On 27th March 1847 Catherine Foster of
the village of Acton, was hanged by the neck before ten
thousand on-lookers at Market Hill at Bury
St. Edmunds. Her crime was that of murder and her
victim was her husband of just three weeks, whom she had
married at the church of All Saints in Acton.
However, this verdict was queried when some of the Fosters next door neighbours hens died. It turned out that just before he died Mr. Foster had been sick in the garden and the neighbours hens had eaten the vomit and subsequently died. Though another theory was that Catherine had disposed of the rest of the dumplings in the garden and the hens had eaten this and died.
An examination of the contents of Mr. Fosters stomach was performed and found to contain arsenic, so naturally the finger of suspicion was pointed at his wife Catherine. Catherine initially pleaded not guilty so a trial date was set. Unfortunately it was her eight-year-old brother Thomas who was to be her downfall, when he was called into the witness box. The young boys evidence confirmed that he had seen his sister take a paper from her pocket and empty some powder into the dumpling mix. Catherine was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.
On the scaffold Catherine is said to
have given a heart rendering speech imploring other
young women not to follow her example but to stand firm
and stick to their marriage vows. Certainly not to
murder their husbands after only 3 weeks of