Date Of Execution: 2 Apr 1868
Execution Place: Maidstone
Frances Kidder murdered her husbands illigitimate child at New Romney.The victim Louise, was 11 or 12 years of age. The body was found in below Cobbs Bridge in Romney Marsh District which has 1 foot of water. The fact that the water was only 1 foot deep was critical for the prosecution as a child would easily otherwise have not suffered. They used Ordnance Survey maps which it was stated provided great assistance in such legal cases due to their minute accuracy in locating places etc.
It was determined that there was ill feeling between Frances, her husband and the child whom she often reffered to as his bastard. On the day of the murder Frances had taken the child to her own own (Frances) father and from there had taken the child for a walk towards Cobbs Bridge around 8 O'Clock. It was 25 August. She didnt return with the child and when asked of Louise whereabouts she said that it would be found in the direction of where it was found.
It was noted that Frances clothes were very muddy. She also said that Louise and heself had fallen into the ditch when a horse past them scaring them which demonstrated that Frances was with Louise at the time and so the question for the court was could an 11 year old child drown naturally in 1 foot of water ina slight ditch, and if not then she must have been held down and there would have been no one else around to have held Louise down as the location was remote.
A witness was found that heard a muffled sound like a child at the time but she could not dtermine if it was a child laughing or crying. But it was said it was a supressed sound. A further witness stated that Frances had said on several occasions that Frances said that she hated the bastard and itshould never go back to her fathers.
Another witness who had seen the location said that a child of 4-5 could easily have got out of the ditch, implying that Louise being 11 could easily.
This Times article is lengthy and I dont have the inclination to summise it all but its worth a read.
The Times, Friday, Mar 13, 1868; pg. 11; Issue 26071; colstates that the trial was painful in part because the witnesses against her were her own father, mother and sisters.
The Times, Wednesday, Mar 25, 1868; pg. 5; Issue 26081; col C states that Frances Kidderwas morose and spent long periods in silence and demonstrated being of the opinion that she was ill used being placed in her current position, ie awaiting death. She blamed her husband for not providing counsil and being communicative and whilst he visited her at her request he clearly didnt want to be there and there was clearly bad feeling.
The Mayor of Hythe and other gentlemen were putting together a petition for her sentence to be commuted. However, she was executed.
There are actually quite a few accounts of this:
She was also the last woman executed in public. Shortly after all public executions were stopped.
The image is present day Romney Marsh but i doubt it has too much similarity with Romney Marsh1868, however, whilst it might be drained, its still not much built on. I have no idea if its the actual location or where Cobbs Bridge might be.