Date Of Execution: 3 Feb 1903
Crime Location: 11 Danbury Street, Islington
Execution Place: Holloway
Executioner: William Billington
Amelia Sach and Annie Walters were convicted of murdering a three-month-old child and executed.
Amelia Sach had given the child to Annie Walters to dispose of and Annie Walters then poisoned and asphyxiated it at her home in Islington on 18 November 1902 by giving it a drug which contained opium or morphia after which she went out to dispose of it but was arrested.
Amelia Sach ran a business at Claymore House on Hertford Road in East Finchley for women in confinement to give birth to their babies. However, it was later determined that they had been what was known as 'Baby farmers', and had been taking money from women to see that their unwanted newly-born children were adopted but were instead murdering them and keeping the money. The operation had been run alongside Amelia Sach's legitimate nursing business at Claymore House and evidence was heard that Annie Walters would solicit the women with their adoption service and that after taking the children away would murder them.
The police had been keeping watch on Annie Walters's house at 11 Danbury Street, Islington after receiving some information and had started the day before on 17 November 1902. They were keeping watch from 9 Danbury Street which had a clear view of the door of 11 Danbury Street. On 18 November 1903 the police arrived at 8.45am and later saw Annie Walters leave carrying a bundle in her arms in the same way that a person would carry a live child. The police followed her to the corner of St. John's Street Road and City Road during which Annie Walters repeatedly looked back to see if she was being followed. She then entered a Wareham Green omnibus followed by the policeman who got on the top of the bus and went to the South Kensington Metropolitan Railway Station where Annie Walters got off. She still had the bundle in her arms and was followed by the police as she walked about outside the station for four to five minutes before going inside and going into the lady’s lavatory.
She came out again in about 2 minutes still carrying the bundle and walked across the road to the omnibus stop for Islington. The policeman then went up to her and said 'I am a Police officer. I want to see that baby'. Annie Walters asked why, and the policeman said, 'Because I have reason to believe it is not as it should be.' Annie Walters didn't reply and they went to the lady's lavatory where Annie Walters sat down and put the bundle on her lap. She then said, 'I suppose you are going to take me to the police station'. The policeman then replied that he wanted to see the child first.
Annie Walters then undid the shawl and the policeman saw the face of a child which had it's hands tightly clenched. The policeman said that he noticed that the right side of it's face was black and determined that it was a male child. He said that the body was cold and the lips a little black and it's eyes were tightly shut. The policeman then said to Annie Walters 'It is dead', and Annie Walters replied 'Yes'.
The policeman then said, 'I shall take you into custody on suspicion of murdering it' and Annie Walters replied 'I never murdered the dear'. The policeman then cautioned her and told her that anything she might say could be used in evidence against her and Annie Walters replied 'Alright, I won't say anything and then I can't say wrong'. The policeman then took the baby from her and called a four wheeled cab and took Annie Walters to Kings Cross Road Police Station.
At 11.15am a surgeon declared that the baby was dead. He said that the baby had been dead for about eight to twelve hours. He said that the jaws were clenched, the tongue was swollen and the lips were purple/black. He also said that it's eyes were tightly shut and the pupils somewhat contracted and also stated that there were no obstructions in the child's throat. He said that the umbilical cord was partly dried and estimated that the child was between two and a half to four days old.
Later on 19 November 1902 a post mortem was carried out. The baby's lungs floated as a whole as well as in parts and whilst the stomach was empty the lower part of the large intestine contained some faeces indicating that the child had been fed but some hours before it died, probably about twelve hours. The trachea was congested and contained mucous. There were eight or nine large ecchymosis on the right side with some smaller ones and on the left side three large ones and some smaller ones. When the scalp was removed an effusion was found between it and the skull at the back of the head. There was also an effusion of blood into the tissues which was four inches long and three inches broad. There was no fracture of the skull or wound.
The cause of death was given as asphyxia from deprivation of fresh air in the lungs. The surgeon noted that the asphyxia could have been produced without leaving external signs of pressure and could have been cause din many ways. He said that the effusion of blood at the back of the head pointed to an injury from a blow or from extreme pressure.
He also said that presuming chlorodyne had been used all traces might have disappeared and asphyxia could have been produced. Chlorodyne contained both morphia and chloroform.
Another doctor said that the effusion to the scalp was probably not caused by a blow to the head which would have caused an effusion within the skull but rather by some compression by a rigid body such as something being placed over the baby's nostrils and face.
It was also noted that some effusion of the scalp could have been caused by forceps during birth.
When the police searched 11 Danbury Street they found a babies feeding bottle in Annie Walters room that was half full of what looked like milk and water. Also, on the mantelpiece there was a small bottle labelled chlorodyne that was about ¾ full and another unlabelled bottle that smelt of carbolic acid. There was also a baby's feeder in a wooden box. there were no baby clothes.
