Famous Murders in Victorian England

Well, ladies and gents!

In Victorian England, the horror and the killings were very popular. People loved reading supernatural horror stories in literary books, but also real killer stories in newspapers. The British interest in that news was so great that free leaflets were circulated on the streets to inform anyone who had not bought a newspaper about the latest gruesome assassination.

The perpetrators became famous in one day. Songs were written about them and the news about their actions created a whole myth around their name. It was such an effort to beautify the perpetrators, so from short, fat and ugly, they were “transformed” into tall, good-looking and charming men. Fascinating!

People lived the perpetrators’ murder stories with mixed feelings of terror and admiration. This strange situation created a morbid fashion that even required the creation of souvenirs after every murder. People were making and selling ceramic statues depicting murder scenes or the killers themselves. Weird, right?

Well keep reading, hun, it is becoming weirder! 🙂

Red Barn Murder 

A crime that happened in 1827 and shocked England…

A young woman, Maria Marten, was murdered by her fiancé, William Corder, who buried her under the Red Barn, a well-known spot in  Polstead, Suffolk, England. He had been telling her family for a long time that Maria had become his wife and they were staying in Ipswich, away from them.

Her family’s suspicions were raised when her mother-in-law dreamed that Maria was dead and buried under the “Red Barn”. They searched and found her corpse. Police found Corder in London, where he had been married and living with his family. He was hanged in 1828 and 7,000 people gathered in the square to see his execution.

The statuettes created in honor of the murder were sold at auction in 2010 for $17,937. Can you imagine that?!

Rugeley Poisoner

Charles Dickens called him “the worst man ever to stand trial“.

It was William Palmer, the doctor who had poisoned his family to get insurance money. There were suspicions that he had poisoned many of his patients as well, namely four children who had been in crisis before getting one-year-old. 

The money he got from killing his mother, brother, wife and best friend was spent on cards and on the race track. He was executed in June 1856 in front of a crowd exceeding 30,000 people.

Bermondsey Horror

In 1849 Frederick George Manning and his wife, Marie Manning, killed her lover, Patrick O’Connor. 

Her relationship with the wealthy O’Connor began before she got married and continued after her marriage. Two years later, she arranged with her husband to kill him and steal his money and his railroad shares.

In the end, they both intended to betray each other. Marie left without telling Frederick anything, taking O’Connor’s money with her. Frederick was planning to do just that, but he didn’t have the time. They were arrested and executed in November 1849. It was the first married couple to be hanged simultaneously since 1700!

Murders at Stanfield Hall

Isaac Jermy and his son were murdered in 1848 by James Bloomfield Rush, a farmer who rented one of their farms.

Rush was unable to pay the rent and planned to kill the entire Jermy family, including his son’s pregnant wife. He intended to disguise himself before the assassination so that the suspicions would fall on the men who were pressuring Jermy to sell his land. It’s like a movie script, right?

His plan failed and Rush was hanged in 1849. His story did not only inspire ceramic figurines, but entire books, written by Joseph Shearing

Well, that’s it, sweetie!

Thank you for reading this article of mine! Please let me know your thoughts about it—did you enjoy it? 

If there is anything else you’d be interested in reading about the Regency Era, feel free to let me know…

…and who knows? Maybe you will read about it soon!

Written by Olivia Bennet

  • This article was very interesting , I ‘ve always been fascinated by the depravity of people thinking they would not be caught and what they did was acceptable behavior. The old saying man is his own worst enemy is so true and will probably always be true.I have enjoyed all your topics from the recency era to Victorian times. Thank you !

  • Interesting thought-provoking. Some of these Tales I had heard before, others I have not heard of before. It would be interesting if a couple of these can be put into a fiction novel. I did enjoy this sorry, but I enjoy more the lifestyle of the people.

  • Olivia
    Very interesting
    To think after all these years
    Man/woman have not learned
    ‘Live and let live’
    relationships and greed still
    Pay a part in our lifetime
    and thank you

  • Great article. I like ve reading your research. Keep up the good work. Love your books as well.

    Cheers Catherine

  • Great article. Interesting because of the why and thought they would get away with it. I am sure there were a lot of murders that were not solved back then because of the lack of police power.Thanks for your research.

  • How absolutely ghastly. To make souvenirs out of the wanton, blatant thieving & murdering criminals is appalling. The Victorians certainly had some weird fetishes & were very impressed by the goings on of these people in their society. Today we still have some of these souvenirs still on sale & it beggars belief that some people still hold admiration for these criminals. Perhaps it’s the value of the porcelain that actually attracts some to buy them. I am not one of them. Here in Australia, there is still some who admire the criminal acts of Ned Kelly, a bushranger, who murdered several policemen who were trying to arrest him. When finally caught, charged & convicted he was hanged in Pentridge Prison but his head was not found!! Strange but true.

  • It’s gory and fascinating at the same time. I have always been intrigued by the Victorian Era and this surpasses anything that I have read!

  • Another great informative and entertaining article. With all the murders going on in the US today, the ceramic factories would be going 24/7.

  • I guess we still don’t know who Jack the ripper is, we never learn mistakes we have made in the past, it seems worst now, when will people wake up.

  • It is so weird what people will respond to. I enjoyed your article. It was so interesting. America did the same thing to a lot of the people the murdered and etc. For instance Bonnie and Clyde were almost made into heroes here in Texas. They were before my time, but in school every one raised their hands when asked who knew who Bonnie and Clyde were.

  • Unbelievable But, I guess we aren’t so different. There are many people entranced with murderers and are willing to buy their artifacts, books, artworks, you name it. Women even willing to befriend and marry murderers. Not my choice, but whatever floats their’goat’!!

  • Elizabeth M hit the nail on the head. We are still doing this and hopefully we’ll eventually get smarter. Can’t imagine wanting to marry a murderer, yuk!
    Love your articles and books.

  • Fascinating article! Amazing how obsessed the people during the Regency/Victorian era were with the dark side of humanity and the macabre, to the point of creating ceramic figures and scenes representing the murderers and the scenes of their crimes. We have not really improved our own obsession with such crimes and behavior; think of all the gossip rags, “true crime ” shows; social media websites dedicated to such things as serial killers (a term which didn’t even exist back then); and there is still a demand for collecting anything to do with serial killers and grisly crimes. All this proves is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We may have advanced technologically, but the darkness found within the human heart has not changed at all. Thanks again for another well researched article.