Skip to main content

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25 November

 Remembering Women in our Database for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

25 November has been declared the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the United Nations. Sadly, history contains many examples of violence against women, and our database is no exception.

As the United Nations describes:

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, 
persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today 
remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma 
and shame surrounding it.
In general terms, it manifests itself in 
physical, sexual and psychological forms.
issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence 
against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

The Mystery of the Woman in the Grave of Cora Crippen

The Deceased Online database contains the burial entry of Cora Crippen's alleged remains are located in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley, North London. Below, is a copy of the burial register page from our database. Cora's entry is on the last line. It reads, "Remains of Cora Crippen" - a reference to the violence meted out on this woman's body.

The identity of Corinne Kunigunde 'Belle Elmore' Crippen (1 Sep 1872- February 1910) has often been subsumed into that of her husband and alleged murderer, Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen (September 11, 1862 – November 23, 1910). Like many female victims of violence, she has often been portrayed in a negative light, with descriptions of a two-dimensional person. Her many talents, friends, philanthropy, and hard work are too often overlooked. She has been dismissed as a "just", "failed music-hall artist", and a woman who had many affairs
Cora Crippen performing as 'Belle Elmore'
(Public Domain,  
Born born Kunigunde Mackamotski in Brooklyn, New York City, USA to a German mother and a Polish-Russian father, she later changed her name to Corinne "Cora" Turner. She left home at 16 to follow her dreams of a career on the stage. After taking acting and vocal lessons, she began performing as an actress and opera singer. 

When she was still in her teens, she met the widowed homoeopath and father-of-one, Hawley Harvey Crippen, who was ten years her senior. Although he referred to himself as, 'Doctor', he was not a qualified medical doctor. Crippen had left his son with his parents when he relocated to New York. On 1 September 1892, when Cora was only 19, the couple married in New Jersey (source: New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965).

Three years later, in 1897, Crippen sailed for England. Cora had an active social life and became treasurer of the Music Hall Ladies Guild. Crippen worked in London initially as a distributor of patent medicines. In 1899, Crippen's employer, Munion's, sacked him for neglecting his work in favour of his wife's stage career.

In 1901, the couple were recorded on the England Census at 34 Store Street in Bloomsbury, London. No occupation was given for Cora, but Crippen was described as, "Physician - Retired" (source: 1901 England Census Class: RG13; Piece: 239; Folio: 41; Page: 20).

In 1905, the Crippens moved north to 39 Hilldrop Crescent, off Camden Road in north London.

After a dinner party at the house on 31 January 1910, Cora disappeared. Shortly afterwards, Crippen's  new lover, Ethel le Neve, moved in. After Cora's friends became concerned, Crippen told them that Cora had died in California. A police search revealed nothing initially, but with a second search, human remains were found in the cellar. By now, Crippen had fled to Belgium, from where he set sail Canada. He was captured aboard ship and hanged in Pentonville Prison in November 1910. Crippen always maintained he was innocent. It is unclear why he ran or told others that Cora had died.

In 1911, the estate of Cunigunda, otherwise Cora, Crippen of Hilldrop Crescent, Middlesex was granted by administration to Harold Otto Seyd, solicitor attorney of Theresa Hunn. Her effects were worth £175.

The grave of Cora Crippen in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery
Later, a DNA investigation indicated that the remains found were not those of Cora Crippen. If this is the case, then whose remains are lying in the grave in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery?

That a woman's remains have been discovered and (seemingly) falsely identified, but that no calls have been made to identify the true victim, is worrying. That this woman was the victim of violence (either before or after death) is not in doubt. The mutilated remains speak to that. If this is not Cora Crippen, then perhaps further DNA investigation should be undertaken to find this woman's true identity. 

On this day of working towards the elimination of violence against women, it is worth family historians thinking about female victims in their own trees. All female victims of violence deserve to be identified and recognised. 

Do you have examples in your family tree of women who died as a result of violence? Have you been able to learn more about their lives and identities? Please do share your stories via the Comments Box below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages!


Popular posts from this blog

London's Spa Fields

Deceased Online has just uploaded around 114,000 burial records from Spa Fields in the modern London borough of Islington Spa Fields today, with the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer in the background Spa Fields Burial Ground became notorious in the 19th century for its overcrowded and insanitary conditions. Located in the parish of St James, Clerkenwell, the grave yard was not far from the ever-increasing City of London. Spa Fields was known also as Clerkenwell Fields and Ducking-pond Fields in the late 18th century, hinting at a dark side to what was then a summer evening resort for north Londoners. What would become a cemetery was a ducking pond in the rural grounds of a Spa Fields public house. It was here in 1683 that six children were drowned while playing on the ice. In his History of Clerkenwell (1865) William J. Pinks wrote that visitors, "came hither to witness the rude sports that were in vogue a century ago, such as duck-hunting, prize-fighting, bull-baiting

Wakefield Collection: Cremation Records now available on Deceased Online

Records for both crematoria in Wakefield, Yorkshire have been added to the Deceased Online database Above: Pontefract Crematorium The two sets of crematoria records have been added to Deceased Online 's Wakefield Collection .  Wakefield district contains nineteen cemeteries and two crematoria. Many of the records go back to the mid and late 19th century when the cemeteries opened, and range across a wide geographical area. The full list of  Wakefield  cemeteries live on Deceased Online,  with opening dates in brackets,   is as follows: 1.  Altofts Cemetery  – Church Road, Altofts, Normanton  (1878)   2.  Alverthorpe Cemetery  – St Paul’s Drive, Alverthorpe, Wakefield  (registers from 1955) 3. Castleford Cemetery  – Headfield Road, Castleford  (1857) 4.  Crigglestone Cemetery  – Standbridge Lane, Crigglestone, Wakefield  (1882) 5. Featherstone Cemetery  – Cutsyke Road, North Featherstone  (1874) 6. Ferrybridge Cemetery  – Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge, P

Churck (Rock) Cemetery, Nottingham

Coming soon to the Deceased Online database: two historic cemeteries from Nottingham City Council to add to the Nottingham Collection . This week, I explore the history of the renowned Church Cemetery (also known as the Rock Cemetery) . At first glance, the modern visitor to Nottingham's Church Cemetery may think they have wandered into Kensal Green , or another of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries. The 13 acre site abounds with the kind of gothic stone monuments and large sarcophogi with which the mid-Victorians liked to remember their dead. Yet look harder and you will find something unique to Nottingham - sandstone caves. Since the middle ages, the area around Nottingham was quarried for its sandstone, now known by the name of a nearby village as "Bulwell sandstone". From 1851, after the cemetery was laid out on the former sandpits, local people grew to know it simply as "The Rock".  Church Cemetery Otherwise known as the Rock Cemetery on a