11th August 1849
Jersey fugitive kills a man
Marie Manning was having an affair with Patrick O’Connor and planning to double-cross her husband, Frederick. But Frederick was planning to double-cross her, too. Their plots may have had contrasting intended resolutions, but they each started with inviting O’Connor to dinner at their home in Bermondsey, London.
O’Connor accepted their invitation, arriving at their rented home around 11 August (various papers publish a variety of dates including 9 August). However, he never left. Frederick and Marie killed their guest and buried him under the kitchen floor.
Murder, then theft
Marie then went to O’Connor’s house, where she stole his money and some shares, some of which Frederick took before fleeing to Jersey. Marie had planned on running away with all the money herself but ended up with just half. She fled to Edinburgh but was soon caught. Frederick was caught in Jersey and both appeared at the Old Bailey in a two-day trial at the end of October.
Unsurprisingly, considering they’d each planned to con the other, the husband and wife turned on one another, with Frederick claiming that he’d only used a crowbar to finish off O’Connor after he’d already been shot by Marie. They were found guilty and hanged on 13 November, watched by a crowd of up to 50,000 people. Among them was Charles Dickens, who was appalled by the excitement of his fellow spectators and wrote a letter to The Times denouncing them.
According to the following day’s London Evening Standard, after the pair had received communion, “the reverend chaplain retired for a moment, and when he had done so, Manning, as if actuated by some sudden impulse, rose from his seat, walked towards his wife, threw his arms around her neck, and kissed her affectionately several times, and she appeared to return his embrace in an equally affectionate manner”.
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