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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 wedlock.