Madeleine Smith’s Trial: A Scotland Murder Mystery

The story of Madeleine Smith’s trial is still popular in books, musicals, and movies. After over 160 years, the murder of her lover is still a mystery. How did her story capture the minds of the public? Why is Madeleine’s story still talked about today?

The murder of Madeleine’s lover, Pierre Emile L’angelier took place in 19th century Scotland, in the city of Glasgow. Murder cases were not new in the country before then. Eight years earlier, in 1848, there had been the murder of James Young. However, in Madeleine’s case, it was called the murder of the century.

19th Century Scotland

The 19th century was an era when Scotland moved towards modernization, with Glasgow and the River Clyde being a major shipbuilding center. The lifestyle during that era was quite different from the way it is now. They were a Victorian society upholding the rules of decency greatly. This view will help you understand why Madeleine’s story gained popularity.

Madeleine’s Early Life

Madeleine Hamilton Smith was born on 29th March 1835 to a middle-class family in Glasgow. Her father, James Smith, was an architect. Her mother, Elizabeth Smith, was the daughter of David Hamilton, a neoclassical architect.

The Smith family had their home at No 7, Blythswood Square, Glasgow. They also owned a country property at Rhu, on the Power Clyde, near Helensburgh. Madeleine was sent to school in London from 1851-1853 before returning to Glasgow at age 18.

The Secret Affair

In 1855 when Madeline was 20, one of her neighbors first introduced her to Emilie L’angelier. Emile was 29 and was originally from Channels Island. He worked as a packing clerk in a warehouse at 10 Bothwell Street.

Their match was unlikely at the time. While Madeleine was from a wealthy family, Emile was a working professional who was almost ten years older. They both began a love affair. The lovers would frequently meet at Madeleine’s bedroom window at night.

The pair would also begin communicating in secret by letter. Emile would deliver by hand through her window. Madeleine used the local postal service to deliver hers. Their love letters had records of several steamy conversations relating to their sex life.

Madeleine was well aware her family would never approve of such a match due to Emile’s financial and social status. They continued the affair anyway, and Madeleine promised to marry him.

In January 1957, things took a different turn. Her family approved a proposal for her with William Harper Minnoch, whom they considered a suitable suitor. In February, Madeleine agreed to marry Minnoch and asked Emile to return her letters. He refused, threatening to forward the explicit letters to her father if she didn’t marry him.

The Murder

Between February and March that year, Madeleine was known to have made three purchases of arsenic. Her third and last purchase was on 18th March.

In the early morning of 23rd March, Emile died after falling ill. The coroner later revealed that enormous amounts of arsenic were in his stomach.

On discovering Madeleine’s letters at his apartment, the police went on a raid of her home. They found a receipt for the purchase of arsenic from a local chemist. These revelations saw Madeleine arrested on 31st March and charged with murder.

Madeleine Smith’s Trial

On 1st July 1857, Madeleine Smith’s trial began at the High Court in Edinburgh. The court learned how the deceased had spent two months battling an unknown ailment. His landlady revealed that one February morning, he had been vomiting uncontrollably, and his complexion was pale.

The jury charged Madeleine with administering arsenic on three separate occasions with the intent to kill. The poison was allegedly given through cups of cocoa to the deceased through her bedroom window. The volume of letters between the two lovers formed a core part of the trial.

Throughout the eight days of the trial, she maintained her innocence and pleaded not guilty. Due to a lack of evidence, the prosecution could not prove that Madeleine was the murderer. The jury finally returned a verdict of “not proven.”

In Scottish law, a ‘not proven’ verdict doesn’t establish the innocence of the defendant.  Rather it concludes that the prosecution does have sufficient evidence to prove that the accused is guilty. Madeleine got away scot-free, and opinions remain divided over her innocence.

The Scandal

In the context of her time, Madeleine’s letters were a shocking revelation. Not only because of her gender and class, but because of their explicit content. As a member of Glasgow’s genteel high society, she had gone against the strict Victorian conventions.

