Is it just me or does anyone else feel we have harboured more than our fair share of notorious murderers round here? Sarah Wise, author of The Italian Boy, will be telling us about the dastardly deeds of John Bishop 1797 – 1831 (not the comedian) on Thursday 12 November, 7.30pm at Highgate Cemetery. Born and bred in Highgate John made a living from the sale of freshly snatched bodies to medical schools. When demand outstripped supply he took to killing people. And that’s not the whole story.
John Bishop should have led a life of relative comfort and ease as a respected Highgate businessman running his transport company based on North Hill. He inherited the firm when his father was killed in a traffic accident on Archway Road in 1816, ironically, by a Pickford’s Removals Van. John also got his father’s wife, who was his step mother, Sarah Trueby, marrying her eighteen months after his father’s death. Sarah had a nice little pension settled on her by her employer, the Duchess of St Albans, who lived in nearby Holly Lodge Villa. Feeling sorry for Sarah, her maid, the kind Duchess made sure she would be okay financially for the rest of her life. She was furious when she heard of her remarriage but legally nothing could be done and Sarah and John kept the money. So what made him turn to the grizzly business of bodysnatching and murder? I can’t imagine but perhaps author and researcher, Sarah Wise, provides some clues.