Beddingfield, Ann (1742–1763)

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Beddingfield, Ann (1742–1763)

English murderer. Born in England in 1742; burned at the stake on April 8, 1763, in Rushmore, England; married John Beddingfield.

Ann Beddingfield was a young newlywed with a well-to-do husband John and a large manor house on a farm estate in Suffolk when she seduced one of the servants, a 19-year-old named Richard Ringe. In the throes of their less-than-discreet affair, Beddingfield implored Ringe to murder her husband, promising him half the master's estate. Although the couple dropped subtle hints of their plan to other servants throughout a three-month period, authorities were not informed.

In March 1763, Ringe strangled John Beddingfield while he slept and then hastened to the room of his paramour to report on his success. Bursting into her darkened room, he whispered, "I have done for him." Ann replied, "Then I am easy." Unfortunately, he was unaware that Ann Beddingfield was in bed with a servant girl who was being using as a bedwarmer, following a common practice of the day. When none of the servants, including the servant girl, made their suspicions known to the coroner, the coroner's jury determined that John Beddingfield had died of natural causes, probably strangling himself in the bed sheets.

As soon as she received her monthly pay, however, the servant girl rushed to the authorities. The lovers, by now estranged, were arrested and placed on trial in April 1763. Filled with guilt, Ringe not only confessed but lectured the assembled crowd on "the snares and pitfalls of wicked women." Ann Beddingfield steadfastly insisted she had nothing to do with the murder. Both were convicted and sentenced to death. Though Ringe was hanged, Ann Beddingfield was burned alive at the stake on April 8, 1763, a form of punishment then reserved for unfaithful and murderous wives.

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