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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 11, 1744
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1704
Victim profile: John Adler (her husband)
Method of murder: Beating
Location: Farringdon, London, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed at the stake in 1744

Lydia Adler (1704-?) was an English housewife who murdered her husband in 1744 by "throwing him on the ground, kicking and stamping on his groin, and giving him thereby a mortal bruise, of which he languished in St Bartholomew's Hospital from the 11th till the 23rd of May, and then died".

She was convicted of manslaughter and was burned in the hand. It would've been murder, but he was reported to have beat her along with his other wives ( two of whom she knew he had.) The deceased continually begged to be logged with another man. He had a daughter named Hannah.


  • Look For the Woman by Jay Robert Nash. M. Evans and Company, Inc. 1981. ISBN 0-87131-336-7

Lydia Adler

John and Lydia Adler continually quarrelled, with the wife, a large, bad-tempered woman, usually getting the better of her husband. On 11th May 1744 she was seen to throw her husband on the ground and repeatedly kick him in the groin. A few hours later he arrived at a friend's house holding a handkerchief to his bloodied head and shouting "This eternal fiend will be the death of me!", meaning his wife.

He was taken to St Bartholomew's Hospital where he called for Lydia to be arrested. Lydia came to visit him and she laughed at her husband, who was close to death. Adler told a nurse, "I am a dead man and this woman has killed me." He lingered until 23rd May before he expired, only minutes before his death calling "Do you have the warrant yet?"

After his death Lydia was arrested. At her Old Bailey trial in June her daughter gave evidence against her stating that her mother had wilfully assaulted her father. A Dr Goodman testified that John Adler had suffered from a hernia and that the kicks that Lydia had delivered to her husband's groin would not have killed a healthy man. In her defence, Lydia told the court that she had been quarreling with one of her husband's three other wives, and he had fallen down while trying to part them. Lydia was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to be burned on the hand and set free. Impatient Lydia chided the warders heating the branding iron with "Hurry up - I have my linen to do."


Lydia Adler

Burned in the Hand for killing her Husband, who had four Wives. June Sessions, Old Bailey, 1744

This woman was tried at the Old Bailey, at the sessions held in June, 1744, for the wilful murder of her husband, John Adler, by throwing him on the ground, kicking and stamping on his groin, and giving him thereby a mortal bruise, of which he languished in St Bartholomew's Hospital from the 11th till the 23rd of May, and then died; and she was again indicted on the coroner's inquest for manslaughter.

Hannah Adler, daughter of the deceased, swore that he told her that his wife had given him the wounds which afterwards occasioned his death.

Benjamin Barton deposed that the deceased came to him on the 11th of May, with a bloody handkerchief about his head, and asked him for a spare bed, saying: "This infernal fiend [meaning his wife] will be the death of me." But Barton, knowing the woman to be of a very turbulent disposition, refused to lodge the man.

After this he visited him every other day during his illness, and he very often said: "I wish, Mr Barton, you would be so good as to get a warrent to secure this woman, for she will be the death of me" ; and two hours before he died he inquired if such a warrant was procured ; and desired that Barton would see her brought to justice, which he promised he would, if it lay in his power.

Hannah Adler, being further questioned, said that her father died between twelve and one o'clock ; that about two hours and a half before he said : "I am a dead man, and this lady [the prisoner] has killed me." That after this he repeatedly declared that his wife was the person that had murdered him, and begged that she might be brought to justice. His last declaration was made only about ten minutes before he died.

Mr Godman, a surgeon, deposed that the husband died of a mortification, occasioned by a blow; but acknowledged that the deceased had a rupture, and that such a blow as he had received would not have hurt a person in sound health.

The prisoner in her defence said that her husband had two wives besides her ; and that a quarrel happening between her and one of the wives, the husband endeavoured to part them, and in so doing fell down, and the other woman fell on him ; but that she herself never lifted hand or foot against him.

Joseph Steel deposed that the deceased had had four wives ; that he was kind to them all at the first, but afterwards used to beat them severely ; and that he had seen the prisoner and her husband frequently fight together.

