10 Infamous Crimes from the Dark History of London

10 Infamous Crimes from the Dark History of London


There is a lot of blood and violence in London’s
history. At one point in time, arguably the most famous
killer in history, Jack the Ripper, prowled the city’s streets in search of new victims. Yet he is just one of the many ruthless criminals
who lived (and killed) in London. 10. Murder At The Blind Beggar If you are in Whitechapel and you fancy a
pint, you can head on over to the Blind Beggar. The pub has a rich history and traces its
origins to a centuries-old inn, but it is inexorably linked to London’s notorious
mobsters, the Kray Twins. The Blind Beggar is the place where Ronnie
Kray gunned down George Cornell in plain view. On March 9, 1966, Cornell went to the pub
to have a drink. Some time later, Kray and an associate named
John Barrie arrived at the Blind Beggar. Allegedly, Cornell only had time to sarcastically
say “Well, just look who’s here” before Ronnie walked up to him, pulled out a 9mm
Luger and shot him once in the forehead. Barrie fired a few warning shots into the
ceiling before the two exited the pub and left in a car waiting outside. Ronnie Kray was convicted in 1969 of Cornell’s
death and sentenced to life in prison. As to the motive, the victim was a member
of the Richardson Gang, rivals embroiled in a turf war with the Firm led by the Kray Twins. However, Ronnie particularly loathed Cornell. A few months before the murder, their gangs
got into a fight at a Christmas party after Cornell called Kray a “fat poof.” 9. The Assassination Of Spencer Perceval Spencer Perceval might not be among the most
famous politicians in UK history, but he has the ignoble distinction of being the only
British Prime Minister who was assassinated while in office. Born in 1762, Perceval became Prime Minister
in 1809. His government faced a few crises such as
the disastrous Walcheren Campaign to the Netherlands and the riots of the Luddites. On May 11, 1812, he was in the lobby of the
House of Commons in London when he was approached by a man named John Bellingham who shot him
fatally through the heart. Bellingham made little attempt to conceal
his crime or escape. In fact, some accounts say that he went and
sat back down in the same chair by the fireplace where he waited for the Prime Minister to
arrive. Bellingham was a merchant who was falsely
imprisoned in Russia. The British Embassy did nothing to help him
and the government refused his request for compensation when he was released. He considered that he had “sufficient justification”
for his actions. Bellingham’s defense team tried to argue
that he was insane, but he was found guilty and hanged a week after Perceval’s death. The feud was somewhat rekindled in 1997 when
two of their descendants, Roger Percival and Henry Bellingham, both politicians, battled
for the same parliamentary seat representing North West Norfolk. 8. The Finchley Baby Farmers Baby farming was a relatively common practice
a hundred years ago which took place throughout Britain. People who had undesired, usually illegitimate
children they didn’t want to raise would leave them with a baby farmer in exchange
for money. This convention was rife with abuse. Once the baby farmers had the money there
was little incentive for them to do the job they promised. They knew that most parents who used their
service wanted nothing to do with their offspring and would never check up on them again. There are multiple cases where the children
died from neglect and, in rare instances, even murder. At first glance, Amelia Sach offered a tantalizing
service at her nursing home in Finchley, North London. People who brought their unwanted babies to
Claymore House not only thought they would be looked after, but also adopted by wealthy
families. However, the only thing those children received
was an injection of chlorodyne, usually administered by Sach’s partner-in-crime Annie Walters. The murderous duo was caught in late 1902
when Walters’ landlord, also a policeman, became suspicious of his tenant’s activities. Police followed her and eventually caught
her trying to dispose of a body. Walters soon implicated Sach and both were
hanged on February 3, 1903. 7. The London Burkers During the early 19th century, there was a
keen interest in Britain in the study of anatomy. This created a huge demand for bodies for
dissection. However, according to the law of the time,
only the corpses of executed murderers could be used for this purpose. This led to the appearance of so-called resurrection
