3rd February 1733, Sarah
Malcolm worked as a laundress, and had many
clients. this gave her access to apartments and flats,
and enabled her to see what the premises contained. On
the fateful night she, along with three accomplices
entered the apartment of elderly Lydia Duncomb, with the
intention of robbery.
On the Sunday morning a friend
of Mrs. Duncomb called and got no answer, she raised the
alarm. a locksmith was called, and it was Sarah Malcolm
who was the first to enter.
Mrs. Duncomb's body was found
lying on her bed she had been strangled. Also discovered
in the apartment were two other bodies, that of Ann
Price and Elizabeth Harrison, both were servants of
Lydia Duncomb, both had also been strangled.
The apartment had been
completely stripped of anything of value, and the
strongbox had been forced open and emptied.
A neighbour, who also
used Sarah's services came home on the Sunday lunchtime,
and found Sarah in his room, he was surprised to see her
there at that time and asked her to leave. after she had
gone he checked his room, found some of his things
missing, and also discovered a blood stained tankard.
Suspicion was now placed
upon Sarah and the police were called. When Sarah was
searched as she entered Newgate prison on the Monday
morning she was found to have a large amount of gold and
silver coins on her. She also had a purse hidden in her
bra, containing a large amount of money, she claimed the
money and coins had been found in the street.
Friday 23rd February
1733, Trial at the old Bailey in London,
indictment against her read:
Malcolm, alias Mallcombe was indicted for the Murder of
Ann Price, Spinster, by wilfully and maliciously giving
her with a Knife one mortal Wound on the Throat, of the
length of two Inches, and depth of one Inch, on the 4th
of February instant, of which wound the said Anne Price
She was a second time indicted for the Murder of
Elizabeth Harrison, spinster, by strangling and choking
her with a cord, on the said 4th of February; by reason
of which strangling and choking the said Elizabeth
Harrison instantly died.
She was a third time indicted for the Murder of Lydia
Duncomb , Widow, by strangling and choking her with a
Cord, on the said 4th of February, by which Strangling
and Choking the said Lydia Duncomb instantly died.
She was again indicted for breaking and entering the
dwelling-house of Lydia Duncomb , Widow, and stealing 20
Moidores, (Spanish gold coins valued at 27 shillings
each) 18 Guineas, one Broad-Piece, value 25 s. 4
Broad-Pieces, value 23 s. each, one half Broad-Piece,
value 11 s. 6 d. 25 s. in Silver, a Silver Tankard,
Value 40 s. a Canvas Bag, Value 1 d. and two Smocks,
value 12 s. on the 4th day of February instant, about
the hour of 2 in the night of the same day.”
Sarah pleaded not guilty
to all of the charges.
All were capital
offences, so it was decided to proceed only with the
murder of Ann price to save court time and money.
She claimed that she had
indeed been there, for the purpose of robbery, and that
the accomplices must have committed the murders when she
was not looking. She demanded the return to her of the
money and coins she had found.
she was found guilty and
sentenced to death.
She returned to New gate
to await execution. It was common practice at the time
to carry out the execution close to where the crime had
Newgate’s portable gallows was set up in Fleet Street,
in the square opposite
Wednesday 7th of March 1733, Sarah Malcolm was
executed by executioner John Hooper.
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