The Story of Sweet Fanny Adams

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June 29, 2019

Fanny Adams was born on the 30th of April 1859 in Alton, Hampshire. She lived on Tanhouse Lane with her parents and 5 siblings. At the time of her disappearance, she was only 8 years old, but she looked older. She was described as an intelligent and cheerful child.

Today we are going to look into the barbaric murder of young Fanny Adams.

Attention! The content of this article or section may seem obscene or offensive to some readers.


The Murder


It was August 24th 1867 and the day started just like any other. Her mother was busy with her younger siblings and her father was going to play cricket. Fanny was with her sister Lizzie and her best friend Minnie Warner.

The girls went to play in their favourite place called Flood Meadows. As they played they were approached by a local man called Frederick Baker, a 29-year-old solicitors clerk that had recently moved to the area. He appeared to be drunk but the girls were not afraid because he was seen as a respectable man.

Flood Meadow. Image credit: Billy @ Geograph
He took a liking to Fanny and offered her a ha'penny to go with him into a hop field, but she didn't stray far from her sister and best friend. Baker picked blackberries while they played and gave them to the children. Eventually, the children were hot and tired, so they decided they were going to go home.

Baker asked Fanny to accompany him to a town nearby but she refused and wanted to go home too. This frustrated an impatient Baker, so he grabbed her and carried her as she screamed into a hop field.

The two girls didn't know what to do and in a panic, they ran home to tell someone what they had seen as fast as they could. They told Minnie's mother what had happened but for some reason, she dismissed the story and told them to carry on playing.

It wasn't until Minnie's mother told a neighbour about their story that they started a search. They told Fanny's mother and together they started walking to the meadow. On the way they encountered Baker and they asked him where Fanny was. He scoffed when they threatened to report it to the police and told them he had nothing to hide. The women accepted his explanation and returned home to wait for Fanny.

By supper time she still wasn't home and they grew worried. They gathered more people to go back out to search for Fanny. They searched in all the places the children would play and didn't find her. Not until a labourer went to check their hop garden and made the gruesome discovery.

A hop garden.
When Fanny's body was found she had been decapitated. Her head was impaled on sticks and she had also been dismembered. Her internal organs had been removed and were scattered all around the area.

When her parents were told the news her mother collapsed. Her father flew into a rage and grabbed his shotgun ready to find Baker and get revenge for what he had done to his little girl. His neighbours managed to stop him and stayed with him all night.

The Investigation


The next day Fanny's body was collected and taken to be examined. Supt William Cheyney arrested Baker on suspicion of murder at his place of work. When they searched him he was carrying 2 small knives and he had a speck of blood on his cuffs.

Later in their investigation more damning evidence came to light. Baker kept a journal at work and on the 26th of August there was an entry stating:

"I killed a young girl. It was fine and hot."

A young child also came forward as a witness saying they saw Baker leave the field where Fanny was found covered in blood. He witnessed Baker washing all the blood off at a pond nearby.

They also found a large rock with blood and hair stuck to it, which they believed to be the murder weapon. They reported the cause of death was a crushing blow to the head. 

The Trial


On the 5th of December, he stood trial for the murder of Fanny Adams. He denied committing the crime throughout the trial and defence claimed that he was insane. Regardless of this, he was found guilty and sentenced to hang for what he had done.

Image credit: Peter Trimming
On Christmas Eve he was hung in front of 5,000 furious people. The community did not want Fanny  Adams to be forgotten, so they raised money to make a headstone for her. The headstone still stands to this day at the cemetery where she was laid to rest.

Final Thoughts


This murder was horrific and what Baker did to young Fanny Adams was monstrous. I had heard the saying Sweet Fanny Adams and Sweet F.A growing up, but I never knew the origin of this until now. 

I am glad there is a memorial in place so she will never be forgotten, and I for one am going to stop using the phrase out of respect for her.

While researching this I couldn't even begin to imagine how her parents, siblings, friends and the whole community felt after discovering her body.

What are your thoughts on what happened on August 24th? Do you think he was guilty? Please share your thoughts below. 
26 comments on "The Story of Sweet Fanny Adams"
  1. Replies
    1. I know, it was such a sad case to research. Thank you for commenting!

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  2. As soon as I looked at the first photo and read "the sad story of" I was like oh nooo! but kept on reading! That poor, poor child. Yes, I think Baker is 100% guilty. I cannot even begin to imagine what must go through an individuals head to do something so disturbing! That poor girl and her family.

    Renee @ Maritime Mama

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    1. It is horrific, and one of the worst cases I have researched! Thank you so much for commenting and taking the time to read my post! :)

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  3. This was a really interesting read but horrific at the same time. Poor girl. I can't imagine what she must have gone through and also her parents. Tha is for sharing.

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    1. I honestly can't even begin to imagine how they felt when they got the news. It's heartbreaking. Thank you so much for commenting!

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  4. The way she went was horrific, I totally understand her dad's reaction. When I read stuff like this I can't understand how people can do that x

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    1. If it was my child I would probably have the same reaction as her father did. It was horrific what he did to her. Thank you for commenting and taking the time to read my post! :) x

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  5. This is so sad! I 100% think he did it in a fit of who knows what!

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    1. I don't think he planned it beforehand but what he did to her was horrific. I don't even know why he would do something like that. It baffles me. Thank you for commenting! :)

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  6. I've heard of this one before but never looked too far into it. Very interesting and sad. I think he carried out the murder in when under the influence of something, emotional or other wise. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. It really is sad and it's horrible what he did to her. Thank you for commenting and taking the time to read! :)

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  7. Oh god the mother must have felt so awful for not believing her children right away. That diary entry by Baker is so sick and harrowing! I’ve also heard the term Sweet Fanny Adams but never knew the origin.

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    1. I thought the same! She must've regretted that for the rest of her life. Thank you for commenting! :)

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  8. What a brutal, horrific crime. I had no idea there was a story behind the saying. That poor child. At least he hung for what he did xxx

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    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! :)

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  9. Wow! This was especially horrific! Unbelievable! As an American I wasn't aware Sweet Fanny Adams or that her name had become an idiom. Keep writing, and I'll keep reading!

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    1. I agree! It was truly a horrific crime. I really appreciate you taking the time to read. Thank you so much! x

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  10. It is constantly amazing to me how coarse and ugly real-life murders are, and so often having no motive as they do in books.

    I love how you written this story and showed the facts in such chilling light; poor child. I think it is worth it so share all the little gruesome murders; I had not heard about this before.

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting and reading my post! :)

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  11. What a poor child and what an awful thing to do, I can imagine why there was 5,000 furious people there that crime is horrific and so gross. I really enjoy reading your murder series x

    Kayleigh Zara 🌿 www.kayleighzaraa.com

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I am glad that you are enjoying my posts! :)

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  12. Wou, where do you find those interesting stories?

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    1. I usually get them just by researching a lot to be honest. I am also super curious about everything and anything on true crime. Thank you for commenting!

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  13. He was definitely guilty. The way he just murdered her in the field and carried on like any other day makes you wonder if there were other victims of his.

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. :)

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