A Methodist minister, a mysterious Frenchwoman, a solicitor, a brace of housekeepers, and a recently discharged soldier: what links them? Being accused of murder by poison.
Poisoning represents the ultimate domestic murder. Many alleged crimes - the death of Edwin Bartlett, the fate of Mabel Greenwood – remain notorious to this day. Others, such as the mysterious case of James Gilpin and his apparently tragic taste for cheese, and the curious fate of the Bingham family, have passed into obscurity. The author is the first person to track down the accused in the very first murder described (1827) - Sir Walter Scott, when he heard 'the poisoning woman' was acquitted, coined the phrase 'the bastard verdict'.
Drawing on extensive research in primary sources, this book examines a dozen infamous and less well-known alleged poisonings, and also examines what happens when you are set free to leave court, but the public will not allow you to forget your supposed murderous deeds. There is something peculiarly ghastly abut poisoning: somehow the knife or the gun hold the higher moral ground. As the ghost tells Hamlet:
Murder most foul, as in the best it is,
But this most foul, strange and unnatural.
Trevor Bond is a co-author of 'The A-Z of Victorian Crime'. He has given presentations at the Jack the Ripper conferences in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2017.