A Peculiarly Shocking Murder

Spouse murder was exceedingly common in Victorian London, and some of the cases that were reported in the media of the age still have the power to shock us today, just as they did those who read about them in the pages of the 19th-century newspapers.

There were cases of wives being accused of murdering husbands, such as the case of Florence Maybrick. But the largest number of spouse homicides were those whereby husbands murdered their wives.

One such murder was reported on by The Leicester Journal, in its edition of Friday the 6th September 1867:-


A peculiarly shocking murder was committed on Tuesday morning.

It appears that, for some time past, a man named Louis Bordier, aged 52, a native of France, and by trade a currier, has resided at No 3. Millstead-terrace, Church-street, Old Kent-road, London.

The house, which is one of six rooms, was rented by a Mrs. Caroline Snow, and let out by her in apartments.


The front and back parlours were occupied by Louis Bordier and a young woman named Emma Snow (the niece of the landlady), who had cohabited with him, and by whom had had three children.

Bordier and the young woman and children went to bed on Monday night shortly before ten o’clock.


At five o’clock on Tuesday morning, the man got out of bed, and in doing so awoke the woman. She said, “It’s too soon to get up yet; come to bed again.”

After a short time, the man went to bed again, and the woman fell asleep.


About six o’clock she was awoken by feeling a hand grasp her tightly by the head, and, on looking up, she saw Bordier with a knife in his right hand.

He pulled back her head, and drew the knife across her throat. She struggled with him and managed to get out of the room into the passage.


She then put her hands to her throat, which she tightly grasped, and made her way up some twenty stairs to the room occupied by Mrs. Snow.

She awoke Mrs. Snow, who got up and made an alarm, and messengers were sent off to various medical gentlemen and to the police station.


When the police arrived the poor woman was dead.

Bordier afterwards went upstairs, and in answer to Mrs. Snow, he said, “I have done it, I could not help it: for I could not part from her.”

Illustrations showing the murder of Emma Snow.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 14th September 1867. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The police then made a search, and on going into the front parlour, where Bordier and the unfortunate woman had slept, they found on the floor, covered with blood, a large sharp knife, such as would be used by currier in his trade.

The bedclothes were stained with blood, marks of which were about the floor, along the passage, and up the stairs to the room where the deceased had managed to get after the injury had been inflicted.

Some letters written in French were found, but, at present, it is not known whether their contents relate to the crime.

It seems, further, that although the man and his victim had been on very good terms for a long time, yet owing some quarrel between them she had threatened to leave him, and went so far as to give him a week’s notice.


From the statement made by one of the children, a girl about ten years of age, it seems that Bordier, after cutting the woman’s throat, passed into the back parlour. He stooped down over the bed where the child was lying, and seizing her by the throat pushed her head back and looked her full in the face.

After remaining in this position for a few moments, he suddenly threw her back and said, “Lie down again.”

At that time he held one hand behind him, from which she noticed the handle of a knife. He did not touch her or say another word, but left the room.

No doubt from this Bordier intended to have destroyed the child, but at the last moment relented.


On being questioned by the police, the man, who did not at first seem distressed in mind, or to feel the dreadful position in which he was placed, said, “Yes, I did it, and the knife is the one you have got that I did it with.”

He then begged to be taken to see the woman before they took him away.

This was done, and on the way up the stairs, the prisoner said that he hoped that she would not live.


Louis Bordier’s trial for the murder of Emma Snow took place at the Old Bailey during the last week of September.

The jury found him guilty, and the judge sentenced him to death.

His execution took place outside Horsemonger Lane Gaol on Tuesday the 15th of October 1867.