The jury gave a verdict of manslaughter; in consequence of which he was burned in the hand.

The Complete Newgate Calendar - Volume III


The Proceedings of the Old Bailey

326. + Lydia ADLER, late wife of John Adler , was indicted for that she not having the fear of God before her eyes, &c. on the 11th day of May, in the 17th year of his Majesty's reign, with force and arms in the Parish of St. Sepulchres, in the Ward of Farringdon within, in and upon John Adler her husband, in the peace of God, &c. feloniously, traiterously, wilfully, and of her malice aforethought did make an assault, and him the said John upon the ground, feloniously, traiterously, wilfully, and of her malice aforethought, did cast and throw, and he the said John then and there lying, in and upon the groin of him the said John Adler her husband, divers times feloniously, traiterously, wilfully and of her malice aforethought did kick and stamp, giving to the said John Adler upon the groin of him the said John, one mortal bruise, of which said mortal bruise the said John Adler from the said 11th day of May to the 23d day of the same month did languish, on which said 23d day of May, &c. in the Parish of St. Bartholomew, the Great, &c. the said John Adler of the said mortal bruise did die, and therefore the Jurors say that she the said Lydia Adler , him the said John Adler , in manner and form aforesaid, feloniously, traiterously, wilfully, and of her malice aforethought did kill and murder .

*She was indicted last September Sessions by the name of Lydia Millin , otherwise Adler, for breaking and entering the dwelling house of John Adler the younger, and stealing some wearing apparel , the property of Priscilla Adler , and a silver watch, &c. the property of John Adler , the elder, [the Deceased] and acquitted. See Page 260, Trial 485.

She was a second time indicted on the Coroner's inquest for manslaughter.

Hannah Adler. The deceased was my husband's father, on the 13th of May he came to see us, and I went home with him - He lived in Bartholomew-close; he told me this wicked woman the Prisoner at the bar was the woman that murdered him.

Q. When did he tell you so?

Hannah Adler . This was done the 11th of May, and he told me so the 13th.

Q. Upon what occasion did he tell you this?

Adler. He said she had thrown him cross the bed and bedstead, and kneeled upon him and he was forced to go away from her.

Q. Was he naked then?

Adler. Yes, he was just going into his bed.

Q. How long after that did he die?

Adler. He lived 12 days afterwards.

Q. Had he been out after this?

Adler. Yes, he had been out.

Benjamin Barton . He came to my house on Friday May 11, he had a handkerchief about his head that was bloody; and he says to me, Barton, have you ever a spare bed in your house? I told him no. I knew the Prisoner to be a very turbulent woman, and I refused him a lodging: says he, This eternal fiend will be the death of me, for she has stamped upon my private parts. I never saw him any more till the Tuesday following (this was on the Friday) at his own home in 3 Fox-court in Bartholomew-close . On Monday he sent a note to me by Mr. Godman's [the Surgeon] servant to pay him a guinea, (and Mr. Godman's receipt should be my discharge,) before Mr. Godman would meddle with him. On Tuesday I saw him again, for I visited him every her day during the time of his languishing, and very often he said, I wish Mr. Barton you would be a good as to get a warrant to secure this woman, for she will be the death of me: And two hours before he died he asked me if I had got a warrant so the Prisoner.

Q. When was this?

Barton. It was the 23d of May.

Q. What did he desire then?

Barton. He said if I had not got a warrant then, he desired I would see her brought to justice, and I said I would if it lay in my power; then I went home, and in about two hours his daughter came and told me her father was dead. I was with him much about 12 o'clock, and he was dead before two.

Q. (to Adler.) What time did your father die?

Adler . I think to the best of my knowledge between 12 and one in the afternoon: about 10 o'clock he said, I am a dead man, and this lady [the Prisoner] has killed me. I made answer again and purged him and said, father, who was it gave you this wound that turned to the mortification? He said, 'My dear child, she is the person that did it, and I hope you will bring her to justice. I was very ill in sitting up so many nights and days, and he said, Dear child, I hope you will live to see her brought to justice, for she is the person that murdered me; he died about ten minutes after he said these words.