men – body snatchers who dug up fresh corpses and sold them to medical schools willing to
look the other way. Sometimes, these resurrection men didn’t
want to wait around for people to die so they created their own bodies. The most infamous case is that of Burke and
Hare, two men who killed 16 people in 1828 in Edinburgh and sold them for dissection. They were so infamous that the practice itself
became known as burking. London had its own gang of burkers headed
by John Bishop. In 1831, they tried to sell the corpse of
a 14-year-old boy to the King’s College School of Anatomy. However, upon inspection, surgeon Richard
Partridge noticed several disturbing characteristics: the body had never been buried, it was abnormally
rigid, and had a cut on the head which bled onto the chest. He alerted the authorities and delayed the
burkers until police arrived. Bishop and an accomplice named Thomas Williams
were found guilty of the murder of the child who became simply known as “the Italian
boy.” They confessed to drugging him with rum and
laudanum and then drowning him in a well. They also admitted to doing the same thing
to another boy and a homeless woman. They were hanged on December 5, 1831. 6. The Camden Town Murder On September 11, 1907 railway worker Bertram
Shaw returned to his home in Camden Town to find the naked body of his wife, Emily Dimmock. She had been murdered and her throat slit
from ear to ear. The violence of the crime made it a national
story, but a twist revealed during the investigation turned it into a front page sensation. Unbeknownst to her husband, Emily worked as
a prostitute named Phyllis. The husband was cleared of involvement, but
this new detail suggested that one of her clients could be the murderer. Police arrested a glassware designer named
Robert Wood (that’s him, pictured above). Emily was last seen alive in a pub in his
presence and a postcard written by Wood suggested he was a customer. At trial, he admitted to being intimate with
Dimmock, but denied any part in her murder. Wood was defended by formidable barrister
Sir Edward Marshall Hall who got him acquitted. Other clients of Dimmock were investigated
but they all had alibis and her murder remains a mystery to this day. Emily’s case was further publicized by artist
Walter Sickert who did a group of four paintings based on the crime. He had previously done one on Jack the Ripper. In fact, a few modern ripperologists put Sickert
forward as a suspect in the Ripper Murders. 5. Ruth Ellis No trip through London’s seedy history would
be complete without a stop at The Magdala in Hampstead. The pub might be closed now, but everyone
still remembers it as the place where Ruth Ellis killed her lover and then became the
last woman executed in Britain. The 28-year-old nightclub hostess was dating
a racing driver named David Blakely. They had a fierce relationship which often
became violent. Ruth had recently suffered a miscarriage after
being punched in the stomach by Blakely. On April 10, 1955 Blakely went drinking at
the Magdala with a friend named Clive Gunnell. Ellis waited for him outside the pub. When David came out, he initially ignored
Ellis and walked right by her. That’s when she pulled out a Smith & Wesson
and started firing. The first shot missed. The second hit Blakely in the back and he
collapsed on the pavement. Ellis walked up to him and fired three more
times at close range. She then stood next to the body in shock until
an off-duty policeman arrived and arrested her. Her trial was short but sensational. Ruth sealed her fate during testimony when
she said “It is obvious when I shot him I intended to kill him.” After a brief deliberation, the jury found
her guilty and she was sentenced to death. Ruth Ellis hanged on July 13. 4. The London Cellar Murder Dr. Crippen might be remembered as one of
London’s most infamous murderers, but modern developments suggest he might not have been
a killer at all. In 1910, Cora Crippen disappeared. Her husband was Hawley Harvey Crippen, a homeopath
from Michigan. Initially, he claimed that Cora had died,
but he later admitted to authorities that, in fact, his wife had left him and returned
to America. Whether or not Scotland Yard believed his
story is hard to say, but Crippen decided not to stick around and find out. He fled England and went to mainland Europe
with his mistress, Ethel Le Neve. From there, the duo boarded the SS Montrose
to Canada. While Crippen was on the run, police searched
his home in Camden more thoroughly and found a human torso buried in the cellar. This turned the good doctor into the most
