Lizzie Borden’s Grand Tour Money Shortage

22 Mar

Recycled Post – Another trunk – this one owned by Lizzie.  Maybe the hand of Helen Leighton once touched it.  😉

On June 21, 1890 Lizzie Borden embarked on a 19 week Grand Tour of Europe. A month and two days later, she would celebrate her 30th birthday while on that Tour. It must have been her best birthday ever. However, according to reports, she would also have to wire home for additional funds, a necessary appeal that must have been a source of great embarrassment to her considering her travel companions.

(Could this be the trunk or one of the trunks Lizzie took on the Tour? Note that no port labels are visible. -from The Spectator, January 22, 1997)

Lizzie was enjoying the thrilling sights of England, Scotland, France, and Italy with sisters Carrie Lindley Borden and Anna Howland Borden, daughters of Colonel Thomas J. Borden (of the “Greater Bordens” and related to Lizzie, albeit somewhat distantly); Elizabeth Hitchcock Brayton, daughter of David Anthony Brayton, (and who later owned and resided in the structure which is now the Fall River Historical Society); Sarah Brayton; Ellen “Nellie” Shove, whose father was President of the Shove Mill; and a chapperone, Miss Cox. Lizzie was truly emershed with the upper crust, i.e., “the cultured girls” who lived on the coveted “Hill”, i.e, the Highlands of Fall River’s elite.

Lizzie certainly didn’t have the cash on hand her companions did for purchasing souveniers. It has been reported she brought home common reprints of cathedrals and famous paintings, but its likely Carrie, Anna, Sarah and Elizabeth bought more expensive items such as fine lace, small sculptures, perhaps even designer clothing. So when Lizzie, who always had a keen eye for quality and exquisite taste found herself cash strapped, it has been reported she wired home for more.

Below is a page from the September 17, 1892 The Illustrated American telling us something a little different and who actually sent her the money needed for her return passage. (Right click image for easier reading and note yellow highlight). I have several issues of The Illustrated American from this era and have found their reporting to be remarkably accurate. However, I find it curious that her passage would not have been booked as “round trip” in the first place. Perhaps the ladies had not booked return passage when they arranged to begin their journey. After all, crossings were frequent and if they decided to return “sometime in November”, there would be plenty of time (and for most of them, plenty of cash) to purchase the return fare.

This issue was released after the Coroner’s Inquest (August 9-11) and the Preliminary Hearing (August 25-31), and Borden scholars will recognize precise testimony from those proceedings.

It is my long time personal belief that it was this trip – the first abroad for Lizzie – that changed her forever. She was transformed during those four months into a woman who, having lived the life of what money could bring – i.e., fine food in restaurants, hot running water, luxurious bathtubs, culture – became steeled in her determination to “have more.” (See my essay in Jules Rychebusch’s Proceedings book of the 1992 Lizzie Borden Conference, “Why We Don’t Know Lizzie”). Less than a year after her return to her unstylish home below “the Hill” in Fall River, the Borden house was burglarized in broad daylight. Shortly after that, Emma “offered” Lizzie her larger bedroom. A year after that Andrew and Abby were murdered. And a year after that – Lizzie, indeed, got “more”.


In the same issue, which is extensive about the Borden case up to that date, are the following images we have become familiar with. The top photo shows the Borden house and part of the Churchill house to the left. This photo was used for the cover of Marie Belloc Lowndes book: Lizzie Borden – A Study in Conjecture.

What has always puzzled me is what exactly is that thing outside the fence in front of Mrs. Churchill’s house? This is the clearest photograph I have seen and I still can’t figure it out. Couldn’t be a resting spot to tie up a carriage because it is set too far back on the sidewalk. Anyway, it’s driven me nuts for years so if anybody knows, please enlighten me.


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13 responses to “Lizzie Borden’s Grand Tour Money Shortage

  1. Anonymous

    December 5, 2008 at 8:59 AM

    this web sites should tell how she had killed her other family memers

  2. blu

    February 8, 2009 at 2:41 PM

    Your blog is wonderful.
    I am bit laid up in bed this weekend and have spent my time searching the web about Lizzie and her story.
    Before yesterday, I did not know much about her at all, other than the customary legends.

    To try and answer your question about the “thing” outside of Mrs. Churchill’s house –
    Could it be the top of a passing carriage?
    I believe that the heads of two people are visible under the roof of the carriage. As the body and wheels of the carriage are not in view, it may be an optical illusion that the thing is a structure on the sidewalk.
    Just a thought I had and thought I would share with you.

