Welcome to Random Scottish History’s true crime project, Glasgow’s Square Mile Murders and part one of the 3rd case. That against doctor Edward William Pritchard. This is also part one of two for the pre-trial round-up. There was quite a wee bit about him in the press, prior to the trial making it to court. He was known previously to the inhabitants of Glasgow; not only was he a local doctor, he had already lectured, and he was a mason, being quite high up in his lodge. We’ll begin with the first account that I came across of him in the papers and work from there. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Glasgow Morning Journal, Monday 4th May, 1863, p.3.
“THE RUINS OF POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM.” – A very interesting and instructive lecture on this subject was delivered in the Mechanic’s Institution, Bath Street, on Wednesday night, under the auspices of the Mutual Improvement Association in connection with that institution. The lecturer, Dr E. W. Pritchard, of Berkeley Terrace, was accompanied to the platform by Messrs Dixon, McIntyre, and Strain. The large hall was well filled, and not a few of the fair sex was observable. The lecture, we need scarcely say, was most enthusiastically received, and throughout teemed with original ideas, told in the most eloquent language. The young men of the above association are deeply indebted to their worthy and esteemed lecturer, who has indeed proved an inestimable friend, as evinced by the great interest which he has taken in their proceedings, not only by presiding at their annual soiree, but by opening the present session with the long to be remembered “Rambles among the Ruins of Egypt,” and terminating it with the present brilliant exposition of some of nature’s grandest phenomena. – Correspondent.
North British Daily Mail, Wednesday 6th May, 1863, p.4.
WOMAN BURNED TO DEATH IN THE WEST-END.
Early yesterday morning a young woman was burned to death whilst in bed in her employer’s house at 11 Berkeley Terrace – a calamity the occurrence of which in Glasgow is happily very rare. About three o’clock A.M., Dr William Edward Pritchard was startled from his sleep by a loud scream which he heard within his own house in Berkeley Terrace, and almost simultaneously by the violent ringing of his door-bell. The cry seemed to him to issue from the bed-room in which his two boys slept, so he at once rushed there, and perceiving that fire had broken out in his house, instantly removed the children downstairs, all being undressed. On opening the door he found Constable Robt. Hartley, who informed him of the fact, which he had but an instant before discovered. They immediately rushed across the street with the boys, and having left them, returned instantly to the house, Dr Pritchard believing that his domestic servant must still be in her bed-room, of which he informed the constable. They hastened with all speed to the attics, where the girl’s bed-room was situated, and finding the door fastened, Dr Pritchard at once broke it open, when to their consternation they discovered a mass of smoke and flame, into which they found it impossible to penetrate, although they made several persevering attempts. The alarm of fire was then conveyed to the Western Police Office, and without delay Superintendent McKenzie, Lieut. Christie, and the fire brigade proceeded to the spot, but by the time they arrived it was evident that the poor woman’s life must be gone, as the flames were issuing from the bed-room window and ascending through the roof. The fire brigade, on their arrival, could only devote themselves to saving as much property as possible, and they were successful in confining the flames to Dr Pritchard’s dwelling. As soon as the flames were sufficiently got under to permit of the firemen entering the premises, they went in search of the unfortunate deceased, and found her remains in bed, a frightfully charred mass. The fire seemed to have exerted its greatest influence upon the head and trunk, which were literally burned to a cinder. The features were of course completely unrecognisable; one of the arms was burned off by the elbow; the toes were likewise destroyed; the only members of the body which retained anything like their original shape being the legs. The bed-clothing was reduced to ashes, in common with everything else in the room which fire could lay hold upon. The roof, as we have already stated, was destroyed, and the fire had made some progress in the direction of the flat beneath, where Dr Pritchard and his family slept, a large hole having been burned in the attic flooring.
The fire evidently commenced in the servant’s bed-room, and probably near her bed, but its cause or the exact time of breaking out it is impossible to ascertain. Whilst going his rounds in Claremont Street the policeman observed the glare of fire in the attics, apparently about the same moment that the scream was heard by Dr Pritchard, as he immediately ran up and rang the house-bell. Dr Pritchard returned home from a professional visit about eleven o’clock on the previous evening, and found his two sons in bed, the servant also having gone to her bed-room. The time at which they went to bed he does not know, as Mrs Pritchard is at present on a visit to her friends in Edinburgh. He himself retired to rest about twelve o’clock, and was not disturbed until about three o’clock, as above described.
The name of deceased is Elizabeth McGirn. She was about 25 years of age, belonged to Edinburgh, and had been seven months in Dr Pritchard’s service, during which time she had conducted herself in the most exemplary manner.
Great consternation, as may well be supposed, was caused in the neighbourhood by the fire. Dr Pritchard’s next door neighbour, Mrs Dougan, was especially greatly alarmed, and doubtless the great quantity of water which necessarily ran into her house from the burning roof gave sufficient cause for her consternation, although nothing else had existed to create a feeling of fear.
The building and furniture of Dr Pritchard’s house are insured.
Yesterday morning the Procurator-Fiscal was early at the scene of the occurrence, making inquiries into the circumstances.
Glasgow Herald, Wednesday 6th May, 1863, p.4.
YOUNG WOMAN BURNED TO DEATH.
