Part 2 out of 6
Establishment of Half-Pay, and that you do not issue any Moneys
remaining in your Hands due to the sd. Lieut. Cranstoune." This
shows the view taken by the Government of the part played by
Cranstoun in the tragedy of Henley.
There will also be found in the Appendix an extract from, a letter
from Dunkirk, published in the _London Magazine_ for February, 1753,
containing what appears to be a reliable account of the last days of
Mary Blandy's lover; the particulars given are in general agreement
with those contained in the various "Lives" above mentioned. Obliged
to fly from France, where he had been harboured by one Mrs. Ross,
his kinswoman, whose maiden name of Dunbar he had prudently assumed,
he sought refuge in Flanders. Furnes, "a town belonging to the Queen
of Hungary," had the dubious distinction of being selected by him as
an asylum. There, on 2nd December, 1752, "at the sign of the
Burgundy Cross," after a short illness, accompanied, it is
satisfactory to note, with "great agonies," the Hon. William Henry
Cranstoun finally ceased from troubling in the thirty-ninth year of
his age. His personal belongings, "consisting chiefly of Laced and
Embroidered Waistcoats," were sold to pay his debts. On his deathbed
he was received into the Roman Catholic Church. The occasion of so
notable a conversion was fittingly marked by the magnificence of his
obsequies. "He was buried," we read, "in great solemnity, the
Corporation attending the funeral; and a grand Mass was said over
the corpse in the Cathedral Church, which, was finely illuminated."
The impressive ceremonial would have gratified vainglorious Mr.
Blandy had circumstances permitted his presence.
Some account of the descendants of Cranstoun is given in a letter by
John Riddell, the Scots genealogist, hitherto unpublished, which is
printed in the Appendix. George Cranstoun, Lord Corehouse,
Cranstoun's nephew, was afterwards an eminent Scottish judge.
A word as to the guilt of Mary Blandy and her accomplice, which, in
the opinion of some writers, is not beyond dispute. The question of
motive in such cases is generally a puzzling one, and in the
commission of many murders the end to be gained, always inadequate,
often remains obscure. Barely does the motive--unlike the punishment
which it was the sublime object of Mr. Gilbert's "Mikado" equitably
to adjust--"fit the crime." Mary was well aware that she could not
be Cranstoun's lawful wife, but hers was not a nature to shrink from
the less regular union. Her passion for him was irresistible; she
had ample proof of his chronic infidelity, but, in her blind
infatuation, such "spots" upon the sun of her affection, were
disregarded. She knew that, but for the L10,000 bait, her crafty
lover would surely play her false; her father was sick of the whole
affair, and if she went off with the captain, would doubtless
disinherit her. As for that "honourable" gentleman himself, the
inducement to get possession of her L10,000, the beginning and end
of his connection with the Blandys, sufficiently explains his
purpose. Was not the spirit of his family motto, "Thou shalt want
ere I want," ever his guiding light and principle, and would such a
man so circumstanced hesitate to resort to a crime which he could
induce another to commit and, if necessary, suffer for, while he
himself reaped the benefit in safety? Had he succeeded in securing
both his mistress and her fortune, Mary's last state would, not
improbably, have been worse than her first.
So much for the "motive," which presents little difficulty. Then,
with regard to the question whether, on the assumption of his guilt,
Mary Blandy was the intelligent agent of Cranstoun or his innocent
dupe, no one who has studied the evidence against her can entertain
a reasonable doubt. Apart from the threatening and abusive language
which she applied to her father, her whole attitude towards his last
illness shows how false were her subsequent professions of
affection. She herself has disposed of the suggestion that she
really believed in the love-compelling properties of the magic
powder, though such a belief was not inconceivable, as appears from
the contemporary advertisement of a "Love Philtre," of which a copy
is printed in the Appendix. She told her dying father that if he
were injured by the powder, she was not to blame, as "it was given
her with another intent." What that "intent" was she did not then
explain, but later she informed Dr. Addington that it was to "make
him [her father] kind" to Cranstoun and herself. In the speech which
she delivered in her own defence she said, "I gave it to procure his
love"; and again, on the conclusion of Bathurst's reply, "It is said
I gave it my father to make him fond of me: there was no occasion
for that--but to make him fond of Cranstoun." In her _Narrative_ she
repeats this statement; but in her _Own Account_, written and
revised by herself, she says, "I gave it to my poor father innocent
of the effects it afterwards produced, God knows; _not so stupid as
to believe it would have that desired, to make him kind to us_; but
in obedience to Mr. Cranstoun, who ever seemed superstitious to the
last degree." Here we have an entirely fresh (if no less false)
reason assigned for the exhibition of the wise woman's drug; only,
of course, another lie, but one which, disposes of her previous
defence. Of the true qualities of the powder she had ample proof;
she warned the maid that the gruel "might do for her," she saw its
virulent effects upon Gunnell and Emmet, as well as on her father
from its first administration, while her concealment of its use from
the physician, and her destruction of the remanent portion, are
equally incompatible with belief either in its innocence or her own.
Finally, her burning of Cranstoun's letters, which, if her story was
true, were her only means of confirming it, her attempts to bribe
the servants, and her statements to Fisher and the Lanes at the
Angel, afford, in Mr. Baron Legge's phrase, "a violent presumption"
of her guilt.
Cranstoun, even at the time, did not lack apologists, who held that
Miss Blandy, herself the solo criminal, cunningly sought to involve
her guileless lover in order to lessen her own guilt. This view has
been endorsed by later authorities. Anderson, in his _Scottish
Nation_, remarks, "There does not appear to have been any grounds
for supposing that the captain was in any way accessory to the
murder"; and Mr. T.F. Henderson, in his article on Cranstoun in the
_Dictionary of National Biography_, observes, "Apart from her [Mary
Blandy's] statement there was nothing to connect him with the
murder." These writers seem to have overlooked the following
important facts:--The letter written by Cranstoun to Mary, read by
Bathurst in his opening speech, the terms of which plainly prove the
writer's complicity; and the packet rescued from the fire, bearing
in his autograph the words, "The powder to clean the pebbles with,"
which, when we remember the nature of its contents, leaves small
doubt of the sender's guilt. "A supposition," says Mr. Bleackley,
"that does not explain [these] two damning circumstances must be
baseless." The nocturnal manifestations experienced by Cranstoun,
and interpreted by his friend Mrs. Morgan as presaging Mr. Blandy's
death, must also be explained. Further, it would be interesting to
know how the defenders of Cranstoun account for the warning given
him by Mary in the intercepted letter--"Lest any accident should
happen to your letters, _take care what you write_." That this was
part of a subtle scheme to inculpate her lover will, in the
circumstances, hardly be maintained. As Mr. Andrew Lang once
remarked of a hypothesis equally untenable, "That cock won't fight."
Would Cranstoun have fled as he did from justice, and gone into
voluntary exile for life, when, if innocent, he had only to produce
Mary's letters to him in proof of the blameless character of their
correspondence? and why, when on his death those letters passed into
Lord Cranstoun's custody, did not that nobleman publish them in
vindication of his brother's honour, as he was directly challenged
to do by a pamphleteer of the day? The Crown authorities, at any
rate, as we have seen, did not share the opinion expressed by the
writers above cited; and from what was said by Mr. Justice Buller,
in the case of _George Barrington_ (Mich. 30 Geo. III., reported
Term Rep. 499), it appears that Cranstoun, for his concern in the
murder of Mr. Blandy, was prosecuted to outlawry, the learned judge
observing with reference to the form adopted on that occasion, "It
was natural to suppose groat care had been taken in settling it,
because some of the most eminent gentlemen in the profession were
employed in it."
"Alas! the record of her page will tell
That one thus madden'd, lov'd, and guilty fell.
Who hath not heard of Blandy's fatal fame,
Deplor'd her fate, and sorrow'd o'er her shame?"
Thus the author of _Henley_: A Poem (Hickman & Stapledon, 1827);
and, indeed, the frequent references to the case in the "literary
remains" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries bear witness to
the justice of that poetic observation.
The inimitable _Letters_ of Horace Walpole contain, as might be
expected, more than one mention of this _cause celebre_. Writing on
23rd March, 1752, to Horace Mann, he says, "There are two wretched
women that just now are as much talked of [as the two Miss
Gunnings], a Miss Jefferies and a Miss Blandy; the one condemned for
murdering her uncle, the other her father. Both their stories have
horrid circumstances; the first having been debauched by her uncle;
the other had so tender a parent, that his whole concern while he
was expiring, and knew her for his murderess, was to save her life.
It is shocking to think what shambles this country is grown!
Seventeen were executed this morning, after having murdered the
turnkey on Friday night, and almost forced open Newgate. One is
forced to travel, even at noon, as if one was going to battle." And
again, on 13th May, "Miss Blandy died with a coolness of courage
that is astonishing, and denying the fact, which has made a kind of
party in her favour; as if a woman who would not stick at parricide
would scruple a lie! We have made a law for immediate execution on
conviction of murder: it will appear extraordinary to me if it has
any effect; for I can't help believing that the terrible part of
death must be the preparation for it." The "law" regarding summary
executions to which Walpole refers is the Act already mentioned. To
Henry Seymour Conway, on 23rd June, he writes, "Since the two Misses
[Blandy and Jefferies] were hanged, and the two Misses [the
beautiful Gunnings] were married, there is nothing at all talked
of." On 28th August he writes to George Montague, "I have since been
with Mr. Conway at Park Place, where I saw the individual Mr.
Cooper, a banker, and lord of the manor of Henley, who had those two
extraordinary forfeitures from the executions of the Misses Blandy
and Jefferies, two fields from the former, and a malthouse from the
latter. I had scarce credited the story, and was pleased to hear it
confirmed by the very person: though it was not quite so remarkable
as it was reported, for both forfeitures were in the same manor."
This circumstance is noted in the _Annual Register_ for 1768, in
connection with the death of Mr. Cooper, at the age of eighty. From
the following references it would appear that the empty old house in
Hart Street had acquired a sinister reputation. On 8th November
Walpole writes to Conway, "Have the Coopers seen Miss Blandy's
ghost, or have they made Mr. Cranston poison a dozen or two more
private gentlewomen?"--the allusion being to the deaths of Mrs.
Blandy and Mrs. Pocock; and again, on 4th August, 1753, to John
Chute. "The town of Henley has been extremely disturbed with an
engagement between the ghosts of Miss Blandy and her father, which
continued so violent, that some bold persons, to prevent further
bloodshed broke in, and found it was two jackasses which had got
into the kitchen."
[Illustration: Miss Mary Blandy in Oxford Castle Gaol
(_From an Engraving in the British Museum_.)]
Walpole barely exaggerates the wholesale legal butcheries by which
the streets of London were then disgraced. "Many cartloads of our
fellow-creatures are once in six weeks carried to slaughter," says
Henry Fielding, in his _Enquiry_ (1751); and well has Mr. Whibley
described the period as "Newgate's golden age." As for Tyburn Tree,
we read in its _Annals_, for example, "1752. July 13. Eleven
executed at Tyburn."
