Here at Jack the Ripper tours, we give you an unparalleled insight into the dark and dingy back streets where the Ripper’s victims met their grisly ends. However, though the Ripper has gone down in history for being as mysterious as he was gruesome, he was not the only killer that Victorian society had to deal with.
Unfortunately for the Victorians, a number of psychopathic killers would leave their homicidal mark over the years, some more successfully than others. From insane artists to psychotic, unrequited lovers, here are just a few of the murderous individuals who tried to rival the Ripper!
Known for his intricate depictions of fairies and folklore, Richard Dadd became notorious, not for his paintings, but for his failed killing spree. In 1843, Dadd was diagnosed as being “of unsound mind” and this was evident when he, believing his father was the devil in disguise, murdered him with a knife. He immediately fled to Paris, but en route he attempted to kill a random passer-by, by slashing at his throat. Luckily, he was over powered and promptly arrested.
Due to his insanity, later thought to be paranoid schizophrenia, he was interned in Broadmoor Hospital for the rest of his days. Interestingly, he was allowed to continue painting and to this day his works are worth in excess of £100,000.
The Mad Housewife
Mary Ann Cotton, touted as Britain’s first serial killer, is thought to have poisoned around 21 individuals, mainly her own children.
During her life, Mary Ann had four husbands and each of her marriages was blighted by her children dying unexpectedly and without apparent cause. In total, Mary Ann had 8 children with her first husband, William; 7 of which died from gastric fever. He died of an intestinal disorder in 1865 and Mary was suitably compensated. She bore another child with a married man, who died under similar circumstances. She went on to marry again, but her husband, again, died of an intestinal problem and she was compensated by the insurance company.
This pattern repeated itself for another 2 husbands and assorted lovers until the rumours caught up with her. There was an inquiry and she was found guilty of murder, by arsenic poisoning. She was hanged in March 1873.
The Jilted Ex-Lover
Like the previous woman on this list, Christiana Edmunds also favoured poison when it came to dispatching her victims. The old adage goes, “Why are the pretty ones always insane?” and Edmunds fits this description to the letter.
While living in Brighton she struck up a relationship with a married man, however when he later tried to end their relationship she sent a box of chocolates to his wife which she had laced with strychnine, a potent rat poison. The man’s wife survived but he suspected foul play from Edmunds; though of course he didn’t go to the authorities for fear of being revealed as an adulterer.
Edmunds continued her fiendish habit and was aptly named The Chocolate Cream Poisoner; she would purchase the chocolates, obtain the poison from a local dentist and then return the poisoned treats to unassuming vendors who would then sell them to the general public. Needless to say, her odd habits soon drew attention and she was caught and tried in 1872; she was promptly found to be insane and spent the rest of her years in an asylum. Her antics, however, inspired the 1930’s crime novel The Black Spectacles by John Dickson Carr.
If this brief list has whetted your appetite for more ghoulish tales of murder and intrigue, then join us on our Jack the Ripper London Tour; where no vile details are left unshared! Full details of our tour can be found online.