Yesterday morning a melancholy accident occurred in the residence of Dr. E. W. Pritchard, situated at No. 11 Berkeley Terrace, Berkeley Street. The house, which is situated on the north side of the street, consists of two flats and attics, the servant’s sleeping apartment being on the top flat, fronting the street. About three o’clock, one of the constables stationed in the vicinity of the dwelling observed the glare of fire through the attic window, and immediately proceeded to the front door and rung the bell. The door was opened by Dr. Pritchard, who slept in a bed-room on the second floor, and who had been wakened a few minutes before the bell rang by his two sons, who slept in an adjoining apartment, calling out “Papa, papa.” The doctor rose, and on opening his room door he was alarmed to find smoke in the lobby, and, on proceeding to the room in which his sons slept, he learned that they had been wakened by smoke and the cracking of glass. It was quite apparent then that the house was on fire, and after leaving his boys in the lobby leading from the street door, he rushed up to the attic flat, pushed open the door of the servant’s sleeping apartment, and called out “Elizabeth,” but received no answer. The apartment was so completely filled with smoke that he could not enter, and on proceeding down stairs for the purpose of raising the alarm, the bell rang, and he admitted the constable… The alarm was immediately conveyed to the Anderston Police Office, and then to the Central Engine Station by telegraph, and the brigades were speedily in attendance, and extinguished the flames. On entering the sleeping apartment on the top flat, a sad spectacle presented itself. The poor woman, whose name was Elizabeth McGirn, was found in bed dead, her body being a charred mass. The bed was placed at the north-west corner of the room, and the body lay at the front of the bed, the head towards the west. The body was lying on its back, the left arm being close by the side, and the right arm appeared to have been in a bent position; but the fire at this part had been so strong, that the arm from the hand to the elbow was completely consumed. The head was a charred mass, and the flesh was burned off the breast, the ribs being visible. The limbs of deceased were comparatively uninjured, in consequence of being protected by stockings and blankets; but the toes, which had not been protected by the blankets, were charred. The fire had evidently broken out at the head of the bed, because at this part of the apartment the floor was burned through and the joists forming the roof of the drawing-room were considerably charred. The roof of the house, with the exception of a portion at the back, was entirely destroyed. Dr. Pritchard, on returning home about eleven o’clock on Monday evening, observed that the servant’s apartment was lighted. He entered the house, and, contrary to his usual custom, he did not call her to ascertain whether or not he had been wanted. After visiting the apartment in which his boys slept, for the purpose of ascertaining if they were comfortable in bed, he retired to rest about twelve o’clock. It is said that the poor girl, who has met such an untimely death, was in the habit of reading in bed; and the supposition is that, after she had fallen asleep, the gas jet, which was close to the head of the bed, had ignited the bed hangings and that the deceased had been suffocated by smoke. This is the more apparent from the position in which the body lay, because, had the deceased not been suffocated while asleep, she would have made some attempt to escape, and been found in a different position. The neighbour servant of deceased happened to be out of town with her mistress, and possible in her absence the girl McGirn had read longer than usual, and fallen asleep without extinguishing the gas. The damage to the dwelling is, we understand, covered by insurance.
Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, Saturday 30th May, 1863, p.2.
GLASGOW MECHANICS’ INSTITUTION.
DISTRIBUTION OF PRIZES.
The prizes to the successful competitors of the different classes in connection with this institution were distributed on Tuesday evening in the Hall, 38 Bath street. Sheriff Bell occupied the chair, and beside him on the platform were Messrs D. More, R. B. Smith, Peter Stewart, Clinkshill, Inglis, Smith, Wilson, Barr, Ashcroft, McDougall, and Dr Pritchard, and the hall was completely filled by the pupils, their parents, and friends.
The Chairman then called upon the secretary to read the annual report, which stated that although the past year has been one of almost unprecedented depression of trade, the classes as a whole have been well attended.
The names of the various successful students were then read by the Secretary, and the prizes were distributed by Sheriff Bell, who prefaced the presentation of each by a few humorous and appropriate marks.
Glasgow Herald, Saturday 1st August, 1863, p.1.
WANTED, a GOVERNESS, to take charge of Two Girls, aged 12 and 10. English, French, Italian, Drawing, and Music necessary accomplishments. Salary, in addition to board and lodging, £60 per annum.
Apply by letter (pre-paid), to Dr. Pritchard, Royal Crescent, Glasgow.
Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 10th September, 1863, p.4.
NAVAL AND MILITARY.
WAR-OFFICE, PALL-MALL, September 8.
17th Lancers – William Augustus Ellis to be Cornet by pur[chase], vice Edward William Pritchard, who retires.
Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, Saturday 26th September, 1863, p.2.
MASONIC PRESENTATION. – On Friday evening last, the Lodge St Mungo met in the hall 213 Buchanan street. Brother McCorkindale, [Right Worshipful Master], in the chair. After the special business, a not every day circumstance occurred, highly honourable and characteristic of that ancient Lodge. Brother Francis Dowling, sergeant, 41st Regiment, a short time since was made a honorary member of the Lodge St Mungo, and still further to testify the opinion in which he was held, a number of the members were desirous of bearing testimony to his worth in a more tangible form. The Lodge being put under command of the Junior warden, the R.W.M. called upon Brother Dr E. W. Pritchard to perform the ceremony of presentation of a St Mungo Lodge jewel to Bro. Dowling, of Ayr Kilwinning Lodge, No. 124, and honorary member of the Lodge St Mungo, No. 27. Brother Dr E. W. Pritchard, in responding to the call, expressed the sentiments of the brethren in a truly eloquent oration, brimful of feeling, and eulogistic of the worthy brother in a social, military, and masonic character, and concluded by pinning on his breast a handsome jewel, bearing the following inscription:- “Presented to Bro. F. Dowling, sergeant 41st Regiment, as a mark of respect, from members of St Mungo Lodge, No. 27. Glasgow, 18th September, 1863.” Brother Dowling in a neat, feeling, soldierly, and masonic speech, returned to the brethren his sincere thanks, believing that they had a higher estimation of him than he was entitled to, but, the brethren might rest assured that he would earnestly aspire to that high character formed of him, so that the jewel now presented to him, and which would ever be cherished, should never be tarnished by unworthiness. Song and sentiment succeeded, when high twelve approaching, the Lodge was closed in due and ancient form.
Glasgow Morning Journal, Thursday 12th November, 1863, p.4.
The first of a series of lectures in connection with the Rutherglen Mechanic’s Institution was delivered in the new Town Hall, on Monday evening last, by Dr E. W. Pritchard; subject – “Anecdote and Incident of Personal Visits to Extraordinary Places, and Appearances of Nature: the Mighty Effects of Volcanoes.” John Pinkerton, Esq., occupied the chair. The learned doctor gave a most graphic description of his visits to Hecla, Vesuvius, and the excavations at Pompeii, all of which were illustrated by numerous diagrams. A hearty vote of thanks to the lecturer and chairman brought the meeting to a close.
Glasgow Morning Journal, Friday 18th December, 1863, p.2.
