May 11, 1744
Lydia Adler fatally stomps her husband’s groin after an argument with another of his wives
On May 11, Lydia later testified, she and one of John Adler’s other wives got into an argument. Both women insisted they were the man’s lawful wife. The other woman slapped Lydia across the face and threatened to “cut [her] in three pieces.” John attempted to separate the two women but was thrown to the ground by Lydia, kicked in the groin, stomped upon, and received a mortal bruising (likely a rupture of his intestines).
John left the house and, while holding a bloody handkerchief to his head, asked a neighbor if he had a spare bed he could use. The neighbor feared Lydia’s wrath, who was known as a “very turbulent woman,” and refused to take John in. John replied “This eternal fiend will be the death of me, for she has stamped upon my private parts,” before he left to seek medical assistance.
The neighbor often visited John in the hospital, who requested an arrest warrant be brought against his wife until his last day. John died of his injuries on May 23.
At trial, John’s daughter Hannah testified against Lydia, telling the court of her father’s statement implicating Lydia while she visited him in the hospital. The neighbor similarly testified against Lydia, explaining the violent relationship between the couple as well as John’s request to have Lydia brought to justice. Another neighbor testified on Lydia’s behalf, however, revealing John had been married to four wives (Lydia had only known about two of the other wives), and that John would initially treat the wives very well before eventually descending into abuse.
The jurors were sympathetic towards Lydia who was convicted of manslaughter and received a brand on her hand as punishment.
The court records described the killing in a single long and repetitive sentence:
“Lydia Adler, late wife of John Adler, was indicted for that she not having the fear of God before her eyes, &c. on the 11th day of May, in the 17th year of his Majesty’s reign, with force and arms in the Parish of St. Sepulchres, in the Ward of Farringdon within, in and upon John Adler her husband, in the peace of God, &c. feloniously, traiterously, wilfully, and of her malice aforethought did make an assault, and him the said John upon the ground, feloniously, traiterously, wilfully, and of her malice aforethought, did cast and throw, and he the said John then and there lying, in and upon the groin of him the said John Adler her husband, divers times feloniously, traiterously, wilfully and of her malice aforethought did kick and stamp, giving to the said John Adler upon the groin of him the said John, one mortal bruise, of which said mortal bruise the said John Adler from the said 11th day of May to the 23d day of the same month did languish, on which said 23d day of May, &c. in the Parish of St. Bartholomew, the Great, &c. the said John Adler of the said mortal bruise did die, and therefore the Jurors say that she the said Lydia Adler, him the said John Adler, in manner and form aforesaid, feloniously, traiterously, wilfully, and of her malice aforethought did kill and murder.”
Wallace, Bill. Infamous Murderers: Maniacs Filled With Hatred and Rage. Canary Press, 2013
Willock, John. Legal Facetiae: Satirical and Humorous. Littleton: Fred B. Rothman & Co., 1982
“Old Bailey Proceedings punishment summary. Henry Cole. 28th July 1744.” Old Bailey Online. Accessed: May 11, 2019. https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=s17440728-1&div=s17440728-1&terms=Lydia_Adler#highlight
“Lydia ADLER. Killing: petty treason. 28th July 1744.” Old Bailey Online. Accessed: May 11, 2019. https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17440728-23&div=t17440728-23&terms=Lydia_Adler#highlight