This report begins: 'A Full, correct, and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of MARY ELDER or SMITH, wife of David Smith, Farmer at Denside, Parish, of Monikie, and county of Forfar, who was tried at Edinburgh, on Monday the 19th February 1827, for the wilful Murder of Margaret Warden, a young woman, her own Servant maid, by Administering Poison to her, on the 5th September last, in consequence of which she Died the third day after ; but the libel was found Not Proven.' Published for James McLean.
It seems that a detailed post-mortem was not carried out on the victim, as the exact cause of death seems unclear. Mary Elder is accused of poisoning her pregnant 25 year-old servant by mixing 'arsenic, or other poisonous substance' with 'water, or other liquid'. The lack of concrete evidence is probably why the jury returned a not proven verdict.
Reports recounting dark and salacious deeds were popular with the public, and, like today's sensationalist tabloids, sold in large numbers. Crimes could generate sequences of sheets covering descriptive accounts, court proceedings, last words, lamentations and executions as they occurred. As competition was fierce, immediacy was paramount, and these occasions provided an opportunity for printers and patterers to maximise sales.
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Date of publication:
1827 shelfmark: F.3.a.14(37)
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