Jessie McLachlan – Pre-Trial Pt. 2 (Podcast)

Welcome back to Random Scottish History’s first True Crime project and the Pre-trial round-up of Jessie McLachlan, who was, along with her former employer’s father, at this time, suspected of having had a hand in the brutal murder of her best friend and his servant. This will be the last episode prior to beginning her trial, which really takes some twists and turns. We’ll get into it.

Falkirk Herald, Thursday 17th July, 1862, p.4.




… But still a great link in the chain of evidence was awanting, as the pawner of the articles, Mrs McLachlan, implicated old Mr Fleming, asserting that he gave her them for the purpose to which she applied them, and that before the murder was believed to have been committed; and further denied most positively that she knew anything about the clothing of the deceased which had gone amissing. To recover the clothing, therefore, has the labours of the police been directed since Mrs McLachlan was apprehended, and on Tuesday they were in some measure successful in bringing this part of the case to a satisfactory issue. As the result of many inquiries, Captain McCall proceeded on Monday afternoon to the South-side Station of the Caledonian Railway, and there discovered that a small leather trunk or box had been brought to that station about 4 o’clock on the afternoon of the Saturday on which it is believed the murder was committed, by a little girl, who tendered the name and address of Mrs McLachlan, 182 Broomielaw Street (the female prisoner’s name and address), as the person who wished it despatched by the railway to Hamilton. The box was addressed, “Mrs Bein, Hamilton – to lie until called for.” The box was accordingly sent on; and hence Mr McCall proceeded to Hamilton last Monday by the 4.15 P.M. train in search of this box, which, it is supposed, contained some of the deceased’s missing clothing. On his arrival there, it was found that the box had duly arrived at Hamilton Station, where it had remained till the Monday or Tuesday following. It seems that on one of these days a little boy applied at the station to know whether there was such a box there, remarking that he had been sent by a lady who was standing outside to make the inquiry. He was answered in the affirmative, and then went away, returning soon after with the lady, who is known to have been the prisoner, Mrs McLachlan. She signed the delivery book “Mrs McLachlan,” in the usual way; and then got away the box, which the boy carried into the town. On his arrival in Hamilton, Captain McCall communicated with Mr McKay, Chief-Constable of Lanarkshire, and Superintendent Dewar, also of the county constabulary, who entered cordially into the matter, and at once a thorough search was made to try to discover the boy who had been the messenger, or the box or its contents. Diligent inquiries were made until after midnight; but neither boy nor box could anywhere be met with. Next morning, however, the investigation was proceeded with at an early hour, and by breakfast time the boy was discovered. He is about twelve years of age, the son of a carter residing in Almada Street, and is named James Chassels. He was one of the witnesses examined on Tuesday before the procurators-fiscal in the County Buildings, and we understand gave important evidence. It seems that the female prisoner, McLachlan, came to him on the street in Hamilton on Monday or Tuesday of last week, and asked him if he would carry a box for her. He at once readily agreed, as she promised him “something to himself,” and he went to the railway station and brought away the box as above described. As she expressed a desire to get some refreshments, he took her to his mother’s house, along with her box, where she had tea. In this house the prisoner opened the box and took out some dresses, one of which answers the description, we understand, of one of those believed to have been stolen from Mr Fleming’s house, and belonging to the deceased woman. These she tied up in a bundle, and after waiting a little told the boy to follow her with the empty box, she taking the bundle under her arm. After leaving Mrs Chassels’ house, the prisoner told the boy she wanted to get the box mended, as one of the hinges was broken, and asked him who would mend it for her. The boy suggested that a joiner would be the proper party, but she replied that it would be better to take it to a saddler, as it was made of leather. The boy accordingly pointed out Mr Cherry’s shop, where she desired him to leave it to get the hinge mended, and to say that it would be called for next week. Before she parted with the boy she inquired of him if he knew where one Shaw, a tailor, lived. After he had pointed out Union Street as the place, and she had given him his reward, he left her; and she proceeded in that direction, and he saw no more of her. Whether she ever went there or not, or what has become of her bundle is unknown. Shaw, who is a foreman tailor, and his wife deny having seen her that day; and although their house was searched none of the clothing was found. They were brought to Glasgow on Tuesday as witnesses, and examined by the fiscals, but nothing of importance transpired in their evidence. The police, of course, will continue their efforts to recover the stolen apparel, and it is devoutly to be wished that they may succeed in obtaining it, as an important branch of the evidence in this intricate case. 

   Our readers will remember that in the bed-room of the deceased, where she was found lying murdered, in the large pool of blood on the floor the distinct print of a human foot was found. This having dried and hardened, the portion of flooring it covered was taken up and preserved. It was found to be the imprint of a very peculiar and neat foot, with a high instep, and did not at all answer to that of the deceased woman or the old man Fleming. With the view of discovering whether the prisoner McLachlan’s foot could have made the mark on the floor, on Tuesday an impression of her foot was taken in blood on a board by Dr G. H. B. McLeod, and we are informed that it exactly corresponds. Footprints in clay and soft soil have often been of service in the detection of crime, but whether an impression left in blood by a stocking-covered foot can furnish evidence remains to be seen. Certainly the authorities are to be praised, however, for their unceasing and persevering efforts in working up every conceivable plan which may lead to the dissipation of the mystery that still clings around the Sandyford Place murder. 

   On Tuesday, the female prisoner was brought down from the North Prison to the County Buildings, between ten and eleven o’clock, for further examination and identification by witnesses. As soon as the cab in which she was conveyed turned into Brunswick Street, a crowd followed it, so that before the woman could get out she was surrounded by a large number of individuals, who showed great anxiety to get a look at the woman who has filled the public mind for a week past. Her appearance is vastly altered from what it was a week ago when she was first called before the Sheriff. She is now very pale and careworn, and has even a somewhat emaciated look. There can be no doubt but the ordeal through which she has passed since the dire event occurred has made her appear many years older than she really is. In any view of the case, whether the major charge upon which she is now detained can be substantiated or not, her anxiety after the first visit of the detectives must have been extreme; and, considering her position, when it is known that she was again and again called upon and questioned to see if she could throw any light upon the melancholy death of one with whom she was on the best and most intimate terms. Not only in her own house but also before the Sheriff and his Fiscals, one is astonished that her coolness never left her. 


Wednesday, 4 P.M.      

   Another important discovery has been made this morning, which, unfortunately for the prisoner, Mrs McLachlan, tends to increase the weight of the evidence which is being gradually collected to prove her participation in the Sandyford murder. The police were informed this morning that Mrs McLachlan had some day last week sent off a box to Ayr, per the Glasgow and South-Western Railway; and having made inquiry at the clerks of that line, they discovered that such a box as they were in quest of had been left at their parcel office in Glasgow for transmission. By making a further investigation, the box was found at the terminus, and was given up to the Glasgow police authorities this morning. On the box being opened, there was found within it various articles of clothing, some of which are supposed to be articles of dress belonging to the deceased, and which had been found missing shortly after the murder was discovered. The later facts connected with this box are as follows:- On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 9th – the day on which the pawning of the silver-plate was discovered – some person, whether man or woman cannot be recollected, called at the parcel forwarding office, Bridge Street, with a tin box addressed to Mrs Darnley, Ayr, to be called for at Ayr Station. On the 11th instant the box was returned to Glasgow, and on that same day a man, dressed in sailor garb, called at Bridge Street terminus, and claiming the box, took it away. Early this morning a tin box, supposed to be the same, arrived from Greenock addressed to “Mr Thomson, County Buildings,” and on this box being opened at the County Buildings a quantity of women’s apparel, identified as having been that of the deceased McPherson, was found in it. 