We can only glance at one or two further instances of the diffusion
of "Blandy's fatal fame." None of the varied forms of the _Newgate
Calendar_--that criminous _Who's Who?_--fails to accord her suitable
if inaccurate notice. With other letter-writers of the time than the
genial Horace the case forms a topical subject. James Granger
reports to a reverend correspondent that "the principal subject of
conversation in these parts is the tragical affair transacted at
Henley.... It is supposed, as there is no direct and absolute proof
that she was guilty, and her friends are rich and have great
interest, that she will escape punishment." To Mrs. Delany, writing
the day after the execution, the popular heroine "appeared very
guilty by her trial," but we learn that Lady Huntingdon had written
a letter to Miss Blandy after her conviction. On 22nd April, 1752,
Miss Talbot writes to Mrs. Carter, who thought Mary had been "too
severely judged," that "her hardiness in guilt" was shocking to
think of. "Let me tell you one fact that young Goosetree, the
lawyer, told to the Bishop of Gloucester," she writes, with
reference to Miss Blandy's repeated statement that she never
believed her father a rich man. "This Goosetree visited her in jail
as an old acquaintance. She expressed to him great amazement at her
father's being no richer, and said she had no notion but he must
have been worth L10,000. Mr. Goosetree prudently told her the less
she said about that the better, and she never said it afterwards,
but the contrary." Miss Talbot adds that certain letters in Lord
Macclesfield's hands "falsify others of her affirmations." By 5th
May, 1753, Mrs. Delany writes, "We are now very full of talk about
As time goes on the tragedy of Henley, though gradually becoming a
tradition, is still susceptible of current allusion. John Wilkes,
writing from Bath to his daughter on 3rd January, 1779, regarding a
lady of their acquaintance who proposed to keep house for a certain
doctor, remarks "that he is sure it could not have lasted long, for
she would have poisoned him, as Miss Blandy did her father, and
forged a will in her own favour"; but Tate Wilkinson, in his
_Memoirs_, observes, "Elizabeth Canning, Mary Squires, the gipsy,
and Miss Blandy were such universal topics in 1752 that you would
have supposed it the business of mankind to talk only of them; yet
now, in 1790, ask a young man of twenty-five or thirty a question
relative to these extraordinary personages, and he will be puzzled
to answer, and will say, 'What mean you by enquiring? I do not
understand you,'" So quickly had the "smarts" of the new generation
forgotten the "fair Blandy" of their fathers' toasts. To make an end
of such quotations, which might indefinitely be multiplied, we shall
only refer the reader to Lady Russell's _Three Generations of
Fascinating Women_ (London: 1901), for good reading _passim_, and
with special reference to her account of the interest taken in the
case by Lady Ailesbury of Park Place, who "was related to the
instigator of the crime," and, believing in Mary's innocence, used
all her influence to obtain a pardon. To Mr. Horace Bleackley's
brilliant study of the case we have already in the Preface referred.
It may, in closing, be worth while to remind the student of such
matters that the year with which we have had so much concern was in
other respects an important one in the annals of crime. On 14th May,
1752, the "Red Fox," Glenure, fell by an assassin's bullet in the
wood of Lettermore, which fact resulted in the hanging of a
guiltless gentleman and, in after years, more happily inspired an
immortal tale; while on 1st January, 1753, occurred the
disappearance of Elizabeth Canning, that bewildering damsel whose
mission it was to baffle her contemporaries and to set at nought the
skill of subsequent inquirers.
Well, we have learned all that history and tradition has to tell us
about Mary Blandy; but what do we really know of that sombre soul
that sinned and suffered and passed to its appointed place so long
ago? A few "facts," some "circumstances"--which, if we may believe
the dictum of Mr. Baron Legge, cannot lie; and yet she remains for
us dark and inscrutable as in her portrait, where she sits calmly in
her cell, preparing her false _Account_ for the misleading of future
generations. Like her French "parallel," Marie-Madeleine de
Brinvilliers, like that other Madeleine of Scottish fame, she leaves
us but a catalogue of ambiguous acts; her secret is still her own.
If only she had been the creature of some great novelist's fancy,
how intimately should we then have known all that is hidden from us
now; imagine her made visible for us through the exquisite medium of
Mr. Henry James's incomparable art--the subtle individual threads
all cunningly combined, the pattern wondrously wrought, the colours
delicately and exactly shaded, until, in the rich texture of the
finished tapestry, the figure of the woman as she lived stood
Leading Dates In the Blandy Case.
22 May--Marriage of Cranstoun and Anne Murray.
19 February--Birth of their daughter.
August--Cranstoun meets Mary Blandy at Lord Mark Kerr's.
October--Mrs. Cranstoun takes proceedings in Commissary Court.
August--Second meeting of Cranstoun and Mary. Cranstoun visits the
Blandys and stays six months.
January--Cranstoun returns to London.
1 March--Cranstoun's marriage upheld by the Commissary Court.
May--Mrs. Blandy's illness at Turville Court. Cranstoun pays a
second six-months' visit to the Blandys.
December--Cranstoun's regiment "broke" at Southampton. He returns
March--Mrs. Blandy and Mary visit Mr. Sergeant Stevens in Doctors'
28 September--Mrs. Blandy taken ill after her return home.
30 September--Death of Mrs. Blandy.
August--Cranstoun returns to Henley. Puts powder in Mr. Blandy's tea.
October--Cranstoun professes to hear nocturnal music, &c.
November--Cranstoun leaves Henley for the last time.
April--Cranstoun writes from Scotland to Mary that he has seen Mrs.
Morgan and will send powder with pebbles.
June--Powder and pebbles received by Mary, with directions to put
the powder in tea. Mr. Blandy becomes unwell. Gunnell and Emmet
ill after drinking his tea.
18 July--Cranstoun writes to Mary suggesting she should put the
powder in gruel.
4 August--Gunnell makes gruel in pan by Mary's orders.
5 August--Mary seen stirring gruel in pantry. Mr. Blandy taken
seriously ill in the night.
6 August--Mr. Norton, the apothecary, called in. Gruel warmed
for Mr. Blandy's supper.
7 August--Emmet eats what was left the night before, and is taken
ill. Mary orders the remains of the gruel to be warmed. Gunnell
and Binfield notice white sediment in pan and lock it up.
8 August--Gunnell and Binfield take pan to Mrs. Mounteney, who
delivers it to Mr. Norton.
9 August--Mr. Stevens, of Fawley, arrives and hears suspicions.
10 August--Gunnell tells Mr. Blandy of suspicions. Mary burns
papers and packet. Dr. Addington called in.
11 August--Pan and packet given to Dr. Addington. He warns Mary.
Her letter to Cranstoun intercepted.
12 August--Last interview between Mary and her father.
13 August--Mr. Blandy worse. Dr. Lewis called in. Mary confined to
14 August--Death of Mr. Blandy. Mary attempts to bribe Harmon and
Binfield to effect her escape.
15 August--Flight of Mary. Coroner's inquest. Mary apprehended.
17 August--Mary removed to Oxford Castle.
4 September--Cranstoun escapes to Calais.
2 March--Grand Jury find a True Bill against Mary Blandy.
3 March--Trial at Oxford Assizes. Prisoner convicted and sentenced
6 March--Execution of Mary Blandy.
2 December--Death of Cranstoun.
AT THE ASSIZES HELD AT OXFORD FOR THE COUNTY OF OXFORD.
TUESDAY, 3RD MARCH, 1752.
THE HONOURABLE HENEAGE LEGGE, ESQ., AND SIR SYDNEY STAFFORD SMYTHE,
KNT., Two of the Barons of His Majesty's Court of Exchequer.
_Counsel for the Crown_--
The Honourable Mr. BATHURST.
Mr. Serjeant HAYWARD.
The Honourable Mr. BARRINGTON.
_Counsel for the Prisoner_--
On Monday, the 2nd of March, 1752, a bill of indictment was found by
the grand inquest for the county of Oxford against Mary Blandy,
spinster, for the murder of Francis Blandy, late of the parish of
Henley-upon-Thames, in the said county, gentleman.
On Tuesday, the 3rd of March, 1752, the Court being met, the
prisoner Mary Blandy was set to the bar, when the Court proceeded
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--Mary Blandy, hold up thy hand. [Which she
did.] You stand indicted by the name of Mary Blandy, late of the
parish of Henley-upon-Thames, in the county of Oxford, spinster,
daughter of Francis Blandy, late of the same place, gentleman,
deceased, for that you, not having the fear of God before your eyes,
but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, and of
your malice aforethought, contriving and intending, him the said
Francis Blandy, your said late father, in his lifetime, to deprive
of his life, and him feloniously to kill and murder on the 10th day
of November, in the twenty-third year of the reign of our sovereign
lord George the Second, now King of Great Britain, and on divers
days and times between the said 10th day of November and the 5th day
of August, in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of His said
Majesty, with force and arms, at the parish of Henley-upon-Thames
aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, did knowingly, wilfully, and
feloniously, and of your malice aforethought, mix and mingle certain
deadly poison, to wit, white arsenic, in certain tea, which had been
at divers times during the time above specified prepared for the use
of the said Francis Blandy to be drank by him; you, the said Mary,
then and there well knowing that the said tea, with which you did so
mix and mingle the said deadly poison as aforesaid, was then and
there prepared for the use of the said Francis Blandy, with intent
to be then and there administered to him for his drinking the same;
and the said tea with which the said poison was so mixed as
aforesaid, afterwards, to wit, on the said 10th day of November and
on the divers days and times aforesaid, at Henley-upon-Thames
aforesaid, was delivered to the said Francis, to be then and there
drank by him; and the said Francis Blandy, not knowing the said
poison to have been mixed with the said tea, did afterwards, to wit,
on the said 10th day of November and on the said divers days and
times aforesaid, there drink and swallow several quantities of the
said poison so mixed as aforesaid with the said tea; and that you
the said Mary Blandy might more speedily kill and murder the said
Francis Blandy, you the said Mary Blandy, on the said 5th day of
August and at divers other days and times between the said 5th day
of August and the 14th day of August, in the twenty-fifth year of
the reign of our said sovereign lord George the Second, now King of
Great Britain, &c., with force and arms, at the parish of
Henley-upon-Thames aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, did
knowingly, wilfully, feloniously, and of your malice aforethought,
mix and mingle certain deadly poisons, to wit, white arsenic, with
certain water gruel, which had been made and prepared for the use of
your said then father, the said Francis Blandy, to be drank by him,
you the said Mary then and there well knowing that the said water
gruel, with which you did so mix and mingle the said deadly poison
as aforesaid, was then and there made for the use of the said
Francis Blandy, with intent to be then and there administered to him
for his drinking the same; and the same water gruel, with which the
said poison was so mixed as aforesaid, afterwards, to wit, on the
same day and year, at Henley-upon-Thames aforesaid, was delivered to
the said Francis, to be then and there drank by him; and the said
Francis Blandy, not knowing the said poison to have been mixed with
the said water gruel, did afterwards, to wit, on the said 5th day of
August and on the next day following, and on divers other days and
times afterwards, and before the said 14th day of August, there
drink and swallow several quantities of the said poison, so mixed as
aforesaid with the said water gruel, and the said Francis Blandy, of
the poison aforesaid and by the operation thereof, became sick and
greatly distempered in his body, and from the several times
aforesaid until the 14th day of the same month of August, in the
twenty-fifth year aforesaid, at the parish aforesaid, in the county
aforesaid, did languish, on which said 14th day of August, in the
twenty-fifth year aforesaid, the said Francis Blandy, at the parish
aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, of that poison died; and so you,
the said Mary Blandy, him the aforesaid Francis Blandy, at
Henley-upon-Thames aforesaid, in manner and form aforesaid,
feloniously, wilfully, and of your malice aforethought, did poison,
kill, and murder, against the peace of our said lord the King, his
crown and dignity.
