Welcome back to our True Crime project, Glasgow’s Square Mile Murders, and part 4 of our 3rd case; that of Dr Edward William Pritchard for the murder of his wife and mother-in-law, within just a few weeks of each other. This is part 2 of his Trial and so far the evidence seems stacked against him. We’ll see how it continues for him, shall we? Let’s get into it.
Caledonian Mercury, Tuesday 4th July, 1865, p.1.
TRIAL OF DR PRITCHARD
MURDER OF HIS WIFE AND MOTHER-IN-LAW.
SECOND DAY – TUESDAY.
The Court resumed this morning at a quarter-past ten o’clock, and like the day before was crowded…
Mary Paterson, who on being examined by Mr GIFFORD, deponed – I was engaged to be cook in the service of Dr Pritchard, the prisoner. I entered his service on the 16th of February last… I did not see Mrs Pritchard when I came. I think she was lying poorly at the time, and I did not go up to her bedroom. Mrs Taylor took charge of the house and gave me my directions. Mrs Taylor occasionally spoke to me about Mrs Pritchard.
Did she say anything about her when you first came? – She said she could not understand her trouble, and told me that she was often sick and vomited frequently, and troubled so that she could get no sleep at night… I saw Mrs Pritchard on the evening of the 24th when the bell rung. It was about nine o’clock. I understand that Dr Paterson had been called in. I went up stairs to see if I could be of any service to anybody, while Mary McLeod went for Dr Paterson. I went to the top flat and stood at the head of the stair.
Did you see anything going on in Mrs Pritchard’s room? – I heard Mrs Pritchard saying, “Mother, dear mother, are you not going to speak to me.” The bedroom door opened soon after, and the prisoner came out and told me that Mrs Taylor was gone. I went into the room and found Mrs Taylor lying in the bed apparently dead. Mrs Pritchard was also in the room. That was the first occasion on which I had seen Mrs Pritchard. I had seen Mrs Taylor some time that day about seven o’clock, when she was down in the kitchen speaking to me.
How did Mrs Taylor appear to be in health when you saw her on that occasion? – She appeared to be somewhat peevish.
Did you not see Mrs Taylor again till you found her in the bedroom that night? – No, I did not. I was usually but very little up stairs. My work was done below. I was told several times after Mrs Taylor’s death about Mrs Taylor’s sickness. After Dr Pritchard had come out of the room and told that Mrs Taylor was gone, he returned immediately again. When I saw Mrs Pritchard in the bedroom she was crying and rubbing her mother’s hands. The doctor asked her if she would not go down stairs. She insisted that she should be left alone with her mother. I was soon after told by the prisoner to make the spare bedroom ready. I did so and lighted a fire in it.
Did Mrs Pritchard come down stairs from her bedroom after that? – Yes, after I went up and told that the spare room was ready.
How did Mrs Pritchard come down the stairs? She walked down I think. I do not remember that the prisoner helped her. The doctor said he would carry her down, and she said she would rather walk… Dr Paterson and Mrs Nabb and I went up to Mrs Pritchard’s room to dress Mrs Taylor’s body. Her clothes were on when she died. As I was taking off Mrs Taylor’s dress and was laying them down I heard the sound of something like a bottle. A little afterwards I lifted the dress and found in the pocket the key of the store-room, a purse, a letter, and a bottle. I am now shown and identify the latter… The bottle was about half full of a brown liquid like laudanum, and was labelled, “Two drops equal to three of laudanum.” The bottle was full to about half-way up the label.
You made a remark how far it was filled to Dr Penny? – Yes.
Did you uncork the bottle, and what did it smell like? – I uncorked it, and it smelt like laudanum.
When you were dressing Mrs Taylor’s body did you observe a mark on her body? – I observed a pinkish-coloured mark on her left side.
Was Dr Paterson in when you entered the room? – No, but Dr Pritchard was.
Did he make any remark to his wife? – He said “What can I do for that dead woman? Can I recall life?” This was immediately after he entered the room.
Did Dr Pritchard say anything to his wife about Mrs Taylor? – He said Dr Paterson had stated she was paralysed on the left side. That was the same side on which you observed a pinkish mark? – Yes.
After you had dressed the body did the prisoner come back to the room before you left? – Yes.
What did he say? – He asked for the bottle that was found in Mrs Taylor’s pocket.
Was Mrs Nabb there? – Yes.
Did you take the bottle from below the drawers where you had placed it? – Yes.
Did you give it to the prisoner? – Yes.
What did he say? – He raised his eyes and hands, and said, “Good heavens, has she taken this much since Tuesday.”
What more did he say? – He desired me to say nothing about it, adding it would not do for a man in his position to be spoken of.
Did he say anything more? – He said he would take the bottle down with him to show to Mrs Pritchard, and he took it down stairs with him.
You remember of the doctor asking you to get something for Mrs Pritchard one night? – One night he brought in some woodcock. That was before Mrs Taylor’s death. I cooked it for supper. The doctor had brought it in himself; he brought it down stairs. I really do not know who took it up.
Do you remember before Mrs Pritchard died, the night before the bell was rung? – Yes. It was in the forenoon, between twelve and one o’clock. It was Mary McLeod’s duty to answer the bells. I answered the bell on that occasion when it had rung three times. I went to the consulting-room first, to see if the prisoner had rung his bell, as sometimes I did not know the difference, but I got no answer. The door was open a little, but I did not press it open.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – The door you say was a little open, but it refused to open any further when you pushed it? – Yes.
By Mr GIFFORD – It appeared to me as if something was behind the door. I went up stairs, and the doctor came from the door of the consulting-room after me. He asked me how Mrs Pritchard was, and I replied that I did not know, that I had not been up stairs. He told me not to go away before he went out, as she wanted to go to sleep. That was before he went out to make his first calls in the morning. I went direct up stairs, and kept looking down to see if the doctor was following me. Mary McLeod followed after me, but I cannot tell where she came from. She had not been in the kitchen flat with me. I went to Mrs Pritchard’s room. Mrs Pritchard asked me to empty a certain vessel in the bedroom. She was in bed sitting up. I took away the chamber-pot. I afterwards went down to the kitchen, and Mary McLeod came after me with a bottle for hot water for Mrs Pritchard’s feet.
By Mr GIFFORD – Did she make any observations about her dinner that day? – She said she was much better, and I remarked that she looked much better than I had seen her for some time before. She felt almost well, she said, except that she was occasionally sick and had vomiting. That was on the 8th March; and about seven in the morning of Tuesday, the 14th of March – the week in which Mrs Pritchard died, I found a small piece of cheese about three or four inches in size. It was a piece of cheese that had been cut off a short time before, from a cheese that had been brought to the house. When I found this piece of cheese, I ate a small portion of it about the size of a good pea. It had a bitter taste, and I felt a burning sensation in my throat, and of sickness and vomiting. I became sick and vomited frequently about twenty minutes afterwards. I had drunk a cup of tea that morning, but had not eaten or drunken anything else before tasting the cheese. The sickness continued till after breakfast. At ten o’clock I felt great pains in my inside. I told Mary McLeod how I felt, and about ten o’clock she brought me down a glass of spirits, which I took after I had gone to bed, which I did between nine and ten in the forenoon. I was not sick after that. I got up again before twelve in the day. On the following day, Wednesday, 15th March, the prisoner spoke to me about dinner time, but – (after a lengthened pause) – I cannot recollect just now what he said. He spoke to me again several times in the evening. He asked me to make some egg-flip for Mrs Pritchard. That would be between ten and eleven o’clock. I met him at the top of the stair, and he told me to beat it up in a porter glass. I did so in the pantry up stairs.
Had you no direction about it before? – He told me to smooth it very smooth, or else Mrs Pritchard would not take it. One of the times he said it was very smooth, and he would bring me a bit of sugar to melt in it. He went to get the sugar.
Where did he go? – He went out of the pantry into the consulting-room, and out of the consulting-room into the pantry, and dropped the sugar into the tumbler.
What kind of sugar was it? – Lump sugar.
One or two pieces? – Two pieces as far as I can say. Where was the sugar kept? I don’t know. I think it was in the dining-room cupboard.
