Welcome back to Random Scottish History’s true crime project exploring Glasgow’s Square Mile Murders. This episode begins the relation of Jessie McLachlan’s trial for the horrific murder of her best friend Jessie McPherson. This will take us in unexpected directions, so, let’s get into it.
Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 18th September, 1862, pp.3 & 4.
GLASGOW MURDER CASE.
AUTUMN CIRCUIT COURT – WEDNESDAY.
The trial of Mrs. Jessie McIntosh or McLachlan, for the murder of Jessie McPherson Richardson, on the 4th or 5th of July last, within the house of Mr. John Fleming, accountant, 17 Sandyford Place, was proceeded with this morning, at ten o’clock, before Lord Deas. The excitement which prevailed in Glasgow at the time of this mysterious murder was re-awakened by the approach of the trial, and was in no degree abated by the uncertainty whether it would proceed beyond the initial stage of the mere reading of the indictment at the present Court, in consequence of the objections which were expected to be urged by the counsel conducting the prisoner’s defence. The prisoner was brought from the North Prison shortly after eight o’clock, by which time a considerable number of spectators had assembled outside the Court Buildings, and the Court was densely filled before the hour at which the Court was to sit.
Lord DEAS having taken his seat,
The case was called, and the prisoner was placed at the bar. She entered the dock with a quick step; but she was very pale, and evidently slightly agitated. She wore a straw bonnet, trimmed with white ribbon, interwoven with black lace; a lilac merino gown, and a light black shawl.
Mr. Adam Gifford, Advocate-Depute, assisted by Mr. Andrew Mure, advocate, conducted the prosecution; Mr. Andrew Murray, W. S. [Writer to the Signet], Crown agent, was presented. The defence was conducted by Andrew Rutherford Clark, Robt. Maclean, and Adam Bannatyne, Esqs., advocates; and her agents were Mr. J. A. Dixon, Mr. Strachan, and Mr. W. M. Wilson, writers, Glasgow.
No objection was taken to the relevancy of the indictment,..
The prisoner having been required to say whether she was guilty or not guilty of the murder of Jessie McPherson Richardson, or of the theft, she replied in a firm voice, “Not guilty, my Lord.”
The following jury was then empannelled:-
A special defence was put in to the effect that the prisoner was not guilty of the crime, and that the murder was committed by the elder Mr. Fleming.
Alexander Strathern, Sheriff-Substitute of Lanarkshire, was the first witness – I am shown declaration 14th July, 1862. That declaration was emitted by the prisoner freely and voluntarily, in her sound and sober senses, and after receiving due warning. Shown second and third declarations, dated 16th and 21st July, 1862, respectively, and gave the same evidence in regard to them.
Cross-examined by Mr CLARK – The prisoner was apprehended on the date of the first declaration.
Was the husband apprehended along with her? – Yes; they were both examined on the same day. I think the husband was examined first.
At the time the husband was apprehended, was it known to you that he had left Glasgow on the morning of the 4th of July, and did not return till late on the following week? – That came to be known to me in the course of the same day, but I do not think that was known to me before the date of the first declaration.
By the COURT – There was a warrant issued for the apprehension of the husband, and he was apprehended on that warrant.
By Mr. CLARK – Were the husband and wife charged in the same charge? – Yes.
Well, I want to know again whether it was known to you before the husband was examined that he had been absent during the period to which I have referred? – I cannot answer more distinctly. It came to be known to me on the same day, but whether before the examination or later, I am unable to answer that question. The husband and wife were both examined on the 14th of July. The husband was examined first, and upon this charge. The examination of the husband lasted a short time; it was within an hour. I sent to ascertain whether the statement he made was true that he left Glasgow on the morning of the 4th of July; and when I found it was true I instantly discharged him. I think that in the course of the examination I came to know that he had been out of town from the 4th of July.
Did the Procurator-Fiscal know that he was absent? – I cannot answer that question. After the husband was examined the wife was examined. I told her that she might decline to answer questions if she pleased. Her examination, I think, lasted between three and four hours on the first occasion. The examination was taken in the usual way. The Procurator-Fiscal asked the questions; as far as I thought them proper, I allowed them to be answered, and I dictated the answers to a clerk in attendance.
When you say she emitted this first declaration, do you mean to say that from three to four hours she was questioned in your presence? – She was.
She was again brought before you for a second declaration? – Yes.
Some articles had been found bearing on the case in the interim? – Yes, and I think that was the occasion of it.
Was the second examination conducted in the same way as the first? – In the same way.
How long did it last? – It was shorter, but she volunteered some explanatory statements which I thought right to introduce first, and prolonged the examination more than would have been otherwise the case.
But the articles which were discovered were shown to her the first thing. Were questions put to her? – The first thing I did was to read over her previous declaration, and ask her if it was correct. She said she wanted to make some explanation, and I allowed her to make it, and I put the same in her declaration, and the articles recovered were shown her.
Do you mean to say that no questions were put to the prisoner until the articles recovered were shown to the prisoner? – They were shown during the time we were putting the interrogatories.
Will you tell me whether the interrogatory was put first? – Some of the interrogatories were put first.
How long did this last? – Two minutes.
I presume the declaration bears the place in which the declaration was emitted? – The declaration states that it was emitted in Glasgow.
And the order in which the articles were shown? – I think so.
Did you know that she had been in prison on the night before emitting the first declaration? – I was told so.
John Gemmil, joint Procurator-Fiscal for the Glasgow District of the County of Lanark, was next examined, and deponed – …
[Testified similar statements as the prior witness with regards Mr McLachlan having been examined.]
William Hart, writer, Glasgow, was the next witness called, and examined by Mr. GIFFORD.
I believe that you are a Procurator-Fiscal in Glasgow? – Yes.
I show you a declaration dated the 21st July, 1862. Was that emitted by the prisoner at the bar? – Yes.
In her sound and sober senses, and after having been duly warned? – Yes.
Mr. John Fleming deponed as follows:- I reside in Sandyford Place, Glasgow. It is a self-contained house, No. 17. There is a ground flat, street flat, and a flat above. The sunk flat is reached by half a dozen of steps from the pavement. In July last part of my family was residing at Dunoon. I was generally out of town, at Dunoon, from the Friday to the Sunday afternoon. I was in town on Friday the 4th of July. I left my house at Sandyford Place on that Friday morning about 10 o’clock, and went to my counting house at St. Vincent Place. I attended business during the day, and left town during the afternoon, without going to my house at Sandyford Place. I left my father, James Fleming, and the servant at Sandyford Place in the morning. The servant’s name whom I left in the house was Jessie McPherson, deceased. I never knew her by the name of Richardson until after her decease. The only two persons to the best of my knowledge whom I left in the house on Friday morning were, as I have said, my father and the servant. The other members of my family were at my cottage at Dunoon. I had two servants at Dunoon. They were never in town with me as servants. My sister Margaret was at Dunoon. My son John was in town that day. He left the house with me on the Friday morning. He lived with me at Dunoon, and sometimes went down with me in the evening, and returned in the morning. When he went with me on the Friday he returned to town with me on the Monday mornings. He was in the counting house during the day on Friday, 4th July, and went down to Dunoon in the afternoon. He did not go in the same train with me. He remained at Dunoon with me till the Monday morning. He left Dunoon by an earlier train than me. Jessie McPherson had charge of my house. She was with me some considerable time ago, and left three years ago. She commenced business in the small grocery line; I think in the neighbourhood of Partick Road, near Finnieston.
By the COURT – I was never in her house or shop there.
