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High Street, Castle Camps (Cambridgeshire Collection)

Castle Camps data

Castle Camps data

History website:

Mike Petty:

Castle Camps was the location of the events surrounding the murder of Susan Lucas by her husband Elias Lucas and her sister Mary (Maria) Reeder.

The eventual execution of Elias and Mary took place on Castle Hill in Cambridge in 1850.

A detailed account pf the crime appears in ‘Cambridgeshire Murders’ by Alison Bruce. Susan Reeder had grown up in Castle Camps and married Elias Lucas when she was 16 and he was 20, in 1846. Susan had a series of miscarriages and was reported to have health problems.

Her sister Mary (Maria) had worked in Cambridge for Mr Miller, a carpenter, at Castle End. She left this job in 1849 and went to work for Mr Cross, a farmer at Castle Camps, who was also Elias Lucas’s employer.

Around Christmas 1849, when Susan was pregnant again, Elias and Mary started an affair. Locals were suspicious and Mary left her job but went to live with a sister and Elias.

On the morning of the 22nd February 1850,Susan died, having been violently ill through the night.When examined by Dr Cramer he suspected poisoning. By 24th it was known that there had been arsenic in the house. In the Cambridge Chronicle 22nd February it was reported that the post-mortem had revealed evidence of arsenic.

Alison Bruce comments that it is possible that there was a miscarriage of justice and that in fact only one of the two had been responsible for the murder. But as they were tried together and shared a defence this was never explored in the trial.


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