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--How sayest thou, Mary Blandy, art thou guilty
of the felony and murder whereof thou standest indicted, or not
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--Culprit, how wilt thou be tried?
PRISONER--By God and my country.
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--God send thee a good deliverance.
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--Cryer, make a proclamation for silence.
CRYER--Oyez, oyez, oyez! My lords the King's justices strictly
charge and command all manner of persons to keep silence, upon pain
CRYER--Oyez! You good men, that are impanelled to try between our
sovereign lord the King and the prisoner at the bar, answer to your
names and save your fines.
The jury were called over and appeared.
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--You, the prisoner at the bar, these men which
were last called and do now appear are those who are to pass between
our sovereign lord the King and you upon the trial of your life and
death. If therefore you will challenge them, or any of them, you
must challenge them as they come to the book to be sworn, before
they are sworn; and you shall be heard.
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--Anthony Woodward.
CRYER--Anthony Woodward, look upon the prisoner. You shall well and
truly try and true deliverance make between our sovereign lord the
King and the prisoner at the bar, whom you shall have in charge, and
a true verdict give, according to the evidence. So help you God.
And the same oath was administered to the rest (which were sworn),
and their names are as follow:--
Anthony Woodward, sworn; Charles Harrison, sworn; Samuel George
Glaze, sworn; William Farebrother, sworn; William Haynes, sworn;
Thomas Crutch, sworn; Henry Swell, challenged; John Clarke, sworn;
William Read, challenged; Harford Dobson, challenged; William Stone,
challenged; William Hawkins, sworn; John Hayes, the elder, sworn;
Samuel Badger, sworn; Samuel Bradley, sworn; William Brooks,
challenged; Joseph Jagger, sworn.
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--Cryer, count these.
Jury--Anthony Woodward, Charles Harrison, Samuel George Glaze,
William Farebrother, William Haynes, Thomas Crutch, John Clarke,
William Hawkins, John Haynes, sen., Samuel Badger, Samuel Bradley,
CRYER--Gentlemen, are ye all sworn?
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--Cryer, make proclamation.
CRYER--Oyez, oyez, oyez! If any one can inform my lords the King's
justices, the King's serjeant, the King's attorney-general, or this
inquest now to be taken of any treasons, murders, felonies, or
misdemeanours committed or done by the prisoner at the bar let him
come forth and he shall be heard, for the prisoner stands now at the
bar upon her deliverance; and all persons that are bound by
recognisance to give evidence against the prisoner at the bar let
them come forth and give their evidence, or they will forfeit their
CLERK OF THE ARRAIGNS--Mary Blandy, hold up thy hand. Gentlemen of
the jury, look upon the prisoner and hearken to her charge. She
stands indicted by the name of Mary Blandy, of the parish of
Henley-upon-Thames, in the county of Oxford, spinster, daughter of
Francis Blandy, late of the same place, gentleman, deceased, for
that she not having [as in the indictment before set forth]. Upon
this indictment she has been arraigned, and upon her arraignment has
pleaded not guilty, and for her trial has put herself upon God and
her country, which country you are. Your charge therefore is to
inquire whether she be guilty of the felony and murder whereof she
stands indicted, or not guilty. If you find her guilty you shall
inquire what goods or chattels, lands or tenements she had at the
time of the felony committed, or at any time since. If you find her
not guilty you shall inquire whether she fled for the same. If you
find that she did fly for the same you shall inquire of her goods
and chattels as if you had found her guilty. If you find her not
guilty, and that she did not fly for the same, say so, and no more;
and hear your evidence.
The Hon. Mr. Barrington then opened the indictment. After which,
[Sidenote: Mr. Bathurst]
The Hon. Mr. BATHURST spoke as follows:--
May it please your lordships and you gentlemen of the jury, I am
counsel in this case for the King, in whose name and at whose
expense this prosecution is carried on against the prisoner at the
bar, in order to bring her to justice for a crime of so black a dye
that I am not at all surprised at this vast concourse of people
collected together to hear and to see the trial and catastrophe of
so execrable an offender as she is supposed to be.
For, gentlemen, the prisoner at the bar, Miss Mary Blandy, a
gentlewoman by birth and education, stands indicted for no less a
crime than that of murder, and not only for murder, but for the
murder of her own father, and for the murder of a father
passionately fond of her, undertaken with the utmost deliberation,
carried on with an unvaried continuation of intention, and at last
accomplished by a frequent repetition of the baneful dose,
administered with her own hands. A crime so shocking in its own
nature and so aggravated in all its circumstances as will (if she is
proved to be guilty of it) justly render her infamous to the latest
posterity, and make our children's children, when they read the
horrid tale of this day, blush to think that such an inhuman
creature ever had an existence.
I need not, gentlemen, paint to you the heinousness of the crime of
murder. You have but to consult your own breasts, and you will know
Has a murder been committed? Who ever beheld the ghastly corpse of
the murdered innocent weltering in its blood and did not feel his
own blood run slow and cold through all his veins? Has the murderer
escaped? With what eagerness do we pursue? With what zeal do we
apprehend? With what joy do we bring to justice? And when the
dreadful sentence of death is pronounced upon him, everybody hears
it with satisfaction, and acknowledges the justice of the divine
denunciation that, "By whom man's blood is shed, by man shall his
blood be shed."
If this, then, is the case of every common murderer, what will be
thought of one who has murdered her own father? who has designedly
done the greatest of all human injuries to him from whom she
received the first and greatest of all human benefits? who has
wickedly taken away his life to whom she stands indebted for life?
who has deliberately destroyed, in his old age, him by whose care
and tenderness she was protected in her helpless infancy? who has
impiously shut her ears against the loud voice of nature and of God,
which bid her honour her father, and, instead of honouring him, has
It becomes us, gentlemen, who appear here as counsel for the Crown,
shortly to open the history of this whole affair, that you may be
better able to attend to and understand the evidence we have to lay
before you. And though, in doing this, I will endeavour rather to
extenuate than to aggravate, yet I trust I have such a history to
open as will shock the ears of all who hear me.
Mr. Francis Blandy, the unfortunate deceased, was an attorney at
law, who lived at Henley, in this county. A man of character and
reputation, he had one only child, a daughter--the darling of his
soul, the comfort of his age. He took the utmost care of her
education, and had the satisfaction to see his care was not
ill-bestowed, for she was genteel, agreeable, sprightly, sensible.
His whole thoughts were bent to settle her advantageously in the
world. In order to do that he made use of a pious fraud (if I may be
allowed the expression), pretending he could give her L10,000 for
her fortune. This he did in hopes that some of the neighbouring
gentlemen would pay their addresses to her, for out of regard to him
she was from her earliest youth received into the best company, and
her own behaviour made her afterwards acceptable to them. But how
short-sighted is human prudence? What was intended for her
promotion, proved his death and her destruction.
For, gentlemen, about six years ago, one Captain William Henry
Cranstoun, a gentleman then in the army, happened to come to Henley
to recruit. He soon got acquainted with the prisoner, and, hearing
she was to have L10,000, fell in love--not with her, but with her
fortune. Children he had before; married he was at that time, yet,
concealing it from her, he insinuated himself into her good graces,
and obtained her consent for marriage.
The father, who had heard a bad character of him, and who had reason
to believe, what was afterwards confirmed, that he was at that very
time married, you will easily imagine was averse to the proposal.
Upon this Captain Cranstoun and the prisoner determined to remove
that obstacle out of their way, and resolved to get as soon as
possible into possession of the L10,000 that the poor man had
unfortunately said he was worth.
In order for this, the captain being at Mr. Blandy's house in
August, 1750, they both agreed upon this horrid deed. And that
people might be less surprised at Mr. Blandy's death, they began by
giving out that they heard music in the house--a certain sign (as
Mr. Cranstoun had learned from a wise woman, one Mrs. Morgan, in
Scotland) that the father would die in less than twelve months. The
captain, too, pretended he was endowed with the gift of second
sight, and affirmed that he had seen Mr. Blandy's apparition. This
was another certain sign of his death, as she told the servants, to
whom she frequently said her father would not live long. Nay, she
went farther, and told them he would not live till the October
When it was she first began to mix poison with his victuals it is
impossible for us to ascertain, but probably it was not long after
November, 1750, when Mr. Cranstoun left Henley. The effects of the
poison were soon perceived. You will hear Dr. Addington, his
physician, tell you Mr. Blandy had for many months felt the dreadful
effects of it. One of the effects was the teeth dropping out of his
head whole from their sockets. Yet what do you think, gentlemen, the
daughter did when she perceived it? "She damned him for a toothless
old rogue, and wished him at hell." The poor man frequently
complained of pains in his bowels, had frequent reachings and
sickness; yet, instead of desisting, she wanted more poison to
effect her purpose. And Mr. Cranstoun did accordingly in the April
following send her a fresh supply; under the pretence of a present
of Scotch pebbles, he enclosed a paper of white arsenic. This she
frequently administered in his tea; and we shall prove to you that
in June, having put some of it into a dish of tea, Mr. Blandy
disliking the taste, left half in the cup. Unfortunately, a poor old
charwoman (by name Ann Emmet), glad to get a breakfast, drank the
remainder, together with a dish or two more out of the pot, and ate
what bread and butter had been left. The consequence was that she
was taken violently ill with purging and vomiting, and was in
imminent danger of her life. The poor woman's daughter came and told
Miss Blandy how ill her mother was; she, sorry that the poison was
misapplied, said, "Do not let your mother be uneasy, I will send her
what is proper for her." And, accordingly, sent her great quantities
of sack whey and thin mutton broth, than which no physician could
have prescribed better, and thus drenched the poor woman for ten
days together, till she grew tired of her medicines, and sent her
daughter again to Miss Blandy to beg a little small beer. "No, no
small beer," the prisoner said, "that was not proper for her." Most
plainly, then, she knew what it was the woman had taken in her
father's tea. She knew its effect. She knew the proper antidotes.
Having now experienced the strength of the poison, she grew more
open and undaunted, was heard to say, "Who would grudge to send an
old father to hell for L10,000?" I will make no remark upon such a
horrid expression--it needs none. After this she continued to mix
the poison with her father's tea as often as she had an opportunity.
Soon afterwards Susan Gunnell, another witness we shall call,
happened to drink some which her master had left; she was taken ill
upon it, and continued so for three weeks. This second accident
alarmed the prisoner. She was afraid of being discovered. She found
it would not mix well with tea. Accordingly, she wrote to Mr.
Cranstoun for further instructions. In answer to it, he bids her
"put it into some liquid of a more thickish substance."