He first went into the dining-room and then into the consulting-room, and then came back to the pantry? – Yes.
By the LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – I remained in the pantry all the time.
By Mr GIFFORD – There is no communication between the dining-room and consulting-room without having to go into the lobby to get to it.
Did you notice the sugar that was dropped by the Doctor into the glass? – I took no particular notice, further -
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – Further than what? Further than it was loaf sugar, and in two pieces.
What did [the prisoner] say about the egg-flip being sent for? – He said Mary McLeod would come for it when Mrs Pritchard was ready to take it.
When you heard that what did you do? – I left it on the pantry table.
Did you go down stairs? – Yes.
Did Mary McLeod come down soon after? – Yes; she came in about ten or fifteen minutes.
Did she ask for the egg-flip? – Yes; I told her that it was in the pantry, and that she might have got it before she came down.
What did you then do? – I put the hot water down.
Did you say anything? – I said I hoped it was hot enough, as the kettle had been off the boil for some time. Mary McLeod asked me to taste it and I did.
Had it a peculiar taste? – Yes, sir, it had. I took no more than a small spoonful of it.
Did you say anything to May McLeod about the peculiar taste? – Yes, I remarked to her what a horrible taste it had, or what a bad taste it had.
Did you take the egg-flip away then? – Mary McLeod took it away.
Well, did you feel any effects from the egg-flip that you had tasted? – I became sick immediately after tasting it.
How did you feel? – I had the same feeling as I felt when I tasted the cheese. I felt a burning sensation in my throat. I vomited frequently during the night and I continued sick till about four o’clock in the morning. I vomited more than once.
Was Mary McLeod up stairs that night? – Yes, she was up till about four o’clock in the morning. She came down at that time to go to her bed. I told her how sick I had been, and said that I thought I would die without seeing the face of any one alive again.
Did you ascribe your illness to anything in speaking of it? – No.
Did you not say anything about the egg-flip? – No; not at that time. I asked for Mrs Pritchard when Mary McLeod came back. I asked if Mrs Pritchard was not ill, and she said Mrs Pritchard would not like her to go into the room. The doctor was in the same room. I continued unwell that night, even after four o’clock, but I did not vomit after that time. I did not again see Mrs Pritchard till the Friday, the day before she died. I saw her about twelve o’clock. The bell was rung. It was rung three times.
Mr GIFFORD – When the bell rung the third time I went up. I went to Mrs Pritchard’s bedroom. I went to the consulting-room door before going up. Upon the Wednesday I went up also. I spoke to her one day about chemises. It was the Friday before she died…
What was Mrs Pritchard doing? – Mrs Pritchard was finishing drinking something out of a porter glass.
Did she finish the draught? – Yes; she emptied the glass.
And the doctor took it from her? – Yes; the doctor took it from her, and set it down beside her… She was quite sensible at the time she spoke. I saw her next day about five in the afternoon. The bell rung at the time with violence, and Mary McLeod went to answer it. Mary McLeod then came and called me very sharp over the stair. I went up stairs immediately, and found Mrs Pritchard going towards the bedroom door. I saw her go into bed. She was in a state of excitement. She was saying something about her mother, but I could not make out what she said. I only heard her say “Mother.” I then rubbed her hands. They felt cold, but I could not say whether they were cramped or not. I went to the bed and assisted to put the bedclothes upon her. She said, “Never mind me; attend to my mother.” Mrs Pritchard began to get composed while I was rubbing her hands. She said she did not know anything about this until the boys had come in, and I did not know what she meant by this. She was speaking earnestly. The youngest child then came into the room. I said it was Elly. She asked if Elly was in bed. I said no; it was not time. She said she thought it was eleven o’clock. She said “Rub my hands harder, for I am afraid of cramp.” The doctor came in while I was rubbing… That was after she left off speaking about her mother. When the doctor came in I left the room. I prepared for Mrs Pritchard’s supper a little chicken that had remained over after dinner. I took the supper the length of the pantry, where I met the doctor, who came out of the consulting room. He asked if Mrs Pritchard had got her supper. I said, “No, I am just going up with it.” He said he would take it up for me, and I gave it to him. So far as I can remember this would be between ten and eleven. I do not know that I heard anything more after that till about half-past one in the morning, when Mary McLeod called me.
What did she ask you to do? – She asked me to get up and make a mustard poultice for Mrs Pritchard, and I got up and made one. I gave it to Mary and asked if I might go up. She said she would let me know if I was wanted, and went up with it herself.
What happened next? – Immediately the bell rang, and went up stairs. I went into the bedroom where Mrs Pritchard was.
Who were there? – Mary McLeod was there and the doctor.
Where was the doctor? – He was lying in bed, and Mrs Pritchard was in bed.
By the LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – I mean that they were both in the same bed – in the bed in which they had been sleeping together.
By Mr GIFFORD – Did you notice what condition Mrs Pritchard was in? – She was lying in her bed. I found that she was lying cold almost, and was dead.
How long was this after you had sent up the mustard poultice? – I do not think it would exceed five minutes.
Did you notice if the mustard poultice had been used? – No, it was not. I saw it lying in the room.
Did the doctor say anything? – Yes; he asked Mary McLeod to rush down for some hot water to put about the mistress, and I said there was no use in putting hot water to a dead body.
Did he leave the room then? – No; it was some time after that before he left the room.
Did he say anything more? – He said, “Come back, come back, come back to your darling, Mary Jane; come back to your dear Edward.”
[At this point the prisoner was visibly affected, and once or twice applied his handkerchief to his eyes.]
Did he say anything more? – He said, “What a brute, what a heathen, so gentle, so mild!”
What more? – He asked me to kill him; to take a rifle and shoot him.
What else passed before you left the room? – I then said, “Doctor, don’t provoke the Almighty; if God were to shut your mouth and mine I don’t know whether we might be prepared to stand before the righteous God.
What did he say to that? – He said, “Dear Paterson, you are the wisest and the kindest woman ever I saw.”
Did he leave the room then? – I asked him to leave the room because I was afraid of the body getting too stiff. He did so.
Now, that same night before this he had been in the kitchen for coals? – Yes; he came down between eight and nine o’clock as far as I can remember.
Did he say anything about his wife? – He said that he had had his friend Dr Paterson in seeing Mrs Pritchard, and that he said she had taken too much wine.
Did you dress Mrs Pritchard’s body? – Yes, with the assistance of Mary McLeod.
After you dressed the body, did you again see the doctor? – Yes, he went into the dining-room, and I told him I had made up a bed for him in the top flat. He said, “Very good.”
When were you next called upon? – I sent him up a cup of tea, and then he called me a few minutes afterwards, and I went up stairs.
What did he say to you when you went? – He wanted Mrs Pritchard’s ring. I gave him the ring and an ear-ring.
When were you asked about the sheets? – Some days afterwards, when asked for the sheets, bolsters, and pillow-cases, I gave them up to McCall…
Did you also take the body clothes of Mrs Pritchard? – Yes, sir.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – Her night dress, I suppose.
What did you do with them? – I put them into the dirty clothes-press also. On being afterwards asked for them I gave them up to Superintendent McCall… These sheets and articles were stained with yellow when I took them off the bed. I noticed that at the time.
Were you frequently in the doctor’s consulting-room? – No, sir; I was very seldom there.
Did he keep the door of his consulting-room locked? – No, I do not think he did. There were two presses in the room.
What was the press that you sometimes saw open for? – I do not know what was in it, but I have got eggs out of it from the doctor to be cooked for breakfast.
… During the whole time you were in the house before Mrs Pritchard’s death was she never further down than the drawing-room? – Not to my knowledge.
You have told us about the doctor on being shown the bottle having said, “Good heavens, has she taken all this since Tuesday.” Did he say nothing more? – No; excepting charging us to say nothing more about it.
After getting the bottle what did he say? – He raged on us and said, “Good heavens, has she taken this much since Tuesday. Had she but told me that, I would have known what she had taken, and not sent a girl like that for it.”
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – That means Mary, I suppose.
Mr GIFFORD – Did he say anything more besides charging you not to say anything about it? – Not that I am aware of. He said that Mary had told him that we found the bottle in Mrs Taylor’s pocket.
