Attempted murder at Kirkdale 1852

Southport Visitor

April 9th 1852


Two women Sarah RIMMER and Ann RIMMER living in Kirkdale were charged at Liverpool Police Court last week with attempting to poison Elizabeth RIMMER, aged 19, daughter of the former.

On Sunday evening [week] the prisoners had been quarrelling with the girl, the prisoner Ann RIMMER, her aunt, called out, “If you don’t go away and leave home I’ll give you poison, or try some other means.”

She was heard by a man named, William BLUNDELL, who resides in the same court.

On Monday afternoon the girl had been out, and upon her return at 2pm, her mother asked had she been looking out for a situation, the girl said she had, but, hadn’t found one to suit her. On Tuesday evening the girl went out again and when she returned her aunt asked had she heard of a situation yet. She said she had not and then her aunt said, “It would be no sin to give you a dose of poison to get you out of this world.”

She went to bed soon after and when she got up the next morning she found her mother and aunt had, had, their breakfast. The teapot was put in the oven for her. She drank a cup from it, and thought it tasted sweeter than usual, but made no remark. She then poured another cup and drank about half, when she felt a burning in her throat and stomach. She asked her mother had she put anything into the teapot. Her mother said. “No, let me taste.”

She put her lips to it saying some alum must have got into it by mistake. The mother then went into the yard and the girl poured the contents of the teapot into a mug, and the tea remaining in the teapot into a jug, and took it to the witness William BLUNDELL, who went with her to the druggist Mr HAYWOOD, 2 Castle St, Kirkdale, who analysed the tea and found it contained oxalic acid, a deadly poison. He gave her magnesium and sent her with a note stating the circumstances to Dr ARNOLD, Great Homer St, who gave her medicine.

On her return home she found her mother, aunt and two police officers in the house. Her aunt struck her as soon as she got into the house, and broke the bottle of medicine, saying, “I have not done enough to you, you out to be hung, hanging is to good for you.”

Det MURPHY on searching the house found some grains of oxalic acid in the fire-grate of one of the upstairs rooms. When the officers went to the house the aunt said, “This is just what I expected, if they give me 12 months I won’t care.”

The prisoners were remanded for seven days in order that Mr CLOUGH may make further inquiries.

[The intended victim lived for some time in the service of Mrs YOUNGHUSBAND, [Now Mrs GARSIDE] of this town]

May 7th 1852

Mysterious disclosure

The girl Elizabeth RIMMER who preferred a charge against her mother and aunt a fortnight ago at Liverpool for attempting to poison her, has since their committal, stated that in July 1849, while they resided in Ormskirk, her sister was delivered of an illegitimate child which her aunt and mother murdered, and then buried it in front of the house door, and that in October last her grandmother died suddenly and was hurriedly buried in Ormskirk churchyard.

On Saturday last the spot indicated by the girl was excavated and at a depth of 3 ft the earth was found to be saturated with a dark, oleaginous moisture, but no bones were found. A surgeon who was consulted expressed the opinion that if a stillborn child had been buried there for 3 years there would be no trace of bones, It is intended to exhume the body of the old woman for the purpose of submitting the stomach to chemical analysis.

August 27th 1852


CROWN COURT August 20th

Before Lord Chief Justice CAMPBELL

Ann and Sarah RIMMER were indicted of having on the 31st of March at Liverpool administered poison to Elizabeth RIMMER the daughter of the former and niece of the latter with intent to murder her. Mr BLAIR prosecuted. The prisoners at first were undefended but, after the case had proceeded for a short time, Mr ATKINSON at his Lordship’s request defended.

It appeared the girl Elizabeth RIMMER was an illegitimate daughter of the prisoner Ann RIMMER. At the time of the occurrence she had been out of a situation for more than a month and for that time had been living with the prisoners in Hartley Court, King St, Kirkdale.

[Other than the information disclosed in transcription for April 9th 1852]

The prisoners had frequently used foul language to the girl and on the Sunday previous to the 31st March a quarrel had arose about the tea not being ready, Sarah RIMMER threatened then to poison her. When she was unable to find a situation the mother said if she could not find a situation she must adopt a very disgraceful course of conduct to earn money which the girl refused to do.

When the girl had left the house to take the tea for analysis the mother had threw the contents of the basin the tea was prepared in down the channel.

His Lordship in summing up, referred to the act passed in the reign of our present Majesty, that whosoever administered poison with intent to murder was guilty of the offence of murder.

The Jury found both prisoners guilty.

Great sensation prevailed in the court when his Lordship putting on the black cap, proceeded to pass the sentence of death on the prisoners

“The sentence of this court is that you be taken hence, to the place you came from, and from thence to the place of execution and that you be hanged by the neck till you be dead, and may the Lord have mercy on your souls.”

The prisoners, who seemed quite indifferent to the sentence were removed from the dock.

September 10th 1852

Convicts Sarah and Ann RIMMER

Sentenced to death by Lord CAMPBELL at Liverpool for attempting to murder Elizabeth RIMMER, the poor girl who was frequently in a swoon giving evidence at the trial and had to be restored by medical men in an attempt to detail the horrible attempt made on her life by her mother and aunt because they could not succeed in driving her upon the streets as a prostitute. A few days since the sister of the matron at Kirkdale gaol conveyed the news to the prisoners that their lives would be spared.


Copyright 2002 / To date