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Williamsport Sunday Grit
8 May 1892

Murderer Deeming Sentenced to Death at Once by an Australian Court
And His Evil Physiognomy - A Body Covered With Scars - He Conquered Women's Hearts by His Tenderness and Generosity.

The trial of Frederick Bailey Deeming, at Melbourne, Australia, for the murder of his wife, has ended. The jury rendered a verdict of guilty, and added that the prisoner was not insane.

Deeming was sentenced to death at once. When the news was communicated to the crowds there were loud cheers for the judge and jury and groans for the prisoner. The execution will take place probably in the first week of June.

GRIT has heretofore printed an extended account of the criminal career of Deeming, who first attracted the attention of the world, in so many widely separated parts of which he had committed crimes, by the discovery of his murdered wife's body in a hole dug in the fireplace of a house at Windsor, near Melbourne, and by the discovery, a few days later, of the murdered bodies of another of his wives and their five children under a fireplace in a house at Rainhill, near Liverpool. Since that report there have come from Australia and South Africa, and from South America and from England fuller details which fill in the picture.


A catalogue of the crimes, barely naming each, without going into details, would fill a column of this paper; and another half column might be filled with the catalogue of crimes of which he is so strongly suspected as to be almost convicted. As yet the seven murders are all that been unearthed, the word unearthed being used in its literal sense, as this man seems always to have made himself the grave digger as well as the murderer. That these seven murders are all that he has done in the way of destroying human life no one believes. For when he did the murders, which were first in the order of the time of doing, he was little shaken by the horror of what he had done, so little that within a few weeks he gave a dancing party in the next room to that in which a cemented floor lay over his six victims.


Deeming is now about 45 years old, 5 feet 6 inches in height, of tremendous breadth of shoulders, slightly stopped from digging in trenches as a miner and as a soldier in South Africa. His head is narrow in the front and bulging behind the ears and in the back. He has blue eyes, restless and cold, and of the shade known as washed out. These eyes are sunk deeply between the overhanging bones of his forehead and the projecting cheek bones. His nose is long and bent to one side from some encounter years ago. His mouth, which a ginger colored moustache half conceals, is straight and thin lipped and cruel. His chin is heavy, giving him a savage expression when he is not smiling. The physicians who have examined this head say that it is the head of a criminal, low, cunning, sensual.

On his body are many marks and scars which indicate the turbulent life he has led. On one side of his head near the temple is a scar where a bullet ploughed the scalp. In his left shoulder there is a deep scar made by a sword thrust. The calf of one of his legs has been shot away entirely. There are on his arms, his breast, and his back many smaller scars that look like those of knife thrusts.

He is loud of dressing this scarred body and decking it out with clusters of jewels, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. He comes of an obscure and uneducated family, but he acquired a vast knowledge of places and men in his travels, and he has picked up a certain tendency to correct speech, which, however, is seriously marred by a strong and vulgar Lancashire accent and by occasional lapses of grammar.

Added to this loud and easily remembered personal appearance is a fondness for boasting of his valor, of his health, of his family, of his deeds, of his travels. He is an incessant talker, in a high shrill voice, exceedingly unpleasant to hear. But those who have talked most with him have been astonished at how little he told of himself. What he tells is plainly untrue, and so confirmed is he in the habit of lying that even in the simplest matters, where he could have no possible interest, he lies fluently and absolutely. It is not easy to see how this sort of person could make an impression upon women. It seems that it was his display of jewelry and gold and his confident boasting that fascinated all those who were entrapped by him.


When he ran away to sea in 1864 he had been guilty of several petty crimes, and when in 1881 he returned to marry Miss James in that year he told stories of travel and blood curdling adventure in all parts of the world. There is every reason to believe that he was a sailor most of that time, taking refuge after committing a crime in the forecastle of some vessel sailing for a distant port. For all those years the police have been able to discover but one crime, but that is of such a nature that it indicates many crimes leading up to it.