By Mr GIFFORD – She was speaking about her mother when I first saw her.
When she was speaking about the body, was she speaking in a different tone of voice? – Not at all; she mentioned my name at one time, and then I thought she was quite aware she knew me.
And why do you think she was raving? – Because she was thinking her mother was with her when she was not.
When you told the doctor that night that after you had tasted the egg-flip that you had been sick and vomiting what did he say? – He said it would be a bad job if I would be laid up also.
But he gave you nothing? – No, he didn’t. I sometimes washed out the glasses, and sometimes not, but I never saw the egg-flip glass afterwards. I could not easily distinguish it from the others.
By the LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – When you told the prisoner that you had been sick and vomiting during that night, did you tell him the cause? – No, I did not say anything. The bottle I found in Mrs Taylor’s pocket was taken out of the room that same night. The next time I saw it, so far as I can recollect, was on the Monday morning on which the body of Mrs Taylor was taken to Edinburgh. I am not quite sure about the day, though.
Where did you see it that day? – I saw it on the drawers-head in the room where Mrs Taylor’s body was lying. The liquid was still in it, and I allowed it to stand there. I never handled it, and the next time I saw it was in Superintendent McCall’s house.
This concluded the evidence of Mary Paterson, who then retired at half-past twelve, having been examined two hours and a quarter…
Mary McLeod was recalled and examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL. – Were you in Dr Pritchard’s house after his wife’s body was taken to Edinburgh? – Yes.
On the Tuesday the police were in the house? – Yes.
You saw Superintendent McCall there? – Yes. I gave a bottle to him. That is the bottle which is now shown me; at least it is very like it. The label is something like the label. There was a dark coloured liquid in the bottle. That is also like the bottle I saw after Mrs Taylor’s body was dressed. I found it in a drawer in a chest of drawers which was in the room where Mrs Taylor died, and also where Mrs Pritchard died. The chest of drawers had however been shifted when Superintendent McCall came to the house. I gave the bottle to him. There was no other bottle in the house like it, that I know.
By the LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – How came you to look for the bottle? Did anybody ask for it? – Yes. Superintendent McCall did.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – What bottle did he ask for? – He asked for the bottle which had been found in Mrs Taylor’s pocket.
Jessie Bryden or Nabb, examined by Mr CRICHTON. – You go out as washerwoman sometimes? – Yes.
You were sometimes employed in the family of Dr Pritchard? – Yes.
I remember the night Mrs Taylor died. It was between twelve and one o’clock in the morning. I was present to assist in dressing the body of Mrs Taylor. Mary Paterson assisted me. I found a bottle in the pocket of Mrs Taylor. The bottle now shown me is the bottle. I read the label, and it is the same which I now see. There was a brownish coloured liquid in the bottle, rather thick. The bottle was three parts full. The liquid did not come up to the label. Dr Pritchard took it down stairs with him. Mary Paterson put it in the drawers, or rather under the drawers. I saw the doctor after that. He came into the room, and was told that it had been found in the pocket of the deceased Mrs Taylor. He asked Mary Paterson to give it to him, and she did so. He then said, “Good heavens! has she taken all that since Monday?” He said she ought not to have sent a girl like that to buy it for her, but that she ought to have asked him. He added that she had been in the habit of taking it for years. He told us we were to say nothing about it, for it might lead to a little trouble. This he said the night after her death.
Did he speak to you again about this bottle? – Yes; next morning in the consulting-room. No one was there but myself. He said he had no doubt it was poison, and she had taken too much of it. He did not say anything more than that.
… Some soiled bed clothes were taken off the bed by me. They appeared as if they had been soiled by vomited matter. She said to me that she had been sick, but was not aware of it till the morning.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – She vomited in her sleep, then? – Yes.
[Mrs Pritchard] said that when she was in Edinburgh she was very well, and that she felt much better…
Thomas Alexander Connell, student, examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – I am a student of medicine, and boarded with the prisoner from November 1863 till a recent date – … I generally asked the doctor every morning how [Mrs Pritchard] was. At first he sometimes said she was better and sometimes he said worse. He did not tell me at that time what was the matter with her. Afterwards he told me he thought it was gastric typhoid.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – When did he say that? – It would be after her mother’s death.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – Before that he did not give any name to her illness at all. He mentioned one of the symptoms as sickness, which he said came on whenever she had eaten anything.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – The only symptom of illness that the doctor mentioned was sickness.
Will you tell us as distinctly as you can what Mrs Taylor said to you about Mrs Pritchard’s illness? – She said she was sick every time she tasted food, and that she had the cramp in her arms and hands. She said the cramp generally came on at night.
Did Mrs Taylor ever speak to you about being sick herself? – Once she did. She said she was sick after taking some tapioca that had been prepared for Mrs Pritchard.
Tell us what she said about that? – She said it had been prepared for Mrs Pritchard, and that it had been taken up to her room. Mrs Pritchard refused to take it, and Mrs Taylor took it herself. About an hour and a-half after she took it she was seized with sickness and vomiting.
Did she tell you how long the sickness and vomiting continued? – About an hour I think she said.
Did you understand from what she said that it was severe sickness? – Yes I did.
Did she say anything else? – She said she was glad Mrs Pritchard had not taken it, as it might have proved fatal in her delicate state. She said she would send the tapioca back. That was all she said. I believe she said something to the effect that her attack was something like what Mrs Pritchard had. This was shortly after she came to Glasgow. I am aware Mrs Taylor died at an early hour on the Saturday morning. I had seen her on the Friday. There did not appear to be anything particular the matter with her on the Friday. She seemed to be a strong, healthy old lady. I noticed no difference upon her on the Friday… I next heard of her about half-past nine, when Dr Pritchard came to me in the dining-room and told me that she had been taken suddenly ill, and he desired me to go for Dr Paterson. I asked what he thought was the matter with her, and he said he thought it was apoplexy. I went for Dr Paterson, and he came about ten o’clock. I was not present when he came, but I saw Mr Pritchard shortly after he left. I asked him if Mrs Taylor was any better, and he said she was not. I asked him if it was apoplexy, and he said it was. The next time I heard of Mrs Taylor was next morning, when the doctor came into my bed-room very early, and awoke me by saying that Mrs Taylor was dead. He said something I did not catch, as I was not awake; but he said she had died about half-past twelve. He said she had died very calmly. In the morning he said he was unconscious when she died.
Did he say anything about her having returned to consciousness before she died? – Yes; he said that she had recovered consciousness a minute or two before she died. I left the house and went to my father’s the next day. When I returned in about a week, on Monday the 6th of March, I saw Mrs Pritchard. I asked her how she felt, and she said she was pretty well. The doctor was present at the time. She seemed as if she was getting better. I thought she was looking better, or convalescent, at least.
Had she the appearance of one who had undergone severe suffering? – Yes; I would have judged from her face that she had undergone considerable pain.
Did you see any more of her before her death? – Yes; I saw her about a week before she died… I was in the habit of inquiring how she was every morning generally. The doctor said she was getting better or coming round.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – How long did he give you this answer to your questions as to Mrs Pritchard’s health? – He did so until the day of her death. He complained of being worn out with watching her. He said he was very much worse of sitting up at nights with her. He said this in course of the week in which her death occurred… on the night on which she died I remarked that he must be much worn out by being up at night so often watching. He replied that he was, but she had often, he said, done the same thing for him when he was ill. I understood him, in saying this, to express how little he grudged the fatigue… On the Saturday night before her death the prisoner gave me a doctor’s prescription in his own handwriting, and asked me to go and get the medicines marked on it “For Mrs Pritchard.” He told me to go to the Glasgow Medical Hall, or the Apothecaries’ Hall, I think in Elmbank Street, off Sauchiehall Street… I got two vials filled with some liquid preparation. I gave this to the prisoner. I did not read the prescription. This was about nine o’clock in the evening… I brought back the prescription with me along with the vials which I got… I was told of Mrs Pritchard’s death the following morning by Mary McLeod.
