss of her husband and daughter. According to an eyewitness at the trial:

The case lasted two days...The evidence was overwhelming. The three deceased persons had been poisoned by strychnine. Mrs. Britland had purchased 'mouse powder' in sufficient quantities to kill them all, and there was no evidence of any mice on whom it could have been legitimately used. The case of the poisoning of Mrs. Dixon was the one actually tried, but the deaths of the others were proved to show 'system' and rebut the defence of accident. Even if there had not been sufficient evidence to secure a conviction, Mrs. Britland had had many indiscreet conversations about 'mouse powder' and poisoning, and had been anxious to discover whether such poisoning could be traced after death...

It took the jury some time to convict her, although eventually they found her guilty. After she was sentenced, she declared to the court: "I am quite innocent, I am not guilty at all."


On the morning of her execution, Britland was in a state of collapse and had to be heavily assisted to the gallows and held up on the trapdoors by two male warders while James Berry prepared her for execution. She was the first woman to be executed at Strangeways Prisonin Manchester.


Elizabeth Brownrigg

Elizabeth Brownrigg (1720–67) was an 18th century murderess. Her victim, Mary Clifford, was one of her domestic servants, who died from cumulative injuries and associated infected wounds. As a result of witness testimony and medical evidence at her trial, Brownrigg was hanged atTyburn on 14 September 1767.

Early life: 1720–65

Born in 1720 to a working class family, Elizabeth married James Brownrigg, an apprenticeplumber, while still a teenager. She gave birth to sixteen children, but only three survived infancy. In 1765, Elizabeth, James and their son John moved to Flower de Luce Road in London's Fetter Lane. James was prospering from his career as a plumber, and Elizabeth was a respectedmidwife. As a result of her work, Saint Dunstans Parish appointed her overseer of women and children, and she was given custody of several female children as domestic servants from the London Foundling Hospital.

Foundling Hospital: vocational and educational debate

Since Thomas Coram had founded it in 1739, there had been constant debate about what the station of the Foundling Hospital's young charges should be. There was debate over whether they were being overeducated, or whether they should be subject to vocational educationand trained for apprenticeships, which would lead to future stable lives as domestic servants.

The latter was decided upon, and the Foundling Hospital began to tender older children and young adolescents for vocational training as apprentices in 1759, shortly before the events described in this entry took place. Elizabeth Brownrigg was not the only abusive adult who used hapless children as virtual slave labour, however, as contemporary accounts indicate. After the events described in this entry, the Foundling Hospital instituted greater safeguards of oversight for apprenticeship tendering, and reported cases of apprentice abuse dropped considerably.

Abuse of servants: 1765–67 Illustration of Elizabeth Brownrigg flogging Mary Clifford from the Newgate Calendar

There is little biographical information available to explain her subsequent behaviour. However, Elizabeth Brownrigg proved ill-suited to the task of caring for her foundling domestic servants and soon began to engage in severe physical abuse. This often involved stripping her young charges naked, chaining them to wooden beams or pipes, and then whipping them severely with switches,bullwhip handles and other implements for the slightest infraction of her rules. Mary Jones, one of her earlier charges, ran away from her house and sought sanctuary with the London Foundling Hospital. After a medical examination, the Governors of the London Foundling Hospital demanded that James Brownrigg keep his wife's abusive tendencies in check, but enforced no further action.

Heedless of this reprimand, Brownrigg also severely abused two other domestic servants, Mary Mitchell and Mary Clifford. Like Jones before her, Mitchell sought refuge from the abusive behaviour of her employer, but John Brownrigg forced her to return to Flower de Luce Road. Clifford was entrusted to Brownrigg's care, despite the Governors earlier concerns about her abusive behaviour toward her charges. As a result, Brownrigg engaged in more excessive punishment toward Clifford. She was kept naked, forced to sleep on a mat inside a coal hole, and when she forced open cupboards for food because she was fed only bread and water, Elizabeth Brownrigg repeatedly beat her for a day's duration, chained to a roof beam in her kitchen.

By June 1767 Mitchell and Clifford were experiencing infection of their untreated wounds, and Brownrigg's repeated assaults gave them no time to heal. However, Brownrigg's neighbours were beginning to suspect something was awry within her household, and resultantly, they asked the London Foundling Hospital to further investigate the premises. As a result, Brownrigg yielded Mary Mitchell, but Foundling Hospital Inspector Grundy then demanded to know where Clifford was, and took James Brownrigg prisoner, although Elizabeth and John Brownrigg escaped.

Public feeling ran high against the Brownriggs, ensuring their capture would be swift. In Wandsworth, a chandler recognised the fugitives, and the trio stood trial in the Old Bailey in August 1767.

Trial and execution: August–September 1767

By this time, Mary Clifford had succumbed to her infected wounds, and Elizabeth Brownrigg was charged with her murder. At the trial, Mary Mitchell testified against her former employer, as did Grundy and an apprentice of James Brownrigg. Medical evidence and autopsy results indicated that Brownrigg's repeated assaults and negligence of Clifford's injuries had contributed to the fourteen year old's death, so Elizabeth Brownrigg was sentenced to hang at Tyburn and her corpse be publicly dissected. While awaiting execution she expressed remorse and prayed for salvation. Crowds condemned her on the way to her execution, and even sixty years later, the The Newgate Calendar crime periodical still bore testimony to the impression that Elizabeth Brownrigg's crimes had made on Georgian and Victorian England. 


Elizabeth Butchill

Elizabeth Butchill (ca. 1758–1780) was an English woman who was tried and executed for the murder of her illegitimate newborn child.


Little of Butchill's early life is known except that she came from Saffron WaldenEssex.[1] In about 1777, Butchill—unmarried—moved toCambridge to live with her uncle and aunt, William and Esther Hall Like her aunt, she worked as a college bed maker at Trinity College. On 6 January 1780, Butchill spent the day in bed groaning and complaining of colic. She was tended to by her aunt in the morning and later in the evening. On 7 January, the body of a newborn girl was found in the river near the Halls' home on the grounds of the college. At aninquest, the coroner—Mr Bond—determined that the baby had died of a fractured skull. William Hall believed that the infant was Butchill's and arranged for a surgeon to examine her. On examination, she admitted that she had given birth to the baby. She said that the child was born alive and that she had thrown her down a "necessary" (toilet) into the river and buried the placenta.

Butchill was charged by the coroner's jury with wilful murder. Unusually for an unmarried woman, she was not charged as the mother, that is, under the Concealment of Birth of Bastards Act 1623. Under this act, it was a capital offence for a mother to conceal the birth of a child.[1] Butchill was simply tried for murder, and convicted. Despite pleading for mercy, she was sentenced to death and her body was to be anatomized. She was executed 17 March 1780 at Cambridge.[1] According to The Newgate Calendar, on the day of her death, she was "firm, resigned, and exemplary ... reconciled to her fate".


Mary Carleton

Mary Carleton (11 January 1642 – 22 January 1673) was an Englishwoman who used false identities, such as a German princess, to marry and defraud a number of men.

Early life

Carleton was born Mary Moders in Canterbury. According to later accounts she married ajourneyman shoemaker named Thomas Stedman and gave birth to two children who died in infancy. She later left her husband to move toDover where she married a surgeon, prompting her arrest and trial in Maidstone for bigamy.

After the trial she visited Cologne where she had a brief affair with a local nobleman. He gave her valuable presents, pressed her for marriage and began the preparations for a wedding. She, however, slipped out of Germany with all the presents and most of her landlady's money, returning to England through the Netherlands.

Life of crime

She returned to London in 1663 and took on the persona of an orphaned Princess van Wolway from Cologne. She claimed that she was born in Cologne and that her father was Henry van Wolway, Lord of Holmstein and that she had fled a possessive lover. She used this guise to marry John Carleton, brother-in-law of the landlord of the Exchange tavern which she frequented. After the wedding, however, an anonymous letter exposed her.

James Basire, engraving of Mary Carleton as The German Princess with her Suppos'd Husband and Lawyer.

Her trial in 1663 was the first recorded appearance of Mary Carleton. She was charged for masquerading as a German princess and marrying John Carleton in London under that name. She claimed that John Carleton himself had claimed to be a lord and was trying to extract himself from marriage as he had discovered there was no money in it. Divorce would have been an unheard ofscandal in those times. Both sides of the conflict published pamphlets to support their own story. Mary Carleton was eventually acquitted.

Afterwards Mary Carleton wrote her own account, The Case of Madam Mary Carleton, possibly through a ghostwriter. She also acted in a play about her life and gained a number of admirers who gave her more valuable gifts. She eventually married one of her admirers. Predictably she left him too, taking with her his money, valuables and keys while he was drunk.

Carleton next pretended to be a rich virgin heiress fleeing an undesirable suitor whom her father had arranged for her. She even arranged that someone would send her letters that supposedly contained updates of family news. When her new landlady found and read them, she was convinced and became a matchmaker between Carleton and her nephew.

Carleton arranged a new letter that claimed that her brother was dead and he had left her all he had, including her father's forthcoming inheritance. However, her father was even more determined to marry her to a suitor she detested. Her lover invited her to live with him but Carleton and an accomplice, disguised as a maid, stole his money.

Over the following ten years Carleton used similar methods to defraud various other men and landlords, often with the aid of her maid. Some of the men were too embarrassed to reveal they had been duped. She was many times accused of theft but was jailed only briefly.

Mary Charge(s) returning from penal transportation Conviction(s) 16 January 1673 Penalty death Incarceration and execution

She was once arrested after stealing a silver tankard, and was sentenced to penal transportationand sent to Jamaica. However, after two years she returned to London, again pretending to be a rich heiress and married an apothecary at Westminster. Naturally, she stole his money and left him.

In December 1672 Carleton was captured when a man who was searching for stolen loot recognized her. On 16 January 1673 she was tried in the Old Bailey. Because she had returned from penal transportation without permission, she received a sentence of death. She was executed by hanging on 22 January.

In 1673 Francis Kirkman wrote, and issued under his own name, The Counterfeit Lady Unveiled, a fictional autobiography


Edith Cavell

Edith Louisa Cavell ( /?kæv?l/; 4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse and spy. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from all sides without distinction and in helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during World War I, for which she was arrested. She was court-martialled and found guilty of treason. She was sentenced to death and shot by firing squad. She received worldwide sympathetic press coverage.

She is well-known for her statement that "patriotism is not enough." Her strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed it, both German and Allied soldiers. She was quoted as saying, "I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved". Cavell was also an influential pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium.

Early life and career

Edith Cavell was born on 4 December 1865 in Swardeston, a village near Norwich, where her father, the Reverend Frederick Cavell, was priest for 45 years. She was the eldest of four children and was taught to always share with the less fortunate, despite her family’s meagre earnings. After a period as a governess, including for a family in Brussels 1900 -1905, she trained as a nurse at the London Hospital under Matron Eva Luckes. In 1907, Cavell was recruited by Dr. Antoine Depage to be matron of a newly established nursing school by the name ofL'École Belge d’Infirmières Diplômées on the Rue de la Culture in Brussels. By 1910, "Miss Cavell 'felt that the profession of nursing had gained sufficient foothold in Belgium to warrant the publishing of a professional journal,' and therefore launched the nursing journal,L'infirmière. A year later, she was a training nurse for three hospitals, 24 schools, and 13 kindergartens in Belgium.

When World War I broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk in the East of England. She returned to Brussels where her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross.

World War I and execution

In late 1914, after the German occupation of Brussels, Cavell began sheltering British soldiers and funnelling them out of occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands. In the following months, an underground organisation developed, allowing her to guide some 200 Allied soldiers to safety, which placed Cavell in violation of German military law. German authorities became increasingly suspicious of the nurse's actions, which were backed up by her outspokenness.

She was arrested on 3 August 1915 and charged with harbouring Allied soldiers. She was held in St Gilles prison for 10 weeks, the last two in solitary confinement, and was court-martialled. She was then prosecuted for aiding British and French soldiers, in addition to young Belgian men, to cross the border and enter Britain. She admitted her guilt when she signed a statement the day before the trial, thus reaffirming the crime in the presence of all other prisoners and lawyers present in the court at the beginning of the trial. Cavell gave the German prosecution a much stronger case against her when she declared that the soldiers she had helped escape thanked her in writing when arriving safely in Britain. This admission proved hard to ignore because it not only confirmed that Cavell had helped the soldiers navigate the Dutch frontier, but it also established that she helped them escape to a country at war with Germany.

As the case stood, the sentence according to German military law was death. Paragraph 58 of the German Military Code says: “Will be sentenced to death for treason any person who, with the intention of helping the hostile Power, or of causing harm to the German or allied troops, is guilty of one of the crimes of paragraph 90 of the German Penal Code.” The case referred to in the above-mentioned paragraph 90 consists of "Conducting soldiers to the enemy." Additionally, the penalties according to paragraph 160 of the German Code, in case of war, apply to both foreigners as well as Germans.

The British government said they could do nothing to help her. Sir Horace Rowland of the Foreign Office said, "I am afraid that it is likely to go hard with Miss Cavell; I am afraid we are powerless."[citation needed] The sentiment was echoed by Lord Robert Cecil, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. "Any representation by us", he advised, "will do her more harm than good."[citation needed]The United States however had not yet joined the war and was in a position to apply diplomatic pressure. Hugh S. Gibson, First Secretary of the U.S. legation at Brussels, made clear to the German government that executing Cavell would further harm Germany's already damaged reputation. Later, he wrote:

We reminded him (Baron von der Lancken) of the burning of Louvain and the sinking of the Lusitania, and told him that this murder would stir all civilized countries with horror and disgust. Count Harrach broke in at this with the remark that he would rather see Miss Cavell shot than have harm come to one of the humblest German soldiers, and his only regret was that they had not 'three or four English old women to shoot.'[citation needed]

The German civil governor, Baron von der Lancken, is known to have stated that Cavell should be pardoned because of her complete honesty and because she had helped save so many lives, German as well as Allied. However, the German military acted quickly to execute Cavell and so deny higher authorities the opportunity to consider clemency. Of the 27 put on trial, Cavell and four others were condemned to death, among them Philippe Baucq, an architect in his thirties who had also been instrumental in the escapes.

Cavell was not arrested for espionage, as many were led to believe, but for treason. However, Cavell was in fact a spy working for the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) who turned away from her espionage duties in order to help Allied soldiers escape.

When in custody, Cavell was questioned in French, but the session was minuted in German. This gave the interrogator the opportunity to misinterpret her answers. Although she may have been misrepresented, she made no attempt to defend herself. Cavell was provided with a defender approved by the German military governor. A previous defender, who was chosen for Cavell by her assistant, Elizabeth Wilkins,was ultimately rejected by the governor.[

The night before her execution, she told the Reverend Stirling Gahan, the Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her and to give herHoly Communion, "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." These words are inscribed on her statue in St Martin's Place, near Trafalgar Square in London. Her final words to the German Lutheran prison chaplain, Paul Le Seur, were recorded as, "Ask Father Gahan to tell my loved ones later on that my soul, as I believe, is safe, and that I am glad to die for my country."

Despite efforts by Brand Whitlock, the U.S. minister to Belgium, and by the Marquis de Villalobar, the Spanish minister, on Cavell's behalf, on 11 October, Baron von der Lancken allowed the execution to proceed. Sixteen men, forming two firing squads, carried out the sentence pronounced on her and on four Belgian men at Tir National[6] shooting range in Schaerbeek, at 6:00 am on 12 October 1915. There are conflicting reports of the details of Cavell's execution. However, according to the eyewitness account of the Reverend Le Seur, who attended Cavell in her final hours, eight soldiers fired at Cavell while the other eight executed Philippe Baucq.

