There were many horrible murders that were reported in the Victorian newspapers, and many of them are still shocking to us today.
In 1863, a case was heard that was, in many respects, reminiscent of the horrific murder of Sweet Fanny Adams.
I have made a video on the fate of Fanny Adams, which you can watch on my YouTube Channel.
The Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser, reported on this murder in its edition of Wednesday the 15th of July, 1863:-
MYSTERIOUS MURDER IN LONDON
On Monday evening a lad, digging in the garden of a florist in William Street, New North Road, Islington, came upon the decapitated body of a child in a state of decomposition. It was buried a little way from the surface of the earth.
The remains were inspected by a medical man, and declared to be those of a little girl, and a close examination of the remains of the clothing has led to the belief that the body is none other than that of a girl eight years of age, who disappeared about fifteen months since, within a hundred yards of this spot – Elizabeth Hunter – and for whose discovery Her Majesty’s Government offered £100 reward.
William Henry Clark, a lad of about seventeen years of age, has been apprehended on suspicion of having murdered the girl, and was on Wednesday brought up on the charge at Court.
CHARLOTTE HUNTER’S TESTIMONY
The first witness examined was Charlotte Hunter, a sister of the deceased, who said she last saw her Green Man’s lane.
“She was taken away by a man on a Sunday evening. The man looked about as old as my father. I followed him a little while, and then missed him at William-street.
He said to my sister, “Will you take a letter into William-street, and I will give you 2d.”
I said, “No, she must not go.”
He then took hold of her hand and walked down the street with her.
I followed, and my bonnet came off; and when I stooped to pick it up I lost sight of her.
I never saw my sister again.
QUESTIONS IN COURT
I have seen the prisoner before. I do not know that he is the man that took my sister away.”
Mr. Alexander (second clerk):- “I did not ask you that. You say it was a man about as old as your father.”
“The man who took my sister away had a pork-pie hat with two ribbons on the back.
I have known the prisoner for some time.”
By the Prisoner:- “I do not say that you are the man who took my sister away. I do not know whether the man had a collar on or not. I do not know what sort of clothes he had on.
It was on Sunday the 30th March, at ten o’clock at night, that my sister was taken away.
I had seen the prisoner a little time before I missed my sister, and I have not seen her since.
POLICE CONSTABLE NEWBOLD’S TESTIMONY
Police Constable Newbold said:_
“From instructions received from Mr. Wiseman I went to a nursery ground in William-street, New North Road.
I saw Mr. Wilkinson. I asked him if he recollected the head of human being being found in his nursery.
After some conversation, he showed the place where it was found. I dug, and found a skull.
He afterwards pointed out to me the spot where the skull was found. It was in a greenhouse under the flower-stands.
Another constable dug about, and he dug up a small boot, such as would fit a child.
He afterwards dug up a bone and then another boot. He kept digging and found other bones.
THE MOTHER’S TESTIMONY
Mrs. Susan Hunter, mother of the girl said:-
“From the time I missed her up to now I have never seen her alive.
On Monday night, at the police station, Islington, I saw her boots. They were those she was wearing at the time, as she had no others.
Last night I saw a piece of her jean petticoat, and likewise a piece of her chemise, a piece of a coloured petticoat she wore, and the sleeve of her frock, a small piece of her pinafore and a piece of white tape.
I saw some of her hair. I am certain it her he hair. Her hair was very short.
She wore an old felt hat. I saw a piece which was very much like it.
I know the chemise by the hemming of it. She did it herself.”
After some evidence from Mr. George, the prisoner’s master for about eight months in 1861 and 1862, describing the finding of the remains in the garden, and showing that the prisoner was one of the few who had access to it, the prisoner, who loudly protested his innocence, was remanded.