… Old Mr Fleming seemed as fresh and as vigorous as ever, and by no means betrayed the slightest signs of disquietude. Mrs McLachlan appeared pale and enfeebled. We are informed that the poor woman partook of no food yesterday, so that this circumstance, the serious position in which she is placed, and the long examinations to which she has been subjected since her apprehension, account for her apparent weakness and emaciation. The second declarations of the two prisoners are to be taken down to-day; for it is for this purpose, more especially that the female prisoner has been brought to the Sheriff’s Chambers than for being identified by the witnesses from Hamilton, they having identified the unfortunate woman last night in the North Prison. 

   We have been informed that the legal gentlemen who are charged with the investigation of this crime intend to proceed to Edinburgh to-night in order to consult with the Crown counsel there. One of the objects of this visit, we believe, is to confer with respect to the further detention of Mr Fleming; because it is the practice in criminal investigations in Scotland that a prisoner must either be set at liberty or committed for trial within eight or nine days after his apprehension, and the time is now at hand when one or the other of these alternatives must be adopted with regard to the old man. Of course the families who live in Sandyford Place naturally feel that an odium will, rightly or wrongly, henceforth be attached to that locality, so long as it bears its present unhappily notorious name. It is not, therefore, a matter of surprise that a few of the heads of these families have been consulting together in order to see if they can possibly get the name – Sandyford Place – changed to another. The idea is being favourably received, and may be carried out. 




WEDNESDAY, 8 P.M.      

   Sheriff Strathern, and Procurator-Fiscal Gemmel, left Glasgow for Edinburgh this afternoon per the 4¼ train, in order to consult with the Crown counsel as to what they should do in the case, especially with regard to the prisoner Fleming, because there has been found nothing at all which can connect him with the murder. The law authorities of Edinburgh were apprised in the morning that such an interview would be requested of them, so that it might take place to-night, and therefore no time should be lost. As already stated, the clothing of the deceased has been found. The husband of the female prisoner called on the Procurator-Fiscal this morning, informing him that a box would be found at the Glasgow parcel office of the Glasgow and South Western Railway. The box was found there by the authorities. The husband states that his wife had brought the clothing from Hamilton, and had requested him to transmit it to a sister-in-law at Ayr. The clothing was taken by him to the station, and left for transmission to Ayr. It went there in due course, but, from some cause or other, it was sent back. The husband then sent it to Greenock, but not being able to rest in his mind, he ordered it to be sent back to Glasgow, where it was got in the manner we have described. The gown, at least, was fully identified as belonging to the deceased. This morning, Mrs McLachlan was ordered by the governor of the North Prison, where she is confined, to dip her stocking-covered feet in bullock’s blood and to walk upon some clean and smooth boards, so as to leave her footmarks thereon. She turned pale when she saw the blood, but of course had to comply with the order. The marks she made were afterwards found to correspond exactly with the bloody marks which were left upon the flooring in the bed-room of the deceased, and which flooring had been cut, and kept for the purpose of evidence. The unhappy woman had a peculiar foot, having a rare and peculiar twist beyond the heel, and a high instep. These peculiarities are evident in the bloody footmark to which we have just referred. The theory which is now advanced as accounting for the murder, and which, there is reason to believe, will be found the correct one, is that Mrs McLachlan went to Sandyford Place on the Friday night; that she was admitted as a friend of the deceased; that, after taking a dram together, they retired to bed, and that in the course of the morning Mrs McLachlan rose and murdered her friend in her bed. We have some facts which would make the theory very likely, but we cannot at present publicly state them. The general belief amongst those who have anything to do with the investigation is, that the old man will be forthwith liberated. 



(From Glasgow Herald of Tuesday.) 

   A few meagre particulars only are all that have been hitherto laid before the public regarding the personal history of the unfortunate woman, and these, too, of a somewhat loose and inaccurate character; but we are now able to give some authentic information, as the same has been supplied by her father and half-brother, who reside in the neighbourhood of Stirling. Her real name is not Jessie McPherson, but Jessie McPherson Richardson, and she was born in Edinburgh in 1824, where her mother, who was a domestic servant, was then residing. Her father was at this time engaged in Camelon distillery, and the child, very shortly after birth, was sent to be nursed at the house of a friend of his, Charles McPherson, farm-servant, Polmont, from whom she took the name of McPherson – the name by which she has been known to the public since her terrible fate became the subject of universal comment and indignation. The child was boarded with McPherson – who belonged by birth to the same locality as the father of the child – until she was ten years of age, when she went as a message girl to the house of the Rev. Mr Welsh, of Falkirk, who was then minister of a congregation belonging to the body then known as “Relief.” After remaining with Mr Welsh for some time, she went as a servant to Mr Rennie, steam-mill, Grahamston, whose service she left for that of a Mr Darnley, grain merchant and innkeeper in Falkirk, remaining in his employment for eight years. After reaching Glasgow she entered the service of Messrs Arnot, Cannock, and Co., warehousemen, Jamaica Street, as housekeeper, and remained in that situation for several years, during which time she made the acquaintance of Mary Downie, the cook in Messrs Arnot, Cannock, & Co.’s establishment. The two women arranged to enter into a small way of business for themselves, both apparently being frugal and provident persons, and accordingly they commenced a small grocery business in Gray Street. The shop did not prove remunerative, but the reverse, and it was given up after a trial of eight or nine months. She thereupon went to Dunoon, as keeper of a cottage belonging to Mr Fleming, the summer residence of the family, and lived permanently there both during summer and winter. Leaving Mr Fleming’s service, she became housekeeper to Dr Morton, who resides in the suburbs of London, and in his family she remained for twelve months, when she returned again, about eight months ago, to Mr Fleming’s service as keeper of his residence at Sandyford Place, the house in which she was deprived of life. She was a woman rather above the middle size, of genteel figure, but compactly knit, and generally tasteful in her dress. Her mother was afterwards married to a man belonging to Leith, but she now also lives in the neighbourhood of Stirling. 

Glasgow Herald, Thursday 17th July, 1862, p.3.





   Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Sheriff Strathern, and Mr. Gemmill, Joint Procurator-Fiscal, proceeded to Edinburgh, and had a consultation with the Solicitor-General, and Mr. Gifford, Depute-Advocate. It was there resolved that the venerable Mr. Fleming should be liberated, as there were no grounds whatever why he should be longer detained in connection with this unhappy case – the evidence bearing, we may assume, that he was entirely guiltless of any knowledge of, or connection with, the murder of Jessie McPherson or Richardson, Mr. Fleming was accordingly set at liberty this morning. It was also resolved, at the consultation above referred to, that Jess McIntosh or McLachlan should be fully committed, on the charge of murder and theft. 

Edinburgh Evening Courant, Friday 18th July, 1862, p.2.





(From the Glasgow Papers.) 

