Catherine Wilson Poisoner

By Tim Lambert

Catherine Wilson was a poisoner. She was also the last woman to be hanged in public in London. Her poison of choice was colchicum, a kind of crocus. In small doses, it was used as a medicine but in large doses, it could kill. Wilson was born in 1822. She became a housekeeper to a man named Captain Peter Mawr. However, Captain Mawr made the mistake of telling Wilson he had left something in his will for her. Captain Mawr suffered from gout and he took colchicum to treat it. Unfortunately, he died from an overdose in 1854. At first, it was believed it was accidental.

Wilson then moved to London with her partner, a man named Dixon. Wilson worked for a woman named Maria Soames. However, Dixon died in 1856, probably poisoned. (He was a heavy drinker and Wilson was probably tired of him). Maria Soames then became ill and died.

Wilson next worked for a woman named Sarah Carnell. However, she unwisely tried to poison the woman by giving her sulfuric acid to drink. Carnell spat it out and it burned the sheets. Wilson then fled but she was arrested and put on trial for attempted murder. Wilson claimed that a pharmacist had given her acid instead of medicine by mistake. The jury found her not guilty but as she left the courtroom Wilson was arrested again, this time for the murder of Marie Soames. This time she was found guilty. Catherine Wilson was hanged on 20 October 1862.