notorious man in Britain. He was so well-known, in fact, that even in
disguise he couldn’t travel without being recognized. Captain Henry George Kendall of the SS Montrose
spotted Crippen and alerted Scotland Yard. They took a faster ship and arrested him before
they reached Canada. The remains found in the cellar were badly
decomposed, but were tentatively confirmed as belonging to Cora based on a piece of scar
tissue consistent with her medical history. Crippen was found guilty and hanged on November
23. Almost a hundred years later, a forensic team
from Michigan State University claimed mitochondrial DNA evidence indicated the remains belonged
to a man. Their results have proven controversial and
are yet to be widely accepted by the scientific community. 3. The Battersea Mystery Fifteen years before Jack the Ripper started
his infamous killing spree, someone else was murdering women in London and cutting up their
bodies. It became known as the Battersea Mystery because
that was the area where police found the first piece of a dismembered corpse on September
5, 1873. Subsequent parts started showing up around
the city until an almost complete body could be reconstructed. However, authorities were still unable to
identify the victim. Despite a large reward of £200 and a promise
of a free pardon for any accomplice, the case was never solved. A year later, another dismembered body was
recovered from the Thames. This one also remains unidentified to this
day and a link with the previous victim has never been established. Medical journal The Lancet published a detailed
rundown of all the mutilations performed on the first body. They stressed that everything was done neatly
and dexterously and nothing was hacked off. The skill on display showed that the perpetrator
had medical knowledge. At the same time, the publication thoroughly
dismissed the idea that the whole thing was a morbid hoax by medical students. 2. The Houndsditch Murders In January 1911, the East End of London saw
a massive gunfight between a combined police and army force and two Latvian revolutionaries. This shocking episode is known as the Siege
of Sidney Street and is also notable for the presence of then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill. However, it was preceded by a much bloodier
event which resulted in one of the largest losses of police life in the history of peacetime
London. In December 1910, the gang of Latvians wanted
to rob a jewelry store in Houndsditch. For this, they rented two properties which
backed into the building. Their plan was to bring all the equipment
they needed at the rentals and then break through the wall of the shop at night. The noise disturbed a neighbor who then alerted
a constable named Piper. He investigated the scene and became immediately
suspicious, so he left to get reinforcements. Six constables and sergeants returned at the
rental buildings. They outnumbered the robbers, but the police
were carrying truncheons while the criminals were armed with pistols. A fight ensued and five of the officers were
shot. Sergeant Tucker died instantly while Sergeant
Bentley and Constable Choate died in hospital. Two others were wounded, but survived. All of the robbers managed to escape. The investigation into the killings led to
the aforementioned siege. 1. The Thames Torso Murders How many people did Jack the Ripper kill? Five victims are typically ascribed to him,
but there are plenty of people who think that Saucy Jack was far more prolific. There is another series of crimes which took
place between 1887 and 1889 known as the Thames Torso Murders. Various parts of four dismembered women were
found in the River Thames and the surrounding areas. Were these also the work of the Ripper or
an equally-sadistic killer active at the same time? Officially, there is no evidence to suggest
that the torso murders were committed by Jack. This was speculation from the newspapers as
police considered them separate cases. Only one of the victims was ever identified
– a prostitute named Elizabeth Jackson. Like the Battersea Mystery, there were some
who thought this was just a medical school prank. This idea was dismissed as the bodies kept
appearing. The medical men who examined the remains agreed
that the killer had some practical knowledge of anatomy, but lacked the skill of a surgeon. They opined that he could be a butcher or
a knacker. If the murderer was, indeed, a different person,
then he had a longer and more gruesome killing spree than Jack. Even though he started first, it’s curious
that he was still completely overshadowed by the Ripper.

