Date Of Execution: 9 Jan 1900
Crime Location: Dalston Junction Railway Station, London
Execution Place: Newgate
Executioner: James Billington
Louisa Masset was convicted of the murder of her 3-year-old son Manfred Louis Masset and sentenced to death.
She beat him to death with a brick on 27 October 1899. She had beaten him to death with the brick and suffocated him after which she left his body in the women's toilets on No 3 platform at Dalston Junction railway station, London.
The body was identified by a woman who had looked after the child after his birth on 24 April 1896. The woman was being paid 37s/month to look after the child and Louisa Masset would visit every Wednesday. However, the woman received a letter from Louisa Masset stating that she wanted the child to be looked after in France and on 27 October 1899 the she handed the child over to Louisa Masset at Stamford Hill outside the Birdcage pub. Then on 30 October the woman received a letter saying that Manfred Masset had cried all the way to London Bridge and had been poorly from Newhaven to France.
However, Louisa Masset had not gone to France and had instead gone to Brighton to stay with her 19 year old lover at a hotel in Queen's Road, arriving without Manfred Masset. Louisa Masset who was half French and half English had lived at 29, Bethune Road, Stoke Newington, London with her sister and had been having an affair with her neighbour who was 19.
She had arrived at the hotel in Brighton on the Friday night at about 9.45pm without Louisa Masset and with two packages of luggage. When she arrived she made a reservation for a man she described as her brother on the Saturday who arrived the following day and they left together on the Sunday, paying both bills at the same time.
Louisa Masset later returned to Bethune Road on 30 October 1899 and told her sister that she had been to France.
Her sister said that Louisa Masset had left her at about 12.30pm on 27 May 1899 with a portmanteau and returned with it at about 9pm on 30 May 1899. She said that when Louisa Masset returned home that she went to bed without making any statements although she said that she did ask Louisa Masset whether she had had a good crossing and said that Louisa Masset answered that the sea had been very rough.
At her trial she told the court that she had handed the child over to a Mrs Browning who was starting a children's home and had paid her £12 for taking the child. However, the police found some of the child's clothing with her in Brighton. Also, the address for the children's home in Chelsea was false. Paper that was used to wrap the baby was shown to have been torn from a much larger piece at Louisa Masset's home and that the brick probably came from her rockery.
Witnesses said that Louisa Masset was seen at 1.45pm at London Bridge railway station with the child who was distressed. Louisa Masset was seen to take the child to the buffet area and buy him cake. They were last seen there at about 3pm. Louisa Masset was again seen shortly after at about 6pm but that time without the child.
Manfred Louis Masset's body was found at 6.40pm on 27 October 1899 by a woman that had gone in to use the toilets.
The letter that Louisa Masset wrote to the woman that had looked after Manfred Masset read:
'I have just returned from my journey and hasten to let you know how we got on.
Our boy would cry till he saw the ships from London Bridge and then he felt better and thought he would like to go into the trains as he could see other men and boys doing. I suppose he was not scared of the engines because they were standing so still and only puffing now and again.
He was scarcely ill on board and the stewardess thought he was a dreadful chatterbox. Poor I was awfully sick, both going and returning, and I am not having any more just yet, thank you.
I enclose the letter I promised you.
Please thank the woman for all her trouble and tell her how sorry I was not to be able to talk to her on Friday, but our young man would certainly have been more upset had he remained. He sent his love to Mummy and Daddy, and certainly hopes to see them again.
I shall try and be over at the end of the week but not Wednesday as that day I must make up the lessons I lost on Saturday.
Kind regards to all'.
When Louisa Masset was questioned on Tuesday 31 October 1899 she said:
'I last saw my child Manfred Louis Masset age 3½ on Friday at London Bridge Railway Station in the waiting room. I gave it to two women who gave me their address as 45 Kings Road, Chelsea. with £12 mostly gold to take care of it for a whole twelve months. I had seen them in Tottenham Green 4 Wednesdays back. I had the child with me then. They first spoke to me and by their conversation with me they found out it was a nurse child. They said they were setting up a home and would I mind letting them have mine for £12 a year. At first I didn't agree with it. I met them there again the next Wednesday. I had the child with me then. I decided then to leave it with them for that sum. I then arranged to meet them at London Bridge at 2pm Friday last in the waiting room London Brighton where the refreshment room is on the left.
I met them there but before long there I went into another waiting room, the one near where the parcels come out. There was a woman attendant there, had a cap on and another one came to relieve her while I was there. They left to go to the refreshment room and took the boy with them as they asked him if he would like a cake. They were to come back and bring me a receipt for the money. I waited there 2 or 3 minutes but they never came back. I have not seen my child since'.
However, the two women couldn't be traced and the jury didn't believe her story and she was found guilty.
Her trial took place at the Old Bailey between 13 and 18 December 1899 where she was sentence to death.
She later confessed whilst in the condemned cell. Before her execution she was said to have said, 'I can only win peace by meeting my death bravely'.
see National Archives - HO 144/1540/A61535, CRIM 1/58/5
see Illustrated Police Budget - Saturday 04 November 1899