There is also a dispute over the sentencing imposed under the German Military Code. Supposedly, the death penalty relevant to the offence committed by Cavell was not officially declared until a few hours after her death.

On instructions from the Spanish minister, Belgian women immediately buried her body next to St. Gilles Prison. After the War, her body was taken back to Britain for a memorial service at Westminster Abbey and then transferred to Norwich, to be laid to rest at Life's Green.[5]

Role in World War I propaganda British Empire Union World War I poster, including Edith Cavell's grave

In the months and years following Cavell's death, countless newspaper articles, pamphlets, images, and books publicised her story. She became an iconic propaganda figure for military recruitment in Britain to help increase favourable sentiment towards the Allies in the United States. She was a popular icon because of her sex, her nursing profession, and her apparently heroic approach to death. Her execution was represented as an act of German barbarism and moral depravity.

News reports shortly following Cavell's execution were found to be only true in part. Even theAmerican Journal of Nursing repeated the fictional account of Cavell's execution in which she fainted and fell because of her refusal to wear a blindfold in front of the firing squad. Allegedly, while she lay unconscious, the German commanding officer shot her dead with a revolver. Numerous accounts like these stimulated international outrage and general anti-German sentiments.

Along with the invasion of Belgium, and the sinking of the Lusitania, Cavell's execution was widely publicised in both Britain and North America by Wellington House, the British War Propaganda Bureau.

Because of the British government's decision to use her story as propaganda, Cavell became the most prominent British female casualty of World War I. The combination of heroic appeal and a resonant atrocity-story narrative made Cavell's case one of the most effective in British propaganda of World War I.

German response

Unlike the rest of the world, the German government thought that they had acted fairly towards Cavell. In a letter, the German Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Arthur Zimmermann, stated:

It was a pity that Miss Cavell had to be executed, but it was necessary. She was judged justly. We hope it will not be necessary to have any more executions.

Their laws do not make distinctions between sexes, the only exception to this rule being that according to legal customs, women in a “delicate” (probably this means "pregnant") condition could not be executed; Cavell was not considered delicate. From the Germans' perspective, had they released Cavell, there would have been an influx of women partaking in acts against Germany because the women knew they would not be severely punished. It was up to the responsible men to follow their legal duty to Germany and ignore the world’s condemnation.

The German government also believed that all of the convicted people were thoroughly aware of the nature of their acts. The court paid particular attention to this point, releasing several accused persons because there was doubt as to whether the accused knew that their actions were punishable. The condemned, on the other hand, knew full well what they were doing and the punishment for committing their crimes because “numerous public proclamations had pointed out the fact that aiding enemies’ armies was punishable with death.”

Two representations of Edith Cavell

"Cavell was not a particularly well-known figure outside the field of nursing prior to the Great War". This allowed for the creation of two different depictions of her in British propaganda. British propaganda ignored anything that did not fit this image, including the suggestion that Cavell, during her interrogation, had given information that incriminated others. In November 1915, the British Foreign Office issued a denial that Cavell had implicated anyone else in her testimony.

"The first representation was the distorted but highly emotive portrayal of her as the girlish innocent victim of a ruthless enemy with no sense of honour in its dealings with frail women". This depicted Edith Cavell as innocent of espionage, which was most commonly used in various forms of British propaganda, such as postcards and newspaper illustrations during the war. "The British Press presented her story in such a way as to capture the public imagination and fuel the masculine desire for vengeance on the battlefield". These important images implied that men must enlist in the armed forces immediately in order to stop the murder of innocent British females.

The second representation of Cavell during World War I described her as a serious, reserved, brave, and patriotic woman who devoted her life to nursing and died to save others. This portrayal has been illustrated in numerous biographical sources, from personal first-hand experiences of the Red Cross nurse. Pastor Le Seur, the German army chaplain, recalled at the time of her execution, "I do not believe that Miss Cavell wanted to be a martyr…but she was ready to die for her country… Miss Cavell was a very brave woman and a faithful Christian". Another account from British chaplain, the Reverend Mr Gahan, remembers Cavell's words, "I have no fear or shrinking; I have seen death so often it is not strange, or fearful to me!" In this interpretation, "her gender made her remarkable enough to be remembered as an individual on a scale that, had she been a man, she would not have been".

Burial and memorials Memorial to Edith Cavell outside Norwich Cathedral Memorial to Edith Cavell at St. Martin's Place, London War memorial in Schaerbeek where Edith Cavell was executed by the German army Monument to Edith Cavell and Marie Depage, Brussels

Her remains were returned to Britain after the war and a state funeral was held at Westminster Abbey. On 19 May 1919, her body was reburied at the east side of Norwich Cathedral; a graveside service is still held each October.

Following her death, many memorials were created around the world to remember Cavell. One of the first was the one unveiled in October 1918 by Queen Alexandra on the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, near a home for nurses which also bore her name.[citation needed]

Other honours include:


Margaret Clitherow

Saint Margaret Clitherow (1556 – 25 March 1586) is an English saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church.[2] She is sometimes called "the Pearl of York".


She was born as Margaret Middleton, the daughter of a wax-chandler, after Henry VIII of England had split the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. She married John Clitherow, a butcher, in 1571 (at the age of 15) and bore him three children. She converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of 18, in 1574. Her husband John was supportive (he having a brother who was Roman Catholic clergy), though he remained Protestant. She then became a friend of the persecuted Roman Catholic population in the north of England. Her son, Henry, went to Reims to train as a Roman priest. She regularly held Masses in her home in the Shambles inYork. There was a hole cut between the attics of her house and the adjoining house, to enable a priest to escape in the event of a raid. A house in the Shambles once thought to have been her home, now called the Shrine of the Saint Margaret Clitherow, is open to the public (it is served by the nearby Church of St Wilfrid's and is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough); her actual house (10 and 11, the Shambles) is further down the street.

In 1586, she was arrested and called before the York assizes for the crime of harbouring Roman Catholic priests. She refused to plead to the case so as to prevent a trial that would entail her children being made to testify and therefore they would be tortured, and she was executed by being crushed to death – the standard punishment for refusal to plead. She was killed on Good Friday 1586. The two sergeants who should have killed her hired four desperate beggars to kill her. She was stripped and had a handkerchief tied across her face then laid out upon a sharp rock the size of a man's fist, a door was put on top of her and slowly loaded with an immense weight of rocks and stones (the small sharp rock would break her back when the heavy rocks were laid on top of her). Her death occurred within fifteen minutes; she was left for 6 hours before the weight was removed from her corpse. After her death her hand was removed, and this relic is now housed in the chapel of the Bar Convent, York. After Clitherow's execution, Elizabeth I wrote to the citizens of York to say how horrified she was at the treatment of a fellow woman: due to her gender, Clitherow should not have been executed. .

Commemorative plaque on the Ouse Bridge

In 2008, a commemorative plaque was installed at the Micklegate end of Ouse Bridge to mark the site of her martyrdom; the Bishop of Middlesbrough unveiled this in a ceremony on Friday 29 August 2008.


She was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI and canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI along with other martyrs from England and Wales. The group of candidates canonised at that time is commonly called "The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales". Her feast day in the current Roman Catholic calendar is 30th August along with fellow martyrs St. Anne Line and St. Margaret Ward.

A number of schools in England are named after Margaret Clitherow, including schools at Bracknell, Brixham, Manchester, Nottingham, Thamesmead SE28, Brent, London NW10 and Tonbridge. The Roman Catholic primary school in Nottingham's Bestwood estate is named after Clitherow. In the United States, St Margaret of York Church and School, located in the Cincinnati, Ohio suburb of Loveland, is also named after her. Another school named after her is St. Margaret Clitherow RC Primary School, located opposite Stevenage Borough Football Club.

She is also the patroness of the Catholic Women's League, an organisation of Catholic women founded in 1906, with small groups (known as branches) and sections (groupings of branches, usually along diocesan lines) across the world.


Martha Corey

Martha Corey (England, late 1620s - September 22, 1692) was accused of being a witch during the 1692 Salem witch trials.

The community was surprised to see Corey accused, as she was known for herpiety and dedicated church attendance. However, she had never shown support for the witch trials, since she did not believe witches existed. She was outspoken about her belief that the accusers were lying, and upon hearing this, several young girls promptly accused her of witchcraft. She was not aware of the level of paranoia in thevillage, and when she went to trial she was simply truthful about her innocence and never doubted that she would be exonerated.

As the girls testified against her during examination Corey asked the judge not to believe the rantings of hysterical children. The girls began mimicking her movements as if they were being controlled by her, which was evidence enough to persuade thejury of her guilt. She was hanged on September 22, 1692.

Her husband, Giles Corey, had defended her against the allegations, and in due time he was accused of witchcraft himself. He refused to undergo a trial and was executed by pressing, a slow crushing death under a pile of stones. When the sheriff asked how he would plead, he responded only by asking for more weight. He died on September 19, 1692, three days before his wife Martha was hanged.

Corey and her husband are both prominent characters in the Arthur Miller play The Crucible. In the 1957 and 1996 film adaptations of Miller's play, she was depicted by Jeanne Fusier-Gir and Mary Pat Gleason, respectively.


Mary Ann Cotton

Mary Ann Cotton (born Mary Ann Robson in October 1832 in Low MoorsleyCounty Durham – died 24 March 1873) was an English woman convicted of murdering her children and believed to have murdered up to 21 people, mainly by arsenic poisoning.

Mary Ann Robson was born in October 1832 at Low Moorsley (now part of Houghton-le-Spring in the City of Sunderland) and baptised at St Mary's, West Rainton on 11 November. Her father Michael, a miner, was ardently religious and a fierce disciplinarian.

When Mary Ann was eight, her parents moved the family to the County Durham village of Murton, where she went to a new school and found it difficult to make friends. Soon after the move her father fell 150 feet (46 m) to his death down a mine shaft at Murton Colliery.

In 1843, Mary Ann's widowed mother, Margaret (née Lonsdale) married George Stott, with whom Mary Ann did not get along. At the age of 16, she moved out to become a nurse at Edward Potter's home in the nearby village of South Hetton. After three years there, she returned to her mother's home and trained as a dressmaker.

Husband 1: William Mowbray

In 1852, at the age of 20, Mary Ann married colliery labourer William Mowbray in Newcastle Upon Tyne register office; they soon moved toPlymouth, Devon. The couple had five children, four of whom died from gastric fever. William and Mary Ann moved back to North East England where they had, and lost, three more children. William became a foreman at South Hetton Colliery and then a fireman aboard a steam vessel. He died of an intestinal disorder in January 1865. William's life was insured by the British and Prudential Insurance office and Mary Ann collected a payout of £35 on his death, equivalent to about half a year's wages for a manual labourer at the time.

Husband 2: George Ward

Soon after Mowbray's death, Mary Ann moved to Seaham HarbourCounty Durham, where she struck up a relationship with Joseph Nattrass. He, however, was engaged to another woman and she left Seaham after Nattrass’s wedding. During this time, her 3½-year-old daughter died, leaving her with one child out of the nine she had borne. She returned to Sunderland and took up employment at the Sunderland Infirmary, House of Recovery for the Cure of Contagious Fever, Dispensary and Humane Society. She sent her remaining child, Isabella, to live with her mother.

One of her patients at the infirmary was an engineer, George Ward. They married in Monkwearmouth on 28 August 1865. He continued to suffer ill health; he died in October 1866 after a long illness characterised by paralysis and intestinal problems. The attending doctor later gave evidence that Ward had been very ill, yet he had been surprised that the man's death was so sudden. Once again, Mary Ann collected insurance money from her husband's death.

Husband 3: James Robinson

James Robinson was a shipwright at PallionSunderland, whose wife, Hannah, had recently died. He hired Mary Ann as a housekeeper in November 1866. One month later, when James' baby died of gastric fever, he turned to his housekeeper for comfort and she became pregnant. Then Mary Ann's mother, living in Seaham HarbourCounty Durham, became ill so she immediately went to her. Although her mother started getting better, she also began to complain of stomach pains. She died at age 54 in the spring of 1867, nine days after Mary Ann's arrival.

Mary Ann's daughter Isabella, from the marriage to William Mowbray, was brought back to the Robinson household and soon developed bad stomach pains and died; so did another two of Robinson's children. All three children were buried in the last two weeks of April 1867.

Robinson married Mary Ann at St Michael's, Bishopwearmouth on 11 August 1867. Their child, Mary Isabella, was born that November, but she became ill with stomach pains and died in March 1868.

Robinson, meanwhile, had become suspicious of his wife's insistence that he insure his life; he discovered that she had run up debts of £60 behind his back and had stolen more than £50 that she was supposed to have put in the bank. The last straw was when he found she had been forcing his children to pawn household valuables for her. He threw her out.

"Husband" 4: Frederick Cotton

Mary Ann was desperate and living on the streets. Then her friend Margaret Cotton introduced her to her brother, Frederick, a pitman and recent widower living in WalbottleNorthumberland, who had lost two of his four children. Margaret had acted as substitute mother for the remaining children, Frederick Jr. and Charles. But in late March 1870 she[who?] died from an undetermined stomach ailment, leaving Mary Ann to console the grieving Frederick Sr. Soon her eleventh pregnancy was underway.

Frederick and Mary Ann were bigamously married on 17 September 1870 at St Andrew's, Newcastle Upon Tyne and their son Robert was born early in 1871. Soon after, Mary Ann learnt that her former lover, Joseph Nattrass, was living in the nearby village of West Auckland, and no longer married. She rekindled the romance and persuaded her new family to move near him. Frederick followed his predecessors to the grave in December of that year, from “gastric fever." Insurance had been taken out on his life and the lives of his sons.

Two lovers

After Frederick's death, Nattrass soon became Mary Ann’s lodger. She gained employment as nurse to an excise officer recovering from smallpox, John Quick-Manning. Soon she became pregnant by him with her twelfth child.

Frederick Jr. died in March 1872 and the infant Robert soon after. Then Nattrass became ill with gastric fever, and died — just after revising his will in Mary Ann’s favour.

The insurance policy Mary Ann had taken out on Charles' life still awaited collection.

Death of Charles Edward Cotton and inquest

Mary Ann's downfall came when she was asked by a parish official, Thomas Riley, to help nurse a woman who was ill with smallpox. She complained that the last surviving Cotton boy, Charles Edward, was in the way and asked Riley if he could be committed to the workhouse. Riley, who also served as West Auckland's assistant coroner, said she would have to accompany him. She told Riley that the boy was sickly and added: “I won’t be troubled long. He’ll go like all the rest of the Cottons.”

Five days later, when Mary Ann told Riley that the boy had died. Riley went to the village police and convinced the doctor to delay writing a death certificate until the circumstances could be investigated.

Mary Ann’s first port of call after Charles' death was not the doctor’s but the insurance office. There, she discovered that no money would be paid out until a death certificate was issued. An inquest was held and the jury returned a verdict of natural causes. Mary Ann claimed to have used arrowroot to relieve his illness and said Riley had made accusations against her because she had rejected his advances.

Then the local newspapers latched on to the story and discovered Mary Ann had moved around northern England and lost three husbands, a lover, a friend, her mother, and a dozen children, all of whom had died of stomach fevers.


Rumour turned to suspicion and forensic inquiry. The doctor who attended Charles had kept samples, and they tested positive for arsenic. He went to the police, who arrested Mary Ann and ordered the exhumation of Charles' body. She was charged with his murder, although the trial was delayed until after the delivery of her last child in Durham Gaol on 10 January 1873, whom she named Margaret Edith Quick-Manning Cotton.

Trial and execution

Mary Ann Cotton's trial began on 5 March 1873. The delay was caused by a problem in the selection of the public prosecutor. A Mr. Aspinwall was supposed to get the job, but the Attorney General, Sir John Duke Coleridge, chose his friend and protégé Charles Russell. Russell's appointment over Aspinwall led to a question in the House of Commons. However, it was accepted, and Russell conducted the prosecution. The Cotton case would be the first of several famous poisoning cases he would be involved in during his career, including those of Adelaide Bartlett and Florence Maybrick.

