Ex-Classics Home Page



Who smoked her Pipe after murdering a Pensioner. Executed near Maidstone, 25th of May, 1805

   ELIZABETH BARBER was born in King Street, Deptford, and she married an honest waterman, by whom she bore children. Barber's good conduct obtained him an excellent situation in the custom-house, while his wife was ruining him by her flagitious conduct. She was soon beyond all control. Once she stabbed a man of the name of Thomas Seerles, for which she was indicted, and imprisoned at Maidstone for twelve calendar months. This, however, proved no check to her fury, for, having formed an intimacy with John Dennis Daly, a poor college man, at Greenwich, she murdered him, on the 14th of October, 1804, by stabbing him in the breast with a knife, for which she was sent to Maidstone Jail.

   Ann Ward stated that she lived in the room under the prisoner's, at Greenwich; she heard a trampling over her head, as though of persons scuffling. This was half-an-hour before she heard the cry of "Murder!" and she heard Mrs Daly, the prisoner, say: "I'll do it -- I'll do it! I will not put up with it!" About half-an-hour afterwards she heard the prisoner open the door and cry out: "Murder! Bloody murder! My husband has stabbed himself, and is dead enough. Will nobody come to my assistance?" The witness called the woman who lived underneath in the kitchen, and both went upstairs with the prisoner. When they got up, they saw Daly sitting in a chair with his head hanging on his left shoulder; the bosom of his shirt was open, and the wound on his breast was washed very clean. The prisoner was all the time smoking her pipe very unconcernedly, merely observing that he had stabbed himself.

   The jury found the prisoner guilty, and the learned judge immediately pronounced sentence of death. She was aged fifty-three. When sentence of death was passed upon her, she begged her body of the judge for her children.

   Her dress on the day of execution (which took place on 25th of March, 1805, on Pennenden Heath) was very decent; and from the time of her quitting the prison to the fatal drop she never uttered a sentence. Before leaving the prison, however, she made an ample confession of her guilt.

Previous Next

Back to Introduction