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Title: My Fifteen Lost Years - Mrs. Maybrick's Own Story
Author: Maybrick, Florence Elizabeth
Language: English
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Mrs. Maybrick’s Own Story







  Copyright, 1904,

  [Printed in the United States of America]

  Published December, 1904









  FOREWORD.--Sketch of My Ancestry,                                    9

  CHAPTER I.--BEFORE THE TRIAL--My Arrest--A Prisoner
     in My Own House--At Walton Jail--Alone--The Coroner’s
     Inquest--A Plank for a Bed--The Verdict of the Coroner’s
     Jury--The Doctors Disagree--Letters from Walton Jail--Lord
     Russell’s Opinion--The Public Condemns Me Unheard,               23

  CHAPTER II.--THE TRIAL--The Injustice of Trying the Case at
     Liverpool--An Unexpected Verdict--The Judge’s Sentence--In
     the Shadow of Death--Commutation of Sentence,                    50

     Prison--The Convict Uniform--In Solitary Confinement--The
     Daily Routine--The Exercise Hour--The Midday Meal--The
     Cruelty of Solitary Confinement,                                 61

     of the Silent System--Insanity and Nervous Breakdown of
     Prisoners--Need of Separate Confinement for the
     Weak-Minded--Reading an Insufficient Relaxation--My
     Sufferings from Cold and Insomnia--Medical Attendance--Added
     Sufferings of the Delicately Nurtured--How Criminals and
     Imbeciles are Made,                                              76

  CHAPTER V.--THE PERIOD OF HARD LABOR--Routine--Talk with the
     Chaplain--My Work in the Kitchen--The Machine-made
     Menu--Visitors to the Kitchen--The “Homelike” Cell--The
     Opiate of Acquiescence--Visits of Prisoners’ Friends--My
     Mother’s Visits--A Letter from Lord Russell--Punished for
     Another’s Fault--Forms of Punishment--The True Aim of
     Punishment--The Evil of Collective Punishment--The Evil of
     Constant Supervision--Some Good Points of Convict Prisons--My
     Sickness--Taken to the Infirmary--The Utter Desolation of a
     Sick Prisoner,                                                   93

  CHAPTER VI.--AT AYLESBURY PRISON--Removal from Woking--New
     Insignia of Shame--Arrival at Aylesbury Prison--A New Prison
     Régime--The Board of Visitors--Regulations Concerning
     Letters and Visits--My Letter to Gail Hamilton--A Visit from
     Lord Russell,                                                   127

  CHAPTER VII.--A PETITION FOR RELEASE--Denied by the Secretary
     of State--Report of My Misconduct Refuted--Need of a Court of
     Criminal Appeal--Historic Examples of British Injustice--The
     Case of Adolf Beck,                                             145

     Chapel--Influence of Religion upon Prisoners--Suicide of a
     Prisoner--Tragedies in Prison--Moral Effect of Harsh Prison
     Régime--Attacks of Levity--Self-discipline--Need of Women
     Doctors and Inspectors--Chastening Effect of Imprisonment on
     the Spirit--A Death-Bed Incident,                               167

     Library--Newspapers Forbidden--How Prisoners Learn of Great
     Events--Strict Discipline of Prison Officers--Their High
     Character--Nervous Strain of Their Duties--Standing Orders
     for Warders--Crime a Mental Disease--Something Good in the
     Worst Criminal--Need of Further Prison Reform,                  194

  CHAPTER X.--MY RELEASE--I Learn the Time When My Sentence Will
     Terminate--The Dawn of Liberty--The Release--In Retreat at
     Truro--I Come to America--My Lost Years,                        211



  INTRODUCTION.--Petitions for a Reprieve--Illogical Position of
     Home Secretary--New Evidence of My Innocence Ignored--Lord
     Russell’s Letter--Efforts for Release--Even New Evidence
     Superfluous--The Doctors’ Doubt--Public Surprise at Verdict--
     Character of Jury--The “Mad Judge”--Justice Stephen’s Biased
     Charge--Lord Russell’s Memorandum Quashed--Repeated Protests
     of Lord Russell--The American Official Petition--Secretary
     Blaine’s Letter to Minister Lincoln--Henry W. Lucy on Lord
     Russell--Lord Russell’s Conviction of Mrs. Maybrick’s
     Innocence--Explanation of Attitude of Home Secretaries--
     Upholding the Justiciary--Need of Court of Criminal Appeal,     225

     Maybrick--Justice Stephen’s Misdirections--Misdirections as
     to Mr. Maybrick’s Symptoms--Misdirections as to Mrs.
     Maybrick’s Access to Poisons--Misdirection as to “Traces”
     of Arsenic--Misdirection as to Arsenic in Solution--Mr.
     Clayton’s Experiments--Misdirection as to Arsenic in
     Glycerin--Misdirection as to Evidence of Physicians--
     Misdirection as to Times When Arsenic May Have Been
     Administered--Misdirection as to Mrs. Maybrick’s Changing
     Medicine Bottles--Misdirection as to Administration with
     Intent to Kill--Exclusion of Prisoner’s Testimony--
     Misdirection as to Identity of Meat-Juice Bottle--
     Misdirection in Excluding Corroboration of Prisoner’s
     Statement--Misdirections to Jury to Draw Illegal
     Inferences--Misdirections Regarding the Medical Testimony--
     Conflict of Medical Opinion--Misdirections as to Cause of
     Death--Misdirection to Ignore Medical Testimony--Misreception
     of Evidence--Cruel Misstatement by Coroner--Medical Evidence
     for the Prosecution--Maybrick Died a Natural Death--The Chief
     Witness for the Prosecution--Medical Evidence for Defense--A
     Toxicological Study--Medical Weakness of Prosecution--The
     Administration of Arsenic--The Fly-paper Episode--How Mrs.
     Maybrick Accounts for the Fly-papers--Administration of
     Arsenic not Proved--Intent to Murder not Proved--Absence of
     Concealment by Prisoner--Some Important Deductions from
     Medical Testimony--Symptoms Due to Poisonous Drugs--Death from
     Natural Causes--Prosecution’s Deductions from Post-mortem
     Analysis Misleading--Recapitulation of Legal Points,            262


     Liverpool--From the Bars of Liverpool and London--From
     Citizens of Liverpool,                                          381

  NEW EVIDENCE.--Arsenic Sold to Maybrick by Druggist--Arsenic
     Supplied to Maybrick by Manufacturing Chemist--Depositions as
     to Mr. Maybrick’s Arsenic Habit--Justice Stephen’s Retirement,  384


  Florence Elizabeth Maybrick,                            _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

  The Late Dr. Helen Densmore,                                        32

  Lord Charles Russell,                                               48

  St. George’s Hall, Liverpool,                                       52

  Justice Fitz-James Stephen,                                         56

  Baroness von Roques,                                               112

  Aylesbury Prison,                                                  128

  Miss Mary A. Dodge (“Gail Hamilton”),                              144

  Right Hon. A. Akers-Douglas, M.P.,                                 216

  Hon. James G. Blaine,                                              248

  Hon. Robert T. Lincoln,                                            256

  Hon. John Hay,                                                     288

  Hon. Joseph H. Choate,                                             320

  Samuel V. Hayden,                                                  352

  Leonidas D. Yarrell,                                               368


The writing of this book has been to me no joyful task, as its making
has been at the expense of much-needed rest and peace of mind. In
returning to my dear native land after a long imprisonment, I cherished
the hope that I might as quietly as possible be permitted to take up
the threads of outward existence so cruelly broken, little dreaming
that trials hardly less grievous than those left behind awaited me;
for no sooner had I touched these hospitable shores, when I was met
by the fear-inspiring cry, “You must write a book--you must give the
world an account of your sufferings”--as if one could never suffer
enough. My well-meaning friends could hardly have known what they were
asking in forcing upon me a mental return to the dread past. Solitary
confinement in Woking Prison (as the reader may learn from these pages)
was not such an elysium that one should voluntarily desire to hark back
to it, nor is penal servitude in Aylesbury an Arcadian dream. While
within their grim walls I did my best to exclude from thought the world
without; and now that I am once again in the world (though scarcely of
it), my one desire to shut out all the abhorrent things which so-called
“prison life” stands for has thus far not only failed of realization,
but, under conditions even more trying than the repressive prison
régime (because of the free and happy life all about, which it seemed
to poor me that I had some right to share), I have been compelled by
force of circumstance to return to my cast-off prison shell, and live
all the old heart-and-brain-crushing life over again. However, my
second “trial and imprisonment,” like the first, is at last drawing to
a close; and I devoutly trust that I shall be now permitted to enter
upon a long-coveted rest, and partake as I may of those tempered joys
which my countrymen by their beautiful sympathy have so chivalrously
endeavored to make possible for me.