ANNUAL SOIREE OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ASSEMBLING IN THE ATHENÆUM. – The soiree in connection with this church and congregation, which took place last night in the Merchants’ Hall, was of a very interesting and agreeable character. The hall was filled in every part by the members and their friends. The chair was occupied by the Rev. James Pullar, pastor of the church, supported by the Rev. John Johnston, parish minister, Cambuslang; Rev. A. Nisbet, Suffolk Street Congregational Church; and Dr E. W. Pritchard, besides whom there were on the platform Messrs McIntosh, Currie, Scoular, McNeil, McKim, Reid, Thom, Mitchell, and Young. Blessing having been asked by the Rev. Mr Johnston, the company partook of tea, after which the Chairman delivered a brief address, in the course of which he referred to the great success which had attended their exertions since they had been formed into a church. They had much reason to thank God for His manifold mercies towards them. The various schemes connected with the church were, he was happy to say, progressing in a most satisfactory manner. The Sabbath School, and the Young Men’s Literary and Mutual Improvement Society, were also – taking into consideration all the difficulties with which they had to contend – in such a favourable state that they had much reason to lift up their voices and thank the Lord for all His gracious mercies towards them. In the course of the evening, Mr Pullar was presented with a handsome pulpit gown from the ladies connected with the congregation. It was presented by Mr McIntosh, who delivered a very neat address, in the course of which he referred to the good feeling that existed amongst them as a Christian Church, and the esteem in which they held their pastor. Mr Pullar suitably and feelingly replied. Mr Stevenson, leader of the church psalmody, was presented by Mr Currie, in name of the congregation, with a purse of sovereigns. Addresses were afterwards delivered by the Rev. J. Johnston, A. Nisbet, and Dr. E. W. Pritchard, the latter gentleman referring specially to the missionary work abroad. An excellent choir, under the leadership of Mr Stevenson, was in attendance, and sang several anthems in the course of the evening. The proceedings, which were throughout characterised by much genial Christian feeling, were brought to a close by the company singing the National Anthem.
Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, Saturday 19th December, 1863, p.5.
ANOTHER SECEDER FROM THE SPURIOUS
ROYAL ARCH CHAPTERS.
At the quarterly communication of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland, held at Edinburgh in September last, a petition was presented by Dr William Pritchard, praying to be restored to the status of the Royal Arch Companion. This gentleman who is one of the most prominent and distinguished Freemasons in the west of Scotland, had been expelled by the Supreme Chapter, in connection with the proceedings in Glasgow resulting in the formation of a spurious Grand Chapter, in which Dr Pritchard held the post of 2nd Grand Principal: it was by this body that the “Ayr Arnot, No. 1,” was constituted. In his petition to be reponed, Doctor Pritchard stated that he had been misled in the matter, and expressed his regret at having taken part in resisting the authority of Supreme Grand Chapter. After due consideration, Supreme Chapter unanimously agreed to grant the prayer of the petition, and appointed Dr Pritchard to attend at the next quarterly communication and take the oath of allegiance.
The Editor of the Scottish Freemasons’ Magazine, in noticing this application remarks “We think no little credit is due to the Companion referred to, who, having discovered his error, had the manliness to come forward and confess it.
Glasgow Morning Journal, Wednesday 23rd December, 1863, p.3.
THE DALMARNOCK ROAD MURDER.
John Balshaw was charged with the crime of murder, in so far as, on Saturday or Sunday, the 24th or 25th of October, within the house occupied by him in Dalmarnock Road, he attacked and assaulted the now deceased Elizabeth Kirkland or Sim, then residing with him, and with his fist did strike her several blows on or about the head and face, and other parts of her person; grasp or compress her neck or throat, and thereby strangle or suffocate her in consequence whereof she immediately or soon thereafter died, and was thus murdered by the said John Balshaw. He pleaded not guilty.
Edward Pritchard, surgeon, Glasgow – I have read the medical report in this case, and do not concur in the conclusion therein given that death was caused by asphyxia – by compression in the throat. I do not think there are any features in the appearances inconsistent with natural causes. Death might have resulted from apoplexy ensuing from excessive drinking. The bruises in front of the wind-pipe are not such as we would expect to see in a case of violent throttling. I should presume that the imprint of the fingers would be there. A fall on a hard substance would satisfactorily account for such a mark.
The Counsel for the Crown then addressed the jury. He was followed by Mr Crawford in an eloquent speech for the defence. Thereafter Lord Deas summed up with his usual ability. The jury then retired to consider their verdict, and returned in a quarter of an hour, finding by a majority the charge “Not proven.”
Glasgow Herald, Monday 6th March, 1865, p.6.
On Friday evening, 3d inst., the members and friends of the Shamrock and Thistle Lodge 275 held their forty-sixth anniversary festival, in the Mechanics’ Hall, Canning Street, Calton. In the absence of the R.W.M., Brother J. Pollock occupied the chair. After tea the chairman stated that Brother Dr. Pritchard, who was announced in the bills to deliver an address, would not be present, and read a letter of apology. He also explained that death had carried away a near relative of the learned brother, and on that account the audience had to forego the pleasure of his company…
Glasgow Herald, Monday 20th March, 1865, p.5.
At 131 Sauchiehall Street, on the 18th inst., Mary Jane Taylor, wife of Dr. Edward W. Pritchard, F.R.S., &c. – Friends will please accept of this intimation.
Glasgow Morning Journal, Tuesday 21st March, 1865, p.3.
ARREST OF A GLASGOW MEDICAL GENTLEMAN.
At the Central Police Court this morning, Bailie Raeburn presiding, Dr Edward W. Pritchard, residing at 131 Sauchiehall Street, was, although not brought into the court, remitted to the Sheriff pending an investigation into the death of his wife, Mary Jane Taylor. Mrs Pritchard died on Saturday, and her body was taken for interment by her husband to Edinburgh, to which city we believe the deceased lady belonged. Whilst he was absent on this solemn duty, the police authorities, on what ground we know not, but on some grave suspicion there can be no doubt, adopted measures for his apprehension. Superintendent McCall was waiting for the arrival of the last train from Edinburgh, and on the passengers coming out upon the platform, Dr Pritchard, who was in the train, was conducted by that officer to the Central Police Office, where he was detained all night. This morning, Dr Pritchard was, as already indicated, remitted to the Sheriff.
