Dr Edward William Pritchard – Pre-Trial Pt. 2 (Podcast)

Welcome back to the 3rd of Glasgow’s Square Mile Murder cases, that for Dr Edward William Pritchard. He’s initially had a servant die in a fire, apparently without making any attempt to save herself, followed a couple of years later by the deaths of both his mother-in-law and his wife, within a very short space of time of each other. Mingled with this are rumours of his having had an affair with a young member of the household staff. Part 2 of our pre-trial round-up for the good doctor will take us up to the opening of his trial. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 27th March, 1865, p.2. 

   The case of Dr Pritchard, though still exciting considerable interest in Glasgow, appears to be gradually getting divested of its serious character. The witnesses who have been examined speak principally as to the liason between the doctor and the girl McLeod, and nothing has yet been elicited which can be said to substantiate the main charge. Of course no decided opinion can be formed until the report of the medical gentlemen appointed to analyse the contents of the deceased Mrs Pritchard’s stomach has been made public. 

Glasgow Morning Journal, Monday 27th March, 1865, p.2. 


   On Saturday, as stated in our issue of the previous day, the woman Catherine Latimer, who had for ten years been confidential servant in the family of Dr Pritchard, was examined at great length by the Procurator Fiscal. Her evidence was to the effect which has already been described, throwing discredit on the allegations of improper intimacy between Dr Pritchard and the domestic, Mary McLeod; besides which she was interrogated as to the symptoms which had been manifested by Mrs Pritchard during her illness, these including sickness and vomiting, and generally an inability to retain food on the stomach.  


… Should the report be that poison has not been found in the body, Dr Pritchard will at once be set at liberty; but even should traces of antimony be discovered, it is believed that these will be of antimony so limited in quantity as to render it impossible to say whether it had been administered with any fatal design or merely medicinally. In this latter instance, however, the prisoner will probably be brought to trial, in order that the public may be fully satisfied that every possible justice has been done in the case; but such a trial would, it is considered, terminate in at least a verdict of “not proven.” Thus, whichever way matters tend, the case is likely to continue involved in mystery, – a mystery which, as a high authority in the city remarks, “will not be unravelled till the day of judgment.”  

   We may state that several witnesses are to be examined to-day. Catherine Latimer will not likely be further interrogated, her examination on Saturday, which lasted three hours, being considered sufficient. The limit of ten days – the period allowed by the law of Scotland for preliminary investigation into any supposed crime – expires in this case on Wednesday next, on which day Dr Pritchard must either be set at liberty or committed to prison on a specific charge.  

Glasgow Herald, Tuesday 28th March, 1865, p.3. 






   We understand that this morning the authorities here received a communication from Professor Maclagan, in which he states that antimony has been found abundantly in the liver, spleen, and intestines of the late Mrs Pritchard. The quantitative analysis is not yet completed. We believe that a warrant has been issued for the exhumation of the body of the late Mrs. Taylor.  

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Wednesday 29th March, 1865, p.1. 


(From the Glasgow Herald.)  

   In consequence of a letter received yesterday by the local authorities from Dr Maclagan, this case has now assumed a more tangible and, we may add, a much more serious character than it had formerly done. We learn that, in the communication referred to, Dr Maclagan conveyed a distinct intimation that antimony had been found abundantly in the urine, liver, spleen, intestines, and blood of the late Mrs Pritchard. It thus seems evident that the poison in question had been swallowed by the deceased lady in large quantities, indeed to an extent far beyond what could have been administered in any preparation of antimony as medicine. Hitherto the investigation has mainly taken the form of what is known as “qualitative analysis,” the object being to ascertain whether there was poison in the system or not. The examination, however, is still proceeding, and from this point it will be conducted chiefly as a “quantitative analysis,” with the view of defining in the most exact manner the quantity of poison discovered in the various parts of the body. At the same time the analysist will conduct his further operations so as to ascertain if possible whether or not there be other poisons besides antimony in the remains of Mrs Pritchard.  

   Shortly after the receipt of Dr Maclagan’s important communication, Mr Procurator-Fiscal Gemmel proceeded to Edinburgh for the purpose of having a consultation with Crown Counsel as to the grave aspect which the case has now assumed. He carried with him, we believe, a warrant for the exhumation and examination of the body of the late Mrs Taylor, Mrs Pritchard’s mother. It may be difficult to found any criminal charge upon the circumstances connected with this lady’s death. It is not alleged that she suffered from any irritant or metallic poison; and even although it might appear that she had imbibed opium in undue quantities, it is well known that she had been for a lengthened period in the habit of taking, medicinally, “Batley’s Sedative,” a preparation in which the drug in question is exhibited in great strength, as compared with the ordinary form of laudanum. So that it might be plausibly urged that she had died from an accidental overdose. Moreover, supposing that opium had been either taken voluntarily, or administered by another person, it is a drug which very soon disappears – in other words, which does not, after a very short period, leave any traces of its presence in the system. At the same time, the authorities cannot ignore the case of Mrs Taylor, for there are undoubtedly certain suspicious circumstances connected with her death. Amongst others, reference has been made to the manner in which the certificate to the Registrar of the district was made up. As we formerly stated, Dr James Paterson was called in to visit Mrs Taylor, and saw her almost in articulo mortas. When he was applied to by the Registrar for a certificate with regard to her death, he distinctly refused to give one, accompanying his refusal with a letter, in which he gave it as his opinion that the death was one of a mysterious character. Under these circumstances, Dr Pritchard himself furnished a certificate, in which, if we are not mistaken, he stated that the death of his mother-in-law took place after twelve hours of paralysis, and one hour of apoplexy, whereas it is a matter of certainty that Mrs Taylor died after only four hours’ illness – that, in fact, she was in the act of writing a letter to a friend at nine o’clock at night and was a corpse at one o’clock on the following morning. Taking these things into account, it will be seen that the authorities have some grounds for inquiry touching the death of Mrs Taylor.  

