Date of Birth:
Ada Chard-Williams had what
seemed like a nice little business. She would help out
poor unfortunate women who could not take care of their
babies by offering to take them off their hands for a fee.
She would then find suitable homes for those children,
passing them on with a smaller fee. It was a lucrative
trade, but Mrs Chard-Williams knew how to make it even
Florence Jones was a young, unamarried mother who simply
could not take care of her daughter, Selina. She therefore
read with interest the advertisement in her local
newspaper, offering to adopt a child, and so wrote off
immediately to the advertiser, a Mrs Hewetson, at the
address in Hammersmith.
What Florence could not know was that this address was a
newsagents where Mister Chard-Williams picked up all the
mail addressed to Mrs Hewetson, at a cost of one penny per
item. In due course, a reply was sent off to Miss Jones,
terms were discussed and agreed and on August 31st, 1899,
the young mother met Ada Chard-Williams who was still
masquerading as Mrs Hewetson.
The meeting took place at Charing Cross Station and
Florence was shown a house in Hammersmith where workmen
were busy. She was told that this was the home where her
child would be taken care off, once the alterations were
complete. Florence noted down the address as she still
owed Mrs Hewtson £2 of the £5 fee they had agreed on, and
Florence was an honest woman. Florence finally handed over
her daughter, some baby clothes, and the sum of £3 in
When Florence Jones finally made the trip back to
Hammersmith, in order to pay the final £2, there was no
trace of her child or the kindly Mrs Hewetson. Naturally
Florence reported this to the police and an investigation
The first port of call for the police was the newsagents
shop. Here they determined that Mrs Hewetson was in
reality Mrs Chard-Williams, but found that the home
address she had given was false. For some time, the
investigation got nowhere fast and then, on September
27th, the body of a small child was washed up on the banks
of the river Thames, in Battersea. The poor child was soon
identified as Selina Jones.
Eventually the Chard-Williams' were traced to an address
in Grove Road, Barnes, but unfortunately they had moved
from that address in October, just before the police had
arrived. However, to the surprise of the police officers
on the case, it was not long before they were contacted by
Ada herself. She had seen newspaper reports of the child's
death and on December 5th, 1899, she wrote to the C.I.D.,
and confirmed that she had indeed been operating as a baby
farmer, but denied any involvement in murder. She added
that Selina had been passed on to a Mrs Smith of Croydon.
Ada was nevertheless finally traced, arrested and charged,
along with her husband, with the murder of Selina Jones.
Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence at the trial
was the method of disposal of the body. Little Selina had
been tied up in a parcel and the string had been knotted
in a rather peculiar fashion. Other parcels, containing
clothing, were found at Ada's home and many of these had
been tied in the same manner.
Ada Chard-Williams was found guilty of murder. Her
husband, William, received a not guilty verdict, though
the jury did state that they believed he was an accessory
after the fact, a charge which was not pursued.
Although Ada was charged with just one murder, other
children's bodies had been found in the Thames and all had
been tied up in parcels where the string was knotted in a
rather unusual way.
Ada was Hanged at Newgate,
8th March 1900.