The defence in the case was handled by Mr. Thomas Campbell Foster. The defence at Mary Ann's trial claimed that Charles died from inhaling arsenic used as a dye in the green wallpaper of the Cotton home. The jury retired for 90 minutes before finding Mary Ann guilty.

The Times correspondent reported on 20 March: "After conviction the wretched woman exhibited strong emotion but this gave place in a few hours to her habitual cold, reserved demeanour and while she harbours a strong conviction that the royal clemency will be extended towards her, she staunchly asserts her innocence of the crime that she has been convicted of." Several petitions were presented to the Home Secretary, but to no avail. Mary Ann Cotton was hanged at Durham County Gaol on 24 March, 1873 by William Calcraft.

Nursery rhyme

Mary Ann Cotton also had her own nursery rhyme of the same title, sung after her hanging on March 24, 1873.


Mary Ann Cotton,
Dead and forgotten
She lies in her bed,
With her eyes wide open
Sing, sing, oh, what can I sing,
Mary Ann Cotton is tied up with string
Where, where? Up in the air
Sellin' black puddens a penny a pair.

"Black puddens" refers to black pudding, a type of sausage made with pig's blood.


Alexander Gooch and Alice Driver

Alexander Gooch and Alice Driver (both d. 4 November 1558) were natives of the area around Woodbridge, Suffolk who were arrested, put to an inquisition and burnt to death at the stake in Ipswich for their adherence to the protestant faith, as part of the Marian persecutions. Both are commemorated among the Ipswich Martyrs.

Alexander Gooch, of Woodbridge, was a weaver who had become a believer in the reformed faith. He refused to admit that the Pope was the supreme head of the Church and refused to receive the Mass. In consequence, he had been obliged to flee from his home in Woodbridge and go into hiding. He was pursued by a Justice named Noone. Alice Driver, born around 1528, was a married woman of Grundisburgh (a village close by Woodbridge) who had grown up as a country girl and had often driven her father's plough before she married Edward Driver of that village. She also came to the attention of Justice Noone, for she had obtained an English Bible and begun to read it. She had come to believe that the Holy Communion as it was administered in the Roman Mass was an idolatrous institution and contrary to the teachings of Christ. Therefore, she had probably ceased to attend church and may have been brought to Noone's attention by the priest of Grundisburgh.

The arrest

Justice Noone went to Grundisburgh with a body of men in search of Alexander Gooch, who was in hiding in Alice Driver's house. Hearing that the justice and his men were coming, Gooch and Driver hid themselves in a haystack, but their pursuers stuck pitchforks into the hay and discovered them. Gooch and Driver were captured and taken to the gaol at Melton, a village adjacent to Woodbridge. They remained there for a time, before being taken to Bury St Edmunds to attend the Assizes held at the feast of St James.

First examination

Alice Driver showed herself to be a person of extraordinary courage and forthright speech. She was brought before Sir Clement Heigham, M.P. for Ipswich and Speaker of the House of Commons, who had been concerned also in the burning at Ipswich of Agnes Potten and Joan Trunchfield two years previously. Before him, she compared Queen Mary to Jezebel. Sir Clement immediately ordered that her ears should be cut off in punishment, but even that did not appear to subdue her spirits but rather increased her determination, and she was sent back to Melton Gaol.

Alice Driver's examination (extract)

In Ipswich she was taken to the judgement hall to be examined by Dr Spenser, Chancellor of Norwich. The Inquisition proceeded as follows, when Alice Driver smiled as she was brought in:
Spenser: "Why, woman, dost thou laugh us to scorn?"
Driver: "Whether I do or no, I might well enough, to see what fools ye be."
Spenser: "Wherefore hast thou been laid in prison?"
Driver: "Wherefore? I think I need not tell you, for ye know it better than I."
Spenser (taken aback): "No, by my troth woman, I know not why."
Driver: "Then have ye done much wrong thus to imprison me, and know no cause why; for I know no evil that I have done, I thank God, and I hope there is no man that can accuse me of any notorious fact that I have done, justly."
Spenser: "What sayest thou to the Blessed Sacrament of the altar? Dost thou believe that it is very flesh and blood after the words be spoken of consecration?"
Alice Driver stood with her lips deliberately sealed. A priest who stood by told her, 'Answer the Chancellor, woman!"
Driver:"Why, priest, I came not to talk with thee, but I came to talk with thy master, but if thou wilt I shall talk with thee, command thy master to hold his peace." With that the priest put his nose in his cap and spake never a word again. The Chancellor again pressed her for a reply.
Driver: "Sir, pardon me though I make no answer, for I cannot tell what you mean thereby, for in all my life I never heard nor read of any such Sacrament in all the Scripture."
Spenser: "Why, what scriptures have you read?"
Driver: "I have, I thank God, read God's Book... the Old and New testament. That same book have I read throughout, yet never could find any such Sacrament there; and for that cause I cannot make answer to that thing I know not. Notwithstanding for all, I will grant you a Sacrament, called the Lord's Supper, and therefore seeing I have granted you a Sacrament, I pray you show me what a Sacrament is."
Spenser: "It is a sign." Dr Gascoigne, who was standing by, confirmed the same, that it was a sign of a holy thing.
Driver: "You have said the truth, sir, it is a sign indeed, and I must needs grant it; and therefore seeing it is a sign, it cannot be the thing signified also. Thus far we agree, for I have granted you your own saying."

Alice Driver's last statement

Before her condemnation, her final statement was as follows:

"Have you any more to say? God be honoured. You be not able to resist the Spirit of God in me, a poor woman. I am an honest poor man's daughter, never brought up in the University, as you have been, but I have driven the plough before my father many a time (I thank God): yet, notwithstanding, in the defence of God's truth, and in the cause of my Master Christ, by His grace I will set my foot against the foot of any of you all, in the maintenance and defence of the same, and if I had a thousand lives, they should go for payment thereof."

Execution in Ipswich

The execution began at 7.00 a.m. on 4 November 1558 (a fortnight before the death of Queen Mary), when Alexander Gooch and Alice Driver were taken to the Cornhill, Ipswich, where the stake was set up. Many people were assembled, including a considerable number whose sympathies were with the victims, and who supported them with demonstrations of affection and pity. The two knelt on a broom faggot together to say their prayers, and to sing psalms together, until Richard Smart, one of the two Bailiffs of the Borough, roughly told them to "have done". Their request to have more time in which to prepare themselves was refused.

The Sheriff, Sir Henry Dowell, then commanded that they should be tied to the stake. A heavy chain was fastened around Alice Driver's neck, at which she said "Oh! Here is a goodly neckerchief; blessed be God for it." Then various people came up from the crowd and shook hands with them. This annoyed the Sheriff so much that he ordered them to be arrested, whereupon many others from the crowd ran to the stake to do the same, so that he was obliged to leave them all alone. The broom was then lit, and the execution proceeded.


Mary Eastey

Mary Towne Eastey (also spelled EstyEastyEstey, or Estye) (August 24, 1634 – September 22, 1692) was a victim of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Mary's sisters, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce, were also accused of witchcraft; Rebecca was executed, but Sarah was not.

Early life Accusation and trial

Mary Towne was born to William Towne and Joanna (née Blessing) in Great YarmouthNorfolkEngland. One of eight children, she and her family moved to America around 1640. Mary married Isaac Eastey in 1655 in TopsfieldMassachusetts; Isaac, a farmer, was born in England on November 27, 1627. Together the couple had eleven children: Joseph (1657-1739), Sarah (1660-1749), John (b. 1660), Isaac (1662-1714), Hannah (b. 1667), Benjamin (b. 1669), Samuel (b. 1672), Jacob (b. 1673), Joshua (b. 1678), Jeffrey (b. ca. 1680), and Mary.

Like her sister Rebecca, Mary was a pious and respected member of Salem, and her accusation came as a surprise. During the examination on April 22, 1692, when Eastey clasped her hands together, Mercy Lewis, one of the afflicted, imitated the gesture and claimed to be unable to release her hands until Eastey released her own. Again, when Mary inclined her head, the afflicted girls accused her of trying to break their necks. Mercy claimed that Eastey's specter had climbed into her bed and laid her hand upon her breasts. When asked by magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin how far she had complied with Satan, she replied, "Sir, I never complyed but prayed against him all my dayes, I have no complyance with Satan, in this....I am clear of this sin.[1]"

For reasons unknown, Eastey was released from prison after two months, and discharged on May 18. However, on May 20, Mercy Lewis claimed that Eastey's specter was afflicting her, and was supported by the other girls. A second warrant was issued that night for Eastey's arrest. She was taken from her bed and returned to the prison; Lewis's fits ceased after Mary was chained. Eastey was tried and condemned to death on September 9. The following is Mary's petition to the judges:

The humble petition of mary Eastick unto his Excellencyes S'r W'm Phipps to the honour'd Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth

That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells—I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dying Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers.[2]

Robert Calef, in More Wonders of the Invisible World, described Eastey's parting words to her family "as serious, religious, distinct, and affectionate as could be expressed, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present." She was hanged on September 22, along with Martha CoreyAnn Pudeator, Alice Parker, Mary ParkerWilmot Redd, Margaret Scott, and Samuel Wardwell. On the gallows she prayed for an end to the witch hunt.

In November, after Eastey had been put to death, Mary Herrick gave testimony about Eastey. Herrick testified that she was visited by Eastey who told her she had been put to death wrongfully and was innocent of witchcraft, and that she had come to vindicate her cause. Eastey's family was compensated with 20 pounds from the government in 1711 for her wrongful execution. Her husband Isaac lived until June 11, 1712.


Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey (1536/1537 – 12 February 1554), also known as The Nine Days' Queen,[2]was an English noblewoman who was de facto monarch of England from 10 July until 19 July 1553 and was subsequently executed. A great-granddaughter of Henry VII by his younger daughter Mary, Jane was a first-cousin-once-removed of Edward VI. In May 1553 Jane was married to Lord Guildford Dudley, a younger son of Edward's chief minister, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. When the 15-year-old King lay dying in June 1553, he nominated Jane as successor to the Crown in his will, thus subverting the claims of his half-sisters Mary andElizabeth under the Third Succession Act. During her short reign, Jane resided in the Tower of London. She became a prisoner there when the Privy Council decided to change sides and proclaim Mary as Queen on 19 July 1553. She was convicted of high treason in November 1553, though her life was initially spared. Wyatt's rebellion in January and February 1554 against Queen Mary's plans of a Spanish match led to her execution at the age of 16 or 17, and that of her husband.

Lady Jane Grey had an excellent humanist education and a reputation as one of the most learned young women of her day. A committed Protestant, she was posthumously regarded as not only a political victim but also a martyr.

Early life and education

Lady Jane Grey was the eldest daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his wife, Lady Frances Brandon. The traditional view is that she was born at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire in October 1537, while more recent research indicates that she was born somewhat earlier, possibly in London, in late 1536 or in the spring of 1537. Lady Frances was the daughter ofMary Tudor, Queen of France, the younger sister of Henry VIII. Jane had two younger sisters,Lady Catherine Grey and Lady Mary Grey; through their mother, the three sisters were great-granddaughters of Henry VII, grandnieces of Henry VIII, and first cousins once removed of Edward VI. Jane received a first-rate humanisteducation, studying LatinGreek and Hebrew with John Aylmer, and Italian with Michelangelo Florio. Through the influence of her father and her tutors, she became a committed Protestant and also corresponded with the Zürich reformer, Heinrich Bullinger.

Lady Jane Grey, engraving published 1620, possibly based on an earlier painting

Jane preferred book studies to hunting parties and regarded her strict upbringing, which was certainly well-meant and typical of the time, as harsh. To the visiting scholar Roger Ascham, who found her reading Plato, she complained:

"For when I am in the presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it as it were in such weight, measure and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them) ... that I think myself in hell."[11]

In early February 1547 Jane was sent to live in the household of Thomas Seymour, who soon married Henry VIII's widow, Catherine Parr. Jane lived with the couple until the death of Queen Catherine in childbirth in September 1548.

Contracts for marriage

Jane acted as chief mourner at Catherine Parr's funeral, and Thomas Seymour showed continued interest in her, and she was again in his household for about two months when he was arrested at the end of 1548.Seymour's brother, the Lord ProtectorEdward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, felt threatened by Thomas' popularity with the young King Edward. Among other things, Thomas Seymour was charged with proposing Jane as a royal bride.

In the course of Thomas Seymour's following attainder and execution, Jane's father was lucky to stay largely out of trouble. After his fourth interrogation by the Privy Council, he proposed his daughter Jane as a bride for the Protector's eldest son, Lord Hertford. Nothing came of this, however, and Jane's next engagement, in the spring of 1553, was to Lord Guilford Dudley, a younger son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.[16] Her prospective father-in-law was then the most powerful man in the country. On 21 May 1553, the couple were married at Durham House in a triple wedding, in which Jane's sister Catherine was matched with the heir of the Earl of PembrokeLord Herbert; and another Catherine, Lord Guilford's sister, with Henry Hastings, the Earl of Huntingdon's heir.[16]

Claim to the throne and accession See also: Third Succession Act "My devise for the Succession" by Edward VI. The draft will was the basis for the letters patent which declared Lady Jane Grey successor to the Crown.[18] Edward'sautograph shows his alteration of his text, from "L Janes heires masles" to "L Jane and her heires masles".[19]

The Third Succession Act of 1544 restored Henry VIII's daughters Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, although the law regarded them as illegitimate. Furthermore, this Act authorised Henry VIII to alter the succession by his will. Henry's will reinforced the succession of his three children, and then declared that, should none of them leave heirs, the throne would pass to heirs of his younger sister, Mary Tudor, who included Jane (for unknown reasons, Henry excluded Jane's mother, Frances Grey, from the succession[20]). Henry's will excluded the descendants of his elder sister Margaret Tudor, owing in part to Henry's desire to keep the English throne out of the hands of the Scots monarchs, and in part to a previous Act of Parliament of 1431 that barred foreign-born persons, including royalty, from inheriting property in England.

When the 15-year-old Edward VI lay dying in the early summer of 1553, his Catholic half-sister Mary was still the heiress presumptive to the throne. However, Edward, in a draft will composed earlier in 1553, had first restricted the succession to (non-existent) male descendants of Frances Brandon and her daughters, before he named his Protestant cousin Jane Grey as his successor on his deathbed, perhaps under the persuasion of Northumberland. Edward VI personally supervised the copying of his will which was finally issued as letters patent on 21 June and signed by 102 notables, among them the whole Privy Council, peers, bishops, judges, and London aldermen. Edward also announced to have his "declaration" passed in parliament in September, and the necessary writs were prepared.

Many contemporary legal theorists believed the monarch could not contravene an Act of Parliament without passing a new one that would have established the altered succession;[citation needed] Jane's claim to the throne therefore remained weak. The King died on 6 July 1553. On 9 July Jane was informed that she was now queen, and according to her own later claims accepted the crown only with reluctance. The next day, she was officially proclaimed Queen of England after she had taken up secure residence in the Tower of London, where English monarchs customarily resided from the time of accession until coronation. Jane refused to name her husband Dudley as king by letters patent and deferred to Parliament. She offered to make him Duke of Clarence instead.

