British Executions

Catherine Wilson

Age: 40

Sex: female

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 20 Oct 1862

Crime Location: Kirkby, Cumbria

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


20/10/1862 Catherine Wilson 40 London & Middlesex Newgate Mrs Soames

Catherine was born in 1842. Her modus operandi was to find a sick person of means and then get them to make out a will in her favour. She would then feed them various poisons. For a while she lived with a man named Dixon but he took to the bottle so she poisoned him, as well.

In 1862 Wilson was looking after Mrs Sarah Carnell. As usual Mrs Carnell rewrote her will in Catherine’s favour. Shortly afterwards Catherine brought the sick woman a “soothing draught.” Mrs Carnell took a mouthful and, as it burnt her mouth, promptly spat it out. She called her husband. What she had spat out had landed on the carpet and burned holes in it. Catherine fled.

She was arrested a couple of days later. What Wilson had given Mrs Carnell was sufficient sulphuric acid to kill fifty people. Catherine was charged with attempted murder. The police began digging. While she was cleared of the charge, after her defence had argued that the pharmacist had given her the wrong bottle, she was promptly re-arrested. Post-mortems had revealed that a variety of poisons had been found in seven of the bodies exhumed. She was tried and found guilty.

Catherine Wilson was hanged, in front of a crowd of 20,000, outside the Old Bailey on 20th October 1862.

see Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 26 June 2014), September 1862, trial of CATHERINE WILSON (40) (t18620922-996).

see Harvard