We should state that the late Mrs Pritchard, whose age was 39 years, had been ill for some time; that she was visited by her mother, a lady about 70 years of age; and that Mrs Taylor died suddenly on the 25th Feb. Dr Pritchard, we believe, states that the cause of death of his mother-in-law was apoplexy, and that of his wife gastric fever. It will be known to-day whether these averments are confirmed, a post mortem examination of the body of Mrs Pritchard being now made in Edinburgh by, we believe, Drs Maclagan and Littlejohn. Meanwhile the police in Glasgow are making further investigations.
Glasgow Morning Journal, Wednesday 22nd March, 1865, p.3.
THE ARREST OF DR PRITCHARD.
Superintendent McCall and Sub-Inspector Thomson proceeded to Dr Pritchard’s house this forenoon, and are engaged making further investigations. As to Dr Pritchard, he is bearing up with much courage under the terrible accusation which is hanging over him, and expresses himself with confidence that his innocence shall be established.
Nairnshire Telegraph and General Advertiser for the Northern Counties, Wednesday 22nd March, 1865, p.3.
A painful case is reported from Glasgow, in which a well-known medical man, Dr Pritchard, is suspected of having unlawfully made away with his wife. The facts are briefly to the effect that his wife died suddenly on Sunday, and her remains were sent through to Edinburgh to be interred in the family burying-ground. Suspicion seems somehow to have been created by this proceeding, and an examination of the body was made yesterday, which shows that death did not result from natural causes. A chemical analysis of the contents of the stomach are to be made, and in the meantime Dr Pritchard has been taken into custody.
Glasgow Herald, Wednesday 22nd March, 1865, p.4.
THE APPREHENSION OF A GLASGOW MEDICAL MAN.
As might have been anticipated, the intimation made in our columns yesterday morning as to the apprehension of a medical man belonging to this city, in connection with a supposed serious case, occasioned no small amount of excitement in the public mind. The subject was in everybody’s mouth, and, indeed, wherever men met together, speculation was rife with respect to the party said to be implicated, and the circumstances which had led the authorities to make the apprehension. In regard to the former point, the name of Dr. Edward William Pritchard, of 131 Sauchiehall Street, soon began to be freely mentioned, and it is no longer possible to withhold the fact that he is the person, whether rightly or wrongly, mixed up in this most unhappy affair. We do not, however, as yet feel at liberty to retail the rumours and surmises afloat touching the matters which have led to the doctor’s imprisonment. As usual in such cases, the authorities are intensely reticent, and we do not choose to publish, on slight data, statements which may possibly after all turn out to have no substantial foundation. The circumstances which have come to our knowledge are briefly these:- Mrs. Pritchard was taken ill some four or five weeks ago with a complaint which was said by her husband to be gastric fever. Her mother, Mrs. Michael Taylor, came from Edinburgh to wait upon her, and of course resided in Dr. Pritchard’s house. About three weeks ago Mrs Taylor was one evening suddenly seized with violent illness, and despite the efforts of a medical gentleman, whose aid was called in, died in the course of a few hours. Her body was removed to Edinburgh, where it was interred. As for Mrs Pritchard, she appeared to be recovering, and had so far regained her strength as to be able to sit up in the drawing room. At the end of last week, however, she had a relapse. She was attended by the same doctor whose services had been engaged for her mother. But in this case also medical skill proved of no avail, and death supervened somewhat suddenly on Saturday last. On Monday Dr. Pritchard conveyed his wife’s remains to Edinburgh, although we believe it was not intended that the interment should take place till to-morrow (Thursday). Meanwhile the case had been brought under the notice of the authorities – though by what agency we are not yet aware – as one which ought to be inquired into. Under these circumstances steps were forthwith taken to secure the person most likely to afford explanations regarding such points as had excited suspicion in the mind of the Fiscal. Superintendent McCall having obtained information as to Dr. Pritchard’s movements, apprehended him on his return from Edinburgh, between ten and eleven o’clock on Monday evening. The Doctor was detained during the night in a room which had been prepared for him in the Central Police Station. Yesterday morning, at the Central Court, after the ordinary business had been disposed of, his name was called out, and an intimation was read from the charge-book, to the effect that he was detained for examination as to the sudden death of his wife, Mary Taylor or Pritchard, in his house, on Saturday, 18th inst. He was not, however, brought to the bar, and the case was, as a matter of form, remitted to the Sheriff. The prisoner remained in the Central Office during yesterday. To-day, however, we believe, he is to be removed to the North Prison.
In the course of yesterday Mr. Gemmill, Procurator-Fiscal, precognosced the medical gentleman who attended Mrs. Taylor and her daughter on their deathbeds, and whose evidence, should the case go further, will, we understand, be of a most important character. From what we have been able to gather, it would appear this gentleman is strongly of opinion that there was something connected with the death of his two patients which called for earnest investigation.
Mr McCall yesterday visited Dr. Pritchard’s house, where he instituted inquiries among the servants, and made an examination of the premises. We understand, however, that nothing transpired calculated, in itself, to form the groundwork of suspicion.
A post mortem examination of the body of Mrs. Pritchard was made yesterday by Dr. Maclagan and Dr. Littlejohn, at the house of her father, Mr. Taylor, in Edinburgh. We speak on this delicate point without any official information, of course; but it has reached us that the medical gentlemen did not find such appearances as would at once account for death from natural causes. So far the result of the examination is unfavourable; but it must be remembered that the matter is not yet scientifically tested, and with a view to this being done the stomach has been handed over to Dr. Maclagan for chemical analysis. Some little time, therefore, must yet elapse before the cause of the lady’s death is accurately known; and until it is known, it is only fair that the public should withhold its opinion as to Dr. Pritchard’s alleged complicity in the matter. Indeed, an earnest hope is entertained that the result may be such as to free him from the suspicion which seems to have attached to him.
It has been rumoured that the body of Mrs. Taylor is also to be subjected to a post mortem examination, although as yet we have no certain intimation of the fact.