Official letter of Lady Jane Grey signing herself as "Jane the Quene"

Northumberland faced a number of key tasks to consolidate his power after Edward's death. Most importantly, he had to isolate and, ideally, capture Lady Mary to prevent her from gathering support. As soon as Mary was sure of King Edward's demise, she left her residence at Hunsdon and set out to East Anglia, where she began to rally her supporters. Northumberland set out from London with troops on 14 July; in his absence the Privy Council switched their allegiance from Jane to Mary, and proclaimed her queen in London on 19 July among great jubilation of the populace. Jane was imprisoned in the Tower's Gentleman Gaoler's apartments, her husband in the Beauchamp Tower. The new queen entered London in a triumphal procession on 3 August, and the Duke of Northumberland was executed on 22 August 1553. In September, Parliament declared Mary the rightful queen and denounced and revoked Jane's proclamation as that of a usurper.

Trial and execution

Jane and Lord Guilford Dudley were both charged with high treason, together with two of Dudley's brothers and the former Archbishop of CanterburyThomas Cranmer. Their trial, by a special commission, took place on 13 November 1553, at the Guildhall in the City of London. The commission was chaired by Sir Thomas WhiteLord Mayor of London, and Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Other members includedEdward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby and John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath. As was to be expected, all defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death. Jane's sentence was that she "be burned alive on Tower Hill or beheaded as the Queen pleases" (the traditional English punishment for treason committed by women). However, the imperialambassador reported to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, that her life was to be spared.

The Protestant rebellion of Thomas Wyatt the younger in late January 1554 sealed Jane's fate, although she had nothing to do with it directly.Wyatt's rebellion started as a popular revolt, precipitated by planned marriage of Mary to the future Philip II of Spain. Jane's father (the Duke of Suffolk) and other nobles joined the rebellion. Charles V and his ambassadors pressed Mary to execute Jane to put an end to any future focus for unrest. Five days after Wyatt's arrest, Jane and Guilford were executed.

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, by the French painter Paul Delaroche, 1833

On the morning of 12 February 1554, the authorities took Guilford from his rooms at the Tower of London to the public execution place at Tower Hill and there had him beheaded. A horse and cart brought his remains back to the Tower of London, past the rooms where Jane remained as a prisoner. Jane was then taken out to Tower Green, inside the Tower of London, and beheaded in private. With few exceptions, only royalty were offered the privilege of a private execution; Jane's execution was conducted in private on the orders of Queen Mary, as a gesture of respect for her cousin.

According to the account of her execution given in the anonymous Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary, which formed the basis for Raphael Holinshed's depiction, Jane gave a speech upon ascending the scaffold:

Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the Queen's highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day.

She then recited Psalm 51 (Have mercy upon me, O God) in English, and handed her gloves and handkerchief to her maid. John Feckenham, a Catholic chaplain sent by Mary who had failed to convert Jane, stayed with her during the execution. The executioner asked her forgiveness, and she gave it. She pleaded the axeman, "I pray you dispatch me quickly." Referring to her head, she asked, "Will you take it off before I lay me down?" and the axeman answered, "No, madam." She then blindfolded herself. Jane had resolved to go to her death with dignity, but once blindfolded, failing to find the block with her hands, began to panic and cried, "What shall I do? Where is it?" An unknown hand, possibly Sir Thomas Brydges', then helped her find her way and retain her dignity at the end. With her head on the block, Jane spoke the last words of Jesus as recounted by Luke: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!" She was then beheaded.

Jane and Guilford are buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula on the north side of Tower Green. Jane's father, Duke of Suffolk, was executed a week after Jane, on 19 February 1554. Her mother, the Duchess of Suffolk, married her Master of the Horse and chamberlain,Adrian Stokes in March 1555 (not as often said, three weeks after the execution of the Duke of Suffolk). She was fully pardoned by Mary and allowed to live at Court with her two surviving daughters. She died in 1559.


Catherine Hayes (murderer)

Catherine Hayes (1690–1726), sometimes described as Catharine Hayes, was an English murderess.

Catherine Hall was born near Birmingham in 1690. At the age of sixteen she gave up a disreputable life to marry John Hayes, a carpenter. The husband's trade not prospering they went to London, set up a small shop in Tyburn, afterwards Oxford Road, and let lodgings. Towards the close of 1725 there came as lodgers two men named Wood and Billings. Although the mother of twelve children she was intimate with these persons, and the three determined to remove Hayes. On 1 March 1726 they killed him, after making him insensible with drink. The body was cut up and flung in a box into a pond at Marylebone. The head was cast into the Thames; when found on the following day it was publicly exposed in the churchyard of St Margaret's, Westminster, for several days, and the murdered man was thus identified.

On 24 March the trunk and limbs were discovered. Catherine Hayes and Billings had meanwhile been arrested on a warrant; Wood was captured shortly afterwards, and confessed the whole affair. Billings then admitted his complicity, but Hayes denied all knowledge of the murder. At the trial Hayes pleaded 'not guilty,' but was convicted of petty treason, and sentenced to be burnt alive. Wood and Billings were sentenced to be hanged. The case excited much popular attention, and the trial was attended by many noblemen and gentlemen.

Before 9 May, the day fixed for the execution, Wood died in Newgate Prison, but an attempt by Hayes to poison herself failed. On 9 May she was tied to the stake at Tyburn with a halter round her neck. It was previously believed that "the executioner was foiled in an endeavour to strangle her by the burning of the rope, and the woman was finally killed by a piece of wood which was thrown at her head and dashed out her brains". Later writers state that she was in fact "the last woman in England to be burnt alive for petty treason (though the burning of women's bodies after execution continued until 1790)". Billings was hanged in chains in Marylebone Fields. At the time Hayes's crime was enshrined in ballads, and a correspondent of the 'London Journal' drew a voluminous parallel between the murders of John Hayes and Arden of FevershamWilliam Makepeace Thackeray based his story of 'Catherine,' which first appeared in 'Fraser's Magazine,' 1839-40, on the career of Catherine Hayes.


Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard (c. 1518-1524 – 13 February 1542), also spelled KatherineKatheryn orKathryn, was the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, and sometimes known by his reference to her as his "rose without a thorn".[1]

Catherine's birth date and place of birth are unknown, but are occasionally cited as 1521 or 1525, possibly in Wingate, County Durham. The new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography gives her date of birth as anywhere between 1518-1524. Catherine married Henry VIII on 28 July 1540, atOatlands Palace, in Surrey, almost immediately after the annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves was arranged. However, she was beheaded after less than two years of marriage to Henry on the grounds of treason for committing adultery while married to the King. Catherine was the third of Henry's consorts to have been a commoner.

Early life

Catherine Howard was a child of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpeper. Catherine's exact date of birth is unknown, although the year has been estimated as being after 1520, but before 1527. She was the niece of Elizabeth Howard, who was the mother of Queen Anne Boleyn. As a granddaughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, Catherine had an aristocratic pedigree, but her father, who was a younger son, was not well-off owing to primogeniture and the large size of his family. As a result, he was often reduced to begging for handouts from his more powerful relatives. In 1531, he was appointed Controller of Calais.[2] He was dismissed from his post in 1539, and died in March of the same year.

During her early childhood, Catherine was sent to live in the household of her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. The Dowager Duchess presided over households at Chesworth House, near Horsham, and Norfolk House, at Lambeth, comprising numerous male and female attendants along with her many wards, usually the children of aristocratic but poor relatives. While sending young children to be educated and trained in aristocratic households other than their own was common for centuries among European nobles, supervision at Lambeth was apparently lax. The Dowager Duchess was often at Court and seems to have taken little interest in the education and upbringing of her wards and young female attendants.

As a result of the Dowager Duchess' lack of attention, Catherine was not as well educated as some of Henry's other wives, though her ability to read and write alone was impressive enough for the time period. Her character has often been described as vivacious, beautiful, and buxom, but never scholarly or devout. The casual upbringing in the licentious atmosphere of the Duchess' household led to Catherine's music teacher, Henry Mannox, to start a sexual relationship with her around 1536, when she was between the ages of eleven and sixteen. He later gave evidence in the inquiry against her. Mannox and Catherine both confessed during her adultery trial that they had engaged in sexual contact, but not intercourse. Catherine was even quoted as saying, "At the flattering and fair persuasions of Mannox, being but a young girl, I suffered him at sundry times to handle and touch the secret parts of my body which neither became me with honesty to permit nor him to require."

This adolescent affair came to an end in 1538, when Catherine was pursued by a secretary of the Dowager Duchess' household, Francis Dereham. They became lovers, addressing each other as "husband" and "wife". Dereham also entrusted Catherine with various wifely duties, such as keeping his money when he was away on business. Many of Catherine's roommates among the Dowager Duchess' maids of honour and attendants knew of the relationship, which apparently ended in 1539 when the Dowager Duchess caught wind of the matter. Despite this disapproval, Catherine and Dereham may have parted with intentions to marry upon his return from Ireland, agreeing to a precontract, as it was then known. If indeed they had exchanged vows of their intention to marry before having sexual intercourse, they would have been considered married in the eyes of the Church.

Arrival at court

Catherine's uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, found her a place at Court in the household of the King's fourth wife, theGerman Anne of Cleves. As a young and attractive lady-in-waiting, Catherine quickly caught Henry's eye, who had displayed little interest in Anne from the beginning. The Howards may have sought to recreate the influence they gained during the reign of Anne Boleyn, and the mostly religiously conservative Howard family may have seen Catherine as a figurehead for their determination to restore Catholicism to England. As the King's interest in Catherine grew, so did their influence. Within months of her arrival at Court, Henry bestowed gifts of land and expensive cloth upon Catherine.


When Henry had his marriage to Anne of Cleves annulled on 9 July 1540, rumours swirled that Catherine waspregnant with his child.Their quick marriage a mere three weeks after the annulment, reflected Henry's lifelong urgency to secure the Tudor succession by fathering healthy, legitimate sons, especially since he only had one, Edward. Henry, nearing fifty and expanding in girth, showered his young bride with wealth, jewels, and other expensive gifts. War with France and the English Reformation had cost Henry much of his people's goodwill, and he suffered from a number of ailments. Catherine's motto, "Non autre volonté que la sienne", or, "No other will but his", supposedly reflected her desire to keep Henry, an ailing man three decades her senior, content. At this point in his life, the King weighed around twenty-one stone (about 140 kilograms, or 300 pounds), and had a foul-smelling, festering ulcer on his thigh that had to be drained daily.

Early in 1541, Catherine embarked upon a romance with Henry's favorite male courtier, Thomas Culpeper, a young man who, according to Dereham's testimony 'had succeeded [him] in the Queen's affections', and who Catherine had considered marrying during her time as a maid-of-honour to Anne of Cleves. The couple's meetings were arranged by one of Catherine's older ladies-in-waiting, Lady Rochford, the widow of Catherine's cousin, George Boleyn, the brother of Anne Boleyn.

Catherine and Henry toured England together in the summer of 1541, and preparations for any signs of pregnancy, which would have led to a coronation, were in place, indicating that the royal couple were sexually active with each other. During this time, however, a crisis began to loom over Catherine. People who had witnessed her indiscretions at Lambeth began to contact her for favours in return for their silence, and many of them were appointed to her household. Most disastrously, Catherine appointed Francis Dereham as her personal secretary, at the urging of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. This miscalculation led to the charges of treason and adultery against her two years after her marriage to the King.


By late 1541, the northern progress of England had ended, and Catherine's indiscretions had become known to John Lascelles, a Protestantreformer whose sister, Mary Hall, had been a member of the Dowager Duchess' household; Mary had been a witness to Catherine's sexual liaisons. Lascelles presented the information to Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury and one of Henry's closest advisors.

Cranmer, aware that any precontract with Dereham would invalidate Catherine's marriage to the king, gave Henry a letter with the accusations against his wife on 1 November 1541, as they attended a service of thanksgiving at Hampton Court. At first, Henry disbelieved the allegations, thinking them fabrications made by Lascelles and his sister. Nonetheless, he requested that Cranmer should investigate the matter further. Within a few days, corroborative proof was found, including the confessions of Dereham and Culpeper after they were likelytortured in the Tower of London. Cranmer also discovered a love letter to Culpeper in Catherine's distinctive handwriting, which is the only letter of hers that still survives, other than her confession.

Catherine was subsequently charged with treason, but she never admitted to infidelity. She did however, admit that she was "most unworthy to be called [Henry's] wife or subject." Such wording was typical of the time period, but it appears to have been sincere.

After being ordered to keep to her rooms, Catherine briefly escaped her guards to run to the chapel where Henry was hearing Mass.According to legend, she banged on the doors and screamed Henry's name, and her ghost is still believed to re-enact this scene.[ Eventually, she was recaptured by her guards and confined to her rooms at Hampton Court, accompanied only by Lady Rochford. However, there is considerable doubt as to the story's authenticity, since Catherine was not fully aware of the charges against her until Cranmer and a delegation of councillors were sent to question her on 7 November 1541. Even the staunch Cranmer found Catherine's frantic, incoherent state pitiable, saying, "I found her in such lamentation and heaviness as I never saw no creature, so that it would have pitied any man's heart to have looked upon her." He ordered the guards to remove any objects that she might use to commit suicide.

While a precontract between Catherine and Dereham would have had the effect of terminating Catherine's royal union, it also would have allowed Henry to annul their marriage and banish her from Court. Catherine would have been disgraced, impoverished, and exiled, but, ultimately, she would have been spared execution. However, she steadfastly denied any precontract, maintaining that Dereham had raped her.

Imprisonment and death (1541–1542) Catherine Howard's arms as Queen consort

Catherine was stripped of her title as queen on 23 November and imprisoned in Syon Abbey,Middlesex, throughout the winter of 1541. Culpeper and Dereham were executed at Tyburn on 10 December 1541, Culpeper being beheaded and Dereham being hanged, drawn, and quartered. According to custom, their heads were placed atop London Bridge. Many of Catherine's relatives were also detained in the Tower with the exception of her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who had sufficiently distanced himself from the scandal by writing a letter on 14 December to the King, excusing himself and laying all the blame on his niece and stepmother. All of the Howard prisoners were tried, found guilty of concealing treason, and sentenced to life imprisonment and forfeiture of goods. In time, however, they were released with their goods restored.[citation needed]

Catherine herself remained in limbo until Parliament passed a bill of attainder on 7 February 1542. The bill made it treason, and punishable by death, for a queen consort to fail to disclose her sexual history to the king within twenty days of their marriage, or to incite someone to commit adultery with her. This solved the matter of Catherine's supposed precontract and made her unequivocally guilty. She was subsequently taken to the Tower on 10 February. The next day, the bill of attainder received the Royal Assent, and Catherine's execution was scheduled for seven a.m. on 13 February.

The night before her execution, Catherine is believed to have spent many hours practising how to lay her head upon the block, which had been brought to her at her request. She died with relative composure, but looked pale and terrified and required assistance to climb thescaffold. She made a speech describing her punishment as "worthy and just" and asked for mercy for her family and prayers for her soul. According to popular folklore, her final words were, "I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper," although this is widely discredited. Catherine was beheaded with a single stroke, and her body was buried in an unmarked grave in the nearby chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, where the bodies of her cousins, Anne and George Boleyn, also lay. Henry did not attend.

Catherine's body was not one of those identified during restorations of the chapel during Queen Victoria's reign, but she is commemorated on a plaque on the west wall dedicated to all those who died in the Tower.

Upon hearing news of Catherine's execution, Francis I of France wrote a letter to Henry, regretting the "lewd and naughty [evil] behavior of the Queen" and advising him that "the lightness of women cannot bend the honour of men".