By Mr. GIFFORD – I think she was about three years away from my house… I left her in charge of my house while we were in summer quarters. She had charge of our house all the present summer. It was occasionally my father’s practice to come down to Dunoon, but not often. He did not come to Dunoon with me that Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday. I returned from Dunoon by the ten o’clock boat from Rothesay on the Monday morning, 7th July. I took the half-past eleven train from Greenock, arriving in Glasgow about half-past twelve. I went direct to my counting house in St. Vincent Place. I did not go to Sandyford Place. My son was with me at the office. He had been there before me, having come by an earlier train. I left the office at 4 o’clock, and went direct to Sandyford Place. I took an omnibus at Buchanan Street, and dropped off at the head of North Street, which is near Sandyford Place. I reached Sandyford Place about half-past four. I made two calls after leaving the omnibus. I went to the grocer’s and butcher’s in my way to order something for dinner. I rung the bell of my house, and I think my son opened the door, and went in before me. I have only one son. When I got in the old [man] was standing by at the head of the lobby nigh to the clock. My son had passed on from the door, and was standing near to him. The flesher’s boy had just been in immediately before that with some chops and minced collops that I had dressed for dinner. The chops were standing on the table at the head of the stair leading to the kitchen. My son said to me, “There’s no use sending anything in for dinner here to-day, as the servant has run off, and there’s nobody to cook it.” Alluding to the old man, my son said, “He says he had not seen her since Friday night,” and he added, “He says her room door’s locked.” I says, “That is a curious story.” I was quite surprised, as the woman was of such steady habits, and he added, she may be lying dead in her room, for a’ that he knows, knowing his absent habits. I put down my hat on the table at the head of the stair. I said to them both, “Come away down stairs with me.” We went down accordingly. I went down first, followed by the other two. I went into the kitchen, followed by them, and saw that the fire was half out, observed nothing to attract attention; indeed, I did not look minutely; it did not strike me to look. From that I went to the servant’s bed-room door, which was on the same floor as the kitchen, and found the door locked, and no key in it. From thence I passed into a small room or pantry adjoining. There was a small window with iron stanchions, with an opening in it, which could allow a person to get out into the area by pushing the stanchions. My first idea was to go into the area, to look into the servant’s room window, and see if I saw any person in it, and very likely to open the window of that room and go in. Two windows of the servant’s bed-room look into the area. It struck me, upon second thoughts, that there might be a key in the pantry door that would fit her bed-room door. I got a key in the pantry door, and I applied it to the bed-room door, and turned the lock at once. When I opened the room door the room was in a half-darkened state; the window blinds were down and the one half of the shutters were shut. The room, as far as I could see, appeared in a state of confusion. The servant’s bed stood at the back of the door projecting about a foot or a foot and a half from the wall. The bed stood with its foot along the wall with its foot towards the back of the door, and its head towards the window. The back of the bed was close to the wall. I passed on to the feet of the bed, and there discovered the servant’s body lying with the feet towards the window and the head towards the opposite side of the room, inclining towards the door in a slanting direction. The body was naked from the small of the back downwards. The upper part of the body, including the head, was covered with some dark clothing, I exclaimed, “Good God, here she’s lying here!” or words to that effect. My father and son were standing at my back, and they reiterated similar words of surprise, and said, “This is dreadful,” or something to this effect. I did not touch the body, or remove the clothing in any way, I said, “Come away with me up stairs till I go out and call some of my neighbours and the police to see this.” We went up stairs accordingly, and passed through the hall, and out by the hall door. I ran round the row, and called at several neighbours’ doors, but some of them were locked, and some of the gentlemen had not returned to dinner. I was unsuccessful in finding any of them, and I passed into the street, and met Mr. Dawson at the entrance to Sandyford Place, and told him what had occurred, and wished him to go in to see the servant’s body, but he declined, saying, “No, no; you’ve said enough to frighten me from my dinner.” From there I passed on to Mr. Train, the butcher’s shop, where I had previously been. I asked him to run to the police office or find a policeman, as my servant was lying dead on the floor. He did so, and I went towards North Street, and called at Dr. Wm. Watson, and got him in, told him what had happened, and asked him to come to the house to see the body. He went with me, and I took him down stairs to where the body was. He put his finger upon the hip and said, “Quite cold, dead for some time.” He asked me if I had sent for the police and the police surgeon. The police came soon after, I asked Dr. Watson to stay until the police came, and I passed out to see if I could get anybody else. I then brought in Mr. Chrystal the grocer. Then the police sergeant and he, Dr. Watson, went down stairs where the body was. Dr. Joseph Fleming is the police surgeon. The covering over the body seemed to be a dark piece of cloth thrown over it rather than a dress. The body was not in a dressed state, only the dark cloth thrown over it. When I came back I found the body in the same state. As I have before said, Dr. Watson put his finger upon the body, and said it was quite cold. He did nothing more until the police surgeon came. When I returned with Dr. Watson I noticed the state of the room. There was a basin-stand on the left hand of the door, and a white basin in it. There was something in the white basin resembling the spittings of blood. I did not notice any other marks of blood in the room at that time. I left the house that night in the possession of the authorities, and slept elsewhere. It was late at night before the Sheriff and other authorities came. I did not see my father on Monday the 7th before I came home at four o’clock. I had not seen my father from Friday until Monday afternoon. I left the house on Friday morning; but as my father was in the habit of coming in town to the counting house, and spending some hours there, I must have seen him in the course of the day on Friday. Jessie Macpherson was in her usual state of health when I left the house on Friday morning. She served breakfast. I was usually in the habit of telling her that I was going out of town on that evening, not to return till Monday; and I’m pretty sure that I must have told her on Friday morning. When Jessie McLachlan left us the first time, it was on account of her health. At that time she was bilious, and very much troubled with her stomach.
In what state of health was Jessie McLachlan when she came to you last? – When she came to me last, she enjoyed better health than she did previously.
Lord DEAS – Did you mean to say that she was generally in good health? – Generally in good health, my Lord.
Do you know of any misunderstanding, or any quarrel between her and any of the members of the family? – I can’t say that I have.
Did you go to Sandyford Place on Tuesday morning? – Yes, on the forenoon of Tuesday.
Did you make a search to see if any of your property was missing? – I think I did, on the Monday evening before I left.
Did you miss anything? – I examined the sideboard, and I missed several articles.
The sideboard is in the dining-room? – Yes.
Lord DEAS – You missed several articles? – Yes; silver and plated articles both, my Lord.
Can you mention what you missed? – I missed silver table spoons, toddy ladles, and other articles, but I can’t at present say what they all were.
You found the silver and plated articles nearly all gone? – The articles that had been in daily use were nearly all away. All the silver and plated articles except the cruet-stand.
Where was it? – It was lying under a table in the servant’s bed-room – below, near the bed, but without the bottle.
Lord DEAS – Did you ultimately make a thorough search? – Yes.
[Witness gives list of missing silverware.]
Do you know the prisoner? – I do. When did you first know her? – About four or five years ago. She was with me as a servant for about two years. I was in the same house then in Sandyford Place. She kept my cottage at Dunoon when she was serving with me. The prisoner lived with Jessie McPherson in the house during the summer season. I have seen the prisoner since she ceased to be my servant, not often; but I recollect seeing her a considerable time calling at my door with a child in her arms. Jessie McPherson was not there at that time. I suppose she would be calling to see if we were all well.
By Mr. CLARK – What was your father’s business, and how did he occupy himself? – He generally came down and attended to my office, and went about and collected some small weekly rents, which I gave him the charge of.
[Discusses where and what kind of buildings his properties were.]
Was he quite well on the Friday when you left him? – Quite well, I think. He was often ailing, but I think he was quite well that morning. He made no complaint of having been ailing in the course of your absence at Dunoon? – Not that I know of.
