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from 1750 to 1899.

By G. Munro Smith - 1917.

Sample text :-

The case of Mrs. Burdock is of interest chiefly because it was the means of bringing William Herapath into well-deserved notoriety as an analytical chemist.

Mrs. Clara Ann Smith, a widow, aged about sixty, was lodging in 1833 at 17 Trinity Street, at a house kept by Mary Ann Burdock. She was waited on by her landlady, and by a young woman, who came by the day, named Mary Ann Alien. Old Mrs. Smith, who was reputed to be wealthy, was of penurious habits, and kept her money in her room, as she disliked the idea of investing it. She became ill, with severe abdominal pains, vomiting, etc., and died on October 26th, 1833. She was buried in St. Augustine's Churchyard, and nothing more was thought of her death until the autumn of 1834, when suspicions were aroused by statements made by Mary Ann Alien and by another girl named Charlotte Thomas, who had been hired by Mrs. Smith to attend on her.

It was then remembered that Mrs. Burdock had appeared considerably wealthier since the old lady's death, and the coroner gave orders for the exhumation and examination of the body. This was carried out on December 22nd, 1834, fourteen months after death, in the presence of Dr. Riley (who a few months before had been elected Physician to the Infirmary), Dr. J. A. Symonds (Physician to the General Hospital), Dr. Dick, Mr. Kelson, Nathaniel Smith (Surgeon to the Infirmary), William Herapath and others.

The internal organs were taken to the Medical School, where William Herapath conclusively demonstrated the presence in the stomach of large quantities of yellow arsenic or orpiment. His experiments and the manner in which he gave evidence much increased his reputation as a man of science, and led to the conviction of Mrs. Burdock by Sir Charles Wetherell, the Recorder. She was hanged at the jail on the New Cut on April I5th, 1835.

According to the testimony of an eye-witness (Mrs. Cook, the mother of Dr. E. H. Cook, of the Clifton Laboratory), Mrs. Burdock wore a very expensive black silk dress when she was executed. '

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