At around 3pm the same day the police went to Claymore House but Amelia Sach was not there and so they waited until 5.45pm when Amelia Sach returned with another woman and a baby. When she arrived they said, 'We are police officers, a woman who gives the name of Mrs Walters of 11 Danbury Street, Islington, is detained at Kings Cross Road Police Station on suspicion of murdering a male baby and I have reason to believe she got the baby from you'.
Amelia Sach replied 'I don't know Mrs Walters of 11 Danbury Street, and I have never given her any babies. I take in ladies to be confined and there is one in the house at present. She was confined last Saturday morning of a baby girl. It is with its mother now'.
When Annie Walters was later in the charge room and the charge was read out to her she said 'I never killed the baby. I only gave it two little drops in its bottle, the same as I take myself. I took the other baby back to her'. She then pointed to Amelia Sach who was also in the charge room and then said 'Mrs Sach knows where the other baby is. I took it back to her on Friday. I never murdered this one. I was going to give it back to her. The doctor from Green Road attended her'. The policeman then said that he would like to see the baby and Amelia Sach said 'The mother is too ill'. The policeman then sent for the doctor but another doctor arrived and the policeman told him that he wanted to know if another baby was in the house. At that point Amelia Sach said, 'The baby is not there. It has been taken away. Do you mean to say that this person has been making away with babies?'. The doctor then left the room to look for the baby and returned to say that there was no baby in the house. Amelia Sach then said, 'There is another lady who had a baby on Wednesday and both were taken away'.
The policeman then told Amelia Sach that he was going to take her into custody as being an accessory to murder and Amelia Sach replied, 'Murdering, never. Do you mean to say really that these babies are dead; that she has killed them?'. Amelia Sach was then taken by train and cab to the police station.
Later a doctor who had been called out to Claymore House several times said that he had known Amelia Sach for about two years, both at Claymore House where Amelia Sach had been for eight months and before at Stanley Road in Finchley.
He said that he had been called out to Claymore House on Saturday 15 November 1902 between 7.30am and 8am where he helped to deliver a child of a young woman. He said that the baby cried vigorously and was born quite healthy and strong. He said that he saw the mother the next morning and asked how her baby was and the mother had said 'Very well', and when he asked where it was the mother had told her Amelia Sach told him that the mother's sister at Holloway had it. The doctor said that he had seen the mother every day up until Thursday 20 November 1902 and on each day asked about the child and then on 20 November 1902 she told the doctor that she had not seen the child since 15 November 1902 and then further informed him that Amelia Sach had told her that she had got someone to adopt the child. She also told him that she had parted with some money for the baby's adoption.
Around the same time the doctor had seen another woman at Claymore House on 16 November who had recently been confined and when he had asked her where her baby was the woman had replied that her mother had got it.
Annie Walters had moved into 11 Danbury Street on 29 October 1902 as a lodger. The landlady was a club steward and said that Annie Walters had a furnished room on the ground floor. Annie Walters told the landlady that she was a widow and had a pension and had been a nurse at St. Thomas' Hospital. She also told the landlady that she was going to have a baby from a friend and was going to take the baby to a titled lady in Piccadilly and that the mother was going to receive £100 for it and that she herself would have 30/- for transferring the baby.
On Wednesday 12 November 1902 between 11am and noon a telegram arrived for Annie Walters which she opened in front of the landlady which said, 'Tonight at five o'clock'. When the telegrams were investigated they were found to have been written in Amelia Sach's handwriting. Annie Walters then told the landlady that she was going to fetch the baby and between 6pm and 7pm she returned with a baby which she showed the landlady saying that it was a boy. The landlady said that it was a fine healthy child.
The landlady said that later that evening Annie Walters asked her to fetch a small tin of Nestles milk and gave her a sovereign which she got and that she later asked for a small bottle of chlorodyne and a penny worth of carbolic fluid adding that she wanted the chlorodyne to make her sleep. The landlady said she went out and got the things for her.
The landlady said that she saw Annie Walters on 13 November 1902 at 10am when she went into her room but didn't see the baby but said that Annie Walters asked her to go and get her some flannelette. She said she asked about the baby and said that Annie Walters told her that it was sleeping and then asked when she was going to take it away and was told that it would probably be Monday.
Then on Friday 14 November 1902 the landlady said that she went to see Annie Walters and said that she asked her to go and get her some more flannelette. She said that she asked about the child and that Annie Walters said, 'It is alright, it is sleeping now'. The landlady said that she fetched the things for Annie Walters but that when she returned Annie Walters was not there and she could not hear the baby and could not see it anywhere but she saw the baby's bonnet and a flannel wrap. She said that she didn't see Annie Walters again that day.
On 15 November 1902 a telegram arrived for Annie Walters and the landlady went to Annie Walters's room at about 11am but did not see the baby. She said that she asked about it and that Annie Walters said, 'The baby is alright. you should see it in it's muslins and laces'.
later that night at 9.30pm the landlady was called down to Annie Walters's room where she saw another baby. Annie Walters said 'Come and look at my new baby. This is a poor baby, the mother only got £10 for it'. This is going to Kensington to a coastguard's. I only got 10/- for transferring this baby'. The landlady looked at the baby on the bed and asked what sex it was and said that Annie Walters told her that it was a little girl'. Annie Walters also said, 'I flew with the other baby as it was double ruptured and diarrhoea set it in'. She also told the landlady that she had taken it to a doctors.
