By Tim Lambert

Catherine Wilson was a female 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. Catherine Wilson 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. Catherine 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 probably tired of him). Maria Soames then became ill and died.

Catherine 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.

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