   While the disentanglement of the circumstances of this mysterious tragedy is now proceeding with accelerated speed, it is to find that the coils are naturally closing and tightening and fitting themselves around the wretched woman, Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan, whose doings since the murder have been pretty fully expiscated during the last two or three days. In the light of each newly-discovered fact, her cognisance of, or connection with, the murder in some shape, becomes almost indisputable, but what specific part she played is yet, as regards the evidence, only a subject of inference. A multitude of minute circumstances have transpired the whole set and drift of which bear very strongly against the female prisoner, while leaving the position of the old man Fleming perfectly unaffected. As against her, there is evidence, the amount and force of which is constantly growing, to show that she was in the house on the night of the murder, and to connect her with the things that have been missed from it – both those belonging to the Flemings and those belonging to the deceased woman. As against him, there is only the inherent improbabilities of his story as told from the first, aggravated by the circumstance of his continuing to deny that he even knows the woman. So much of the facts as has been permitted to ooze out has sufficed to work a great change in public feeling. The unreasoning rage which rushed at once to a condemnation of the old man has largely subsided, and there are few who do not anticipate the likelihood of his release, or are unprepared to hail it with gratification. 

… The experiments which we mentioned yesterday as having been conducted with the view of obtaining the means of comparison between it and an impress of the same kind from the foot of the female prisoner, have been renewed and verified. She was made first to dip her foot in blood, then to press it on waxcloth, on a piece of thick wool, and on the bare flooring. All this, it may be mentioned in passing, she did, as she does everything she is asked, with the most pliant obedience. The result was that the tracing of the last imprint corresponds with the utmost exactness to that found in the house at Sandyford Place. The other piece of evidence also carried great circumstantial weight. Before leaving her own house on Friday evening, she borrowed a bottle from her neighbour, Mrs Campbell. The one given her was of a peculiar shape. A bottle, which Mrs Campbell pronounces exceedingly like it, though she declines to say that it is actually the one, has been found in the house at Sandyford Place, smelling as if it had recently contained rum. Of course, the conjecture is that she had purchased some of that liquor on her way from her own house to Fleming’s; and the best efforts of the police will now be directed to ascertaining whether any publican served her on the evening in question. On the other hand, we have to reiterate, in contradiction to current rumour, that the marks on her fingers are not such as to show any participation in a violent struggle… 

… The box [of deceased’s clothing] turns up in Greenock in the following manner:- James McLachlan, the prisoner’s husband, has two sisters in Greenock, and on Friday last he proceeded thither with a box, containing a quantity of wearing apparel, and left it in the house of Mrs Reid, one of his sisters, who lives in Drumpochar Road. In answer to Mrs Reid’s inquiries regarding the clothing, McLachlan answered, that Jess (meaning his wife) had sent him down to Greenock, as she intended to go to the authorities and confess that she was the person who had pawned the plate which belonged to Mr Fleming; adding, that she had got the wearing apparel about a fortnight previously, and that she wanted it put out of the way. He left Greenock the following day, Saturday, returned to Glasgow, and again made his appearance in Greenock on Tuesday evening by the nine P.M. train. He then told his sister, Mrs Reid, that he felt very uneasy about the wearing apparel, and that he had resolved to remove the articles to Glasgow for the purpose of giving them up to the authorities. He left Greenock next morning by the 9.15 train for Glasgow, but previous to his departure he arranged with a porter to carry the box from his sister’s house to the railway station, and send it after him. Mrs Reid, we understand, arrived in Glasgow on Tuesday evening, and took charge of her brother’s boy, whom she conveyed to her house in Greenock. 

… The privacy with which preliminary investigations are conducted according to Scotch law, precludes us from giving the prisoner’s explanation of how or when she became possessed of this portion of the murdered woman’s property, and, in the absence of a coroner’s inquest, we can give no explicit information on this point…  

… Old Mr Fleming… seems to have borne his confinement with cheerfulness and equanimity, and with a buoyancy of spirits remarkable in one of his years. The woman McLachlan, on the other hand, is evidently suffering much mental agony. Her cheeks have sunk, and she has refused for some time to take food; and, should she persist in this refusal, it will be necessary forcibly to inject it. When leaving the County Buildings, she was saluted by loud hisses from the crowd, which had assembled round the door, and the cab, which was to convey her to prison. From her expressions, she evidently feels acutely her awful position, and shrinks from the publicity to which she is exposed. 


   Assuming (says the Glasgow Herald of yesterday) that this wretched woman, against whom suspicion now points so strongly, was the person by whom Macpherson was slaughtered, the question arises – What was the motive on the strength of which the crime was committed? She left her own house on the night of Friday, and that she intended only to remain out a short period, instead of all night, is evident from the fact that she endeavoured to secure the services of a neighbour to look after her child during her temporary absence. It is hardly to be believed that she went forth with the deliberate intention of slaying Jessie Macpherson. But she was evidently a needy woman, and she must have been a thriftless one, as she was a frequenter of the pawn-shop, although, so far as we learn, her husband was a respectable man in employment. But Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan needed money, and she went, we may assume, to Jessie Macpherson, from whom she expected to get some, although she was already in her debt; and she might guess that her visit would not be interrupted, as she was no doubt aware that there was nobody in the house but a deaf old man of eighty-seven years of age, who would almost certainly be in bed. Whether she insisted on getting money from her friend, or whether she asked for some of Mr Fleming’s plate to be temporarily placed at her disposal till she was able to relieve it, after getting out of her difficulties – or from what cause, whether from sudden passion or deliberate intent, the cleaver was upraised – may never be known. The above, of course, are mere speculations to which currency is given on account of the public mind being moved by this horrible tragedy so intensely; but, of course, they will have no effect on that tribunal before which the accused must soon appear. Certain it is, that Macpherson was murdered by some one; equally certain is it that the plate stolen on the occasion of the murder from Mr Fleming’s house was pawned by McLachlan, and that one of the first purposes to which she applied part of the money received from the pawnbroker was to pay her over-due rent. 

Caledonian Mercury, Friday 18th July, 1862, p.5.


FRIDAY, Eleven o’clock.      



   Late on Thursday night, says the Mail, Captain McCall received a telegram from Superintendent Dewar, of the Hamilton District of Lanarkshire Police, which stated that after a very laborious search he and his officers had found, in a field about a mile and a half from Hamilton, a brown merino dress and two petticoats, much torn and saturated with blood. From the description given of these articles there is no doubt entertained that they belonged to the female prisoner McLachlan, and that they are the garments worn by her on the night on which Jessie McPherson was so brutally murdered. The clothes will, in due course, be brought down to Glasgow by Mr Dewar for identification, but as already stated there is evidence almost amounting to a certainty which leads us to say that they will be found to belong to the miserable woman. We understand, also, that she has been traced to have been at a point very near the place where the clothing was found, so that her connection with them will in like manner be established. 

   The publican who supplied Mrs McLachlan with the liquor on the night in question has been found, so that the bottle discovered in the press in the passage between the deceased’s bed-room and the kitchen of Mr Fleming’s house, may yet prove a strong piece of evidence, especially if it be identified as having been in the possession of the prisoner on the night of the murder. 

North British Daily Mail, Friday 18th July, 1862, p.2.







