The sentence was delivered on the 27th May 1856 by Lord Chief Justice Campbell:
William Palmer, after a long and impartial trial you have been convicted by a jury of the crime of willful murder. In that verdict my two learned brothers, who have so anxiously watched this trial, and myself entirely concur, and consider that verdict altogether satisfactory.
The case is attended with such circumstances of aggravation that I do not dare touch upon them. Whether it is the first and only offence of this sort which you have committed is certainly known only to God and your own conscience. It is seldom that such a familiarity with the means of death should be shown without long experience; but for this offence of which you have been found guilty your life is forfeited. You must prepare to die; and I trust that , as you can expect no mercy in this world, you will, by repentance of your crimes, seek to obtain mercy from Almighty God.
The Act of Parliament under which you have been tried, and under which you have been brought to the bar of this court at your own request, gives leave to the Court to direct that the sentence under such circumstances shall be executed either within the jurisdiction of the central criminal Court or in the county where the offence was committed. We think that, for the sake of example, the sentence ought to be executed in the county of Stafford.
Now I hope that this terrible example will deter others from committing such atrocious crimes, and that it will be seen that whatever art, or caution, or experience may accomplish, such an offence will be detected and punished. However destructive poisons may be, it is so ordained by Providence that there are means for the safety of His creatures, for detecting and punishing those who administer them. I again implore you to repent and prepare for the awful change that awaits you.
I will not seek to harrow up your feelings by any enumeration of the circumstances of this foul murder. I will content myself now with passing the sentence of the law, which is, that you be taken hence to the jail of Newgate, and thence removed to the jail of the county of Stafford, being the county in which the offence for which you are justly convicted was committed; and that you be taken thence to a place of execution and be there hanged by the neck until you are dead; and that your body be afterwards buried within the precincts of the prison in which you shall be last confined after your conviction; and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul! Amen.
Palmer was returned to his cell at Newgate Prison where he changed back into prison clothes and he was handcuffed and his ankles chained and he was chained to a warder. That evening, May 27th May 1856, at twenty minutes to eight two “Black Marias” (convict vans) were brought to the prison, one went in to the prison gates the other remained outside the Governor Mr. Weatherhead’s door. Weatherhead and two officers got Palmer into the cab outside the Governor’s door and drove rapidly across to Euston Railway Station in time to catch the eight o’clock train to Stafford. When the second Black Maria came out of the prison gate empty the crowd that had gathered realised they had been tricked and ran after the first van shouting, “Poisoner, ” and “Murderer”.
At Stafford the party was met by Woollaston, the Superintendent of the Stafford Police and driven in a prison van straight to Stafford Gaol.