Monday, 12 March 2007


A great many remembered murders in Victorian society were poisonings. The most likely reason was Victorians couldn't understand why their perfect middleclass could kill. Typical was vane Glasgow doctor, Edward Pritchard.
In 1850 he married Mary Taylor but 14 years later he fell for a servant girl and decided to kill his wife so he could marry her. In November 1864 Mary fell ill. Her mother turned up to nurse her and also fell ill, the mother dying in February 1865 and Mary a month later.
Pritchard wrote the death certificates but an anonymous letter was sent to the police - possibly from Mary's brother - suggesting murder. The bodies were exhumed and found to contain large amounts of antimony. Pritchard confessed after his trial and was hanged in July 1865.

(c) Anthony North, Feb 2007

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