The father being ill, frequently took water gruel. This was a proper
vehicle for the powder. Therefore from this time you will find her
always busy about her father's gruel. But lest Susan Gunnell, who
had been ill, should eat any of it, she cautioned her particularly
against it, saying, "Susan, as you have been so ill, you had better
not eat any of your master's water gruel; I have been told water
gruel has done me harm, and perhaps it may have the same effect upon
you." And lest this caution should not be sufficient, she spoke to
Betty Binfield, the other maidservant, and asked her whether Susan
ever ate any of her father's gruel, adding, "She had better not, for
if she does it may do for her, you may tell her." Evidently, then,
she knew what were the effects of the powder she put into her
father's gruel; for if it would "do for" the servant, it would "do
for" her father.
But the time approached beyond which she had foretold her father
would not live. It was the middle of July, and the father still
living. At this Mr. Cranstoun grows impatient. Upon the 18th of July
he writes to her, and, expressing himself in an allegorical manner,
which, however, you will easily understand, he says, "I am sorry
there are such occasions to clean your pebbles; you must make use of
the powder to them by putting it in anything of substance, wherein
it will not swim a-top of the water, of which I wrote to you of in
one of my last. I am afraid it will be too weak to take off their
rust, or at least it will take too long a time." Here he is
encouraging her to double the dose; says, he is afraid it will be
too weak, and will take up too much time. And, as a further
incitement to her to make haste, describes the beauties of Scotland,
and tells her that his mother, Lady Cranstoun, had employed workmen
to fit up an apartment for her at Lennel House.
Soon after the receipt of this letter she followed the advice. And
you will accordingly find the dose doubled. Her father grew worse,
and, as she herself told the servants, complained of a fireball in
his stomach, saying, "He never will be well till he has got rid of
it." And yet you will find she herself, fearful lest he should get
rid of it, was continually adding fuel to the fire, till it had
consumed her father's entrails.
Gentlemen, I will not detain you by going through every particular,
but bring you to the fatal period. Upon the 3rd of August, being
Saturday, Susan Gunnell made a large pan of water gruel for her
master. Upon Monday, the 5th, the prisoner will be proved to go into
the pantry where it was kept, and, after having, according to Mr.
Cranstoun's advice, put in a double dose of the powder, she stirred
it about, for a considerable time, in order to make it mix the
better. When, fearing she should have been observed, she went
immediately into the laundry, to the maids, and told them that "she
had been in the pantry, and, after stirring her papa's water gruel,
had ate the oatmeal at the bottom," saying that, "if she was ever to
take to the eating anything in particular, it would be oatmeal."
Strange inconsistence! She who had cautioned the maid against it not
above a fortnight before, who had declared that it had been
prejudicial to her own health, is on a sudden grown mighty fond of
it. But the pretence is easily to be seen through. That afternoon
some of the water gruel was taken out of the pan and prepared for
her father's supper. She again in the kitchen takes care to stir it
sufficiently, looks at the spoon, rubs some between her fingers, and
then sends it up to the poor old man her father. He scarce had
swallowed it when he was taken violently ill, and continued so all
the next day, with a griping, purging, and vomiting. Yet she herself
orders a second mess of the same gruel for her father's supper on
the Tuesday, and was herself the person who carried it up to her
father and administered it to him as nourishment. The poor old man,
grown weak with the frequent repetition, had not drank half the mess
before he was seized, from head to foot, with the most violent
pricking pains, continual reaching and vomiting, and was obliged to
go to bed without finishing it. The next morning the poor charwoman,
coming again to the house, unfortunately ate the remainder of the
gruel, and was instantly affected in so violent a manner that for
two hours together it was thought she would have died in Mr.
Blandy's house. The prisoner at this time was in bed; but the maid,
going up to her room, told her how ill dame Emmet had been, at the
same time saying she had ate nothing but the remainder of her
father's water gruel. The prisoner's answer was, "Poor woman! I am
glad I was not up, I should have been shocked to have seen
her"--should have been shocked to have seen the poor charwoman eat
what was prepared for her father, but was never shocked at her
father's eating it, or at his sufferings!
Gentlemen, in the afternoon of the Wednesday, notwithstanding the
poor man, her father, had suffered so much for two days together,
yet she again endeavours to give him more of the same gruel. "No,"
says the maid, "it has an odd taste; it is grown stale, I will make
fresh." "It is not worth while to make fresh now, it will take you
from your ironing; this will do," was the prisoner's answer.
However, Susan made fresh, after which wanting the pan to put it in,
she went to throw away what was before in it. Upon tilting the pan,
she perceived a white powder at the bottom, which she knew could not
be oatmeal. She showed it her fellow-servant, when, feeling it, they
found it gritty. They then too plainly perceived what it was had
made their poor master ill. What was to be done? Susan immediately
carried the pan with the gruel and powder in it to Mrs. Mounteney, a
neighbour and friend of the deceased. Mrs. Mounteney kept it till it
was delivered to the apothecary, the apothecary delivered it to the
physician, and he will tell you that upon trying it he found it to
be white arsenic. Mr. Blandy continued from day to day to grow
worse. At last, upon the Saturday morning, Susan Gunnell, an old
honest, maidservant, uneasy to see how her poor master had been
treated, went to his bedside, and, in the most prudent and gentlest
manner, broke to him what had been the cause of his illness, and the
strong ground there was to suspect that his daughter was the
occasion of it. The father, with a fondness greater than ever a
father felt before, cried out, "Poor love-sick girl! What will not a
woman do for the man she loves? But who do you think gave her the
powder?" She answered, "She could not tell, unless it was sent by
Mr. Cranstoun." "I believe so too," says the master, "for I remember
he has talked learnedly of poisons. I always thought there was
mischief in those cursed Scotch pebbles."
Soon afterwards he got up and came to breakfast in his parlour,
where his daughter and Mr. Littleton, his clerk, then were. A dish
of tea, in the usual manner, was ready poured out for him. He just
tasted it and said, "This tea has a bad taste," looked at the cup,
then looked hard at his daughter. She was, for the first time,
shocked, burst into tears, and ran out of the room. The poor father,
more shocked than the daughter, poured the tea into the cat's basin,
and went to the window to recover himself. She soon came again into
the room. Mr. Littleton said, "Madam, I fear your father is very
ill, for he has flung away his tea." Upon this news she trembled,
and the tears again stood in her eyes. She again withdraws. Soon
afterwards the father came into the kitchen, and, addressing himself
to her, said, "Molly, I had like to have been poisoned twenty years
ago, and now I find I shall die by poison at last." This was warning
sufficient. She immediately went upstairs, brought down Mr.
Cranstoun's letters, together with the remainder of the poison, and
threw them (as she thought unobserved) into the fire. Thinking she
had now cleared herself from the suspicious appearances of poison,
her spirits mend, "she thanked God that she was much better, and
said her mind was more at ease than it had been." Alas! how often
does that which we fondly imagine will save us become our
destruction? So it was in the present instance. For providentially,
though the letters were destroyed, the paper with the poison in it
was not burnt. One of the maids having immediately flung some fresh
coals upon the fire, Miss Blandy went well satisfied out of the
room. Upon her going out, Susan Gunnell said to her fellow-servants,
"I saw Miss Blandy throw some papers in the fire, let us see whether
we can discover what they were." They removed the coals, and found a
paper with white powder in it, wrote upon, in Mr. Cranstoun's hands,
"Powder to clean the pebbles." This powder they preserved, and
the doctor will tell you that it was white arsenic, the same which
had been found in the pan of gruel.
Having now (as she imagined) concealed her own being concerned, you
will find her the next day endeavouring to prevent her lover from
being discovered. Mr. Blandy of Kingston having come the night
before to see her father, on Sunday morning she sent Mr. Littleton
with him to church; while they were there she sat down and wrote
this letter to her beloved Cranstoun--
Dear Willy,--My father is so bad, that I have only time to tell you,
that if you do not hear from me soon again, don't be frightened. I
am better myself. Lest any accident should happen to your letters,
take care what you write. My sincere compliments. I am ever yours.
"My father is so bad." Who had made him so? Yet does she say she was
sorry for it? No; she knew her father was then dying by that powder
that he had sent her, yet could acquaint him she was herself better.
Under those circumstances could caution him to take care what he
wrote, lest his letters should be discovered! What can speak more
strongly their mutual guilt? This letter she sealed with no less than
five wafers. When Mr. Littleton came from church she privately gave it
to him, desiring it might be directed as usual, and put into the post.
Mr. Littleton was at that time too well apprised of this black
transaction to obey her commands. He opened the letter, took a copy of
it. Upon further recollection, carried the original to the father, who
bid him open and read it. He did so. What do you think, gentlemen, was
all the poor old man said upon this discovery? He only again dropped
these words, "Poor love-sick girl! What will not a woman do for the
man she loves?"
Upon the Monday morning, after having been kept for two days without
seeing her father, by the order of the physicians, her conscience, or
rather fear, began to trouble her; she told the maid she should go
distracted if she did not see her father, and sent a message to beg to
see him. Accordingly she was admitted. The conversation between them
was this--"Papa, how do you do?" "My dear, I am very ill." She
immediately fell upon her knees and said, "Dear sir, banish me where
you will; do with me what you please, so you do but pardon and forgive
me. And as to Mr. Cranstoun, I never will see, write, or speak to him
again." He answered, "I do forgive you, but you should, my dear, have
considered that I was your own father." Upon this the prisoner said,
"Sir, as to your illness I am innocent." Susan Gunnell, who was
present, interrupted her at this expression, and told her she was
astonished to hear her say she was innocent, when they had the poison
to produce against her that she had put into her father's water gruel,
and had preserved the paper she had thrown into the fire. The father,
whose love and tenderness for his daughter exceeded expression, could
not bear to hear her thus accused; therefore, turning himself in his
bed, cried out, "Oh that villain! that hath eat of the best, and drank
of the best my house could afford, to take away my life and ruin my
daughter!" Upon hearing this the daughter ran to the other side of the
bed to him; upon which he added, "My dear, you must hate that man, you
must hate the very ground he treads on." Struck with this, the
prisoner said, "Dear sir, your kindness towards me is worse than
swords to my heart. I must down upon my knees and beg you not to curse
me." Hear the father's answer, a father then dying by poison given by
her hand--"I curse thee, my dear! No, I bless you, and will pray to
God to bless you, and to amend your life"; then added, "So do, my
dear, go out of the room lest you should say anything to accuse
yourself." Was ever such tenderness from a parent to a child! She was
prudent enough to follow his advice, and went out of the room without
speaking. His kindness was swords to her heart for near half an hour.
Going downstairs she met Betty Binfield, and, whilst she was thus
affected, owned to her she had put some powder into her father's
gruel, and that Susan and she, for their honesty to their master,
deserved half her fortune.
Gentlemen, not to tire you with the particulars of every day, upon
Wednesday, in the afternoon, the father died. Upon his death the
prisoner, finding herself discovered, endeavoured to persuade the
manservant to go off with her; but he was too honest to be tempted by
a reward to assist her in going off, though she told him it would be
L500 in his way. That night she refused to go to bed. Not out of grief
for her father's death, for you will be told by the maid who sat up
with her that she never during the whole night showed the least
sorrow, compassion, or remorse upon his account. But in the middle of
the night she proposed to get a post-chaise in order to go to London,
and offered the maid twenty-five guineas to go with her. "A
post-chaise! and go to London! God forbid, madam, I should do such a
thing." The prisoner, finding the maid not proper for her purpose,
immediately put a smile upon her face--"I was only joking." Only
joking! Good God! would she now have it thought she was only joking?
