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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Episodes in the trial of Miss Madeline H. Smith


THE High Court of Justiciary met at ten o’clock on the morning of Tuesday, June 30th, 1857, for the trial of Miss Madeline Hamilton Smith, a young lady of about twenty years of age, who had been residing with her parents in their house at 7 Blythswood Square, Glasgow. The judges were the Lord Justice-Clerk, Lord Ivory, and Lord Handy-side.

The indictment charged Madeline Hamilton Smith with wickedly and feloniously administering arsenic, or some other poison, in some article of food or drink, to Pierre Emile L’Angelier, then in the employment of W. B. Huggins & Co., merchants, Bothwell Street, Glasgow, as a clerk: (1st) on 19th or 20th Feb.; (2nd) on 22nd or 23rd Feb.; and (3rd) on 22nd or 23rd March, with intent to murder, and, under the third charge, with murder, as he thereof died on the forenoon of Monday, 23rd March.

The panel pled not guilty; and on account of her sex, youth, beauty, standing in society, and the romantic incidents in the case, great excitement prevailed, not only in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but throughout the whole country, during the course of the trial, which extended over a period of nine days; termed by the Lord Advocate on the 7th day,—" An investigation which, for the length, has proved unexampled."

The vital part of the evidence, in which the third charge of murder was involved, may be briefly summarised as follows:

L’Angelier, who was in bad health; left his lodgings at ten o’clock on the morning of Thursday, 19th March, 1857, for Bridge of Allan, to which he travelled by way of Edinburgh, at which last named place he made anxious inquiry for a letter, which he seemed to expect but did not receive: He appeared much disappointed, but made no stay, and went on to his ultimate destination.

On Thursday forenoon a letter from the panel, addressed to L’Angelier, at his lodgings, 11 Franklin Place, Great Western Road, was received and forwarded to him that same evening by M. Thanau, his friend, fellow employe, and lodger. This letter could not be found, but on Friday, 19th, L’Angelier wrote to a Miss Perry, who was the confidante of both the panel and the deceased, stating—.

"I should have come to see someone last night, but the letter came too late, so we were both disappointed."

Another letter from the panel, also addressed to his lodgings, bearing the post-mark of Saturday 22nd, was received, posted by M. Thanau that afternoon, and delivered to L’Angelier on Sunday morning. Here is the letter:

"Why, my beloved, did you not come to me? Oh, my beloved, are you ill? Come to me, sweet one. I waited and longed for you, but you came not. I shall wait again to-morrow night—same hour and arrangements. Oh, come sweet love, my own dear love of a sweetheart. Come beloved, and clasp me to your heart; come, and we shall be happy. A kiss, fond love. Adieu, with tender embraces. Ever believe me to be your own, ever dear, fond Mimi."

After the receipt of this letter, L’Angelier walked to Stirling, got the Sunday mail train to Coatbridge, and walked from there to Glasgow. He arrived at his lodgings in Great Western Road a little while after eight o’clock in the evening, took tea, and went out about nine. He was seen in the direction of Blythswood Square about twenty minutes past nine ; called for a friend in Terrace Street, not far off, about half-past nine, but his friend was out.

"Here," said the Lord Advocate, in summing up the evidence for the Crown, "my clue fails me. When and how do we see him next? He was found at his own door by the landlady, without strength to open it, about two o’clock in the morning." And he died that same forenoon, viz. Monday, 23rd March, 1857.


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