|Lincolnshire & London
|1853 - 1862
Maria Soames, 48Mr Dixon
|The Old Bailey
|Mr Justice Byles
|Montagu Williams, Q.C.
Between 1853 - 1862, Catherine Wilson befriended wealthy individuals to such an extent where they would leave their worldly possessions to her in their will.
Claiming to be a nurse, she infiltrated at the very core of the upper class society. It is not clear if she really was a nurse, but she equipped herself well, and if not was certainly a clever imposter.
First operating her skills in Spalding, Lincolnshire. She became housekeeper to retired sea captain Peter Mawer. He was so pleased with her that he made out his will leaving all his money to her. A few weeks later he died of colchicum poisoning.
Wilson was close to becoming unstuck on one occasion. After killing her husband, Dixon,in London, the local doctor wanted to carry out a post-mortem, Wilson complained and pleaded, saying her husband always had a fear of being cut up after his death. After a dramatic effort Wilson succeeded in convincing the doctors, and Dixon was buried with haste, within months Wilson had moved on to her next victim.
Wilson and Dixon had been staying in lodgings in Bloomsbury, the home belonged to Mrs Soames. Now it was Mrs. Soames turn to die at the hands of Wilson. . She had just received a small legacy, she said, and to congratulate her on her windfall, Catherine offered to make her a nice cup of tea. The landlady was never the same again. Four days later she died in agony, and when the same doctor who had been called to Mr. Dixon arrived at the house he found Catherine standing at the window weeping, surprisingly the doctor was not suspicious.
1862, Wilson moved to Brixton, where she was a live-in nurse for Mr. & Mrs. Connell, maybe Wilson was losing her touch, maybe she was becoming complacent or simply impatient. No sooner had Sarah Connell made out a will in Wilson's favour than she started to administer large doses of poison to her, after taking a mouthful of herbal tea the patient screamed and spat it out. Taken to the sick room and given a soothing broth Mrs. Connell again screamed and spat out the foul mixture, by the time Mr. Connell reached the room the fatal mixture had started to burn a hole in the floor. This fatal drink had later been found to contain large amounts of sulphuric acid !. Wilson fled to London, but was soon captured, she claimed that the acid was the fault of the pharmacist who made up the medicines for Mrs. Connell, the murder charge was subsequently dropped. The police had begun investigations into Catherine Wilson, and after exhuming bodies of former patients she was eventually cornered. She was charged with the attempted murder of Mrs. Connell and faced a further charge of murder for the death of a former patient Mrs. Soames, a further seven charges were also brought, she denied all charges.
At the initial trial, to the amazement of all, the jury found her not guilty.
As she left the dock, she was immediately re-arrested.
25th September 1862, a second trial, Despite the denials, she was found guilty of the the murder of Mrs Soames.
20th October 1862, at 8am Catherine Wilson was hanged outside Newgate prison, by William Calcraft, the hanging attracted a crowd of over 20,000 people.
Wilson was the last woman to be publicly hanged in London.