Her father just dead by poison: she suspected of having poisoned him;
accused of being a parricide; and would she have it thought she was
capable of joking?
When I see the assistance she now has (and I am glad to see she has
the assistance of three as able gentlemen as any in the profession) I
am sure she will not be now advised to say she was then joking. But it
will appear very plainly to you, gentlemen, that she was not joking,
for the next morning she dressed herself in a proper habit for a
journey, and, while the people put to take care of her were absent,
stole out of the house and went over Henley Bridge. But the mob, who
had heard of what she had done, followed her so close that she was
forced to take shelter in a little alehouse, the Angel. Mr. Fisher, a
gentleman who was afterwards one of the jury upon the coroner's
inquisition, came there, and prevailed with her (or in other words
forced her) to return home. Upon her return, the inquest sitting, she
sends for Mr. Fisher into another room and said, "Dear Mr. Fisher,
what do you think they will do with me? Will they send me to Oxford
gaol?" "Madam," said he, "I am afraid it will go hard with you. But if
you have any of Mr. Cranstoun's letters, and produce them, they may be
of some service to you." Upon hearing this she cried out, "Dear Mr.
Fisher, what have I done? I had letters that would have hanged that
villain, but I have burnt them. My honour to that villain has brought
me to my destruction." And she spoke the truth.
This, gentlemen, is in substance the history of this black affair.
But, my lords, though this is the history in order of time, yet it is
not the order in which we shall lay the evidence before your lordships
and the jury. It will be proper for us to begin by establishing the
fact that Mr. Francis Blandy did die of poison. When the physicians
have proved that, we will then proceed to show that he died of the
poison put into the water gruel on the 5th of August. After this we
will call witnesses who from a number of circumstances, as well as
from her own confession, will prove she put it into her father's water
gruel, knowing it was for her father, and knowing it to be poison.
Having done this, we will conclude with a piece of evidence which I
forgot to mention before, and that is the conversation between her and
Mr. Lane at the Angel. Mr. Lane and his wife happening to be walking
at that time, finding a mob about the door, stepped into the alehouse
to see the prisoner. The moment she saw a gentleman, though it was one
she did not know, she accosted him, "Sir, you appear to be a
gentleman; for heaven's sake, what will become of me?" "Madam!" said
he, "you will be sent to Oxford gaol; you will there be tried for your
life. If you are innocent, you will be acquitted; if you are guilty,
you will suffer death."
The prisoner upon hearing this stamped with her foot, and said, "Oh!
that damned villain!" Then pausing, "But why do I blame him? I am most
blame myself, for I gave it, and I knew the consequence." If she knew
the consequence, I am sure there are none of you gentlemen but who
will think she deserves to suffer the consequence.
And let me here observe how evidently the hand of Providence has
interposed to bring her to this day's trial that she may suffer the
consequence. For what but the hand of Providence could have preserved
the paper thrown by her into the fire, and have snatched it unburnt
from the devouring flame! Good God! how wonderful are all Thy ways,
and how miraculously hast Thou preserved this paper to be this day
produced in evidence against the prisoner in order that she may suffer
the punishment due to her crime, and be a dreadful example to all
others who may be tempted in like manner to offend Thy divine majesty!
Let me add that, next to Providence, the public are obliged to the two
noble lords whose indefatigable diligence in inquiring into this
hidden work of darkness has enabled us to lay before you upon this
occasion the clearest and strongest proof that such a dark transaction
will admit of. For poisoning is done in secret and alone. It is not
like other murders, neither can it be proved with equal perspicuity.
However, the evidence we have in this case is as clear and direct as
possible, and if it comes up to what I have opened to you I make no
doubt but you will do that justice to your country which the oath you
have taken requires of you.
[Sidenote: Mr. Serjeant Hayward]
Mr. SERJEANT HAYWARD--May it please your lordships and you gentlemen
of the jury, I likewise am appointed to assist the Crown on this
occasion, but His Majesty's learned counsel having laid before you so
faithful a narrative of this dismal transaction, it seems almost
unnecessary for me to take up any more of your time in repeating
anything that has been before said; and, indeed, my own inclinations
would lead me to cast a veil over the guilty scene--a scene so black
and so horrid that if my duty did not call me to it I could rather
wish it might be for ever concealed from human eyes. But as we are now
making inquisition for blood it is absolutely necessary for me to make
some observations upon that chain of circumstances that attended this
bloody contrivance and detested murder.
[Illustration: Captain Cranstoun and Miss Blandy
(_From an Engraving in the British Museum_.)]
Experience has taught us that in many cases a single fact may be
supported by false testimony, but where it is attended with a train
of circumstances that cannot be invented (had they never happened),
such a fact will always be made out to the satisfaction of a jury
by the concurring assistance of circumstantial evidence. Because
circumstances that tally one with another are above human contrivance.
And especially such as naturally arise in their order from the first
contrivance of a scheme to the fatal execution of it.
Having suggested this much, I shall now proceed to lay before you
those sort of circumstances that seem to me to arise through this
whole affair, and leave it to your judgment whether they do not amount
to too convincing a proof that the prisoner at the bar has knowingly
been the cause of her own father's death, for upon the prisoner's
knowledge of what she did will depend her fate.
Of all kinds of murders that by poison is the most dreadful, as it
takes a man unguarded, and gives him no opportunity to defend himself,
much more so when administered by the hand of a child, whom one could
least suspect, and from whom one might naturally look for assistance
and comfort. Could a father entertain any suspicion of a child to
whom, under God, he had been the second cause of life? No, sure, and
yet this is the case now before you. The unfortunate deceased has
received his death by poison, and that undoubtedly administered by the
hand of his own--his only--his beloved child. Spare me, gentlemen, to
pay the tribute of one tear to the memory of a person with whom I was
most intimately acquainted, and to the excellency of whose disposition
and integrity of heart I can safely bear faithful testimony. Oh! were
he now living, and to see his daughter there, the severest tortures
that poison could give would be nothing to what he would suffer from
such a sight.
And since the bitterest agonies must at this time surround the heart
of the prisoner if she does but think of what a father she has lost, I
can readily join with her in her severest afflictions upon this
occasion, and shall never blame myself for weeping with those that
weep, nor can I make the least question but my learned assistants in
this prosecution will with me rejoice likewise, if the prisoner, by
making her innocence appear, shall upon the conclusion of this inquiry
find occasion to rejoice. But, alas! too strong I fear will the charge
against her be proved, too convincing are the circumstances that
attend it. What those are, and what may be collected from them, is my
next business to offer to your consideration.
But before I enter thereupon I must beg leave to address myself to
this numerous and crowded assembly, whom curiosity hath led hither to
hear the event of this solemn trial, hoping that whatever may be the
consequence of it to the prisoner her present melancholy situation may
turn to our advantage, and reduce our minds to seriousness and
attention. Solemn, indeed, I may well call it as being a tribunal
truly awful, for this method of trial before two of His Majesty's
learned judges has scarce ever been known upon a circuit; judges of
undoubted virtue, integrity, and learning, who undergo this laborious
and important work, not only for the sake of bringing guilt to
punishment, but to guard and protect innocence whenever it appears.
But you, young gentleman of this University, I particularly beg your
attention, earnestly beseeching you to guard against the first
approaches of and temptations to vice. See here the dreadful
consequences of disobedience to a parent. Who could have thought that
Miss Blandy, a young lady virtuously brought up, distinguished for her
good behaviour and prudent conduct in life, till her unfortunate
acquaintance with the wicked Cranstoun, should ever be brought to a
trial for her life, and that for the most desperate and bloodiest kind
of murder, committed by her own hand, upon her own father? Had she
listened to his admonitions this calamity never had befallen her.
Learn hence the dreadful consequences of disobedience to parents; and
know also that the same mischief in all probability may happen to such
who obstinately disregard, neglect, and despise the advice of those
persons who have the charge and care of their education; of governors
likewise, and of magistrates, and of all others who are put in
authority over them. Let this fix in your mind the excellent maxim of
the good physician, "Venienti occurrite morbo." Let us defend
ourselves against the first temptations to sin, and guard our
innocence as we would our lives; for if once we yield, though but a
little, in whose power is it to say, hitherto will I go, and no
And now, gentlemen of the jury, those observations I had before
mentioned, I shall attempt to lay before you in order to assist you in
making a true judgment of the matter committed to your charge. The
author and contriver of this bloody affair is not at present here. I
sincerely wish that he was, because we should be able to convince him
that such crimes as his cannot escape unpunished. The unhappy
prisoner, ruined and undone by the treacherous flattery and pernicious
advice of that abandoned, insidious, and execrable wretch, who had
found means of introducing himself into her father's family, and
whilst there, by false pretences of love, gained the affection of his
only daughter and child. Love! did I call it? It deserves not the
name; if it was love of anything it was of the L10,000 supposed to be
the young lady's fortune. Could a man that had a wife of his own, and
children, be really in love with another woman? Such a thing cannot be
supposed, and therefore I beg leave to call it avarice and lust only;
but be it what it will, the life of the father becomes an obstacle to
the criminal proceedings that were intended and designed to be carried
on between them, and therefore he must be removed before that
imaginary state of felicity could be obtained according to their
projected scheme. Mark how the destruction of this poor man is ushered
into the world--apparitions, noises, voices, music, reported to be
heard from time to time in the deceased's house. Even his days are
numbered out, and his own child limits the space of his life but till
the following month of October. What could be the meaning of this, but
to prepare the world for a death that was predetermined? Who could
limit the days of a man's life but a person who knew what was intended
to be done towards the shortening of it?
In order to bring this about Cranstoun sends presents of pebbles, as
also a powder to clean them, and this powder, gentlemen, you will find
is the dreadful poison that accomplished this abominable scheme.
From time to time mention is made of the pebbles, but not a syllable
of the powder. Why not of the one as well as of the other, if there
had not been a mystery concealed in it? Preparation is made for an
experiment of its power before Cranstoun's departure. He mixes the
deadly draught, but the prisoner's conscience, not yet hardened,
forced her to turn away her eyes, and she durst not venture to behold
the cup prepared that was to send the father into another world.
Soon after this Cranstoun quits the family (having, no question, left
instructions how to proceed further in completing the scheme he had
laid for taking off the old man), and this you'll find by letters
under his own hand, that the powder, whatever it was, must not be
mixed in too thin a liquid, because it might be discovered, and
therefore water gruel is thought fitter for the purpose. By the
frequent mixtures that were made upon these occasions the unfortunate
servant and charwoman accidentally drank part of the deadly
composition. When complaint is made of their sickness, how does the
prisoner behave? Does she not administer to them with as much art and
skill as a physician could? Does she not prescribe proper liquids and
draughts to absorb and take off the edge of the corroding poison? If
she knew not what it was how could she administer so successfully to
prevent the fatal consequences of it both in the maid and the
charwoman? During this transaction the unhappy father finds himself
afflicted with torturing pains immediately after receiving the
composition from his daughter. Is there any care taken of him? Any
physician sent for to attend him? Any healing draughts prepared to
quiet the racks and tortures that he inwardly felt? None at all that I
can find. He is left to take care of himself, and undergo those
miseries that his own child had brought upon him, and yet had not the
heart to give him any assistance. What could this proceed from, but
guilty only? Would not an innocent child have made the strictest
inquiry how her own father came to be out of order? Would she not have
sought the world over for advice and assistance? But instead of that
you hear the bitterest expressions proceed from her, expressions
sufficient to shock human nature. They have been all mentioned already
by my learned leader, and I will not again repeat them.
