10 Oldest Unsolved Cold Cases in London

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Unsolved cold cases in London go back to the 16th Century, 1536 to be precise. Of course, there may be cold cases before then but they might not have been recorded in history.

The cold and lonely streets of London have offered up numerous mysteries in the past, many of which will never be solved.

London is a city in which Victorian murderers stalked the alleyways, victims fell under blade and beatings, and demons of the night wondered through the shadows of history.

Here are 10 of the oldest unsolved cold cases in London, ripped right from the history books.

1. Robert Pakington | 13th Nov 1536 | City of London

Robert has the unfortunate label of being London’s and the United Kingdom’s oldest known cold case. He was a merchant and MP who was shot dead by an unknown killer as he crossed the road from his home towards a chapel he frequently visited.

His murder is considered the first known murder by handgun. A reward was offered but the killer, and motive, disappeared into history.

2. Christopher Marlowe | 30th May 1593 | Deptford

Also known as Kit Marlowe, Christopher was an English playwright and poet who suffered what was known at the time as a mysterious death.

Some modern historians point to the fact that Marlowe could have been gay, which at the time was illegal, and could have been a motive for his death.

In early May 1593, Marlowe was arrested for threatening European refugees. Shortly after his release on 30th May, Marlow was killed. The exact details of his murder have been confused over the centuries, but most historical documents point to a fatal stabbing. His killer was never apprehended.

3. Edmund Berry Godfrey | 12th Oct 1678 | Primrose Hill

Godfrey was an English magistrate judge, who suffered a most unusual death. Historical documents point to Godfrey being a member of the underground Peyton Gang and Green Ribbon Club, both aimed at political unrest. Godfrey went missing on 12th October 1678, and people known to him suggested he may had taken his own life.

Image depicting the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey.

Five days later, his body was found in a ditch in Primrose Hill. He had been strangled to death and his neck broken. His lifeless body was then impaled on his own sword. Reports circulated that he had become involved in an anti-Catholic campaign, but no other motive was found. Despite a substantial reward of £500 (£57K in 2022), the murder remains unsolved.

4. George Burrington | 22nd Feb 1759 | Westminster

Burrington was the third and fifth governor of North Carolina who resided in London. On 22nd February 1759, he was walking through St. James Park in Westminster when he fell victim to a violent mugging. His beaten body was found the same day, and he was buried at St. John the Evangelist Church, which was later bombed and destroyed during the Second World War.

5. Eliza Davies | 9th May 1837 | Marylebone

21-year-old Eliza Davis carries the unfortunate label of being the oldest unsolved female murder victim in London’s history. She was killed outside the King’s Arms pub near Regent’s Park. A coroner concluded her throat her been violently slashed open. She has a mysterious connection with the next cold case.

6. Eliza Grimwood | 27th May 1838 | Waterloo

On the night of 27th May 1838, sex worker Eliza returned home to her bedroom at 12 Wellington Terrace with an unidentified man. She was found the next morning with her throat cut and her stomach sliced open.

Her murder occurred one year after that of Eliza Davies. Both had the same forename and lived less than three miles from each other. The murders were thought to be carried out by the same person. If they were, then not only would they be some of the oldest cold cases in London, but one of the city’s first serial killers.

7. Emma Jackson | 9th Apr 1863 | St. Giles

Emma was also a sex worker who was found dead in her bedroom at a brothel on George Street, St. Giles. Her throat had been cut and she had suffered multiple stab wounds. Witnesses claimed they saw a well-to-do man enter the brothel with her in the early hours of the morning.

Her murder occurred 25 years after Grimwood’s, but they were not connected at the time. Some researchers tentatively connect them today.

8. Sarah Millson | 11th Apr 1866 | City of London

Millson was a housekeeper working at the home of the Bevington’s, who were famous leather sellers of the day. At 9pm on 11th April, the doorbell rang, and Millson went to answer the door.

An hour later, another housekeeper went to the front door and found Millson’s body in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs. She had been hit over the head multiple times with a heavy object, cracking her skull in the process.

A man named William Smith was arrested and stood trial but was found not guilty of her murder. The City of London police were accused of messing up the investigation. Millson’s murder remains unsolved.

9. Jane Clouson | 26th April 1871 | City of London

Also known as the Eltham Murder, the untimely death of Jane Clouson, who was two-month’s pregnant at the time, shocked London.

At 4am on April 26th, an early morning walker stumbled across Jane’s battered and bloodied body. A short distance away, the soon-to-be murder weapon, a bloody hammer, was found.

Edmund Pook, who was found not guilty of Jane’s murder.

Jane was rushed to hospital but died of her severe injuries four days later. Shortly before her death she named Edmund Pook as her attacker. She and Pook had been having an affair, and she claimed her unborn child was his.

Pook went to trial but was found not guilty as there was no evidence to suggest he was the murderer. It was also alleged that on her death bed, Jane was simply asking to see Pook, as they were in love. Her true killer remains unidentified.

10. Harriet Buswell | 25th Dec 1872 | Bloomsbury

On Christmas afternoon in Victorian London 1872, 27-year-old sex worker Harriet Buswell was found in her room by her landlady with her throat slashed, and the door locked from the outside. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear, and her bedclothes were stained with blood.

What really happened to Harriet that night remains a mystery, beyond the evidence of the murder. Her death became known as the Great Coram Street Murder. Read more about this murder in Bizarre True Crime Volume 5.

READ NEXT: 10 True Crime Cases That Took Place at Christmas.

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