   With respect to the more recent death of Mrs Pritchard, the case, as it will appear, has now assumed a very serious complexion, and it is scarcely to be doubted that in the course of a day or two Dr Pritchard will be committed for trial. The preliminary report on the analysis, furnished by Mr Maclagan, leaves it undoubted that the deceased lady had imbibed poison in quantity amply sufficient to account for her death – that, in short, she died a violent death. The poison must, therefore, either have been taken by herself voluntarily, or must have been administered by some one who had ready and convenient access to her. Now, it has been publicly stated that Dr Pritchard emphatically denies having administered antimony in the form of medicine, or in any other form, to his wife. Did she then commit suicide? No person who has known the lady has even ventured to hint at such an alternative. These are all matters which, of course, will be thoroughly investigated preparatory to and at the trial. But it is now abundantly evident, even though much may be advanced in favour of his innocence that the authorities were fully justified in adopting what might be considered the extreme step of apprehending a gentleman in Dr Pritchard’s position.  

   We have reason to believe that now when the presence of poison in large quantity has been discovered, the authorities will be able to adduce material evidence bearing on its administration. A few days ago we spoke of an important witness as likely to be examined in the case. The person referred to was Mary Paterson, the young woman who succeeded the old servant, Catherin Latimer, and who went to the doctor’s house before Mrs Taylor’s death, and has remained there ever since. This witness was examined by the Fiscal on Monday, and it has transpired – although we do not of course speak on direct information – that her deposition embraced several points of a kind not to be lightly set aside. She states, we believe, that on the Monday before Mrs Pritchard’s death, she happened to taste a small piece of cheese which had been sent down from that lady, and subsequently felt a burning sensation in the throat, which was followed by sickness and vomiting. Again, on Wednesday following she was asked by Dr Pritchard to prepare an egg flip for her mistress. The doctor put in the sugar with his own hands, and the girl alleges that having taken a sip of the mixture before it was sent to the patient, she was again attacked, but more violently than before, with pain in the throat, with sickness and vomiting. She further asserts, we believe, that Mrs Pritchard after tasting this liquid ordered it away. If we are not misinformed the girl McLeod also states that Mrs Taylor at one time expressed some suspicion as to the character of the food or cordial sent up to her daughter, and subsequently, down to the time of her death, attended to these preparations herself.  

   The evidence of Dr Paterson must likewise be of the most important character, At the same time it is quite possible, and is certainly most devoutly to be desired, that the prisoner may be able to bring forward proof to rebut the serious charge made against him. So far as matters have gone, we have not heard any motive alleged at all sufficient to account for the perpetration of so great a crime, if it be the fact that murder has been really committed. The girl McLeod, in the course of an examination lasting over the whole of one day and part of another, gave a great deal of information as to what transpired in the doctor’s household during the period of her service. She, at the same time, admitted, in the most explicit manner, the circumstances of her illicit connection with Dr Pritchard. This may be held as proving that the doctor had ceased to cherish feelings of respect and affection for his wife; but, at the same time, as we formerly hinted, it is inconceivable that a gentleman in his position would do his wife mischief in order that he might afterwards form a matrimonial connection with an unpolished and uneducated person like the girl McLeod. This girl, it appears, corroborated in all essential points the statement made respecting her by Mrs Nabb. The latter, as we already remarked, is a very respectable woman, though not a washerwoman in the ordinary acceptation of that term, as we had at first been given to understand. Her husband occupied the position of clerk in a business establishment in the city, and she herself, having apparently been a favourite with Mrs Pritchard, only assisted occasionally in washing and household affairs when need for her services arose. We do not, of course, put forth any of the statements given above on official authority, but they have come to us from sources which we deem respectable. And they at least prove that, whatever be the result – even although Dr Pritchard should be found innocent – the circumstances attending the deaths of the two ladies, and the quantity of antimony found in the body of Mrs Pritchard, have been sufficient to justify the Fiscal in apprehending the doctor, and in making that searching investigation which will lead to the committal of the prisoner for trial.  

   It is possible that the case may be in such a state of forwardness as to be tried at the approaching Circuit, which commences here on 2d May next. But we rather think this is unlikely. For the sake of the unhappy prisoner in the first instance, and for the satisfaction of the public in the second, it is essential that everything should be done with the utmost caution and deliberation, It is possible, therefore, that the trial may not come off at the forthcoming Circuit, in which case it will, in all likelihood, take place at Edinburgh during the summer.  


   After detailing the results of the analysis, the Mail of this morning says:-  


   In a case of this kind the length of time over which the illness extended is of some importance; and, from the information which we have obtained, we believe that Mrs Pritchard was in a weakly state of health for three or four months, during which she was occasionally complaining. About five weeks before her death she became seriously unwell, and the cause of her illness was supposed to be gastric fever. On the Friday evening preceding her death Mrs Pritchard eat of some chicken; and this appears to be the last food of which she tasted. She died next morning at half-past one. Her last moments were free from suffering; for her husband has an entry in his diary – which, along with the letters and other documents found in the house, has been taken possession of by the authorities – to the effect that she “seemed to sleep away into death.” It would of course be expected that the body would, after death, exhibit some marks of wasting, one of the usual accomplishments of a fever of this sort – but the post mortem examination disclosed no appearance of attenuation; and this was one of the reasons which weighed with Mr Maclagan and Dr Littlejohn in drawing up their report.  