Thomas Godman . I attended the deceased on the 14th of May, and the first word that the deceased said to me when I came into the room was, This wicked woman has murdered me. I desired to search him with regard to his complaint; he told me she had hurt him in his private parts, when I came to examine him, I found he had a rupture of the gut in the scrotum - the gut had fallen down into the scrotum - our term for it is Hernia Intestinalis. I found upon examining that this was not recent.

Q. What do you mean by examining?

Godman. Both feeling and looking.

Q. What do you mean by recent?

Godman. Fresh contracted; for his rupture had been some years, but he had received a contusion upon the groin, which had occasioned a stagnation of the contents of the gut in the scrotum, of which notwithstanding all I applied to relieve him he died - I believe about the 23d of May: I opened him after the Coroner had taken his inquest, and found the gut to be mortified, which was the occasion of his death.

Q. By what occasion was that mortified?

Godman. I take it to be by the bruise upon that part of the gut which comes down into the scrotum .

Q. Was the contusion recent?

Godman. That was recent, but the rupture had been of a long continuance.

Q. Suppose this had happened to a found man, what damage do you think this would have done him?

Godman. It would not have hurt him, for some labour 20 years under this complaint ?

Q. Was it a great bruise?

Godman. It was sufficient to occassion a stagnation of the contents, which occasioned the complaint; - his general cry was, the wicked woman had killed him, but who he meant I can't tell, for he never mentioned any name to me.

Prisoner. Mr. Godman may be a very good Surgeon, he is Surgeon of St. Luke's Parish , but I never knew a Surgeon open a man without 3 or 4 Surgeons with him, for he had this ailment a great many years; if he lays any thing against me I will suffer the law. My husband was two months and was not able to put his shoes or stockings on.

Godman. I have mentioned it to the Court good woman that this was an old complaint.

Prisoner. My husband loved women, he had got 2 wives besides me; he had a crew he lived with in St. Giles's, and one of them gave me a slap of the face; I asked her what she did here? and she said he was her husband and struck me, and said she could cut me in three pieces, and she tore my cap off my head; he went to pull this creature off me, and fell against something, and this creature fell upon him, he fell backwards, and she is a very great weight; and he got such a disorder by this that he could not put on his shoes or stockings; he has not had an hour's health since I have had him, which is 4 years and an half. He was very bad to be sure, but I never lifted up hand or foot against him. I was advised to carry him to the hospital, but that creature [ Hannah Adler ] knocked me down with a hair broom, and took him to her house.

Joseph Steele. I have known the Prisoner about nine or ten years. Mr. Adler was acquainted with another woman in Golden-lane that he had two children by; he was always a loving man to his wives at first, and when they came to be a little expensive to him, they used to fight like dog and cat: he had another wife between her and that gentlewoman [the Prisoner.] I ask pardon it flurries me, I am not used to these things; I am not used to come into a Court: he had a housekeeper who was pretty lusty, and she used to beat him, and when he put her off, he took to this; she was as pretty a modest behaved creature as could be, and continued so for a long time; he was as fond of this at first as he was of the others, but then money growing thin he wanted her to work, and allowed her but little for it, and would buy stale things for 2 d. which if they were good would be worth 8 d. I believe they trumped up stories against her, for I carried her twice to New Prison, (I am an officer of the Parish and kept a publick house in the neighbourhood) the last warrant I had, the Justice did not believe she was guilty, and discharged her.

Q. You seem to say, that this woman did really beat him?

Steele. I believe she was like other women, that when he struck her, she struck him again.

Q. Did you ever see her strike?

Steele Yes, I have; upon my oath I have; I have seen them fight up and down.

Prisoner Don't you know he took me up for a robbery?

Steele. I cannot say anything to that; I know he tried his first wife, this is the 4th wife, and they were all served in the same kind. Guilty of Manslaughter.



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