Theoretically my imprisonment terminated on English soil, but so
relentlessly have the fates pursued me that I have been in nowise free
quite up to the present moment. In Rouen, France, where I sojourned at
my mother’s home for three weeks, I was as much in durance to my genial
enemy, the ubiquitous reporter, as when the English Government held me
in its inexorable grasp. Our cottage was completely invested by him,
and all approaches and exits held with a persistency which, under other
circumstances, might well have extorted my admiration.

Then came the ever-to-be-remembered sea voyage. I am a good sailor,
and so the physical discomforts that beset so many were agreeably
minimized; but I could not throw off the feeling that I was not yet
free--the limits of the ship were still all too suggestive of the
narrow exercise grounds of Aylesbury prison; and, while the eye
could roam without hindrance, there came upon me again and again an
irresistible desire, which the rolling billows strenuously gainsaid, to
make a dash for liberty.

Thereupon followed a couple of days at the Holland House, New York,
with the same persistent reporter never absent. After this experience,
I was taken by the kindest of friends to where nature is at her
loveliest and human hearts beat in unison with their uplifting
surroundings. Beautiful Cragsmoor, with its wide reaches of inspiring
scenery, most appropriately the summer home of an artistic colony, is
not too easy of access to mar a desire for seclusion, and a greater
antithesis to prison walls than is afforded by this aerie can hardly be

Here all things that on lower planes so cruelly vex the spirit seem
far away and beneath. If only no publishers--however benevolent--had
entered this Eden, what a paradise it could have been to me! However,
in spite of these dread taskmasters, my soul drank deeply of the elixir
so bountifully held to my lips; and when in the golden autumn all
the noble woods about robed themselves in such glory as may be seen
nowhere outside my beloved native land--and perchance nowhere here more
ravishingly than in these Hudson Valley uplands--the rapture of my
heart, so long starved within the narrowest and cruelest of confines,
turned adoringly to Him who has made this world so beautiful for His
children’s eyes.

I need hardly be at pains to say to my readers, that lessons in
literary composition form no part of the disciplinary curriculum of
Aylesbury; nay, the art of writing is distinctly discouraged there, as
interfering with the prescribed parliamentary régime. Accordingly, when
I set out to tell my pitiful little story, I was told to look at myself
objectively; then to pry into myself subjectively; then to regard
both in their relation to the outside world--to describe how this,
that, or the other affected me; in short, as one of them, more deep in
science than others, expressed it, “We want as much as possible of the
psychology of your prison life.”

I surreptitiously looked up that awe-inspiring word in a dictionary,
and found that it refers to the soul, and that it was my soul they
wanted me to lay bare. I vehemently protested that that belonged to
my God, and I had no right to expose it for daws to peck at. But the
publishers, with the aid of my friends, persuaded me that the public
would give me their tenderest regard, and that possibly the humanities
might be furthered a bit if the story of a woman--whatever might be her
failings in other directions--wholly guiltless of the terrible charge
of wilful murder, and for which in her innocence she was made to suffer
so cruelly, be given in fullest heart detail to a sympathetic world.
So I have done what I trust is best for all--spared myself as little
as possible, lest the picture fail from suppression--and my dearest
heart-hope is that somewhat of good may come of it, especially in
behalf of those whom a dire fate shall compel to follow in my steps,
with bruised spirits and bleeding feet.


I was born at Mobile, Ala., September 3, 1862. In searching for
some account of my genealogy, I found a published letter of Gail
Hamilton’s, who was ever one of my most eloquent and steadfast
champions, and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude I can never adequately
express. From this it appears that I am the great-great-granddaughter
of Rev. Benjamin Thurston, a graduate of Harvard College, who settled
at North Hampton, N. H., and of his wife, Sarah Phillips, who was
the sister of John Phillips, who founded Phillips’ Academy in
Exeter, endowed a professorship in Dartmouth, and contributed funds
to Princeton; and who was the aunt of Samuel Phillips, who founded
Phillips’s Academy at Andover.

The mother of Sarah Phillips was Elizabeth Green, and from her the name
of Elizabeth has come down in regular descent to myself.

Elizabeth, daughter of Benjamin Thurston and Sarah Phillips, married
James Milk Ingraham. Joseph H. Ingraham, of this family, gave to
Portland, Me., for its improvement, property now amounting in value to
millions--beautiful State Street, the market, the property of the High
School, and much more. One of the Ingrahams was the wife of Philander
Chase, the first Bishop of Illinois, uncle of Salmon P. Chase, who
was Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln and Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of the United States. Of the Ingraham family was that
Commodore Ingraham who won laurels for his country and himself by
rescuing Martin Koszata from the clutch of Austria. Connected with the
Ingrahams was that Edward Preble, born at Falmouth Neck, whose father
served under Wolfe and was wounded at Quebec; also that Commander
Preble whose achievement before Tripoli was rewarded with a gold medal
and the thanks of Congress. Rev. John Phillips and Thurston Ingraham,
author of “Why We Believe the Bible,” both rectors in the Protestant
Episcopal Church, were sons of James Milk Ingraham and Elizabeth
Thurston Ingraham. John Ingraham, son of the preceding, is rector of
Grace Church, St. Louis, Mo. His sister, Elizabeth Thurston Ingraham,
married Darius Blake Holbrook, who was born in Dorchester, Mass. His
mother was a Ridgeway. Her sister married a Quincy, and was aunt to
John Quincy Adams. Mr. Holbrook was an originator of the land grant
for the Illinois Central Railroad and its first president. He owned
Cairo, at the mouth of the Ohio, and was associated with Cyrus Field
in laying the first Atlantic cable. Caroline Elizabeth was the only
child of Darius Blake Holbrook and Elizabeth Thurston Holbrook. She
married William G. Chandler, of the banking house of St. John Powers &
Co., Mobile, Ala. William G. Chandler’s father was Daniel Chandler, a
lawyer of high standing in Georgia; his mother was Sarah Campbell, a
sister of John A. Campbell, at one time Assistant Secretary of State
for the Confederacy, and previously judge of the Supreme Court of the
United States. Judge L. Q. C. Lamar, long a United States Senator, and
afterward a justice of the Supreme Court, was near of kin.

To William G. Chandler and Caroline Elizabeth Holbrook Chandler two
children were born--Holbrook St. John and Florence Elizabeth. Their
father died in 1863, and their mother, on account of the war, took the
children abroad to be educated. The son died while pursuing his medical

As will be seen from the above summary of Gail Hamilton’s statement, I
am descended, on both my paternal and my maternal side for generations,
from good American stock. I was educated partly in Europe and partly
in America, under the instruction of masters and governesses. I was too
delicate for college life. I lived partly with my maternal grandmother,
Elizabeth Holbrook, of New York, and partly with my mother, the
Baroness von Roques, whose home was abroad. When not with them I was
visiting or traveling with friends. My life was much the same as that
of any other girl who enjoyed the pleasures of youth with a happy
heart. I was very fond of tracing intricate designs and copying the
old-time churches and cathedrals. My special pastime, however, was
riding, and this I could indulge in to my heart’s content when residing
with my stepfather, Baron Adolph von Roques, who, now retired, was at
that time a cavalry officer in the Eighth Cuirassier Regiment of the
German army and stationed at Cologne.

