The expression ‘Sweet F.A.’ or ‘Sweet Fanny Adamas’ has been used since late Victorian times, though the meaning of ‘Sweet F.A.’ has altered over the years. It actually originated in the brutal murder of Fanny Adams by Frederick Baker in 1867 in the normally quiet town of Alton in Hampshire. A few decades earlier, Jane Austen had written some of her best-loved novels in the nearby village of Chawton, and she frequently walked to and from Alton to do shopping.
In the early afternoon of Saturday 24th August 1867, 8-year-old Fanny Adams was with her friend Minnie Warner and her sister Elizabeth Adams, who was a year younger. The three girls, according to the Hampshire Chronicle newspaper, were ‘of respectable parents, residing in Tan House-lane, Alton, [and] were playing in Flood Meadow, at the back of Mr. Jefferie’s tan yard, distance from their residences about 400 yards’. At the inquest and subsequent trial, many witnesses gave sometimes contradictory statements. What seems to have happened is that Frederick Baker went up to the girls and gave Minnie some coins Continue reading