Frederick Henry Seddon was a 40-year-old district superintendent with the London and Manchester Industrial Assurance Company. With his wife, five children and his elderly father, he lived in a large house in Tollington Park, Islington, London, and in July 1910 he took in a lodger. She was Eliza Mary Barrow, a 49-year-old spinster, and the fact that she was singularly unpleasant didn’t trouble Seddon. He was more interested in her money, which amounted to about £4,000 in cash, gold, stocks and property.

To nobody’s surprise, she had fallen out with the cousins she had been living with, and Seddon lost no time in cultivating her. Within a few months he acquired her entire fortune in exchange for an annuity of £3 a week, but he begrudged paying her a penny. So to terminate the annuity he decided to terminate Miss Barrow.

On September 1st, 1911, she complained of stomach cramp, diarrhoea and sickness. Her doctor prescribed various remedies and called on her regularly for two weeks. Early in the morning of SEPTEMBER 14th, however, Seddon informed the physician that Miss Barrow had died. The doctor promptly issued a certificate giving the cause of death as “epidemic diarrhoea,” and with characteristic meanness Seddon had her buried in a common grave at Islington cemetery. At the same time he collected a commission from the undertaker for introducing the business.

Miss Barrow’s cousins were unaware of her death until one of them called to see her. When he inquired about her assets, he was assured that they had properly become Seddon’s under the annuity arrangement. But he found Seddon’s answers to his questions evasive, and he asked the authorities to investigate Miss Barrow’s death. As a result, her body was exhumed, arsenic was found, and on December 4th Seddon was charged with her murder. Margaret Seddon was subsequently also arrested, and charged jointly with her husband.

The prosecution alleged that they had conspired to kill Miss Barrow for her money, Seddon boiling arsenical flypapers in water and then mixing the poison with the Valentine’s Meat Juice that her doctor had prescribed. The couple’s trial ended with Seddon’s conviction, but his wife was acquitted.

The judge and Seddon were both Masons, and Seddon tried to exploit this when he was about to be sentenced. “I declare before the Great Architect of the Universe that I am innocent,” he declared, making a Masonic sign. “You and I know we both belong to one brotherhood,” Mr. Justice Buckhill replied, tears streaming down his cheeks. “But our brotherhood does not encourage crime.”

Then he passed the death sentence. The poisoner’s execution followed on April 18th, 1912.