Unsolved Murders

Mary Ann Cayley

Age: 38

Sex: female

Date: 13 Sep 1873

Place: River Thames

Source: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Mary Cayley was found dismembered in the River Thames.

Her remains were found in the River Thames at Battersea, Chelsea, Lambeth, Greenwich, Blackwall and Woolwich.

Mary Cayley was a widow and the daughter of a wealthy landowner from Uplyme near Lyme Regis in Dorsetshire. When her husband died he left considerable property which she was entitled to. However, her husbands next of kin were determined to prevent her coming getting the property and there were legal matters in action.

In the mean time Mary Cayley came to London and stayed with a highly respectable family in Battersea.

However, in order to gain the best possible sympathy from her husbands relatives she had recourse to a ruse to make them believe that she was left by her husband in worse circumstances than she really was. To achieve that she placed into pledge the best part of her splendid household furniture, her husbands gold watch and the whole of her jewellery. She would then show the tickets as professions of the pecuniary extremities to which she had been driven.

Within the last three weeks she had been to her solicitors several times in Cannon Street with the hope of recieving the first portion of her money. She was to have recieved 850l three weeks earlier but the payment was deffered until 5 September.

It was noted that on the first day that she was due to recieve her money that on her return the cab driver took her to Battersea Park but refused to go any further because it was dark and Mary Cayley had to walk the rest of the journey herself and when she got back she was covered in mud and had terrible bruises on her head. She said that she was walking along the river when she was knocked down by a blow on the head and when she came to herself she found her pocket turned inside out.

The next time Mary Cayley went out the landlady said that she shouldn't go alone and offered to accompany her but Mary Cayley said that she laready had a couple of friends that would see her all right. When she left she said 'Well good morning, my dear, you have been very kind to me during my trouble, and i'll never leave thee. I shall fetch all my things out of pledge, and you ought now to consent to take a nice house and let us live well, for I shall never leave thee as long as I live'. With that Mary Cayley kissed her landlady again wished her good morning an dsaid 'You will not know me when I come back for I shall then be dressed as I used to be'.

Mary Cayley didn't return on the Tuesday night. They did not read the newspapers and as day by day went by they felt the greatest uneasiness at her absence. Then they heard of a woman being found cut up in the Thames an dread the account but they thought the victim was a bargewoman and the idea that it could be the lady in their house never crossed their minds but after they began to think about the time she had been watlaid. However, by then the police had heard of the assault and highway robbery of Mary Cayley and went to see the house and then the landlady was taken to Clapham Workhouse to see the body and she identified Mary Cayley. The landlady said 'Yes. There is th epoor head and the hair that I have so often dressed, the cheeks I have so often kissed. Here is the scar on the breast I have so often see full of trouble, and I have not the slightest doubt - I am sure it is her'.

When Mary Cayley was murdered she was said to have had on her two valuable gold watches, one her late husbands, and one her own, and also three very costly diamond rings.

see National Archives - MEPO 3/118


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