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Mariticide (from Latin maritus "husband" + -cide, from caedere "to cut, to kill") literally means murder of one's husband. The murder of a wife is given the name uxoricide.

English common law

Under English common law it was a petty treason until 1828, and until it was altered under the Treason Act 1790 the punishment was to be strangled and burnt at the stake.[1]

Notable instances


Anne Williams burned at the stake for mariticide in Gloucester, 1753.[1]
  • Laodice I allegedly poisoned her husband Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid dynasty around 246 BC.
  • Livilla probably poisoned her husband Drusus the Younger, along with her lover Sejanus
  • The Roman emperor Claudius was allegedly poisoned by his wife Agrippina the Younger to ensure the succession of her son Nero
  • Jean Kincaid (1579–1600) was a Scottish woman who was convicted of mariticide. Her youth and beauty were dwelt upon in numerous popular ballads, which are to be found in Jamieson's, Kinloch's, and Buchan's collections.[2]
  • Marie-Josephte Corriveau, 1763, New France
  • The Black Widows of Liverpool, Catherine Flannigan (1829–1884) and Margaret Higgins (1843–1884) were Scottish sisters who were hanged at Kirkdale Gaol in Liverpool, for the murder of Thomas Higgins, Margaret's husband.
  • Florence Maybrick (1862–1941) spent fourteen years in prison in England after being convicted of murdering her considerably older English husband, James Maybrick, in 1889.
  • Tillie Klimek claimed to have psychic powers by predicting her husbands' deaths, but was proven after the attempted murder of her fifth husband that she was poisoning them with arsenic.
  • Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters were executed in 1923 for the murder of Thompson’s husband Percy.
  • Heather Osland drugged and had her son kill her husband in 1991, creating a test case for the 'battered woman syndrome' defense in Australia.[3]
  • Katherine Knight (b. 1955) murdered her de facto husband in Oct. 2001 by stabbing him, then skinned him and attempted to feed pieces of his body to his children.[4] She was sentenced to life in prison without parole: her appeal against this sentence as too harsh was rejected.[5]
  • Sheila Garvie, convicted in 1968 of the Murder of Maxwell Garvie, her husband
  • In 1991, Pamela Smart had her husband murdered by a student of hers. Though the student committed the murder, the courts ruled that Smart had been guilty of mariticide due to her influence on the young man and her convincing manner to get him to carry out the act.
  • In 1998, entertainer Phil Hartman was killed by his wife Brynn Hartman, who then killed herself.
  • in 2004 Jamila M'Barek paid her brother to murder her husband, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury.


In Greek mythology


In Lamb to the Slaughter, A housewife kill her husband by hitting him with a lamb leg

In Films

  • In Dead Alive Vera drowned her husband because he had an affair with a woman.
  • In Addams Family Values, Deborah "Debbie" Jellinsky attempted unsuccessfully to kill her third husband Fester Addams after she killed two of her other husbands and ran off with their money.

See also

  • Suicide, the killing of one's self
Familial killing terms:
Non-familial killing terms from the same root:
  • Deicide is the killing of a god
  • Genocide is the killing of a large group of people, usually a specific and entire ethnic, racial, religious or national group
  • Homicide is the killing of any human
  • Infanticide, the killing of an infant from birth to 12 months
  • Regicide is the killing of a monarch (king or ruler)
  • Tyrannicide is the killing of a tyrant


  1. 1.0 1.1 Burgess, Samuel Walter (1825), Historical illustrations of the origin and progress of the passions, and their influence on the conduct of mankind, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, pp. 134–135<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2.  Stronach, George (1892). "Kincaid, Jean". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 31. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 123.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Stateline Victoria
  4. HTML Document: Regina v Knight [2001] NSWSC 1011 revised - 29 January 2002
  5. Knight loses appeal for skinning partner - Breaking News - National - Breaking News