   The thick veil of obscurity which has so long covered the murderer of Jessie Macpherson seems now to be all but withdrawn… 

   The various steps in this deplorable case have come out with remarkable regularity, and since the discovery of the stolen plate scarce a day has passed but has produced a new discovery all-important in furthering the ends of justice. But none of the former stages of this case can be compared with importance to the one just arrived at; and none has had, in any view of it, a more serious bearing on the position and prospects of the unfortunate prisoner. Her connection with the silver plate was, to say the least of it, most suspicious, notwithstanding her assertion that she came by it honestly; the tracing of the deceased’s clothing to the prisoner was likewise a fact most condemnatory, taken in conjunction with her previous denial of all knowledge of it; and now her own clothing having been recovered saturated with blood, hidden in a place near which she is known to have been, is the consummation of the whole matter. If she changed colour, as we believe she did when the stolen property of Jessie Macpherson first came under her eyes after she was apprehended, what must the shock be which she will receive when her own gory garments are presented to her? 

… The intelligence arrived in the morning, and was in effect that Crown Counsel saw no necessity for longer detaining old Mr Fleming in custody, and directing that Mrs McLachlan should be fully committed for trial on a charge of murder and theft. This decision, of course, does not prevent the re-apprehension of Mr Fleming, should anything further transpire to criminate him; but we need scarcely say that this is most improbable. In all likelihood he may be made a witness, although in that position, we fear, his evidence will not be of much use to either side. In accordance with the above decision, a messenger repaired to the North Prison, between twelve and one o’clock. When the cab drove up to the gate in Duke Street, a great crowd quickly collected, so that it was evident that the old man would receive some kind of reception from the crowd if he departed in that manner. As this was to be deprecated, the cab was sent off to the gate at the back of the prison in Drygate, which had the effect of drawing off the whole of the mob, who seemingly thought it was intended to bring out either of the prisoners by that way. In this they were signally cheated; for while they were waiting with open mouths in Drygate, old Mr Fleming walked out into Duke Street, accompanied by a friend, and got clear away unobserved. The scheme answered well, and did not seem to be discovered for some time, as the people, after seeing the cab leaving Drygate empty, returned to Duke Street, where they remained in small groups for hours afterwards. Mr Fleming, after a short stay in the city, went down to Greenock by the two P.M. train, accompanied by two relatives. He at once proceeded to Gourock, where he joined the steamer Vulcan, and crossed over to the residence of his son at Dunoon. No doubt he took this route with the view of avoiding public observation. When the intimation was made to the old man that he was at liberty he did not seem to be at all taken by surprise, and left the prison in as hale and hearty a state as when he entered it eight days before. At no part of that time did he betray the least anxiety for his personal safety, or express the least doubt that after inquiry was made he would be shown to be quite free from all complicity in the murder, and was in every respect a striking contrast to the wretched woman he has left behind him in prison… 

Scotsman, Saturday 19th July, 1862, p.2.





   THE Glasgow papers of yesterday say:- 


   “We understand from a credible source that there are many fine points brought out in the precognitions of the witnesses, all bearing directly upon the implication of this woman; but these, of course, are known to the authorities alone, and cannot become patent to the public until the trial. The Glasgow Autumn Circuit Court has been fixed for the 15th September next, at which there is no doubt that the wretched woman McLachlan will be brought up for trial. 


   The following is from the Falkirk Herald of Thursday:- “A medical gentleman in town has favoured us with a suggestion in reference to the tooth-prints, said to be on the fingers of Mrs McLachlan. The medical gentleman in question felt great doubt when the first details of the Sandyford murder were given regarding the severe injuries inflicted on the lower jaw of Jessie McPherson. He now states it as his impression that, presuming Mrs McLachlan guilty of the capital offence, she, or some one else, had inflicted blows at the point of the face named, in order to release Jessie McPherson’s hold upon the fingers of the party attempting (or aiding in) the murder. 


   Yesterday forenoon, the bloody clothes which were discovered on Thursday afternoon near Hamilton, on the Strathaven Road, were brought to Glasgow by Donald Stewart, of the county constabulary. He found the gown at the foot of a tree, near a hedge, in one field, and the petticoats lying in the adjoining field. The clothes had been torn to pieces, with the view, no doubt, of preventing identification; but notwithstanding this precaution, we learn that both the gown and petticoats were identified yesterday forenoon, by Mrs Campbell and Mary Black or Adam, as the clothing worn by the prisoner on the Friday night previous to the murder. On Thursday night, Sub-Inspectors Smith and Thomson searched the house at Sandyford Place, for the purpose of discovering, if possible, any portion of McLachlan’s clothing, but without success; and subsequently her own house was subjected to a minute examination, the result of which was that the sleeve of a brown gown was found, the trimming on which corresponds exactly with the trimming found on the bloody dress. The prisoner was in the habit of wearing a petticoat made out of a blanket, and one made of wincey cloth; and the bloody portions of the petticoat found consist of pieces of blanket-flannel and wincey cloth. From the appearance of the articles, we may state that they have been burned in several places, and they still smell very strongly of the burning. 

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 19th July, 1862, p.2.



   Between eleven and twelve o’clock on Wednesday, both prisoners were brought down from the North Prison to the County Buildings, for further examination, before Sheriff Strathern. The old man appeared to retain his coolness and quietude; but the female presented a most pitiable appearance – haggard and emaciated in the extreme – and a marked contrast to her condition even when she was apprehended on Sunday. Old Fleming was first examined, and we understand, still adhered to his first declaration, that he knew nothing about the matter more than hearing the screams, and that so far from having given Mrs McLachlan the silver plate, as she affirmed, he never saw her before to his knowledge. However that may be accounted for, it is in contradiction of the fact that he lived with his son while she was a servant in the house. Of course, a married woman would undergo a considerable change in four years, and the prisoner’s memory may have failed during that time. Mrs McLachlan likewise made a declaration. 

Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, Saturday 19th July, 1862, p.4.

   “TIME works wonders,” and there is no doubt but a very short time has dissipated a wonderful amount of uncertainty and suspicion in reference to the recent murder at Sandyford, Glasgow. A week ago the circumstances seemed so conclusive of the guilt of Mr James Fleming, or at all events of his guilty knowledge of the murder of Jessie McPherson Richardson, that not one man in twenty could see any possibility of his entire innocence, but now the guilt has been so brought home to another person – Jess McIntosh or McLachlan – that the old man has been liberated, and the woman has been committed for trial. We give the details which have led to this result so fully in another part of this sheet, that no recapitulation of them is necessary, but we have no hesitation in saying that while the circumstances which have transpired since last Saturday go very far in fixing the murder upon this acquaintance of the victim, Mrs McLachlan, there has nothing transpired but her own desperate assertion to show that she was acting in any way in connection with Mr Fleming. However extraordinary some of Mr Fleming’s conduct might seem, it would be ungenerous any longer to doubt his entire innocence, and although we never hinted that he was guilty in our columns, we have no hesitation in making the amende for having harboured the thought. We never could think of the murder as a premeditated crime, and even yet we can conceive no adequate motive for such a piece of butchery, and if the wretched woman McLachlan was alone engaged in it, we trust it was the result of some sudden outburst of passion, and not that she deliberately planned and carried out such a horrible crime for the mere purpose of relieving herself from some small pecuniary difficulties. 

Glasgow Morning Journal, Monday 21st July, 1862, p.4.



