Poisoners' Biographies

• MARY BLANDY (1721-52) The engaging daughter of a wealthy Henley-on-Thames solicitor fed her father poisonous gruel, encouraged by her insidious married lover of whom he disapproved.


• DR WILLIAM PALMER (1824-56) The Rugeley Poisoner trained as a physician, but gave it up to breed racehorses. A blackmailer and forger, he poisoned a racing companion and members of his own family for pure financial gain.


• DR EDWARD PRITCHARD (1825-65) Moving house after the suspicious death of one servant, the doctor aborted his child with another. He dispensed fatal tonics to his wife and her visiting mother who died after eating tapioca pudding.


• MARY ANN COTTON (1832-73) Britain’s most prolific serial killer prior to Harold Shipman. The ‘grieving’ widow and sometime nurse, insured and murdered three husbands, ten children, five stepchildren, her mother, her sister and a lover.


• ADELAIDE BARTLETT (1855-86) A baffling case since the mystery of how chloroform got into her husband’s stomach with no trace found in his throat remains unsolved. Though acquitted, some experts queried her innocence.


• DR THOMAS CREAM (1850-92) Leaving a trail of suspicious deaths on both sides of the Atlantic, the Lambeth Poisoner desired and despised whores with ferocious intensity,  prescribed pills to victims and claimed to be Jack the Ripper.


• GEORGE CHAPMAN (1865-1903) The Polish barber-surgeon had several names and mistresses who often posed as his wife. He killed three ‘spouses’ and, despite his modus being poison, was also considered a Ripper suspect.


• FREDERICK SEDDON (1872-1912) A landlord who ‘financially advised’ his tenant then poisoned her with arsenic extracted from flypapers. Swindled of their inheritance, her relatives insisted her contaminated body was exhumed.


• GRAHAM YOUNG (1948-90) Though his stepmother’s death went undetected, he used chemicals to gain power as a child. After a period in Broadmoor, he poisoned his new co-workers’ tea. Struck down one by one, it led to two deaths.