Life Trial and Execution of W. Palmer for the Murder of Mr. J. P. Cook
EXECUTION BROADSIDE (1856])
Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.
Broadside (490 x 380mm). Original sheet trimmed and laid down on recent archival paper, small areas of loss to the extremities, not interfering with the text. Small number '25' written in red pencil far right hand corner. With woodcut border and illustration.
John Powell, London, n.d [added in a contemporary hand Saturday June 14th
The execution broadside of Dr William Palmer, for the poisoning of John Parsons Cook, at Stafford. He was also suspected, although never indicted, of the murder of his four children, (all of whom died in infancy), his wife Ann Palmer, brother Walter Palmer, a house guest Leonard Bladen, and his mother in Law, Ann Mary Thornton. Palmer benefited financially from all of these deaths. Dr Palmer was executed at Stafford Prison, Saturday 14th June 1856.
Although not mentioned in this broadside the prisoner is said to have had an interesting exchange with the prison governor moments before his death. Palmer was asked to confess his crimes, the exchange went thus:
'Cook did not die from strychnine.'
'There is not time for quibbling - did you or did you not kill Cook?'
'The Lord Chief Justice summed up for poisoning by strychnine.'
In the trial text it is stated Palmer reiterated he was: 'innocent of poisoning Cook by strychnia.'
The Judge presiding in his summation stated: 'Whether it is the first and only offence of this sort which you have committed is certainly known only to God and your own conscience.'
Palmer certainly became notorious for his supposed crimes; it was said 20,000 people attended his execution. A wax figure of him was on display at Madame Tussaud's in the Chamber of Horrors from 1857 - 1979. Charles Dickens described him as 'the greatest villain that ever stood at the old bailey', in his article on 'The Demeanor of Murderers'. He is also referenced in several novels and in an Alfred Hitchcock film.
Copies held at Princeton University Library, Yale University Law School Library, (printed by H. J. Day), Kent State University Library, (printed by John Chapman), Tisch Library, Massachusetts, (printed by Hill and Halden), Cambridge University Library, (printer not known), and Oxford University, (printer not known).
The proceedings of the Old Bailey, online. ODNB.
Stock Code: 227434