Mary Ann Ansell, a house-maid, was hanged at St Albans, on 19 July 1899, for poisoning her sister, Caroline, who was an inmate in an asylum. Her intention appeared to be to obtain 11 pounds, from an insurance cover on Caroline which she had taken out.
At 22 she was the youngest woman to be hanged in the 'modern era' (post-1868 reform act, so non-public, and also by the 'long drop' method).
Before Ansell's eventual execution, there was considerable public pressure for a reprieve, on the grounds of her gender, youth and perceived lack of mental capacity (both of herself, and other members of her family). In opposition, there was a significant reluctance within the Home Office to reprieve a poisoner (see paper by Wiener), since it was seen as an easy but premeditated act. Her case thus received a measure of Parliamentary attention (see Hansard for July 13, 17 & 18).
In subsequent years the case was used to discuss the limits to criminal responsibility (see paper by Mercier).
- Watford Observer (local paper)
- St Albans Review
- CAPITAL PUNISHMENT—CASE OF MARY ANSELL.
- Paper by Mercier on Criminal responsibility
- Paper by Wiener
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