Catherine is not regarded as particularly important in terms of long-lasting historical significance. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch of theUniversity of Oxford compared her with her cousin, Anne Boleyn, in a 2004 review: "Katherine Howard, another royal wife to die on adultery charges, mattered only a little longer than it took Henry to cheer up after he had her beheaded; by contrast, Anne triggered the English Reformation." Historiography

Catherine has been the subject of two modern biographies, A Tudor Tragedy by Lacey Baldwin Smith (1967) and Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy by Joanna Denny (2006). Both are more or less sympathetic, although they disagree on various important points, involving Catherine's motivations, date of birth, and overall character. Treatments of her life have also been given in the five collective studies of Henry's queens which have appeared since the publication of Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991), such as David Starkey's Six Wives(2004). Several of these writers have been highly critical of Catherine's conduct, if sympathetic to her eventual fate. Smith described Catherine's life as one of "hedonism" and characterized her as a "juvenile delinquent". Weir had much the same judgment, describing her as an "empty-headed wanton". The general trend, however, has been more generous, particularly in the works of Lady Antonia FraserKaren LindseyDavid Loades, and Joanna Denny.

Portraits of Catherine Howard The Windsor version of the Holbein miniature

Painters continued to include Jane Seymour in pictures of King Henry VIII long after she died, mainly because Henry continued to look back on her with favour as the one wife who gave him a son. Most of the artists copied the portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger because it was the only full-sized picture available. After Catherine Howard was executed, even the Howard family removed her picture from their family portrait gallery.[citation needed]

portrait miniature (shown here) existing in two versions by Holbein (Royal Collection and Duke of Buccleuch) is now believed by most historians to be the only image of Catherine painted from life (in the case of the Windsor version). It has been dated (from details of her dress and the technique of the miniature) to the short period when Catherine was Queen by the historian David Starkey. In it she is wearing the same large jewel as Jane Seymour in Holbein's panel portrait in Vienna. These were jewels the records show belonged to the Crown, not to any Queen personally, and there is no record of their having been removed from the treasury and given to anyone else. The pearls may tie in with a gift to Catherine from Henry in 1540, and she is the only Queen to fit the dating, whose appearance is not already known. For female sitters, duplicate versions of miniatures only exist for Queens at this period. There are no other plausible likenesses of her to compare to. Both versions have long been known as of Catherine Howard, and are so documented since 1736 (Buccleuch) and 1739? or at least 1840s for the Windsor version.

For centuries, a picture by Holbein was believed to be a portrait of Catherine, which is now in the Toledo Museum of Art. The portrait was identified on the basis of the very close likeness to Holbein's miniature. The image is also known in a number of other versions, including oneNPG 1119 owned by the National Portrait Gallery in London, titled as "Unknown woman, formerly known as Catherine Howard". Some historians now dispute that the woman in the picture is Catherine. Antonia Fraser has argued that the Toledo portrait is of Jane Seymour's sister, Elizabeth Seymour, on the basis that the woman bears a remarkable resemblance to Jane, especially around the chin, and is wearing the clothes of a widow, which Catherine never had occasion to wear. However, black clothes do not necessarily signify mourning, and, because black was the most expensive dye, were often worn to signify wealth and status.

One other possibility is that the portrait shows Henry's Scottish niece, Lady Margaret Douglas, the mother-in-law of Mary, Queen of Scots. So, whilst debate continues about the identity of the Toledo portrait, the miniature shown above is very likely to be Henry's fifth Queen.


Elizabeth Jeffries

Elizabeth Jeffries (1727, BridgnorthShropshire – March 28, 1752 in LeytonstoneEngland) was an executed murderess.

When she was five years old, Elizabeth was adopted by her wealthy and childless uncle Joseph Jeffryes, who had made his fortune as a butcher in Central London [1] Jeffries sexually violated his niece when she was fifteen. He had willed her everything he owned but hypocritically continually threatened to write her out of the will because of her immoral behaviour.


Elizabeth started an affair with her uncle's man-servant, John Swan. When it seemed increasingly likely that her uncle would carry out his threat regarding the will, she and Swan plotted to kill her uncle. They paid a man named Matthews to get them a brace of pistols. Matthews saw Elizabeth and John in the house on the night of the murder on July 3, 1751, and learned what they intended to do - John made him swear not to tell anyone. She and John then went upstairs and killed her uncle. They made it seem as though her uncle had been the victim of a botched robbery and raised the alarm. Elizabeth was arrested, however she was released when no evidence could be found. The police then began a search for Matthews, whom she had implicated. He was located and told the police everything he knew. She and John were imprisoned to await trail.

Trial and execution

The trial of Jeffries' and Swan began eight months later, on March 10, 1752. She and John were swiftly convicted and sentenced to hang. On March 28, she was taken to the gallows in a cart and riding on her own coffin, while John was dragged on a sledge for committing allegedPetty treason. When they reached the gallows, Swan was forced to stand on the cart while Jeffries, being only 5'1", had to stand on a chair on the cart. Their legs were not tied and they were not blindfolded. A crowd of 7,000 people gathered to watch them hang. Neither Elizabeth nor John acknowledged one another, while the hangman cracked his whip and drove the cart out from under them. John died in less than five minutes. Elizabeth however, being lighter than Swan, took over fifteen minutes to die, struggling to the end.


Constantia Jones

Constantia Jones (born c.1708 – December 22, 1738) was a prostitute in LondonUK during the term of Prime Minister Robert Walpole, who was sentenced to hang for stealing 36 shillings and a half-guinea (the equivalent of about £300 today) from one of her clients. Her accuser, describing her as "a three-penny upright," testified as follows: "As I stood against the Wall, [she] came behind me, and with one hand she took hold of . . . --and the other she thrust into my Breeches Pocket and took my Money." Based on this testimony, Jones was sentenced to hang at Tyburn.

Jones, who had been sent to the notorious prison at Newgate some twenty times before, was 30 years old upon her execution. HistorianPeter Linebaugh asserts that regardless of her guilt or innocence, her conviction on such flimsy evidence indicates the bias of 18th century English courts against the trade of prostitution and those who worked in the industry. Prostitutes are always vulnerable, and in the middle of the 18th century in England, their testimony in court was not regarded as equal to that of their clients. Jones would have been a particularly weak defendant, as she had been in Newgate on multiple occasions. Although officially London courts took all persons as equally worthy,class distinctions were still operative, and therefore testimony from a "gentleman," in particular, would weigh heavily. At the same time, prostitutes were extremely common and were generally tolerated. Prostitution gangs also operated, and some gangs included "toughs" and "bullies," who would attack the prostitutes' clients for robbery.

Whether Jones robbed her client or not, she would have faced a high barrier in court. What may be more remarkable about her case than her conviction is the testimony presented against her. Solicitation was a dubious act, and the clients of prostitutes were unlikely to go to thepolice to give evidence. Those patrons of prostitutes with money to steal were usually jealous of their social standing and would not go to the justices.

Ursula Kemp

Ursula Kemp or Ursley Kempe alias Grey (ca. 1525 – 1582) was an English cunning woman and midwife who in 1582 was tried forwitchcraft and hanged.[1] Kemp was accused of (and apparently confessed to) using familiars to kill and bring sickness to her neighbours.


Kemp was born in St OsythEssex. She was a cunning woman who was frequently called upon by her neighbours to heal various ailments and sicknesses. She was later blamed for intentionally causing illness and death, eventually being tried for witchcraft at Chelmsford in February 1582. At her trial, several of her neighbours testified against her, making statements to Justice Brian Darcy. Along with her friend, Alice Newman, she was accused of causing the deaths of Edna Stratton, and two children, Joan Thurlow and Elizabeth Letherdale.

The Trial

Neighbour and former friend Grace Thurlow testified that when her son Davy was sick, she asked for Kemp's help. Davy temporarily recovered from his illness and Thurlow believed that Kemp had cured him. Some time later, Thurlow and Kemp argued over the care of Thurlow's baby daughter Joan.At a few months old, Joan fell from her cradle and died of a broken neck. When Thurlow became lame, she again asked for Kemp's help. Kemp agreed to heal her for 12 pence. Thurlow got better but then refused to pay Kemp her fee, saying she could not afford it. The two women argued again and Kemp threatened to get even with Thurlow, who became lame again. Thurlow testified that since that quarrel, either she or her son had suffered. She blamed Kemp for her son's illness, her own lameness, and the death of her baby. Thurlow complained to the magistrate and an investigation followed.

Alice Letherdale testified that Kemp had asked her for some scouring sand (an abrasive cleaner) and that she had refused her, knowing Kemp to be a "naughty beast". Letherdale's daughter Elizabeth later saw Kemp, who "murmured" at her. When Elizabeth fell ill and died, Letherdale blamed Kemp for bewitching the girl to death. Kemp's eight year-old son Thomas testified that his mother kept four spirits, orfamiliars. He described them as a grey cat called Tyffin, a white lamb called Tyttey, a black toad called Pygine and a black cat called Jacke. He said that he had seen his mother give her familiars beer and cake, and let them suck blood from her body. Thomas said that he had been present when Alice Newman had visited his mother. He said that his mother had given Newman an earthenware pot, which he believed to contain the familiars. Days later, he saw Newman return telling Kemp that she had sent spirits to kill a local man and his wife.


Justice Brian Darcy said that Kemp made a full confession to him in private. Kemp told him that approximately ten years previously, she had experienced a "lameness in her bones". She had gone to a local cunning woman who had told Kemp that she had been bewitched and that she should "unwitch" herself. She recommended a ritual to Kemp using hog's dung, charnell, sage and St John's wort. Kemp performed the ritual and recovered. Two women that she knew requested her help for lameness. She helped them in the same way that she had helped herself, and they apparently recovered. Since then she had performed healing services for her neighbours. She admitted to the four familiars her son had mentioned. She said that they were two male spirits, that killed people, and two female spirits, that brought sickness to people, and destroyed cattle. Kemp went on to confess to sending her familiars to make Grace Thurlow lame and to kill Joan Thurlow, Elizabeth Letherdale and Kemp's sister-in-law. She named twelve other women as witches six of who were hanged including Kemp in 1582. Many of the accused freely confessed to witchcraft despite knowing they faced death by the confession.


Ursula Kemp was hanged in Chelmsford in 1582. In 1921, the skeletons of two women were found in a St Osyth garden by Mr Charles Brooker, one of which was believed to be that of Kemp.The ‘witches skeletons’ became a local tourist attraction with an admission charge to view them. In 2007, historian Alison Rowlands said that according to her research, the skeletons could belong to any of ten women that were executed for witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries. A more recent forensic study suggests that the bones are of Roman-era provenance.


Alice Lisle

Lady Alice Lisle (September 1617 – 2 September 1685), commonly known as Dame Alicia Lisle or Dame Alice Lyle, was a landed lady of the English county of Hampshire, who was executed for harbouring fugitives after the defeat of the Monmouth Rebellion at the Battle of Sedgemoor.


Dame Alice was a daughter of Sir White Beconshaw of Moyles Court at Ellingham in Hampshire and his wife, Edith Bond, daughter and co-heiress of William Bond of Blackmanston in Steeple in Dorset. She had a younger sister, Elizabeth, who married Sir Thomas Tipping ofWheatfield Park in Stoke Talmage in Oxfordshire. Alice Lisle's husband, Sir John Lisle (d. 1664), had been one of the judges at the trial ofCharles I, and was subsequently a member of Cromwell's House of Lords, hence his wife's courtesy title. She seems to have leaned toRoyalism, but she combined this with a decided sympathy for religious dissent.

[edit]After Sedgemoor

On 20 July 1685, a fortnight after the Battle of Sedgemoor, Lady Alice agreed to shelter John Hickes, a well-known Nonconformist minister, at Moyles Court, her residence near Ringwood. Hickes, who was a member of Monmouth's defeated army, brought with him Richard Nelthorpe, another supporter of Monmouth and under sentence of outlawry. The men spent the night at Moyles Court, and in the morning were arrested. Their hostess, who had initially denied their presence, was charged with harbouring traitors.


Lady Alice's case was tried by Judge Jeffreys at the opening of the Bloody Assizes at Winchester. She pleaded she had no knowledge that Hickes's offence was anything more serious than illegal preaching. Furthermore, she had known nothing of Nelthorpe, who was not named in the indictment, but was nevertheless mentioned to strengthen the case for the Crown. She said she had no sympathy with the rebellion whatsoever. The jury reluctantly found her guilty, and the law recognizing no distinction between principals and accessories in treason, she was sentenced to be burned.


Jeffreys ordered the sentence to be carried out that same afternoon, but a few days' respite was granted, and James II allowed beheading as fit her station to be substituted for burning. Lady Alice Lisle was publicly executed in the Winchester market-place on 2 September 1685. She is buried in a tomb on the right hand side of the porch at St Mary's Church, in Ellingham, Hampshire.

A plaque marks the spot of Lady Alice's execution, opposite "The Eclipse Inn" near the Cathedral in Winchester.


Many writers have described Lady Alice's execution a judicial murder, and one of the first acts of parliament of William and Mary after theGlorious Revolution was to reverse her attainder on the grounds that the prosecution was irregular and the verdict injuriously extorted by "the menaces and violences and other illegal practices" of Judge Jeffreys. However, it is doubtful that Jeffreys, for all his brutality, exceeded the strict letter of the law of the day.


Susannah Martin

Susannah (North) Martin (baptized September 30, 1621 – July 19, 1692) was a woman executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials.

Martin was the fourth daughter, and youngest child, of Richard North and Joan (Bartram) North. Her mother died when she was a child. Her stepmother was named Ursula. She was baptized in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England on September 30, 1621. Her family first moved toSalisbury, Massachusetts around 1639. On August 11, 1646 at Salisbury, Susannah married the widower George Martin, a blacksmith with whom she had eight children, including daughter Jane, the great-great-great-great grandmother of Chester A. Arthur.The farthest descendant recorded is Juliet Vaughn (11th generation) In 1669, Susannah was first formally accused of witchcraft by William Sargent Jr.. In turn, George Martin sued Sargent for two counts of slander against Susannah, one for accusing her of being a witch, and another for claiming one of her sons was a bastard and another was her "imp." Martin withdrew the second count, but the Court upheld the accusation of witchcraft. A higher court later dismissed the witchcraft charges.

By 1671, the Martin family was again involved in legal proceedings dealing with the matter of Ursula North's inheritance, most of which Ursula had left to her granddaughter, Mary Jones Winsley. The court sided against Susannah and George, though Susannah was able to bring five further appeals, each being decided against her.

George died in 1686, leaving Susannah an impoverished widow by the time of the second accusation of witchcraft in 1692. Inhabitants of nearby Salem Village, Massachusetts had named Susannah a witch and stated she had attempted to recruit them into witchcraft. Susannah was tried for these charges, during which process she proved by all accounts to be pious and quoted the Bible freely, something a witch was said incapable of doing. Cotton Mather countered Susannah's defence by stating in effect that the Devil's servants were capable of putting on a show of perfect innocence and Godliness.

Susannah was found guilty, and was hanged on July 19, 1692 in Salem.

Some interesting excerpts from the transcript of Susannah's trial are below: (spelling, punctuation, capitalization as original)

"To the Marshall of the County of Essex or his lawful Deputies or to the Constable of Amesbury: You are in their Majesties names hereby required forthwith or as soon as may be to apprehend and bring Susanna Mertin of Amesbury in þ county of Esses Widdow at þ house of Lt. Nathaniel Ingersolls in Salem village in order to her examination Relating to high suspicion of sundry acts of Witchcraft donne or committed by her upon þ bodies of Mary Walcot, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, and Mercy Lewis of Salem village or farms whereby great hurt and damage hath been donne to þ bodies of said persons.... etc"

At the preliminary trial for the crime of "Witchcraft and sorcery" Susanna pled not guilty. The original court record book has been lost, but the local Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, recorded the testimony. Susanna and the others accused were not allowed to have council.

"As soon as she came in, Marcy had fits"
Magistrate: Do you know this woman?
Abigail Williams saith it is goody Martin, she hath hurt me often.
Others by fits were hindered from speaking.
Marcy Lewis pointed at her and fell into a little fit.
Ann Putnam threw her glove in a fit at her.

