Lewis Hutchinson


Lewis Hutchinson

A.K.A.: "The Mad Master of Edinburgh Castle"

Classification: Serial Killer
Characteristics: Murdered for pure sport, what may be described as a thrill killing, as passers-by from all races, shapes, sizes, and incomes were fair game
Number of victims: 1 - 43 +
Date of murder: 1760s - 1773
Date of birth: 1733
Victim profile: Travellers
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Jamaica
Status: Executed by hanging in Spanish Town on March 16, 1773

Edinburgh Castle situated in Pedro district, St. Ann, was built by Lewis Hutchinson, who is Jamaica's earliest recorded serial killer. Hutchinson, a Scottish Doctor came to Jamaica in the 1760's. The two storey 'castle' has two circular loop holed towers placed diagonally at opposite corners.

Lewis Hutchinson, also known as "the mad doctor", with a single shot would kill any lone passer-by. He would then force his slaves to throw the body of his victim in a sinkhole located on the property. In his worst dementia he would invite his victims to his castle where they would be entertained before being killed.

After a time the Doctor seemed to have become more daring as he shot his neighbour and a soldier in full view of a white colonist. The "mad doctor" tried to make good his escape on a ship about to set sail. However, he was captured, tried and hanged at the Spanish Town Gallows in 1773.

The final count of people murdered by Hutchinson will never be known. However, upon searching his home after his arrest forty three (43) watches and a large amount of clothing were found.

Lewis Hutchinson, a Scottish immigrant to Jamaica, was the first recorded serial killer in Jamaica's history and one of its most prolific.

Hutchinson, better known as the Mad Master and Mad Doctor of Edinburgh Castle, was born in Scotland in 1733 where he is believed to have studied medicine. In the 1760s, he came to Jamaica to head an estate called Edinburgh Castle. He was said to have legally obtained the house (now a ruin) but to have maintained his group of cattle through the theft of strays from neighbours. This would not be the only accusation made of Hutchinson.

Shortly after Hutchinson's arrival in Jamaica, travellers began to disappear and suspicion started to mount. For many miles, Edinburgh Castle was the only populated location on the way from Saint Ann's Bay and, not knowing that they would become the target of Hutchinson's rifle, travellers would rest at the castle, only to succumb to the Mad Doctor's attack. Hutchinson murdered for pure sport, what may be described as a thrill killing, as passers-by from all races, shapes, sizes, and incomes were fair game.

What is true about Hutchinson's killings is debatable. He would shoot lone travellers and was said to feed on the flow of his victims' blood as well as dismember them. He, or according to some sources his slaves, would then toss the remains in a cotton tree or a sinkhole for animals to feast on. That sinkhole became known as Hutchinson's Hole. At the height of his villainy, he would invite guests to his castle to be entertained before killing them.

Hutchinson's reputation for debauchery made him notable as many would avoid him out of fear. His slaves' tales of terrible treatment and the gruesome details of the murders made him legendary. This is why he was allowed to roam free for a time until he shot an English soldier by the name of John Callendar. John Callender attempted to apprehend Hutchison. After Hutchinson shot Callender, he bolted south to Old Harbour and boarded a ship. The Royal Navy, commanded by Admiral Rodney, caught Hutchinson before he could escape.

Shortly after being caught, he was tried and found guilty. In 1773 he was hanged in Spanish Town Square. Although the final toll won't be known, upon searching his home after his arrest, approximately 43 watches and a large amount of clothes were found. The records of his trial stand in the National Archives.

Lewis Hutchinson: The Mad Master

Not too long after Hutchison's arrival, travellers began disappearing without a trace... no one could ever have suspected the level of torture they experienced...

By Dr. Rebecca Tortello

LOCATED IN the Pedro district of St. Ann, on a low hill near to where the main road from St. Ann's Bay to Jamaica's south side used to run, lie the ruins of Edinburgh Castle, so named by a Scottish architect. Built in the 1700s it stood small and square with two-storeys and two circular loop-holed towers at opposing diagonal corners. The road no longer runs close to the building, once loftily titled a castle. To those passers-by of today it may seem like nothing more than an old ruin, yet those old stones bear the burden of one of the most evil pieces of Jamaica's history the story of Lewis Hutchison, said to be the most feared and hated man of his day.

Hutchison, known better as the Mad Master of Edinburgh Castle, was born in Scotland in 1733 where he is believed to have studied medicine for a while. He came to Jamaica in the 1760s to run an estate on which a house known as Edinburgh Castle sat. Although he is said to have acquired the land legally, his collection of cattle was said to consist mostly of strays from neighbouring pens. Cattle stealing, however, was the least of red-haired Hutchison's sins.

