Victorian London - Crime - Violence, murders and assaults - Murder in Islington (Eliza Venables)

The Times, Thursday, August 15, 1872


At the Clerkenwell Police-court yesterday, Lydia Venables, 26, of respectable appearance, was charged before Mr. Cooke with the wilful murder of Eliza Venables, her daughter, aged 5.
    From the evidence it appeared that for the last six or eight weeks the prisoner had lived at 67, Roman-road, Barnsbury. She was a widow, but lived with a cabman as his wife. On the previous evening, about 8 o'clock, the deceased, after playing with other children, went to bed. Three-quarters of an hour afterwards the prisoner came home and went to her room. Between half-past 9 and 10 o'clock a lodger in the house heard the child cry "Oh, mother; don't, mother," and the prisoner say "I will." As the lodger listened the prisoner opened the door of the room with her right hand, saying several times, "I've done it." The child was then in bed behind the door, and the prisoner's hand was pressed tightly over its month. There was a carving knife on the pillow; the prisoner taking it up, said, "This is what I did it with. Didn't you bear me sharpen it on the poker?" The child did not struggle or make any noise, but lay as though asleep. The lodger raised an alarm; the landlady went up and entered her room, and the prisoner, saying "It is not gone yet," removed her hand from the child's mouth. It was then seen that its throat had been cut from ear to ear, and that the bedclothes were saturated with blood. The prisoner, meanwhile, said to the landlady, "I've done it, Mrs. Simpson; I've done it myself, and she is happy. Is she quite dead?" A police-sergeant came in and took possesion of the knife, which also had blood over it. The prisoner, learning that the child was quite dead, exclaimed, "Thank God! she is bettor off. I've done it, and shall have to suffer for it." Police-constable Beard, 8 Y, took her into custody, and on the way to the station she said, "My husband died about three years ago, and for the last 16 months I have been living with a cabman as his wife. He occasionally illtreated me. To-day we had a quarrel, and he slapped my face. I said to him, 'I don't suppose you expect to find me here when you come back.' He said, 'Go; it will be a good job; but take your child with you.' This preyed on my mind. I knew I had no shelter for myself and my child, and this caused me to do it." When the charge was react over to her at the station she said, "Yes, I did it". 

Times, August, 1872