Friday, May 18, 2012

Madeleine Smith house

A photograph of Madeleine Smith

Recently I happened upon a most interesting story. In Glasgow, in 1857, a young girl named Madeleine Smith was tried for murder. And this is the story: Her father was a well-to-do architect, and had hired Pierre Emile L'Angelier (a fellow from the Channel Islands) as his apprentice. In 1855, Madeleine and Pierre began a clandestine love affair, right under the noses of her parents. It wasn't until a suitable fellow proposed to her in 1857 that Madeleine broke off her connection to L'Angelier. Despite the fact that it was established that she had purchased arsenic (and L'Angelier died of arsenic poison), and despite the vast amount of love letters found among his effects, Madeleine was not convicted of the crime. It was a very odd case of 'not proven' and she was let go.
One of the courtroom drawings of Madeleine

A key element in the trial was the chronology of Madeleine's letters to L'Angelier. This was established not from the letters themselves, which were undated, but by the post-marks.

She left Scotland, changed her name, and ended up marrying a George Wardle, a friend and associate of the Pre-Raphaelite William Morris.

Having found out that the house was still standing, I went to have a look at it yesterday.

The front door of the house.

No. 7 Blythswood Square
A view of the square opposite the house.


  1. Hello! That is the coolest story ever! I want to see the movie!!!

  2. Fabulous--I'm so glad you discovered this story! Sad, and strange, but fascinating!

  3. Saw the 1950 film, "Madeleine" today on TCM. Riveting.