Gossips claim that Palmer had several illegitimate children by various lady friends and that he poisoned four or five of them. One lady-friend was named as Jane Mumford who is thought to have had a child by Palmer that died after he had paid them a visit.
In the book Illustrated Life, Career and Trial of William Palmer of Rugeley published in 1856, there is a claim that:-
We heard an old man at Haywood count upon his fingers as many as fourteen girls whom Palmer had got in the family-way. He had, by a foolish freak, been concerned in the death of Abley. An illegitimate child, which a woman in Haywood had by him, died suddenly; and he is suspected of foul play.
In George Fletcher’s The Life & Career of Dr. William Palmer of Rugeley published in 1925 I also found the following:-
His avarice and lustful passions, with love of gambling and the Turf, soon overwhelmed him financially and socially. An illigitimate child of one of his maid-servants, born eighteen months after he had brought his bride home died suspiciously after a visit to his surgery for him to see how it was progressing.
Eighteen months after “he had brought his bride home”, would be in the spring of 1849. I cannot find any other reference to there being a pregnant maid-servant around that time in any of the books published in 1856. I wonder if this story is a mistake having been mixed up with the story of Eliza Tharme, his maid-servant who gave birth to his son in June 1855?
I have also seen on two web sites the accusation that Palmer ran an illegal abortion business. However I cannot find any reference to this in any of the books printed in 1856 the year he was hanged.
One site stated – “Palmer took to crime at an early age. By the time he was seventeen had been dismissed from one apprenticeship for embezzlement and fled from another after having been discovered running his own abortion service.”
On another site, it was claimed that after his job in Liverpool – “He was later to be sacked again, after it was discovered that he was operating an illegal abortion clinic”.
Is it likely that Dr. Tylecote, a respected local doctor for whom Palmer had worked, would have kept quiet and let Palmer be taken on, at Stafford Infirmary, as a “walking pupil” if he had been involved in abortions?