Observe, as things come nearer the crisis, whether her behaviour
towards her father carries any better appearance. When it began to be
suspected that Mr. Blandy's disorder was owing to poison, and
strongly, from circumstances, that the prisoner was privy to it, the
poor man, now too far gone, being informed that there was great reason
to suspect his own child, what expressions does he make use of? No
harsher than in the gentlest method saying, "Poor love-sick girl! I
always thought there was mischief in those Scotch pebbles. Oh, that
damned villain Cranstoun, that has ate of the best and drank of the
best my house afforded, to serve me thus and ruin my poor love-sick
girl!" An incontestable proof that he knew the cause of his disorder
and the authors of it.
The report spread about the house of the father's suspicions soon
alarmed the prisoner; what does she do upon this occasion? Can any
other interpretation be put upon her actions than that they proceeded
from a manifest intention to conceal her guilt? Why is the paper of
powder thrown into the fire? From whence, as my learned leader most
elegantly observes, it is miraculously preserved. What occasion for
concealment had she not been conscious of something that was wrong? If
she had not known what had been in the paper, for what purpose was it
committed to the flames? And what really was contained in that paper
will appear to you to be deadly poison.
The long-wished-for and fatal hour at last arrives, and but a little
before a letter is sent by the prisoner to Cranstoun that her father
was extremely ill, begging him to be cautious what he writes, lest any
accident should happen to his letters. Do the circumstances, the
language, or the time of writing this letter leave any room to suppose
the prisoner could be innocent? They seem to me rather to be the
fullest proof of her knowing what she had done. What accidents could
befall Cranstoun's letters? Why is he to take care what he writes, if
nothing but the effects of innocency were to be contained in those
letters? In a very short time after this the strength of the poison
carries the father out of the world. Do but hear how the prisoner
behaved thereupon. The father's corpse was not yet cold when she makes
application to the footman, with a temptation of large sums of money
as a reward, if he would go off with her; but the fidelity and virtue
of the servant was proof against the temptation even of four or five
hundred pounds. The next proposal is to the maid to procure a chaise,
with the offer of a reward for so doing, and to go along with her to
London; but this project likewise failed, through the honesty of the
servant. The next morning, in the absence of Edward Herne (the guard
that was set over her), she makes her escape from her father's house,
and, dressed as if going to take a journey, walked down the street;
but the mob was soon aware of her, and forced her to take shelter in a
public-house over the bridge. Do these proceedings look as if they
were the effects of innocence? Far otherwise, I am afraid. Would an
innocent person have quitted a deceased parent's house at a time when
she was most wanting to make proper and decent preparations for his
funeral? Would an innocent person, at such a time as this, offer money
for assistance to make an escape? I think not; and I wish she may find
a satisfactory cause to assign for such amazing behaviour.
Let us put innocence and guilt in the scale together, and observe to
which side the prisoner's actions are most applicable. Innocence,
celestial virgin, always has her guard about her; she dares look the
frowns, the resentments, and the persecutions of the world in the
face; is able to stand the test of the strictest inquiry; and the more
we behold her, still the more shall we be in love with her charms. But
it is not so with guilt. The baneful fiend makes use of unjustifiable
means to conceal her wicked designs and prevent discovery. Artifice
and cunning are her supporters, bribery and corruption the defenders
of her cause; she flies before the face of law and justice, and shuns
the probation of a candid and impartial inquiry. Upon the whole
matter, you, gentlemen, are to judge; and judge as favourably as you
can for the prisoner.
If this were not sufficient to convince us of the prisoner's guilt, I
think the last transaction of all will leave not the least room to
doubt. When in discourse with persons that came to her at the house
where she had taken shelter, what but self-conviction could have drawn
such expressions from her? In her discourse with Mr. Fisher about
Cranstoun you will find she declared she had letters and papers that
would have hanged that villain; and, again, says, "My honour, Mr.
Fisher, to that villain has brought me to destruction"; and, again, in
her inquiry of Mr. Lane, what they would do with her, she bursts out
into this bitter exclamation, "Oh, that damned villain!" Then after a
short pause, "But why should I blame him? I am more to blame than he
is, for I gave it him." How could she be to blame for giving it if she
knew not what it was? And, as it is said, went yet farther, and
declared, "That she knew the consequence." If she did know it, she
must expect to suffer the consequence of it too.
Thus, gentlemen, have I endeavoured to lay before you some observations
upon this transaction, and I hope you will think them not unworthy of
your consideration. I trust I have said nothing that relates to the
fact that is not in my instructions; should it be otherwise, I assure
you it was not with design. And whatever is not supported by legal
evidence you will totally disregard.
If any other interpretation than what I have offered can be put upon
these several transactions, and the circumstances attending them, I
doubt not but you will always incline on the merciful side where there
is room for so doing.
We shall now proceed to call our evidence.
The other gentlemen, of counsel for the King, were Mr. Hayes, Mr.
Wares, and Mr. Ambler.
The counsel for the prisoner were Mr. Ford, Mr. Morton, and Mr.
Evidence for the Prosecution.
[Sidenote: Dr. Addington]
Dr. ANTHONY ADDINGTON examined--I attended Mr. Blandy in his last
When were you called to him the first time?--On Saturday evening,
August the 10th.
In what condition did you find him?--He was in bed, and told me that,
after drinking some gruel on Monday night, August the 5th, he had
perceived an extraordinary grittiness in his mouth, attended with a
very painful burning and pricking in his tongue, throat, stomach, and
bowels, and with sickness and gripings, which symptoms had been
relieved by fits of vomiting and purging.
Were those fits owing to any physic he had taken or to the gruel?--Not
to any physic; they came on very soon after drinking the gruel.
Had he taken no physic that day?--No.
Did he make any further complaints?--He said that, after drinking more
gruel on Tuesday night, August the 6th, he had felt the grittiness in
his mouth again, and that the burning and pricking in his tongue,
throat, stomach, and bowels had returned with double violence, and had
been aggravated by a prodigious swelling of his belly, and exquisite
pains and prickings in every external as well as internal part of his
body, which prickings he compared to an infinite number of needles
darting into him all at once.
How soon after drinking the gruel?--Almost immediately. He told me
likewise that at the same time he had had cold sweats, hiccup, extreme
restlessness and anxiety, but that then, viz., on Saturday night,
August the 10th, having had a great many stools, and some bloody ones,
he was pretty easy everywhere, except in his mouth, lips, nose, eyes,
and fundament, and except some transient gripings in his bowels. I
asked him to what he imputed those uneasy sensations in his mouth,
lips, nose, and eyes? He said, to the fumes of something that he had
taken in his gruel on Monday night, August the 5th, and Tuesday night,
August the 6th. On inspection I found his tongue swelled and his
throat slightly inflamed and excoriated. His lips, especially the
upper one, were dry and rough, and had angry pimples on them. The
inside of his nostrils was in the same condition. His eyes were a
little bloodshot. Besides these appearances, I observed that he had a
low, trembling, intermitting pulse; a difficult, unequal respiration;
a yellowish complexion; a difficulty in the utterance of his words;
and an inability of swallowing even a teaspoonful of the thinnest
liquor at a time. As I suspected that these appearances and symptoms
were the effect of poison, I asked Miss Blandy whether Mr. Blandy had
lately given offence to either of his servants or clients, or any
other person? She answered, "That he was at peace with all the world,
and that all the world was at peace with him." I then asked her
whether he had ever been subject to complaints of this kind before?
She said that he had often been subject to the colic and heartburn,
and that she supposed this was only a fit of that sort, and would soon
go off, as usual. I told Mr. Blandy that I asked these questions
because I suspected that by some means or other he had taken poison.
He replied, "It might be so," or in words to that effect; but Miss
Blandy said, "It was impossible." On Sunday morning, August the 11th,
he seemed much relieved; his pulse, breath, complexion, and power of
swallowing were greatly mended. He had had several stools in the night
without any blood in them. The complaints which he had made of his
mouth, lips, nose, and eyes were lessened; but he said the pain in his
fundament continued, and that he still felt some pinchings in his
bowels. On viewing his fundament, I found it almost surrounded with
gleety excoriations and ulcers. About eight o'clock that morning I
took my leave of him; but before I quitted his room Miss Blandy
desired I would visit him again the next day. When I got downstairs
one of the maids put a paper into my hands, which she said Miss Blandy
had thrown into the kitchen fire. Several holes were burnt in the
paper, but not a letter of the superscription was effaced. The
superscription was "The powder to clean the pebbles with."
What is the maid's name that gave you that paper?--I cannot recollect
which of the maids it was that gave it me. I opened the paper very
carefully, and found in it a whiteish powder, like white arsenic in
taste, but slightly discoloured by a little burnt paper mixed with it.
I cannot swear this powder was arsenic, or any other poison, because
the quantity was too small to make any experiment with that could be
What do you really suspect it to be?--I really suspect it to be white
Please to proceed, sir.--As soon as the maid had left me, Mr. Norton,
the apothecary, produced a powder that, he said, had been found at the
bottom of that mess of gruel, which, as was supposed, had poisoned Mr.
Blandy. He gave me some of this powder, and I examined it at my
leisure, and believed it to be white arsenic. On Monday morning,
August the 12th, I found Mr. Blandy much worse than I had left him the
day before. His complexion was very bad, his pulse intermitted, and he
breathed and swallowed with great difficulty. He complained more of
his fundament than he had done before. His bowels were still in pain.
I now desired that another physician might be called in, as I
apprehended Mr. Blandy to be in the utmost danger, and that this
affair might come before a Court of judicature. Dr. Lewis was then
sent for from Oxford. I stayed with Mr. Blandy all this day. I asked
him more than once whether he really thought he had taken poison? He
answered each time that he believed he had. I asked him whether he
thought he had taken poison often? He answered in the affirmative. His
reasons for thinking so were because some of his teeth had decayed
much faster than was natural, and because he had frequently for some
months past, especially after his daughter had received a present of
Scotch pebbles from Mr. Cranstoun, been affected with very violent and
unaccountable prickings and heats in his tongue and throat, and with
almost intolerable burnings and pains in his stomach and bowels, which
used to go off in vomitings and purgings. I asked him whom he
suspected to be the giver of the poison? The tears stood in his eyes,
yet he forced a smile, and said--"A poor love-sick girl--I forgive
her--I always thought there was mischief in those cursed Scotch
pebbles." Dr. Lewis came about eight o'clock in the evening. Before he
came Mr. Blandy's complexion, pulse, breath, and faculty of swallowing
were much better again; but he complained more of pain in his
fundament. This evening Miss Blandy was confined to her chamber, a
guard was placed over her, and her keys, papers, and all instruments
wherewith she could hurt either herself or any other person were taken
How came that?--I proposed it to Dr. Lewis, and we both thought it
proper, because we had great reason to suspect her as the author of
Mr. Blandy's illness, and because this suspicion was not yet publicly
known, and therefore no magistrate had Dr. Addington taken any notice
Please to go on, Dr. Addington, with your account of Mr. Blandy.