   As the case for the Crown will depend not merely on the chemical analysis, but also on the evidence which they have been collecting as to the administration of food and other matters affecting the domestic arrangements of Dr Pritchard’s household, we may state that from the inquiries we have made we learn that this evidence is to the following effect:- “During Mrs Pritchard’s illness the food she received and the medicines prescribed for her were sometimes given to her by Mary McLeod, sometimes by Mary Paterson, and at other times by her husband. Her illness was marked by nausea and dislike to food, attended with a veracity of appetite. These are just symptoms exhibited in cases by antimony recorded in criminal trials; and they appear to be something like an effort of nature to overcome the weakness entailed on the system by the use of the drug. In our yesterday’s impression we stated that the servant, Mary Paterson, was subjected to a long and searching examination by the Fiscal… on more than one occasion when she had partaken of the food which had been prepared for Mrs Pritchard, and which the latter had only partially used, she was shortly afterwards seized with nausea and subsequent vomiting, the stomach being unable for the time to retain any food. A notable instance of this, and one which she well remembers, occurred on the day preceding Mrs Pritchard’s death. On that occasion Dr Pritchard instructed her to make some egg flip for his wife. Having made it, she was about to take it into that lady, when Dr Pritchard took it from her, saying he would put some sugar into it, and went into his consulting room with it. She thinks that he put in two pieces of lump sugar, which she afterwards saw in the flip. He then gave it to her to take into Mrs Pritchard’s room, but whether that lady tasted it or not she cannot say. The girl, however, asserts that after she took it out of Mrs Pritchard’s room she herself swallowed a part of it, and was soon afterwards seized with nausea and vomited it up.  

   The authorities are also, we understand, of opinion that they will be able to show that traces of antimony are to be found on the bed-clothes, which have been retained for the purpose of being subjected to the usual chemical tests.  

Forres Elgin and Nairn Gazette, Northern Review and Advertiser, Wednesday 29th March, 1865, p.3. 

   DR E. W. PRITCHARD of Glasgow was arrested on Monday last week, on suspicion of having poisoned his mother-in-law and his wife – the first having died suddenly in his house about three weeks ago, and the wife on Saturday week. An anonymous letter, by some miscreant, had been addressed to the police, and upon this, without any more tangible suspicion except the suddenness of the deaths, the Dr, a gentleman eminent in his profession, of excellent character, and kindly affections, was seized like a fellon, and consigned to the Police Office, where for a week he has been in durance. Rumours of cohabitation with a servant, fanned into notoriety by a gossiping washer woman, were put forth as a cause, but were disproved. The contents of the stomach of the deceased has been subjected to analysis, but nothing elicited. In the liver a slight trace of antimony was found. The sensation mongers have had eight days of excitement, but how are the authorities to compensate Dr Pritchard for injured feelings, ruined character – so far as they could – and blasted professional prospects?  

Caledonian Mercury, Thursday 30th March, 1865, p.2. 


   Dr Pritchard has now been fully committed for trial. His brother-in-law, Dr Taylor, at once returned to Penrith on learning that poison had been discovered in several of the organs of the deceased Mrs Pritchard. Some articles of clothing belonging to Mrs Pritchard have been brought to Edinburgh in order that certain marks may be chemically analysed. The body of the old lady (Mrs Taylor) was ordered to be exhumed yesterday, and it is expected to undergo an examination to-day. It was expected that Professor Gairdner and Dr James Paterson would be called upon yesterday to give evidence in connection with this case before Sheriff Sir A. Alison, but neither has been examined as yet. It is thought probable that matters will be so arranged as to enable the authorities to bring the case before the approaching Circuit Court, which commences on the 2d of May. Dr Pritchard is confined in an ordinary cell in the Glasgow North Prison, along with another prisoner, according to the usual practice in such cases. He is described as looking well, and more cheerful than could have been expected under the circumstances.  

Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, Saturday 1st April, 1865, p.1. 


   The following in reference to this case is from the Glasgow papers of yesterday and to-day,..:-  


   Mr Galbraith (of Messrs Galbraith & McLay) has, we are informed, agreed to act as agent for Dr Pritchard. The known ability of this gentleman is assurance that every justice will be done to the defence. A rumour was circulated on Thursday to the effect, that the line of defence adopted will be that Mrs Pritchard died by her own hand. Beyond securing an agent, no steps have yet been taken by the prisoner’s friends, nor has the case, in any way, been yet considered for the defence. The rumour, trumped up apparently for catch-penny purposes, had no foundation therefore in fact.  



   The body of Mrs Taylor was exhumed on Thursday in the Grange Cemetery, a little after two o’clock afternoon. We observed present on the occasion Drs Maclagan and Littlejohn, Mr Gemmel, Procurators-Fiscal, Glasgow, and several other officials. Mr Taylor, the husband of the lady, was also present. There was also present a considerable number of spectators. The grave is near the entrance to the cemetery, between 30 or 40 yards south from the gate. The coffin, on being lifted from the grave, was carried to the vaults in the cemetery where the parts of the body to be examined were removed, and the remains of Mrs Taylor re-interred.  


   Dr Pritchard was on Friday visited in the North Prison by his sister, his brother and a brother-in-law who has just arrived in town. The latter is an Irish solicitor.  

Caledonian Mercury, Saturday 1st April, 1865, p.3. 



   Professor Gairdner was examined yesterday for three hours by Sheriff Sir Archibald Alison. We have not ascertained the character of the evidence, but have been informed that it is of great importance. Mrs Griffin, an old friend of the Pritchard family, was also examined. Her testimony was in reference to the state of Mrs Pritchard’s health, and to the affectionate terms on which Dr and Mrs Pritchard lived. A number of portraits of Dr Pritchard, which he had in his possession when he was apprehended, were yesterday given up to Mr Pritchard, the brother. By the way, we learn from a correspondent that so great is the interest manifested in the case in the North of England that the cartes-de-visite of the prisoner are sold at the railway stations there. We learn that after the stomach and viscera of the late Mrs Taylor had been taken possession of by the police the body was reinterred. Up till late yesterday afternoon the authorities in Glasgow had not received any information from Edinburgh with respect to the post-mortem examination of the body of that lady. The agent, Mr Galbraith has begun to prepare for the defence of the prisoner.  

