Arsenic and the Old Lace is one of the first dark comedies ever created. If you have ever seen the movie or play, you will know it is about a man who finds out his two elderly aunts are serial killers. When you think of a serial killer, do you think of a female? And if you did think that a serial killer was a woman, did you think she was elderly? This is probably why no one suspected the sisters, Catherine and Margaret Flannagan, were murdering the people in their lives. Let me tell you the story, and you tell me if you would, Twitter posts started becoming more than a muddy pool when king John made it a port in 1207, as you see, the town had been around way before the murders that took place in 1880, it helps to understand the place that the sisters became serial killers, to get an understanding of how they were able to get away with murder for so long, the people they murdered and possibly why Liverpool remained small until the boom in the early 18th century, mainly for the trade business, especially they had traded from the English colonies in the Americas, England, as well as countries like Holland in Norway.
When the 1800s came around, Liverpool continues flourishing, especially around the 1850s. When new docks were built and became the second largest port after London, it went from 77,000 people in 1801 to 376,000 by 1851. Even with the potato famine in the 1840s. One of the reasons for the population boom is that many Irish immigrants came to Liverpool. Everything was going well in Liverpool, but it was filthy and unsanitary; two epidemics happened in the 1830s, 1840s. There was a cholera epidemic in 1832 and another one in 1849. The only people who could afford good hygiene were wealthy. There was a pipe for clean water, but lower-income people can not afford it. Instead, they use wells by the 1880s. The population had grown to 611,000 people. The poor lived in slums, and the life expectancy was 30 years old. It was a short, brutal, and sad life in 1880 Liverpool. I will link it in the show notes, but there are even pictures of children during that time. And let you see suffering
In these children’s eyes and no child should
Look the way that these children look. So this will give you an understanding of the time and place that the sisters were working. The two sisters were Irish who had immigrated before the potato famine in the 1840s and had suffered during that time in the 1880s; the two lived at five Skirvin street. The two sisters were widows and lid with Catherine Flannagan’s 22-year-old son, John, and two other families. The two families who were lodgers were Thomas Higgins and his eight-year-old daughter, Mary, and Patrick Jennings and his 16-year-old daughter, Margaret. Around Christmas, 1880, Catherine’s son passed away. Catherine had been telling people that John had been ill for a while. So no one thought twice when he died, then collect the 70 pounds for his death, which equates to be around 5,000 pounds a day. Two years later, the other sister, Margaret Flanagan, married lodger Thomas Higgins, everyone was happy.
Or so we thought a few months later, Tom, his daughter, Mary, passed away. Soon after that, Margaret collected money from the girl’s passing. The following year in 1883, the team daughter, Margaret of the other family lodging with them, passed away. After she passed away. Her father, Patrick Jennings, left the sister’s home. He is probably the only one who escaped with his life there. Our neighbors started chatting after Margaret passed away. Yes. Liverpool was treacherous for the poor. Okay. One person dies in the household. Yeah. It’s because Liverpool is pretty bad for the poor, maybe two but three. The sisters decided that it was time to move on.
Initially, the sisters Thomas, again, moved to 1 0 5 Laderman street. Not sure why they decided to leave so quickly and get situated at 27, asked guts straight in September 1883, Thomas got ill doctors believed it was the cheapest ski. He was used to drinking his wife, Margaret, doted and took care of her ailing husband. Two days later, Thomas was dead, got a hundred pounds. One thing to notice that this was kind of like life insurance back then, but they call the societies. She had gotten that money from porta five societies. They probably would have gotten away with it. Still, they didn’t know that Thomas had told his brother, Patrick, that the insurance agent had come by and visited him. When Thomas died, Patrick was suspicious. Patrick started visiting local insurance companies, and he found out about four to five of them had insured Thomas’ life. Patrick then visited the doctor who had written the death certificate.
He told the doctor that he suspected that his brother had not died from cheap whiskey but foul play. The two went to the police. The day that Thomas was buried, a corner officer and two doctors went to the sister’s home. They found women having a party around the coffin. Catherine’s screened and left. And no one would find her for a few days. They did an autopsy. And they found that Thomas had died from arsenic poisoning. Margaret was arrested when Catherine was found; she was also arrested. This caused the authorities to exhume the bodies of John Mary and Margaret. No surprise that they also had high levels of our sink poisoning. The final year on February 14th, 1884, the trial began, Catherine tried to say that it was her sister, but that didn’t work. She then tried to say that they had murdered seven other people. She also said that there were three insurance and a fourth person were helping them with the insurance claims of the murdered people.
Margaret Evans, Bridget Begley, Margaret Potter, britches Stenton, and Mrs. Fallon. But they were not arrested and never went to jail. Three days later, the jury found the two sisters guilty. The two were sentenced to death. And on March 3rd, 1884, the two sisters were hanged while a thousand people watched. I never heard of this case, but it is one of the most fascinating cases because it didn’t seem like the two sisters acted alone. There are now thoughts that they were part of a larger conspiracy ring. I believe they were how many societies, life insurance companies were there that they never caught on. Like others would have when the coroner hadn’t doctored went to the home and saw a group of women laughing around the coffin, why would they be laughing alongside Catherine Margaret Flanagan? They had to be involved. And I bet that some of those women were the ones that Catherine named.
Catherine was telling the truth and murdered other people as part of this more extensive operation. I think that between the two sisters, Catherine was the mastermind. Margaret probably followed. She seemed to have been a psychopath. And I’m talking about Catherine, just the fact that she would sit there and say that her sister was the one that did everything. And then I also read that she was the actual landlady. Not that the two were, she was the one who thought of murdering her scientists, collect life insurance money. When they read the sentence, Margaret fainted while Catherine remained emotionless. I do wonder what happened to the teen Margaret’s father. Did he suspect and leave before he was following? Maybe he found no one would believe him. Two elderly widows murdering people, or he left due to grief either way. Young people lost their lives due to these women. Their sentence was well-deserved. Thanks again for watching the video. If you liked the content, please consider subscribing, hitting the notification bell, and sharing it with someone. I will talk to you next week.