At the age of eighteen I married James Maybrick, on the 27th of July,
1881, at St. James Church, Piccadilly, London, and returned to America,
where we made our home at Norfolk, Va. For business reasons we settled
in a suburb of Liverpool called Aigworth. A son was born to us on the
24th of March, 1882, and a daughter on June 20, 1886.



Before the Trial


Slowly consciousness returned. I opened my eyes. The room was in
darkness. All was still. Suddenly the silence was broken by the bang of
a closing door which startled me out of my stupor. Where was I? Why was
I alone? What awful thing had happened? A flash of memory! My husband
was dead! I drifted once more away from the things of sense. Then a
voice, as if a long way off, spoke. A feeling of pain and distress shot
through my body. I opened my eyes in terror. Edwin Maybrick was bending
over me as I lay upon my bed. He had my arms tightly gripped, and was
shaking me violently. “I want your keys--do you hear? Where are your
keys?” he exclaimed harshly. I tried to form a reply, but the words
choked me, and once more I passed into unconsciousness.

It is the dawn of a Sabbath day.[1] I am still lying in my clothes,
neglected and uncared for; without food since the morning of the day
before. Consciousness came and went. During one of these interludes
Michael Maybrick entered.

“Nurse,” he said, “I am going up to London. Mrs. Maybrick is no longer
mistress of this house. As one of the executors I forbid you to allow
her to leave this room. I hold you responsible in my absence.”

He then left the room. What did he mean? How dare he humble me thus in
the presence of a stranger?

Toward the night of the same day I said to the nurse, “I wish to see
my children.” She took no notice. My voice was weak, and I thought
perhaps she had not heard. “Nurse,” I repeated, “I want to see my
children.” She walked up to my bed, and in a cold, deliberate voice
replied: “You can not see Master James and Miss Gladys. Mr. Michael
Maybrick gave orders that they were to leave the house without seeing
you.” I fell back upon my pillow, dazed and stricken, weak, helpless,
and impotent. Why was I treated thus? My brain reeled in seeking a
reply to this query. At last I could bear it no longer, and my soul
cried out to God to let me die. A third dreary night, and the day broke
once again. I was still prostrate. The dull pain at my heart, the
yearning for my little children, was becoming unbearable, but I was

Suddenly the door opened and Dr. Humphreys entered. He walked silently
to my bedside, felt my pulse, and without a word left the room. A few
minutes later I heard the tramp of many feet coming up-stairs. They
stopped at the door. The nurse advanced, and a crowd of men entered.
One of them stepped to the foot of the bed and addressed me as follows:

“Mrs. Maybrick, I am superintendent of the police, and I am about to
say something to you. After I have said what I intend to say, if you
reply be careful how you reply, because whatever you say may be used as
evidence against you. Mrs. Maybrick, you are in custody on suspicion of
causing the death of your late husband, James Maybrick, on the eleventh
instant.” I made no reply, and the crowd passed out.


Was I going mad? Did I hear myself accused of poisoning my husband? Why
did not his brothers, who said they had his confidence, tell the police
what all his intimate friends knew, that he was an arsenic eater? Why
was I accused--I, who had nursed him assiduously day and night until
my strength gave out, who had engaged trained nurses, and advised a
consultation of physicians, and had done all that lay in my power to
aid in his recovery? To whom could I appeal in my extreme distress? I
lay ill and confined to my bed, with two professional nurses attending
me, and with a policeman stationed in my room, although there was not
and could not be the slightest chance of my escaping. The officer would
not permit the door to be closed day or night, and I was denied in my
own house, even before the inquest, the privacy accorded to a convicted
prisoner. I asked that a cablegram be sent to my lawyers in New York.
Inspector Baxendale read it, and then said he did not consider it of
importance and should not send it. I then implored Dr. Humphreys to ask
a friendly lawyer, Mr. R. S. Cleaver, of Liverpool, to come out to see
me. After some delay Mr. Cleaver obtained a permit to enter the house
and undertook to represent me.

The fourth day came and went. On the fifth day, May 16, the stillness
of the house was broken by the sound of hushed voices and hurrying
footsteps. “Nurse,” I exclaimed, when I could no longer bear the
feeling of oppression that possessed me, “is anything the matter?” She
turned, and in a cold, harsh voice replied, “The funeral starts in an
hour.” “Whose funeral?” I asked. “Your husband’s,” the nurse exclaimed;
“but for you he would have been buried on Tuesday.” I stared at her for
a moment, and then, trembling from head to foot, got out of bed and
commenced with weak hands to dress myself. The nurse looked alarmed,
and came forward. “Stand back!” I cried. “I will see my husband before
he is taken away.” She placed herself in front of me; I pushed her
aside and confronted the policeman at the door. “I demand to see my
husband,” I exclaimed. “The law does not permit a person to be treated
as guilty until she is proven so.”

He hesitated, and then said, “Follow me.” With tottering steps,
supported by the nurse, I was led into the adjoining room. Upon the
bed stood the coffin, covered with white flowers. It was already
closed. I turned to the policeman and the nurse. “Leave me alone with
the dead.” They refused. I then knelt down at the bedside, and God in
His mercy spared my reason by granting me, there and then, the first
tears which many days of suffering had failed to bring. Death had wiped
out the memory of many things. I was thankful to remember that I had
stopped divorce proceedings, and that we had become reconciled for
the children’s sake. Calmed, I arose and returned to my room. I sat
down near a window, still weeping. Suddenly the harsh voice of a nurse
broke on my ears: “If you wish to see the last of the husband you have
poisoned you had better stand up. The funeral has started.” I stumbled
to my feet and clutched at the window-sill, where I stood rigid and
tearless until the hearse had passed, and was out of sight, and then I

When I recovered consciousness I asked why my mother had not been sent
for. No answer was made, but a tardy summons was sent to her at Paris.
When she arrived she came to me at once. What a meeting! She kissed
me, and was speaking a few loving words in French, when the nurse
interposed and said, “You must speak in English,” and the policeman
joined in with “I warn you, madam, that I will write down all you
say,” and he produced paper and pencil. I then begged my mother to go
into Liverpool to see the Messrs. Cleaver, who represented me, as they
would give her all the information she required; and then I cried out
in the bitterness of my heart, “Mother, they all believe me guilty,
but I swear to you I am innocent.” That night I had a violent attack
of hysteria. Two nurses and the policeman held me down, and when my
mother, outraged by his presence, wished to take his place and send
him from the room, Nurse Wilson became insolent and turned her out.


The next morning, Saturday, the 18th of May, Dr. Hopper and Dr.
Humphreys visited me, to ascertain whether I was in a condition to
permit of formal proceedings taking place in my bedroom. In a few
minutes they gave their consent. The magistrates and others then came

There were present Colonel Bidwell, Mr. Swift (clerk), Superintendent
Bryning, and my lawyers, the Messrs. Cleaver, Dr. Hopper, and Dr.
Humphreys. I was fully conscious, but too prostrate to make any
movement. Besides those in the room, there were seated outside the
policeman and the nurse. Superintendent Bryning, who had taken up his
position at the foot of the bed, said: “This person is Mrs. Maybrick,
charged with causing the death of the late James Maybrick. She is
charged with causing his death by administering poison to him. I
understand that her consent is given to a remand, and therefore I need
not introduce nor give evidence.”

Mr. Swift: “You ask for a remand for eight days?”

Mr. Arnold Cleaver: “I appear for the prisoner.”

Colonel Bidwell: “Very well; I consent to a remand. That is all.”

These gentlemen then departed. The police were in such a hurry to
prefer the formal charge, they could not wait until the doctors
should certify that I was in a fit state to be taken to the court in
the ordinary way. The nurse then told me I must get up and dress. I
prayed that my children might be sent for to bid me good-by--but I
was peremptorily refused. I begged to gather together some necessary
personal apparel, only to meet with another refusal. I was hurried
away with such unseemly haste, that even my hand-bag with my toilet
articles was left behind. My mother implored to be allowed to say
good-by, but was denied. She had gone up to her bedroom, so she tells
me, which looked out on the front, to try and see my face as they put
me in the carriage, when they turned the key and locked her in. After I
had gone a policeman unlocked the door.