On 16 November 1902 the landlady said that she asked Annie Walters how the baby was and said that Annie Walters said 'Alright' and shut the room.
On 17 November 1902 the landlady said that she went to see Annie Walters in her room at 10am to ask if there were any errands that she wanted her to run and said that Annie Walters asked her to get her some calico as she wanted to make some aprons and gave her a 2/- piece and she purchased 3½ yards of calico, returning at around 11am. The landlady said she went into Annie Walters's room when she returned at about 11am but didn't see the baby although she could hear it making a funny noise from the bed. They looked at the bed and Annie Walters said, 'I think, do you hear it, I think the mother had been frightened by a dog'. The landlady said that she went towards the bed but Annie Walters said, 'That is alright I can see to it'.
The landlady said that she later went into the room about a dozen times but didn't see the baby or hear it making any noises. She said that she asked after the child and whether she could see it but Annie Walters each time said 'No, it is asleep' and said that she seemed to resent her interference or had a desire to not let the child be seen.
Later when Annie Walters was in police custody she said 'The child was so cross I put two drops in to it's milk and when I woke up in the night I found the child dead. As for killing that baby I never did, and if I had got away I would have drowned myself. A lady asked me to mind the child till she got someone else to mind it. The landlady saw me take the baby out this morning and it barked like a dog, and a man stopped me. I intended with what bit of money I had to wander about till it was dark and end myself. I never killed the baby. I only gave it two little drops of chlorodyne'.
She later said, 'If you go to East Finchley Post Office you will find telegrams addressed 'Sach' from Finchley to Plaistow. She has sent me telegrams to meet her at Finchley station where I took the baby from her, and on occasions other babies, and took back after three days. I can see now I have been a foolish woman'.
A barmaid at the White Bear in Berwick Street, Oxford Street who was pregnant said that she had seen an advertisement in the People and in consequence went to 4 Stanley Road in East Finchley where she saw Amelia Sach who told her that the fee was a guinea a week but when she said that she could not pay that Amelia Sach had said 15/- a week if she would stay a little while with her. The barmaid said that she went in in June 1901 and Amelia Sach attended her confinement on 19 September 1901. She said that she kept her child and later did some work for Amelia Sach and later moved with her to Claymore house.
The barmaid said that whilst she was with Amelia Sach about thirty other women had come to be confined. she said that one baby was still born and a doctor gave a certificate and that some women were there for a fortnight whilst one was there for four months. She said that some came but found fault with the place and eft and in total about twenty were actually confined of whom about fifteen took their babies away with them, the other five parting with their babies before they had recovered. At first the barmaid said that she didn't see the babies go away saying that she was always away when it happened, but later said that she had promised Amelia Sach not to tell anyone about her business and said that she had seen them all go. She gave five names of women that she knew had been confined with Amelia Sach and given their babies away along with their ages.
She said that she paid 15/- a week up to Christmas 1901 and then helped out in the house until August 1902 and acted as steward. She said that Amelia Sach never asked her to adopt her baby but said that when her child was six months old another woman she knew as Mrs Laming at the home said to her 'Auntie, wouldn't you like to part with your baby' and the barmaid said she replied, 'I wouldn't let the King take baby'. She said Mrs Laming replied 'you're a fool. It stands in your light for getting work'. The barmaid replied that she could work to keep her child and said that the woman had offered to take her baby for £5. However, that was all that was said on the matter. However, the barmaid later identified Mrs Laming as Annie Walters from the photographs of the two women shown in court.
She said that Mrs Laming had taken the five babies and that she had taken one to Mrs Laming at her address at 20 Glasgow Road, North Street, Plaistow under the direction of Amelia Sach. She also said that Amelia Sach had told her that it was illegal to adopt a baby unless £20 was paid. The barmaid said that Amelia Sach told her that she had received £15 for a certain baby and £12 for another and had taken others out of love with only expenses paid. Other babies had been adopted for £12, £12, £10, £30 and £15. The barmaid said that she never received any money from Amelia Sach.
Amelia Sach and Annie Walters were executed at 9am on Tuesday morning 3 February 1903 at Holloway Gaol. It was the first execution that had taken place under the new regulations consequent on the losing of Newgate and was strictly private.
Both 11 Danbury Street and Claymore House still exist today, but Claymore House, which was at 5 Hertford Road, has had the stone name block erased although the neighbouring Langley House and Stanmore House name plates are still in place. The Penny Illustrated Paper published on Saturday 24 January 1903 has photographs of both buildings taken at the time.
see National Archives - HO 144/690/104226, CRIM 1/83/2
see Shady Old Lady
see Derbyshire Courier - Saturday 07 February 1903
see Penny Illustrated Paper - Saturday 24 January 1903
see Old Bailey Online