John Fleming, jun., son of the preceding witness, and residing with him, examined by the ADVOCATE-DEPUTE – My father lived at Dunoon part of each week. I left Sandyford Place at ten o’clock on Friday 4th July. I went to Dunoon. I left my grandfather in the house that morning. When I was sleeping in the house in Sandyford I occupied the same bed with my grandfather. He was in the office in St Vincent Street on Friday. He did not go to Dunoon. I returned on Monday, arriving between ten and eleven, and went to the office. I did not see my grandfather in the office that day. I went home at four o’clock in the afternoon. I went alone. My grandfather opened the door to me. This would be about half-past four o’clock. I asked him where the servant was, as I was surprised at him opening the door. He said she was off, having cut on Friday last. He said her door was locked. I asked my grandfather if he had ever thought of opening her door, and he said “No; he supposed she was away seeing her friends.” My father came in immediately after, and I told him she was either away or lying down the stair dead. We all went down to the kitchen. He then went into the pantry opposite. I stood at the door. He opened the lower chess of the pantry window to let the air in. I then went along the passage and opened the back door to let the air in, as the house felt close. The door was locked, and the key was inside. I returned to the room door and opened it. We found the deceased lying on the floor with her head towards the door, and her feet towards the window. The body was naked up to the middle, and there was a cloth covering her head and shoulders. She was lying on her face. My grandfather held up his hands and said, “She has been lying in the house all this time and me here.” We came out and went up stairs, and my father went out and returned with Dr. Watson. We did not touch anything in the bedroom. There was nobody in the house but my grandfather and me after my father left. The police came next. I did not help to make a search to see if anything was awanting…
Cross-examined by Mr CLARK – There was a strong, close smell in the house. There was no word on the Friday of Jessie going away. It was intended that she should stay with my grandfather.
James Fleming, residing with John Fleming, accountant, examined by Mr GIFFORD – How old are you, Mr Fleming – I am very deaf, Sir. (The question being repeated) – I am 87, the 9th August last. What is your employment? – I am employed in my son’s office; generally useful, hanging on and going about. I take charge of the letting of the property, having mechanics for work, and so on. I live in my son’s house in Sandyford Place. I have lived with him for two or three years – all the time he has been there. I’ve been aye stopping there. I have stopped with my son ever since he had a house at Sandyford Place. Did you know the late Jessie McPherson? – Yes. When did you first know her? – When she was a servant with Mr Fleming the first time. How long is it since she left the first time? – She went to take up a bit shop for herself. I canna tell you exactly, but she went with another comrade with her to take up a shop, and they sell’t grocery goods. Is that a few years ago? – Yes. Then she came back to Mr Fleming’s again? – Yes. How long is that since? – Years ago, I reckon. In July last, my son resided part of the time in Dunoon. He had a cottage there. He spent part of the week in Glasgow, and part at Dunoon. Who had charge of the house? – Jessie McPherson; she had the whole charge of Sandyford. The other servants were at Dunoon? – Yes; there was still another servant at home too. Besides Jessie McPherson? – Aye; there was another servant who assisted her in the kitchen. Did that other servant go to Dunoon? – No. What was her name? – She is a witness here, sir: I canna tell you her name. Is it Martha McIntyre? – I daresay it is. Or is it Margaret McInnes?
The COURT – No matter; she will tell you herself. Do you remember Friday the 4th of July last? – Yes. Did you breakfast in Sandyford Place that morning with your son and grandson? – I did breakfast that morning in Sandyford Place. Did Jessie McPherson serve you that morning? – Yes. Tell us where you went on that Friday. – She had been throng for three days with washing, and she was finishing the clothes and dressing them. What o’clock? – All her master’s were laid by, and mine were finishing, and they were hanging on the screens at the side of the fire. I came home to my dinner at the usual time, about four o’clock. I took my dinner, and after I took my dinner I had a custom of going up to the West End Park to take a walk after dinner. I went up, and after a couple of hours I came back again. I was fashed with cold feet, and there was no fires in any of the rooms. I went to the kitchen fire to get my feet warmed. I went down to the kitchen, and Jessie McPherson made my tea. What o’clock? – It would be weel on for eight o’clock. She made me tea, an’ she poored it oot, an’ took a cup alang wi’ me.
Lord DEAS – Was that in the kitchen?
Witness – Yes; in the kitchen. Efter I got the tea by, I yoked to read. I had always the papers i’ my pouch, an’ I was i’ the habit o’ readin’ them. Then I stopped till about half-past nine o’clock –
Mr GIFFORD – In the kitchen?
Witness – At the kitchen fire. Aboot half-past nine I said I would go an’ mak’ ready for bed. I then went to my bed up the stair.
Mr GIFFORD – What o’clock did you go to bed?
Witness – It would be about half-past nine, and I left Jessie McPherson workin’ awa’ in the kitchen, ye ken; an’ i’ the mornin’ I was waukened wi’ a lood squeel.
Mr GIFFORD – On what flat of the house was your bedroom?
Witness – The flat aboove the kitchen. I was waukened i’ the mornin’ wi’ a lood squeel. Efter that followed ither twa squeels – no sae lood as the ither; but it was a verra odd kind o’ squeel I heard. I jumped oot o’ the bed, and heard no more. All was by i’ the coorse o’ a minute’s time. It wasna past a minute till a’ was quiet. I heard nothing an’ saw nothing. I took out my watch. I was i’ the habit o’ keepin it always under my pillow. It wus exactly aboot four o’clock, and a very clear mornin’. Weel, I gaed awa’ to my bed efter a’ wus quiet. I thocht Jessie had got somebody in to stay with her. There wus a body she ca’d a sister, and wus stoppin’ with her, or else some ither body. So when I heard a’ wus quiet, and nae noise, I gaed awa’ to my bed again, and wisna lang in till I fell asleep again, and I lay till about sax o’clock i’ the mornin’. She used always to come up wi’ a little parritch an’ milk to me i’ the mornin’ about aught o’clock. She didna come that mornin’. I wus surprised to see she didna come as usual, and I lay still till nine o’clock. Then I raise and put on my claes. I forgot whether I washed mysel’ or no, but I went down the stair exactly after that. I went to her door, and I gave three loud chaps, an’ nae answer; an’ I tried the sneck of the door – the latch – an’ the door wis locked. There wis no key i’ the door, so I gaed to the store room door. The store room door and the bedroom door is quite adjoinin’ each ither maistly, and there’s a bit window, an’ it was thrown open – standin’ open. It didna use to be that way. I never saw it up that way before. I drew it tae and gaed up to the kitchen again. The fire was wake, and I put on some coals on it, as it was still burnin’. This was on Saturday mornin’, you know. After that, gentlemen, the bell was rung at the main door, and I gaed up to see who it was. I found that it was the next door neeboor – I forget his name – his servant, and she wanted the len o’ a spade, you ken, frae the place at the back door. She said to me that their people was all doon the coast the night before. As I said, she was wantin’ the len’ o’ a spade, so I gaed doon to the wash house to get the spade. When we got doon there the door was locket, and there was no key in it. I did not get the key, and the girl did not get the spade. At the same time, you ken, when I went out to get the girl the spade the back door was locket, and the key in the inside of the door, you ken.
Mr GIFFORD – What o’clock was this?
