Delusions & Grandeur
The Lambert Tragedy
George and his wife Eliza had six children ranging from 12 months to 13 years old and another child on the way. They lived in utter poverty in what was one of the most undesirable areas of
That cold morning, George walked his usual route to work. He headed down
George turned to run away. He may have heard the first gunshot zing past him. The bullet just missed, but the next ones would find their target. Within seconds, two bullets ripped through Georges neck.
Several officers on duty overheard the gunshots and ran to the scene, where they found George lying in a pool of blood. He was taken to
One of the officers at the scene saw a suspicious man nearby and asked him where the shots had originated. According to a South London Chronicle article from 1872, the stranger exclaimed that he had shot him. The man was immediately taken to the
During questioning, police learned that the assailant was unlike any criminal they had ever dealt with. The murderer, 37-year-old William Chester Minor, was an American who had recently moved to Lambeth several months earlier. To their surprise, they also learned that he was an army surgeon of considerable means with a record of mental instability.
Minor claimed that he accidentally mistook George for someone else. He believed that George was one of the many Irish militants who came to him nightly from his bedroom ceiling and from under his bed to assault him. Clearly, Minor suffered from delusions.
The police were troubled by Minors mental state and began to wonder whether he was fit to stand trial.