We may state that Dr. Pritchard is a man in his prime, well known in Glasgow, both as a medical practitioner and as a casual lecturer on literary and scientific subjects. He is an Englishman by birth, and in early life served for some time in the navy, by which means he had the opportunity of visiting distant lands. He married and settled in Glasgow several years ago, and he has five children by the lady just deceased, the eldest being about thirteen years of age.
Glasgow Herald, Thursday 23rd March, 1865, p.2.
THE CASE OF DR. PRITCHARD.
APPREHENSION OF THE HOUSEMAID.
The investigation of this unhappy case continues to occupy the attention of the authorities. Yesterday afternoon Dr. Pritchard, who had up to that time remained in the Central Police Station, was conveyed in a cab to the County Buildings, where he was examined before Sheriff Sir Archd. Alison with reference to the sudden death of his wife. The examination lasted about an hour and a half, the prisoner making a declaration, which was committed to writing in the usual way. In this statement, we have reason to believe, the doctor distinctly repelled all imputations with reference to the matter which has led to his apprehension. Shortly after the examination was closed, the prisoner was removed to the North Prison, where he will be detained pending the further investigation of the case. As he passed out of the County Buildings, he nodded to an acquaintance who was standing in the corridor, and made a remark to the effect that the affair would be cleared up in a few days.
From an early hour yesterday morning, Mr. Superintendent McCall was anxiously engaged in prosecuting inquiries in Dr. Pritchard’s house. As the result of his researches, a new and, it may be, a most important element was in the course of the afternoon imported into the case. We refer to the apprehension of a girl about 18 years of age, named Mary McLeod, who has been in the doctor’s service for some two years in the capacity of housemaid, and who filled that situation in the house up to the time when Mr. McCall considered it his duty to take her into custody. What part this girl is to play in the succeeding acts of this painful drama – whether she is to appear as a principal or as a witness – we do not pretend to say. But from what we have heard, it would appear that there has been an illicit connection between her and the prisoner in times past; and it is said she has been heard to boast that if Mrs. Pritchard were to die it was not unlikely that she might occupy her place. We understand that a washerwoman, named Mrs. McNabb, with whom McLeod had held conversation regarding the doctor, was yesterday afternoon examined before the Procurator-Fiscal. In the evening Mr. McCall, in company with Dr. G. H. B. Macleod, visited Dr. Pritchard’s house, and went over the laboratory. They did not, however, find anything but what was to have been expected in such a place. Indeed, nothing seems as yet to have been discovered in the house which, in itself, was calculated to excite suspicion.
Of course the main interest of the case still hinges on the question as to what may be the final result of the inquiry which is being prosecuted in Edinburgh. From the intensely and, we may add, ridiculously secret manner in which all cases of this description are handled by our local authorities, we are left without such important points of information as would, in England, have been at once laid before the public through a coroner’s inquest. Facts do indeed leak out, but these are inevitably mixed up with much that is mere gossip or rumour; and as the authorities remain so silent, the efforts of the reporter to separate the real from the imaginative are of a very trying kind, and not always successful. We venture, however, to give some statements, and, from the manner in which they have reached us, it is possible that a certain amount of credit may attach to them. The analysis of the stomach of the deceased Mrs. Pritchard was proceeded with yesterday, and some information respecting it was transmitted to Glasgow. We have heard that, as the analysis progresses, the result is not favourable to the prisoner; and, indeed, it has been hinted that indications of the presence of a poison, which has been mentioned to us as antimony, have been discovered. The analysis, however, is still incomplete, and we do not by any means vouch for the entire accuracy of the version we have given as to the result of the investigation hitherto.
We understand that the prisoner continues to conduct himself, in the trying circumstances in which he is placed, with perfect calmness and self-possession. From what has been stated above it will be seen that in all the authentic information which has yet transpired, however suspicious some points may seem, there is nothing inconsistent with his innocence.
Since the above was written, we have taken means to ascertain, as correctly as possible, what could be said by the person who seems to have been most intimate with the girl Mary McLeod, from whom statements were obtained relating to the connection existing between her and Dr. Pritchard. This is a respectable woman named Mrs. Nabb, who was in the habit of going from time to time to the house of Dr. Pritchard as a washerwoman. In summer last year she suspected that the relation between Dr. Pritchard and Mary McLeod, the housekeeper, was improperly familiar, and she threatened to make Mrs. Pritchard acquainted with her suspicions. The girl McLeod, on the understanding that what she communicated was to be kept secret, then admitted her intimacy with Dr. Pritchard. In August of last year McLeod became ill, and what appears to have been a forced miscarriage was the result, when the Doctor was very kind to her. All this, so far as Mrs. Nabb is aware, was unknown to Mrs. Pritchard. About the close of the year, the intimacy between the parties having been continued, as it would appear, McLeod told Mrs. Nabb that at about that time Mrs. Pritchard suddenly entered one of the rooms, and discovered the Doctor and her in circumstances which need not be further adverted to. How this matter was arranged at the time was not explained to Mrs. Nabb by the girl, but McLeod, nevertheless, remained in the service, and afterwards spoke as if the old relationship continued unbroken. At certain times, Mrs. Nabb is not sure as to particular occasions, the girl McLeod made the remark, as if in a boasting spirit, that if Mrs. Pritchard were taken away she would come into her place. Mrs. Nabb was last at work in Dr. Pritchard’s house on Thursday the 9th March last, on which day she saw Mrs Pritchard in the drawing room and spoke with her. She adds that “Mary tells stories,” and is not always to be depended on. Mrs. Nabb cannot explain how McLeod was continued in the service after her relation with Dr. Pritchard became known to his wife. Such is, we believe, something like Mrs. Nabb’s statement, but any one will see that it is scarcely possible to believe that a man in the position of Dr. Pritchard would do mischief to his wife in order that he might afterwards put into her place an illiterate, unpolished servant girl.