Not too long after Hutchison's arrival, cases of travellers disappearing without a trace began to mount in number and suspicions ran rampant but no one could ever have suspected the level of torture they experienced. Travellers would occasionally stop to rest at Edinburgh Castle, the only inhabited spot for miles on the way from St. Ann's Bay south not knowing that they would become the target of Hutchison's unerring aim. Hutchison killed for sport, not money, as travellers of all shapes, sizes and income levels were equal game. It is said that he fed off the flow of blood and often dismembered his victims and left them in the hollow trunk of a cotton tree, a sinkhole, for the vultures to carry on where he left off. The hole became known as "Hutchison's Hole".

Hutchison's slaves added their own tales of mistreatment and his reputation for evil-doing became legend. In fact, his reputation for villainy was such that no one wanted to go near him if they could avoid it. Therefore, great hesitation and fear took root amongst those officials who could serve him with a warrant. Time continued to pass and still Hutchison remained free. Not even his brutal and unwarranted attack on his unarmed neighbour Dr. Hutton, which caused the good doctor, who was en route to join his family on a trip to England, to wear a silver plate in his head for the remainder of his life, changed things. Eventually, however, a young English soldier, John Callendar, bravely set out to bring Hutchison in. Hutchison calmly shot him on sight but aware that more soldiers would follow their comrade, he is then said to have fled south to Old Harbour where he set off by sea. Unbeknownst to Hutchison, the Royal Navy, commanded by the venerable Admiral Rodney (whose statue now stands in Spanish Town Square) was keeping watch and Hutchison's craft was intercepted. Hutchison, increasingly desperate, tried to leap overboard but his red hair made him easy to see and he wasn't able to get very far. Admiral Rodney was congratulated by Jamaica's House of Assembly for his assistance in apprehending Hutchison and placing him securely behind bars.

Legal proceedings against the Mad Master of Edinburgh Castle commenced and soon tales of devilry and debauchery that almost defy the imagination began to surface. Edinburgh Castle was searched and clothing said to have belonged to his victims, those travellers who had disappeared, were found. Hutchison's slaves eagerly relinquished their long-held silence, detailing crime after crime but all were heresay judged unfit to stand up in a court of law. So Hutchison, who was believed to have committed multiple murders, was tried for one murder and one murder only, that of English soldier John Callendar. During the trial, however, the stories of his slaves were substantiated and it was further revealed that Hutchison had not carried out his evil acts alone the existence of a neighbouring group of perverted minds was also revealed. A few members, planter James Walker and Roger Maddix, were tried, found guilty and condemned to death for their own parts in the murder of farmer William Lickley and schoolmaster Timothy Cronin. It is said that along with Roger Maddix and Lewis Hutchison, Maddix's wife, Dorcas, a Miss Susanna Cole and a Miss Elizabeth Thomas watched schoolmaster Cronin's death by strangulation while pinioned in stocks. Cronin's watch and seal were later found in Elizabeth Thomas' posse ssion. Miss Thomas was tried, pled not guilty and received judgment as such.

Lewis Hutchison was not so lucky however. Although he insolently entered a plea of not guilty and was defended by one of the island's most esteemed lawyers, he was tried, found guilty and condemned to death by hanging in Spanish Town Square. The records of his trial stand in the National Archives.

Defiant even in death, Hutchison left funds to inscribe his two-line epitaph on his marble tombstone: "Their sentence, pride and malice, I defy. Despise their power, and like a Roman, die". His wishes, as befitting the mark of such a man, were ignored.

Today the ruins of Edinburgh Castle still stand, silently, betraying no hint of the acts of evil that took place centuries ago. The actions of the Mad Master of Edinburgh Castle, like those of another macabre character, Anne Palmer, the White Witch of Rose Hall, live on in the annals of Jamaican history.


Lewis Hutchinson, Jamaica’s Earliest Recorded Serial Killer

According to Frank Cundall (1915, pg. 295): “Amongst evil-doers mentioned in Jamaica history, Lewis Hutchinson of Edinburgh Castle holds a high place.” While many may not have heard of Hutchinson’s infamous crimes today, back then he was feared by the whole island. According to Clinton V. Black (1966, pg. 80) Hutchinson was the most feared and hated man of his day and, as stated by contemporaries, “the most detestable and abandoned villain that ever disgraced the human species.”

Not much is known about Hutchinson apart from his crimes but that he was born in Scotland in 1733 and was said to have studied medicine for some time. He came to Jamaica in the 1760s and acquired his property in the Pedro district of St. Ann, which he loftily named Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle was in fact “a small, two-storied, square, stone building with two circular loop-holed towers placed at diagonally opposite corners. It had a door at one side of the front angle and another near the front tower on the east side” (Black 1966, pg. 78) and was located on a low hill near what used to be the main road from St. Ann’s Bay to the south-side of the island. The property was a cattle pen, but it seems he actually stocked the pen with stray cattle from neighbouring pens. He owned several enslaved persons, who also did their master’s bidding in these criminal acts.