   On Saturday we received information which both from its tenor, and the authority on which it rested, could not but demand our attention as of great probable value in the further investigation of this appalling crime. The following, with a few emendations more than verbal, especially as to the precise hour at which the suspicious person was seen, is what we deemed a duty to publish in our Second Edition of that day:- 

   “What may turn out to be a most important, probably the last link, of the chain of evidence in this remarkable case, has just come to our knowledge. A respectable merchant in Glasgow, well-known to ourselves, and well-known in the city, and who has been out of town for the last ten days, has just returned, and makes the remarkable statement that on the Saturday morning of the murder, about twelve minutes to ten o’clock, in passing along Royal Terrace, he had his attention strongly arrested by a woman, of peculiarly suspicious appearance, and carrying a large bundle, which she was evidently endeavouring to conceal under her shawl. Her face was flushed, and her eyes had all the appearance of extreme excitement. Her clothes presented very much the appearance of a person who had been out all night, much tattered, and draggled as if they had been wet and only partially dried. At the time he observed her she was at the corner of Claremont Street, and he thought she had come as it were from Clifton Street, the street leading from the scene of the murder. On seeing her, he stopped and looked at her steadily, on perceiving which she immediately turned aside as if wishing to avoid his observation. The gentleman was accompanied by his son, who at the moment was a few steps behind him. He observed to his son, ‘That is a wild-looking woman.’ The gentleman left town on the Monday morning following, and has been haunted by the appearance of the woman ever since. 

   “On reading of the murder in the newspapers, he immediately wrote to his friends informing them of the circumstances. They at once communicated with Captain McCall, and the gentleman will be examined on Monday and be brought into the presence of Mrs McLachlan in order to ascertain whether or not she is the person whom he met in these circumstances.  

   “The hour at which the gentleman saw the woman is, of course, very important, and does not quite correspond with the supposed time of Mrs McLachlan’s arrival at her own house. But there is no mistake on the part of the gentleman on this point, as he had missed the half-past nine o’clock omnibus by about a quarter of an hour, and was hurrying to meet another omnibus at Charing Cross. The woman could only have left the house, supposing her to be the murderess of Jessie McPherson, a moment or two before. 

   “After the woman passed, the gentleman turned and looked after her, and so suspicious was her appearance, that he said to himself, that had it been at 10 o’clock at night instead of a quarter to 10 in the morning he would have followed her in order to see what she had in the bundle.” 

   We have nothing to add to this statement beyond the fact that the police were advised of these averments on Thursday last, and that on making inquiry, and reading what had been written by the witness, an opinion was formed that the description given of the woman did not correspond with the prisoner Mrs McLachlan. But this opinion, even if correct, does not lessen the value of the testimony, and it is to be hoped that the authorities will not treat it lightly on any such ground as that. 

   In the course of to-day the witness in all likelihood will be examined, and confronted with Mrs McLachlan, when his own eyes will be the best judge whether or not she be the same woman he saw in Royal Terrace. 

Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser, Tuesday 22nd July, 1862, p.2.

   THE GLASGOW MURDER. – … On Wednesday an order arrived from the Solicitor-General at Edinburgh, ordering the release of old Mr Fleming, who was at once set at liberty. Mrs McLachlan was on that day committed to trial. Any ground for a charge against the old man are, in the opinion of the authorities, taken away in bringing home the murder to the woman, and this course has therefore been followed out in her being fully committed for trial. On Tuesday last information was received by the police that Mrs Campbell, who lodged with Mrs McLachlan, missed from the house in Broomielaw a glass bottle of somewhat peculiar shape and of a greenish colour. Mrs McLachlan had received this bottle on the day preceding the murder, and had not returned it to her. One considerably resembling it was discovered, smelling strongly of rum, in the press in the passage between the kitchen and the bed-room, in Sandyford Place house. Mrs Campbell, on being shown the bottle, expressed herself as being nearly positive that it was the same, and it has also been identified by the little girl Adamson, who states that she knows it from having had it while buying spirits for Mrs McLachlan. The fact of its being so found supplies nearly all that is wanting in the chain of evidence against McLachlan. The miserable woman, throughout the first three days of the week, obstinately refused to take food, and means were contemplated to force compliance on her part, but on Thursday she was prevailed upon to take some little nourishment. 

North Briton, Wednesday 23rd July, 1862, p.4.


… The innocent will thus escape further reproach and calumny. And it is almost heart-rending to find an old man, like Mr Fleming, in so painful and ignominious a position. Knowing his idiosyncrasies, we never for a moment suspected him either as guilty of, or a participator in, the singularly brutal tragedy. It is generally from minor manners that the true facts of a case are to be seen and reached. And just let us look somewhat into the circumstances of the murder. At an early hour on the Friday evening the old man, it appears, went to bed, and slept undisturbed until four o’clock in the morning, when he was aroused by several screams, which seemed to proceed from the lower part of the house in which the kitchen and Jessie’s bed-room were situated. He paid no heed to those sounds, however, which must have been violent, no matter how brief; and quietly went to sleep again. In so doing we cannot but wonder at the extreme callousness displayed. Yet such phlegmatic indifference can by no means be taken as a proof of guilt. Think of the old man’s years, and the peculiar eccentricities of his disposition. And seeing that McLachlan or some other companion was in the habit of coming about the deceased to make her loneliness less lonely, might he not naturally conclude that the screams he heard were screams of frolic and not of death. But with the foul murder staring us so ghastly in the face, it is almost an impossibility to get over his singular unconcern. And another ugly feature is the fact of Mr Fleming never having inquired after the murdered woman though missing her out of the house on the Saturday morning. It was not until Monday, when the son and grandson returned from Dunoon, that the door of her bed-room was unlocked, and the nude corpse of the poor woman discovered. Such conduct, no doubt, to more inquisitive and impulsive temperaments will seem strange. But let it be noted that the door of Jessie’s bed-room was fast, and this fact may partially account for the old man thinking nothing else than that she had left the house either drawn out on business or pleasure. And could we imagine even the most depraved of men remaining in that dwelling over the silent watches of those two nights, while, he knew that on the floor of an adjoining room, lay the ghastly corpse of her whom his accursed hands had so horribly murdered. But again. What good purpose was delay going to serve? The lifeless body was sure to be discovered within the house sooner or later, and the simplicity and total absence of strategy which characterises Mr Fleming’s conduct during those few days while Jessie was amissing, is, in our opinion, the strongest evidence of his innocence. The old man lived just as was his wont – kindling the fire, cooking his food, and making himself generally useful. And looking into the details of the murder, what so we find? Is there not all through an evident design to lay the tragedy home to Mr Fleming? Take the washing of the blood from the floor – the last thing the old man would have done had he been guilty of the murder. The rougher and ruder that things were found, the better for him. The order and cleansing at once revealed a resident, or one at least particularly acquainted with the nature of the house…  

   So much for the outer elements of the case. The strongest feature of suspicion, however, resting upon Mrs McLachlan is the bloody foot-print which was left upon the flooring of the bed-room occupied by the slaughtered woman… It is not for us here to condemn, or to give place to a single expression which may lead towards such a verdict, but matters will change greatly should Mrs McLachlan not turn out the cold-blooded traitoress who murdered Jessie McPherson. – (Bathgate Courier.) 

Inverness Courier, Thursday 24th July, 1862, p.5.