By Mr CLARK – I remember Mrs Pritchard going to Edinburgh last year. I remained in the house at Glasgow when she was absent at Edinburgh. I was ill during the time she was absent. That was in November. I had sickness and cramp, but I cannot remember of much else. I took ill at dinner-time. When I was ill I vomited. On these occasions when I was taken ill I could hardly sit up. It was in November that I was first taken ill. The next time that I took ill was in February. I was ill for about a fortnight or so, I was not away from the table the whole time; only about three or four days.
By Mr CLARK – I was ill again every morning after breakfast. I was ill about two hours. It was about half-an-hour after breakfast. The illness lasted about a week in the beginning of February, and I was ill again towards the end of that month. The tea was poured out at the table, at breakfast, but it was brought up made. Catherine and sometimes the others brought it up.
Cross-examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – Sometimes the doctor poured the tea out and sent it up with the servant.
Were you sick in the way that you have mentioned at any time when Mrs Taylor was in the house? – Yes, shortly after she came. That was the third attack. The first attack was in November, the second in February, and I got better of that and had an attack in the same month of February. I did not feel ill in the latter month, except at breakfast. I was not ill every day. I always vomited when I was ill.
You have said something about the cramp, I think? – Yes, in November.
Did the cramp return in February now and again? – Yes.
Where was it? – In my hands.
Were you able to account for the sickness? – No.
Did you mention it to the doctor – I mean the prisoner? – Yes. He said he thought it gastric typhoid. It was immediately after that sickness that I went home to my father’s. I had no sickness there.
Cross-examined by Mr CLARK – Was the doctor ill as well as yourself in November? – Yes, he was.
In the same kind of way? – Yes.
Richard John Christian King, examined by Mr GIFFORD – I am a medical student. I went to board with Dr Pritchard in October last… I remember the morning Mrs Taylor died. I had seen her at half-past eight o’clock in the consulting room. She was writing letters. She appeared to be quite well. I next heard of her that night about ten o’clock. She was dangerously ill the doctor told me… I went to bed between eleven and twelve o’clock, and was awakened sometime about twelve by one of the servants telling me the doctor wanted me. I got up and saw the doctor. He asked me to go up to the telegraph office and telegraph “Dangerously ill,” to Mr Michael Taylor of Edinburgh, Mrs Taylor’s husband.
Did he not lead you to understand that she was dead? – Not at that time. I went to the Telegraph Office, and telegraphed the message. I came back and saw the doctor, and he told me to go back again to the office, and telegraph to the same person “dead.”
Did he tell you that she had been dead the first time? – Yes, he said he did not want to alarm the old gentleman.
You remember the night before [Mrs Pritchard’s] death? – Yes. I came into the house about eleven o’clock that night.
When were you awakened? – I was awakened about a quarter or half-past twelve by Mary Paterson. I got up and went to the doctor’s room. I found him in bed beside Mrs Pritchard. I looked at Mrs Pritchard.
What state was she in? – She was dead.
Did he ask you to do anything? – He asked me to go for Dr Paterson. I went and saw Dr Paterson, and he said he would come.
When you came back to the house what happened? – One of the servants met me, and said the doctor was not to come.
What did you do next? – I went down to the Victoria Hotel for Mr Taylor, the deceased Mrs Taylor’s husband, and got him there. I did not go back to Dr Paterson’s.
Caledonian Mercury, Wednesday 5th July, 1865, p.7.
[Second Day of Trial continued.]
Janet Hamilton, dressmaker, Thistle Street, Garnet Hill, Glasgow, examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – I was acquainted with Mrs Pritchard, and was in the habit of making dresses for her… She observed that she could not account for her sickness, nor say what was the matter with her. She said it was very strange she was always well in Edinburgh, and very ill when at home. I said that her being always well in Edinburgh was owing to her breathing her native air. She remarked that she did not know about that.
Was there anything about her expression or manner which struck you when she said that? I did not think anything, although I thought that she was very serious in her remarks, and that she was very anxious to know what was wrong with her…
Dr W. T. Gairdner, on being examined by Mr GIFFORD, deponed – I am professor of medicine in the University of Glasgow. I know the prisoner. On the night of the 8th or 9th of February a message came to my house requesting me to call at the prisoner’s… The message was to come and see Mrs Pritchard. I went immediately…
Did he tell you before he introduced you what was the matter? – In general terms he said she had been very sick, and that her stomach was not able to bear anything. I think he said she had been some weeks so…
When he introduced you how did you find Mrs Pritchard? – I found Mrs Pritchard in bed with a considerably flushed face, and in a state of pretty considerable excitement. She then, I think, told me herself that she had been sick.
Was any opinion expressed by the doctor as to what was the matter with her? The only thing I can recollect was when the spasms became known to me, and he said it was catalepsy. He mentioned that Dr Cowan of Edinburgh had seen her; and said that Dr Cowan had ordered stimulants, and that his wife had had chloroform, but whether it was on account of Dr Cowan’s orders or not I do not know I think he said his wife had had champagne for stimulants… She said she was aware that I was a College friend of her brother, Dr Michael Taylor of Penrith. I found her as if she had been sick, and to a certain extent exhausted, but not extremely exhausted. She had a very good pulse, and there was nothing indicating immediate danger. The most remarkable thing about her condition was the violent state of mental excitement she was in, and the spasms in her hands… I attributed her excitement to her being intoxicated from the combination of champagne and chloroform that had been given to her. I made a further examination. I then withdrew to the fire in order to warm my hands, with a view to making a further examination of her person; and I had no sooner turned towards the fire than she began to scream out at the pitch of her voice, “Oh, you cruel, unfeeling man, don’t leave me!” This was addressed to me. I then returned to the bed, and said I did not intend to leave her. I then returned to the fire, and warmed my hands; and in the midst of this she was in a violent excitement, and screamed out loudly. After a little while I took no notice of this, believing that they came from an intoxicated woman. The general purport of what she said was that I was unfeeling in leaving her alone to go to the fire. I then returned to her, turned up the bedclothes, and examined her person. I asked her and also Dr Pritchard if there was any chance of her being pregnant, pregnancy being a frequent cause of vomiting. I was told that there was none…. I ordered that stimulants should be discontinued… I repeated it most emphatically to Dr Pritchard, and said that I thought this was a very bad practice, and that she was to get no more stimulants until I saw her again. From what I observed I saw no symptoms of catalepsy in her. I must first be plain, and say that I hardly know what catalepsy is. It is not a disease of ordinary medical experience at all. We only know about it from books; and a great deal of what is written about it is apocryphal… I do not remember her using any expression while I was there about hypocrites. She said a great deal while in the hysterical way, of which I took no notice… I arranged to see her the same day of which this was the morning. I called between twelve and one. I saw Dr Pritchard, and he said she was better and quite quiet… She had vomited a good deal, and still had the remains of the spasms in her hands. I directed that she was still to get no stimulants and no medicine; and that when she required any food she was to get a plain boiled egg, and milk and bread, or anything else. I told her that my object was to make her food as simple as it possibly could be, in order that there might be no possibility of her getting anything that would produce sickness, or irritation of the stomach. I was very much puzzled, from this visit, to form an opinion as to what was the cause of her illness. I thought she was intoxicated the evening before – drunk, in fact. I thought she was hysterical. I don’t think I saw her after this second visit.
Did you think her case required serious consideration? – Yes.
Tell me your impressions? – My impression was that if I had been a general practitioner attending her I would probably have seen her every day at that time. But there was a doctor in the house, and my habit is to act as a consulting physician and not as a general practitioner.
Did you return next day – I think not. I think I never saw her again. I was never sent for again.
By Mr GIFFORD – Did you write a note to the prisoner? – Yes… before leaving I wrote a note or sent a message, I don’t remember which, to ascertain how Mrs Pritchard was, and I received for answer that she was better. I then left for my engagement, and returned on the Saturday afternoon. There was a patient waiting for me. While I was engaged with the patient, I believe Dr Pritchard called and left word that his wife was better, and that I need not call.
Did you write to your friend, Dr Taylor of Penrith? – Yes.
When? – I think it was on the 9th of February, after the second visit.
What was your reason for writing? – My reason was that I was puzzled, and I wished to be aided by his suggestions.