Renfrewshire Independent, Saturday 1st April, 1865, p.3. 


   THE interest excited in the case of Dr Pritchard is becoming intensified. Persons who knew him intimately, and who were disposed to regard him as innocent at first, now shake their heads portentously. Their confidence in his general character is destroyed by the pointed evidence given by the girl McLeod as to the illicit intercourse that has existed between them. They reason thus:- If he had so little respect for the purity of his own house as to be guilty of such conduct, it is impossible to determine what his conduct towards his wife otherwise would be. It is contrary to all nature and experience that the girl McLeod should criminate herself in circumstances where there were no corresponding advantages to be gained, unless the criminal intercourse referred to subsisted. But there is as yet no motive alleged which would at all appear as impelling to so great a crime. I would speak with caution, and without the slightest intention of engendering hard thoughts against the prisoner, and may therefore be permitted to say that, if the doctor is found guilty, the moving motive by which he was instigated may be found to have been the desire to make another person of means and position his wife. No one believes that a more intimate alliance with the girl McLeod was for one moment contemplated. Every one who knows Dr Pritchard is aware that he was an exceedingly ambitious man – most anxious to obtain notoriety as a lecturer and otherwise. To such an extent did he carry this propensity, that it was regarded by all who knew him as his besetting sin. The fire in his house, and the dreadful death of his servant girl, clouded his reputation to such a degree as to destroy confidence in him. I am now speaking what I know to be fact. He would, indeed, have got over the fama, if nothing else had transpired to lead to grave suspicion.  

   It is now an established fact that Mrs Pritchard died of poison; and the letter which Dr Paterson addressed to the registrar, on the death of Mrs Taylor, expressing his inability to state the cause of death, and intimating that the sudden departure of the old lady was involved in mystery, clearly shows that he regarded the case with the gravest suspicion. As I write, the medical gentlemen who are to analyse portions of the body have not given in their report. Well, if it be found that she died of poison, it must have been by a kind more speedy in its action than antimony, and in that case the affair will have assumed a degree of strength against Pritchard which will leave him little chance at his trial. It is quite true that Mrs Taylor was in the habit of using a strong decoction of opium medicinally, and it is possible that she took an overdose. But if the cause of death be found in another poison, the case as against her son-in-law will not be weakened in the least.  

   But it may be asked, What motive could the prisoner have in destroying his mother-in-law? If it be proved that he has destroyed her, I think it may be found in the circumstance that the old lady had made some discovery in relation to the connection existing between Pritchard and McLeod, or in some suspicion that may have crossed her mind, and to which she may have given expression, as to the doctor’s prescriptions to his wife. It can have no reference to money matters. It is singular that so important a letter as that which Dr Paterson addressed to the registrar should have been lost. It could not be regarded in any other light than an official document, and its disappearance is somewhat unaccountable. Its precise contents will, however, come out clearly in evidence. There are two elements in the case that tell powerfully against the prisoner – first, that in his declaration he affirmed that he administered no antimony to his wife; and, second, that he represented Mrs Taylor as being seriously unwell for a much longer period than was the fact. On the assumption that the antimony was given by some other murderous hand, how did he not see by the symptoms that the lady was being killed by inches? Surely a man who has so many letters after his name would not be so devoid of skill as not to detect, when in constant attendance, what Dr Taylor saw at once on a short visit.  

   I observe that the theory of Mrs Pritchard having committed suicide is mooted; and, indeed, it is asserted that this is to form the line of defence. Now, surely this is a theory that cannot stand a moment’s consideration. Mrs Pritchard, it is admitted, was killed by inches. Who ever heard of any one committing suicide on that principle? Is it possible that she should have caused herself to endure weeks of pain and agony when she had it in her power, had she been so disposed, to put an end to her life at once? That theory will not do, and if it be adopted as the substratum of a line of defence, it will most assuredly fail. At least, that is the conclusion to which common sense would lead any one cognisant of the circumstances. It is surprising how much can be urged to induce doubt even in cases where the evidence is very clear. If it be proved that Mrs Taylor died of some virulent poison, even the shadow of probability will be taken away as to suicide. It would be disgraceful, without good evidence, to charge the departed with self-murder.  

   It seems pretty evident that the trial cannot come off at the Circuit Court that meets in Glasgow on the 2nd May. In that case it is very probable that the trial will take place in Edinburgh about the middle of June. It will excite a very great degree of interest wherever or whenever it comes on. The status of the prisoner will cause counsel of reputation to be retained. It must be the desire of all to see a fair trial. If Dr Pritchard be not the murderer, it is to be hoped that he or she will be brought to justice, and that thus so intensely cruel a murderer may not escape justice. The trial will be regarded with as much interest as was excited in the case of Madeleine Smith, although it has not the same amount of criminal romance about it.  

Caledonian Mercury, Monday 3rd April, 1865, p.2. 



   According to our latest information on Saturday nothing had been learned by the Glasgow authorities regarding the progress of the chemical analysis in the case of Mrs Taylor, and it was not expected that any communication would be received before Monday. Mr David Reid, manager of Mr Walker’s funeral undertaking department in Cambridge Street, was examined as to the arrangements connected with Mrs Pritchard’s funeral. A number of important witnesses are expected to be precognosced to-morrow. It is reported that the prisoner has resolved to “run his letters,” which limits the trial to a given period. It is concluded, therefore, that the trial will take place in Edinburgh on or about the 1st of June.  