................ Susanna laughed ................

Magistrate: What! Do you laugh at it?
Martin: Well I may at such folly.
Mag: Is this folly? The hurt of persons?
Martin: I never hurt man or woman or child.
Marcy: She hath hurt me a great many times and pulls me down.

Then Martin laughed again.

Probably the worst indignity that Susanna was twice forced to submit to was the physical examination for evidence of a "witch's tit or physical proturberance which might give milk to a familiar." No such deformity was found in Susanna but it was noted that "in the morning her nipples were found to be full as if the milk would come," but by late afternoon "her breasts were slack, as if milk had already been given to someone or something." This was an indication that she had been visited by a witch's familiar, and was clear evidence of guilt. .[2]

Lone Tree Hill, a famous historical site, bore a tablet on its westerly side marking the site of George and Susannah's home. The boulder which marked their homestead has been moved to make room for a highway, and it can be found on the map where the highway crosses Martin Road. The marker lies nearby. George was one of the largest landowners in Amesbury. The inscription on the marker reads: "Here stood the house of Susannah Martin. An honest, hardworking Christian woman accused of being a witch and executed at Salem, July 19, 1692. She will be missed! A Martyr of Superstition. T.I.A. 1894"

In the 19th century, poet John Greenleaf Whittier composed "The Witch's Daughter" about Martin.

"Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly,And witch or not - God knows - not I?I know who swore her life away;And as God lives, I'd not condemnAn Indian dog on word of them

The actual reason for the witchcraft accusation was because of a land ownership/inheritance dispute and subsequent lawsuit the Martins had filed.


Catherine Murphy (counterfeiter)

Catherine Murphy (died March 18, 1789) was an English counterfeiter, the last woman to be officially sentenced and executed by the method of burning in England and Great Britain.

Catherine Murphy, along with several co-defendants, including her husband, was charged with coining in London, judged guilty and sentenced to death. She was executed at Newgate prison on March 18, 1789, for coining. Her co-defendants, including her husband, were executed at the same time by hanging, but as a woman, the law provided that Murphy should be burnt at the stake.

She was brought out past the hanging bodies of eight men and made to stand on a foot high, 10-inch-square platform in front of the stake. She was secured to the stake with ropes and an iron ring. When she finished her prayers, executioner William Brunskill piled faggots of straw around the stake and lit them. According to testimony given by Sir Benjamin Hammett, then Sheriff of London, he gave instructions that she should be strangled before being burned. She was, reportedly, tied with one rope around her neck, after which the platform was removed from under her feet and 30 minutes passed before the fire was lit, and thus, she was not actually burned alive. Whatever the case, Catherine Murphy remains the last person to have been sentenced and at least officially executed by the method of burning. In part through the efforts of Sir Benjamin Hammett, who took the execution of Murphy as an example when he criticised the execution of burning, burning as a method of execution was abolished the next year, by the Treason Act 1790


Rebecca Nurse

Rebecca Towne Nurse (or Nourse) (February 21, 1621 – July 19, 1692) was executed for witchcraft by the government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in 1692, during the Salem witch trials. She was the wife of Francis Nurse, with several children and grandchildren, and a well-respected member of the community. Although there was no credible evidence against her, she was hanged as a witch on July 19, 1692. This occurred during a time when the Massachusetts colony was seized with hysteria over witchcraft and the supposed presence of Satan within the colony.

Early life

The daughter of William and Joanna Towne (née Blessing), Nurse was born in Great Yarmouth, England in 1621. Her family settled in Salem Village, which is now known as Danvers, Massachusetts, in 1640. She had one older sister, Susan (baptized 26 Oct 1625 – died 29 Jul 1630) and two younger sisters, Mary Easty (baptized 24 Aug 1634) and Sarah Cloyce (born ca. 1642), both of whom were also accused of witchcraft. She also had four brothers: John (baptized 16 Feb 1622/23), Edmund (baptized Jun 1628), Jacob (baptized 11 Mar 1631/32) and Joseph (born abt 1639).

Around 1645, she married Francis Nurse, also born in England. Her husband was a "tray maker" by trade, who likely made many other wooden household items. Due to the rarity of such household goods, artisans of that medium were esteemed. Nurse and her family lived on a vast homestead which was part of a 300-acre (1.2 km2) grant given to Townsend Bishop in 1636. Francis originally rented it and then gradually paid it off throughout his lifetime. Together, the couple bore eight children: four daughters and four sons. Their names were Rebecca Nurse (born 1642), Sarah Nurse (born 1644), John Nurse (born 1645), Samuel Nurse (born 1649), Mary Nurse (1653 - 28 June 1749), Elizabeth Nurse (born 1656), Francis Nurse (born 1660/1661), and Benjamin Nurse (born in 1665/1666). Nurse frequently attended church and her family was well respected in Salem Village; Francis was often asked to be an unofficial judge to help settle matters around the village. In 1672, Francis served as Salem's Constable. It was later written that Rebecca had "acquired a reputation for exemplary piety that was virtually unchallenged in the community," making her one of the "unlikely" persons to be accused of witchcraft.

Accusation and trial

The family had been involved in a number of acrimonious land disputes with the Putnam family. On March 23, 1692, a warrant was issued for her arrest based upon accusations made by Edward and John Putnam. Upon hearing of the accusations the frail 70-year-old Nurse, often described as an invalid, said, "I am innocent as the child unborn, but surely, what sin hath God found out in me unrepented of, that He should lay such an affliction on me in my old age."

There was a public outcry over the accusations made against her, as she was considered to be of very pious character. Thirty-nine of the most prominent members of the community signed a petition on Nurse's behalf. At age 71, she was one of the oldest accused. Her ordeal is often credited as the impetus for a shift in the town's opinion about the purpose of the witch trials.

Her trial began on June 30, 1692. In accordance with the procedures at the time, Mrs. Nurse, like others accused of witchcraft, represented herself since she was not allowed to have a lawyer represent her. By dint of her respectability, many members of the community testified on her behalf including her family members. However the young Ann Putnam and her siblings would break into fits and claim Nurse was tormenting them. Such so called "spectral evidence" was allowed into the trial to show that Satan was afflicting others in the community at the behest of the accused. In response to their outbursts Nurse stated, "I have got nobody to look to but God." Many of the other afflicted girls were hesitant to accuse Nurse.

In the end, the jury ruled Nurse not guilty. Due to public outcry and renewed fits and spasms by the girls, the magistrate asked that the verdict be reconsidered. At issue was the statement of another prisoner "[she] was one of us" to which Nurse did not reply, probably because of her loss of hearing[citation needed]. The jury took this as a sign of guilt and changed their verdict, sentencing Nurse to death on July 19, 1692.

Death and aftermath

Many people labeled Nurse "the woman of self dignity", due to her dignified behavior on the gallows. As was the custom, after Rebecca Nurse was hanged, her body was buried in a shallow grave near the gallows along with other convicted witches, who were considered unfit for Christian burial. Nurse's family secretly returned after dark and dug up her body, which they interred properly on their family homestead. In July 1885, her descendants erected a tall granite memorial over her grave in what is now called the Rebecca Nurse Homestead cemetery in Danvers (formerly Salem Village), Massachusetts. The inscription on the monument reads:

Rebecca Nurse, Yarmouth, England 1621. Salem, Mass., 1692.
O Christian Martyr who for Truth could die
When all about thee owned the hideous lie!
The world redeemed from Superstition's sway
Is breathing freer for thy sake today.
(From the poem "Christian Martyr," by John Greenleaf Whittier)

In 1892 a second monument was erected nearby recognizing the 40 neighbors, led by Israel and Elizabeth (Hathorne) Porter, who took the risk of publicly supporting Nurse by signing a petition to the court in 1692.

The Rebecca Nurse Homestead in 2006

Her accuser, Ann Putnam, Jr., publicly apologized to the Nurse family for accusing innocent people. In 1711, the government compensated the Nurse family for Rebecca's wrongful death. The Nurse family homestead fell into the hands of Putnam family descendant Phineas Putnam in 1784. The Putnam family maintained control of the property until 1908. Today, it is a tourist attraction that includes the original house and cemetery, on 27 of the original 300 acres (1.2 km2).


Mary Pearcey

Mary Pearcey Mary Pearcey (1866 – 23 December 1890) was an English woman who was convicted of murdering her lover's wife, Mrs. Phoebe Hogg, and child, Phoebe, on 24 October 1890 and executed for the crime on 23 December of the same year. The crime is sometimes mentioned in connection with Jack the Ripper, and Pearcey has been posited as a Ripper candidate.

Early life

Mary Pearcey was born Mary Eleanor Wheeler, apparently in 1866.

It has been erroneously stated that her father was a Thomas Wheeler who was convicted of and hanged for the murder of Edward Anstee. However, author Sarah Beth Hopton was unable to find any evidence of connection between the two people, and also found a retraction of the newspaper article in which the misinformation was first printed. 

Mary Wheeler took the name "Pearcey" from John Charles Pearcey, a carpenter with whom she had lived; he left her because of her infidelity. She later took up residence with a furniture remover, Frank Hogg, who had at least one other paramour, Phoebe Styles. Styles became pregnant, and Hogg married her at Pearcey's urging. They lived in Kentish Town in London. Styles gave birth to a daughter also named Phoebe Hogg.

Murder of Phoebe Hogg

On 24 October 1890 Mrs. Hogg, with her baby, called on Pearcey at her invitation. The neighbours heard screaming and sounds of violence about 4:00 that afternoon. That evening a woman's corpse was found on a heap of rubbish in Hampstead. Her skull had been crushed, and her head was nearly severed from her body. A black perambulator was found about a mile away, its cushions soaked with blood. An eighteen-month-old child was found dead in Finchley, apparently smothered. The deceased were identified as Phoebe Hogg and her child. Mary Pearcey had been seen pushing baby Phoebe's perambulator around the streets of north London after dark. The police searched her house, and found blood spatters on walls, ceiling, a skirt, an apron, and other articles, blood stains on a poker and a carving knife. When questioned by the Police she said that she 'had a problem with mice and was trying to kill them'.

  • In her study of the crime in Murder and Its MotivesF. Tennyson Jesse mentions that in his account of the crime in Days of My Years. SirMelville Macnaghten writes that Ms. Pearcey, when asked the question, chanted "Killing mice, killing mice, killing mice!".

Mary Pearcey was charged with murder and convicted. She continually maintained that she was innocent throughout the trial, yet was hanged on 23 December 1890.

Pearcy's murder case generated extraordinary press attention at the time. Madame Tussauds wax museum of London made a wax figure of Pearcey for their Chamber of Horrors exhibit, and also purchased the pram used in the murder and the contents of Pearcey's kitchen. When the Tussaud exhibit of these items opened, it attracted a crowd of 30,000 people. The noose used to hang Pearcy is on display at the Black Museum of Scotland Yard.

Jill the Ripper?

Mary Pearcey, like many other famous Victorian-era murderers, has been suggested as a suspect in the Jack the Ripper slayings. She was apparently the only female suspect mentioned at the time.[4] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, speculated at the time that the Ripper might have been female, as a woman could have pretended to be a midwife and be seen in public in bloody clothing without arousing suspicion or notice.[5] This theory was then expanded upon in 1939 by William Stewart in his book Jack the Ripper: A New Theory, which specifically named Pearcey in connection with the crimes. All evidence given is circumstantial, and there is no physical evidence or eyewitness reports linking Pearcey to the Ripper crimes.

F. Tennyson Jesse, the British criminal historian, explained the theory in her study of Pearcey's case: "It was no wonder that, simultaneously with the discovery of the crime, legends should have sprung up around her figure. The rumour even arose that the notorious Jack the Ripper had been at work in the locality, and though this was quickly disproved, yet the violence and horror associated with the crime was such as to make it understandable how the rumour arose in the first place. Even in the earliest paragraphs which announced the discovery of the crime, several false statements were suggested."

In May 2006, DNA testing of saliva on stamps affixed to letters allegedly sent by Jack the Ripper to London newspapers, and thought by some modern writers to be genuine, appeared to come from a woman. This led to extensive discussion of Pearcey and her crime in the global press.


Eleanor Power

Eleanor Power (died 11 October 1754) was the first English woman to be executed in what is today Canada. Power was hanged for themurder of William Keen, a justice of the peace in St. John'sNewfoundland.

The crime

Power, her husband Robert Power, and seven other men were convicted of murdering Keen in a burglary attempt of Keen's summer home on 9 September 1754. There had been ten accomplices who initially broke into Keen's house and stole a chest and some silver spoons. When the chest was found to contain only alcohol, Eleanor Power and one of the male accomplices left the scene. The eight who remained behind decided to make another burglary attempt. When Keen awoke in his bed during the second attempt, he was beaten by two of the accomplices with a scythe and the butt of a musket. Keen died of his injuries on 29 September 1754.[3]

Trial and execution

On 8 October 1754, nine of the accomplices, including Eleanor Power, were brought to trial for murder before the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Newfoundland. The tenth accomplice, Nicholas Tobin, was the only Crown witness against the nine defendants. Undefended by lawyers, the nine defendants were convicted of murder by a jury after 30 minutes of deliberation and sentenced to death by hanging. Two of the male accomplices were executed on 10 October 1754; the following day, Eleanor and Robert Power followed and became the first married couple to hang together in present-day Canada. Eleanor Power was also the first non-Native American woman to be executed by British authorities in present-day Canada.

After years of imprisonment in St. John's, the five remaining defendants were eventually pardoned on condition that they leave Newfoundland and never return.


Eleanor Power

Eleanor Power (died 11 October 1754) was the first English woman to be executed in what is today Canada. Power was hanged for themurder of William Keen, a justice of the peace in St. John'sNewfoundland.

The crime

Power, her husband Robert Power, and seven other men were convicted of murdering Keen in a burglary attempt of Keen's summer home on 9 September 1754. There had been ten accomplices who initially broke into Keen's house and stole a chest and some silver spoons. When the chest was found to contain only alcohol, Eleanor Power and one of the male accomplices left the scene. The eight who remained behind decided to make another burglary attempt. When Keen awoke in his bed during the second attempt, he was beaten by two of the accomplices with a scythe and the butt of a musket. Keen died of his injuries on 29 September 1754.

[edit]Trial and execution

On 8 October 1754, nine of the accomplices, including Eleanor Power, were brought to trial for murder before the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Newfoundland. The tenth accomplice, Nicholas Tobin, was the only Crown witness against the nine defendants. Undefended by lawyers, the nine defendants were convicted of murder by a jury after 30 minutes of deliberation and sentenced to death by hanging. Two of the male accomplices were executed on 10 October 1754; the following day, Eleanor and Robert Power followed and became the first married couple to hang together in present-day Canada. Eleanor Power was also the first non-Native American woman to be executed by British authorities in present-day Canada.

After years of imprisonment in St. John's, the five remaining defendants were eventually pardoned on condition that they leave Newfoundland and never return.]


Amelia Sach and Annie Walters

Amelia Sach (1873 - 3 February 1903) and Annie Walters (1869 - 3 February 1903) were two British serial killers better known as theFinchley baby farmers.


Amelia Sach operated a "lying-in" home in Stanley Road, and later at Claymore House in Hertford Road (both in East Finchley), London. Around 1900,[1] she began to advertise that babies "could be left", and took money for adoptions. The clients, judging from the witness accounts, were mostly servants from local houses who had become pregnant, and who had employers who were keen for the matter to be resolved discreetly. There was a charge for lying in, and another for adoption, a "present" to future parents of between £25 and £30.