Witness – It would be about ten o’clock, sir, I think. After that Mr Watson, the baker, his van came to the door. The bell was rung and I gaed up; but I’ll tell you first of all about the main-door being not locket. [Mr Gifford – Yes, tell us that.] It was not locket; the key was in the inside. The door was in the latch; just snibbed, you know, not locket. They had gone oot by that door – there is no doot of it. And so Mr Watson, the baker, his van came shortly after, after the servant girl was calling for the spade, and I took half a quarter loaf from him. The man was sitting on the van, but he had a little boy to hand him in the half-quarter loaf at the door. So always looking and wearying, wondering what was become of Jessie that she did not make her appearance, I stoppet until nigh 12 o’clock. I then thocht I would go into the office; so I lucket for the check-key, and I got it in the shelf in the pantry. So I locket the door and went away to the office to Glaskae, and stopped a wee while there, and then went awa’ doon the Briggate to some property that I had the charge o’ there. There was a water-pipe burst there some twa or three days before that, and I went doon to see if it was all right, and to see whether they had plaistered it up; it had to be plaistered up wi’ lime, ye ken. It was a’richt, and I cam’ up agin to the office, and stopped a wee while, till I suppose it would be after two o’clock. When I gaed up to the house, I took the ‘bus and gaed up, thinking maybe that Jess wud be waiting till I gaed up. When I gaed up a’ was quiet, and nae appearance o’ Jess. So this would be aboot twa o’clock. I didna go oot after that that night, and I made myself some dinner, and got shot bye. And aboot seven o’clock at night the bell was rung, and a young lad cam’ to the door. He said he was frae Falkirk. I axed his name, and he said it was Darnley. He said he had promised to call upon Jess when he cam’ to toon. I said she wasn’t in, so he went away. This was juist aboot seven o’clock on Sat – aye, Saturday nicht. Weel, my shirts – there was a dozen o’ them – they were on the screens set on the side o’ the fire. I thocht I wad pit them by in a set o’ auld drawers that I had to put them in. The screens were lying in the kitchen beside the pantry door. They had been laid or driven down. There was a pantry door they kept their things in, and the screens were either laid or driven over upon it. So I took my shirts off the screens. There was a room off the kitchen that my drawers and shirts stood in. So I laid by my shirts. There were twa o’ them marked wi’ like blood on them. I laid them a’ by, and I laid thaw twa on the tap o’ the ithers. Efter that I made mysel’ a cup o’ tea.
Mr GIFFORD – When would that be?
Witness – It would be eight o’clock, I’se warrant. I looked for Jess, aye thinking she wad mak’ her appearance. I thocht, if she had went awa’ wi’ ony freens or acquentances, she wad mak’ her appearance. Hooever, she never did. I sat up till efter nine o’clock, and then I gaed awa’ tae my bed. On Sabbath mornin’ the bell was rung, but it was the milkman, and I didn’t answer.
Mr GIFFORD – You supposed it was the milkman?
Witness – Aye, weel, I made my breakfast again – a cup o’ tea, and I biled a herring till’t, and that wus my breakfast, and then made ready for the church. I went to the church in the forenoon – Mr Aikman’s church in Anderston. The church skail’t, and I cam’ straucht hame. When I wus gaun to the church, there was a gentleman, Mr McAllister, who was coming out of his own door. I spoke to him. That was a’ I saw. I stayed till the afternoon kirk was going in. I took a bit of bread and cheese, and gaed awa’ tae the kirk again – cam’ hame, and didna gang oot that nicht; and the lad Darnley, that had ca’d on the Saturday nicht, ca’d again when the kirk skail’t, after I came home, and asked if Jessie McPherson was in. I said “No.” Says he, “Is she at the church?” I said, “I did not know.” He says, “If she comes oot to the toon will she come this way?” an’ I said, “I suppose so.” That was comin’ oot o’ the toon, ye ken. And so he went away and I had no more calls that night, I think, that I recollect of. I stopped up till about half-past nine, and I gaed awa’ to my bed. On Monday morning I had always to rise a little sooner. I had to rise aboot eight o’clock, and gang through the properties. We had two or three properties that paid monthly. Some paid on one week and some on another, but we had to collect it every Monday morning. So I came into the office, and gaed awa’ to collect, and got what I could, ye ken. I went up to the office afterhin’, and gaed up my cash what I had gotten; and then I gaed awa’ hame till Sandyford again. I think it wad be about atwixt ane and twa o’clock. I couldna’ pointedly say the verra time; and a’ was quiet – naething, no a word, nor naething. I kent that Mr Fleming wad be hame; that he wad come up the water in the morning, and that he wad be oot till dinner. So about four o’clock, or aiblins after, young John cam’ in, and his father followed him, and I tell’d him what had ta’en place – that I had not seen Jessie McPherson since Friday nicht.
At this stage of the examination the witness’s son and grandson, who were in Court, were desired to leave the Court.
Examination resumed – I told my son I had not seen the servant since Friday nicht; and he was astonished, and he ran away doon the stair, and his son ran with him, and he gaed to the door, and found the door locked; and he had the recollection to try the store-room key that was in the door, and it opened her door. And when he opened it he saw the murdered woman lying upon the empty bed, and her head there, with a shirt or white sheet covering her, and a’ blood, and her body was naked as the hour she was born, and she was lying on her face. So he was in an unco state tae, and he ran and got in some o’ the neebors – Mr Crystal, and some more o’ the neebors. They were in directly; and then he went to the Police-Office, and the police came directly and took possession; and Dr Fleming and Dr Watson was called. They were both on the spot directly. An’ it was of no avail, you ken, the woman was gone; but it was regular that they should be called. Now, Mr Fleming, from the Friday night to the Monday forenoon did you make all your own meals? – I was na very particular with my meals, but I made a’ that I needed. Did you use any silver spoons or forks? – I don’t think I did; I dinna ken; if I did it was only a tea spoon. If I had one I dinna mind. (Shown silver spoons.) Is that your son’s plate? – Yes. Were these things used in the house? – Always when he was at home the silver plate was used. Was it used on the Thursday or Friday before? – There was none of it used on the Friday, you know. Was it used up to the Friday? – It was used when he was at home, except when he was at the coast. Did you take any of the plate out of the house? – Never. Did you give them to anybody on the Friday, or the Saturday, or the Sunday, or the Monday? – No, no; I used none of them. You did not give them away to anybody on the Friday, or after it? – Never; to no person. Who had charge of them? – Jessie McPherson had the whole charge.
Lord DEAS – I have that down long ago.
Mr GIFFORD – Look at that person, the prisoner. Do you know her? – Yes. When did you first know her? – When she was servant with John I knew the woman. How long is that? – I canna mind pointedly when. It was when that ither girl cam’ back, ye ken. Is it some years ago? – Aye; it will be three years ago, I’se warrant, but my memory’s not so good. Have you ever seen her since she left your son’s service? – Yes. Where? – She cam’ up with her husband a-paying a visit to Jessie McPherson. I saw her that night in the house in Sandyford Place; that is a twelvemonth ago. Did you ever see her anywhere else? – Yes; she invited us to go down to see her house, and I went down to see it. When? – It is a twelvemonth ago. Her husband and her invited me down to see her house. Did you ever see her on any other occasion? – I seed her in her own house another time. When? – Before she flitted to the house. How long ago? – I’se warn it would be two or three years ago, and I saw her at the examination in the County Buildings. The Sheriff showed me her at the examination. Now, excepting these times, you never saw her? – No, except in her own house. Since she left your son’s service? – No. Did you ever give her these articles? – No, never. Did you never tell her to pawn them? – Never. Did you see her on that Friday evening that Jessie went amissing? – No, never. Nor on Saturday? – No. Did you get any money from her? – Never. Did you give her any money on that Friday or Saturday? – I did not. Did you ever call at her house excepting on the occasions you have mentioned? – I just called twice to my recollection. That is on the two times you have told us about? – Yes. Have you money in the bank? – Yes; a little. What banks? – In the Saving Bank. How much have you there? – £150. Any other bank? – The Royal. How much have you there? – £30. (Shown pass-books of the Saving Bank and the branch of the Royal Bank.) Are both of these your bank books? – Yes. You told us, Mr Fleming, that on the Saturday morning you went into the pantry and found the wicket open? – Yes. Did you open the glass window? – No. You said that you pulled to the wicket? – Yes; I pulled it tae. How did you do that? – It opened straucht ootwards, and I put oot my hand an’ drew it tae. It wis a bit window made in the inside o’ the big window, ye ken. How did you get hold of the wicket to pull it in? – I put oot my hand and pulled it tae. Did the glass not prevent you? – It was cast-iron. I forget really the particulars. You don’t quite understand me. Is there not a glass window to the pantry? Was it open or shut when you went in on Saturday morning? The window was open, else I wouldna hae gotten oot my hand to hae drawn it tae me – (Laughter). Did you find the glass window open? I opened nothing, but just put oot my hand and drew it tae.
[Cross-examined on the points already covered.]