[Illustration: THE LATE DR. HELEN DENSMORE, An American advocate of
Mrs. Maybrick’s innocence.]

After a two hours’ drive we arrived at Walton Jail, in the suburbs of
Liverpool. I shuddered as I looked at the tall, gloomy building. A
bell was ringing, and the big iron gates swung back and allowed us to
pass in. I was received by the governor and immediately led away by
a female warder. We crossed a small courtyard and stopped at a door
which she unlocked and relocked. Then we passed down a narrow passage
to a door that led into a dark, gloomy room termed the “Reception.” A
bench ran along each side, a bare wooden table stood in the middle,
a weighing-machine by the door, with a foot measure beside it. A
female warder asked me to give up any valuables in my possession.
These consisted of a watch, two diamond rings, and a brooch. They were
entered in a book. Then I was asked to stand upon the weighing-machine,
and my weight was duly noted. These formalities completed, I was led
through a building into a cell especially set apart for sick prisoners.
The escort locked me in, and, utterly exhausted, stricken with a sense
of horror and degradation, I sank upon the stone floor, reiterating,
until consciousness left me, “Oh, my God, help me--help me!”


When I opened my eyes I was in bed and alone. I gazed around. At the
bedside was a chair with a china cup containing milk, and a plate
of bread upon it. The cell was bare. The light struggled in dimly
through a dirty, barred window. The stillness was appalling, and I felt
benumbed--a sense of terrible oppression weighed me down. If only I
could hear once more the sound of a friendly voice! If only some one
would tell whose diabolical mind had conceived and directed suspicion
against me!

I remained in the cell three days, when my lawyer visited me. He
arranged that I was to have a room especially set apart for prisoners
awaiting trial who can afford to pay five shillings ($1.25) weekly, for
the additional comfort of a table, an arm-chair, and a wash-stand. Had
I not been able to do so I should have been consigned to an ordinary
prison cell, and my diet would have been the same as that of convicted
prisoners. Instead, my food was sent from a hotel outside. I was locked
in this room for twenty-two hours out of the twenty-four. The only time
I was permitted to leave it was for chapel in the morning and an hour’s
exercise in the afternoon in the prison yard. The stillness, unbroken
by any sound from the outside world, got on my nerves, and I wanted
to scream, if only to hear my own voice. The unnatural confinement,
without any one to speak to, was torture. The governor, the doctor, and
the chaplain, it is true, came around every morning, but their visits
were of such short duration, and so formal in their nature, that it was
impossible to derive much relief from conversation with them.


On the 28th of May the Coroner’s inquest was held, but I was not well
enough to attend. I was represented by my legal advisers. On the 3d of
June I was still too ill to appear before the court. Mr. W. S. Barrett,
as magistrate, accompanied by Mr. Swift, the clerk, held a Magisterial
Court at Walton Jail. Mr. R. S. Cleaver did not attend, having
consented to the police obtaining another remand for a week. Only one
newspaper reporter was allowed to be present. I was accompanied to the
visitors’ room by a female warder, and silently took a seat at the
foot of a long table. I was quite composed. Superintendent Bryning rose
from his seat at the end of the room and said:

“This person, sir, is Mrs. Maybrick, who is charged with the murder of
her husband, at Aigburth, on the 11th of last month. I have to ask that
you remand her until Wednesday next.”

Mr. Swift: “Mr. Cleaver, her solicitor, has sent me a note in which he
consents to a remand until Wednesday.”

Mr. Barrett: “If there is no objection she will be remanded until
Wednesday morning.”


The magistrate then signed the document authorizing the remand, and I
withdrew. On the 5th of June the adjourned inquest was held, and I was
taken from jail at half-past eight in the morning to the Coroner’s
Court in a cab, accompanied by Dr. O’Hagan, a female attendant, and
a policeman. I was taken into the ante-room for the purpose of being
identified by the witnesses for the prosecution. I was not taken
into court, but at three o’clock Mr. Holbrook Gaskell, a magistrate,
attended for the purpose of granting another remand, pending the result
of the inquest, and again no evidence was given in my presence. I was
taken to the county police station, Lark Lane. I passed the night in a
cell which contained only a plank board as a bed. It was dark, damp,
dirty, and horrible. A policeman, taking pity on me, brought me a
blanket to lie on. In the adjoining cell, in a state of intoxication,
two men were raving and cursing throughout the night. I had no
light--there was no one to speak to. I was kept there three days, until
the coroner’s jury had returned their verdict. A greengrocer near by,
named Mrs. Pretty, to whom I had occasionally given orders for fruit,
sent me in a daily gift of her best with a note of sympathy--a deed
all the more striking in its generosity and nobleness, since the
charity of none other of my own sex had reached to that degree of
justice to regard me as innocent until proven guilty.


On the 6th of June I was again driven to Garston to hear the coroner’s
verdict. There was an elaborate array of lawyers, reporters, and
witnesses, as well as many spectators.

I waited in the ante-room until the coroner’s jury had summed up. The
jury consisted mostly of gentlemen who at one time had been guests in
my own house. Of all former friends present, there was only one who had
the moral courage to approach me and shake my hand. Throughout the time
I sat awaiting the call to appear before the coroner he remained beside
me, speaking words of encouragement. But the others, who, without
a word of evidence in my defense, had already judged and condemned
me, passed by on the other side, for had they not already judged and
condemned me?

When my name was called a dead hush pervaded the court, and the coroner

“Have you agreed upon your verdict, gentlemen?”

The Foreman: “We have.”

Q. “Do you find that death resulted from the administration of an
irritant poison?”

A. “Unanimously.”

Q. “Do you say by whom that poison was administered?”

A. “By twelve to one we decide that the poison was administered by Mrs.

Q. “Do you find that the poison was administered with the intent of
taking life?”

A. “Twelve of us have come to that conclusion.”

The Coroner: “That amounts to a verdict of murder.”

Then the requisition was made out in the following terms:

 “That James Maybrick, on the 11th of May, 1889, in the township of
 Garston, died from the effects of an irritant poison administered to
 him by Florence Elizabeth Maybrick, and so the jurors say: that the
 said Florence Elizabeth Maybrick did wilfully, feloniously, and of
 malice aforethought kill and murder the said James Maybrick.”

I was then driven back to the Lark Lane Police Station, locked up, and
remained the night. The next day I was returned to Walton Jail. How
shall I describe my feelings? Mere words are utterly inadequate to do
so. Not only was my sense of justice and fair play outraged, but it
seemed to me a frightful danger to personal safety if the police, on
the mere gossip of servants, and where a doctor had been unable to
assign the cause of death, could go into a home and take an inmate
into custody in the way I have shown.

On the 13th of June I was brought before the magistrates, and for the
first time evidence was given in my presence. I had been driven over to
the court-house the evening before, and had passed the night there in
charge of a policeman’s daughter, who remained in the room with me. Her
father kept watch on the other side of the door. That night, on going
to bed, as I knelt weary and lonely to say my prayers, I felt a hand on
my shoulder and a tearful voice said, softly, “Let me hold your hand,
Mrs. Maybrick, and let me say my prayers with you.” A simple expression
of sympathy, but it meant so much to me at such a time.


At half-past eight I was taken to a room adjoining the court, where, in
charge of a female warder and a policeman, I awaited my call. I then
passed into the court, where two magistrates, Sir William B. Forwood
and Mr. W. S. Barrett, sat officially to hear the evidence. When the
testimony had been given the court adjourned.

When I rose to leave the court, in order to reach the door, I had
to meet face to face well-dressed women spectators at the back, and
the moment I turned around these started hissing me. The presiding
justice immediately shouted to the officer on duty to shut the door,
while the burly figures of several policemen, who moved toward the
hostile spectators, effectually put an end to the outburst. It was amid
such scenes, and this sort of preparation for my ordeal, that on the
following day, the 14th of June, the Magisterial Inquiry was resumed,
and the evidence connected with the charge of murder gone into. On
conclusion of the testimony the magistrates retired, and after a brief
consultation returned into court.

Sir William Forwood: “Our opinion is that this is a case which ought to
be decided by jury.”