The crime was the stealing of $25,000 in gold from the Standard Bank of Cape Colony. He did this with the aid of a certain hotel keeper named Pointing, and after taking the gold from the carts in which it was bring transported, they buried it in some sand hills out side the town. Pointing served three years for this, and while he was in prison Deeming, then known as Williams, dug up the gold and spent it in riotous living in South Africa and Australia. From the time of this crime thievings and swindlings in all parts of the world have come to the knowledge of the police.


But these Australian reports are more interesting in their details of the murder of his last wife at 57 Andrew Street, Windsor. It appears that this murder was committed Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, Deeming or Williams having bought the cement and all other things necessary to a proper burial nearly a month before, that is, immediately after the arrival of the Kaiser Wilhelm, in which Mr. and Mrs. Williams, but a few weeks married, took passage from Liverpool. Deeming changed his name from Williams to Swanson as he fled from Windsor, but he made small efforts to hide himself, as he relied entirely upon the security of the grave he had made. He held an auction sale in Melbourne of all the furniture he had bought for this house, and of such as his wife's belongings as were available, including her books, with her name erased. But he had kept her canary and its cage and her rings, those handsome diamonds he had given to her.


He had a mania for proposing to women, and a week after the murder he asked a woman, with whom he was but slightly acquainted, to marry him. He was always tender and affectionate toward women. His first appearance always repelled them. But he was wise enough to select those women who could be dazzled by the prospect of wealth or at least of comfort with no drudgery involved. He lavished present, attentions, endearments of word and deed. He made them feel that in Frederick Bayley Deeming, or Arthur O. Williams, or whatever his name might be for the time, they were getting a model husband - ardent, constant, rich.


And all the time he was pleading love and arranging to gratify his lust he was also scheming to gratify that other lust which involved the use of the beautiful knife, his constant companion since his early voyages, and the silver hatchet and the barrel of cement. He tore the jewels from the dead body of his last victim to adorn the body of his next victim. And while he bought a present and sent it with a loving note to Miss Rounsevell, he also bought a barrel of cement for the grave in the cottage in which they were to spend their honeymoon.

As was suggested in a previous article upon this man, his crimes are not ordinary murders, but the result of a mania for the cutting of women's throats and for burying them in graves hollowed with his own hands. All this swindling and thieving seems to have been carried on with the one object of getting money to dazzle women, to spend it upon them, and to enable him to put many miles between him and their graves.

There have been several similar monsters told of in the past, although none seems to have combined such inconsistent qualities.


From a careful study of this man's character. From hints he let drop in his boasting, from traces of his residence with unknown women in various quiet villages, it is fair to assume that all the graves he made have not been uncovered - that the 20 years of his almost unexplored criminal life were not without victims to this lust for blood. Yet his heart was light and his manner gay, his laughter loud and full of enjoyment, and the attacked the heart of each new proposed victim as though no crimes burdened him.

From the imperfectly known experiences of two of his victims, it may be gathered that on closer acquaintance his evil qualities revealed themselves somewhat. His sleep was uneasy at times, and he has been known to leap from his bed in a frenzy of terror. But these dream hauntings passed with the night and left small suspicion in the minds of those who observed. His manner to his last wife on the long voyage from England to Australia was alternately excessively tender and very rude, and the passengers noticed that her heart seemed to be always heavy, and that she often looked at her husband with a timidity that suggested fear.


It may be said, in conclusion, that the suspicion that Deeming did the Whitechapel murders seems to have been definitely laid at rest. He was in Australia when most of them were committed and in South Africa when the others were done. His fields of operations included the following parts of the world, so far as is known at present: England, South Africa, South America, Canada, Australia in all its provinces but one, New Zealand, and the cities of Aden, Calcutta and Bombay. In each of the continents a dozen places might be mentioned and nearly a dozen crimes of various kinds for each place. But he seems to be clear of the Whitechapel affairs.


