George Henry Lamson

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George Henry Lamson
Born(1852-09-08)September 8, 1852
DiedApril 28, 1882(1882-04-28) (aged 29)
RelativesRobert Schuyler (grandfather)
AwardsLegion of Honour

George Henry Lamson (September 8, 1852 – April 28, 1882) was an American doctor and murderer.[1]

Early life[edit]

Lamson was born on September 8, 1852. He was the son of Julia Wood Schuyler and Rev. William Orne Lamson (1824–1909), who married in 1850.[1][2]

His maternal grandfather was Robert Schuyler (1798–1855), himself the son of U.S. Representative Philip Jeremiah Schuyler, the brother of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and brother-in-law of Alexander Hamilton. His uncle was Robert Sands Schuyler (1830–1895), a prominent New York architect.[1]


Lamson fought during the Franco-Prussian War with the French Ambulance Corps during the 1871 siege of Paris, receiving a Legion of Honour for his work.[3]

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.[1]


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.[3]

Scenes from the trial, wood engraving.

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.[4][5][6]

Lamson's execution was delayed when word came that his family and friends in the United States, including U.S. President Chester Arthur,[3] 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.[1][7]

Lamson was hanged by William Marwood at Wandsworth Prison on 28 April 1882.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Christoph, Florence A. (1992). Schuyler Genealogy: A Compendium of Sources Pertaining to the Schuyler Families in America Prior to 1800. Friends of Schuyler Mansion. pp. 43, 143, 234. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  2. ^ Allen, Cameron (2013). The History of the American Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Paris (1815-1980). iUniverse. ISBN 9781475937817. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Bailey, Stephen (31 August 2010). "The American doctor, war hero, drug addict and murderer who lived among us". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  4. ^ Macinnis, Peter (2006). It's true!: you eat poison every day. It's true. 18. Allen & Unwin. pp. 80–81. ISBN 978-1-74114-626-4.
  5. ^ Macinnis, Peter (2005). Poisons: from hemlock to Botox and the killer bean of Calabar. Arcade Publishing. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-1-55970-761-9.
  6. ^ Parry & Wright (2000) p.103
  7. ^ Lamson, George Henry; Adam, Hargrave Lee (2016). Trial of George Henry Lamson. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 9781355252191. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  8. ^ 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 978-0-7158-1184-9.
  • Adam, Hargrave L. (1955). "Dr George Lamson". In Hodge, James H. (ed.). 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 978-1-58829-821-8.
  • Parry, Leonard A.; Willard H. Wright (2000). Some Famous Medical Trials. Beard Books. pp. 88–103. ISBN 978-1-58798-031-2.
  • Old Bailey Proceedings Online (accessed 2019-01-26), Trial of George Henry Lamson. (t18820227-367, 27 February 1882).