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28 October 2014

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Cambridgeshire crimes
Amy Hutchinson: burnt at Ely
Ely Cathedral, 1750
Amy Hutchinson is burnt at the stake in Ely

The first female known to have been burnt at the stake in this country for poisoning was
Amy Hutchinson from Whittlesey.

Read on about her crime and punishment...

  see also  

Cambridgeshire crimes: The St Neot's Assassin

Cambridgeshire crimes:
The Cambridge cut-throat chorus

BBC Cracking Crime day
BBC History trail
BBC h2g2 ghost stories


These three types of crime were punishable as acts of petit treason during the 1750s:

A clergyman who kills his superior

A servant who kills his master

A wife who kills her husband

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Amy Conquest was baptised on 19th October 1729, the daughter of Thomas and Mary.

By the age of 16 she had grown into a tall, fine young woman and her charms had attracted the attention of a local youth in the parish of Whittlesey.

History does not record his name. When the association began to get serious, Amy’s father warned her of the dangers of becoming too familiar out of wedlock.

quote She had given her all to the youth and now he was deserting her quote

Despite this advice, Amy continued to see her young man and it was not long before the two became intimate.

In the summer of 1748 Amy was under the impression that she was engaged to be married. However, her lover suddenly announced his intention of travelling to London. He did not say when he might return but he indicated that when he did, they would be married.

Initially, Amy’s response was one of shock. She had given her all to the youth and now he was deserting her. After a short while she began to harbour thoughts of revenge…

Another love interest

Another local youth, John Hutchinson, had previously shown an interest in Amy. She turned to him for companionship. John proposed marriage and, to spite her absent true love, she agreed.

After a short courtship, John visited Amy’s home on 24th August 1748 and formally asked Thomas Conquest for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Amy’s father preferred John Hutchinson to the other youth, so readily gave his permission. He suspected that Amy’s former lover might soon return, so he arranged the marriage for the following day.

His suspicions were confirmed, for Amy’s lover was in fact not far away. He quickly heard of the intended ceremony and returned to Whittlesey. But he arrived too late on 25th August as Amy and her husband were leaving the church.

The sight of her true love deeply affected Amy and it was only a matter of days before the two were secretly meeting...

More about Amy's misdemeanours»

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