8 March 1900 – Ada Chard-Williams

Ada Chard-WilliamsA suspected mass baby murderer was hanged today at the turn of the century in Newgate.

Ada Chard-Williams was just 24 when she was found guilty of and hanged for strangling 21-month-old Selina Jones and tossing her into the river Thames.

Chard-Williams was into baby farming – in itself, not an uncommon practice. In an age when having a baby out of wedlock was considered a disgrace, or if a family could not afford to keep their children, a baby farmer would place the children in foster homes for a small fee.

Chard-Williams was one such farmer, but her methods of disposal were less than benevolent. Infant mortality was high so it was not unusual for babies to die. So it would not have suspicious if the odd baby died. This safe bet meant that some unscrupulous farmers would dispose of the babies rather than find homes. Sadly Chard-Williams fell into that category. And that’s how Selina Jones found her way into the unloving arms of Chard-Williams.

Baby Selina’s mother got suspicious when her baby disappeared, so she reported Chard-Williams to the police. Sure enough, her baby’s body washed ashore at Battersea and Chard-Williams was hauled in.

Ada Chard-Williams probably killed other babies but she was arrested and found guilty of the single charge of murdering little Selina Jones. She was hanged at Newgate and became the last woman to be hanged there.

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