The Execution Of Louis Bordier

In September 1867, Louis Bordier murdered his wife Mary Ann Snow as she slept in her bed at in the room they shared with their children.

You can read the full account of the murder here.

Following his trial at the Old Bailey, he was found guilty of the crime and was sentenced to death.

The Maidstone Telegraph, in its edition of Saturday, 19th October 1867, featured an account of his last days and of his execution:-


The Frenchman, Louis Bordier, aged 32, was executed on Tuesday morning last, in front of Horsemonger-lane Gaol, the usual hour of nine o’clock being altered till ten, on account of the executioner being engaged at Newgate, performing his sad office upon the Limehouse murderer.

Bordier, it will be recollected, was convicted of the murder of a woman named Mary Ann Snow, with whom he had cohabited for thirteen years, and by whom had three children.

He committed the act while his victim was asleep in bed, and although the plea of insanity was set up for the defence it failed, there being too much ground for believing that jealousy was the cause of the culprit committing the offence, as the deceased woman had expressed her intention of separating from him and being married to another man.

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


Bordier repeatedly stated that he could not part with the deceased, and no doubt resolved to kill her rather than that she should live with another man.

It seems to have been the prisoner’s original intention to have killed his children as well as the deceased, but his heart failed him upon seeing the blood.


Prior to his conviction, the unhappy man was attended (he being of the Roman Catholic faith) by the Very Rev. Dr. Doyle, of St. George’s Cathedral, Lambeth-road, and since by the Rev. M. Fanre, one of the priests attached to the Roman Catholic Chapel, Leicester-square, who attended him to the last.

He wrote a letter, though not produced in evidence, addressed to his brother, prior to his trial, and also one to his mother in the French language on Friday last.


On Friday afternoon last Bordier took his last farewell of his children, and the officials describe the scene as being the most heartrending they had ever witnessed.

The children clung to their parent, and he fondled them as a young mother would her infant babe.

The parting greatly affected the unhappy man, but he soon recovered his self-possession.


From this effort, he seemed oppressed, but soon recovered himself again until Sunday, when his rest became disturbed, and his appetite failed him, but he maintained a wonderful command over his feelings, and often declared that he would rather die than live.

On Sunday he received his last communion from the Rev. gentlemen who had been attending him.


On Monday he wrote a letter to his sister, and also one to his fellow shopmates.

The culprit was engaged until nearly four o’clock on Tuesday morning writing the above letters, and he then laid down and slept for a short time.


At seven o’clock the Roman Catholic priest arrived, who stayed with him to the last.

The culprit conducted himself with great firmness, and without anything approaching bravado.

He appears to have been a great physical sufferer, and was, no doubt, in an advanced stage of consumption – one lung, it was believed, being entirely destroyed, and he was also suffering from a painful surgical complaint.

He walked up the steps leading to the scaffold with a firm step, and when he arrived at the top he bowed to the crowd twice, and a good many of those assembled cheered and clapped their hands.

When the drop fell he struggled but little.

Calcraft was the executioner.

There was a large crowd assembled, but the police kept them in order.

The body was cut down after hanging for an hour and was buried within the precincts of the prison.