Annie Walters would collect the baby after it was born, and then dispose of it with poison — chlorodyne (a medicine containingmorphine. They were caught after Walters raised the suspicions of her landlord in Islington who was a police officer. An unknown number of babies were murdered this way, possibly dozens.[citation needed] During their trial at the Old Bailey, the quantity of baby clothes found at Claymore House was used as evidence of the scale of their crimes. A local campaign to have their sentences commuted to life failed, and they became the first women to be hanged at Holloway on 3 February 1903, by Henry Pierrepoint, the future father of Albert Pierrepoint, the only double hanging of women to be carried out in modern times.


Little is known about Annie Walters, but Sach's background is well-documented: Amelia Sach was baptised Frances Amelia Thorne inHampreston, Dorset, on May 5, 1867. She was the fourth child of ten and had three sisters. She married a builder called Jeffrey Sach in 1896. Sach was active long before she engaged Walters. By 1902 she was working from 'Claymore House', a semi-detached, red-brick villa in East Finchley, North London.

Sach was herself a mother; the England and Wales census of 1901 shows that a child was born to her in Clapham. She lied about her age — she was 32, not 29. Walters' background is unknown, but she had been married. She seems to have had a drinking problem and she would periodically advertise herself as a sick nurse. On her arrest she was determined to be "feeble", that is to say, feeble-minded.

There is a small possibility that the pair may have been involved in an earlier homicide that resulted in another woman being executed. In 1899, Louise Masset was tried for the murder of her young son Manfred, whose body was found in the ladies' lavatory at Dalston Junction railway station. Circumstantial evidence suggested that Louise was the murderer, and the killing was to be rid of a supposed encumbrance due to her wanting to marry a man named Lucas. However, in her claims of innocence, Louise said she had taken Manfred out of the care of one woman to give him to two ladies she met who had an establishment for the care of growing children. The police claimed they made some effort in looking for the two women, but the extent of their investigation is unknown. In any event, Louise Masset was tried and convicted of the murder and, despite a petition for mercy, was executed in early January 1900.


The bodies of Sach and Walters were buried in unmarked graves within the walls of Holloway Prison, as was customary. In 1971 the prison underwent an extensive programme of rebuilding, during which the bodies of all the executed women were exhumed. With the exception ofRuth Ellis, the remains of the four other women executed at Holloway (i.e. Styllou ChristofiEdith Thompson, Sach and Walters) were subsequently reburied in a single grave (plot 117) at Brookwood Cemetery. The grave is marked with a horizontally laid grey granite tombstone, and the names of all the occupants are engraved on it. The precise location of Sach and Walters' grave within Brookwood Cemetery is 51°18′13.67″N 0°37′33.33″W.

"Claymore House", the semi-detached, red-brick villa where Sach had lived and worked in 1902 acquired a bad reputation due to the criminal activities which took place there. Some time after the trial of Sach and Walters, the building had its name chiselled off the stone plaque above the window and is now anonymous


Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (14 August 1473 - 27 May 1541) was an Englishpeeress, one of two women in sixteenth-century England to be a peeress in her own right with no titled husband, the daughter of George of Clarence, the brother of King Edward IV and King Richard III. She was among the few surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty after the Wars of the Roses; she was executed in 1541 at the command of King Henry VIII, who was her cousinElizabeth's son. Pope Leo XIII beatified her as a martyr for the Roman Catholic Church 29 December 1886


Lady Margaret was born at Farleigh Hungerford Castle in Somerset, the eldest daughter of the1st Duke of Clarence and the former Isabella Neville, elder daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and of Salisbury ("Warwick the Kingmaker") and Anne Beauchamp, his wife, who inherited the Earldom of Warwick. Her grandfather was killed fighting against her uncle, Edward IV of England at the Battle of Barnet; her father had then been created Earl of Salisbury and of Warwick; he was already Duke of Clarence. Edward IV had declared that her brother Edwardshould be known as Earl of Warwick as a courtesy title, but no peerage was ever created for him.

When she was three, her mother and her youngest brother died; her father killed two of his servants who he thought had poisoned them. He plotted against Edward IV, his brother, and wasattainted and executed for treason, and his lands and titles forfeited. When she was ten, Edward IV died; her uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, declared that Edward's marriage was invalid, his children illegitimate, and that Margaret and her brother Edward were debarred from the throne by their father's attainder. He assumed the throne himself as Richard III of England.

Richard III ordered the children held at Sheriff Hutton Castle in Yorkshire, since they were rivals for the throne. When he was defeated byHenry VII of England, at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the new king married her cousin Elizabeth, Edward IV's daughter. He kept her brother Edward in the Tower of London. Edward was briefly displayed in public at St Paul's Cathedral in 1487 in response to the presentation of the impostor Lambert Simnel as the 'Earl of Warwick' to the Irish lords. Shortly thereafter, probably in November 1487, Henry VII gave Margaret in marriage to his cousin, Sir Richard Pole, whose mother was half-sister of the King's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort; this would make it more difficult for plotters to use her as figurehead. When Perkin Warbeck impersonated her cousin Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York in 1499, her brother Edward was attainted and executed for involvement in the plot.

Sir Richard Pole held a variety of offices in Henry VII's government, the highest being Chamberlain for Arthur, Prince of Wales, Henry's elder son. When Arthur married Catherine of Aragon, Margaret Pole became one of her ladies-in-waiting, but her entourage was dissolved when Arthur died in 1502, in his teens.

When her husband died in 1504, Margaret Pole was a widow with five children, a limited amount of land inherited from her husband, no salary and no prospects; Henry VII paid for Sir Richard's funeral. To ease the situation, Lady Pole devoted her third son Reginald Pole to the Church, where he was to have an eventful career: papal Legate, Archbishop of Canterbury, accused by the Pope of heresy; he was to bitterly resent this abandonment in later life.

Countess of Salisbury

When Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509, he married Catherine of Aragon himself; Lady Pole was again appointed one of her ladies-in-waiting. In 1512, Parliament restored to her her brother's lands, which were the Warwick and Salisbury lands of her grandfather; Henry VII had controlled them, first during her brother's minority and then during his imprisonment, and had confiscated them after his trial; the same Act also restored to her the Earldom of Salisbury.[6]

She managed her lands well; by 1538, she was the fifth richest peer in England. She was a patron of the new learning, like many Renaissance nobles; Gentian Hervet translated Erasmusde immensa misericordia Dei (The Great Mercy of God) into English for her.

Her first son, Henry Pole, was created Baron Montagu, another of the Neville titles; he spoke for the family in the House of Lords. Her second son, Sir Arthur Pole, had a generally successful career as a courtier, becoming one of the six Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber; he had a setback when his patron Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham was convicted of treason in 1521, but was soon restored to favor. He died young about 1526, having married the heiress of Sir Roger Lewknor; the Countess and Lord Montagu pressed his widow to a vow of perpetual chastity to preserve her inheritance for her Pole children. Her daughter Ursula had married the Duke of Buckingham's son, Edward Stafford; but after the Duke's fall, the couple was given only some fragments of his estates. The Countess raised her Stafford granddaughters.

Her third son, Reginald Pole, studied abroad in Padua; he was dean in Exeter and in Dorset, and canon in York, as well as several other livings, although he had not been ordained a priest; he represented Henry VIII in Paris in 1529, persuading the theologians of the Sorbonne to support Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Her youngest son Geoffrey Pole also married well: to Catherine, daughter of Sir Edmund Pakenham, and inherited the estate of Lordington. He sat in the House of Commons from a family seat, and was in Thomas Cromwell's service at Anne Boleyn's coronation in 1533.

The Countess of Salisbury's own favor at Court varied. She had a dispute over land with Henry VIII in 1518; he awarded the contested lands to the Duchy of Somerset, which had been held by his Beaufort grandfather - and was now in the possession of the Crown – i.e., Henry. In 1520, Salisbury was appointed Governess to Henry's daughter, the Lady Mary; the next year, when her sons were mixed up with Buckingham, she was removed, but she was restored by 1525. When Mary was declared a bastard in 1533, the Countess refused to give Mary's gold plate and jewels back to Henry; when Mary's household was broken up at the end of the year, Salisbury asked to serve Mary at her own cost, but was not permitted; when the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys suggested, two years later, that Mary be handed over to the Countess, Henry refused, calling her "a fool, of no experience." When Anne Boleyn was arrested, and eventually executed, in 1536, Salisbury was permitted to return to Court — briefly.


In May 1536, Reginald Pole finally and definitively broke with the King. In 1531, he had warned of the dangers of the Boleyn marriage; he had returned to Padua in 1532, and received a last English benefice in December. Chapuys had suggested to the Emperor Charles V that Pole marry the Lady Mary and combine their dynastic claims; Chapuys also communicated with Reginald through his brother Geoffrey. Now Pole replied to books Henry sent him with his own pamphlet, pro ecclesiasticae unitatis defensione, or de unitate which denied Henry's position on the marriage of a brother's wife, and denied the Royal Supremacy; Pole also urged the Princes of Europe to depose Henry immediately. Henry wrote the Countess, who in turn wrote her son a son a letter reproving him for his "folly."

In 1537, Pole (still not ordained) was created a Cardinal; Pope Paul III put him in charge of organizing assistance for the Pilgrimage of Grace(and related movements), an effort to organize a march on London to install a Roman Catholic government instead of Henry's; neither Francis I of France nor the Emperor supported this effort, and the English government tried to have him assassinated. In 1539, Pole was sent to the Emperor to organize an embargo against England — the sort of countermeasure he had himself warned Henry was possible.

Sir Geoffrey Pole was arrested in August 1538; he had been corresponding with Reginald, and the investigation of Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter (Henry VIII's first cousin and the Countess' second cousin) had turned up his name; he had appealed to Thomas Cromwell, who had him arrested and interrogated. Under interrogation, Sir Geoffrey said that his eldest brother, Lord Montagu, and the Marquess had been parties to his correspondence with Reginald. Montagu, Exeter, and Lady Salisbury were arrested in November 1538.

In January 1539, Sir Geoffrey was pardoned, and Montagu (and Exeter) were executed for treason after trial. In May 1539, Montagu, Lady Salisbury, Exeter and others were attainted, as her father had been; this conviction meant they lost their titles and their lands - mostly in the South of England, conveniently located to assist any invasion; they were sentenced to death, and could be executed at the King's will. As part of the evidence for the Bill of Attainder, Cromwell produced a tunic bearing the Five Wounds of Christ, symbolizing her support for Roman Catholicism and the rule of Reginald and Mary; the supposed discovery, six months after her house and effects were searched at her arrest, is likely to be a fabrication.

Margaret Pole, as she now was, was held in the Tower of London for two and a half years; she, her grandson (Montagu's son), and Exeter's son were held together and supported by the King; she was attended by servants, and received an extensive grant of clothing in March 1541. In 1540, Cromwell himself fell from favor and was executed and attainted.


To the end, she contradicted the accusion of treason. The following poem was found carved on the wall of her cell:

For traitors on the block should die;I am no traitor, no, not I!My faithfulness stands fast and so,Towards the block I shall not go!Nor make one step, as you shall see;Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!

On the morning of 27 May 1541 (her martyrdom is commemorated on the 28th; the 27th is the day of Saint Augustine of Canterbury), Lady Salisbury was told she was to die within the hour. She answered that no crime had been imputed to her; nevertheless she was taken from her cell to the place within the precincts of the Tower of London, where a low wooden block had been prepared. As she was of noble birth, she was not executed before the populace, though there were about 150 witnesses.[citation needed] The frail and ill Lady was dragged to the block and, as she refused to lay her head on it, was forced down. As she struggled, the inexperienced executioner's first blow made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. Ten additional blows were required to complete the execution. A less reputable account states that she leapt from the block after the first clumsy blow and ran, pursued by the executioner, being struck eleven times before she died. She was buried at the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London.


Both her father and her mother's father were Earls of Salisbury. Did they hold the same Earldom? If not, which of the Earldoms was restored to her? The Act of Parliament does not say, and respectable authorities differ; the chief effect of these verbal issues is whether she is eighth or second holder of the Earldom (in shorthand, "8th Countess" or "2nd Countess"; other numbers are also defensible).

Her grandfather died, leaving no sons and two daughters; his lands were divided between them, and when the younger daughter, Anne Neville, Richard III's queen, died without surviving children, Edward, as her nephew, inherited the lot. In the thirteenth century, the elder daughter's husband, George of Clarence, would have inherited the chief estate of the family and the earldoms. By modern law, it would have required a new creation for George to be an Earl, although the law of abeyance, first devised under the Stuarts, would permit the King to declare one of the daughters a Countess in her own right; this did not happen. In the fifteenth century, an only daughter would have inherited - this is how the title came to the Nevilles in the first place - but when a peer left several daughters, the title immediately reverted to the Crown, which might very well regrant it to a member of the family.

J. H. Round, as followed by the Complete Peerage, holds, therefore, that her brother was representative of his father, and not of her grandfather, and that what was restored to his estate was his father's Earldom of Salisbury; so she is second Countess.


Her son, Reginald Pole, said that he would "...never fear to call himself the son of a martyr". She was later regarded by Catholics as such and was beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII.


Anne Turner (murderer)

Mrs Anne Turner (5 January 1576 – 15 November 1615), aka Mistress Anne Turner or Mrs. Anne Turner, was the widow of a respectable London doctor who was hanged at Tyburn for her role in the famous 1613 poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury referenced in the plays A New Trick to Cheat the DevilThe WidowThe World Tossed at Tennis and The City Nightcap.


She was born Anne Norton on January 5, 1576, one of ten children to Thomas and Margaret Norton of HinxtonCambridgeshire. Later, as her reputation came in question, rumours began to spread that she may have been one of the illegitimate children of a disreputable Londonapothecary and astrologer named Simon Forman. Also considered to a be a "beautiful" woman she had married physician, Dr. George Turner, but was then widowed and later became the mistress of Sir Arthur Mainwaring. At some point she had become a "waiting woman" or "companion" of Frances Howard. It seems that at this time that Howard had fallen in love with the king's favourite, Robert Carr and they soon began an exchange of romantic correspondence. Unfortunately for Howard she was married at the time to the Earl of Essex and at his instance was obliged to travel back with him after his return from France to his house at Chartley inStaffordshire. There she persisted in a stubborn refusal to sleep with her husband thereby hoping no doubt to have the marriage annulled on the grounds on non-consummation. Whilst Carr may have been satisfied with this state of affairs Frances wished to marry him. There was one person who stood in her way, Carr's mentor, Sir Thomas Overbury who disapproved of the match. Fortunately for Howard help was at hand both in her uncle, Sir Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton and in friend and ally Mrs Turner.

The Overbury murder

After Northampton had persuaded the king to have Overbury thrown in the Tower of London on trumped up charges, it was now Frances Howard's wish that he be murdered. Although a widow and outwardly respectable, Mrs Turner was in fact an independent businesswoman who ran her own "houses of ill-repute" at Paternoster Row and Hammersmith, where couples could indulge themselves together in secrecy. She was also running a lucrative monopoly in the supply of asaffron based starch which provided the yellow colouring to collars and ruffs which was then in vogue. Mrs Turner was therefore well connected with both the court and the less savoury sections of London society. She was thus able to put Howard in touch with Forman to provide love potions for Carr and a range of poisons, including arseniccantharides. and sublimate ofmercury for Overbury from another apothecary named Franklin. These poisons were then included in a selection of "tarts" and "jellies" which were delivered to gaoler Richard Weston. They were then left with the Lieutenant of the Tower, Sir Gervase Helwys, before they were eaten by Overbury who died as a result in September 1613. A few weeks later Howard's marriage was annulled and she was able to marry Carr.

