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Dorothea Waddingham



Dorethea Nancy Waddingham




Kill Total: 2

Kill date:

12 May 1935

10 September 1935

Kill Place:







Mrs Baguley

Ada Baguley 







Rayner Goddard


Norman Birkett










In 1935 Dorothea and her lover 39 year old Ronald Sullivan, opened a nursing home in Devon Drive, Nottingham.

Dorothea  had a long criminal record with several convictions for fraud and petty theft.

Waddingham was her maiden name, she had started using it again after the death of her elderly husband.

She was left to bring up five children and opening a nursing home, with her as matron and Ronald Sullivan as a general assistant, seemed a reasonable way of earning a living.


Dorothea’s medical experience consisted of a short time as ward orderly at the Burton-on-Trent Workhouse Infirmary.


January 1935  her first two patients were 89 year old Mrs Baguley, who suffered from senility, and her 50 year old daughter, Ada, who had creeping paralysis.

Mrs Baguley and Dorothea came to an agreement whereby the home would care for the two women, until their deaths, on condition that Mrs Baguley left Dorothea her entire estate.

This came to about 1,600.


6th May 1935, Mrs Baguley rewrote her will to this effect. Six days later she died with the cause of death being given as cerebral haemorrhage (Stroke).


Nobody was particularly surprised and the woman’s death was attributed to old age. Ada followed her mother on 10th September with the cause again being given as cerebral haemorrhage. Dorothea now aroused suspicion by producing a letter, supposedly from Ada, dated 29th August. In it she requested that she be cremated and that her relatives not be informed of her death. Dorothea sent this letter to the Nottingham medical health officer with a request to approve cremation.
Dr Banks was sufficiently alarmed to order a post-mortem. This was carried out by Dr Roche Lynch, who found three grains of morphine in the corpse. After this discovery, the body of Mrs Baguley was exhumed and again a fatal dose of morphine was found. Dorothea and Ronald Sullivan were both arrested and charged with Ada Baguley’s murder.


4th February 1936, Their joint  trial began at Nottingham Assizes . It was quickly decided that there was insufficient evidence against Ronald Sullivan so he was discharged.


Dorothea tried to claim that she had given the morphine on the orders of the clinic’s doctor, Doctor, he denied this but confirmed that he had prescribed morphine for another of the home’s patients, Mrs Kemp..


27th February 1936, the jury found Dorothea guilty but added a recommendation to mercy. The judge and Home Secretary ignored this.


16th April 1936, Dorothea Waddingham was hanged at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham by Tom and Albert Pierrepoint.


Dorothea confessed to the double murder shortly before the hanging.



Dorothea Waddingham


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