"Sweet" Fanny Adams

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"Sweet" Fanny Adams's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Alton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Cause of death: Fanny was brutally murdered by Frederick Baker in Flood Meadow, Alton on 24 August 1867, he dismembered the body and scattered the pieces. He was publicly hanged for the crime outside Winchester County Prison at 8am on Christmas Eve 1867. All the family, including James Nixon and his wife Lucy, walked to Winchester to witness the execution. The manner of Fanny's death was the cause of the recently introduced tinned mutton to the British Navy being referred to as Sweet Fanny Adams. Gradually accepted throughout the armed services as a euphemism for 'sweet nothing' it passed into common usage
Immediate Family:

Daughter of George ADAMS and Harriet ADAMS
Sister of Ellen ADAMS; George ADAMS; Walter ADAMS; Elizabeth ADAMS; Lily ADAMS and 1 other

Managed by: Terry Jackson (Switzer)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About "Sweet" Fanny Adams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Fanny Adams (April 1859 – 24 August 1867) was a young English girl murdered by solicitor's clerk Frederick Baker in Alton, Hampshire. The expression "sweet Fanny Adams" refers to her and has come, through British naval slang, to mean "nothing at all".


1 Murder

2 Arrest

3 Trial

4 Phrase

5 Notes

6 References

7 External links

1 Murder

On 24 August 1867 at about 1.30 pm, Fanny's mother, Harriet Adams, let Fanny and her friend Millie Warner (both 8 years old) and Fanny's sister Lizzie (aged 7) go up Tanhouse Lane[1] towards Flood Meadow.

In the lane they met Frederick Baker, a 29-year-old solicitor's clerk.[2]

Baker offered Millie and Lizzie a three halfpence to go and spend and offered Fanny a halfpenny to accompany him towards Shalden, a couple of miles north of Alton. She took the coin but refused to go. He carried her into a hop field, out of sight of the other girls.

At about 5 pm, Millie and Lizzie returned home. Neighbour Mrs Gardiner asked them where Fanny was, and they told her what had happened. Mrs Gardiner told Mrs Adams, and they went up the lane, where they came upon Baker coming back. They questioned him and he said he had given the girls money for sweets, but that was all. His respectability meant the women let him go on his way.

At about 7 pm Fanny was still missing, and neighbours went searching. They found Fanny's body in the hop field, horribly butchered. Her head and legs had been severed and her eyes put out. Her torso had been emptied and her organs scattered. (It took several days for all her remains to be found.) Her remains were taken to a nearby doctor's surgery, where the body was put back together. The surgery is now a pub called the "Ye Olde Leathern Bottle" and is believed to be haunted by the little girl.

Mrs Adams ran to The Butts field where her husband, bricklayer[3] George Adams, was playing cricket. She told him what had happened, then collapsed. Adams got his shotgun from home and set off to find the perpetrator, but neighbours stopped him.

2 Arrest

That evening Police Superintendent William Cheyney arrested Baker at his place of work: the offices of solicitor William Clement in the High Street. He was led through an angry mob to the police station. There was blood on his shirt and trousers, which he could not explain, but he protested his innocence. He was searched and found to have two small blood-stained knives on him.

Witnesses put Baker in the area, returning to his office at about 3 pm, then going out again. Baker's workmate, fellow clerk Maurice Biddle, reported that, when drinking in the Swan that evening, Baker had said he might leave town. When Biddle replied that he might have trouble getting another job, Baker said, chillingly with hindsight, "I could go as a butcher". On 26 August, the police found Baker's diary in his office. It contained a damning entry:

24th August, Saturday — killed a young girl. It was fine and hot.[4]

On Tuesday 27th, Deputy County Coroner Robert Harfield held an inquest. Painter William Walker had found a stone with blood, long hair and flesh; police surgeon, Dr Louis Leslie had carried out a post mortem and concluded that death was by a blow to the head and that the stone was the murder weapon. Baker said nothing, except that he was innocent. The jury returned a verdict of willful murder. On the 29th the local magistrates committed Baker for trial at the Winchester County Assizes. The police had difficulty protecting him from the mob.

3 Trial

At his trial on 5 December, the defence contested Millie Warner's identification of Baker and claimed the knives found were too small for the crime anyway. They also argued insanity: Baker's father had been violent, a cousin had been in asylums, his sister had died of a brain fever and he himself had attempted suicide after a love affair.

Justice Mellor invited the jury to consider a verdict of not responsible by reason of insanity, but they returned a guilty verdict after just fifteen minutes. On 24 December, Christmas Eve, Baker was hanged outside Winchester Gaol. The crime had become notorious and a crowd of 5,000 attended the execution. Before his death, Baker wrote to the Adamses expressing his sorrow for what he had done "in an unguarded hour" and seeking their forgiveness. Baker's execution was the last to take place at Winchester.

Fanny was buried in Alton cemetery. Her grave is still there today. The headstone reads:

Sacred to the memory of Fanny Adams aged 8 years and 4 months who was cruelly murdered on Saturday August 24th 1867.

Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Matthew 10 v 28.

This stone was erected by voluntary subscription.

4 Phrase

In 1869 new rations of tinned mutton were introduced for British seamen. They were unimpressed by it, and decided it must be the butchered remains of Fanny Adams. The way her body had been strewn over a wide area presumably encouraged speculation that parts of her had been found at the Royal Navy victualling yard in Deptford, which was a large facility which included stores, a bakery and an abattoir.

"Fanny Adams" became slang for mutton[5] or stew and then for anything worthless — from which comes the current use of "sweet Fanny Adams" (or just "sweet F. A.") to mean "nothing at all". It can be seen as a euphemism for "fuck all" – which means the same.

This is not the only example of Royal Navy slang relating to unpopular rations: even today, tins of steak and kidney pudding are known as "baby's head".

The large tins the mutton was delivered in were reused as mess tins. Mess tins or cooking pots are still known as Fannys.

The phrase was used for the 1974 album, Sweet Fanny Adams, by the band Sweet.

5 Notes

^ Google map of the area retrieved 1st february 2009

^ http://www3.hants.gov.uk/museum/curtis-museum/alton-history/fanny-adams.htm

^ Anon. "The true story of sweet Fanny Adams". Hantsweb: Curtis museum. Hampshire County Council. http://www3.hants.gov.uk/museum/curtis-museum/alton-history/fanny-adams.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-01.

^ Anon. "The true story of sweet Fanny Adams: Execution broadsheet". Hanstsweb: Curtis Museum. Hampshire County Council. http://www3.hants.gov.uk/museum/curtis-museum/alton-history/fanny-adams.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-01.

^ Sweet Fanny Adams

6 References

Fanny Adams page at the Curtis Museum in Alton

Why Do We Say ...?, Nigel Rees, 1987, ISBN 0-7137-1944-3.

7 External links

Look up Fanny Adams or sweet FA in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. 

Fanny Adams's headstone at findagrave.com

Execution of Frederick Baker, the Alton Murderer, ballad in Curiosities of Street Literature by Charles Hindley (London 1871), at the University of Virginia Library

Execution of Frederick Baker, song at the Digital Tradition Mirror

Tanhouse Lane at streetmap.co.uk

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Adams"


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"Sweet" Fanny Adams's Timeline

Alton, Hampshire, United Kingdom