   THE GLASGOW MURDER. – The unfortunate Mrs Maclachlan, committed for trial as to the murder of Jessie Macpherson, is, as has been stated in the papers, a native of Inverness. Her father, William Mackintosh, was for several years a sawyer and jobbing flesher at Waterloo Place; and the family was respectable in their humble station, and well liked by their neighbours. Mrs Maclachlan was in Inverness last year on a visit to her friends, and while here she ordered an inscription to be placed on the tombstone of her father, who died about ten years ago. She has four brothers and a sister living in Inverness. We hear that the latter (a married woman), when on a visit to her sister in Glasgow, saw the deceased Jessie Macpherson and old Mr Fleming in the house of Mrs Maclachlan, on whom they had made a friendly call. Shortly after the murder, Mrs Maclachlan wrote to her sister, requesting her to proceed to Glasgow and look after her child, as she (Mrs Maclachlan) was much put about concerning a murder which had taken place, but not alluding in the slightest degree to the charge of her being implicated in the crime. The sister and one of the brothers of the unhappy woman have since gone to Glasgow. 

Stirling Observer, Thursday 24th July, 1862, p.4.

   THE unlooked-for “turn” which the Glasgow murder has finally taken may be said to form a new element of wonder in this mysterious – and even yet inexplicable – tragedy; affording also another of those striking proofs – of too frequent occurrence in our criminal calendar – of the danger of placing too much reliance on circumstantial evidence. The consultation between the Glasgow authorities and the Crown Counsel at Edinburgh, has resulted in the acquittal of the old man Fleming and in the committal for trial, on the charge of murder and robbery, of Jessie McLachlan. So hard is it to cast forth a deeply rooted prejudice, that although each succeeding discovery only served to strengthen the chain of evidence forged by the Glasgow detectives out of the slender materials supplied by Mr Lundie’s young man, the feeling in the public mind was one of regret that the very evidence which criminated the young woman, should also exculpate the old man. Indeed, so thoroughly was the public mind made up as to Fleming having had some hand in the foul deed, that to have ventured to prophecy his acquittal, even after the discovery of the pawned silver plate, would have produced a very wide-spread growl of disappointment. Public feeling, however, must give way before hard facts, and plausible theories before a plain unvarnished tale. The crime is clearly traced to the door of one person alone, and that person a woman and a mother… Old people are proverbially garrulous and interested in trifles; of Fleming’s reticence, therefore, in not informing his neighbours or the police of the disappearance of the servant, was remarkably strange that curiosity should never have once prompted him to look and see if “Jess” was in her own room. Although considerably deaf, he had all his wits and eyesight about him, and it was all but impossible that he should have gone about the house for three days without noticing anything unusual about its appearance. To prepare his victuals he must have kindled the fire, which of necessity entailed his entering the kitchen in search of coals, sticks, &c., and also his repeatedly passing through the passage stained with blood. The bed-sheets were awkwardly washed, as if done by other than female hands; and supposing him to have been the perpetrator of the outrage, what more natural than for him to clear away all traces of the crime from the kitchen, where it would be supposed he must have entered to prepare his victuals? Even the robbery of the silver plate and wearing apparel could not be reckoned anything in his favour; what more probable than that he should have made away with it for the very purpose of averting suspicion from himself. To strengthen this chain of circumstantial probabilities of the old man being the murderer, came rumours of intrigue, of his being both on loving and hating terms with the deceased. Even those who took the most lenient view of his case thought that he at least must know something more about the murder than had come to light… Suspicion was naturally directed to the old man in the absence of any other likely party; but after the apprehension of McLachlan, the public were reluctantly compelled to lay the stigma of the awful crime at the feet of the unhappy woman. As yet, however, the authorities have failed to prove her presence in the house on the night of the murder; till they are able to do so, no jury in the kingdom will brand her as a murderer. Strong as the evidence, circumstantial and otherwise, is against her, it seems improbable that she could have done the deed without the aid of an accomplice. Since her committal she has exhibited no such remarkable strength of nerve as to make such a supposition probable. If we suppose the death struggle to have taken place in the bed-room, is it at all likely she could have risen and dressed without awaking the deceased. If it took place in the kitchen, without an accomplice it seems altogether impossible. Old Fleming is positive he heard the screams at 4 o’clock in the morning. Is it possible for Mrs McLachlan to have brained her bed-fellow, washed the bed-clothes and the kitchen floor, ransacked the chest of the deceased, removed all traces of the bloody struggle from her person, and disappeared from the struggle, ere old Fleming got up to make his breakfast. All that must have been the work of hours; and even supposing she was able cautiously to pass the door of the old man’s bed-room and go out by the front door unperceived, we should like to know how she could have managed to pass along the streets at half-past eight in the morning, with her dress stained with blood and carrying two heavy bundles? That Mrs McLachlan has had some share in the murder is, we think, quite clear; her blood-stained dress, and her absence from her own house the night of the murder, are facts which the most plausible and coherent of stories cannot get over. But we hold to the popular belief, that she could not have done the foul deed alone; and this perhaps explains the dissatisfaction felt by the public even now, when guilt has been all but brought home to one of the guilty parties. It is not that there ever was anything but circumstantial evidence against old Fleming, but simply that everything which has yet transpired points to two actors in the outrage. These, with a few other contradictions, the public will expect to be explained away at the trial, or the verdict on Mrs McLachlan will be – “Not proven on the first, but guilty on the second count of the indictment.” 

Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle, Friday 25th July, 1862, p.2.



   When suspicion first pointed to Jessie Macintosh or Maclauchlan as the probable heroine of the dismal tragedy in Sandyford Place, Glasgow, it was reported that the miserable woman belonged to Inverness, and on inquiry we discover that such was really the case. Whether guilty or not – and we have no wish in the least to pre-judge the case, however suspicious it may appear at present – the circumstance is not one to the credit of the place, yet it would be folly on that account to attempt suppression of facts with which the public are sure to be made acquainted sooner or later, and we therefore give the following short particulars regarding the implicated woman:- 

   Jessie Mackintosh was born in Inverness in the year 1836 or 1837, and is consequently about 25 years of age. Her parents are both dead, her mother having died when Jessie was only four years of age. She is one of seven of a family, consisting of four sons and three daughters. All the family are believed to be alive, and those now in Inverness – as a matter of course, overwhelmed with grief and mortification at the position of their sister – are considered respectable persons in their stations of life. At the time of her mother’s death Jessie was the eldest girl then at home, and attended the school at Merkinch for several years. The first service she entered was that of a public-house in Nairn, where she remained for six months. Returning to Inverness she went to reside with her eldest sister, who kept a public-house at the Shore, and with whom she stayed for a year in the capacity of a servant. When about 17 years of age she left Inverness for the south, and we are informed, as a proof of the good character she had sustained, that she took with her a certificate signed by a clergyman here and a number of respectable parties. The first situation the young woman got in the south appears to have been with a family at Helensburgh, where she acted as a nurse for twelve months, and from which situation she was recommended as housemaid to a relation of her master’s, also in Helensburgh. Here she remained only six months, and then entered the service of Mr Fleming, where she had as companion and fellow-servant the murdered woman Macpherson. She was in the service of Mr Fleming for two years, when she was married to her present husband. About three years ago the eldest sister of the family left Inverness to pay a visit to the supposed culprit, who was now Mrs Maclachlan. She then resided in Elliot Street, Glasgow. At that time the murdered woman Macpherson kept a small grocery and provision shop, and supplied Mrs Maclachlan with articles, and so intimate do they appear to have been at this time that Macpherson, in company with Mrs Maclachlan’s sister, waited on Mrs Maclachlan when she gave birth to her child. Two years ago Mrs Maclachlan returned her sister’s visit by coming to Inverness, where she remained for a few weeks. Our information adds, that old Mr Fleming was often seen sitting in Macpherson’s shop in Glasgow, and visited Maclachlan’s house, to which he was introduced by Macpherson. Fleming was apparently a great favourite among them, being addressed by the familiar term of grandpa. 

