Friday, 5 April 2013

Sweet FA

People may wonder as to the phrase "Sweet FA" came into usage but it harks back to the mid-nineteenth century and one of the most sadistic and barbaric murders ever committed in Britain.  The fact that the victim was a young child made it all the more appalling.  The victim was named Fanny Adams, a lively eight year old girl.  She lived in Tanhouse Lane in the tiny village of Alton in Hampshire, and it was on August 24th 1867, she decided to go to the nearby meadow known as Flood Meadow, to play with a younger sister, and another girl called Minnie Warner.

    Whilst they were at play, they were approached by a man, who, sitting on a gate, called Fanny over to him.  He offered Fanny a halfpenny to go for a walk with him in an adjoining hop-garden.  The others did not join her so he offered them some more halfpennies to go and purchase some sweets. As they left, they saw him take Fanny by the hand and walk away with her. 

    She had now been missing for some hours and all her mother knew was what the other two girls told her, that she had walked off with a strange man.  A local labourer, Tom Gates was walking through a hop-ground when he discovered the severed head of a young child.  Incredibly,he picked it up and ran with it to nearby cottages, which one happened to be the Adams family home.  Neighbours immediately identified it as Fanny.  The parents were totally distraught by the gruesome discovery.  Local Police chief, Superintendent Chayney organised a complete search of the area, and over a couple of days, various different body parts were discovered.  She had been actually hacked into pieces.

    The two witnesses gave as best a description as they could, but ut was enough for Chayney.  One man perfectly fitted the description; a young man named Frederick Baker who worked for a solicitor.  When approached at work, Baker said "they say it was me"  Chayney placed him under arrest and he was detained whilst enquiries were expanded.  A diary entry for 24th, made mention of killing a young girl.  Remanded to Winchester Gaol, Baker made no mention about the horrific crime for which he was now accused.  He went on trial and pleaded not guilty but was convicted by the jury in just fifteen minutes and condemned to death.  He stated before his execution that his punishment was just.  Over the years, the term Sweet Fanny Adams was turned into a vulgar expression; Sweet Fuck All.