Mr. Pickford (my counsel): “If that is clearly the opinion of the Bench
I shall not occupy their time by going into the defense now, because I
understand, whatever defense may be put forward, the Bench may think it
right for a jury to decide.”

The Chairman: “Yes, we think so.”

I was then ordered to stand up and was formally charged in the usual

I replied: “I reserve my defense.”

Sir William Forwood made answer: “Florence Elizabeth Maybrick, it is
our duty to commit you to take your trial at the ensuing Assizes for
wilful murder of the late James Maybrick.”

I was then remanded into custody.

I found it difficult to understand why these magistrates committed
me to trial for murder on that evidence. There was certainly not
sufficient evidence that the cause of death was arsenic. The doctors
could not say so. No arsenic had been found by the analyst in the
stomach, the appearance of which at the _post-mortem_, Dr. Humphreys
said, was “consistent” with either poisoning or ordinary congestion
of the stomach; but, after examination, a minute quantity of arsenic,
certainly not enough to cause death, was detected in the liver, the
appearance of which, Dr. Humphreys said, showed no evidence of any
irritant poison. On this point Dr. Carter agreed with Dr. Humphreys,
“but in a more positive manner,” while Dr. Barron did not exactly agree
with Dr. Carter.

The analyst had found both arsenic and “traces” of arsenic, in some
bottles and things which had been found in the house after death, as
to which, where they came from, or who had put them there, no one
had any knowledge. This is the evidence upon which I was committed.
Justice Stephen, in addressing the grand jury, even thus early showed
a predisposition against me, due at this time, no doubt, to the
sensational reports in the press. A true bill was found, and I was
brought to trial before him on the 31st of July.


The six weeks intervening before my trial were very terrible. The
mental strain was incessant, and I suffered much from insomnia. The
stress and confinement were telling on my health, as was the separation
from my children. I insert here two extracts from letters, written by
me, from Walton Jail. One is to my mother, dated the 21st of July,
1889, a few days before my trial:

 “I am not feeling very well. This fearful strain and the necessity for
 continued self-control is beginning to tell upon me. But I am not in
 the least afraid. I shall show composure, dignity and fortitude to the

The following is an extract from a letter I wrote to a friend on June
27, before my trial on July 31:

 “I have made my peace with God. I have forgiven unreservedly all those
 who have ruined and forsaken me. To-morrow I partake of the Holy
 Communion with a clear conscience, and I place my faith in God’s

 “God give me strength is my constant prayer. I feel so lonely--as
 if every hand were against me. To think that for three or four days
 I must be unveiled before all those uncharitable eyes. You can not
 think how awful it appears to me. So far the ordeal has been all
 anticipation; then it will be stern reality--which always braces the
 nerves and courage.

 “I have seen in the Liverpool _Post_ the judge’s address on the
 prosecution to the jury, and it is enough to appal the stoutest heart.
 I hear the police are untiring and getting up the case against me
 regardless of expense.

 “Pray for me, my friend, for the darkest days of my life are now to
 be lived through. I trust in God’s justice, whatever I may be in the
 sight of man.”


I received many visits from my lawyers, the Messrs. Cleaver, and just
before the trial one from my leading counsel, Sir Charles Russell,
later Lord Russell of Killowen, Lord Chief Justice of England. The
following statement made by him relative to this visit may interest my

 “I will make no public statement of what my personal belief is as to
 Mrs. Maybrick’s guilt or innocence, but I will tell you, who have
 stood by her all these years, that, perplexed with the instructions
 in the brief, I took what was an unusual step: I went to see her in
 prison before her trial, and questioned her there to the best of
 my ability for the purpose of getting the truth out of her. During
 the whole seven days of her trial I made careful observation of her
 demeanor, and since her imprisonment I have availed myself of my
 judicial right to visit her at Aylesbury Prison; and, making the best
 use of such opportunities of arriving at a just conclusion about her
 own self-consciousness, I decided in my own mind that it never for a
 moment entered her mind to do any bodily injury to her husband. On the
 last occasion that I saw her I told her so, as I felt it would and did
 give the poor woman some comfort.”


  Copyright by W. & D. Downey, London

LORD CHARLES RUSSELL, Q.C., Late Lord Chief Justice of England, Mrs.
Maybrick’s counsel.]


The day preceding my trial found me calm in spirit, and in a measure
prepared for the awful ordeal before me. Up to that time I had shown
a composure that astonished every one. Indeed, some went so far as to
say I was without feeling. Perhaps I was toward their kind. I would
have responded to sympathy, but never to distrust. At that time I was
suspected by all--or, rather, people were not sufficiently just to
content themselves with suspicions; they condemned me outright, and,
unheard, struck at a weak, defenseless woman; and this upon what is now
generally admitted to have been insufficient evidence to sustain the


[1] May 12, 1889.


The Trial


My trial was set for the 31st of July in St. George’s Hall, Liverpool.
Immediately after nine o’clock on that day, the part of the building
which is open to the general public was filled by a well-dressed
audience, including many of my one-time friends. During all the days
of my trial, I am told, Liverpool society fought for tickets. Ladies
were attired as for a matinée, and some brought their luncheons that
they might retain their seats. Many of them carried opera-glasses,
which they did not hesitate to level at me. The Earl of Sefton occupied
a seat on the bench with the judge, and among the audience were many
public and city men and judicial officers. The press had for two
months supplied nourishment in the form of the most sensational stories
about me, to feed the morbid appetite of the public. The excitement
ran so high that the Liverpool crowds even hissed me as I was driven
through the streets. It was a mockery of justice to hold such a trial
in such a place as Liverpool, at such a time, by a common jury; and it
was a mockery of common sense to expect that any Liverpool common jury
could, when they got into the jury-box, dismiss from their minds all
they had heard and seen. In a letter which I wrote to my mother, when
in Walton Jail, on the 28th of June, about a month before the trial, I
said: “I sincerely hope Messrs. Cleaver will arrange for my trial to
take place in London. I shall receive an impartial verdict there, which
I can not expect from a jury in Liverpool, whose minds will virtually
be made up before any evidence is heard.” Owing, however, to a lack of
funds this hope was not realized.

I was at this time alone, utterly forsaken, and the only persons to
whom I could look for protection and advice were my lawyers, Messrs.

At half-past eight on the morning of my trial, a black van was driven
up to the side door, in the fore part of which were already confined
the male prisoners awaiting trial. I was placed in the rear, a female
warder stepped in, the door was shut, and I felt as if I were already
buried. A crowd witnessed my departure from Walton Jail, and a larger
one was assembled outside St. George’s Hall. But I was conducted into
the building without attracting attention.

At ten o’clock I heard a blast of trumpets that heralded the judge’s
entrance into court. Shortly after my name was called, and, accompanied
by a male and a female warder, I ascended slowly the stone staircase
from the cells leading to the dock. I was calm and collected in manner,
although aware of the gravity of my position. But the consciousness of
innocence, and a strong faith in Divine support, made me confident
that strength would be given to endure the awful ordeal before me.

[Illustration: ST. GEORGE’S HALL, LIVERPOOL, Where the trial of Mrs
Maybrick was held.]

In reply to the Clerk of Arraigns, who read the charge against me of
“feloniously and wilfully murdering my husband, James Maybrick,” I
answered “Not guilty.” It is customary in criminal courts in England
to compel a prisoner to stand in the dock during the whole trial, but
I was provided with a seat by recommendation of the prison doctor,
as I suffered from attacks of faintness, though against this humane
departure a great public outcry was raised.

The counsel engaged in the case were Mr. Addison, Q.C., M.P. (now judge
at the Southwark County Court), Mr. McConnell, and Mr. Swift, for the
prosecution; Sir Charles Russell, assisted by Mr. Pickford and Messrs.
Cleaver, for the defense.


When the trial began there was a strong feeling against me, but as it
proceeded, and the fact was made clear that Mr. Maybrick had long
been addicted to taking large quantities of arsenic, coupled with the
evidence, to quote Sir Charles Russell, (1) that there was no proof
of arsenical poisoning, (2) that there was no proof that arsenic was
administered to him by me, the prejudice against me gradually changed,
until, at the close of the trial, there was a complete revulsion of
sentiment, and my acquittal was confidently expected.