Glasgow Morning Journal, Saturday 26th July, 1862, p.4.


   It has often been wondered in connection with this crime that the cries and shrieks which are believed to have been uttered by the murdered woman were not heard by any one outside the house, and we have explained that from the absence of families at the coast there happened to be no immediate neighbours to be aroused from their sleep. But was no one in the street or near at hand at the fatal moment? Where was the policeman on the beat? The following documents, submitted to us by the writer, a smart and intelligent young man, give some reason to think that there is one ear-witness of the cries of murder:- 


66 Ropework Lane, Glasgow.      

Monday night, 21st July, 1862.      

     Captain Smart, 

   SIR, – I yesterday read over several accounts of the Sandyford Place murder from its discovery, and, like many others whom I have heard talk of the matter, I remarked to my wife that it was strange that the shouts of the murdered woman were not heard by any one save Mr Fleming, sen., who admitted having heard something of that sort. It then suddenly struck me that I heard fearful screams one night about a fortnight ago in that neighbourhood – a coincidence which so startled me that I felt nervous while I mentioned it to my wife. She remarked, “Can you not find out what night you were out all night working?” I threw the newspaper aside, and I at once examined my book and some memoranda to see if I could come upon any circumstance which would enable me to fix upon the night, when, strange to say, I discovered that I was working out all the night of Friday, the 4th inst. Between midnight and daylight on that night I was in Kent Road, about half-way between Dumbarton Road and North Street, and proceeding in the direction of the latter street, when I was startled by alarming screams on my left in the direction of Sandyford Place. The screams were agonizing in the extreme, and caused me to stop quite and listen, but they lasted only a short time, suddenly ceasing. It was the dead hour of the night, and my impression was that some husband was abusing his wife, the shouts being those of a female. When as far as Wylie and Lochhead’s works I met a policeman, and I told him that some woman was getting a fearful beating. He went off in the direction pointed out by me, and I thought no more of the matter until yesterday, as I have stated. I may add that although advised by my wife and a neighbour to give this information to the authorities this morning, I did not do so, thinking it would be considered an idle story, but as the policeman can bear me out with regard to my mention of the circumstances to him same night, my statement will be so far corroborated. – I remain, Sir, your obedient servant, 

JOHN MATTHEWS, Bill-poster.      


   Tuesday, 22d. – Receiving no acknowledgement from Mr Smart, I look to my memoranda again, find that I have not been out at work on any night but that of Friday and Saturday of the murder. I proceeded alone at 11 o’clock to-night, and occupied myself till half-past one searching for the policeman to whom I had spoken on the night in question relative to the cries and screams I heard same night, a few minutes before I spoke to him. As I knew a policeman in the immediate neighbourhood I searched for him first, and found him in company with a policeman who had charge of a part of Kent Road. Entered into conversation with them, when the one I knew seemingly involuntarily dropped the remark, “Oh, I have heard of your report.” I was much astonished to find that I was forestalled, and it occurred to me that possibly the policeman for whom I was searching had also been tampered with, but I was determined to find him out and sound his memory. From my friend’s neighbour I had learned that three policeman’s beats converged upon Kent Road, and that he was one of them. I had therefore some difficulty to contend with; but, having disposed of one of the three, I proceeded. Found out the second after a long search, but not the man. The third was “nowhere.” After due search waited at a certain main corner by instructions from a policeman with whom I entered into chat, and I naturally turned our conversation upon the late murder. From this one I got the grave information that the policeman on and about Sandyford Place had been severely reprimanded by his superiors for not reporting that a gentleman had informed him of his hearing murder cries on his beat on that same Friday night. Here, by the merest accident, I got information corroborating my statement to Captain Smart. It now flashed upon my mind that the policeman for whom I was searching would be upon his guard, his situation being at stake if he had not reported my remarks on the fatal Friday night. My anticipations were confirmed after finding him, which I did with the assistance of another policeman who kindly accompanied me and assisted me in my search. I had described his appearance to the policeman at the main corner and the one who accompanied me, and it perfectly tallied with the man when we found him at last; but, as I expected, he expressed total ignorance of the matter. His answer was given abruptly, and without giving my question the due consideration and thought it merited before making a reply. I saw I was baffled, and my friend in uniform ventured to remark that the answer was given too precipitately. However, I had got information corroborative of my statement concerning the screams, and I felt satisfied, though irritated. After last night’s conversation, I can swear that this last policeman. No. —, Anderston force, is the man. 


   The policeman last-mentioned in the above “memoranda,” whose number we withhold, may not have been lax in the discharge of his duty. Matthews says that the sounds which startled him immediately ceased, and the policeman may not have been able to trace the source from which they came, and the information given him may have passed out of his memory. As to the report which Matthews has got of a policeman having been reprimanded for not reporting that a gentleman had informed him of murder cries on his beat, we have not been able to verify it, and believe that it must be unfounded. 

Hamilton Advertiser, Saturday 2nd August, 1862, p.2.

  THE GLASGOW MURDER. – We understand that the agents in Glasgow of Jessie Maclachlan, the woman at present waiting her trial for the murder of Jessie Macpherson, have “run her letters,” so that she must be tried within sixty days. In all likelihood the trial will take place at the ensuing Circuit, which opens in Glasgow before Lord Deas and Lord Ardmillan on 15th September. It is gratifying to know that her defence has been placed in hands which are a guarantee for it not being neglected… 

Glasgow Morning Journal, Monday 1st September, 1862, pp.3 & 4.






   Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan, now or lately prisoner in the prison of Glasgow, you are indicted and accused, at the instance of James Moncreiff, Esq., her Majesty’s advocate for her Majesty’s interest: That albeit, by the laws of this and of every other well-governed realm, murder; as also theft, are crimes of an heinous nature, and severely punishable: Yet true it is and of verity, that you, the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan are guilty of the said crime of murder, and of the said crime of theft, or of one or other of the said crimes, actor, or art and part: In so far as (1), on the 4th or 5th day of July, 1862, or on one or other of the days of that month, or of June immediately preceding, or of August immediately following, in or near the house or premises in or near Sandyford Place, in or near Glasgow, then and now or lately occupied by John Fleming, accountant, now or lately residing there, you the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan did, wickedly and feloniously, attack and assault Jessie McPherson, otherwise Jessie McPherson Richardson, then a servant in the employment of the said John Fleming, and residing in the said house or premises in or near Sandyford Place aforesaid, now deceased, and did with an iron cleaver or chopper, or other similar edged instrument to the prosecutor unknown, strike the said Jessie McPherson, otherwise Jessie McPherson Richardson, one or more blows on the face and forehead, and several blows on the head and neck, and did inflict severe wounds on the face, head, and  neck of the said Jessie McPherson, otherwise Jessie McPherson Richardson, whereby her skull was fractured, and she was otherwise seriously and mortally injured in her person; in consequence of which, or of part thereof, the said Jessie McPherson, otherwise Jessie McPherson Richardson, immediately or soon thereafter died, and was thus murdered by you the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan: farther (2). 