89 thoughts on “10 Infamous Crimes from the Dark History of London

  1. love your jacket. Also, how about…Prime Minsters, Presidents, other leaders of nations, that were also heroes? Say Winston Churchill in South Africa and such? (not sure how much heroics in a Colonial nightmare but still?)

  2. Feels like you dont like what you do , when you write the script of the video like a report not a story that is supposed to attract the listeners ear

  3. also in Paris at one time, baby farming….or sending the baby out to be suckled and raised in the countryside… was common for ALL FAMILIES.  Many children at the time did not make it to age 2 or 3, so it wasn't considered odd that many children never made it back. It was simply that breastfeeding and also the care of a newborn was too bothersome for many families (even middle class), so sending the baby to the country was even considered the fashionable thing to do. It took the French government running a huge PR campaign, to get French mothers to raise their babies. One thing brought up was the new belief that a mother has an influence even on a young infant…the belief before then was that babies don't remember anything so who raises them isn't important.

  4. Do a show of just the so called the royal family no shortage of crimes of pedophilia mass murder you name it.

  5. At least the Krays' targets were other criminals, not members of the genera public. I met them once in their favourite pub – The Morpeth Castle.

  6. "A many years ago, / When I was young and charming, / As some of you may know, / I practised baby farming." — Little Buttercup, "H.M.S. Pinafore"

  7. Ever read about "Devil in the White City"??? ..Mass murderer at the Chicago World's fair in 1893. Dr. Henry Howard Holmes killed 27.

  8. Calling one of the Kray Brothers a poof is simply suicidal.
    As for Hare and Burke, there's a 2010 comedy about their life. The cast is brilliant with names like Simon Pegg, Tom Wilkinson and Isla Fisher. Very good watch!

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  10. Great video. I was hoping that Dr. Crippen was included. Didn't know about the DNA update. I have always been fascinated with UK History

  11. No mention of the Acid Bath Murderer, John Haigh? Or John Christie (10 Rillington Place)? Or even Dennis Nilsen (although I understand if that has potential to upset the relatives of victims), but you could also mention the Shepherds Bush murders.

  12. Request for a video one 10 facts about USS Constitution I can name two she is the oldest commissioned war ship still afloat HMS Victory lost that when she was permanently dry docked and she is the only ship of state in the world

  13. Simon my athletes foot has gone away completely but I am currently out of oatmeal. Just wanted you to know that

  14. I continue to be amazed by the amount of work your team does. The Kray Twins were a fascinating story in and of themselves; Burke and Hare I just read about a few weeks ago. I have to wonder if the doctor they sold the corpses to had ANY idea what they were up to. He had to, right?

  15. My friend owns the blind beggar and he shows tourists one of the “bullet holes” in the ceiling but in reality it was done by a pool cue after a pissed up lock in 😂.

  16. So many black cab drivers claim to have been at the Blind Beggar that night, but not many of them want to talk about what made them switch from being a rent boy to being a cabbie.

  17. I find it interesting that some people believe that HH Holmes could possibly have been Jack the Ripper. Of course we will never know but he was sick enough to do those kind of things.

  18. Your content was interesting for a while but you make so much of it that can be read on wikipedia or some lame click bait listicle site that's already done the hard work of compiling the lists. I'm kind of sick of your content and I'm unsubbing.

  19. Simon, I love you!!! Your voice & presentaion are great!! But WHY do you not have a channel/podcast called "Simon Says" ? Cmon man its right there!!

  20. I'm related [great-great nephew] to Francis Tumblety, a major subject of Jack the Ripper who carried womans uteruses around after he fled England. Tumblety was also involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

  21. Other interesting crimes are those of 'Jack The Stripper' who killed several women in the 1960's, and who was never caught. Then there's the gruesome 'Ratcliff Highway Murders', where the victims were killed with tools. The killer was caught, tried, and executed, and buried at a crossroad junction. Then there's Gordon Cummins, who killed women during the blackout in the last war. His killing weapon of choice? An old style 'Stab & Rip' can opener. He treated his victims as if they were tin cans. Then there's Ginter Wiora, who killed his common law wife with a samurai sword, in south London.

  22. I found it interesting that the use of hanging for execution was being used all the way into at least the 1950's.
    Simon, why is this the case and what changed it, assuming it has changed? I am on the other side of the pond on the shores of Erie.

  23. Thank you for not being monotone. Thank you for not being monotone. Thank you for not being monotone. Thank you for not being monotone. Thank you for not being monotone.

  24. Hello Parabéns belíssimo canal ótimo vídeo
    super Saudações 🇧🇷 beijos com carinho
    😘 Love 😍 You.

  25. They have found DNA evidence, of who, Jack the Ripper, was. Even had pictures, of the man. He was, in fact, a butcher, in slaughter house, area, of old London.

  26. Thames Torso Murders? Well established that they were committed by Magnus Greel and his automaton, the Peking Homunculus. At least in my time period.

  27. This stuff is fine but I totally agree with the prime minister of new Zealand. When she said that the recent mass murder was trying to seek attention for his twisted thoughts and to make a name for himself. We must try are best to forget the killer but remember the victims.

