Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 23, 1759
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1733
Victim profile: Her widowed aunt, Susanna Walker
Method of murder: Cutting her throat
Location: Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Kennington-common on April 2, 1759


Strongly protesting her Innocence, she was executed on Kennington Common, 2nd of April, 1759, for the Murder of her Aunt

THIS unhappy girl was the daughter of a farmer near Leeds, in Yorkshire, and was sent to reside with her aunt, Mrs Walker, of Rotherhithe, who was a widow lady. With this aunt she lived two years, comporting herself in the most decent manner, and regularly attending the duties of religion.

A lady, named Toucher, having spent the evening with Mrs Walker, Mary Edmondson lighted her across the street on her way home, and soon after her return a woman who cried oysters through the street observed that the door was open and heard the girl cry out "Help! Murder! They have killed my aunt!" Edmondson now ran to the house of Mrs Odell, wringing her hands and bewailing the misfortune, and, the neighbours being by this time alarmed, some gentlemen went from a public-house, where they had spent the evening, determined to inquire into the affair. They found Mrs Walker, with her throat cut, lying on her right side, and her head near a table, which was covered with linen. One of the gentlemen, named Holloway, said: "This is very strange; I know not what to make of it: let us examine the girl."

Her account of the matter was that four men had entered at the back door, one of whom put his arms round her aunt's neck, and another, who was a tall man, dressed in black, swore that he would kill her if she spoke a single word.

Mr Holloway, observing that the girl's arm was cut, asked her how it had happened; to which she replied that one of the men, in attempting to get out, had jammed it with the door. But Holloway, judging from all appearances that no men had been in the house, said he did not believe her, but supposed she was the murderer of her aunt.

On this charge she fell into a fit and, being removed to a neighbour's house, was bled by a surgeon, and continued there till the following day, when the coroner's inquest sat on the body, and brought in a verdict of wilful murder; whereupon she was committed to prison, on the coroner's warrant.

Mrs Walker's executors, anxious to discover the truth, caused the house to be diligently searched, and found that a variety of things, which Mary Edmondson had said were stolen, were not missing; nor could they discover that anything was lost. Mrs Walker's watch and some other articles which she said had been carried off by the murderers were found under the floor of the necessary-house.

Being committed to the New Jail, Southwark, she remained there till the next assizes for Surrey, when she was tried at Kingston, and convicted on evidence which, though acknowledged to be circumstantial, was such as, in the general opinion, admitted little doubt of her guilt.

She made a defence indeed; but there was not enough of probability in it to have any weight.

Being condemned on Saturday, to be executed on the Monday following, she was lodged in the prison at Kingston, whence she wrote to her parents, most solemnly avowing her innocence, She likewise begged that the minister of the parish would preach a sermon on the occasion of her death. She asserted her innocence on the Sunday, when she was visited by a clergyman and several other people; yet was her behaviour devout, and apparently sincere.

Being taken out of prison on the Monday morning, she got into a post-chaise with the keeper, and, arriving at the Peacock, in Kennington Lane, about nine o'clock, there drank a glass of wine; and then, being put into a cart, was conveyed to the place of execution, where she behaved devoutly, and made the following address to the surrounding multitude:--

"It is now too late to trifle either with God or man. I solemnly declare that I am innocent of the crime laid to my charge. I am very easy in my mind, as I suffer with as much pleasure as if I was going to sleep. I freely forgive my prosecutors, and earnestly beg your prayers for my departing soul."

After execution her body was conveyed to St Thomas's Hospital, Southwark, and there dissected, agreeably to the laws respecting murderers.

The Newgate Calendar -


EDMONDSON, Mary (England)

Mary was the daughter of a farmer who lived near Leeds, Yorkshire, but had gone to live with her widowed aunt, Mrs Walker, at Rotherham. There Mary lived a decorous way of life and, being a religiously minded young lady, went to the local church regularly. What she was alleged to have done later was totally out of character – if, as some believed, she was indeed guilty of the horrendous crime.

It seemed that a lady teacher named Toucher had been spending the evening with Mrs Walker, and Mary escorted her across the darkened street afterwards. Some time later a woman who sold oysters and had been crying her wares in the locality, saw that the house door was open and heard Mary call out: ‘Help! Murder! They have killed my aunt!’ Other neighbours, hearing the commotion, ran to help, as did some men who had been drinking in a nearby tavern. On entering the house they were shocked to find Mrs Walker lying on the floor, her head covered with a piece of linen. On removing that, it became horribly apparent that her throat had been cut.

Mary, apparently almost incoherent, explained that four men had entered the house through the back door and that one of them put his hands round her aunt’s neck. Another man, tall and dressed in black, she said, swore that he would kill her if she spoke a single word.

Just then one of the neighbours noticed that one of Mary’s arms was cut, and on being asked about the wound, Mary said that one of the men, when leaving, jammed her arm in the door.

This sounded so much beyond belief that another neighbour shook his head and accused the girl of committing the murder herself. At his words, Mary fell into a fit and, being carried to a nearby house, was blooded by a surgeon. She remained there until the next day when a coroner’s inquest took place; the verdict being wilful murder, Mary was forthwith committed to prison.

Investigating her statement that the four mysterious men had entered the house to steal valuables, the police searched every room, only to find a watch and other items alleged to have been stolen, hidden beneath the floorboards in the privy. Mary was held in Kingston Prison until her trial, at which, damned by such evidence, any convincing defence was out of the question.

On 2 April 1759, only two days after being convicted, she was taken by carriage to the Peacock Inn on Kennington Lane.

After a glass of wine there, she was put in a cart and driven to Kennington Common, the public execution site for the county of Surrey. Near St Mark’s Church stood the scaffold (where, only a few years earlier, some of the Jacobite rebels had been hanged, drawn and quartered). There, ignoring her continued assertions of innocence, the hangman, probably Thomas Turlis, deftly hooded and noosed her. To somewhat muted cheers from the crowd, he operated the drop, and after she had hanged for some time, her body was cut down and taken to St Thomas’ Hospital, Southwark, and there dissected ‘in accordance with the laws respecting murderers’.

In order to control certain ‘stews’ (brothels) in Southwark, London, in 1162, it was ordained by parliament that:

‘No stew holder [brothel keeper] or his wife should prevent any single woman [prostitute] from coming and going freely at all times, whenever they wished.

To take no more for the woman’s chamber in the week [rental] than fourteen pence.

Not to keep his doors open [for clients] upon the holidays [holy days].

No single woman to be kept against her will that would leave her sin [change her way of life].

No stew holder to receive any woman of religion [nuns, etc.] or any man’s wife.

No single woman to take any money to lie with any man, unless she lies with him all night till the morrow.

No man to be drawn or enticed into any stew-house.

The constables, bailiff and others, every week, to search every stewhouse.’

Amazing True Stories of Female Executions by Geoffrey Abbott




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