James Greenacre

James Greenacre (1785–1837), the "Edgware Road Murderer", was an English grocer.[1]


He was engaged to be married to Hannah Brown. They lived in buildings on Edgware Road, London, not far from Hyde Park. One day in 1837, the police found a woman's head in Regent's Canal. They identified Hannah's body and suspected her fiancé as a murderer because he hoped to marry her for her money only. He also had a mistress, Sarah Gale, who helped him after the murder. Greenacre and Gale were to emigrate to America the day after they were both arrested. Greenacre was arrested, tried and found guilty at the Old Bailey. In the trial it was described how Greenacre had meticulously wrapped the head in a handkerchief, before disposing of it, and scattering the limbs elsewhere.[2]

The case generated a huge public interest. Great crowds gathered at Newgate to see the hanging. The spectacle was accompanied by sales of memorabilia, such as mugs, and flags, and rented rooms. The executioner, the celebrated William Calcraft, was notorious for a short drop on the rope, meaning his victims took a longer time to die.[3]


  1. ^ Gilliland, J. "Greenacre, James". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/11411. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Brandon, 74
  3. ^ Brandon, 198