Just as I was getting over the idea that Ann lockley could be a serial murderess and rather that she probably only had bad luck with her husbands, I stumbled across reports of a horrific murder that took place in 1837 very close to Cheswardine. At the time I was researching Ann’s marriage to Thomas Wycherley. Imagine my shock to discover that Ann Wycherley murdered het eldest daughter by throwing her into a mill pond and then stoning her with roofing slates. Luckily it turned out not to be our Ann Wycherley (nee Lockley) but rather a certain Ann Stacey who had married a William Wycherley from Staffordshire. I felt relieved but at the same time felt very sad. This act of prolicide was reported in detail by very many newspapers for several months until Ann was finally hanged in May 1838.
Ann Stacy was born in Eccleshall, Staffordshire about 1810. She was unschooled and worked on the land (probably from the time that she learned to walk) when she, at the age of 22, married William Wycherley who like her also worked as an agricultural labourer. They had at least one child, Ann who was the victim of the horrific murder. Later Ann had an affair (it seems) with Charles Gilbert and had another child to him.
The murder occurred at Chipnall Mill in the winter of 1837. Ann Wycherley was at the time, together with her two children aged about 2 & 4, a resident of the workhouse in Market Drayton. Ann then discharged herself and began walking together with her lover Charles Gilbert from the Market Drayton workhouse towards Cheswardine . The weather must have been cold and all of them would have probably been poorly clothed. Their footwear would have been unsatisfactory, or even non-existent in the case of the two children. Upon reaching the mill pool at Chipnall Mill, Ann threw her eldest child into the pool, and then either alone, or with the assistance of her lover the child was stoned with roofing slates, resulting in her death. The child was found a few days later, and Ann Wycherley was apprehended at Baldwins Gate, on the way to what is now Stoke-upon-Trent. At the subsequent trial she was found guilty of murder. It is not known how Charles Gilbert managed to escape punishment but apparantly he was able to convince the police that he was not part of the actual murder. On May 5th 1838, Ann Wycherley, then aged 28 years old was hanged at Stafford gaol, and her body was buried within the grounds of the gaol.