James Greenacre. Sarah Gale
Etching with very fine hand-colouring, sheet 215 x 130mm (8½ x 5"). Very rare; 'Webster Collection' stamp verso.
James Greenacre (1785-1837), murderer, and his mistress Sarah Gale. Greenacre owned a large grocery shop on Old Kent Road, where he displayed political pamphlets. He was known for his radical opinions and as an associate of Arthur Thistlewood narrowly escaped arrest for involvement in the Cato Street conspiracy. After a spell in America Greenacre returned to London in 1835 and rumours began to circulate: he was accused of murdering a child, and of drugging a woman to procure an abortion, but both cases foundered for lack of evidence. In 1836 Greenacre advertised for a partner to help him exploit and develop the washing machine he had invented while in America, and a washerwoman named Hannah Brown agreed to go into business with him. On 24 December 1836 (the day before she was due to become his fifth wife) he murdered her, cut up the body and disposed of the pieces in various parts of London. On 24 March 1837 Greenacre and Gale were arrested in Kennington as they were preparing to set sail for America. Greenacre insisted Gale had not known about the murder, and she was transported to Australia, where she died in 1888. Greenacre, however, was hanged on 2 May 1837 in front of some 20,000 spectators at Newgate. He enjoyed posthumous celebrity: his head was examined by phrenologists, a waxwork effigy of him was displayed at Madame Tussauds, and plays about his life were performed at theatres.
Kivell & Spence: Pg 121.
[Ref: 37080] £140.00