Was the milk-boy at the house on Saturday morning? – I do not recollect. Why did you not require any milk on the Monday morning? – I had to gang away earlier to town, and there is a milk shop in our property in the Briggate. I went into that shop and got a ha’penny roll and a mutchkin o’ milk, and that was all the breakfast I got on the Monday morning – (a laugh). Did the milk come on the Saturday morning? – I do not think it came. It is brought to the front door, is it not? – Always to the front door. Did you hear any ring at the front door part of the house at the time when the milk should have come on that Saturday morning? – No. Do you swear that you did not open the door before Mr Stewart’s servant came for the spade? – Yes. Did you not open the door to the milkman that morning? – No; I do not recollect getting any milk that morning. Did you not open the door to the milk-boy and tell him that there was no milk required that morning? – There was one at the door, I tell you, but I do not recollect. You remember that now? – Yes. Then it was not true that Mr Stewart’s servant was the first person to whom you opened that front door? – It was Mr Stewart’s servant that I opened the front door to first. Did you open the door to the milk-boy? – No, I did not say so… Could the milk have got in without you opening the door? – There was no milk brought in. Did you refuse to take the milk that morning, Mr Fleming? – Yes. Did you refuse to take in the milk that Saturday morning – I refused to take the milk. I did not require it.
By the COURT – Are you sure, Mr Clark, that he fully understands the question?
Mr CLARK – I am persuaded he does, my Lord. (To witness) – Did you say to any one that you did not require any milk that morning? Did you mention such a thing to the milk-boy? – I told him I did not need it. Now, Mr Fleming, do not let us mistake about this matter. Did you say to the milk-boy that you did not require any milk on Saturday?
A JURYMAN – Make sure that there is no mistake about the morning if you please.
Mr CLARK – I am very anxious to see that there shall be no mistake in the matter. (Addressing witness) – You understand, Mr Fleming, that the morning I am speaking about at present is the Saturday morning? – Yes. Now, on that Saturday morning did you say to the milk-boy that you did not need any milk that morning? – I required no milk that morning. Did you say that to the milk-boy? – There was one of the mornings I did not open the door. But on Saturday morning did you say to the milk-boy that you did not require any milk? – Yes; I think I did. You quite understand my question? – I understand it perfectly well. Just attend, Mr Fleming, I wish you to tell me whether on that Saturday morning you said to the milk-boy that you did not require any milk? – Yes. Now, what time of day did you say that? – The boy, ye see, would ring the bell, of course, and I would just say, “I do not need any milk.”
By the COURT – He might have said that without opening the door.
Mr CLARK (to witness) – Could you have said that without opening the door? – Yes; I could take the front door off the sneck, leaving the chain fastened, and speak to the milk-boy. I think I left the front door on the chain.
Lord DEAS – Are you sure, Mr Clark, that he fully understands you?
Mr CLARK – I am trying to make it as plain as I can, my Lord. I do not wish to take any advantage.
Lord DEAS – I have no doubt about that.
Mr CLARK (to witness) – Had the door a chain upon it? – Yes… Do you remember of the bell ringing before you went out to the door to see the milk-boy? – I canna say. I canna mind everything. What time of the Saturday morning was it that the milk-boy came? – It was the usual time, I think. What time was that? – Betwixt eight and nine o’clock. Were you dressed at the time the milk-boy came? On the Saturday morning? – Yes. There is no doubt but I would be dressed. Now, Mr Fleming, when did you get up on Saturday morning? – I got up about nine o’clock. If the milk-boy came between eight and nine, how could you be dressed if you did not get up till nine? – I canna charge my memory; I might no be dressed. You said you had been in bed till nine, and then got up and dressed yourself. Is that true? – Yes. Why did you not let Jessie open the door for the milk-boy when he came? – Jessie, ye ken it was a’ over wi’ Jessie before that – (sensation).
Mr CLARK – I don’t doubt that, Mr Fleming. Why did you not let Jessie open the door for the milk-boy on the Saturday morning when he came? – There was nae Jessie to open the door on the Saturday morning. Why did you open the door when the milk-boy came, in place of allowing Jessie to open it? – I was just saying to him – the chain was on – we did not require any milk. She was dead before that – (sensation).
Mr CLARK – My Lord, there is one matter in this answer which I think is very important. He says the chain was on. Mr Fleming, I must have an answer to this question – Why did you go to the door and open it when the milkman came; and why did you not allow Jessie to open the door? Witness – On Saturday morning? Jessie was deed; she could na open the door when she was deed.
Mr CLARK – Quite true. Why did you go to the door and not wait until Jessie went when the milkman came?
Lord DEAS – You had better put the question in another form.
Mr CLARK – Did you know that Jessie was dead when the milkman came to the door? – I did not. If you did not know that Jessie was dead, why did you go to the door? – You know I was up, and when the door was not answered, I would just gang to say we did not require any. Did you allow Jessie a chance of opening the door before you went to open it?
Lord DEAS – You had much better put it in this way – Did you wait some time before answering the door when the milkman came? – I did. You know I had gone through the house all before, and there was nobody in the house to give me an answer. How long before the milkman came had you been through the house? – Mr Fleming – Through the house? I suppose it would be nigh about the time I went to chap three times at the door and got no answer. This was after nine o’clock. – Are you quite sure that this was about nine o’clock? – Yes; I am quite sure; the milkman whiles does not keep the appointed time. Did you go down before you were dressed? – Yes; it is likely I would. I have told you everything from my heart about Saturday morning; but you must remember that a man who is seventy-eight years of age has not so fresh a memory as a younger man.
A Juryman here directed his Lordship’s attention to the fact, that whereas Mr Fleming’s age had been given in at eighty-seven, he had just stated that he was seventy-eight years old.
Mr CLARK – How old are you, Mr Fleming? – I was born on the 9th of August 1775, and was eighty-seven last birthday. On Saturday morning were you down in the kitchen before you put on your clothes? When you chapped at Jessie’s door had you all your clothes on? – I could not say that I was completely dressed. When she did not answer me, I tried the lock of the door. The door was locked and the key away; what more could I do? When the milk came on Saturday morning, was it before or after you had chapped at Jessie’s door? – I could not be pointed with that question, whether it was before or after. Did you take in any milk on Saturday morning? – No. Why? – Because I could take my breakfast wanting ‘t as well as wi’t. What did you breakfast on on Saturday morning? – On Saturday morning I made myself a cup o’ tea. Had your refusal to take in the milk on Saturday morning anything to do with your not having porridge that morning? – No, it had not; I could tak’ my porridge wanting milk at any time. Was the servant in the habit of taking the milk in the morning? – Yes; the milk for her use. Surely she would get a larger quantity when she was alive. When you first saw the back-door on that Saturday morning, was the back-door locked in the inside? – It was locked in the inside, the back-door, and the key in’t. And when you first saw the front-door on that morning how was it? – It was just the latch to – the sneck, no locket, nor nae chain on’t. You are sure? – I am sure; I can give my oath to that. You are sure you never put the chain off the front door? – There was no chain on it. And you did not take off the chain? – No. Now, Mr Fleming, you heard the squeal about four o’clock on Saturday morning? – Yes. Where did this squeal appear to come from? – When I jumped off my bed and heard a squeal I thought it might be on the street. Next there followed twa o’ them; then I heard it was doon below. How long would there be between the first and the last squeal? – I think there would not be above a minute. It was a’ ower in about a minute, and a’ was quiet as if it had never ta’en place. Was it the same voice the squeal each time, so far as you could judge? – Aye; but not so strong. Was it a squeal like a cry of distress? – It was just a kind o’ squeal as if something was in distress. Did you recognise the voice? – No. What did you think of the squeal at the time? – I thocht that Jessie had got some person in to stop wi’ her after I had got into bed. And what did you think had caused the squealing at the time? I could not say what caused it; but I heard it like as if some person was in great distress, and it was by in a minute. Why did you not go down when you heard the squeals of a person in great distress? – It was a’ quiet after a while, and I never thocht o’ going down. If the noise had continued, then it would have been more alarming, and I would have had to go down or call for the police. When you found in the morning that Jessie was not there, and that her room was locked, why did you not send for the police? – It never occurred to me to send for them. I was looking for her back every other minute, always expecting that she had gone away wi’ some of her freends. I thocht she would come back. It never occurred to me trouble or murder or anything of that kind – I saw no marks nor anything in the house. In the course of the night you had heard squealing, indicating that some person was in great distress, and you did not see your servant in the morning. Can you tell me why you did not, in these circumstances, give information to the police? – I did not think upon anything of the kind. I looked for her always coming back, and thocht that if there had been anything – drink or anything gaun – that though she might have been enticed out wi’ freends, yet she would be back, and I never thocht o’ callin’ in the police.