  28. Battersea mystery and Thames torso murders could easily be the same person. Also Whitehall mystery and other torsos. And it could even be the Ripper. A sadistic meat cart driver prostitute murderer (Charles Cross/Lechmere?!) disposing of the bodies of the prostitutes he murdered and dismembered in a private venue when no witnesses were around and where his cart was normally available to carry the body parts and dispose them in the Thames along with animal bones and unusable intestines, bodies being chopped up for easier handling, packing and to be more easily dismissed as just butchery waste for any surprise faraway onlooker in the night? And at times there were witnesses at the venue, and the killer urge overcame him he murdered random prostitutes on the street? Although them all being one man has the difficulty that at least some of the dismembered body parts were found as far upriver as Chelsea whereas the Ripper most probably was a Whitechappel resident who lilely also worked there if he was employed and it seems to me illogical to go so far upriver to a comparatively richer neighborhood to discard animal bones and/or human body parts in the Thames – I imagine such dropoff points could more readilly be found in the East end or even further downriver. Depending of its time could the tide carried the body parts upriver as far as Chelsea since there was no Thames barrier back then? Although again I imagine and waste dumping into the Thames would normally be made at times when the tide was withdrawing towards the sea precisely to avoid polluting the city…

  29. Crippen was never an infamous murderer.
    The only reason he rose to notoriety, is the fact that he was the first person to be caught by the use of radio telegraphy, and as such went into the history books.
    He was not even a medical doctor, but a homeopathic medicine man.

  30. I read that Ruth Ellis had to wear a bizarre canvas contraption under her clothing to be executed in. I think this came about after a young lady was hanged c. early 20th century/maybe the 1910s for conspiring to murder her husband (she didn't actually kill him). She kicked and screamed all the way to the scaffold, and when the trapdoor dropped (and so did she) she haemmorhaged an enormous amount of blood from her uterus (or thereabouts), and everyone who went to gloat and jeer at her screamed and lost their lunches. The hangman, I think he was Albert Pierrepont, was horrified and said he'll never execute a woman again if this is what would happen. It wasn't certain whether she miscarried, or whether she had endometreosis or some such. She'd stopped eating in prison so a lot was going on.

    So Holloway Prison (again not 100% sure if this was where it happened, sorry) designed this weird canvas get-up with lots of belts that was supposed to contain a woman's lady bits should they decide to exit her body at a vast rate of knots. Ruth was supposedly the first woman to wear the canvas nappy, and it took her and the wardress ages to figure out how to get into it. They even joked a little when it looked like she'd put it on backwards. Apparently Ruth was the perfect prisoner, very quiet, caused no trouble, and the wardress was genuinely upset when Ruth walked to the scaffold.

    I also recall the judge even asking her in the trial if she wanted to have the domestic abuse taken into consideration, reminding her she's facing the death penalty otherwise, but she just quietly sat there and said 'No, I murdered him.' Or something to that effect. Dunno who her lawyer was. I'm glad there's an effort to have her sentence amended to manslaughter.

  31. Hey mr wisler, I love your shows. I find them to be very informative and well-researched, also very entertaining. Please keep up the great work

  32. Thanks for posting this! I lived in East London for 50+ years and I didn't know most of these. I used to work in Whitechapel, just down the road from the Blind Beggar; knew of its reputation but never went in – I didn't tend to move in those circles
    I can remember some details about two Kray funerals but glad that that's all I know about them

  33. I was surprised Radcliff Highway murders didn't make the list…..but sooooo many to choose from

  34. I've never understood as a gay man why straight men use gay slurs as insults, or why being gay is such a big deal to them

  35. Ok. So like 'laudanum' for example. Pronounced law-duh-num, it is perhaps one of the most simple and direct words to pronounce phonetically

    ON NO PLANET are you incapable of pronouncing this word correctly and I find it very hard to believe that this episode script was your first time ever encountering the word. For someone who enunciates their words so exquisitely, there seems little chance of you flubbing the word and deciding to keep it in instead of doing a 5-minute reshoot.

    So, with the above so plain to see, I can only assume intentional mispronunciation. Am I like, totally crazy?

  36. Sorry to tell ya, but only Burke was hung. Hare vanished to the English boarder and was never seen again. Hare placed all the blame on Burke, who's skeleton is preserved and a book is made from his skin

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