Two accounts survive of Hutchinson’s crimes: one penned by Rev. George Bridges in The Annals of Jamaica, Vol. 2 (1828) based on testimony from a former Hutchinson slave. The other was written by Annie E. Cork (Cundall 1915, pp. 296-299), the great-great-grand-daughter of Dr. Jonathan Hutton, one of Hutchinson’s neighbours and a survivor of one of his attacks.

The following is an excerpt from the latter account (Cundall 1915, pg. 296):

"About the year 1768 there lived at Edinburgh Castle, in the Pedro district of St. Ann, Jamaica, a desperado called Lewis Hutchinson. He owned the property on which he lived, and was said to have been a man of some education but he was the terror of the neighbourhood, and it was not infrequent for a white man to disappear mysteriously, and it would then be said that Hutchinson had made a way with him by shooting him as he passed the ‘Castle,’ which was furnished with loopholes and overlooked the road. But these stories were hard to verify, and such was the unsettled and lawless state of the Island in those days that people preferred to leave Hutchinson alone, rather than attempt to have him arrested."

Travelers had no choice but to travel along the main road, directly passing Edinburgh Castle, in order to reach their final destinations. According to Rev. Bridges’ account (1828, pp. 162-163), many met untimely ends in their journeys. It seems Hutchinson killed for sport and, as stated in the definition above of a serial killer, seemed motivated by psychological urges and not money:

"Yet no traveller who attempted that defile, however poor or wretched he might be, ever escaped the confines of their owner’s narrow territory. The needy wanderer would sometimes call for refreshment at the only habitation which for many miles had cheered his weary eye, but it was the last he was destined ever to behold. The wealthy passenger was alike the mark and victim of his unerring aim from a loop-hole under which he was compelled to pass. A thick-set hedge of logwood had also been so prepared by the road-side, at a short distance from the house, that while he could detain in conversation any one who might pass during the time that he was engaed in his cattle-fold hard by, his slaves from behind the fence could leisurely take aim at the devoted victim. …

To enjoy the gory spectacle, he first dissevered the ghastly head from the palpitating body: his most pleasing occupation was to whet his streaming knife; the gloomy temper of his soul was sated only by a copious flow of blood; and when he could no longer gaze upon the decaying countenance, he placed it high in the air, in the hollow trunk of a cotton tree, where vultures might complete the horrid deed. The mangled carcass was thrown down one of those deep and hollow drains which are peculiar to mountainous countries of volcanic origin, and whose mouths, descending perpendicularly, conduct the torrents which periodically fall to the level of the ocean."

This sinkhole became known as “Hutchinson’s Hole.”

Whatever drove his need to kill, he did what many other serial killers after him achieved: drove fear into the rest of the population. Not even Dr. Hutton’s report to the officials about Hutchinson’s attack on him while on his way along the route to join his wife and daughter in Kingston, persuaded the officials to step in and apprehend Hutchinson.

It was not until his cold-blooded murder of John Callendar, a young English soldier who bravely volunteered to bring in Hutchinson, was witnessed by several white persons did the officials decide to act. There was an instant uproar from the rest of the country when it was found out Hutchinson had killed Callendar, and the population cried for Hutchinson’s head. The government authorised his immediate arrest.

Hutchinson abandoned Edinburgh Castle and fled south to Old Harbour to escape by sea. The Royal Navy, however, was watching the island’s ports of entry and exit and, led by Admiral Rodney (his statue now stands in Spanish Town Square) Hutchinson’s get-away vessel was intercepted. Increasingly desperate to escape, Hutchinson made a last ditch attempt to escape by leaping overboard; but, according to Black (1966, pg. 85) ” in this too he was thwarted for, we are told, his flaming red hair betrayed his presence even when he dived and he was eventually rescued by men from the warship, taken into port and later sent on to Spanish Town for trial.”

Hutchinson pleaded not guilty to the charges laid against him; but the evidence was too overwhelming (Cundall 1915, pg. 298):

"The castle was searched and forty-three watches were said to have been found there, besides quantities of clothing and many other articles, showing that Hutchinson had committed most, if not all, of the murders with which he was popularly credited. His unfortunate slaves, to whom, as may be supposed, he had been friendly, came now gladly and told all that they know about his proceedings, and shows what he used to do with the bodies of his victims, which had hitherto been a puzzle."

During the trial it was also found out that Hutchinson was not alone in these acts but had a group of like-minded individuals who participated in these acts and watched enthusiastically. One such of Hutchinson’s cronies, a planter named James Walker, was found guilty and condemned to death for the murder of William Lickley.

Hutchinson was eventually found guilty of the murder of John Callendar and hanged in Spanish Town on March 16, 1773. It is said that he left funds to inscribe the following epitaph on his tombstone:

"Their sentence, pride and malice, I defy;
Despise their power, and, like a Roman, die."

This was never inscribed on stone.

The ruins of Edinburgh Castle still remain today and is listed among the Jamaica National Heritage Trust’s (JNHT) historic sites of interest. However, it is said that people in the neighbouring community stay far from the place as the ghosts of his murdered victims roam the ruins, especially at nigh.