Were there any symptoms of gastric fever in Mrs Pritchard that you observed? – I did not think there was any fever at all.
Had you known the pursuer long before this? – For either one or two years. My connection with him had been chiefly in consultation about a few cases.
Was his nomenclature accurate in general – that is, had he any peculiarity in the way in which he spoke of disease? – I can’t answer that question.
Did you not observe anything peculiar in his nomenclature of disease? – Well, I thought he spoke a little at random occasionally.
What do you mean by that? – Well, I mean by that, that I did not think he was a model of accuracy and wisdom in applying names to things.
Without being a model of wisdom, caution, and accuracy, describe the way in which he spoke of disease? – I think he was rather careless and slipshod in his ideas.
Was that through ignorance? was he an unskilful man? – I had not much to do with him.
You said you wrote to her brother after you had seen her that first night? – Yes.
Did you indicate to him there was anything more than improper treatment? Did you indicate, in fact, there was any foul play?
Dr Gairdner (after a pause) – You mean poison?
Mr CLARK – Yes.
Dr Gairdner – Certainly not.
Dr James Paterson, examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – I am a doctor of medicine, and have been in practice in Glasgow upwards of thirty years.
Do you remember being called to Dr Pritchard’s house on Thursday last? – I do.
On what day was that? – It was on the evening of Friday the 24th February. That was the first time I was ever called to his house. I was called between half-past ten o’clock and eleven o’clock, and I went about the house. I met Dr Pritchard in the lobby or hall of his own house.
Witness – He conducted me into his consulting-room on the 1st floor, and told me that his mother-in-law, while in the act of writing a letter, had suddenly been taken ill, and had fallen over the chair upon the floor.
Witness – The old lady had by this time been conveyed up-stairs into the bed-room -
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – Just allow me to interpose this question – How long before this visit of yours did he say that the old lady had taken ill and tumbled off the chair? – I think he said about half an hour or an hour before I came. I asked if he could assign any reason or cause for the suddenness of the attack. He said his mother-in-law and Mrs Pritchard had been partaking of some bitter beer – for supper, as I understood – soon after which they both became sick and vomited, and both complained that the beer was much more bitter to the taste than usual.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – You are telling us now, I suppose, of what he said to you on your first arrival in the consulting-room, where he and you were alone together. Witness – I am. Dr Pritchard told me that they could not have taken more than a third of a pint each, because there was still some remaining in the bottle. I said I could not think it possible that either Allsopp’s of Bass’ beer could produce such an effect, and that the attack must depend upon some other causes.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – Did he point to a beer bottle? – Afterwards he did, but not at this time. I then asked him to recount the previous state of his mother-in-law’s health. I asked particularly in reference to her social habits, when by a particular insinuation he made me distinctly to understand that she was in the habit of taking a drop occasionally.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – A drop of spirits, you mean, I suppose? Witness – Yes.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – That was of his mother-in-law he spoke? – Yes. He also stated to me that Mrs Pritchard had been very poorly for a long time past with gastric fever… He told me that he had some days previously telegraphed for his mother-in-law to come there, and to keep her or to attend to her in her illness. He then went upstairs to the bedroom, and on entering I observed Mrs Taylor lying on the one edge of the bed. She was lying upon her right side with all her clothes on, and on her head a half-dress cap with artificial flowers. Mrs Pritchard was in her night clothes, with nothing on her head, her hair very much dishevelled; was in the same bed, but underneath the bed-clothes. She sat up immediately behind her mother.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – Was she dead or alive at this time? – Alive. She gave the impression of a person who had been in good health. She seemed to me to be rather a fine, an ordinary-sized, and well-formed woman – altogether, I should say, a very superior-looking person at her time of life. She had not the slightest appearance of being addicted to the use of spirituous liquors. On examining her face it was pale, and her expression calm and placid. The eyelids were partially closed, the lips were rather livid, the breathing was slow and laborious, the skin was cold and covered with clammy perspiration. The pulse was almost imperceptible, and she seemed to me to be perfectly unconscious. On my opening up her eyelids I found both pupils very much contracted. From those symptoms, and judging from her general appearance, my conviction was that she was under the influence of opium, or some other powerful narcotic, and I at once pronounced my opinion that she was dying. On my doing so, Pritchard, in an under tone of voice, said something apparently unwilling that the expression I made use of should be heard.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – By the ladies? – Yes. We retired a little from the bedside and went to the fireplace, and I there stated distinctly that she was dying. Pritchard said she had frequently attacks before of a milder kind, but never one so severe. I said nothing they could do would have the slightest effect, but as a last resource we might [apply] a mustard poultice to the soles of the feet, the calves of the legs, and the inside of the thighs, and as quickly as possible, administer a strong turpentine emetic.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – That is an injection? – Yes. Dr Pritchard at once proceeded to prepare the emetic, and he said he had a little before given her one in which he administered a glass of brandy. The old lady was apparently comatose or unconscious; but on being roused a little, and the head and shoulders slightly elevated, a degree of consciousness came over her, and the pulse became perceptible at the wrist.
THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL – That morning was it the first thing that had been done to decide whether she was really conscious or not? – It was. What you mean when you say she was not conscious before is that she was not manifesting consciousness? – Certainly. Dr Pritchard directed attention to this circumstance, and clapped the old lady on the shoulder and said, “You are getting better, darling.” I looked at her and shook my head, as much as to say, there is no prospect of her getting better in this world. A slight retching now came on, and she put up a small quantity of a frothy kind of mucous, immediately after which the coma returned. The breathing became more laboured, and there were other bad symptoms. I then concluded that the case was utterly hopeless, but Pritchard administered an enema. I then retired, and entered the consulting-room with Pritchard. I repeated my opinion that she was under a state of narcotism.
By the LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – She was not dead at this time. She was approaching death.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – Pritchard then said that the old lady was in the habit of using Battley’s sedative solution, and that she had a few days before purchased not less than a half-pint bottle of the medicine, and he said he thought it very likely that she might have taken a “good swig of it.” There was little more said at that time.
Had she anything of the appearance of an old lady who had been in the practice of using such a medicine? – My impression certainly was she was not an opium eater, or one that ate opium to any great extent.
Will you kindly carry your recollection back to the bed-room again, and tell us what you observed of Mrs Pritchard? – While attending to Mrs Taylor, I was very much struck at the same time with the appearance of Mrs Pritchard. She seemed exceedingly weak and exhausted. Her features were sharp or thin, with a high hectic flush on her cheeks. Her voice was very weak, and very much resembled the voice of a person verging into a collapsed state of cholera. The expression of her countenance conveyed to me an idea of a kind of silly or semi-imbecile expression at the time. At first I was inclined to attribute her appearance to the recent severe attack of gastric fever, as I had been told by Pritchard – the symptoms aggravated, of course, by the great consternation and grief not unnaturally caused by the sudden and alarming condition of her mother. At the same time, I must say I could not banish from my mind the idea, or rather the conviction, that her symptoms betokened that she was under the depressing influence of antimony.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – You mean that the impression or conviction came upon you at the time that you were in her presence, and you could not get quit of it? – Certainly.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – You did not talk to her at all. No; I did not put a single question to her. That impression was conveyed by her appearance and the general symptoms. I then left and went home about half-past eleven o’clock.
When did you next hear of the Pritchards, or see anything of them? On Wednesday the 1st of March.
Were you not sent for again in the course of that morning? – Yes, I was.
You were sent for again to Mrs Taylor, and then got another message not to go? – A little before one o’clock my door bell was rung. I was in bed, but Mrs Paterson had been sitting up at the time. She opened the door, and a girl asked me to come directly and see Mrs Taylor. I refused to go, because I was certain it could be of no service, and as I was very much fatigued with the previous day’s work, I was very unwilling to work. I sent my compliments to Dr Pritchard, saying that if he really thought I could be of use he was to send back word, and I would go directly.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – Your house was only a short distance from that? – 195 yards – (laughter in Court). No message came back; but about ten o’clock on the Saturday morning, the 25th, an elderly gentleman called upon me.
You were not aware at the time the gentleman called that he was Mr Taylor? – No, I was not at the time…
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – He informed you that she was dead. He came for the dead certificate.