Trial and execution

Two years later, after Overbury's murder came to light, Turner, Helwys and all the other accomplices in the crime were put on trial, the hearings being overseen by Sir Edward CokeLord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, and the king's Attorney GeneralSir Francis Bacon. With overwhelming evidence mounted against her Turner confessed to her role in the crime. In passing sentence Chief Justice Coke referred to her as "a whore, a bawd, a sorcerer, a witch, a papist, a felon and a murderer". He also ordered her to be hanged in the fashionable starched ruffles she had invented "so that the same might end in shame and detestation." Turner was hanged at Tyburn on November 15, 1615. Her hangman, not by coincidence, also wore "bands and cuffs of the same colour." Yellow starch then went out of fashion. Turner reportedly left behind three illegitimate children she had with Mainwaring.


Dorothea Waddingham

Dorothea Nancy Waddingham (1899 - 16 April 1936) was a nursing home matron and convicted murderer in the United Kingdom.


Dorothea Waddingham is usually referred to as "Nurse" Waddingham, because the two murders she was accused and convicted of were committed in a nursing home she ran near NottinghamEngland. In actuality she had no right to the title nurse. Born on a farm near Nottingham, the only medical training she may have been able to get was as a ward-maid at an infirmary near Burton-on-Trent. She married a man named Thomas Willoughby Leech in 1925. He was twice her age and dying of cancer. During their marriage she served two prison terms, for fraud and for theft. Leech died in 1930, at which time Waddingham was seeing another man named Ronald Joseph Sullivan. Sullivan had fought in World War I and actually won the Military Medal for gallantry and also served in Ireland after the war. They would marry and have four children. While married to Sullivan she began to take in elderly and infirm patients, and turned her home at 32 Devon Drive, Nottingham into a nursing home.


It appears that prior to the arrival of the Baguleys the nursing home was doing fairly well in a small way. A Mrs Blagg, the Honorary Secretary of the County Nursing Association, approved of Waddingham's work, and arranged for a Mrs Baguley who was 89 and her daughter Ada (who had disseminated sclerosis or "creeping paralysis") to become patients. In February 1935 another patient named Mrs Kemp died from an illness which required large dosages of morphine. Plenty of the drug remained on the premises of Waddingham's nursing home.

Ada Baguley had made out a will leaving her estate of £1,600 in trust for her mother after her death, and with the rest to be divided between two cousins, Lawrence Baguley and Fred Guilbert after her mother died. Ada had been informed that it was likely she would precede her mother in death. However, this will was destroyed by Ada in May 1935, and a new will created that left all the money to Dorothea Waddingham and Ronald Sullivan when Ada and her mother both died (it being in recompense for the nurse's care of them). The elderly Mrs Baguley died in the second week of May.

Ada lasted through the spring and summer of 1935. Later it was said that Waddingham was quite attentive to her. In September 1935 Ada received a visit from an old family friend, Mrs. Alice Briggs, who spent an afternoon cheering her up. Mrs Briggs told Waddingham that she would have Ada over for tea at her home in a couple of days. But on September 11 (the next day) Sullivan called Dr. H. H. Mansfield that his patient Ada was in a coma. Mansfield came and found Ada was dead. As this was expected the doctor was not suspicious, and after getting further details from Waddingham he filled out a death certificate that Ada died of cardiovascular degeneration.

Ada had given her permission to be cremated and if the cremation had gone through it is probable that Waddingham could not have been proved guilty of Ada's death. But for the body to be cremated needed two doctors to sign the certificate, and this could only be done after the family of the deceased was notified. Ada, for some reason, had put into her will a request not to notify her relatives. This was odd by itself. Then Waddingham said there were no relatives. This was known to be a lie.

Unfortunately for Waddingham, the man in charge of cremations (known as the "cremation referee") was Dr. Cyril Banks, who was also theMedical Officer for Health in Nottingham. Banks had never thought highly of Waddingham's establishment as a so-called "nursing home", and knew there was no State Registered Nurse on the staff (as there should have been). He became suspicious at the note from Ada Baguley that authorised cremation[4] and ordered a post-mortem. The post-mortem found no traces of anything connected to Ada's physical conditions that could have immediately caused death. This led to an analysis of the organs of the deceased by Dr W. W. Taylor, Senior Assistant to the Nottingham Analyst. He found considerable traces of morphine (over three grains) in her stomachliverkidneys and even her heart.

Suspicions were now raised about the death of Mrs Baguley, and an exhumation ordered by the Home Office occurred. This was handled by Dr Roche Lynch, who found the mother had also died of morphine poisoning. This led to the arrests of Waddingham and Sullivan for the two murders.


Waddingham's trial started on the 4th of February 1936. She was tried by Judge Rayner Goddard in 1936. Her barrister was Mr.Eales, who did the best job he could. But the prosecution was in the hands of Norman Birkett (a rarity, for Birkett was normally handling criminal defence). Birkett brought out much damaging testimony, including how Ada Baguley's last meal was incredibly heavy and rich for a woman in her condition: Waddingham admitted that she gave Ada pork, baked potatoes, kidney beans and fruit pie - and gave her two portions of this. It suggested an effort to disguise the cause of death, and a lack of concern for the patient's welfare. The result was that Waddingham was convicted of using morphine to poison Mrs. Baguley and Ada. The purported motive behind the murders was to gain the Baguleys' estate. It was also revealed that Waddingham claimed that Dr. Mansfield gave her surplus morphine tablets for Ada Baguley, which that doctor denied. In trial, Sullivan was discharged for insufficient evidence, despite the fact that the so-called note from Ada Baguley regarding cremation was written by him. Waddingham, however, was found guilty on the 27th of February, and, despite recommendation of mercy, due to her being a mother of several young children, she was hanged on the 16th of April 1936, having confessed to the crime shortly before her execution. Her execution was carried at Winson Green Prison and her hangman was Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by his nephewAlbert Pierrepoint.

Waddingham was a mother of five and was still breastfeeding her 3-month old baby at the time of her execution. 10,000 people gathered outside the gaol to demonstrate against the execution, chanting "Stop this mother murder!".

The fiancé of Ada Baguley, the daughter, committed suicide after her death.


Margaret Ward

Saint Margaret Ward (died 30 August 1588) was an English Catholic martyr who was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I for helping apriest to escape from prison. Her date of birth is unknown, but she was born in CongletonCheshire.

Hearing that Fr. William Watson was confined at Bridewell Prison, she obtained permission to visit him. She was thoroughly searched before and after early visits, but gradually the authorities became less cautious, and she managed to smuggle a rope into the prison. Fr. Watson escaped, but hurt himself in so doing, and left the rope hanging from the window. The boatman whom Ward had engaged to take him down the river then refused to carry out the bargain. Ward, in her distress, confided in another boatman, John Roche, who undertook to assist her. He provided a boat, and exchanged clothes with the priest. Fr. Watson got away, but Roche was captured in his place, and Ward, having been Fr. Watson's only visitor, was also arrested.

Margaret Ward was kept in irons for eight days, was hung up by the hands, and scourged, but absolutely refused to disclose the priest's whereabouts. At her trial, she admitted to having helped Fr. Watson to escape, and rejoiced in "having delivered an innocent lamb from the hands of those bloody wolves". She was offered a pardon if she would attend a Protestant service, but refused. She was hanged at Tyburn on 30 August 1588, along with Edward ShelleyRichard MartinRichard Flower and John Roche.

Margaret Ward was canonized by Pope Paul VI on 25 October 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Her feast day, along with that of the other thirty-nine martyrs, is on 25 October. However, in certain Roman Catholic dioceses of England & Wales, such as the Dioceses of ShrewsburyBirmingham and Leeds, she shares a feast day with fellow female martyr saints Margaret Clitherow and Anne Line, on 30 August.

There are several schools named after her, including a Catholic high school and performing arts college in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, which counts the singer Robbie Williams among its alumni.


Agnes Waterhouse

Agnes Waterhouse (c.1503 in England - 27 July 1566 in ChelmsfordEssex), also known as Mother Waterhousewas the first woman executed for witchcraft in England.

She was accused of witchcraft along with another woman, Elizabeth Francis in 1566. She confessed to having been a witch for 15 years and that her familiar was a cat by the same of Satan, which belonged to Elizabeth Francis. Agnes was put on trial in Chelmsford, Essex, England, in 1566 for using witchcraft to cause the death of William Fynne, who died on 1 November 1565. She was also charged with using sorcery to kill livestock, cause illness, as well as bring about the death of her husband. Her eighteen-year-old daughter Joan was also accused of the same crime, however, Joan testified against her mother in order to save herself and Agnes was hanged.


Sarah Wildes

Sarah (Averill) Wildes (1627 – July 19, 1692) was executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. She was one of seven children born to William Averell. She married English immigrant John Wildes (born 1618) and had a son, Ephraim. Ephraim held the positions of towntreasurer and constable during the period of the conspiracy. Constable Ephraim Wildes was ordered by the Marshall, George Herrick, to arrest Deliverance Hobbs. Hobbs, whether through coercion or not, made a jailhouse confession and implicated Sarah Wildes as a witch. Wildes was condemned by the Court of Essex County for the practice of witchcraft. She was executed by hanging in Salem, Massachusetts, on July 19, 1692 at 65 years of age. Since that time, all of the so-called "witches" have been formally pardoned of the hysterical accusations and subsequent convictions.


Ada Williams (baby farmer)

Ada Chard Williams (1875–1900) was a baby farmer who was convicted of strangling to death 21-month-old Selina Ellen Jones in Barnes in London in September 1899.[2][3][4][5]

Florence Jones, a young unmarried mother, had read an advert in the local newspaper which offered to find homes for unwanted children. She agreed to pay £5 to a Mrs Hewetson (Ada Chard Williams) but could only give her £3 on the day. Being an honest woman, she went back later with the balance and found that Mrs Hewetson and Selina had vanished.

Florence reported the matter to the police. Ada Chard Williams wrote a letter to the police denying the crime but in effect admitting she was a baby farmer who bought and sold babies for profit. The police soon discovered that Mrs Hewetson was Ada Chard Williams. However, they had no body with which to prove there had been a murder, at least not until Selina's corpse was washed up on the bank of the Thames at Battersea.

Like Amelia Dyer, Ada Chard Williams had her own "signature" way of tying up bodies she wished to dispose of, using a knot called a Fisherman's knot or bend and which was a crucial piece of evidence at her trial at the Old Bailey on 16 and 17 February 1900. She was hanged, aged 24, in the yard of Newgate prison on 6 March 1900, the last woman to be hanged there.

She was suspected of killing other children although no proceedings were brought.


Rhoda Willis

Rhoda Willis was a baby farmer convicted of murder.

She was born in Sunderland in 1867.

Willis was executed by hanging at Cardiff prison on August 14 1907, her 40th birthday.[1] She was the only woman to be hanged in Wales in the 20th century and the last baby farmer to be executed.


Catherine Wilson

Catherine Wilson (1822 - 20 October 1862) was a British woman who was hanged for one murder, but was generally thought at the time to have committed six others. She worked as a nurse and poisoned her victims after encouraging them to leave her money in their wills. She was described privately by the sentencing judge as "the greatest criminal that ever lived.

Wilson worked as a nurse first in Spalding, Lincolnshire, and then moving to KirkbyCumbria. She married a man called Dixon but her husband soon died, probably poisoned with colchicum, a bottle of which was found in his room. The doctor recommended an autopsy but Wilson begged him not to perform it, and he backed down.

In 1862 Wilson worked as a live-in nurse, nursing a Mrs Sarah Carnell, who rewrote her will in favour of Wilson; soon afterwards, Wilson brought her a "soothing draught", saying "Drink it down, love, it will warm you." Carnell took a mouthful and spat it out, complaining that it had burned her mouth. Later it was noticed that a hole had been burned in the bed clothes by the liquid. Wilson then fled to London, but was arrested a couple of days later.

First trial

The drink she had given to Carnell turned out to contain sulphuric acid - enough to kill 50 people. Wilson claimed that the acid had been mistakenly given to her by the pharmacist who prepared the medicine. She was tried for attempted murder but acquitted. The judge, Mr Baron Bramwell, in the words of Wilson's lawyer Montagu WilliamsQ.C., "pointed out that the theory of the defence was an untenable one, as, had the bottle contained the poison when the prisoner received it, it would have become red-hot or would have burst, before she arrived at the invalid's bedside. However, there is no accounting for juries and, at the end of the Judge's summing-up, to the astonishment probably of almost everybody in Court" she was found not guilty.

When Wilson left the dock, she was immediately rearrested, as the police had continued their investigations into Wilson and had exhumed the bodies of some former patients. She was charged with the murder of seven former patients, but tried on just one, Mrs. Maria Soames, who died in 1856. Wilson denied all the charges.

Second trial

Wilson was tried on 25 September 1862 before Mr Justice Byles, again defended by Montague Williams. During the trial it was alleged that seven people whom Wilson had lived with as nurse had died after rewriting their wills to leave her some money, but this evidence was not admitted. Almost all though had suffered from gout. Evidence of colchicine poisoning was given by toxicologist Alfred Swaine Taylor, the defence being that the poison could not be reliably detected after so long. In summing up the judge said to the jury: "Gentlemen, if such a state of things as this were allowed to exist no living person could sit down to a meal in safety". Wilson was found guilty and sentenced tohang. A crowd of 20,000 turned out to see her execution at Newgate Gaol on 20 October 1862. She was the last woman to be publicly hanged in London.

After the trial, Byles asked Williams to come to his chambers, where he told him: "I sent for you to tell you that you did that case remarkably well. But it was no good; the facts were too strong. I prosecuted Rush for the murder of Mr Jermy, I defended Daniel Good, and I defended several other notable criminals when I was on the Norfolk Circuit; but, if it will be of any satisfaction to you, I may tell you that in my opinion you have to-day defended the greatest criminal that ever lived."

Public reaction to crimes

Wilson's punishment, the first death sentence handed down to a woman by the Central Criminal Court in 14 years, drew little condemnation. In the view of Harper's Weekly, "From the age of fourteen to that of forty-three her career was one of undeviating yet complex vice [...] She was as foul in life as bloody in hand, and she seems not to have spared the poison draught even to the partners of her adultery and sensuality. Hers was an undeviating career of the foulest personal vices and the most cold-blooded and systematic murders, as well as deliberate and treacherous robberies." It was generally thought that Wilson was guilty of more crimes than the one she was convicted of. Harper's went on:

We speak without hesitation of her crimes as plural, because, adopting the language of Mr. Justice Byles with reference to the death of Mrs Soames, we not only 'never heard of a case in which it was more clearly proved that murder had been committed, and where the excruciating pain and agony of the victim were watched with so much deliberation by the murderer,' but also because the same high judicial authority, having access to the depositions in another case, pronounced, in words of unexampled gravity and significance, 'that he had no more doubt but that Mrs Atkinson was also murdered by Catherine Wilson than if he had seen the crime committed with his own eyes.' Nor did these two murders comprise the catalogue of her crimes. That she, who poisoned her paramour Mawer, again poisoned a second lover, one Dixon, robbed and poisoned Mrs Jackson, attempted the life of a third paramour named Taylor, and administered sulphuric acid to a woman in whose house she was a lodger, only in the present year — of all this there seems to be no reasonable doubt, though these several cases have received no regular criminal inquiry. Seven murders known, if not judicially proved, do not after all, perhaps, complete Catherine Wilson's evil career. And if any thing were wanted to add to the magnitude of these crimes it would be found, not only in the artful and devilish facility with which she slid herself into the confidence of the widow and the unprotected — not only in the slow, gradual way in which she first sucked out the substance of her victims before she administered, with fiendish coolness, the successive cups of death under the sacred character of friend and nurse — but in the atrocious malignity by which she sought to destroy the character and reputation of the poor creatures, and to fix the ignominy of suicide on the objects of her own robbery and murder.


Contributor: bgill
Created: October 12, 2011 · Modified: October 12, 2011

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