Frederick Baker And The Murder Of Fanny Adams

The man who had carried Fanny away was 29 year old Frederick Baker, who worked as a clerk for Clements Solicitors at 42 High Street, directly opposite the Swan.

He came from Guildford, a market town about 20 miles from Alton, where his father, Frederick Baker Senior, was a master tailor.

Baker had moved to Alton about twelve months ago, and was a lodger at Sarah Kingston’s boarding house at 69 Hight Street.


That Saturday morning, he had started work at 10 o’clock.

According to a fellow clerk, when Baker came into work he seemed as though he had been drinking, and Baker confessed that he had consumed gin and beer at the Swan before coming into the office.

At eleven o’clock, he had gone back over to the Swan for another drink, and he had begun flirting with the barmaid. He made a clumsy attempt to kiss her, whereupon the landlady expressed surprise that he should begin his day in such an unseemly matter. “Oh, never mind,” was Baker’s reply, “you will not see me again.”

After fifteen minutes, Baker left the pub and returned to the office.

According to his fellow clerks, he went back to the Swan about an hour later, returning at about a quarter to one.

Maurice Biddle, a workmate, would later testify that Baker had been in the office when he went to lunch at one o’clock.


Baker must have left the office again shortly after Biddle’s departure, and he had walked to Flood Meadows, where he encountered the three girls.


William James Walker, a whitesmith and bellhanger, had passed him at around 1.30, as Baker was striding across Walnut Tree Meadow, which adjoined Flood Meadows, and Walker was struck by how vacant and glazed he looked, as though he were partly intoxicated.

William Allwork, cricket bat maker of Alton High Street, had been crossing Flood Meadows at around a quarter to two, when he saw Baker leaning against a gate.

Further down the hill he could see three children playing, and he heard one of them shout, “I’ll tell your mother, Minnie.”

At around ten to three Ann Murrant, met Baker as he was walking from the hop Garden towards St Lawrence’s Church.

Ann had been particularly struck by his civility, as he had held the church gate open for her.

Nothing about his appearance, she later testified, struck her as in any way peculiar.

An illustration of Frederic Baker.
Frederick Baker, The Alton Murderer. From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.


At two minutes past three, under-shepherd George Noyce, who was most specific about the time because he owned a watch, saw Baker walking towards the hop garden.

On sighting Noyce, Baker had attempted to hide his hands under his coat skirts.

As Baker crossed the bridge, leading to the old Basingstoke Road, Noyce had seen him pause briefly to throw something into the river.


Just before the road stood Flood Meadow Cottage, where Mary Ann Porter was sitting outside her door, when she saw Baker go past her garden and turn left along the road, heading towards Alton.

She saw him again, at around six, and this time he stooped down several time to do something to his trousers or feet. As he passed he this second time, he looked her full in the face, as though looking to see if she was watching him.


One of the most significant witnesses to have seen Baker that afternoon was seven year old Alfred Vince, who later stated that, at about five o’clock that afternoon, he was standing by the gate in Tanhouse Lane when he saw a man come out of the Hollow and cross Flood Meadows to the place where the boys bathe.

The man’s coat sleeves were turned back, and his hands were red.

Vince watched the man wash his hands, and then wipe them dry with a pocket handkerchief. Noticing Vince, the man had run towards him, at which point the boy had run away.

It should be noted that doubt has been cast on Alfred Vince’s veracity as a witness, since he didn’t come forward until after the inquest into Fanny’s death and Baker’s first court appearance.

Indeed, at Baker’s trial in December, Vince admitted that he had been taken to Winchester Gaol for an identity parade by his mother, where a man in a tall hat had been standing several feet away from the other men.

As he and his mother passed he man in the tall hat, his mother had nudged him, whereupon he had stopped and said, “that’s the man.”


At some time between 4.30 and 5 o’clock, Harriet Adams realised that Fanny hadn’t returned home with the other children.

She therefore made enquiries of several neighbours to ascertain if any of them had seen her.

They hadn’t. At around 5.30, Jane Gardner, who lived three doors away, called round to see if there was any news on Fanny’s whereabouts.

As they talked, Minnie Warner went past, returning from a trip to the sweet shop, and Jane Gardener asked her when she had last seen Fanny.


Minnie told the two women about the events of a few hours before, and about Fanny’s being carried away by the man in the tall hat.

An illustration showing Fredrick Baker abducting Fanny Adams.
From The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board.

Harriet and Jane headed off along Tanhouse Lane, and hurried across Flood Meadows, with Minnie following close behind trying to keep up with them.

As they drew close to the Hollow, a young man in a tall hat came strolling down the slope heading towards the Basingstoke Road.


At this point Minnie Warner caught up with them and told them that this was the man who had carried Fanny away.

Jane Gardner called to him, but the man carried on walking.

However, following a second shout from Mrs. Gardener, the man came over to them.

“What have you done with the child you took away?” Demanded Jane.

The man replied that had not seen a child.

“Did you give some children, some half-pence? Jane asked.

The man made no answer, so Jane turned to Minnie and asked her, “did this gentleman give you any money today?”

“Yes,” replied the girl, “three pence.”

“No,” said the man, “it was three halfpennies.”


Turning to Mrs Adams, Jane asked, “Why don’t you give him in charge?”

“I am quite willing to go with you to the police,” said the man, and so saying he began walking away.

“We shall have you name,” Jane shouted after him.

“I am to be found at Mr. Clement’s office,” the man shouted, as he continued on his way towards the bridge to the Basingstoke Road, where he would be seen by Mrs Porter, and possibly by Alfred Vince.


Jane and Harriet returned to Tanhouse Lane, still believing, according to the London Evening Standard, that Fanny was probably:- “playing about some of the neighbouring fields and would return before long.”


Baker, meanwhile, had returned to his office.

Maurice Biddle, arrived back from his tea break at around 6.15 p.m., and later stated that Baker came in about five minutes later.

At seven o’clock the two clerks went over to the Swan for a glass of ale.

As they crossed the High Street, Baker told Biddle about the women speaking to him about the missing girl, and said that it would be very awkward for him if the child was murdered or anything, and he supposed he should be blamed for it.

Once in the pub, they got into conversation with the boots, who told them that he was going away on Monday.

Baker said that he would go with him, to which the boots replied that he could turn his hand to anything but Baker could not.

Baker replied:- “Yes, I could turn butcher.”


As the two clerks chatted in the pub, Mrs Adams arrived at the office where she spoke to William Trimming, the Chief Clerk about her missing daughter, and the man she and Jane Gardner had met in Flood Meadows.

Trimming told her that the man’s name was Frederick Baker.

Mrs Adams had then returned to Tanhouse Lane, where, according to the Evening Standard the neighbours were discussing Fanny’s disappearance, and, “fearing some foul play in the matter”, formed a search party and headed off to Flood Meadows to look for the missing girl.