    I have been following the current Caylee Anthony case in Orlando and that is what led me to find out more about Lizzie Borden. Casey Anthony,charged with First Degree Muder in the death on her 2 year old daughter, is an interesting psychological study. She, IMHO, shares some personality traits with Lizzie. Both were also tried and found guilty in contemporary press.

    Thanks for the interesting and well written blog.

  3. phayemuss

    February 9, 2009 at 2:14 PM

    Hello and thanks for the kind comments.

    You are the first to compare Lizzie with the Caylee Anthony case. I need to correct you however. Lizzie Borden was found Not Guilty at her trial in New Bedford in June, 1893. No one else was every suspected or brought to Trial.

    Hope you are feeling better! And, keep reading!

  4. blu

    February 9, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    Thanks for the correction and for straightening me out!
    I misspoke about Lizzie’s verdict. I meant to say that although Lizzie was acquitted, she lived out her life under the suspicion of guilt and was ostracized by society.
    I see now that the press at the time of the murders and up until her verdict supported her, then later turned on her.
    Casey has, in contrast, been considered guilty from the beginning by the press and general public.
    Lizzie and Casey neither one seem to have any interest in finding the “true killer(s).” Both women also appear very cold and untouched by the horrible loss of such close family. However, both women seem able to express sorrow and fear when confronted with their own personal danger and loss of freedom or life. Casey and Lizzie apparently share a loose relationship with the truth and both seem to feel comfortable with stealing from others.
    We shall see how Casey fares in court.
    My money is on a guilty verdict for her.
    I believe that Lizzie did it too, but I can’t understand just how.
    I suppose that is what keeps this case alive and kicking over 100 years later!
    I am afraid that I am hooked now too…

  5. Mara Seaforest

    December 28, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    The object in front of the Churchill house looks to me like the top of a covered charabanc. There were horse-drawn ones in Civil War times; in the early 20th centruy, there were motorized ones, like this: . They were more commonly open (no tops), but with sturdy cottom fabric so cheap and easy to get in Fall River, I imagine covered carriages would have been more the norm. I wonder if it’s possible to learn if a company existed at the time this photo was taken that operated such conveyances.

  6. PCbytheSea

    May 18, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    I does look like one of these.>>>

    At first I was like, What…is that a table? Having a yard sale? Lizzie too made me compare her to Casey Anthony. Liars, crooks, who tried to obtain a drug to kill a close relative and money hungry and don’t seem as concerned as they should’ve been about it.

  7. Lori

    August 1, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    I thought my comparison of Casey Anthony to Lizzie Borden was original, until I looked online. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I shared the same thoughts with many others. Obviously, both women’s wiring are/were faulty. Thanks for the interesting info!

  8. ann

    September 15, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I googled casey anthony and lizzie borden and got this site to check out. Guess I am not the only one who sees the comparison.

  9. Anonymous

    October 11, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Everyone comparing Lizzie to Casey Anthony, but if fact, the case involving O.J. Simpson was more eerily similar to Lizzie. Two victims in both cases murdered in much the same way, almost 100 years apart (102 + 2 months to be accurate). Lizzie and O.J. were minorities, Lizzie having the women’s movement of her era supporting her and O.J. with the African American populous on his side. Both were presumed guilty. Both gave conflicting testemony about their where-abouts during the crime. A bloody dress, a bloody glove. And a dream team, the best the money could buy, defending both. Both found ‘Not Guilty’.

  10. judy taylor

    March 21, 2012 at 4:33 AM

    can u tell me why her dad didt live a better life like have bathrooms but when he died lizzie and emma did feel sorry for the guy haveing to take his slop out side at 70 years old and not haveing the life that they did thr girls are crazy look likr they did it for money and abbys to thanks judy oh what a good read on the story

    • phayemuss

      March 22, 2012 at 12:25 AM

      According to Alice Russell, Lizzie and Emma’s friend, Andrew couldn’t understand why the girls weren’t satisfied with what they had (i.e., what he perceived as the comforts of their home). He felt it was good enough. certainly for him, but he was a man. 😉

  11. Louis Schmidt

    June 8, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    The white item in the photo is most likely the top (or pram) of a carriage.

  12. phayemuss

    March 6, 2017 at 12:05 AM


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