What I really want to know was that you were informed that she was dead at that time? – Certainly. I said I was surprised at the certificate being sent for. As a medical man Dr Pritchard ought to have known that the certificate should have been sent to the registrars of the district, and not to the friends. I was requested to fill in the usual schedule her disease and cause of death. I sent it back to the registrar with a note. Dr Pritchard said I had been very correct in my opinion with regard to his poor mother-in-law. He added that he would feel obliged if I would visit Mrs Pritchard next day at eleven o’clock, as he required to be in Edinburgh at the funeral of his mother-in-law. I at once agreed to visit his wife at his request. I went on Thursday, the 2d March, at eleven o’clock in the forenoon, or near to that hour. I saw Mrs Pritchard. She was in bed.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – You will perhaps be able to tell us in your own way, as you did with regard to your former visit, of the state in which you found her? - I found her still very weak and prostrated. In a weak voice she expressed her satisfaction and her gratitude at my calling. Then in a very earnest manner she asked me if I really thought her mother was dying when I saw her. I said, “Most certainly I did, and I told Mr Pritchard so.” She then clasped her hands, looked up, and feebly exclaimed, “Good God, is it possible?” and burst into a flood of tears. I afterwards asked her with regard to the previous state of her health, and made the especial inquiry if she was habitually addicted to the use of Battley’s sedative solution. She told me her mother’s health, generally speaking, was good, but that she suffered occasionally from what she called “neuralgiac headaches,” and that for the relief of these attacks she now and again took some of the sediment; but immediately added that it could not be said she was in the habitual use of this medicine. I then questioned her with regard to herself, and she told me that for a considerable time back she had suffered very much from sickness, retching, and vomiting; that she suffered pains in the stomach and throughout the bowels, accompanied with purging, and great heat and uneasiness about the mouth and throat, and had a constant burning thirst. I examined her tongue and mouth and found them of a lightish brown colour. Her features were very sharp and deeply flushed. Her pulse was weak and very rapid. Her skin was moist but devoid of animal heat, and she altogether presented an appearance of great general prostration. Her eyes were watery, but clear and most intelligent. I prescribed for her small quantities, at short intervals, of champagne and brandy to recruit her strength, with small pieces of ice, occasionally to relieve her thirst, and the irritability of stomach. If she tired of these she was to have recourse to the granulated citrate of magnesium, with mustard poultices over the pit of the stomach. I also recommended small quantities at short intervals of easily digested food, nutritious food, such as beef tea, calf’s feet jelly, hare soup, arrow root, and so on. I then wrote a prescription for 12 grains of calomel, 24 blue or grey, 12 grains of powder of ippecachuaua, and 6 grains of aromatic powder; the whole to be carefully mixed up and divided into six equal parts, the patient to have one powder every day. That was with the view of relieving the bilious disturbance and soothing the mucous lining of the alimentary canal. I have the prescription to her myself, and told her to show it to Dr Pritchard when he came home, and to tell him what I had ordered.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – You mean that she was to tell him the regimen as well? – Exactly; that was what I meant. I did not see Mrs Pritchard again till within four or five hours of her death.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – … The next occasion I had to speak to her was on that visit a few hours before her death on the 17th March. Dr Pritchard called upon me personally. He requested me to go with him and see Mrs Pritchard, and I went. I accompanied him, and went to the bedroom, and saw Mrs Pritchard in bed, in a sitting position, supported by pillows. She seemed quite conscious, for when I went up to her bedside she caught my hand, and I could see a half smile of recognition on her countenance. She very soon began to mutter something about her having been vomiting. She made very little effort at all to speak. When she muttered about the vomiting Pritchard was standing beside me, and he volunteered to say that she had not been vomiting – that she was only raving. She complained of great thirst, and her husband poured some water into a tumbler and gave it to her to drink, at the same time saying, “Here is some nice cold water, darling.” She drank it. I observed that her countenance was very much changed from what it had been before. There was a peculiarly wild expression; the eyes were fiery red, sunk-looking, and her cheeks were hollow, sharp looking, and still very much flushed. Her pulse was exceedingly weak, and very rapid. Her tongue was of a darkish-brown colour, very foul. She immediately began to grasp with her hand, as if grasping at some imaginary object among the bedclothes. She muttered something about the clock, and Dr Pritchard said he thought she referred to the clock or timepiece on the drawing-room mantelpiece. There was no clock in the room. I expressed my surprise at her great pain and at her alarming appearance, and asked Pritchard how long she had been entirely confined to her bed since I was there. He said, “Only since morning, for yesterday afternoon she was in the drawing-room amusing herself with the children.” I again expressed surprise at her alarming condition. He said she had not slept for four or five days or nights. I then said “We must endeavour to do something to relieve her, and if possible procure her some refreshing sleep. We left the bedroom and went down stairs, and I then prescribed thirty drops of the solution of morphia, thirty drops of ippicachuaua wine, five or ten drops of chlorodine, and an ounce of cinnamon water. This was to be repeated in four hours if the first draught did not give relief. Pritchard wrote the prescription at my dictation. I did not ask him to write it. I said I thought it was unnecessary to write it, as he might make it up himself. I was anxious to save time and give relief as soon as possible. He said he kept no medicines in the house except chloroform and Battley’s sedative solution. I asked him if he did not keep a small stock just to meet any sudden emergency, particularly night work, and he said he did not. It struck me as something strange that he should not have any medicine in the house. A medical man in extensive practice must always have some medicines on hand to meet any sudden emergency. As he said he had no medicine in the house he took down the prescription from my dictation. I did not read the prescription, nor did I see it afterwards. I am shown a prescription (labelled No. 13).
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – Is that prescription in the handwriting of the prisoner? – I think it is – I am sure it is. And does that conform to what you told him to write? – Yes. I then left the house and I heard no more of the matter till about one o’clock in the following morning – that is, Saturday morning.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – And what did you hear then? – Well, about the hour I have mentioned, the door of my house was suddenly and loudly rapped, and on going to it myself, I found a young lad, who requested me to go to Mrs Pritchard immediately, as she had become so much worse, and was thought to be dying, if not dead. I proceeded to dress myself at once for the purpose of going out as requested, but in less than three minutes after I rose, my door bell was again rung – this time by a servant girl – and as I opened the door she said, “You need not come, Mrs Pritchard is dead.” I therefore did not go to the house.
Are you quite sure that you never recommended Dublin stout for her? – No; I never as much as spoke of Dublin stout, so far as I remember, any time in the course of the only two visits I paid to the house.
Cross-examined by Mr CLARK – My candid opinion, as I have said, is that she was not like a person who took opium. I have seen opium eaters, and Mrs Taylor did not resemble a patient of that class.
Mr CLARK – How did you judge that she was not addicted to the use of opium? – If persons are in the habit of taking opium to a great extent we generally find that they are not good in colour, that they are hollow about the eyes, and, in fact, not at all of a healthy appearance generally. And Mrs Taylor being stout and healthy, so far as you could judge, you concluded that she could not have taken opium? – She had not the appearance of what I would call a habitual consumer of opium, though she might perhaps occasionally take it medicinally. And when Dr Pritchard said to you that she was in the habit of taking opium you thought that what he was saying was not true? – That was my conviction, formed, however, of course, after I saw the individual. Before I saw her I took it for granted that the statement was correct. When you were with Mrs Taylor on that evening did you examine attentively to the condition of Mrs Pritchard? – No; I only glanced at her, and formed diagnosis from her appearance. I did not examine her as a patient at that time.
But you formed the conviction that she was under the influence of antimony? – Yes.
Have you ever seen before a case of poisoning by antimony? – Yes; I have seen, I think, three poisonings by antimony, but they were chiefly cases of children.
I understand you to mean by the words “depressing influence of antimony,” that she was being poisoned by antimony? – I thought that she must have been getting antimony for some time past; but I could judge from nothing but her appearance.
Did you think she was getting it medicinally or otherwise? I could form no opinion of the manner in which or motive for which it was given or taken. She was in a state to which a patient could be brought by the long continued use of antimony.