Time and Place above libelled, 

you the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan did, wickedly and feloniously, steal and theftuously take away from the said house or premises in Sandyford Place aforesaid, 

   Six or thereby silver or other metal table-spoons, 

   Six or thereby plated metal dessert spoons, 

   Six or thereby silver or other metal toddy-ladles, 

   A silver or other metal fish-slice, 

   A silver or other metal soup-divider, 

   Two or thereby silver or other metal tea-spoons, 

   A plated metal sauce-spoon, and 

   Six or thereby plated or other metal forks, 

the property or in the lawful possession of the said John Fleming; as also 

   A velvet cloak, 

   A cloth cloak, 

   A black silk dress, 

   A brown or other coloured silk dress, 

   A merino or other dress, 

   A silk jacket or polka, and 

   A plaid, 

the property or in the lawful possession of the said Jessie McPherson, otherwise Jessie McPherson Richardson, now deceased, or of her heirs, executors, and representatives, or of the said John Fleming: And you the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan having been apprehended and taken before Alexander Strathern, Esquire, sheriff-substitute of Lanarkshire, did, in his presence at Glasgow, emit and subscribe three several declarations, dated respectively 

   14th day of July 1862, 

   16th day of July 1862, and 

   21st day of July 1862: 

Which declarations, as also the articles, books, plans, and writings or documents, specified and enumerated in an inventory hereunto annexed and referred to; as also the several labels attached to said articles; being to be used in evidence against you the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan at your trial, will, for that purpose, be in due time lodged in the hands of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Justiciary before which you are to be tried, that you may have an opportunity of seeing the same; all which, or part thereof, being found proven by the verdict of an assize, or admitted by the judicial confession of you the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan, before the Lord Justice-General, Lord Justice-Clerk, and Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, in a Circuit Court of Justiciary to be holden by them, or by any one or more of their number, within the burgh of Glasgow, in the month of September, in this present year 1862, you the said Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan OUGHT to be punished with the pains of law, to deter others from committing the like crimes in all time coming. 


INVENTORY OF ARTICLES, BOOKS, PLANS, and WRITINGS, or DOCUMENTS, referred to in the foregoing Indictment. 

   1. A shift, a semet, and a woollen polka. 


   59. Bank passbook, titled outside “Argyle Street Branch Royal Bank of Scotland, No. 2 in account with Mr James Fleming 17 Sandyford Pl.,” or similarly titled. 


   1. Alexander Strathern, Esq., sheriff-substitute of Lanarkshire. 


   80. Harriet Bain, now or lately a female warder in the North Prison of Glasgow. 





   The agents for the prisoner Mrs McLachlan – Mr J. A. Dixon, Mr Strachan, and Mr Wilson – have been indefatigable in their exertions during the last two or three weeks in precognosing witnesses and preparing the facts for the defence. They have retained Andrew Rutherford Clark, Esq., as senior, and Robt. Maclean, Esq., and Adam Bannatyne, Esq., as junior counsel for their client. They had a consultation with the counsel on Friday last, and will have another on Thursday of this week. On being served with the above indictment on Saturday, and on going over the very long list of witnesses for the Crown, they discovered that they had already traversed nearly the whole case for the prosecution, and in that respect have little more to do. We understand that there will be from 15 to 20 witnesses summoned for the defence, and that many new and startling facts will be elicited on the trial. It is said that the counsel for the prisoner will adopt a course which, though not without precedent or inconsistent with their legal right, is quite unusual in criminal cases, and that the proceedings may be expected to extend over two, if not three days. From all we hear the trial will be as extraordinary and deeply interesting as the case has proved from the beginning. 

   The prisoner has undergone a considerable improvement of health since the close of her examinations. Her refusal to take food during the first day or two of her incarceration arose from her repugnance to the usual prison diet. But the surgeon ordered her to have tea and coffee, and a steak, and under this more liberal fare Mrs McLachlan has recovered health and strength, and waits her trial with composure and apparent cheerfulness. 

Falkirk Herald, Thursday 4th September, 1862, p.2.



   Ever since the murder of Jessie Macpherson in Sandyford Place, a movement has been on the tapis to get its name replaced by another of, as is supposed, a fresh and unsavoury odour. This truly original idea for sinking the locus of a great crime has been succeeded by a proposal to change the name not only of Sandyford Place but of Sauchiehall Street itself! We would fain hope that this notion, when originally propounded, was a delicate stroke of satire on the part of a wag; but it has been taken up in all seriousness, and advocated in letters to the newspapers day after day. “Lancaster” is the name suggested to replace “Sandyford” and “Great Queen” or “Great Albert,” to succeed the truly euphonious and poetic word “Sauchiehall.” As a matter of course the proposal must be English, emanating, as it does, from a Glasgow snob. The whole West End bristles with such street nomenclature as Windsor, Buckingham, Kent, Osborne, Clarendon, Claremont, Dorset, Grosvenor, Granville, Bedford, Belgrave, Cambridge, et hoc genus omne [and all this kind]. This snobbish style of naming streets has for years prevailed in Glasgow ad nauseum [to the point of sickness], and we might almost say ad infinitum [forever]. Truly, our friends in the commercial metropolis are sorely in need of the services of Michael Angelo Titmarsh [William Makepeace Thackeray], for in that city he would find ample material for another “Book of Snobs.” Would the Glasgowegians take a hint regarding their new names from us. If they would make an appropriate change, let them call “Sandyford” Place, either “Fleming” Place, “McPherson” Place, or “McIntosh” Place, and “Sauchiehall” Street, either “Bloody Cut,” or “Tragedy Road.” This might, at least, save them from the charge of snobbery. 

Dundee Advertiser, Monday 15th September, 1862, p.2.

   We believe the trial of Jessie McLachlan, before the Glasgow Circuit Court, for murder, will not come on before Wednesday, this postponement having been made to meet the convenience of Mr Clark, the senior counsel for the prisoner. 

Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle, Tuesday 16th September, 1862, p.2.

   THE TRIAL FOR MURDER IN GLASGOW. – The trial of Jessie McLachlan, whose case excites much interest in this quarter, is expected to begin on Wednesday morning. It is probable that we shall be able to publish the result on Friday morning. A special telegraphic report, received last night, informs us that a witness will be produced who bathed the victim’s temples before she died. It is also stated that the new evidence implicates old Fleming, and that a milkman will be brought forward to testify to some important particulars. 

That ends part 2 of Jessie Mclachlan’s case, and the pre-trial reporting, of the suppositions surrounding her apparent murder of her best friend. We can see now that very few people appear to be left who credit old Mr Fleming with having had a stake in the crimes Jessie has been indicted for. We’ll see how all this pans out in the next episode which will begin her trial. We may see you for it. Take care.

Narration by Jenny

Art by Alex

Intro-Outro by Tony ‘Lucky Dog’ Wilson

Greysteil by Paul Burns.

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