Mr CLARK – Her going away was a very unexpected thing to you, was it not? – Yes. When she didn’t come back on Saturday, why didn’t you send for the police? – I didna think o’ sending for them. When she didn’t come back on Sunday, why did you not send for the police? – I didna think of it. Was there anything in the kitchen that attracted your attention in the course of Saturday – Nothing in particular. Nor on the Sunday? – Nor on the Monday. You were a great deal in the kitchen during these days? – It was gae often rainin’ about that times, and I went doon to get my feet warmed. You put on the fires? – On Saturday mornin’ the fire was in, and I put on some coals. You kept the fire in? – Yes; I put on a getherin’ coal at nicht. Did you see no blood in the kitchen? – No. Did you see blood on your shirts that were in the kitchen? – When I was laying them by there were two of them that were marked. Did you not think it queer to see blood on your shirts? – I never thocht upon murder, or any trouble of the kind. It never struck me that there was onything wrang. How did you account for the blood being on your shirts? – I mentioned to the Fiscal and them that examined me that I saw one or two of the shirts marked with iron ore or something like that. Did not you think at the time that it might be blood? – I thought that it might be blood. (Shown and identified two shirts with blood upon them.) When did you notice it? – When I was laying them past. When was it? – On Saturday night. When you saw that blood upon the shirts, how did you account for it being there? – Why, I can’t say. Did you not think that something was wrong? – No; I did not. It never entered into my head. When you heard of the squeals as of great distress, and could not see Jessie for a day, and found that her door was locked, and that blood was upon your shirts, how did it come about that you never thought that anything was wrong? – No; I never thought of it. It never entered into my head that there was murder or distress – I never thocht of it. Why did not you get Jessie’s door opened? – Mr Fleming did it. Why did you not do it? – I never had the recollection of getting the key out of the other door. Why didn’t you send for some other person to open it? You are accustomed to that sort of thing – to get doors opened and locks repaired? – All I can say is, that I did not think of it. When Darnley came on the Saturday, did you know that he was a friend of Jessie’s? Did he tell you that he had come to see her? – Yes. There were two other young gentlemen with him, and he was going away with the train at half-past ten. He called again on the Sabbath night, and asked for her. Why did you not tell Darnley, when he asked you after Jessie, that she had been amissing for so long a time? – I did not tell him. Why did you not tell him? – I had no business to tell him. Were you not anxious about Jessie? – Yes; I was looking for her every minute, thinking she would be back. Can you tell me why you did not mention to Mr Darnley that Jessie had been away for a day? – I did not speak to him a minute, and had no occasion to tell him. Was she ever so long away before, or near it? – She has been out for a day. But you knew where she was? – We knew she was seeing her friends. Did you make any inquiries in shops about her? – I did not. Did you see Mr McAllister? – I did when going to church on Sunday. Did you tell him about Jessie being absent? – I did not. Was Mr Sloan about the office on Saturday? – Yes. He is your father’s confidential clerk? – He is. Did you tell him anything about it? – No. In short, you told nobody? – Nobody. When did you see your son first on Monday? – When he came home to his dinner about four o’clock. Did you look for any of the silver spoons when you were wanting to take your meals? – I did not require them. I had a tea-spoon; that was enough for me. What kind of a tea-spoon? – It was a silver tea-spoon. Was it left in the house afterwards? – I do not know; I had no charge of the silver at all; Jessie had the whole charge. Where did you get the silver tea-spoon? – There was always a silver tea-spoon in the kitchen. Do you know what has become of the silver spoon? – I took no charge of it, and know nothing about it. What had you to dinner on Saturday? – I was not very particular as to dinners. I had a piece of ling fish, which I had steeped and prepared for dinner on Saturday and Sabbath. I did not see any other spoons than the silver tea-spoons. Did you not look for any? – No; I did not need them. Or forks? – I had a fork. A silver one? – No; just a common table fork. Did it occur to you that Jessie had ran away? – No; I never thought of that. What sort of dress had you on on Friday? – I had on a pair of mixed trousers, a black vest, a black coat. Had you a brown dress on at any time? – I had a brownish coat; I had once a brown coat, which I sold one or two weeks before anything took place. To whom did you sell it? – I sold it to one of the tenants, Daniel Paton, who lives in the Bridgegate. I had a brown coat at no other time. Are you quite sure that you never saw the prisoner within twelve months? – I am, except at the examination. Had you any quarrel or disagreement with Jessie McPherson? – Never. Of no kind? – No. You read the newspapers regularly? – Yes. Do you use spectacles when you do so? – No, I can see very well without them. I got a present of a pair yesterday, but I can see well enough to read without them. Was there any milk taken in till Tuesday? – There was no milk taken on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Sometimes I did not even open the door when the milk came.
Ebenezer Watson, physician, Newton Terrace, examined by the ADVOCATE-DEPUTE – Mr Fleming, accountant, called at my house on Monday, 7th July, and from the information he gave me I went to his house in Sandyford Place. He led me down to the laundry of his house, and I there saw a dead body of a woman. The body was lying on the face; the upper part of the body was covered with a carpet; the lower part of the body was naked. I saw some marks of blood upon the floor, and I said to Mr Fleming that this evidently was not a suicide, and he would better call in the police, which he then did, urgently requesting me to remain in the house; and I did so. I waited till the police arrived, and the police surgeon, Mr Fleming. I again descended to the room with Dr Fleming and examined the body. We removed the carpet from the upper part of the body and found various wounds on the face, head, neck, and wrists, and one remarkable bruise upon the lower part of the back. The body was cold and stiff, and we turned it over for the purpose of inspecting it. There was a very large wound on the forehead, the bone being cut as well as the soft parts. There were similar wounds on the back part of the head. The right ear was cut in many places, and the bone behind it was fractured in fragments. The right side of the lower jaw was also fractured, and the soft parts were cut. The neck was also wounded deeply. The wounds on the wrists were – one on the back of the wrist, and one on the front of the other. These were clean cuts. I then examined, with Dr Fleming, the marks of blood from where the body lay, tracing it through the passage into the kitchen. We observed several marks of blood on the kitchen door, on the inside, a yard and a half up, and also stains of blood upon the door mat; and when I attempted to lift it up, I found that it adhered to the floor from, I thought, blood. The blood on the floor from the kitchen to the laundry was like a train, as if the body had been dragged from the kitchen to the laundry. The lobby of the house has a stone floor, of a dark blue colour. The kitchen floor is of the same kind, and the room has a wooden floor. I observed a slight mark of blood on the side of the jaw-box. The kitchen floor appeared as if it had been washed. There was no carpet between the lobby and the door. There were blood marks at the head of the body. The head lay towards the door. There were none of it standing in a pool. I observed a mark of blood on one side of a white basin, and likewise on the basin stand; but I did not observe any other marks of blood in the room. The clothing which the upper part of the body wore was a shift and woollen shift. My opinion was that the wounds must have been inflicted with a sharp-cutting instrument. (Shown a cleaver.) This might be the instrument. At the same time, it was my opinion that it was not a very likely instrument to make the wounds on the wrists, although it was a likely one to make the wounds on the head and neck. The wounds I observed were sufficient to produce death. The wounds on the forehead lay right across, as did also those on the back of the head. The wounds were not self-inflicted; that would be impossible.
