Poisonings In Lambeth

In June, 1892, the people of London were alerted to another murderer in their midst who was, apparently, poisoning women in the Lambeth district of London. The fact that the women who had died were drawn from the “unfortunate” classes, led to speculation that these new murders might spell the return of Jack the Ripper.

Today we know that the murders in question were carried out by Dr. Thomas Neill Cream.

At first, however, despite stating that the police had a suspect, the newspapers did not name that suspect.


The Birmingham Daily Post, on Monday, 6th June, 1892, published the few known facts that had been circulated by news agency:-

“The Press Association has reliable information that the police have under surveillance a man whom they suspect of having poisoned several women in London recently.

The two girls, Alice Marsh and Emma Shrivell, who were poisoned by strychnine in Stamford Street, and who came from Brighton, are among the supposed victims.

The man suspected was in London at the time, and there are circumstances which lead to the belief that he may have been in the neighbourhood of Stamford Street when the crime was committed.

There were-previously two other cases in which women were poisoned which were never satisfactorily explained, and it is believed that these crimes were all perpetrated by the same man.

Startling as the suggestion appears that a wholesale poisoner has long been at large in London, the information has reached the Press Association from a source which cannot but be trustworthy.”

Sketches of the mysterious poisoning in London.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 25th June, 1892. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The York Herald, on Saturday 11th June, 1892, dismissed rumours that the Lambeth poisonings had been carried out by the same perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders of 1888:-

“There is no question of the author of the alleged murders in Stamford Street being identical with “Jack the Ripper,” though it appears that the victims of the former have been selected from a somewhat similar class.

But it is urged in some quarters that the crimes of “Jack the Ripper” may have suggested those of the person who seems to have poisoned a number of girls.

The matter is rapidly exciting public interest, and in Lambeth and adjacent parts of the town nothing else is talked about.”


The Inverness Courier, on Tuesday, 14th June, 1892, published the following article on the case:-

“Although the facts that have transpired concerning the mysterious poisoning of two girls in Stamford Street, and of two other females in South London have not commanded that public attention that previous notorious crimes have done in London, there is no doubt, from what has been admitted by the police, that some revelations of an extraordinary character will be made in a few days, pointing to systematic poisoning of women and girls by an individual of whose identity the police profess to be certain.

The known or inspected number of his victims has been variously stated – as many as seven having been confidently alleged to have been discovered; but the Scotland Yard detectives who are working up the case place the number with which they can trace a direct connection at four.

They are, however, following up other instances of mysterious poisoning of women of obscure position and habits with a view to ascertaining if they present any features in common with those of the poisoning of Alice Marsh and Emma Shrivell in Stamford Street, and Ellen Donworth in Waterloo Road.

The Stamford Street poisoning case is forming the basis of the inquiries of the police. One of the visitors of the girls was a fine stout man, a description which corresponds to that of a mysterious “Fred.”

The police have a theory as to the motive of the poisoner which is as startling as it is horrible.

Sketches showing a skeleton like figure giving victims poison.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 2nd July, 1892. Copyright, The British Library Board.


A London correspondent writes:-

The poisoning mysteries, which the London police are slowly but surely unravelling, have assumed aspects so sensational and appalling that they are likely to throw the atrocities of Jack the Ripper and Deeming into the shade.

Some fiend in human shape has been going about for months in a portion of Lambeth that lies almost under the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, though at the opposite side of the Thames, poisoning unfortunate girls.

Up to the present, seven of the poisoner’s victims have been identified.

The violent deaths of these poor creatures attracted little notice at the time. It was thought that the poisoning was either suicidal or accidental.”