Dr. Thomas Neill Cream Ephemera

The Life of Dr. Cream in Pictures and Letters

In Episode 61 – “The Poisonous Dr. Cream” we dive into the life of a late 19th century serial killer. What drove him to murder at least six women with poison? How did he get on the short list of possible ‘Jack the Ripper’ suspects if he was in jail at the time? Why send blackmail letters if you were never going to follow up on it?

Some of those things we may never know, but the following is a curated collection of photos and newspaper articles revolving around Dr. Cream.

Tall, Dark and Handsome

Leaving Lumber for Medicine

William Cream supported his family as the manager of a thriving shipbuilding and lumber firm. By all accounts, he did quite well for himself. At 17-years-old, Thomas apprenticed with a different ship building company before joining his father in a new wholesale lumber business. Working in the trades is not something that excited Thomas so in October of 1872, he enrolled at McGill College in Montreal where he would go on to study medicine.

His “First” Murder

Some believe that Dr. Cream may have murdered his wife in 1876 but it was never proven. Kitty Gardiner almost assuredly died at his hand.

The 1880’s – The Real Beginning

Caught for the First Time

He began an affair with the wife of Daniel Stott. Cream hoped to do away with the much older husband and win his wife and his money. They were caught and eventually she flipped on him and helped send him to jail. If you notice the bottom of Stott’s tombstone, you’ll see an interesting inscription.

Released on Good Behavior

By 1891, the 19th Governor of Illinois, Joseph W. Fifer had received numerous letters from Thomas Cream and one of Thomas’s brothers requesting an early release from prison. In June of that year he reduced the sentence from life down to 17 years. In July he reduced it again to ‘concluded’ based on good behavior. It’s believed that bribe money was involved. It was one of Fifer’s more notable acts as governor and he’d live to regret it… and not only because it cost him his re-election in 1893.

Off to England

Dr. Cream boarded the Teutonic, the pride of the White Star Line and made it to Liverpool in record time.

Well… That Didn’t Take Long

Immediately after he arrived in London, England he got to work on acquiring poisons and began his killing spree. Before he was caught, the police were looking for a man that the media dubbed, ‘The Lambeth Poisoner’.

Dr. Cream Caught – The Trial

Eventually, Cream’s insistence on writing blackmail letters and running his mouth to anyone that would listen, caught up with him. His trial lasted for days, the guilty verdict came back in 12 minutes.

Cream’s Execution

As the hangman pulled the lever and the noose tightened around Thomas Cream’s neck, he began the sentence “I am Jack the…”.

Other Notes and Photos

Dr. Cream’s weapon of choice, his medicine bag.

Dr. Cream’s handwriting. All of the blackmail letters made it easy for investigators to put two and two together.

A Waxy Likeness

Capitalizing on the headlines of the day, Madame Tussaud’s offered a wax replica of Dr. Cream.

More Recent Accounts

The story has captured people’s attention for decades since the murders. Here is a small collection of newspapers headlines from more recent times.

Listen to Episode 61 Below

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