Unsolved Murders

Lizzie Crowther

Age: 21

Sex: female

Date: 9 Nov 1901

Place: Wike, Harewood, Leeds

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Lizzie Crowther died from strychnine poisoning. An unknown person attacked her from behind and thrust the obnoxious stuff thought to be poison in to her mouth and then left her to reel home.

She lived in, Wike, near Bardsey, an isolated hamlet and rushed to her grandmother's house and told her that a man had put some nasty stuff into her mouth. She then died a few minutes later. She had left her grandmothers farm, School Lane Farm, to see her aunt at Manor House Farm 20 minutes earlier and when she returned her hair was disarranged and her shawl hanging from her shoulders. Manor House Farm was 50 yards across School Lane from her grandmother's farm.

When she came into the house her mouth was filled with earth and her grandmother gave her some water with which to wash her mouth out. Then sobbing and exhausted Lizzie Crowther sank into a chair and a moment later her hands convulsively twitched and she cried, 'Oh, grandma! look at my hands.' She then said, 'A brute of a man got hold of me by the hair. I didn't know his voice. He said, 'Give me some brass'. I told him I had none and he seized me by the hair' She then added that he put his arm round her and forced some bitter substance into her mouth. She said, 'I have such a nasty taste in my mouth, I can't bear it'. After a while she said, 'Oh grandma, I'm dying!' Her grandma said, 'Surely not, surely not!' by which time Lizzie Crowther's colour had changed almost to blue. She was then seized by some terrible pains and exclaimed 'Oh! its my legs'. She then partly slipped off her chair and moaned, 'Oh! that brute of a man! Catch him! Catch him!'.

10 minutes after her return she stopped speaking and by the time medical help arrived she was dead.

A farmer who had been to Slade Hill to shop on the Saturday night said that he was on his way home when he met a stranger who he could not describe other than saying that he was tall. He said that it was very dark and he came upon the man so suddenly that it startled him and he bade him, 'Good night'. However, he did say that from the man's response he was satisfied that the man was not a resident of the neighbourhood. A little further along he met one of Lizzie Crowther's farm hands who was riding at a gallop to obtain medical assistance for Lizzie Crowther. He had asked what was wrong but the rider was in too great a hurry to explain and simply shouted, 'Lizzie was ill' and did not pull up.

The farm hand said that he was on the look out for any strangers on the road and said that after meeting the farmer he met none between there and Slade Hill and said that unless the man had heard him and hidden he would have overtaken him before the lane end.

An autopsy showed that Lizzie Crowther's stomach contained 1.6 grains of strychnine where 1 grain was enough to cause death. They also found dirt in her mouth.

It was said that the poison was probably contained in vermin killer which was noted as being sold with great carelessness.

Her boyfriend from Leeds was questioned and said that he had been threatened by a rival.

The possibility of suicide was also not ruled out.

Lizzie Crowther was due to marry on 12 November 1901 to her boyfriend from Leeds who was a plumber and who she had been seeing for the last four years.

Her funeral took place in Bardsey, four miles from Wike.


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


see Shetland Times - Saturday 09 November 1901

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 15 October 1901

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 31 October 1901

see Shields Daily Gazette - Wednesday 16 October 1901

see Worcestershire Chronicle - Saturday 19 October 1901