   The Morning Journal in its issue of Saturday says:- In the course of our inquiries yesterday, a fact or two came to our knowledge, the importance of which, in a painful investigation like the present, it would be difficult to over-estimate. Hitherto little or no direct proof has been brought forward of the accused being in possession of antimonial preparations in any considerable quantity, or indeed of having them at all. The sale-books of the druggists with whom he was in the habit of dealing throw, it is understood, but little light on the matter, and if the police officials have found the drug in any form in his surgery, this information has, of course, been studiously kept secret. There can be no doubt, however, after what we have learned, that for several weeks past Dr Pritchard was really in possession of tartarised antimony, and this moreover in unusually large quantities, purchased by himself at the establishment of a respectable wholesale druggist in town. We believe we are within the mark in stating that not less than two ounces of this medicine was thus procured by him within the space of two months. Another somewhat striking circumstance is that a few days before the death of Mrs Taylor he was supplied from the same warehouse with a goodly quantity of “Fleming’s” tincture of aconite, a medicine, we understand, possessed of virulently poisonous qualities when administered incautiously. It is quite true that both of the drugs mentioned are largely used in the healing art, but it is not easy to guess at first sight what need any surgeon in private practice could have for great quantities of them, more especially of the tartar emetic. A very free use of antimony as an outward application might, perhaps, partially explain the necessity for purchases so unusually large, but we are led to understand that any such practice has been of late years almost completely laid aside by medical practitioners who keep pace with the pharmaceutical improvements of the day, as we may reasonably assume Dr Pritchard to have done. A grave question, then, our readers will perceive, must now arise as to what has become of the powerful poisons which the accused is known to have bought. The whole affair of the two deaths, with this new light, certainly assumes a most suspicious appearance; but, strong as the suspicions of foul play may be, it is but right to hope that they may yet be all satisfactorily cleared away.  

Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle, Tuesday 4th April, 1865, p.2. 



EDINBURGH, Monday morning.       

   Dr Pritchard’s case has now a much blacker appearance than it had this day week. Every day the chain of evidence is becoming more and more complete, and each succeeding day brings about something that materially adds to criminate the accused. The case is certainly a mysterious one. It seems a mixture of those of Palmer and Madeline Smith, with an admixture of the mystery that attached to that of Jessie McLachlan – Dr Pritchard being the Mrs McLachlan and Mary McLeod the old Fleming. I am reliably informed that the Glasgow authorities have far more evidence regarding Dr Pritchard’s guilt than is known to the public, and I know that for upwards of a year the police, without actually following him about the streets, had “their eye upon him.” A mysterious fire took place about that time in an attic bedroom of Dr Pritchard’s house, and a female servant who slept there was mysteriously burned to death. The fire was observed ere it had attained any great ascendancy, but the poor girl had never made an effort to save herself. People did not then hesitate to express their belief that the girl had been drugged, and it was currently reported that the medical man who examined her body had declared she was enciente [an unwed pregnant woman – an object of family shame]. That case blew over pretty quietly. It has been followed now, however, by one of still greater mystery, and two lives are said to have been sacrificed by some one. Many people ask, “What motive had Dr Pritchard in poisoning his wife and his mother-in-law?” but far-seeing folks soon get a motive established. The illicit correspondence between Mary McLeod and Dr Pritchard has been admitted by the girl herself, and for a day or two past I have heard it rumoured that on one occasion Mrs Pritchard had ocular demonstration of their culpability. Her mother, Mrs Taylor, came to the house in Glasgow shortly afterwards, and set to watch the doctor and his servant. Thus some people establish the motive. As I indicated last week, it is seldom that the guilty get punished so much as the innocent. It was a harrowing sight on Thursday to see old Mr Taylor standing in the Grange Cemetery, waiting until the grave-diggers lifted his wife’s body from the earth; and still more painful was it to see father and son identifying the exhumed remains when they were carried into one of the cemetery vaults. Along with not a few others, I was strongly of opinion that the servants of the house might have been sufficient for all the purposes of identification; but it would appear that the authorities are determined to get up the case against Dr Pritchard in a manner that will not leave a loophole of escape. The medical men are very close on the subject; they will tell nothing at all to the representatives of the Edinburgh newspapers, but, strange to say, we get our information from Glasgow. This would go to show that there is a better official system in Glasgow than in Edinburgh. The Glasgow authorities very properly supply the public with facts that will in no way damage the case for the prosecution, but the Edinburgh authorities will give absolutely nothing. And this state of matters has long been a source of complaint in Edinburgh… Already the details have excited very great interest throughout Scotland and England, and every trifling bit of information is picked up, and read and retailed with avidity. It was painful to see the crowd of people – many of them ladies – who gathered at the Grange Cemetery for hours before the medical men came with the warrant for the exhumation of Mrs Taylor. The taste for the horrible appears to become stronger year by year. Doubtless we shall, when the Pritchard trial does come on, have a crowded court, in which ladies will sit, unveiled and unblushing, throughout the length of the indelicate details.  

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 11th April, 1865, p.2. 

   THE PRITCHARD CASE. – APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL. – It has now been positively settled that Dr Pritchard will, when tried at Edinburgh, be defended by Mr Rutherford Clark as senior, and Mr Watson as junior counsel. It may be remembered that in the celebrated Sandyford case Mr Clark was retained as senior counsel for Jessie McLachlan. We have no doubt the case of Dr Pritchard will receive every justice at the hands of these gentlemen.  

Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser, Tuesday 11th April, 1865, p.8. 

