The Agra Double Murder
Murderers: Augusta Fairfield Fullam and
Henry Lovell William Clark
Victims: Edward McKean Fullam (44): husband;
Louisa Amelia Clark (c. 55): wife.
Location: 9 Metcalfe Road, Agra, India (Mr.
Fullam). 135 Cantonments, Agra, India (Mrs. Clark).
Dates: October 10, 1911 (Fullam). November
17, 1912 (Clark)
Means: Poisoning by arsenic, finally,
probably by gelsemine and cocaine (Fullam). Procured slaying by
assassins with sword-slashes to the head (Clark).
Motive: Freedom from matrimony so that the
surviving partners could marry each other.
Crimewatch: Augusta, daughter of a Bengal
river pilot, minoe memsahib of the British Raj, a tubby temptress with
claws of steel, shockingly fell in love with half-Indian Dr Clark
(born August 15, 1868).
Before they meet, he had already tried to poison
his wife, Louise, and it was he who instigated the double murder plan,
which Augusta enthusiastically embraced. Unwisely, she kept in a trunk
her own incriminating letters to Clark, in which she discussed the
slow poisoning of her husband by packets of arsenic masked as 'tonic
powders', sent by post to her by Clark. Louisa was tougher, more
poison-proof than Eddie Fullam, and the murderous pair had recourse to
the bazaars of Agra for the recruitment of a band of 'badmashes', who
killed Louisa in her bed while Clark was absent setting up a false
alibi. Upon interrogation, he fluffed and fumbled the details of that
alibi. The trunk of letters was found.
Augusta and Clark were tried jointly at Allahabad
High Court in 1913. Both were found guilty and sentenced to death.
Clark was hanged on March 26, 1913, but Augusta's sentence was
commuted to penal servitude for life, because she was pregnant by
Clark. A son was born in prison. He survived and lived a good life,
but Augusta died of heatstroke in Naini Prison, aged 38, on May 28,
1914. The assassins were tried separately: three were hanged, one got
off on alibi.
Murder on File - By Richard Whittington-Egan,
Double Murder: The Crime that Rocked Colonial
The letter begins like many a private love letter.
‘Oh Harry, my own precious darling, your letter
today is one long yearning cry for your little love.’ But within a few
lines, a more sinister story begins to emerge. ‘Yesterday, I
administered the powder you left me… the result? Nil.’
The powder - arsenic - had not worked.
The writer of the letter was an Edwardian housewife
named Mrs Augusta Fullam, who lived in Agra in central north India.
Her ‘precious darling’ was Lieutenant Henry Clark, a surgeon.
Together, in 1911, the two lovers decided to poison
Augusta’s husband Edward. They would then dispatch Mrs Clark, Henry’s
The murders were so terrible - and so meticulously
planned - that they would rock colonial India.
The lovers faced a significant problem in killing
Edward: he stubbornly refused to die. Each day, Augusta sprinkled
arsenic on his supper - or slipped it into his tea - but to no avail.
‘My hubby returned the whole jug of tea…’ she wrote in one letter,
‘saying it tasted bad.’
On Friday 16 June, 1911, Augusta managed to
administer a massive dose to her husband. But once again, it failed to
kill him. ‘Since 4pm [he’s] vomited eight times… vomited ten times at
a quarter to nine… vomited 12 times at ten pm.’
Augusta began to fear that he’d never succumb. ‘I
give him half a tonic powder every day in his Sanatogen, lovie
darling, because it lays on the top of the white powder quite
For month after month, Edward clung to life. But
eventually he fell seriously ill. This time, Lieutenant Clark decided
to finish him off with a huge dose of poison, administering it
himself. He then signed the death certificate: it recorded the cause
of death as heart failure.
The lovers were half way to their goal: now, they
had to murder Mrs Clark. This time, they were far more brutal.
Lieutenant Clark hired four assassins who broke into the house as
planned and struck Louisa Clark with a sword, smashing her skull. The
noise woke the Clarks’ daughter, Maud, who screamed, causing the
robbers to flee.
Agra police’s suspicions immediately fell on the
couple: their affair had not gone unnoticed in the local community.
But they could find no proof.
None, that is, until Inspector Smith called at
Augusta Fullam’s house and noticed a box hidden under the bed. When he
asked what was in it, Augusta turned bright red ‘and fell like a heap
into a chair.’
Inside, were 370 love letters, with every detail of
how Augusta and Lieutenant Clark had planned their terrible crime.
The trial was a sensation: colonial India had never
before seen such a spectacular double murder. Every sordid detail of
the crime was covered by the Indian newspapers, as well as by the
The two lovers were tried separately and both were
convicted. Lieutenant Clark was hanged on Wednesday, March 26th, 1913.
Augusta Fullam, who was pregnant at the time of the trial, was
sentenced to life. She served just 15 months before dying of
heat-stroke the following year.
‘My very own precious lovie,’ she had written when
she and Clark first started administering the arsenic, ‘don’t you
think our correspondence rather risky?’
But Clark assured her it was fine; he said they’d
never be caught.
Lieutenant Henry Clark was hanged on March 26th, 1913.