What was your impression of the manner or object with which it was given? – My impression was that she had been poisoned or was being poisoned by antimony. I formed that conviction just simply from looking at her, from symtomothology, or the science of signs in diseases.
Did you go back to see her again? – No; and I believe I never would have been called the second time had I not happened to meet Pritchard accidentally on the street.
Why did you not go back? – Because she was not my patient. I had nothing to do with her.
Then, though you saw a person suffering under what you believed to be poisoning by antimony you did not think it worth while to go to see her? – It was not my duty to interfere so in any family.
Now, Dr Paterson, was it not your duty to try and save a fellow-creature from what you conceived to be an approaching untimely death? – I did the best I could by apprising the registrar. It would have been different had I been called in for consultation or requested to act along with another doctor. I had no right or power to call back again on Mrs Pritchard.
You thought you had no right then to go back and see a person whom you believed to be undergoing a process of slow poisoning by antimony? – I took what steps I could to prevent any further administration of antimony or other poison.
By not going back to her? – No; but by refusing to certify the death in the first case. Had there been a post mortem inspection on Mrs Taylor’s body, I believe that in all probability the drugging by antimony would have gone no further, at least at that time.
On calling the second time you found her labouring under the same symptoms, or similar symptoms as those you observed on her on the 2d of March? – Yes.
Did you still believe her to be suffering from poisoning by antimony? – I did, and I prescribed accordingly. I saw her alone on that occasion.
Did you give her any indication of what you thought was her ailment? – No.
Did you not say you thought she was being poisoned by antimony? – I did not mention anything about antimony to her.
Did you mention poison at all to her? – I did not.
Did you not give her any idea that in your opinion she was labouring under other than natural disease? – I did not.
Why? – Because the medicine I prescribed for her, provided she got nothing else, was sufficient in my opinion to have very soon brought her round. That is taking it for granted that my prescriptions were carefully acted up to, or rather my advice. It was Dr Pritchard who asked me to attend his wife on the second occasion.
Did you mention to him then what you thought about the poisoning by antimony? – No, I did not think it would have been a very safe matter to have done that.
That was your conviction? – Yes.
Why did you not call on her the next day to see if your advice and prescriptions had been acted up to? – I had no right to do so. She was under the care of her husband, Dr Pritchard, and had I done so I would have considered myself intruding up on the family.
But, dear me, Doctor, when you saw something so very special with this particular case ought you not to have gone back again? – No; and that simply because it was none of my business. She had her own husband, and he was a medical man. I had, as I considered, discharged the duty that was incumbent upon me.
By prescribing certain things, and not seeing whether your advice or prescriptions were followed or not? – In any case the consultant has no right to go back to see if the patient has acted up to his instructions.
Then you abstained on the score of the dignity of your profession? – The etiquette of my profession, so far; but I do not say that was the sole reason which might have prevented me from going back. In any case where I am called to consult, if I were to go back it would be a breach of the etiquette of my profession.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – It was to visit Mrs Taylor you called in on the 24th February? – Yes. I was not consulted about Mrs Pritchard. I met Dr Pritchard near my own house. It was a purely accidental meeting. It was about eleven o’clock in the forenoon on Tuesday, He said he was going from home on the following day, and would be obliged if I would call and see his wife in the forenoon.
Had you any reasons to suppose he was coming for you? – Certainly not.
It was therefore an accidental meeting? – I thought it was purely an accidental invitation I received.
Your suspicions concerned Dr Pritchard? – I would rather not answer that question.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – I wrote to the registrar, Mr Struther.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL – The letter has been destroyed.
Dr Paterson – I have not a copy of the letter, but I can give it verbatim, as I wrote it guardedly.
Dr Paterson was here withdrawn.
James Struthers – I am registrar of the Blythswood district in the burgh of Glasgow. Sauchiehall Street is in that district, and therefore the prisoner’s house. I received an intimation in the usual way of the death of Mrs Taylor, in the prisoner’s house, on the 25th February, between twelve and half-past twelve afternoon, by Michael Taylor, the husband of the deceased. I had asked who was her medical attendant. He said it was Dr Pritchard and Dr James Paterson who were her medical attendants. He said that the latter had been called in a little before Mrs Taylor’s death. I asked whether he would send to Dr Paterson for a certificate; but he said he would prefer that I myself would send for it to Dr Paterson. I accordingly sent to Dr Paterson, the usual printed form of the Registrar-General. I did this upon Thursday the 2d March. I got an answer from him. I am sorry that note was not kept. I considered it was of no consequence. I got a certificate from Dr Pritchard, and considered the matter all right. I therefore destroyed the note.
By the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – I sent the same schedule to Dr Pritchard, and I got a certificate from him.
The schedule was here produced and read by the witness in the following terms:- “Register Office, District of Blytheswood, in the burgh of Glasgow. I hereby certify that I attended Ann Taylor or Cowan, who died on the 25th Feb. 1865, at 131 Sauchiehall Street, usual residence at Lauder Road, Grange, Edinburgh. When I last saw the deceased – the 25th February – cause of death, as undernoted – Primary disease – paralysis; duration, 12 hours. Secondary – apoplexy, one hour. Witness my hand, March 3. – Edward William Pritchard, M.R.C.S.C.”
After Mrs Pritchard’s death did you send a similar schedule to Dr Pritchard? No, he called himself and registered the death. He called on Monday the 20th March at ten o’clock in the forenoon. At the time he called he signed an entry in the register. He signed the certificate now shown me, which is as follows:- “Register Office, Blytheswood district, in the burgh of Glasgow. – I certify hereby that Mary Jane Pritchard or Cowan died on the 18th March 1865, at 131 Sauchiehall Street, where I last saw the deceased – 18th March. Primary cause of death – gastric fever. Duration – two months. – Signed Ed. W. Pritchard.”
There was appended that Dr Paterson had attended. Both deaths are registered conformable to these certificates.
Dr Paterson being recalled and interrogated by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – state the terms of the letter which you wrote to the registrar. The letter was dated 4th March 1865, and was as follows:- “Dear Sir, I am surprised that I am to certify the cause of death in this case. I only saw the person for a few minutes – a very short period before her death. She seemed to be under some narcotic, but Dr Pritchard, who was present from the first moment of the illness until death occurred, and which happened in his own house may certify the cause of death. The death was certainly sudden and unexpected, and to me mysterious – I am, Dear Sir, &c.” The words “cause of death” were rendered emphatic, being underlined.
Mr CLARK – When I asked you whether you had taken any means for the protection of Mrs Pritchard, this was the communication you referred to? – Dr Paterson – The only communication. Mrs Pritchard’s name is not mentioned. I did not make any communication whatever to Mrs Pritchard’s family nor to any one. I, however, spoke of the matter in my own family.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK, in answer to a question from the prisoner’s counsel – I think you stated that your impression, when you first saw Mrs Pritchard, and afterwards when you saw her on the 2d March, was that she was being poisoned. – Yes.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – I want to know exactly by that whether you meant that you believed that some person was engaged in administering antimony to her for the purpose of procuring her death? – That’s my meaning. Some person to me unknown.
Dr James Moffat Cowan, examined by Mr GIFFORD – I am a doctor of medicine in Edinburgh. I have not been in practice for several years, but I am a doctor of the University.
Were you a relation of Mrs Pritchard’s? – I am.
What relation were you? – Well, the relationship is indistinct; but her grandfather and my grandfather were brothers – (Laughter in Court).
Do you remember getting a letter from the prisoner some time in February last year? – I do.
Do you remember when? – I think I saw Mrs Pritchard on the 11th, and I would get the letter on the 10th. I have not the letter now. The import of it was that Mrs Pritchard had been lying for some time, and that he (Dr Pritchard) was becoming very anxious about her case, and wished me to call in Glasgow. I went there on the 11th February, and I went to Dr Pritchard’s house. I reached there about three or four o’clock. I found Mrs Pritchard in the drawing-room. She came down stairs from the bedroom. Mrs Taylor was not there at that time. At my desire she came afterwards.
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – You were only there once, and that once in the month of February, and that once two days before Mrs Taylor came? – Yes.
