Notable Historical Trials IV – Mrs. Maybrick

This chapter in the Folio Society‘s set on Historical Trials continues in the descent into what seems like trivia.  At least in many previous chapters, a simple case had some social import or interesting quirk.  This one just seems like a confused murder case.

The Maybricks were not a happy couple.  It started when Mrs. Maybrick found out that her husband had five children with another woman, two after their marriage.  She had an affair herself just before he died.

There were some signs of arsenic poisoning, but this was complicated by the fact that Mr. Maybrick was in the habit of taking some himself as an aphrodisiac.  The doctors testifying couldn’t decide if the cause of death was poisoning or not.  Mrs, Maybrick had purchased some, but there were cosmetic reasons why she might have done so.  The judge seemed to unfairly ignore this in the summing up.

She was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.  This was later commuted to life in prison.  Eventually after 15 years she was released.  As a result of this case, England did change its rules on murder trials to allow the defendant to give evidence and to allow an appeal of the result, so I suppose there was something notable about this trial after all.

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One thought on “Notable Historical Trials IV – Mrs. Maybrick

  1. Pingback: Notable Historical Trials IV – Parnell and the O’Shea Divorce Case | Kilobooks

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