On Tuesday morning, August the 13th, we found him worse again, His
countenance, pulse, breath, and power of swallowing were extremely
bad. He was excessively weak. His hands trembled. Both they and his
face were cold and clammy. The pain was entirely gone from his bowels,
but not from his fundament. He was now and then a little delirious. He
had frequently a short cough and a very extraordinary elevation of his
chest in fetching his breath, on which occasions an ulcerous matter
generally issued from his fundament. Yet in his sensible intervals he
was cheerful and jocose; he said, "he was like a person bit by a mad
dog; for that he should be glad to drink, but could not swallow."
About noon this day his speech faltered more and more. He was
sometimes very restless, at others very sleepy. His face was quite
ghastly. This night was a terrible one. On Wednesday morning, August
the 14th, he recovered his senses for an hour or more. He told me he
would make his will in two or three days; but he soon grew delirious
again, and sinking every moment, died about two o'clock in the
Upon the whole, did you then think, from the symptoms you have
described and the observations you made, that Mr. Blandy died by
poison?--Indeed I did.
And is it your present opinion?--It is; and I have never had the least
occasion to alter it. His case was so particular, that he had not a
symptom of any consequence but what other persons have had who have
taken white arsenic, and after death had no appearance in his body but
what other persons have had who have been destroyed by white
When was his body opened?--On Thursday, in the afternoon, August the
What appeared on opening it?--I committed the appearances to writing,
and should be glad to read them, if the Court will give me leave.
[Then the doctor, on leave given by the Court, read as follows:--]
"Mr. Blandy's back and the hinder part of his arms, thighs, and legs
were livid. That fat which lay on the muscles of his belly was of a
loose texture, inclining to a state of fluidity. The muscles of his
belly were very pale and flaccid. The cawl was yellower than is
natural, and the side next the stomach and intestines looked
brownish. The heart was variegated with purple spots. There was no
water in the pericardium. The lungs resembled bladders half filled
with air, and blotted in some places with pale, but in most with
black, ink. The liver and spleen were much discoloured; the former
looked as if it had been boiled, but that part of it which covered
the stomach was particularly dark. A stone was found in the gall
bladder. The bile was very fluid and of a dirty yellow colour,
inclining to red. The kidneys were all over stained with livid
spots. The stomach and bowels were inflated, and appeared before
any incision was made into them as if they had been pinched, and
extravasated blood had stagnated between their membranes. They
contained nothing, as far as we examined, but a slimy bloody froth.
Their coats were remarkably smooth, thin, and flabby. The wrinkles
of the stomach were totally obliterated. The internal coat of the
stomach and duodenum, especially about the orifices of the former,
was prodigiously inflamed and excoriated. The redness of the white
of the eye in a violent inflammation of that part, or rather the
white of the eye just brushed and bleeding with the beards of
barley, may serve to give some idea how this coat had been wounded.
There was no schirrus in any gland of the abdomen, no adhesion of
the lungs to the pleura, nor indeed the least trace of a natural
decay in any part whatever."
[Sidenote: Dr. Lewis]
Dr. WILLIAM LEWIS examined--Did you, Dr. Lewis, observe that Mr.
Blandy had the symptoms which Dr. Addington has mentioned?--I did.
Did you observe that there were the same appearances on opening his
body which Dr. Addington has described?--I observed and remember them
all, except the spots on his heart.
Is it your real opinion that those symptoms and those appearances were
owing to poison?--Yes.
And that he died of poison?--Absolutely.
[Sidenote: Dr. Addington]
Dr. ADDINGTON, cross-examined--Did you first intimate to Mr. Blandy,
or he to you, that he had been poisoned?--He first intimated it to me.
Did you ask him whether he was certain that he had been poisoned by
the gruel that he took on Monday night, August the 5th, and on Tuesday
night, August the 6th?--I do not recollect that I did.
Are you sure that he said he was disordered after drinking the gruel
on Monday night, the 5th of August?--Yes.
Did you over ask him why he drank more gruel on Tuesday night, August
the 6th?--I believe I did not.
When did you make experiments on the powder delivered to you by Mr.
Norton?--I made some the next day; but many more some time afterwards.
How long afterwards?--I cannot just say; it might be a month or more.
How often had you powder given you?--Twice.
Did you make experiments with both parcels?--Yes; but I gave the
greatest part of the first to Mr. King, an experienced chemist in
Reading, and desired that he would examine it, which he did, and he
told me that it was white arsenic. The second parcel was used in
trials made by myself.
Who had the second parcel in keeping till you tried it?--I had it, and
kept it either in my pocket or under lock and key.
Did you never show it to anybody?--Yes, to several persons; but
trusted nobody with it out of my sight.
Why do you believe it to be white arsenic?--For the following
reasons:--(1) This powder has a milky whiteness; so has white arsenic.
(2) This is gritty and almost insipid; so is white arsenic. (3) Part
of it swims on the surface of cold water, like a pale sulphurous film,
but the greatest part sinks to the bottom, and remains there
undissolved; the same is true of white arsenic. (4) This thrown on
red-hot iron does not flame, but rises entirely in thick white fumes,
which have the stench of garlic, and cover cold iron held just over
them with white flowers; white arsenic does the same. (5) I boiled 10
grains of this powder in 4 ounces of clean water, and then, passing
the decoction through a filter, divided it into five equal parts,
which were put into as many glasses--into one glass I poured a few
drops of spirit of sal ammoniac, into another some of the lixivium of
tartar, into the third some strong spirit of vitriol, into the fourth
some spirit of salt, and into the last some syrup of violets. The
spirit of sal ammoniac threw down a few particles of pale sediment.
The lixivium of tartar gave a white cloud, which hung a little above
the middle of the glass. The spirits of vitriol and salt made a
considerable precipitation of lightish coloured substance, which, in
the former hardened into glittering crystals, sticking to the sides
and bottom of the glass. Syrup of violets produced a beautiful pale
green tincture. Having washed the sauce pan, funnel, and glasses used
in the foregoing experiments very clean, and provided a fresh filter,
I boiled 10 grains of white arsenic, bought of Mr. Wilcock, druggist
in Reading, in 4 ounces of clean water, and, filtering and dividing it
into five equal parts, proceeded with them just as I had done with the
former decoctions. There was an exact similitude between the
experiments made on the two decoctions. They corresponded so nicely in
each trial that I declare I never saw any two things in Nature more
alike the decoction made with the powder found in Mr. Blandy's gruel
and that made with white arsenic. From these experiments, and others
which I am ready to produce if desired, I believe that powder to be
Did any person make these experiments with you?--No, but Mr. Wilcock,
the druggist, was present while I made them; and he weighed both the
powder and the white arsenic.
When did Mr. Blandy first take medicines by your order?--As soon as he
could swallow, on Saturday night, the 10th August. Before that time he
was under the care of Mr. Norton.
[Sidenote: B. Norton]
BENJAMIN NORTON, examined--I live at Henley; I remember being sent for
to Mrs. Mounteney's, in Henley, on Thursday, the 8th August, in order
to show me the powder. There was with her Susan Gunnell, the servant
maid. She brought in a pan. I looked at it and endeavoured to take it
out that I might give a better account of it, for as it lay it was
not possible to see what it was; then I laid it on white paper and
delivered it to Mrs. Mounteney to take care of till it dried. She kept
it till Sunday morning, then I had it to show to Dr. Addington. I saw
the doctor try it once at my house upon a red-hot poker, upon which I
did imagine it was of the arsenic kind.
Did you attend the deceased while he was ill?--I did. I went on the
6th of August. He told me he was ill, as he imagined, of a fit of the
colic. He complained of a violent pain in his stomach, attended with
great reachings, and swelled, and a great purging. I carried him
physic, which he took on the Wednesday morning; he was then better. On
the Thursday morning, as I was going, I met the maid. She told me he
was not up, so I went about twelve. He was then with a client in the
study. He told me the physic had done him a great deal of service, and
desired more. I sent him some to take on Friday morning; I was not
with him after Thursday.
Had you used to attend him?--I had for several years. The last illness
he had before was in July, 1750. I used to attend him.
Did you ever hear Miss Blandy talk of music?--I did. She said she had
heard it in the house, and she feared something would happen in the
family. She did not say anything particular, because I made very light
Did she say anything of apparitions?--She said Mr. Cranstoun saw her
father's apparition one night.
How long before his death was it that she talked about music?--It
might be about three or four months before.
Was the powder you delivered to Dr. Addington the self-same powder you
received of Mrs. Mounteney?--It was the very same; it had not been out
of my custody.
Should you know it again?--I have some of the same now in my pocket.
[He produces a paper sealed up with the Earl of Macclesfield's and
Lord Cadogan's seals upon it.] This is some of the same that I
delivered to Dr. Addington.
Cross-examined--Who sent for you to the house?--I cannot tell that.
When you came, did you see Miss Blandy?--I did. She and Mr. Blandy
were both together.
What conversation had you then?--I asked Mr. Blandy whether or no he
had eaten anything that he thought disagreed with him? Miss Blandy
made answer, and said her papa had had nothing that she knew of except
some peas on the Saturday night before.
Did you hear anything of water gruel?--I knew nothing of that till it
was brought to me.
Had you any suspicion of poison then?--I had not, nor Mr. Blandy had
not mentioned anything of being poisoned by having taken water gruel.
What did Miss Blandy say to you?--She desired me to be careful of her
father in his illness.
Did she show any dislike to his having physic?--No, none at all. She
desired, when I saw any danger, I would let her know it, that she
might have the advice of a physician.
When was this?--This was on Saturday, the 10th.
When he grew worse, did she advise a physician might be called
in?--Yes, she did, after I said he was worse. She then begged that Dr.
Addington might be sent for. Mr. Blandy was for deferring it till next
day, but when I came down she asked if I thought him in danger. I
said, "He is," then she said, "Though he seems to be against it, I
will send for a doctor directly," and sent away a man unknown to him.
Was he for delaying?--He was, till the next morning.
How had she behaved to him in any other illness of her father's?--I
never saw but at such times she behaved with true affection and
Had she used to be much with him?--She used to be backwards and
forwards with him in the room.
Did you give any intimation to Miss Blandy after the powder was
tried?--I did not, but went up to acquaint her uncle. He was so
affected he could not come down to apprise Mr. Blandy of it.
When did she first know that you knew of it?--I never knew she knew of
it till the Monday.
How came you to suspect that at the bottom of the pan to be poison?--I
found it very gritty, and had no smell. When I went down and saw the
old washerwoman, that she had tasted of the water gruel and was
affected with the same symptoms as Mr. Blandy, I then suspected he was
poisoned, and said I was afraid Mr. Blandy had had foul play; but I
did not tell either him or Miss Blandy so, because I found by the maid
that Miss Blandy was suspected.
Whom did you suspect might do it?--I had suspicion it was Miss Blandy.