Cross-examined by Mr CLARK – Doctor, you said at the beginning of your examination that this was not a case of suicide. What led you to make that observation? – Because Mr John Fleming had wished to send for the police before we entered the house on the road from my house to his; and I suggested to him that we had better wait, because I expected it would be a suicide. I never thought of murder. Was anything said about a key? – Mr Fleming found on his arrival in the house that the door was locked on the inside.
Lord DEAS – Who said that? Witness – Mr John Fleming, the master of the house. He said likewise that he saw or thought he saw the key of the door in the lock. He took a key from a neighbouring door and opened the servant’s room door, and so gained admittance into the room. What became of the key inside? Did he say how he got rid of the key on the inside? – I am not quite certain what he said about that. I think he said he pushed the key out, and that it fell on the other side. Did he say whether he heard the key fall? – No; I cannot say. Was he quite collected when he said that? – No. What was the matter with him? – He appeared very much excited. Did old Mr Fleming hear these statements? – No. When was this said? – Before we arrived at his house, in going from my house to his. Did you hear him repeat this statement about the key? – I think I heard him repeat the statement. What you understood Mr Fleming to say was, that there was a key on the inside, which he pushed out? – Distinctly. You said there was a remarkable bruise at the lower part of the back? – It was near the bottom of the spine. And what do you think caused that wound? – It might have been produced by a blow from a blunt instrument, or it might have been the result of a fall… Would a kick from a heavy shoe account for the bruises? Quite well. Must it have been a violent blow? – It must. Must great force have been applied? – Yes. Could any of the wounds in the head have been inflicted by a flat instrument? – One of the fractures might have been produced by a flatter instrument than a cleaver; but it is possible that the same injury might have been inflicted by the cleaver, using it angularly. Was a hammer not a much more likely instrument? – It is just as likely, but not more likely. Would the wound behind the right ear have caused death? – I think it would. Would the wound across the nose have produced stupor? – Not necessarily. Is it likely? – It would be difficult to answer that question. It was likely, but not necessarily. Was the jaw cut through in two places? – It was. Would that require the application of great force? – I think it would. Is it a very difficult bone to cut through? – It is the most difficult bone in the whole body to cut through. It is a very tough bone.
[Some time spent confirming the above details.]
Joseph Fleming, surgeon, Corunna Street, examined by the ADVOCATE-DEPUTE – I am police-surgeon in Anderston, Glasgow. On Monday the 7th of July last, I went to Sandyford Place, to Mr Fleming’s house, where I found Dr. Watson. We went to the lower flat of the house, where we found a dead body, and examined it. I and Dr. McLeod afterwards made a post-mortem examination of the body:-
Glasgow, July 8, 1862.
This day, in virtue of a warrant issued by Alexander Strathern, esquire, Sheriff-substitute of Lanarkshire, the undersigned made a post-mortem examination, at No. 17 Sandyford Place, of the body of Jessie McPherson, which was found in the front room of the above house, under circumstances of a most suspicious description. The body was lying on its back, on the floor, close to and in front of the bed. The clothes of the bed were heaped together, and in many places stained with blood. The lower limbs of the deceased were entirely exposed, and a piece of carpet was carelessly thrown over the head and trunk. On removing the carpet the body was found to be dressed in a chemise, short flannel under-shift, and a knitted worsted jacket. These were all damp and much stained with blood. The neck and chest bore evidence of having been partially washed. The furniture of the room in which the body was found was in confusion. Large drops of blood were seen on the floor, and that even at the distance of six feet from the body. On further examination it became apparent that the body had been dragged from the kitchen (which lies to the back of the house, where evidence of a struggle existed), along the lobby, to the room in which it was found, and that imperfect attempts by washing had been made to obliterate the marks thereby produced. The deceased was identified by Mr James Fleming. The body was that of a female of ordinary stature, and apparently of about thirty-five years of age. There was no rigidity in any of the articulations, excepting the ankle and knee joints, and the body was perfectly cold and free from all signs of decomposition. The head was dreadfully mangled, and the hair dishevelled and matted with blood. Two deep incised wounds passed transversely across the bridge of the nose, dividing the soft parts and the bones. Another transverse wound, 3½ inches long, passed across the forehead in the middle line, and cleft the outer table (only) of the skull. On the right side of the neck eleven wounds could be distinctly distinguished. These were partly lacerated, contused, and incised in their character. The right ear was almost destroyed, and the right half of the lower jaw was broken into fragments. Some of these wounds penetrated deeply throughout their whole extent, others only at their anterior extremity – the depth of penetration decreasing as they extended backwards. They varied in length from half an inch to three inches, and the continuity of some of them was broken. The great vessels of the right side of the neck were destroyed, and the outer table of the skull was much injured just below the right ear. Ten wounds, much less severe in character, both as to the extent and depth, were found upon the left side of the neck, and on the back of the neck a few shallow incisions were observed. Midway between the right ear and the crown of the head the scalp was divided by two cuts, each three and three-quarter inches long. These had run into one another. Three other incisions lay close to these, and beneath the skull was deeply cleft, but not wholly divided. Nearer the forehead than these wounds, and still upon the right side of the head, a large irregular scalp wound was found, formed by the coalescing of several incisions; and corresponding to this point the skull was fairly divided in different directions, part of the outer table being wholly detached, and one part, about the size of a florin, being driven in and lying on the brain, which was here exposed. As was afterwards discovered, the membranes of the brain were at this part wounded to the extent of the eighth of an inch. Three other scalp wounds, accompanied by injury to the outer table of the skull, existed upon the right latero-posterior aspect of the head, and a small scalp wound, without injury to the bone, was found more towards the front of the head than that just described. On opening the head, the membranes of the brain were found to have been uninjured at all parts except at the limited spot above described, where several wounds were concentrated, and where alone both tables of the skull had been penetrated. The viscera of the chest and abdomen were free from disease or injury. All the wounds of the head and neck (with the exception of the two upon the bridge of the nose and that on the forehead, which were transverse), sloped from above downwards, and from behind forwards. It will be observed that the wounds upon the right side were much more severe than those upon the left, and that it was only on the right side that the bones of the skull were injured. A large ecchymosed spot existed on the tip of the right shoulder, and another about the middle of the left upper arm. There were flesh wounds of greater or less depth upon both hands and arms. The right hand was dreadfully mutilated. One deep incision divided the knuckle. There were nine distinct wounds on each hand and wrist. Several small abrasions were seen upon the outer side of each haunch, and the skin of both knees and legs was upbraided and souled on their front aspect, and both feet were extended to the utmost… the abdomen gave indications of the deceased having at one time given birth to a child. The reporters consider themselves justified in concluding, from the above examination, and the condition in which the body was found – 1st, That this woman was murdered with extreme ferocity; 2d, That her death had probably taken place within three days; 3dly, That a struggle had preceded death; 4thly, That a semi-blunt instrument, such as a cleaver for cutting meat, was that with which the injuries were probably produced; 5thly, That the injuries had been inflicted before or immediately after death; 6thly, That except those upon the hands and forehead, it is most likely that the wounds were inflicted by a right-handed person, standing over the deceased as she lay prostrate on her face; 7thly, From the degree of force evinced by the wounds, it appears probable that it was a female, or at least not a strong man, who inflicted them; and 8thly, That the body had been drawn along the lobby to the room in which it had been found by the head, the face being downward, and the feet and legs dragging along the ground.
(Signed) GEO. H. B. McLEOD, M.D., F.R.C.S.E.
JOSEPH FLEMING, Surgeon.
