Prince of Poisoners – Staffordshire’s serial killer

Dr William Palmer

The Prince of Poisoners?

Thirty thousand lined the streets to see him hanged. The Rugeley Poisoner or ‘Prince of Poisoners’ as the press called him would become Staffordshire’s most notorious serial killer. He was so reviled his effigy stood in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors for well over 100 years.

Dr William Palmer’s actions are veiled in mystery. Did he really poison so many? He was only tried for one murder, in fact. A lover of the turf, he was in debt and attempted bribery, fraud and forgery. He was also a notorious ladies’ man.

Much of Palmer’s history still surrounds us. The Pie & Ale House, in Stafford, formerly known as The Surgery in Palmer’s honour, was once-occupied by the doctor and there are of course plenty of connections with his hometown of Rugeley. There were a number of photos and a copy of Palmer’s death-mask produced after his hanging. A decent television production of his life, regularly shown on Alibi and ITV3 and starring Keith Allen, is worth catching. Admittedly he is no Jack the Ripper, but Staffordshire makes little of this story. Perhaps it would make another interesting stop on a heritage trail. Click here to read more……


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About richlakin

I'm married with two young boys and living in Staffordshire. If I'm not working you can find me day dreaming or holding high-brow literature in front of my face. Or eating Arctic Roll.
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