   THE PRITCHARD CASE. – On Saturday, Mr Gemmel, Procurator-Fiscal, was engaged examining Mr Henderson, of the firm of Burton & Henderson, grocers, Sauchiehall Street, and the teller in the Charing-Cross Branch of the City of Glasgow Bank, not in connection with the serious charge against the prisoner, but with reference to a cheque which he presented to Mr Henderson on the morning of Monday the 20th of March, for a small sum which he had no effects to meet. It is said that the prisoner called for Mr Henderson on Monday morning previous to proceeding to Edinburgh with the corpse of his wife, and gave Mr Henderson a cheque for a small sum, stating, as a reason for asking the money, that the banks were not open. Mr Henderson afterwards discovered that the prisoner had no funds in the bank to meet the cheque. The analysis of the contents of the stomach of Mrs Pritchard shows exceptionally large quantities of tartar emetic of tartarised antimony lodged in the tissues, especially of the stomach. The extent to which the body appears saturated with the drug would seem to indicate that its administration had extended over a long period.  

Dundee Advertiser, Tuesday 11th April, 1865, p.2. 

   Cartes de visite of Dr E. W. Pritchard, are now exposed for sale in a number of shops in Glasgow. They bear to have been produced by Cramb Brothers, and are marked “Copyright secured.” One of the cartes is a vignette and the other a full length, representing the Doctor standing, hat in hand, while, curiously enough, a band of crepe or black cloth encircles the hat.  

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Saturday 15th April, 1865, p.2. 

   THE PRITCHARD CASE. – The police authorities are still, we understand, making investigations into the subject of a correspondence which is said to have been going on between Dr Pritchard and a young lady resident in this city. The on dit [rumour] is, that the young lady has L.14,000 in her own right, and that the police, having searched her house, have found some letters addressed by the Doctor to her. We doubt whether this affair, if indeed it is altogether true, will have any bearing upon the case against the prisoner. – Mail.  

Dundee Advertiser, Monday 17th April, 1865, p.3. 




(From our Glasgow Correspondent.)  

   The long looked for report by Dr Maclagan on the analysis of the stomach and viscera of Mrs Taylor and Mrs Pritchard was received by the authorities in Glasgow on Saturday forenoon. The report is of great length, and enters minutely into every step of the proceedings taken in the analysis, describing the various processes gone through, and the results. The conclusion of the whole is that not only Mrs Pritchard, but Mrs Taylor also, has been poisoned with antimony. The result of the analysis in the case of Mrs Pritchard is already known. Mrs Taylor, the report in substance says, has, so far as can be inferred from the analysis, been poisoned by partaking of, in the first place, minute doses of antimony, and been killed finally in one large dose, administered probably about three hours before death. Antimony was discovered in small quantity in the blood and intestines, and about a quarter of a grain was found in the stomach – the remains of the last poison, which had neither been thrown off by the stomach, nor had time before her death to become assimilated with the blood. The prisoner will now, it is said, be indicted for the murder by poison of both ladies. He firmly and earnestly declares his innocence, and has expressed, in speaking on the subject, his reliance on God to free him from all suspicion of the crime with which he is charged.  

Kelso Chronicle, Friday 21st April, 1865, p.3. 

   THE PRITCHARD CASE. – The Edinburgh correspondent of the Inverness Advertiser writes as follows regarding this case:- Being in the way of getting gossip, and in the habit of retailing it, I may as well tell your readers what is current in Edinburgh regarding Dr Pritchard. Firstly, then, it is said that many respectable females in Glasgow have come forward and stated certain strong reasons for having intimated to Dr Pritchard, while he was in attendance on them, that his further visits to their houses would be attended by consequences of an unpleasant nature. Then, it is rumoured that certain letters found among Dr Pritchard’s private papers were in reference to the keep of an illegitimate child, of which he is presumed to be the father. Lastly, and most damaging of all, a young and beautiful lady has been discovered, to whom Dr Pritchard was paying addresses and holding out hopes that may lead a jury of his countrymen to bring in a verdict of guilty against him. This lady has a large fortune in her own right, and it is certain that a considerable amount of the correspondence that passed between her and Dr Pritchard is now in the hands of the police. Altogether, the case promises to be the most celebrated that has occurred during the present century, and there can be no doubt that, had Madeline Smith lived to read the trial of Dr Pritchard, she would have found that, in her own peculiar line, there lived in the same city with her a cleverer individual than herself. Dr Pritchard’s portrait is being sold in Edinburgh for sixpence. His likeness is that of a man who is not a little vain of his personal appearance; in fact, he has the very look of a “lady-killer.” (I don’t mean the compound to be taken as a pun.) His practice was large, and he had the name of being very skilful in his profession. Some folk say that his peculiar line of defence will be that his wife and his mother-in-law committed suicide, but for my part I cannot see how that will be in any way successful. Antimony must be administered with great skill. Small and continued doses enfeeble the body, and a lingering painful death is the result. Large doses are so repulsive to the system that it throws them off. It will thus be seen that the suicide theory is a very wretched one. Besides, Dr Pritchard stated to the registrar that Mrs Taylor died of paralysis, while the post mortem examination has demonstrated that such was not the case. One other suggestive feature in the complicated case is contained in the assertion that Dr Pritchard, when apprehended, had on his person a sum of two thousand pounds. For what purpose a man in his position carried about such a sum of money, except it was for the purpose of absconding, nobody can tell.  

Scotsman, Saturday 22nd April, 1865, p.2. 

