Ponds Manor, Clavering, Essex, UK – Sarah Chesham (Sally Arsenic)
Posted by: bill&ben
N 51° 57.921 E 000° 08.060
31U E 303138 N 5761063
Quick Description: The murderous activities of Sarah Chesham, also known as Sally Arsenic, at Ponds Manor, Clavering, led to the changing of the laws on the sale of poisons.
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 3/6/2011 8:59:55 AM
Waymark Code: WMAX33
In the 1840s times were hard in North Essex. Sometimes drastic solutions were found to reduce the numbers of mouths that needed to be fed. Arsenic was used on some occasions to get rid of excess children or violent husbands.
One such case is that of Sarah Chesham, who lived at Ponds Manor, Clavering. In 1847 two of her sons died in agony, a post mortem revealing traces of arsenic. Sarah was arrested, along with Thomas Newport, a local farmer. Newport is alleged to have been Sarah’s lover and was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting the crime. Despite the post mortem evidence, the pair were acquitted. In 1848 suspicion again fell on Sarah after Mary May was executed for murdering her husband and children. Before she died Mary May implicated Sarah in a poisoning ring at Clavering.
Three years after the deaths of her children Sarah’s husband, Richard, died of lung disease accompanied by bouts of violent pain and sickness. Slight traces of arsenic were found in Richard’s body, but insufficient for a prosecution. Sarah’s undoing, however, was falling out with her friend Hannah Philips. Hannah went to the police and informed them that Sarah had given her instructions on how to poison her husband using arsenic in a pie. Richard’s body was exhumed from Clavering churchyard and Sarah’s house was raided, where officers found a bag of rice laced with arsenic. Sarah was arrested and put on trial at Chelmsford where she was found guilty. Sarah Chesham was hanged on March 25th 1851 outside Chelmsford Gaol, the last woman to be hanged in Britain for attempted murder.
The trial of Sarah Chesham led to a change in the law on the sale of poisons. Henceforth sellers of poisons were required to keep a record of the sale, including names and addresses and the reason for requiring the poison. Sales of poison were also restricted to adult males.
Date of crime: 1/1/1850
Public access allowed: no
Fee required: no
Web site: [Web Link]
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