Five Devonshire Murderesses

(Last Updated On: August 28, 2020)

Author Julia Joyce has just published an E book, Five Devonshire Murderesses. It covers the stories of five women who went to trial in Exeter in the 1860s, and who were all incarcerated in Exeter Prison at the same time.

Of particular interest is the case of Torquay Baby Farmer, Charlotte Winsor: “The Devon Lent Assizes were opened on Saturday 10 March 1866. Charlotte Winsor was awaiting a fourth attempt by her solicitor Mr Folkard to ward off the hangman’s noose with the use of legal technicalities.”

The other cases are of young Cornishwoman Elizabeth Duff, “who smothered the infant she had brought into the world.”

Elderly Alice Dobb’s ‘demonic propensity for poisoning’ which almost resulted in the death of five victims, all of whom were members of her own family.

And, Mary Ann Ashford, “whose deliberate death plot was based on the worst of motives, and aimed against the one who of all others should have been safe from her wickedness”.

“These five women, languishing in Exeter Gaol in the spring of 1866, were in many ways, very different, but they had several things in common. They were all West Country women who had taken, or tried to take the lives, of those entrusted to them to cherish and care for. Their crimes were those normally seen in large towns and cities with their seductions of sensuality and vice. Urban profligacy had no place in the beautiful hills and valleys and the picturesque hamlets and fishing ports of the idyllic Devonshire countryside.”

Here’s the link:

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Kevin Dixon went to Audley Park – now Torquay Academy – and South Devon College when it was at Torre. After studying at Birmingham City University, he returned home because there’s nowhere else quite like Torquay. He then became involved in community and adult education, completed a PhD at Exeter University , and started writing about the weird and unknown side of town. He now Chairs Healthwatch Torbay and is involved in health and social care in the Bay.

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