Well, when you saw Mrs Pritchard in the drawing-room how did you find her? – I found her very much better than I expected. She said she had been troubled with considerable vomiting for some time back. I did not go there so much as a medical man, as at the request of an old friend. I asked one or two questions at her. In the first place, I told her that I thought she had cried in coming down stairs. I told her to take ice, and if there was much prostration, I advised small quantities of champagne with ice. Prisoner was present during the whole of the interview. I dined there, and remained over a night. When I was sitting in the dining-room in the evening with the children, Dr Pritchard came down and told me that Mrs Pritchard had been vomiting again, and requested me to go up and see her again in her bedroom, which I did. She told me that she had been again vomiting, that she felt a great desire for food, and yet could not retain it. I then proposed to administer beef tea injections. She was in bed at that time. I saw her the next morning in her own bedroom and found her much the same as on the previous night. Nothing particular passed. I returned to Edinburgh that evening. I was there again before I returned to Edinburgh, but there was nothing to make any particular impression upon me. It was I who took the message from Mrs Pritchard for Mrs Taylor to come through and wait upon her. It was my proposal partly that she should do so. I saw Mrs Taylor myself, and she went to Glasgow next day.
By Mr GIFFORD – I was well acquainted with Mrs Taylor, and knew her all my life. I visited her frequently. She was a person of very temperate habits.
Margaret Dickson, examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL – I was in the employ of Mr Michael Taylor, the husband of the late Mrs Taylor, who died recently in Glasgow… I remember Mrs Pritchard coming on a visit to Edinburgh at the end of November last, and remaining till Christmas. She had been complaining when she came, but she got better when she came to Lauder Road. She was not confined to bed there, and she took her meals with the family. She was not sick any time during that period to my knowledge. On Wednesday, the 30th March last, I was present at the Grange Cemetery when the body of Mrs Taylor was exhumed. I was there at the time the grave was opened, and recognised the body. Before Mrs Taylor went to Glasgow in February she had no particular complaint. I know nothing to show that she was addicted to intemperate habits. I have seen her taking a little whisky and water during dinner.
By the LORD JUSTICE-CLERK – Never at any other time. No; nor did I ever see her affected by it.
Michael Taylor, silk and lace merchant, High Street, Musselburgh, was the next witness. On being examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL, he deposed – Mrs Taylor, who died in [Glasgow] last year, was my wife.
Before she went to visit her daughter, Mrs Pritchard, in February, was she in good health? – Only middling.
What was it she complained of? – She complained of a violent perspiration.
Did she ever complain of headache? – Occasionally.
Did she take anything for her headache? – Occasionally she took Battley’s sedative solution for five or six years.
Am I right in saying it was for the headache she took it? – No, it was for perspiration.
Excuse me for asking the question – Was she of temperate habits? – Perfectly so. In every respect.
She did not make herself the worse of any kind of liquor or of opium? – Sometimes I observed great inclination for sleeping, which was in consequence, I supposed, of her taking the medicine.
After she had taken the medicine? – Yes.
What I mean to ask you is, whether you knew she was taking that the name of which you now know to be Battley’s solution? – Yes.
Your daughter was with you upon a visit from the end of November till a few days from last Christmas? – She was.
She had been ailing before she came; how was she when she was in your house? – Very delicate.
Nothing more the matter with her than being very delicate? – She had a very poor appetite.
She took her meals with you, but did not eat much? – Yes.
Was she confined to bed in your house? – No; she lay in bed at first until ten or eleven o’clock sometimes, but after a little she got better and rose to breakfast with the family.
Was it when she had just come that she complained of sickness? – She complained all the time she was with us.
Was she much better when she went away than when she came home? – Yes, she was a little better.
You were telegraphed from Glasgow that your wife was “dangerously ill,” and that “she was dead;” and you received the two telegrams together? – Yes.
Did you go to Glasgow? – I went by the first train in the morning.
You went to Dr Paterson’s house on the Saturday morning that your wife died? – Yes.
Who told you to go there? – Dr Pritchard asked me to go down and register the death.
You went to the registrar’s first? – No, I went to Dr Paterson’s first to get instructions.
It was Dr Pritchard who sent you to Dr Paterson’s – Yes.
Did Dr Pritchard himself tell you what your wife died of? – (After a pause) I do not think he told me before I went. He told me it was apoplexy or paralysis.
Did your wife ever have fits of any kind? – Not to my knowledge.
I believe you were present when your wife’s body and that of Mrs Pritchard’s were disinterred? – Yes. (Shown letter 47 in inventory…) That letter was addressed to me, and I got it. The attention of the witness was called to the following passage:- “I am very fatigued with being up at night with dear Mary Jane, who was very much worse yesterday and passed a wretched night. Wednesday has been a very bad day during this illness, and she always dreads it. Her prostration is extreme, and her body quite failed. Dr Paterson has recommended Dublin stout, and some very simple medicine.”
It being now six o’clock,
The LORD JUSTICE-CLERK addressed the jury, and said he was sure they were rather overworked yesterday; and as they must be fatigued, the Court would adjourn until to-morrow (Wednesday) at ten o’clock.
The demeanour of the prisoner from the moment he took his seat in the dock till the close of the proceedings was marked by a careful attention to the evidence, free from the disturbing anxiety that he frequently displayed during the sitting of Monday. On appearing in Court, his brother, who had been waiting for him, shook him warmly by the hand, and asked him how he felt; to which the prisoner gave the somewhat jocular reply, “Fresh as a daisy.” Mr Pritchard, as on the first day, remained seated by the doctor, and occasionally took notes of vital points in the evidence.
Fife Herald, Thursday 6th July, 1865, p.2.
APPEARANCE OF THE PRISONER.
His appearance is already familiar enough to the public by means of the cartes de visite photographs to be seen in so many shop windows; and we may say that the correctness of these portraits is undoubted. If there is any difference, the prisoner seemed to be a little stouter than the portraits represent him, and a little balder. His hair hangs down, however, long and thick, over his ears, and his black beard is also long and bushy. He was dressed altogether in black, with a deep mourning band on his hat, and weepers on his coat sleeves, covered with crape. The prisoner manifested singular coolness and self-possession. Without any admixture of bravado, there was a quiet, gentlemanly bearing about him, which, so far as external appearance, may be taken into account, told in his favour. – Daily Review.
He looked perfectly cool, although pale. He stared pretty steadily at the Judges, and glanced occasionally round the Court in a way that showed no embarrassment or superabounding nervous anxiety. If he be an actor, he is indeed a consummate one. There was something self-possessed in the very manner in which he occasionally raised his hand to his mouth and touched his beard. Once or twice during Mary McLeod’s evidence he coloured slightly, and there seemed to rest upon his face an expression as if he were mentally contradicting her statements. Beyond this he manifested no emotion of any kind. With his personal appearance every one in Glasgow is familiar from his cartes, which give, on the whole, a faithful idea of the man. His face, with the flowing beard, is handsome; but the expression is not altogether pleasing. It is the face of a man who thinks well of himself and of his good looks, but certainly not the face of one whom you would pitch upon as the likely perpetrator of an atrocious crime. Dr Pritchard’s brother sat steadily beside him the whole day, and drank in each word of the evidence; occasionally leaning forward upon the rail, in his anxiety to catch every syllable. Mary McLeod’s evidence was generally held to tell very much against the prisoner. As she made each reluctant admission, you could see the audience glance at one another, and then down at once upon Pritchard to see how he bore the ordeal. It was certainly a trying position for an ignorant girl to be placed in; but, as the proverb says,” As she made her bed, so must she lie on it.” – Evening Citizen.
Well, now. Dr Paterson certainly seems to have been blamed by the defense for not having done more to prevent what he saw as the likely poisoning of Mrs Pritchard but, if anything, that speaks more against the prisoner, Dr Pritchard, than I think the defense intended. I feel they’re basically admitting that she had been poisoned by the insistence of Dr Paterson to have done something about it, in order to save her. Only one part remaining of this trial prior to the verdict and aftermath. I hope you’ll join me for it. Take care.
Narration by Jenny
Art by Alex
Intro-Outro by Tony ‘Lucky Dog’ Wilson
Greysteil by Paul Burns.