Sweet Fanny Adams...
"Killed a Girl today. It was fine and hot," wrote Fredrick Baker in his diary. This was indeed precisely what he had done. This was the most brutal slaying to be ever heard about towards that of a child, completely obliterating her. Stolen innocence, lost life, a life that had only began, all because once again, like so many predators before her and after her, he had happened to gain her trust. In August 1867, Fanny, her sister younger sister, Lizzie (aged 7) and a friend named Minnie Warner left their homes in Alton, Hampshire, to play in a hop field.
Below are a couple of articles on the case, outlining the way this man out-ripped Jack the Ripper. Incidentally, the photo we have of Fanny Adams, may not even be her: some say it is; others say otherwise. On the contrary, I'm trying to do more research on that. Here is a photo of her sister and Friend beside her headstone.
Minnie Warner and Fanny's sister, Lizzie, standing beside Fanny's grave
This is truly heartbreaking tragedy, to dispose of a child this way. Was he insane? Or was he a predatory pedophile who was becoming brazen in his manner of luring a child, had these dark disturbing fantasies been simmering away for a long time? Was this the first time he had killed?
Regardless, I feel so awful for this child. I long to find more memorabilia on her. Sadly, it's not her life that will be remembered, but her untimely brutal death will be. The name drifts with time. Sweet Fanny Adams....meaning 'nothing'--that is sad. however this child's spirit will be alive more than the man who hung for this, Baker has no soul, no humanity. She shows him up. R.I.P Fanny Adams.
Fanny Adams. 30 Apr. 1859 - 24 Aug. 1867
It was one of the most damning (and classic) written confessions in English casebook history - "Killed a young girl today. It was fine and hot."
The extraordinarily dismissive statement surrounding the horrific killing of Fanny Adams was the sole entry in the diary of solicitor's clerk Frederick Baker for Saturday, August 24, 1867.
And those few words effectively put his head into the noose at what transpired to be Britain's last public execution.
In front of a baying mob reported to exceed 5,000 in number (most of whom were women and children) Frederick Baker, who suffered from a
rare mental disorder, was hanged above the main gate at
Winchester Jail. This would prove to be the last public execution on Christmas Eve, 1867,
Few people today probably are aware of the background of the phrase 'Sweet Fanny Adams' ,but her gruesome killing made sensational headlines throughout the land.
Little, if anything, had disturbed the tranquility of the village of Alton prior to this event, and none of the inhabitants could recall a local murder in their time.
So, without a moment's worry, Fanny's mother, Harriet, allowed the eight-year-old to set off from their home in Tan House Lane with her younger sister, Lizzie, and friend Millie Warner.
It was shortly after 1pm when Baker, impeccably dressed in a black frock coat, a tall black hat, a light waistcoat and trousers, approached them.
Baker, of sallow complexion and looking younger than his 29 years, induced Fanny with a half pence to accompany him up The Hollow, an old road or bridle way, which led to Shalden by the side of a hop garden. Bribing the other girls to play elsewhere, Baker took the reluctant Fanny away.
A lurid drawing from the Illustrated Police News, depicting Frederick Baker carrying Fanny away from her sister and friend
It was not until after 5pm that Fanny was noticed to be missing. Together with Minnie, Mrs Adams encountered Baker on his way back to the village.
"What have you done with Fanny?" the fraught Mrs Adams demanded.
"Nothing," he replied.
"You gave Minnie three halfpence to leave you with Fanny," she retorted.
"No I did not," he protested. "I gave her three halfpence to buy sweets, which I often do to children."
Mrs Adams threatened to call the police, to which Baker replied: "You may do as you like" - and with that walked on.
Fanny was still missing at 7pm and a search party formed. Entering the hop-garden, they were confronted with a sickening scene. Inside the gate lay a pool of blood and under a hedge, they found Fanny's head lying on two hop poles. The remainder of her dismembered body was found strewn around the field.
Fanny's two playmates told her father who instantly returned to Tan House Lane, seized a shotgun and rushed to the hop garden to blast Baker, but the latter was elsewhere. Adams was disarmed and the friends remained with him, until Baker had been arrested.
Though he pleaded his innocence, tell tale spots of blood were clearly visible on both his wristbands and trousers. Such was the outcry that the local superintendent had to slip Baker out of the back door of his office to avoid the large crowd that had assembled in the street.
Asked after his arrest, Baker significantly replied: "No, I shall be soon up there," looking upwards in an incoherent manner.
