George Henry Lamson

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George Henry Lamson (8 September 1852 – 28 April 1882) was an American doctor and murderer.

In his early career he had been a volunteer surgeon in Romania and Serbia, and decorated for his work. He returned to England and practised in Bournemouth. He became addicted to morphine and his financial situation grew desperate.

In 1881 he visited his 18-year-old brother-in-law Percy John, a hemiplegic, at his boarding school and gave him a slice of Dundee cake. He also gave him a capsule from a batch that were later tested and found to contain the poison aconitine, as recorded in the case history at Old Bailey Online.[1]

Lamson was tried in March 1882 with Montagu Williams acting for his defence: he was found guilty of murdering Percy in order to secure a share of the family inheritance. He had poisoned his victim with aconitine in the cake, a substance which Lamson had learnt about from Professor Robert Christison in university. Christison had taught that aconitine was undetectable but forensic science had improved since Lamson's student days.[2][3][4]

Lamson's execution was delayed when word came that his family and friends in the United States requested time to send proof of insanity in the doctor's family and in his own life. The evidence was sent but was not sufficient to reduce the sentence.[citation needed]

Lamson was hanged by William Marwood at Wandsworth Prison on 28 April 1882.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bailey, Stephen (31 August 2010). "The American doctor, war hero, drug addict and murderer who lived among us". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Macinnis, Peter (2006). It's true!: you eat poison every day. It's true. 18. Allen & Unwin. pp. 80–81. ISBN 1-74114-626-7. 
  3. ^ Macinnis, Peter (2005). Poisons: from hemlock to Botox and the killer bean of Calabar. Arcade Publishing. pp. 25–26. ISBN 1-55970-761-5. 
  4. ^ Parry & Wright (2000) p.103
  5. ^ Horace Bleackley (1929). The hangmen of England: how they hanged and whom they hanged : the life story of "Jack Ketch" through two centuries. Taylor & Francis. p. 245. ISBN 0-7158-1184-3. 
  • Adam, Hargrave L. (1955). "Dr George Lamson". In Hodge, James H. Famous Trials 5. Penguin. pp. 161–185. 
  • Trestrail, John Harris (2007). Criminal poisoning: investigational guide for law enforcement, toxicologists, forensic scientists, and attorneys. Forensic science and medicine. Humana Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 1-58829-821-3. 
  • Parry, Leonard A.; Willard H. Wright (2000). Some Famous Medical Trials. Beard Books. pp. 88–103. ISBN 1-58798-031-2.