William Sinclair Manson

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Scotland and its history / Writings · 23 November 2023

Scotland and Its History. (Crime)

The Square Mile Of Murder

In 1961, Scottish author Jack House wrote The Square Mile of Murder. It covered four of Glasgow’s most infamous crimes which took place in the same square mile area over a period of 50 years between 1857 and 1908.

First was the case of Madeleine Smith. She was a socialite who was accused of poisoning her lover in 1857. Although most scholars who studied the murder believe that Madeleine was guilty, the jury at her trial gave a verdict of “not proven,” meaning she was acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

Afterward came the Sandyford murder of 1862. Servant Jessie McLachlan was convicted of killing another housemaid named Jessie McPherson. However, a separate commission investigated the evidence in the trial and commuted her sentence from hanging to life imprisonment.

Mad Smith

In 1865, Dr. Edward William Pritchard was executed for the murders of his wife and mother-in-law. He was also suspected of having killed a servant girl a few years earlier. The last and certainly the most famous crime occurred in 1908 when 83-year-old Marion Gilchrist was killed during an attempted robbery. German Jew Oscar Slater was convicted in what was arguably the country’s most notorious miscarriage of justice.

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