It led to many questions about womanhood at the time. How a young woman could have sex before marriage and be bold enough to write about how much she enjoyed it. It was a crucial issue to society, and her trial became a scandal in Scotland.

How’s Scotland Like Today?

The lifestyle today in Scotland, just like the rest of the world has changed, particularly as it applies to women.  Today’s Scotland is a busy industrialized nation. The country experiences short durations of extreme weather.

You can experience extreme cold one day, and the next morning you can have sunshine. Living here means you’ll have to beef up your heating and cooling system for whatever the weather brings. The best option for you during winter might be a tankless water heater. When it gets warm, an air cooler will be best.

12 Things Creative Writers Should Keep in Mind When Working from Home

If you’re a writer, chances are that you carry out most, if not all your work from the comfort of your home. There are advantages to this style of working. One of which is, it saves you resources spent on commuting from home to office and back again.

However, there are challenges too. When you work from home, you tend to let your guard down, and you might not feel obligated to get things done. This attitude can lead to unproductivity if not well managed.

To help yourself, keep these twelve things in mind when working from home.

Establishing a Schedule Helps

Having a clear guideline for when you want to start and end the day’s work will help you maintain the right work balance. Find out your most productive times and schedule more demanding tasks for those periods. If your productive work hours are in the morning, try to start your day very early so that you can accomplish more before the day is over.

There are scheduling and time management apps you can download to help yourself. Setting a schedule provides structure to your day.

There are Indoor Distractions

Writing requires undivided attention, and the slightest sound can stop your thought process. However, distractions from your kids or other people living with you are common occurrences.

Consider setting ground rules to let them know what they can or cannot do when you’re working. If you cut down distractions, it will improve the quality of your work.

Using a Dedicated Workspace is More Productive

When you dedicate a workspace strictly for your work, it will help you differentiate between work time and home time. Your workspace can be a spare room or a corner in your home where you can fix a desk and chair. Avoid spaces that your mind can associate with leisure like the couch and the bed.

You Can Get Overwhelmed

Sometimes the task at hand can overwhelm you. When this happens, stop working, relax, and clear your mind. When you come back, you will be able to focus better on your work.

Take Breaks in Between

If you established a proper schedule, there should be adequate times during the day to take breaks. Give yourself a compulsory 1-hour lunch break every day. You can use apps that will notify you to take breaks at scheduled times.

Besides lunch break, you should also take short breaks away from your computer. These are times where you stare out the window or get up to get a snack. Taking breaks in between work helps you reset and gets your blood flowing for the next task.

Making Notes is Helpful

Inspiration can come to you when you’re not working. You may be cooking or doing the laundry and get an idea. Learn to jot down every idea rather than take mental notes only. Making quick short notes will remind you when you forget.

Eating Healthy is Important

When you work from home, it is easy to binge on chips, cookies, and chocolates. While taking snacks is okay, don’t overindulge. Focus on eating healthy meals with fruits and vegetables that will boost your productivity level.

Exercising is Good for You

Exercise is beneficial to both your mind and your body. It boosts your memory, increases your happiness, and interest levels, making you work better. Regular exercises also help you maintain a good posture.

Don’t Spend the Whole Day in Pajamas

Wearing pajamas relates to leisure and not work. Try to change out of them before you resume the day’s work. Dress like you’re not at home and wear something that can give you a mindset of work.

Work Time isn’t Social Media Time

Social media has its benefits, but it can be a distraction too. Don’t fall for the temptation to go against your schedule and take social breaks. You can shut off notifications while you work. When you minimize unnecessary use of social media, you will be able to focus on getting more work done.

Be Aware of Security Risks

Keep in mind that you can be a target for hackers. Get smarter about protecting yourself from security threats. Invest in devices that can alert you when you have a security breach. Companies invest in security tools, and you should do the same.

Your Body Needs to Move

Writing from home can keep you indoors for days, especially if you have a lot of work to do. Don’t get stuck up in your home and forget there’s an actual world outside. Learn to leave the house occasionally to get fresh air and sunlight. You can take a walk around your neighborhood even for a few minutes only.