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Edward Pritchard - Murderer

Edward Pritchard was a real ornament to Glasgow. He was a medical practitioner by trade, but a showman by conviction. He kept giving public lectures about his travels, but the details of the places he had 'visited' were mostly quite inaccurate and the journeys were probably invented. He had pictures of himself printed and conned Glasgow shops into stocking them for sale. He knew he was fascinating.

Pritchard's Edinburgh-born spouse, Mary Jane, had a bad time in Glasgow; she was nearly always headachy and sick. Her mother wanted her to return to Edinburgh for a rest, but the good doctor said he couldn't manage by himself, and asked if the mother could come to Glasgow to look after him in place of her daughter. Fine. The wife went to Edinburgh and was suddenly restored. The mother went to Glasgow and became ill. Awkward. The wife came back to tend her mother, and then they both fell ill.

Pritchard then called in a neighbouring medico, a Doctor Paterson, and told him privately that the older woman was hooked on a dangerous patent medicine. Soon after, she died. Her husband rushed from Edinburgh. Pritchard sent him to Paterson to get a death certificate, which Paterson refused to issue. So Pritchard wrote one out himself, ascribing his mother-in-law's death to apoplexy.

Our energetic Doctor Pritchard then abandoned Mary Jane to take a holiday in Edinburgh, and asked Paterson to keep an eye on her. Paterson did not like the look of Mary Jane one bit. Her ill-health made him very suspicious, but his suspicions came too late to prevent her untimely death. Doctor Pritchard, appropriately heartbroken, returned to Glasgow to organise the burial arrangements with appropriate ceremony, and acquired a 16 year old housemaid, Mary McLeod, who comforted him in his grief.

Everything would have been fine but for an anonymous letter to the police that started off an investigation, which led to a trial and then to Pritchard's conviction as a murderer. Hard to tell why he did it. He didn't make any profit from his killings. Maybe he just lived a
dream-life unconnected with reality. He was the last criminal to be publicly hanged in Scotland, on Glasgow Green in July 1865.  He wanted to make a speech, but was not allowed to.  He did, however, seem pleased with the turnout.

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