KING'S COUNSEL--When was Dr. Addington sent for?--On the Saturday
[Sidenote: Mrs. Mary Mounteney]
Mrs. MARY MOUNTENEY examined--Susan Gunnell brought a pan to my
house on the 8th of August with water gruel in it and powder at the
bottom, and desired me to look at it. I sent for Mr. Norton. He took
the powder out on a piece of white paper which I gave him. He
delivered the same powder to me, and I took care of it and locked it
Cross-examined--Did you ever see any behaviour of Miss Blandy
otherwise than that of an affectionate daughter?--I never did. She was
always dutiful to her father, as far as I saw, when her father was
To whom did you first mention that this powder was put into the
paper?--To the best of my remembrance, I never made mention of it to
anybody till Mr. Norton fetched it away, which was on the 11th of
August, the Sunday morning after, to be shown to Dr. Addington.
Between the time of its being brought to your house and the time it
was fetched away, were you ever at Mr. Blandy's house?--No, I was not
in that time, but was there on Sunday in the afternoon.
Had you not showed it at any other place during that time?--I had not,
Did you, on the Sunday, in the afternoon, mention it to Mr. or Miss
Blandy?--No, not to either of them.
[Sidenote: S. Gunnell]
SUSANNAH GUNNELL, examined--I carried the water gruel in a pan to Mrs.
Whose use was it made for?--It was made for Mr. Blandy's use, on the
Sunday seven-night before his death.
Who made it?--I made it.
Where did you put it after you had made it?--I put it into the common
pantry, where all the family used to go.
Did you observe any particular person busy about there
afterwards?--No, nobody; Miss Blandy told me on the Monday she had
been in the pantry (I did not see her) stirring her father's water
gruel, and eating the oatmeal out of the bottom of it.
What time of the Monday was this?--This was some time about the middle
of the day.
Did Mr. Blandy take any of that water gruel?--I gave him a half-pint
mug of it on Monday evening for him to take before he went to bed.
Did you observe anybody meddle with that half-pint mug afterwards?--I
saw Miss Blandy take the teaspoon that was in the mug and stir the
water gruel, and after put her finger to the spoon, and then rubbed
Did Mr. Blandy drink any of that water gruel?--Mr. Blandy drank some
of it, and on the Tuesday morning, when he came downstairs, he did not
come through the kitchen as usual, but went the back way into his
Did you see him come down?--I did not.
When was the first time you saw him that day?--It was betwixt nine and
ten. Miss Blandy and he were together; he was not well, and going to
lie down on the bed.
Did you see him in the evening?--In the evening Robert Harman came to
me as I was coming downstairs and told me I must warm some water
gruel, for my master was in haste for supper.
Did you warm some?--I warmed some of that out of the pan, of which he
had some the night before, and Miss Blandy carried it to him into the
Did he drink it?--I believe he did; there seemed to be about half of
it left the next morning.
How did he seem to be after?--I met him soon after he had ate the
water gruel going upstairs to bed. I lighted him up. As soon as he was
got into the room he called for a basin to reach; he seemed to be very
sick by his reaching a considerable time.
How was he next morning?--About six o'clock I went up the next morning
to carry him his physic. He said he had had a pretty good night, and
was much better.
Had he reached much overnight?--He had, for the basin was half-full,
which I left clean overnight.
Was any order given you to give him any more water gruel?--On the
Wednesday Miss Blandy came into the kitchen and said, "Susan, as your
master has taken physic, he may want more water gruel, and, as there
is some in the house, you need not make fresh, as you are ironing." I
told her it was stale, if there was enough, and it would not hinder
much to make fresh; so I made fresh accordingly, and I went into the
pantry to put some in for my master's dinner. Then I brought out the
pan (the evening before I thought it had an odd taste), so I was
willing to taste it again to see if I was mistaken or not. I put it to
my mouth and drank some, and, taking it from my mouth, I observed some
whiteness at the bottom.
What did you do upon that?--I went immediately to the kitchen and told
Betty Binfield there was a white settlement, and I did not remember I
ever had seen oatmeal so white before. Betty said, "Let me see it." I
carried it to her. She said, "What oatmeal is this? I think it looks
as white as flour." We both took the pan and turned it about, and
strictly observed it, and concluded it could be nothing but oatmeal. I
then took it out of doors into the light and saw it plainer; then I
put my finger to it and found it gritty at the bottom of the pan. I
then recollected I had heard say poison was white and gritty, which
made me afraid it was poison.
What did you do with the pan?--I carried it back again and set it down
on the dresser in the kitchen; it stood there a short time, then I
locked it up in the closet, and on the Thursday morning carried it to
Mrs. Mounteney, and Mr. Norton came there and saw it.
Do you remember Miss Blandy saying anything to you about eating her
papa's water gruel?--About six weeks before his death I went into the
parlour. Miss Blandy said, "Susan, what is the matter with you? You do
not look well." I said, "I do not know what is the matter; I am not
well, but I do not know what is the matter." She said, "What have you
ate or drank?" upon which I said, "Nothing more than the rest of the
family." She said, "Susan, have you eaten any water gruel? for I am
told water gruel hurts me, and it may hurt you." I said, "It cannot
affect me, madam, for I have not eaten any."
What was it Betty Binfield said to you about water gruel?--Betty
Binfield said Miss Blandy asked if I had eaten any of her papa's water
gruel, saying, if I did, I might do for myself, a person of my age.
What time was this?--I cannot say whether it was just after or just
before the time she had spoken to me herself. On the Wednesday
morning, as I was coming downstairs from giving my master his physic,
I met Elizabeth Binfield with the water gruel in a basin which he had
left. I said to the charwoman, Ann Emmet, "Dame, you used to be fond
of water gruel; here is a very fine mess my master left last night,
and I believe it will do you good." The woman soon sat down on a bench
in the kitchen and ate some of it, I cannot say all.
[Illustration: Miss Mary Blandy
(_From an Engraving by B. Cole, after a Drawing for which she sat in
How was she afterwards?--She said the house smelt of physic, and
everything tasted of physic; she went out, I believe into the
wash-house, to reach, before she could finish it.
Did you follow her?--No, I did not; but about twenty minutes or half
an hour after that I went to the necessary house and found her there
vomiting and reaching, and, as she said, purging.
How long did she abide there?--She was there an hour and a half,
during which time I went divers times to her. At first I carried her
some surfeit water; she then desired to have some fair water. The next
time I went to see how she did she said she was no better. I desired
her to come indoors, hoping she would be better by the fire. She said
she was not able to come in. I said I would lead her in. I did, and
set her down in a chair by the fire. She was vomiting and reaching
continually. She sat there about half an hour, or something more,
during which time she grew much worse, and I thought her to be in a
fit or seized with death.
Did you acquaint Miss Blandy with the illness and symptoms of this
poor woman?--I told Miss Blandy when I went into the room to dress
her, about nine o'clock, that Dame (the name we used to call her by)
had been very ill that morning; that she had complained that the smell
of her master's physic had made her sick; and that she had eaten
nothing but a little of her master's water gruel which he had left
last night, which could not hurt her.
What did she say to that?--She said she was very glad she was not
below stairs, for she would have been shocked to have seen her poor
Dame so ill.
As you have lived servant in the house, how did you observe Miss
Blandy behave towards her father, and in what manner did she use to
talk of him, three or four months before his death?--Sometimes she
would talk very affectionately, and sometimes but middling.
What do you mean by "middling"?--Sometimes she would say he was an old
villain for using an only child in such a manner.
Did she wish him to live?--Sometimes she wished for him long life,
sometimes for his death.
When she wished for his death, in what manner did she express
herself?--She often said she was very awkward, and that if he was dead
she would go to Scotland and live with Lady Cranstoun.
Did she ever say how long she thought her father might
live?--Sometimes she would say, for his constitution, he might live
these twenty years; sometimes she would say he looked ill and poorly.
Do you remember when Dr. Addington was sent for on the Saturday?--I
Had Miss Blandy used to go into her father's room after that
time?--She did as often as she pleased till Sunday night; then Mr.
Norton took Miss Blandy downstairs and desired me not to let anybody
go into the room except myself to wait on him.
Did she come in afterwards?--She came into the room on Monday morning,
soon after Mr. Norton came in, or with him. I went in about ten
What conversation passed between Miss Blandy and her father?--She fell
down on her knees, and said to him, "Banish me, or send me to any
remote part of the world; do what you please, so you forgive me; and
as to Mr. Cranstoun, I will never see him, speak to him, nor write to
him more so long as I live, so you will forgive me."
What answer did he make?--He said, "I forgive thee, my dear, and I
hope God will forgive thee; but thee shouldst have considered better
than to have attempted anything against thy father; thee shouldst have
considered I was thy own father."
What said she to this?--She answered, "Sir, as for your illness, I am
entirely innocent." I said, "Madam, I believe you must not say you are
entirely innocent, for the powder that was taken out of the water
gruel, and the paper of powder that was taken out of the fire, are now
in such hands that they must be publicly produced." I told her I
believed I had one dose prepared for my master in a dish of tea about
six weeks ago.
Did you tell her this before her father?--I did.
What answer did she make?--She said, "I have put no powder into tea. I
have put powder into water gruel, and if you are injured I am entirely
innocent, for it was given me with another intent."
What said Mr. Blandy to this?--My master turned himself in his bed and
said to her, "Oh, such a villain! come to my house, ate of the best,
and drank of the best that my house could afford, to take away my life
and ruin my daughter."
What else passed?--He said, "Oh, my dear! Thee must hate that man,
thee must hate the ground he treads on, thee canst not help it." The
daughter said "Oh, sir, your tenderness towards me is like a sword to
my heart; every word you say is like swords piercing my heart--much
worse than if you were to be ever so angry. I must down on my knees
and beg you will not curse me."
What said the father?--He said, "I curse thee! my dear, how couldst
thou think I could curse thee? No, I bless thee, and hope God will
bless thee and amend thy life;" and said further, "Do, my dear, go out
of my room, say no more, lest thou shouldst say anything to thy own
prejudice; go to thy uncle Stevens, take him for thy friend; poor man!
I am sorry for him." Upon this she directly went out of the room.
Give an account of the paper you mentioned to her, how it was
found?--On the Saturday before my master died I was in the kitchen.
Miss Blandy had wrote a direction on a letter to go to her uncle
Stevens. Going to the fire to dry it, I saw her put a paper into the
fire, or two papers, I cannot say whether. I went to the fire and saw
her stir it down with a stick. Elizabeth Binfield then put on fresh
coals, which I believe kept the paper from being consumed. Soon after
Miss Blandy had put it in she left the kitchen; I said to Elizabeth
Binfield, "Betty, Miss Blandy has been burning something"; she asked,
"Where?" I pointed to the grate and said, "At that corner"; upon which
Betty Binfield moved a coal and took from thence a paper. I stood by
and saw her. She gave it into my hand; it was a small piece of paper,
with some writing on it, folded up about 3 inches long. The writing
was, "The powder to clean the pebbles," to the best of my remembrance.
Did you read it?--I did not, Elizabeth Binfield read it to me.
[Produced in Court, part of it burnt, scaled up with the Earl of
Macclesfield and Lord Cadogan's seals.] This is the paper, I believe,
by the look of it; but I did not see it unfolded. I delivered it into
Elizabeth Binfield's hand on Saturday night between eleven and twelve
o'clock. From the time it was taken out of the fire it had not been
out of my pocket, or anything done to it, from that time till I gave
it her. I went into my master's room about seven o'clock in the
morning to carry him something to drink. When he had drank it, I said,