Following his committal for trial, Baker was strangely held at the police station for a week, before being transferred to Winchester by cab as a huge crowd gathered outside the train station.
Realizing that they had been outwitted, they chased after the cab, which they pelted with stones.
Such was the furore surrounding the hearing that the cramped and hopelessly inadequate facilities of the main court had to be hastily rearranged - with some reporters allotted to the dock where they sat alongside the accused!
The representative of the Hampshire Independent covered the historic hearing from the witness box.
The prosecution closed its case on the second day and the defense rested its case on Baker's mental condition, that he suffered from an uncontrollable impulse, a hereditary family trait. In a two-hour speech his lawyer detailed the illness which afflicted his father, a Guildford tailor, which had caused him on one occasion to try and kill his son and daughter with a poker.
His cousin was insane, having twice been detained at Bedlam, and his sister had died from a brain fever. Baker himself had tried to commit suicide by drowning after a doomed love affair. Former police sergeant John Davis described Baker's unpredictable moods as he accompanied him on his beat.
Following his inevitable conviction and sentence of death, Baker wrote out a confession, detailing how the girl's crying had angered him. In a bid to escape, Fanny had her head hanging over her right shoulder, and he stabbed her in the throat. Then "without consideration why', he decapitated her.
On the eve of his execution, Baker wrote a farewell letter to a friend.
"It is with a trembling hand and a heart overcharged with grief that I take my pen to address you by the endearing name of friend for the last time in this world. What am I now? A wretched culprit condemned to a death of shame with tomorrow's sun by the hands of a common hangman for a crime which renders me an outcast from both God and men - for murder, for sending a poor defenseless little girl before her creator.
"I have prayed to God for pardon and I trust I shall be forgiven. Thanks to the worthy authorities of the gaol for their kind attention to me. Dear friend, I wish this letter to be made public. From a guilty but repentant culprit, Frederick Baker."
Fanny was buried four days after her demise, the service conducted by the Rev W Wilkins in front of family, friends and villagers. The gravestone, erected by public subscription, reads: "Sacred to the memory of Fanny Adams, aged eight and four months, who was cruelly murdered on Saturday, August 24, 1867."
When seven-year-old Fanny Adams of Alton in Hampshire was offered money
by a man to go for a walk with him, she took the coin but refused to go.
So he picked her up, carried her into a hop field, out of sight of her
other playmates, and sexually abused her before killing and mutilating
The killer went home and wrote in his diary: 24th August, Saturday – killed a young girl. It was fine and hot.
He was Frederick Baker, 24, a solicitor’s clerk, and he was spotted by a search party of mothers looking for the missing Fanny.
The searchers stopped Baker and asked him if he had seen Fanny. “I gave all the girls who were playing together some money for sweets, but that was all,” he said. He seemed innocent enough, so they let him go on.
At 7 p.m. another search party found the body in a hop field, horribly mutilated. Her legs and head had been severed, and her eyes enucleated. Her torso had been emptied and her organs and her shredded clothing scattered all about. It would take several days for all of her remains to be found.
That evening Baker was arrested at his high street office and was led through an angry mob to the police station. He protested his innocence, but there was blood on his shirt and trousers, and also on two small knives found in his pockets.
His colleagues said he had returned to the office at about 3 p.m. and then gone out again. A fellow-clerk reported that when he was drinking in the Swan pub that evening, Baker mentioned that he was thinking of leaving town. When his colleague suggested he might have trouble finding another job, Baker said chillingly: “I could go as a butcher.”
When Baker was tried at Winchester Assizes in December 1867, he pleaded insanity. His father had been violent, a cousin had been in mental asylums, he himself had attempted suicide after a love affair, and he was drunk on the day of the crime. The jury, however, took only 15 minutes to find him guilty.
His hanging, on Tuesday, December 24th, 1867, was a Christmas Eve distraction for a crowd of 5,000. Before the execution he wrote to the Adams family expressing regret for what he had done “in an unguarded hour,” and seeking forgiveness.
Fanny’s murder gave birth to the expression “Sweet Fanny Adams,” meaning nothing at all, which was almost all that was left of the child after she had been disemboweled. What he did to her defies belief. We wish to have a discussion on this, as this case has never been brought to my attention until a few months ago, however we hope you find the story informative and one you will always remember. This is still going on to this day, thankfully not a lot, but it still happens. ~