It is only fair that we should add what has been mentioned to us by persons of the highest credit, who were on terms of the most intimate friendship with Dr. Pritchard and his wife. Our informants state, from observation extending over a long series of years, that they have been impressed with the uniform kindness of Dr. Pritchard to his wife, and with her entire devotion to him. She is reported to us to have been a very superior lady, well worthy of his affection and esteem; and so far as our informants noticed from frequent and familiar intercourse with the family, the same feeling of affection and esteem was warmly exhibited towards her by the doctor to the last. We yesterday took occasion to refer briefly to Dr. Pritchard’s previous history. In addition to what was then stated, we may give here the following list of his medical titles, and of the works of which he is the author:- M.D. Erlangen, 1857; M.R.C.S. Eng., 1846; L.S.A. 1858 (King’s Coll., Lond., and Paris); Corr. Mem. King’s Coll. Med. Soc.; Fell. Obst. Soc.; Hon. Loc. Sec. Med. Benev. Coll.; Mem. Syd. Soc. Philos. Soc. Glasg., Geolog. Soc., Archæol. Soc., and Social Sci. Soc.; Med. Exam. in Physiol. Soc. of Arts, Glasg. Athenæum; late Asst. Surg. R.N. Author of “Longevity,” “Normal Sleep,” and “Chorea” (papers read before King’s Coll. Med. Soc. 1844-46); “Visit to Pitcairn Island;” “Observations on Filey as a Watering-place;” “The Guide to Filey,” 1856; “Antiquities of Filey.” Contrib. “On the Guaco Plant,” Med. Times Gaz., 1852; “Piper Methysticum, a Remedy in Gout,” Ibid. 1855; “Tobacco, its Use and Abuse,” Ibid. 1860; “Cure of Cancer,” Ibid, 1850; “Lecture on Egypt and its Climate,” Lancet, 1860; “Champagne in Diptheria,” Ibid. 1861; “Tincture of Guaco in Gout,” Pharmaceut. Journ., 1861, and Lancet, 1862, and other papers.
Dundee Courier, Friday 24th March, 1865, p.4.
THE MYSTERIOUS CASE IN GLASGOW.
The Mail says, we understand that the books of Messrs Murdoch, Brothers, chemists, Sauchiehall Street, and of the London Apothecaries’ Company, in the same street, with both of whom Dr Pritchard keeps an account, have been looked over, and a note taken of the medicines which for some time back he had ordered and received.
(From our Glasgow Correspondent.)
Mary Macleod was examined yesterday afternoon for an hour and a-half, not as a prisoner, but as a witness in the case before Sheriff Sir Archibald Alison. The examination was solely in reference to her attendance upon the late Mrs Pritchard, having no bearing whatever upon any alleged liason between her and the accused. She was set at liberty thereafter, and proceeded to Dr Pritchard’s house in Sauchiehall Street. She will be again examined this morning. Dr Taylor, of Penrith, brother of the late Mrs Pritchard, was in Glasgow on Wednesday, and to several persons there expressed his belief that Dr Pritchard had not had anything to do in compassing his wife’s death. He also stated that his mother, the late Mrs Taylor, was 72 years of age, was in a feeble state of health, and died, he was certain, of apoplexy. No insurances were effected on the life of Mrs Pritchard; and, with respect to a considerable sum of money left by Mrs Pritchard, in life-rent, and her children in fee. Dr Pritchard, therefore, could have no motive, so far as we have been able to learn, in compassing the death of his wife. It has been stated, though not officially, that a small quantity of antimony has been found in the stomach of Mrs Pritchard, but that it is so small as to have necessitated a further and more minute analysis. It is possible, however, that the antimony so found had been administered as medicine.
Caledonian Mercury, Saturday 25th March, 1865, p.7.
THE CASE OF DR PRITCHARD.
Owing to some important facts elucidated on Thursday night, the tone of public feeling throughout yesterday was more favourable to the accused than formerly, and many persons now begin to think that the charge is false. The fact of Mary McLeod, the housemaid, having been liberated last night, although with a view of being further examined to-day as a witness, has induced a more favourable interpretation of the scandal with which her name was yesterday associated. It likewise appears that the family of Mrs Pritchard testify to the fact of she and her husband having lived happily together, and utterly discredit the idea of either Mrs Pritchard or her mother having died through unfair means. As previously arranged by Dr Pritchard, the remains of his wife were interred in the Grange Cemetery here on Thursday. The Doctor appeared deeply affected when he made the funeral arrangements for his wife at the establishment of Mr Walker, Cambridge Street, and he chose a coffin having on the lid a plate bearing the following inscription:- “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive,” and on the plates attached to the handles were the words – “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The examination of Mary McLeod, the housemaid, was resumed yesterday morning at ten o’clock. It related chiefly to the symptoms of Mrs Pritchard’s illness, and the alleged improper connection between McLeod and Dr Pritchard. Several other witnesses were in waiting to be examined, but the authorities seem to consider it proper that, in the meantime, their names should be kept a profound secret. Dr Taylor, the brother of the deceased Mrs Pritchard, arrived in Glasgow yesterday from Edinburgh, and was closeted for some time with Mr Gemmell. In the state of secrecy in which this case at present stands it is of course impossible to divine how it may ultimately result. We may state, however, that the feeling is growing that the grounds of suspicion against Dr Pritchard are altogether insufficient. It is of course possible that the authorities may have important facts in their possession which they have not permitted to be made public. Nothing, however, which has yet oozed out is in any way confirmatory of the supposition of any crime having occurred; and in the event of the medical investigation now going on in Edinburgh showing that death has resulted from natural causes, we presume the matter will be at an end, and Dr Pritchard transformed into an object of universal sympathy, in consequence of the very unhappy position in which he has unfortunately been placed. The house of the accused is now vacated by the police, and is in charge of the female servants. The bed and body clothing of the late Mrs Pritchard, and the contents of the laboratory of the prisoner have, however, been removed and taken possession of by the authorities. Dr Pritchard is suffering from his confinement in a cell in the North Prison, and stated yesterday that if he be long there his health will break down. He expressed his satisfaction that he had not insured her life, as the public and the authorities would have said that was a motive for him to take his wife’s life. Catherine Latimer, a woman of fifty years of age, and who had up till a fortnight before the death of the late Mrs Taylor been uninterruptedly ten years in the household as a servant of Dr Pritchard, will to-day depone there is no truth whatever in the alleged improper intimacy of the prisoner and Mary McLeod.