The following is a record drawn up from the newspaper reports of Deeming's career under the various aliases he assumed, and of events with some of which it is thought probable he was connected:

As Frederick Bayley Deeming

1881: Feb - Married Miss Marie James at St. Paul's Church, Higher Transmere. Went alone to Australia.
1882: - Joined by his wife. Sent to jail for six months for theft.
1884: Numerous bank robberies took place in Sydney, the perpetrators not being detected.
1885: More robberies, burglaries, mysterious disappearances and tragedies.
1886: Sets up shop in a large way, perpetrates a fraudulent bankruptcy and absconds from Sydney.
1887: Flies from Adelaide to Cape Town after robbing two brothers of 60.
1888: Nothing known of him. During this year six of the Whitechapel murders were perpetrated.
1889: Poses in Durban as a mining engineer and obtains 680 by fraud.
June: Has 1,500 advanced to him in Durban on bogus deeds, obtains 420 worth of jewelry and decamps. About the same time two murders were committed in the Transvaal, the murderer escaping.
July 17: the eighth Whitechapel murder.
Sept.10: the ninth Whitechapel murder.
September: Turned up unexpectedly in Birkenhead, where his wife was living.
October: Is traced by a private detective, who wants him for the Transvaal robberies.
November: Sails for Australia. Leaving the vessel at Port Said, he doubles on his pursuers and returns to Birkenhead.

As Harry Lawson:

1890: Feb. 18: Arrives at Beverley and marries Miss Matheson a fortnight afterward.
March 15: Obtains {illegible} by false pretences at Hull.
March 16: Sails from Southampton for South America.
April 7: Arrested at Montevideo.
Oct. 16: Tried at Hull assizes and sentenced to nine months' imprisonment.
1891: July 16: liberated from Hull jail.
July 19: Miss Langley was murdered at Preston, near Hull, the murderer escaping.
July 21: Makes his first appearance at Rainhill.
July 22: Has tea at the Commercial hotel with a dark lady, who turns out to be his wife, Mrs. Deeming of Birkenhead.
July 23: Lunches at the hotel with his wife. Is afterward accompanied to Huyton by Miss Mather and signs the agreement of tenancy.
July 25: Mrs. Deeming and four children arrive in Dinham villa.
July 26-27: The fivefold murder is committed.
Sept. 22: Marries Miss Emily Mather at Rainhill.
Oct. 17: Sails with his wife from London to Australia.
Nov. 27: Miss Mather's last letter posted on the way out at Colombo.
Dec. 21: Miss Mather murdered.

As Swanston.

1892: Jan: Applied for another wife in a Melbourne matrimonial agency. Proposes to and is accepted by Miss Rouncesvell at Perth, Western Australia.
Feb: Wrote to Miss Matheson at Beverley, repeating a previously made request that she should join him.
March 8: Arrested on the eve of his marriage to Miss Rouncesvell.

Related pages:
  Frederick Deeming
       Dissertations: A Coroner for All Seasons: Sir Samuel Brighouse 
       Dissertations: The Life and Crimes of Frederick Bailey Deeming 
       Message Boards: Frederick Deeming 
       Press Reports: Bismarck Daily Tribune - 2 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Bismarck Daily Tribune - 29 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Bismarck Daily Tribune - 5 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 23 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 26 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Daily Anglo American - 31 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Daily Citizen - 24 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Daily Gleaner - 19 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Davenport Daily Leader - 27 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Davenport Daily Leader - 8 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Democratic Standard - 18 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Fresno Weekly Republican - 1 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Herald Despatch - 9 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Indiana County Gazette - 30 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Iowa Daily Citizen - 4 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 23 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 8 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 9 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Morning World Herald - 6 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Morning World Herald - 8 April 1892 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 29 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Newark Daily Advocate - 13 April 1893 
       Press Reports: Ogden Standard - 17 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Ogden Standard - 18 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Ogden Standard - 19 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Ogden Standard - 5 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Perth Courier - 8 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Port Philip Herald - 2 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Port Philip Herald - 24 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Qu'Appelle Vidette - 21 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Qu'Appelle Vidette - 31 March 1892 
       Press Reports: St. Louis Republic - 8 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Statesville Landmark - 5 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Times - 4 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 13 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 24 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 26 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 28 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 30 March 1892 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 23 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 29 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 9 May 1892 
       Press Reports: Williamsport Sunday Grit - 24 April 1892 
       Press Reports: Woodland Democrat - 26 March 1892 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Frederick Bailey Deemi... 
       Suspects: Frederick Bailey Deeming