The Full Wiki

More info on Black Widows of Liverpool

Black Widows of Liverpool: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Catherine Flannigan (1829 - 3 March, 1884) and Margaret Higgins (1843 - 3 March, 1884) were Scottish sisters who were convicted of poisoning and murdering two people in Liverpool and suspected of more deaths. They were both hanged on the same day at Kirkdale Prison.

The crime

On the third of March 1884, The Black Widow Sisters of Liverpool, Catherine Flanagan, 55, and sister, Margaret Higgins, 41, were hanged at Kirkdale Gaol in Liverpool, for the murder of Thomas Higgins, Margaret's husband.

In 1881, Thomas Higgins, his wife and his young daughter Mary, 10, all took lodging at Catherine Flanagan's house at 5 Skirving Street, Liverpool where after a short while, Thomas's wife died. Flanagan's sister Margaret, recently widowed (under suspicious circumstances) married Thomas on 28 October 1882. By the end of that November, Mary died. Thomas Higgins died on 22 October 1883 was poisoned by arsenic obtained by flypapers. His death was premeditated and was carried out shortly after his insurance had increased.

His brother Patrick made inquiries about Thomas's death and contacted Dr. Whitford, who had certified his death due to dysentery. The coroner was alerted and a postmortem was carried out. The chemical analysis of this examination confirmed the fears of Patrick. Thomas was a strong and healthy man with no signs of disease, so it was proved that arsenic was the cause of death, not dysentery. Following this revelation, other recent sudden deaths in the Flanagan household were recalled and permission was granted for the exhumation of three more bodies.The three bodies exhumed were those of Catherine's son, John, who had died in December 1880 at the age of twenty-two, and for whom his mother received an insurance payment of 71.8s.0d (pounds sterling); Maggie Jennings, an eighteen-year-old lodger, whose death in January 1883 netted 79(pounds sterling); and little Mary Higgins, daughter of Thomas from his first marriage, who had brought a quick profit for her stepmother (she paid out 1/6d in premiums and received 21.18s.6d (pounds sterling) on Mary's death). The postmortems showed that their deaths were all due to arsenic poisoning.

Labeled in 2002 as The Black Widows of Liverpool the two sisters poisoned their own family members in the 1880s in an attempt to claim insurance payouts. The pair was led by Catherine Flanagan, 55, and her sister Margaret Higgins, 41. According to the Most Haunted Team, on the Most Haunted Live: The Search For Evil, broadcasting on Saturday 10 January 2009 on Living TV and Virgin 1, Catherine Flanagan was the eldest and more violent, whereas Margaret was the more emotionally weaker of the two.

Four other women were involved, but the courts decided that they were not involved in the poisonings but were part of the crime.

Their final death toll after a decade of killing was four, but modern historians have claimed that the group may have killed as many as seventeen people.[1]


Most of the group avoided conviction, but the two sisters who led the group were convicted and hanged. Witness reports state that they were hanged side-by-side.




Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address