The following interesting letter is written by a gentleman who has much personal knowledge of the accused:-
“As is natural, the case of Dr Pritchard has excited not only a great amount of varied feeling, but also a mass of speculation as idle as it is illogical, and as premature as it is worthless, seeing that hitherto not a single substantive fact has come to light upon which any distinct theory of his guilt can be based. When every man views the matter from his own peculiar angle, and invents or thinks he has discovered an adequate motive for the commission of so foul a deed, it is impossible for the Press to withhold from an excited and anxious public, if not definite information, at least microscopic crumbs padded or filled out with fancies more or less plausible. But whilst not a single fact is known, nor the knowledge of a single adequate motive ascertained, it is surely too hard as well as useless and wrong not only to prejudge the man, but also to speak of his guilt with the all circumstantial why’s and how’s, as if it were a matter beyond all doubt, whereas it is in truth shadowy and uncertain to an extreme degree. The chemical analysis of the stomach and viscera – and to be exact it must be a pathological research as well – has not yet been completed, and, therefore, we are so far to the stray gossamers of rumour that reach our ears from time to time, and when traced to parent sources turn out to be ‘airy nothings’ or ‘brainy shadows.’ What is, then, the present position of the case? First, we have the very simple circumstance of an old lady, seventy years old, who at an age when many cannot leave their easy chairs, forgets her age and her infirmities, and travels to Glasgow to see an ailing daughter, the mother herself of five children. She arrives, and after a few weeks dies of apoplexy, as stated by Dr Pritchard. Now, it is surely no astounding fact that a lady so old should be taken ill while attending the sickbed of her daughter and die. But say the cause was not apoplexy, but any other, what motive or benefit could Dr Pritchard have had in her death? Was she insured? If she was, her husband and son were both alive, and Dr Pritchard could have no claim. Was there any interest which Mrs Pritchard could have had in re-reversion? He could not have more enjoyed it at his wife’s death than during her lifetime. Apply the touchstone of cui bono, and no reasonable motive can be found. Then, three weeks afterwards his wife, who for a short time had rallied from an exhausting illness, relapsed and died. The shock and grief at her mother’s loss must in her case have been intensified in effect in consequence of her own weakness, and again she took to her bed from which she never rose. And here the thought suggests itself whether the medical gentlemen in Edinburgh made themselves at all acquainted with the precise nature of the treatment adopted before expressing any opinion as to what disease the traces in the tissues indicated, if they indicated any at all… Now it is well known and attested by numerous gentlemen who were frequent visitors at the house that Dr Pritchard and his wife lived in happy harmony and mutual confidence, nor did the deceased lady appear capable of systematically simulating what she did not feel or of suppressing what she really felt. They seemed a devoted trusting pair; and in the light of this knowledge the poor washerwoman’s story, although qualified by the terse sentence that ‘Mary tells stories,’ seems a clumsy bit of tittle-tattle, improbable and unsubstantiated. But the wretched system of hearing all this stuff – whether true or not – from people who are not sworn, who are liable to no penalty if their declarations are untrue, and whose position if weighed with that of the accused is certainly very insignificant – whilst he lies in a cell with the load of suspicion over his head – shows indeed glaring in this case. The whole matter lies in a nut-shell:- An anonymous letter is written by some moral coward or other, who either hazarded a stab in the dark, or whose love of justice did not conquer his sense of modesty; a man who, no doubt, does ‘good by stealth, and blushes to find it fame;’ a blush, doubtless, of deservedly deep scarlet. Well, this anonymous communication is traced to its source, and the writer must, of course, adopt the letter and stand to it. Then the apprehension of the gentleman named or alluded to in it is a natural result, and the post-mortem examination, the scrutiny in his household, and all that has since taken place, follow in natural sequence; and here the affair rests. But is it not a little strange that a whisper of ‘antimony’ should have been heard about the County Buildings before even the examination was commenced? Why, what was Dr Paterson about if he knew anything about antimony being administered? Was he not called in his professional capacity and entitled, therefore, to speak with a voice of authority as to what should be administered and what withheld; and, if administered against his advice, and he saw or suspected anything wrong, why did he not at once deem it his duty to boldly protest or immediately communicate with the authorities? But we have not yet heard that he has adopted the anonymous letter referred to. It cannot be denied that his position in the case does not prima facie appear either lucid or pleasant, and this he must feel himself, and acutely, too. Dr Paterson should really clear himself as regards this anonymous letter, and the public, seeing that it was the primary cause of the arrest and the subsequent events, should withhold its opinion, give the accused fair play, and calmly wait for more light.”
Renfrewshire Independent, Saturday 25th March, 1865, p.4.
FROM OUR GLASGOW CORRESPONDENT.
THE great subject of talk and universal gossip this week is the arrestment of Dr Pritchard, on suspicion of having poisoned his wife. I know the doctor, having at various meetings come in contact with him, and will therefore give a few facts regarding him, which in the circumstances in which he is now placed can be done with propriety. I have no earthly grudge against the doctor, having always, in any intercourse I have had with him, found him very agreeable and gentlemanly; and even if I had good ground of complaint, it would be very unmanly to speak of him with disrespect when his back is to the wall, or to attempt in any way to damage.
The doctor came to Glasgow some years ago. He is a man about forty-five years of age – I speak from his appearance merely. He is very good looking; in size above middle stature, well-made, with rather sharp features, a fine flowing beard, auburn in colour. His appearance is decidedly gentlemanly and prepossessing. Were he unmarried, no young lady could be much blamed for falling in love with him. He has so much of the sauviter in modo in his manner that you would say he is quite a lady’s man. Yet he has a peculiar fussiness of manner that you would term forwardness; and since he came to this town he has displayed a great desire to become a public man. He was for some time Master of St Mark’s Lodge, and on his retiring some one wrote an anonymous letter enclosing, if I mistake not, L.5, suggesting that the Doctor should be presented with a token of the esteem in which he was held, and giving the said sum of money towards a testimonial. It was said by a good many parties at the time that the authorship of the letter was not by any means doubtful, and no action was taken in the matter. Then came the fire in his house in May, 1863, and the death of his servant either by suffocation or the ignition of the bed-clothes. The circumstance caused a great deal of talk at the time; but the insurance, I understand, was paid. Since then the Doctor has been connected with the Athenæum here, and came rather prominently forward in its direction. At a banquet which took place in connection with the institution he seconded a motion submitted by Mr James Hedderwick, the editor of the Citizen, and made, as I was told, a somewhat pretentious speech on the occasion.
