Thursday, September 15, 2005

Nothing Better Than a Murder and Hanging


The day 20,000 watched Mary Ball hang

Sep 14 2005

Special Report By Barbara Goulden

All the roads into Coventry were crowded as an estimated 20,000 people walked or rode into the city centre to witness the hanging of Nuneaton inn-keeper's daughter Mary Ball.

The date was August 9, 1849; the time 10am; and the place, the old jail and courthouse, now the semi-derelict County Hall, in Cuckoo Lane.

The 31-year-old had three months earlier bought a "pennyworth" of arsenic from a local chemist explaining that she wanted it to "kill bugs."

Instead, she'd put the poison on a mantleshelf at her home in Back Lane, Nuneaton. When husband Thomas returned from a fishing trip complaining of feeling ill, Mary casually suggested he took the "salts" on the shelf as they would do him good.


[Nuneaton-born Clive Ball, the great-great-great nephew of Thomas Ball] said: "I can still remember my grandmother telling me the story about the murder.


"I'm the great, great grandson of Thomas's brother James and have traced the Ball side of my family back 14 generations to 1654. But I don't expect to find anything more interesting than the murder of Thomas and the hanging of Mary."

[Read the whole story]

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