This is a true report… There was a square mahogany table in the bedroom, about four or five feet in diameter. The body lay between that table and the bed, and there were marks of blood all round that table. There was a track from the kitchen along the lobby into the bedroom – composed of streaks and marks of blood. There were marks of a severe conflict in the kitchen – the marks on the flagstones. (Shown cleaver.) That would have produced the injuries.
By Mr CLARK – … The washing did not appear to have been done on a very late date. The moist place on the kitchen floor was between the kitchen door and the jaw-box [scullery sink or basin], near to the kitchen door. I noticed blood on the back of the door. It was the very same as if a brush had been steeped in blood, and drawn across the back of the door, and across the side-posts of the door. A bloody cloth would have produced the same effect. The marks were very distinct and obvious ones. There was plenty of light shed on these marks to make them visible. There were bloody finger marks at the end of the jaw-box or sink. The impression on my mind was that the jaw-box was a wooden one, without any paint. The end of the jaw-box faced the window. The marks on it were quite distinct and obvious… Some of the wounds inflicted upon deceased might have been inflicted after death; but the principal ones were all inflicted during life… The bruises were so very many that any particular one may have escaped observation.
Alexander McCall, Assistant-Superintendent of Police, Glasgow – I went to Mr Fleming’s house at Sandyford Place, on Monday morning, 7th July, about half-past nine… I noticed stains of blood upon the flooring of the house where the body was lying, under a basin-stand, and also on the door of a press. I traced a trail of marks from the bedroom to the kitchen. The trail was continued inside of the door of the kitchen. There were bloody marks on the jaw-box in the kitchen, and also some at the back of the inside of the kitchen door. The marks could be seen best when the door was shut, and when the door was open with its back to a dresser that stood behind it, they would not be seen. There were some articles of clothing in it, also a small band-box, with blood on it. There was no catch on the lock of the box. The band-box had a mark of blood upon it, as if it had been handled by a bloody hand. This examination was made at night by gas and candle light, and I went back next morning, and I observed the floor more particularly. I observed some footmarks of the left foot upon the floor opposite to the bed, near the fireplace. They seemed to be imprints of footsteps in blood, and afterwards saw that part of the flooring cut out. It was cut out in my presence… I received information regarding some plate that had been pledged, and in consequence of that I went on Sunday afternoon, the 13th July, to the prisoner’s house. I found her in her house, with a child, who might be about three years of age. I told her that I was making inquiries into the murder of Jessie McPherson. What did she say? – [Mr Clark objected to the question. His objection, however, was not sustained] – She did not make any reply… On Monday the 14th I went to the Gorbals station of the Hamilton Railway. I found a box that had been left there on Saturday the 5th July, addressed to Mrs Bain, Hamilton. I went to Hamilton on the same Monday afternoon, and made inquiries there. On Tuesday the 15th I recovered a leather box, which is the one produced. I got it from a young man of the name of John Hamilton, in the employment of Mr Cherry, saddler. On Wednesday, the 16th July, I went to the Glasgow Station of the Greenock Railway, and recovered a tin box, which is now shown me. I got it from John McIntyre, a clerk at the railway office. This box was full. I took it to the Fiscal’s office, where it was opened. I got in it a black silk watered gown, a black silk poplin, a changing-coloured silk dress, a black silk velvet cloak, and a drab cloth cloak…
Cross-examined by Mr CLARK – I observed at ten o’clock on Monday the 7th that the parts had been washed. Dr Fleming had been there before me, as I understood. I did not notice any trace of blood on the kitchen floor. There was blood on the inside of the kitchen door and on the jaw-box, and it was quite obvious to me. I noticed it on the Monday night before I left. There was a broken lock. I could not say whether it had been recently broken or not. I saw Mr James Fleming that night. He said to me that he had heard a scream which awakened him, and afterwards another scream. He thought they came from the outside.
Interrogated – What did he say?
Lord DEAS objected to such interrogatories, as not being in accordance with the Law of Evidence. His Lordship expressed his conviction that the counsel for the defence was perfectly entitled to contradict, by means of other witnesses, every word that Mr Fleming said; and if the prisoner’s counsel wished simply to throw discredit upon any statement of the elder Mr Fleming, his Lordship thought such an end could be gained by following another course, which might be within the strict terms of the statute.
Mr CLARK said what he wanted was merely to lay before the jury the same evidence that would have been laid before them had the elder Mr Fleming been the party at the bar. Previous to the case being [begun] he had stated as a special defence that Mr Fleming was the person who had committed the murder, and he surely was entitled to go into that evidence for his client’s justification, when the Crown would have been entitled to have gone into for the purposes of the accusation.
Lord DEAS ruled, notwithstanding Mr Clark’s plea, that the course sought to be pursued by the latter was not in accordance with the statute, and the examination was resumed. He did not say from whom these screams came. He said it was not an unusual thing to hear screams from the back of the house, where there used to be a number of loose characters at night. He didn’t say he got out of bed; he said he had raised himself upon his elbow and looked at his watch, taking it from below his pillow. He was apprehended on Wednesday the 9th, and liberated, if I am not mistaken, on the Monday following…
By Mr GIFFORD – I applied a piece of wood to the sole of the dead body, and then applied the wood to the marks on the floor. Did they correspond? – They did not. How did you measure them? – In length and breadth.
Lord DEAS – Can you tell us the difference? – I cannot say what the length was, but there was about half an inch of difference in length between the impression on the floor and the feet of the dead body.
Mr GIFFORD – Did you satisfy yourself that the dead body could not have made these footprints? – I did.
[More on the footmarks found.]
Donald Campbell, criminal officer in the Western District of the Glasgow Police, deponed – I went to Mr Fleming’s house in Sandyford Place about half-past five o’clock on Monday, 7th July…
[Relates the articles taken from the house and where they were found. Also reiterating where the bloody marks could be found.]
I am not aware of finding anything in Mr Fleming’s bedroom with blood upon it.
Audley Thomson, detective officer, deponed – … I went with another officer to the house of Mary Black or Adams, and I got there the wires of a crinoline. I found that a portion of the wires were bare; and on another portion there had been blood. I took possession of two other keys in the prisoner’s house… I went to Fleming’s house in search of a bottle, and found there the one now shown me. When I found it, it had no cork in it. The liquid in it smelt and tasted of rum.
Cross-examined by Mr CLARK – I found the bottle on the 15th in a press in the lobby, where there was a number of other bottles. The press was in the sunk flat.
Christina Fraser, wife of John Fraser, seaman, deponed – I have known the prisoner since she was a little girl. I had occasion to be on the south side of the Clyde on Friday the 4th July. I came across at nine to see the prisoner in her house at Broomielaw… Mrs Campbell let me in that night. She had on a cloak, and appeared to be dressing as if to go out. I asked if she meant to be long out, and she said no, and added that she was going to visit a delicate child of a friend named Mrs McGregor. This would be about half-past nine o’clock. The prisoner’s child was at this time in bed. Her child is about three years old. I went out with her, and we walked along the Broomielaw Street to Washington Street. We turned up there till we came to Stobcross Street, and I parted with her at the corner of that street… Before I left the prisoner’s house with her that night, she gave me a glass of rum and a biscuit. She went out of the house, but I cannot say whether she bought the rum or had it in the house…
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.]
Christina Fraser proved the prisoner to have accompanied her from the prisoner’s house to the foot of North Street, on Friday night, at ten o’clock, and that she had purchased rum.
The trial was adjourned at ten minutes before nine o’clock; and the Court will meet at a quarter before ten o’clock this (Thursday) morning.
Which brings us to the end of the first part of Jessie McLachlan’s trial for the brutal murder of her best friend Jessie McPherson. What thought you of the veracity of old Mr Fleming’s testimony? Is there a chance Jessie & Solicitor Clark’s special defence can stand up to scrutiny? We shall no doubt see. We may see you for the second part of the details of the trial for this case. Take care.
Narration by Jenny
Art by Alex
Intro-Outro by Tony ‘Lucky Dog’ Wilson
Greysteil by Paul Burns.