Unsolved Murders

Margaret Bingham

Age: 48

Sex: female

Date: 14 Aug 1911

Place: Lancaster Castle

James Henry Bingham, William Hodgson Bingham and Margaret Bingham died of arsenic poisoning. James Bingham's daughter was tried for murder but found not guilty.

William Bingham had been the Court Keeper of Lancaster Castle for 30 years.

James Bingham was taken ill on 12 August 1911 after eating some food and started to vomit. A nurse was later called to watch his food and on 14 August 1911 he was taken to a friend's house where he died the following day on 15 August 1911.

Death was determined to be by arsenical poisoning. The autopsy found traces of white arsenic in minute traces which in aggregate were more than a fatal dose.

James Bingham's father William Bingham had died in similar circumstances on 23 January 1911 after being seized the previous day with severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

William Bingham had been the Court Keeper of Lancaster Castle and when he died James Bingham and his wife Margaret Bingham came back to take over the duties arriving on 18 July 1911. However, the morning after they arrived Margaret Bingham became very sick whilst having breakfast and died 3 days later.

James Bingham's sister Annie Gertrude Bingham 30 also died although she was not considered to have been murdered. She died on 12 November 1910.

When police searched the grounds of Castle Courts they found two tins of Acme Weedkiller covered over with rusty chains. The weedkiller had been used on Castle Parade and was labelled poison.

On 31 August 1911 James Bingham's sister was charged with his murder.

The bodies of William Bingham and Margaret Bingham were then dug up and both were found to contain arsenic as well.

The sister was tried for all their murders but was acquitted.

It was said that she had no motive and the idea that she had done it for the money was said to be ridiculous. It was also said that after her brother’s death she would be worse off.

After the trial she moved to Scarborough but after the outbreak of war she was evacuated back to Lancaster and after a short visit to her grandparents’ home her grandfather put her in an asylum where she stayed until she died in 1945. However, she never admitted to the murders.

The role of Court Keeper for Lancaster Castle was taken over by a man who had served 21 years in the King's Own Loyal Lancaster Regiment attaining the rank of colour sergeant but he later died on 28 December 1912 after being taken ill on Boxing Day. He died from pneumonia.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.scribd.com

see "The Lancaster Poisoning Case." Times [London, England] 31 Oct. 1911: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 08 November 1911

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 31 August 1911

see Cornishman - Thursday 21 September 1911

see Leicester Chronicle - Saturday 02 September 1911

see National Archives - ASSI 52/170, HO 140/289

see  True Crime Library

see Lancaster Gaurdian