I have heard him lecture. I do not consider him by any means a learned man, as we might be supposed to conclude from the enormous number of letters that follow his name. He has a great amount of assurance, and a largeness of manner that does not well comport with the absence of depth in his matter and eloquence in his style. His own anxiety to become favourably known has rather militated than otherwise against the realisation of the object of his ambition.
The position in which he is now placed is a very painful one, and I am sure that the public will rejoice if his innocence be established. Notwithstanding the gossip that is current about his relations with the servant girl McLeod, I am given to understand that he lived on very good terms with his wife. Little dependence can be placed in the gossip of a washerwoman. If the heads of families heard all that their washerwoman have to say about them, I dare say they would be astonished. Nothing has yet transpired in reference to the Doctor but what may be consistent with his innocence. If it be found that his wife really died of poison, he will, without doubt, and very properly, be committed for trial. If what the girl McLeod says be true, the preponderance of motive might be found in another direction. If Mrs Pritchard died of a subtle poison, the charge against the Doctor will have assumed even a graver aspect, as bearing upon his chance of conviction. In the commission of such a dreadful and heinous crime there certainly must have been some mastering motive. No man would murder the mother of his babes unless the devil took fair possession of him, and drowned all feeling by the presentation of some immediate advantage. It is hardly credible that the desire to become united to the servant girl could constitute that motive. The authorities would require to discover it elsewhere. A short time will decide as to whether Dr Pritchard will be indicted for murder or not. If without better ground than has yet appeared he has been taken into custody, the blunder made by the authorities is a very grave one. We have much need of a coroner’s inquest system being imported into Scotland, and thus not leave a man’s reputation at the mercy of one or two officials.
Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, Saturday 25th March, 1865, p.4.
THE ALLEGED POISONING CASE IN GLASGOW
BY A MEDICAL GENTLEMAN.
We can positively state, our information being from an official source that up to Thursday morning the result of the chemical analysis had been exactly nil, the processes not being complete nor the conclusive tests likely to be applied before to-day (Saturday). The presence of antimony in the laboratory is not surprising. Dr Pritchard in his declaration openly stated that he sometimes gave as medicine small doses of even more potent poisons. The accounts standing against his name in the books of the chemists with whom he dealt bear entries of chloroform, aconite – a potent vegetable poison – and other dangerous drugs. Dr Pritchard is, however, not known to have had during his wife’s illness any of these vegetable poisons. The last prescription made up for Mrs Pritchard was on the afternoon of Friday last, and contained, amongst other items, a quantity of morphine. This soothing medicine was in all probability the last she took, her death occurring at two o’clock on Saturday morning.
… We stated in our impression yesterday that Dr Michael Taylor, brother of the deceased Mrs Pritchard, had arrived in Glasgow. Dr Taylor does not reside in Maldon, Yorkshire, as we inadvertently stated, but at Penrith, is one of the medical advisers of Lord Brougham, and is well known in the North of England. He saw his sister, we understand, three weeks before her death, and then nothing occurred to him as being unusual in her appearance. She had been in delicate health for three months previously. Neither he nor any of her friends have had, or even yet have, we believe, any suspicions of foul play by Dr Pritchard as being the cause of death. As to being swayed by money considerations, we have been informed that his friends looked upon him as rather standing in the light of his own interest in this respect.
Dr Pritchard is confined in a common cell in the east wing of the North Prison. On his arrival at the prison on Wednesday night he expressed himself as somewhat unwell, but yesterday forenoon, when visited by the medical officer, had recovered from his temporary indisposition. Several of his friends endeavoured to see him, not knowing that, while a prisoner is in custody previous to being committed for trial, no one is allowed to see him – a rule which is so inflexibly observed that not even his law agent is permitted to have an interview with him.
Yesterday again, there was almost nothing new elicited in regard to this case. The examination, it appears, of the girl Mary McLeod, was resumed by the Procurator-Fiscal and lasted for two hours, and, according to the Mail, she acknowledged that she had made statements to the washer-woman confirmatory, so far as her unsupported testimony is concerned, of illicit intercourse between the Doctor and herself, commencing early last year, and that she even went the length of saying that the Doctor promised to marry her, in the event of the death of her mistress. Miscarriage, however, procured by means of instruments, is alleged to have been the result of this connection in the autumn of last year. It must be borne in mind, however, that these statements are entirely unsupported by any other evidence.
During Mrs Pritchard’s long-continued illness she was attended by Dr Cowan, of Edinburgh, and Professor Gairdner, and was occasionally seen by her brother, Dr Taylor of Penrith.
In opposition to this, an old servant, who had been in the family till recently from the period of Mrs Pritchard’s marriage, and only left lately, having got some money bequeathed her, states that she and McLeod were bedfellows the whole time they were together in service, except when McLeod was at the coast in July along with Mrs Pritchard and family, Dr Pritchard and she meantime remaining in town. She thinks that if Mrs Pritchard had come to find any grounds for suspecting her husband of an improper intimacy with a servant in the house, she must have mentioned it to her. Mrs Pritchard, on the contrary, never complained, and never indicated that she entertained any suspicion. In reference to the alleged miscarriage, she is of opinion that she must certainly have known of it, and that such a thing never took place, and she never herself observed anything in the relations between Dr Pritchard and McLeod to warrant such a suspicion, nor did McLeod venture to insinuate, directly or indirectly, to her what she is said to have boasted of or disclosed to Mrs Nabb the washerwoman.
As regards the death of Mrs Taylor the authorities have no suspicion whatever of its having arisen from any foul play.
Professor Maclagan having gone to London the chemical analysis of the stomach will not be completed before Monday at soonest.
That ends part one of the case for doctor Edward William Pritchard and the first part of the pre-trial roundup. We may see you again for the second part. Take care.
Narration by Jenny
Art by Alex
Intro-Outro by Tony ‘Lucky Dog’ Wilson
Greysteil by Paul Burns.