When the jury retired to consider their verdict I was taken below, and
here my solicitor came to speak to me; but the tension of mind was so
great I do not recall one word that he said.

After what seemed to me an age, but was in reality only thirty-eight
minutes, the jury returned into court and took their places in the
jury-box. I was recalled to the dock. When I stood up to hear the
verdict I had an intuition that it was unfavorable. Every one looked
away from me, and there was a stillness in court that could be felt.
Then the Clerk of Arraigns arose and said:

“Have you agreed upon the verdict, gentlemen?”

“We have.”

“And do you find the prisoner guilty of the murder of James Maybrick or
not guilty?”

The Foreman: “Guilty.”

A prolonged “Ah!” strangely like the sighing of wind through a forest,
sounded through the court. I reeled as if struck a blow and sank upon
a chair. The Clerk of Arraigns then turned to me and said: “Florence
Elizabeth Maybrick, you have been found guilty of wilful murder. Have
you anything to say why the court should not pronounce sentence upon
you according to the law?”

I arose, and with a prayer for strength, I clasped the rail of the dock
in front of me, and said in a low voice, but with firmness: “My lord,
everything has been against me; I am not guilty of this crime.”


These were the last words which the law permitted me to speak. Mr.
Justice Stephen then assumed the full dress of the criminal judge--the
black cap--and pronounced the sentence of the court in these words:

 “Prisoner at the bar, I am no longer able to treat you as being
 innocent of the dreadful crime laid to your charge. You have been
 convicted by a jury of this city, after a lengthy and most painful
 investigation, followed by a defense which was in every respect worthy
 of the man. The jury has convicted you, and the law leaves me no
 discretion, and I must pass the sentence of the law:

 “The court doth order you to be taken from hence to the place from
 whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, and that
 you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and that your body be
 afterward buried within the precincts of the prison in which you shall
 be confined after your conviction. And may the Lord have mercy upon
 your soul!”


  Copyright by Bassano, London.

JUSTICE FITZ-JAMES STEPHEN. Who presided at the trial of Mrs.

Utterly stunned I was removed from the court to Walton Jail, there
to be confined until this sentence of the law should be carried into

The mob, as the Liverpool public was styled by the press, before they
had heard or read a word of the defense had hissed me when I entered
the court; and now, that they had heard or read the evidence, cheered
me as I drove away in the prison-van, and hissed and hooted the judge,
who with difficulty gained his carriage.


In all the larger local English prisons there is one room, swept and
ready, the sight of which can not fail to stir unwonted thoughts.
The room is large, with barred windows, and contains only a bed and
a chair. It is the last shelter of those whom the law declares to
have forfeited their lives. Near by is a small brick building in the
prison-yard, that has apparently nothing to connect it with the room;
yet they are joined by a sinister suggestion.

For nearly three terrible weeks I was confined in this cell of the
condemned, to taste the bitterness of death under its most appalling
and shameful aspect. I was carefully guarded by two female warders, who
would gladly have been spared the task. They might not read nor sleep;
at my meals, through my prayers, during every moment of agony, they
still watched on and rarely spoke. Many have asked me what my feelings
were at that awful time. I remember little in the way of details
as to my state of mind. I was too overwhelmed for either analytic
or collective thought. Conscious of my innocence, I had no fear of
physical death, for the love of my Heavenly Father was so enveloping
that death seemed to me a blessed escape from a world in which such an
unspeakable travesty of justice could take place; while I petitioned
for a reconsideration of the verdict, it was wholly for the sake of my
mother and my children.

I knew nothing of any public efforts for my relief. I was held fast on
the wheels of a slow-moving machine, hypnotized by the striking hours
and the flight of my numbered minutes, with the gallows staring me in
the face. The date of my execution was not told me at Walton Jail,
but I heard afterward that it was to have taken place on the 26th
of August. On the 22d, while I was taking my daily exercise in the
yard attached to the condemned cell, the governor, Captain Anderson,
accompanied by the chief matron, entered. He called me to him, and,
with a voice which--all honor to him--trembled with emotion, said:

“Maybrick, no commutation of sentence has come down to-day, and I
consider it my duty to tell you to prepare for death.”

“Thank you, governor,” I replied; “my conscience is clear. God’s will
be done.”


He then walked away and I returned to my cell. The female warder was
weeping silently, but I was calm and spent the early part of the night
in my usual prayers. About midnight exhausted nature could bear no
more, and I fainted. I had barely regained consciousness when I heard
the shuffle of feet outside, the click of the key in the lock--that
warning catch in the slow machinery of my doom. I sprang up, and with
one supreme effort of will braced myself for what I believed was the
last act of my life. The governor and a chaplain entered, followed
by a warder. They read my expectation in my face, and the governor,
hastening forward, exclaimed in an agitated voice: “It is well; it is
good news!” When I opened my eyes once more I was lying in bed in the
hospital, and I remained there until I was taken to Woking Convict


In Solitary Confinement


On the morning of the 29th of August I was hastily awakened by a female
warder, who said that orders had come down from the Home Office for my
removal that day to a convict prison.

When I left, the governor was standing at the gate, and, with a
kindliness of voice which I deeply appreciated, told me to be brave and

A crowd was in waiting at the station. I was roughly hustled through it
into a third-class carriage.

The only ray of light that penetrated those dark hours of my journey
came from an American woman. God bless her, whoever she is or wherever
she is! At every station that the train stopped she got out and came to
the carriage door and spoke words of sympathy and comfort. She was the
first of my countrywomen to voice to me the protest that swelled into
greater volume as the years rolled by.

As the train drew up at Woking station a crowd assembled. Outside stood
a cab, to which I was at once conducted, and we drove through lovely
woods; the scent of flowers was wafted by the breeze into what seemed
to be a hearse that was bearing me on toward my living tomb.

As we approached the prison the great iron gate swung wide, and the
cab drove silently into the yard. There I descended. The governor
gave an order, and a woman--who I afterward found was assistant
superintendent--came forward. Accompanied by her and an officer, I was
led across a near-by yard to a building which stood somewhat apart from
the others and is known as the infirmary. There a principal matron
received me, and the assistant superintendent and the chief matron
returned to their quarters.


In the grasp of what seemed to me a horrible nightmare, I found
myself in a cell with barred windows, a bed, and a chair. Without,
the stillness of death reigned. I remained there perhaps half an hour
when the door opened and I was commanded by a female warder to follow
her. In a daze I obeyed mechanically. We crossed the same yard again
and entered a door that led into a room containing only a fireplace, a
table, and a bath. Here I was told to take off my clothes, as those I
had traveled in had to be sent back to the prison at Liverpool, where
they belonged.

When I was dressed in the uniform to which the greatest stigma and
disgrace is attached, I was told to sit down. The warder then stepped
quickly forward, and with a pair of scissors cut off my hair to the
nape of my neck. This act seemed, above all others, to bring me to a
sense of my degradation, my utter helplessness; and the iron of the
awful tragedy, of which I was the innocent victim, entered my soul. I
was then weighed and my height taken. My weight was one hundred and
twelve pounds, and my height five feet three inches.

Once more I was bidden to follow my guide. We recrossed the yard and
entered the infirmary. Here I was locked in the cell already mentioned.
At last I could be alone after the anguish and torture of the day. I
prayed for sleep that I might lose consciousness of my intolerable
anguish. But sleep, that gentle nurse of the sad and suffering, came
not. What a night! I shudder even now at the memory of it. Physically
exhausted, smarting with the thought of the cruel, heartless way in
which I had been beaten down and trodden under foot, I felt that mortal
death would have been more merciful than the living death to which I
was condemned. In the adjoining cell an insane woman was raving and
weeping throughout the night, and I wondered whether in the years to
come I should become like her.