   DR PRITCHARD was yesterday examined by Sheriff Sir Archibald Alison, at the North Prison, Glasgow, with reference to the death of his mother-in-law, Mrs Taylor. The prisoner declared that he was neither directly nor indirectly accessory to the death of Mrs Taylor; but declined to make any further statement on the subject. He was subsequently committed for trial on the additional charge of poisoning Mrs Taylor. We believe that it is considered not impossible that the trial of Dr Pritchard may begin on Monday, 8th May, before the High Court of Justiciary here.  

Glasgow Morning Journal, Wednesday 26th April, 1865, p.3. 



   The following, communicated apparently by Professor Penny, appears in the Herald of this morning:-  

   “We are enabled to state upon what we deem reliable authority, that in the course of his analysis of the organs of the late Mrs Pritchard, Dr Penny has made an important discovery, which seems to open up a new field of chemical and criminal inquiry, in connection with the case of Dr Pritchard. The analysis made in Edinburgh, it will be remembered, resulted in antimony being abundantly found in the body of the deceased lady, but we are not aware that the analysis was further pursued, or, if so, that any additional poisonous agent came to light. It would appear, however, that certain peculiar symptoms by which the illness of Mrs Pritchard is believed to have been attended were not such as would have resulted from antimony alone, but were rather suggestive of the administration of a mixture of poisons. With a view, as it would seem, to ascertain whether or not there was anything in this supposition, Dr Penny made an extensive analysis of the antimony, and this has resulted, we believe, in indubitable proofs being obtained of the presence of another poisonous agent of considerable potency, the name of which, however, it would at this stage be premature to divulge. This newly-discovered substance, we are informed, has a chemical affinity to antimony; the one poison, as the medical phrase has it, ‘masks’ but works out the other;.. it is possible that when again resumed other poisonous substances may be discovered.  

   “Meanwhile, the actual discovery which has been made very materially assists, we understand, in accounting for some symptoms manifested by Mrs. Pritchard during her illness, which were formerly somewhat of a mystery, and also tends to clear up several points which have hitherto puzzled the investigator. We are informed, for example, that considerable doubt was felt regarding the statement of the servant girl in Dr Pritchard’s house who tasted a bit of cheese sent down from her mistress. The effects described by her were not those which would have resulted from antimony alone, but they are those which might be expected to follow if we suppose the cheese to have been charged with this other poison as well as antimony. The cheese which the girl tasted has been taken possession of, and will no doubt soon be subjected to the tests of the analyst in view of this new phase of the case.  

Dundee People’s Journal, Saturday 29th April, 1865, p.4. 

   The sale by auction of Dr Pritchard’s household furniture took place on Friday, at his residence, 131 Sauchiehall Street. There was an immense turn-out of people. The bidding, however, was brisk, and much more than the usual prices were obtained for the articles sold. – Journal.  

Glasgow Morning Journal, Monday 22nd May, 1865, p.4. 

   THE TRIAL OF DR PRITCHARD. – We learn that the trial of Dr Pritchard, on the charge of murdering his wife and mother-in-law by means of poison, will take place at Edinburgh, for certain, between the 15th and 20th of June next – that is, if it does not commence on Thursday, the 15th, it will on Monday, the 19th, or Tuesday, the 20th. The Lord Justice-Clerk will judge the case and take notes of the evidence, although two other Justiciary Judges, who have not yet been fixed upon, will also be on the bench. The Lord Advocate will conduct the prosecution. On Saturday another junior counsel, Mr Brand, a very promising young advocate, was engaged on the part of the defence. The prisoner will, therefore, be defended by Mr Rutherfurd Clark, Mr Watson, and Mr Brand. The case will last over several days, as the scientific witnesses for the prosecution and defence are numerous, and will be examined at considerable length.  

Glasgow Herald, Friday 26th May, 1865, p.4. 

   THE PRITCHARD TRIAL. – We learn that Wednesday next is the last day upon which an indictment can be served upon the prisoner. This arises from the provisions of the Scotch Habeas Corpus Act, 1701, c. 6, which provides that, failing service of an indictment within 60 days after letters of intimation have been issued and intimated to the Public Prosecutor, the pannel is entitled to liberation. The trial must take place and be concluded, under the same penalty on a dilatory prosecutor, within 40 days of the service of the indictment.  

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Thursday 1st June, 1865, pp.2 & 3. 

   THE PRITCHARD CASE. – Yesterday afternoon, Dr Pritchard, presently prisoner in the North Prison, Glasgow, was served with an indictment charging him with having murdered his wife and mother-in-law, by the administration of various poisons, including antimony, corrosive sublimate, and aconite. The trial has been definitively fixed for Monday the third of July. Judging from the long list of witnesses and the formidable host of “productions” mentioned in the indictment, the trial will be a long one, extending, it is estimated, over six days. For the prosecution, there are upwards of 70 witnesses cited, and about 150 productions, including letters, prisoner’s diary, medical reports, vials and numberless bottles, &c. For the defence, there are only we understand twelve witnesses chiefly medical. The trial, it is stated, must conclude on the 10th July or according to the provisions of the law the prisoner goes free… The Crown authorities are, of course, aware of this: and should the defence evince a determination to drag out the proceedings, the Court will sit all night, as well as all day in order to finish it.  

Caledonian Mercury, Friday 2nd June, 1865, p.2. 

   THE TRIAL OF DR PRITCHARD. – We understand that the counsel of the prisoner will not pursue any special line of defence; that they will simply leave the Crown to prove their case. It is said that the fact that Dr Pritchard was legally in possession of antimony and other poisons will be a material point in his favour. He is still manifesting the most extraordinary coolness in prison in reference to the impending trial.  

Scotsman, Friday 23rd June, 1865, p.2. 

   THE TRIAL OF DR PRITCHARD. – We understand that it is now arranged that the Judges who will be on the bench at the trial of Dr Pritchard, which commences on Monday, July 3, will be the Lord Justice-Clerk, Lord Ardmillan, and Lord Jerviswoode.  

Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 27th June, 1865, p.2. 

   Dr Pritchard arrived in Edinburgh yesterday morning. He was recognised at the railway station, and a considerable display of feeling was shown. He was at once taken to the Calton Jail, where he will remain until Monday next. Meanwhile he will have every opportunity of consulting counsel.  

Scotsman, Tuesday 27th June, 1865, p.2. 

   ARRIVAL OF DR PRITCHARD IN EDINBURGH. – … The Glasgow Evening Citizen, in noticing the removal of Dr Pritchard from Glasgow, says:- “Although the strictest secresy as to the nature of their movements had been maintained by the officials, the cab no sooner entered the station of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, Dundas Street, than the long beard and well-known features of the prisoner were recognised by some parties in waiting – the intelligence that ‘Dr Pritchard had come’ passed along with electric speed, and a general rush was made by the passengers. On being taken from the cab, the prisoner was conveyed to the superintendent’s room, the door of which was immediately closed – the officials fancying that as the hour for starting had almost expired, the crowd finding that the prisoner had been removed from their view would retire quietly to their carriages. In this they were greatly mistaken, however, as the passengers persevered in hemming themselves closely around the superintendent’s quarters, and all efforts to remove them from the position they had taken up were utterly unavailing. At this crisis the Superintendent forwarded instructions to the engine-drivers that he was about to give the signal to start, but that they were merely to blow the steam-whistle, and remain stationary. The ruse took admirably. The moment the shrill sound of the whistle was heard, the mob scattered in all directions, each person betaking himself to his compartment with the greatest expedition. As soon as all had got comfortably seated, the carriage doors were locked, the door of the Superintendent’s room opened, and the prisoner conveyed quietly to the carriage set apart for his reception.”  

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Wednesday 28th June, 1865, p.3. 


   The following is a copy of the indictment which has been served against Dr Pritchard, from which it will be seen that he is charged with having committed the crime of murder by administering “tartarised antimony, and aconite, and opium,” to his mother-in-law “in tapioca, and in porter or beer, and in a medicine called Battley’s Sedative Solution;” and also by administering “tartarised antimony and aconite” to his wife, “in egg-flip, and in cheese, and in porter or beer, and in wine:” -  

   “Edward William Pritchard, now or lately a doctor of medicine, and now or lately prisoner in the prison of Glasgow, you are indicted and accused at the instance of James Moncrieff, Esq., Her Majesty’s Advocate for Her Majesty’s interest: That, albeit, by the laws of this and of every other well-governed realm, murder is a crime of an heinous nature, and severely punishable; yet true it is, and of verity, that you, the said Edward William Pritchard, are guilty of the said crime, actor, or art and part: In so far as  

   “(1.) On one or more occasions between the 10th and 25th days of February 1865, both inclusive, the particular occasions or occasion being to the prosecutor unknown, within or near the dwelling-house, in or near Clarence Place, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, then occupied by you, the said Edward William Pritchard, you did wickedly and feloniously administer to, or cause to be taken by, Jane Cowan or Taylor, now deceased, wife of Michael Taylor, now or lately silk and lace merchant, then residing in or near Lauder Road, in or near Grange, Edinburgh, and now or lately residing with Ann Taylor or Cowan, in or near High Street, Musselburgh, in the shire of Edinburgh, in tapioca and in porter or beer, and in a medicine called Battley’s Sedative Solution, or one or more of them, or in some medicine to the prosecutor unknown, or in some articles or article of food or drink to the prosecutor unknown, or in some other manner to the prosecutor unknown, tartarised antimony and aconite, and opium, or one or more of them, or some other poison or poisons to the prosecutor unknown; and the said Jane Cowan or Taylor having taken the said tartarised antimony and aconite and opium, or one or more of them, or other poison or poisons, so by you administered or caused to be taken, did in consequence thereof die on or about the 25th day of February 1865, and was thus murdered by you, the said Edward William Pritchard. Likeas,  

   “(2.) On repeated occasions, or on one or more occasions between the 22d day of December, 1864, and the 18th day of March, 1865, inclusive, and in particular on the 8th, 9th, and 21st days of February, 1865, and on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th days of March, 1865, the particular occasions or occasion being otherwise to the prosecutor unknown, within or near the said dwelling-house in or near Clarence Place, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, then occupied by you, the said Edward William Pritchard, you did wickedly and feloniously administer to, or cause to be taken by, Mary Jane Taylor or Pritchard, now deceased, your wife, and then residing with you, in egg-flip and in cheese, and in porter or beer, and in wine, or one or more of them, or in some articles or article of food and drink to the prosecutor unknown, or in some other manner to the prosecutor unknown, tartarised antimony and aconite, or one or other of them, or some other poison or poisons to the prosecutor unknown; and the said Mary Jane Taylor or Pritchard, having taken the said tartarised antimony and aconite, or one or other of them, or other poison or poisons so by you administered or caused to be taken, did in consequence thereof die, on or about the 18th day of March 1865, and was thus murdered by you the said Edward William Pritchard.”  

   The remainder of the indictment contains the usual formal language as to the declarations emitted before the Sheriff, productions, &c., and the citation of the prisoner for trial at Edinburgh on Monday, 3d July. The list of jurors cited and the list of witnesses are also appended to the document.  

And so ends part 2 of the case against Dr Edward William Pritchard and it ends our Pre-Trial round-up for him. It’s not looking great but we have yet the trial to get through where things could change in a number of ways for our protagonist. We may see you for it. Take care. 

Narration by Jenny

Art by Alex

Intro-Outro by Tony ‘Lucky Dog’ Wilson

Greysteil by Paul Burns.

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