Isaac Lee was born in Woodley Green in Berkshire in 1788 and was a successful brush maker in London until the death of his wife. The passing of his wife affected Isaac badly and he became prone to violent outbursts. Such outbursts led to Isaac being admitted to St Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum, better know as Bedlam. In the 1850s a person admitted to the asylum could leave if they were able to find someone responsible to look after them.
After being admitted Isaac wrote to his relatives, John and Elizabeth Cannon, who lived in Boyn Hill Maidenhead. After a suitable rent was agreed between the two parties, Isaac Lee moved into the Cannon household.
Living with John and Eliza at the time was their son James, his wife Eliza and their two young daughters Elizabeth (Lizzie) and Caroline Cannon. The 1851 Census shows the family, including Isaac Lee living in Boyn Hill, Maidenhead.
It was at the house on 16th March 1852 Isaac was left in charge his of his four year old great niece Lizzie. Lizzie had spent the morning playing happily in the house when a piglet suddenly entered room. This enraged Isaac he set about the piglet with a billhook. The piglet's screams and the large amount of blood frightened poor Lizzie who made a run for the door. Suddenly Isaac barred the way and set about little Lizzie in the same manner as the piglet.
Police Constable Simon Frewin was called to the horrific scene and described how it took the strength of three stout neighbours to over power Isaac before he was able to arrest him.
The Observer reported on 29th March 1852
"Murder Near Maidenhead
A labouring man, names John Cannon, residing at Boyne Hill, has, for the last two years, taken as a lodger a relative of his wife, named Isaac Lee, who has always shown indications of weak intellect. On Tuesday morning week, having been left in the house with a little girl about four years of age, a granddaughter of John Cannon's, he cruelly murdered the poor child, it is supposed by knocking its head against the floor, and afterwards kicking it about the room. Lee was taken before the magistrates on Friday week, and committed to take his trial at the next assizes for the county of Berks for murder."
Isaac was charged with murder at Reading Assizes, but was found unfit to stand trial due to insanity. Isaac was sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in Bedlam Asylum, the place he tried to avoid by living with the Cannons.
|Steel engraving of |
St Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum
(New Bethlem Hospital)
Shortly after Lizzie's murder James and Elizabeth moved out of the family home in Boyne Hill, where John and Eliza remained, to Market Street in Maidenhead, Berkshire. James and Elizabeth had a further four children together, three sons, William born in 1852, Sydney born in 1855, Thomas in 1857 and one daughter, Eugene born in 1860.