The next day I was visited by the governor on his official rounds. Then
the doctor came and made a medical examination, and ordered me to be
detained in the infirmary until further orders. My mind is a blank as
to what happened for some time afterward. My next remembrance is being
told by a coarse-looking, harsh-spoken female warder to get ready to go
into the prison. Once more I was led across the big yard, and then I
stood within the walls that were to be for years my tomb. Outside the
sun was shining and the birds were singing.


Without, picture a vast outline of frowning masonry. Within, when I
had passed the double outer gates and had been locked out and locked
in in succession, I found myself in a central hall, from which ran
cage-like galleries divided into tiers and landings, with a row of
small cells on either side. The floors are of stone, the landings of
slate, the railings of steel, and the stairs of iron. Wire netting
is stretched over the lowest tier to prevent prisoners from throwing
themselves over in one of those frenzies of rage and despair of which
every prison has its record. Within their walls can be found, above all
places, that most degrading, heart-breaking product of civilization,
a human automaton. All will, all initiative, all individuality, all
friendship, all the things that make human beings attractive to one
another, are absent. Suffering there is dumb, and when it goes beyond

I followed the warder to a door, perhaps not more than two feet in
width. She unlocked it and said, “Pass in.” I stepped forward, but
started back in horror. Through the open door I saw, by the dim light
of a small window that was never cleaned, a cell seven feet by four.

“Oh, don’t put me in there!” I cried. “I can not bear it.”

For answer the warder took me roughly by the shoulder, gave me a push,
and shut the door. There was nothing to sit upon but the cold slate
floor. I sank to my knees. I felt suffocated. It seemed that the walls
were drawing nearer and nearer together, and presently the life would
be crushed out of me. I sprang to my feet and beat wildly with my hands
against the door. “For God’s sake let me out! Let me out!” But my
voice could not penetrate that massive barrier, and exhausted I sank
once more to the floor. I can not recall those nine months of solitary
confinement without a feeling of horror. My cell contained only a
hammock rolled up in a corner, and three shelves let into the wall--no
table nor stool. For a seat I was compelled to place my bedclothes on
the floor.


No one can realize the horror of solitary confinement who has not
experienced it. Here is one day’s routine: It is six o’clock; I arise
and dress in the dark; I put up my hammock and wait for breakfast. I
hear the ward officer in the gallery outside. I take a tin plate and a
tin mug in my hands and stand before the cell door. Presently the door
opens; a brown, whole-meal, six-ounce loaf is placed upon the plate;
the tin mug is taken, and three-quarters of a pint of gruel is measured
in my presence, when the mug is handed back in silence, and the door is
closed and locked. After I have taken a few mouthfuls of bread I begin
to scrub my cell. A bell rings and my door is again unlocked. No word
is spoken, because I know exactly what to do. I leave my cell and fall
into single file, three paces in the rear of my nearest fellow convict.
All of us are alike in knowing what we have to do, and we march away
silently to Divine service. We are criminals under punishment, and
our keepers march us like dumb cattle to the worship of God. To me the
twenty minutes of its duration were as an oasis in a weary desert. When
it came to an end I felt comforted, and always a little more resigned
to my fate. Chapel over, I returned directly to my cell, for I was in
solitary confinement, and might not enjoy the privilege of working in
company with my prison companions.

Work I must, but I must work alone. Needlework and knitting fall to my
lot. My task for the day is handed to me, and I sit in my cell plying
my needle, with the consciousness that I must not indulge in an idle
moment, for an unaccomplished task means loss of marks, and loss of
marks means loss of letters and visits. As chapel begins at 8:30 I am
back in my cell soon after nine, and the requirement is that I shall
make one shirt a day--certainly not less than five shirts a week. If I
am obstinate or indolent, I shall be reported by the ward officer, and
be brought to book with punishment--perhaps reduced to a diet of bread
and water and total confinement in my cell for twenty-four hours. If I
am faint, weak, or unwell, I may be excused the full performance of my
task; but there must be no doubt of my inability. In such case it is
for me to have my name entered for the prison doctor, and obtain from
him the indulgence that will remit a portion of my prescribed work to
three or four shirts.

However, as I am well, I work automatically, closely, and with
persistence. Then comes ten o’clock, and with it the governor with
his escort. He inspects each cell, and if all is not as it should
be, the prisoner will hear of it. There is no friendly greeting of
“Good-morning” nor parting “Good-night” within those gloomy walls.
The tone is formal and the governor says: “How are you, Maybrick?
Any complaints? Do you want anything?” and then he passes on. Then
I am again alone with my work and my brooding thoughts. I never
made complaints. One but adds to one’s burden by finding causes for
complaint. With the coming and the going of the governor the monotony
returns to stagnation.


Presently, however, the prison bell rings again. I know what the
clangor means, and mechanically lay down my work. It is the hour
for exercise, and I put on my bonnet and cape. One by one the cell
doors of the ward are opened. One by one we come out from our cells
and fall into single file. Then, with a ward officer in charge, we
march into the exercise yard. We have drawn up in line, three paces
apart, and this is the form in which we tramp around the yard and
take our exercise. This yard is perhaps forty feet square, and there
are thirty-five of us to expand in its “freedom.” The inclosure is
oppressively repulsive. Stone-flagged, hemmed within ugly walls, it
gives one a hideous feeling of compression. It seems more like a
bear-pit than an airing ground for human beings. But I forget that
we are not here to have things made easy, comfortable, and pleasant
for us. We are here to be punished, to be scourged for our crimes and
misdeeds. Can you wonder that human nature sometimes revolts and dares
even prison rigor? Human instincts may be suppressed, but not wholly

There were at Woking two yards in which flowers and green trees were
visible, but it was only in after years that I was permitted to take my
exercise in these yards, and then only half an hour on Sunday.

When the one hour for exercise is over, in a file as before, we
tramp back to our work. Confined as we are for twenty-two hours in
our narrow, gloomy cells, the exercise, dull as it is, is our only
opportunity for a glimpse of the sky and for a taste of outdoor life,
and affords our only relief from an otherwise almost unbearable day.


At noon the midday meal. The first sign of its approach is the sound of
the fatigue party of prisoners bringing the food from the kitchen into
the ward. I hear the ward officer passing with the weary group from
cell to cell, and presently she will reach my door. My food is handed
to me, then the door is closed and double locked. In the following two
hours, having finished my meal, I can work or read. At two o’clock the
fatigue party again goes on its mechanical round; the cell door is
again unlocked, this time for the collection of dinner-cans. The meal
of each prisoner is served out by weight, and the law allows her to
claim her full quantity to the uttermost fraction of an ounce. She is
even entitled to see it weighed if she fancies it falls short. Work is
then resumed until five o’clock, when gruel and bread is again served,
as at breakfast, with half an hour for its disposal. From that time
on until seven o’clock more work, when again is heard the clang of
the prison bell, and with it comes the end of our monotonous day. I
take down my hammock, and once more await the opening of the door. We
have learned exactly what to do. With the opening of our cells we go
forward, and each places her broom outside the door. So shall it be
known that we each have been visited in our cells before the locking of
our doors and gates for the night. If any of us are taking medicine by
the doctor’s orders we now receive it. On through the ten long, weary
hours of the night the night officers patrol the wards, keeping watch,
and through a glass peep-hole silently inspect us in our beds to see
that nothing is amiss.


Solitary confinement is by far the most cruel feature of English penal
servitude. It inflicts upon the prisoner at the commencement of her
sentence, when most sensitive to the horrors which prison punishment
entails, the voiceless solitude, the hopeless monotony, the long vista
of to-morrow, to-morrow, to-morrow stretching before her, all filled
with desolation and despair. Once a prisoner has crossed the threshold
of a convict prison, not only is she dead to the world, but she is
expected in word and deed to lose or forget every vestige of her
personality. Verily,

    The mills of the gods grind slowly,
      But they grind exceeding small,
    And woe to the wight unholy
      On whom those millstones fall.

So it is with the Penal Code which directs this vast machinery, doing
its utmost with tireless, ceaseless revolutions to mold body and soul
slowly, remorselessly, into the shape demanded by Act of Parliament.


