Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mary Emily Cage, English Serial Killer - 1851


FULL TEXT: At Norwich, on Saturday, the execution of Henry Groom took place, in front of the County Gaol, before an immense concourse of persons. Groom, it will be remembered, was convicted at the recent assizes for the wilful murder of John Ayton, who was shot while proceeding to pay some labourers in the employ of the Earl of Leicester.

At Ipswich, on Tuesday, Mary Emily Cage was executed for the murder of her husband:—

“For years past Cage and his wife have lived in continual strife, caused principally by her absenting herself from her husband’s cottage for nights together, for the company of other men. On other occasions she has been known to be entertaining men under the roof of her own cottage, while she has had her husband locked up in a room, or one of her sons has been drinking with his father at a public-house, to lull suspicion. About this time last year she left her husband in company with a man named Tricker, taking with her a daughter only sixteen years of age, who was also accompanied by a young man with whom she led a debauched life. After being from home about six weeks, the mother and daughter returned, and the latter gave birth to a child in the lower room of the cottage, while her father was lying upstairs in bed suffering the most excruciating pains from the small doses of arsenic which had been administered to him by his wife. Mrs. Cage has, there is little doubt, been guilty of more than one murder. She was the mother of fourteen children, five of whom died in the short space of a fortnight, about six years ago. Rumour was, on that occasion, rife — it was said that foul play had been practised. The body of one of the children was exhumed, and a coroner’s jury empanelled to inquire into the cause of death, but we are informed that no chemical analysis was made of the contents of the stomach, and the jury returned a verdict of  Natural death. There are only four children now living, the eldest a son about thirty years of age, and the youngest a girl about six. The murdered man, after suffering from the effects of the poison administered by his wife, died at the end of a fortnight raving mad. Preparations were at once made by his wife to have his body interred as quickly as possible; and, not withstanding that she was suspected of poisoning him, every arrangement had been made for the funeral without any opposition being offered, or any inquiry into the cause of death being gone into. The church bell was tolling, the coffin containing the body of the murdered man was placed on the bier outside the cottage door, when, just as the bearers were raising the coffin to their shoulders to convey it to the grave in the churchyard, the rector of the parish, the Rev. Charles Shorting, went up and requested that the corpse might be taken back into the house. A coroner’s inquest was held over the body on the day following the inquiry, and it resulted in the deceased’s wife being found guilty of ‘wilful murder.

On Tuesday, about 8,000 persons assembled to witness her execution. The guilty woman walked from her cell across the courtyard in front of the prison with a firm step. On reaching the porter’s lodge she was pinioned by Calcraft, after which she was led out upon the scaffold, supported by Mr. Johnson and one of the head turnkeys. She walked up the ladder, part of the way, with a firm step, but when she had reached the top her knees faltered, and she was lifted underneath the fatal beam, apparently unconscious. Her death was almost instantaneous.

[“Executions.” The Atlas (London, England), Aug. 23, 1851, p. 534 (page 6 of this issue)]

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