The Period of Probation


The day I had completed the nine months of solitary confinement I
entered upon a new stage, that of probation for nine months. I was
taken from Hall G to Hall A. There were in Woking seven halls, A, B, C,
D, E, F, G, separated by two barred doors and a narrow passage. Every
hall has three wards. The female warder who accompanied me locked me
in my cell. I looked around with a sense of intense relief. The cell
was as large again as the one I had left. The floor was of wood instead
of slate. It contained a camp bedstead on which was placed a so-called
mattress, consisting of a sack the length of the bed, stuffed with
coir, the fiber of the coconut. There were also provided two coarse
sheets, two blankets, and a red counterpane. In a corner were three
iron shelves let in the wall one above the other. On the top shelf
was folded a cape, and on top of this there was a small, coarse straw
bonnet. The second shelf contained a tin cup, a tin plate, a wooden
spoon, and a salt-cellar. The third shelf was given up to a slate, on
which might be written complaints or requests to the governor; it is a
punishable offense in prison to write with a pencil or on any paper not

There was also a Bible, a prayer-book and hymn-book, and a book from
the library. Near the door stood a log of wood upright, fastened to the
floor, and this was the only seat in the cell. It was immovable, and so
placed that the prisoner might always be in view of the warder. Near
it, let into the wall, was a piece of deal board, which answered for a
table. Through an almost opaque piece of square glass light glimmered
from the hall, the only means of lighting the cell at night; facing
this, high up, was a barred window admitting light from the outside.


The routine of my daily life was the same as during “solitary
confinement.” The cell door may be open, but its outer covering or gate
is locked, and, although I knew there was a human creature separated
from me only by a cell wall and another gate, not a whisper might I
breathe. There is no rule of prison discipline so productive of trouble
and disaster as the “silent system,” and the tyrannous and rigorous
method with which it is enforced is the cause of two-thirds of all
the misconduct and disturbance that occurs in prison. The silence
rule gives supreme gratification to the tyrannous officer, for on the
slightest pretext she can report a woman for talking--a turn of the
head, a movement of the lips is enough of an excuse for a report.
And there is heavy punishment that can be inflicted for this offense,
both in the male and female prisons. An offender may be consigned to
solitary confinement, put for three days on bread and water, or suffer
the loss of a week’s remission, which means a week added to her term of
imprisonment--and all this for incautiously uttering a word.

Unless it be specifically intended as a means of torture, the system of
solitary confinement, even for four months, the term to which it has
since been reduced, can meet only with condemnation. I am convinced
that, within limits, the right of speech and the interchange of
thought, at least for two hours daily, even during probation, would
insure better discipline than perpetual silence, which can be enforced
only by a complete suppression of nature, and must result in consequent
weakness of mind and ruin of temper. During the first months of her
sentence a prisoner is more frequently in trouble for breach of this
one rule than from all other causes. The reduction of the term of
probation from nine to four months has been followed by a reduction in
mental afflictions, which is proof that nothing wholesome or good can
have its growth in unnatural solitude.

The silent system has a weakening effect upon the memory. A prisoner
often finds difficulty in deciding upon the pronunciation of words
which she has not heard for a considerable period. I often found
myself, when desirous of using unusual words, especially in French or
German, pronouncing them to myself in order to fix the pronunciation
in my memory. It is well to bear in mind what a small number of words
the prisoner has an opportunity of using in the monotony of prison
life. The same inquiries are made day after day, and the same responses
given. A vocabulary of one hundred words will include all that a
prisoner habitually uses.


No defender of the silent system pretends that it wholly succeeds in
preventing speech among prisoners. But be that as it may, a period
of four months’ solitary confinement in the case of a female, and
six months’ in the case of a male, and especially of a girl or
youth, is surely a crime against civilization and humanity. Such a
punishment is inexpressible torture to both mind and body. I speak
from experience. The torture of continually enforced silence is known
to produce insanity or nervous breakdown more than any other feature
connected with prison discipline. Since the passing of the Act of 1898,
mitigating this form of punishment, much good has been accomplished, as
is proved by the diminution of insanity in prison life, the decreasing
scale of prison punishment, and the lessening of the death-rate.
By still further reducing this barbarous practise, or, better, by
abolishing it entirely, corresponding happy results may confidently
be expected. The more the prisoners are placed under conditions and
amid surroundings calculated to develop a better life, the greater is
the hope that the system will prove curative; but so long as prisoners
are subjected to conditions which have a hardening effect at the very
beginning of their prison life, there is little chance of ultimate


There are many women who hover about the borderland of insanity for
months, possibly for years. They are recognized as weak-minded, and
consequently they make capital out of their condition, and by the
working of their distorted minds, and petty tempers, and unreasonable
jealousy, add immeasurably not only to the ghastliness of the “house
of sorrow,” but are a sad clog on the efforts to self-betterment of
their level-minded sisters in misery. Of these many try hard to make
the best of what has to be gone through. Therefore, is it necessary,
is it wise, is it right that such a state of things should be allowed?
The weak-minded should be kept in a separate place, with their own
officers to attend them. Neither the weak-minded, the epileptic, nor
the consumptives were isolated. There is great need of reform wherever
this is the case. Prisoners whose behavior is different from the normal
should be separated from the other prisoners, and made to serve out
their sentences under specially adapted conditions.

I read in the newspapers that insanity is on the increase; this fact is
clearly reflected within the prison walls. It is stated that the insane
form about three per thousand of the general population. In local
English prisons insanity, it is said, even after deducting those who
come in insane, is seven times more prevalent than among the general


The nervous crises do not now supervene so frequently as formerly
in the case of prisoners of a brooding disposition, but the fact
remains that, in spite of the slight amelioration, mental light is
still excluded--that communion on which rests all human well-being.
The vacuity of the solitary system, to some at least, is partially
lighted by books. But what of those who can not read, or who have
not sufficient concentration of mind to profit by reading as a
relaxation? There are many such, in spite of the high standard of
free education that prevails at the present day. The shock of the
trial, and the uprooting of a woman’s domestic ties, coupled with
the additional mental strain of having to start her prison career in
solitary confinement, is surely neither humane, nor merciful, nor
wise. These months of solitary confinement leave an ineffaceable mark.
It is during the first lonely months that the seeds of bitterness
and hardness of heart are sown, and it requires more than a passive
resistance--nay, nothing short of an unfaltering faith and trust in an
overruling Providence--to bring a prisoner safely through the ordeal.
Let the sympathetic reader try to realize what it means never to feel
the touch of anything soft or warm, never to see anything that is
attractive--nothing but stone above, around, and beneath. The deadly
chill creeps into one’s bones; the bitter days of winter and the still
bitterer nights were torture, for Woking Prison was not heated. My
hands and feet were covered with chilblains.


Oh, the horrors of insomnia! If one could only forget one’s sufferings
in sleep! During all the fifteen years of my imprisonment, insomnia was
(and, alas! is still) my constant companion. Little wonder! I might
fall asleep, when suddenly the whole prison is awakened by shriek
upon shriek, rending the stillness of the night. I am now, perforce,
fully awake. Into my ears go tearing all the shrill execrations and
blasphemies, all the hideous uproars of an inferno, compounded of
bangs, shrieks, and general demoniac ragings. The wild smashing of
glass startles the halls. I lie in my darkened cell with palpitating
heart. Like a savage beast, the woman of turmoil has torn her clothing
and bedding into shreds, and now she is destroying all she can lay
hands on. The ward officers are rushing about in slippered feet, the
bell rings summoning the warders, who are always needed when such
outbursts occur, and the woman, probably in a strait-jacket, is borne
to the penal cells. Then stillness returns to the ghastly place, and
with quivering nerves I may sleep--if I can.


But what if one is ill in the night? The lonely prisoner in her cell
may summon aid by ringing the bell. The moment it is set in motion it
causes a black iron slab to project from the outer wall of her cell
in the gallery. On the slab is the prisoner’s number, and the ward
officer, hearing the bell, at once looks for the cell from which the
call has been sent. Presently she finds it, then fetches the principal
matron, and together they enter the hard, unhomelike place. If the
prisoner is ill they call the doctor of the prison, and medicines and
aid will be given. But sympathy is no part of their official duty, and
be the warder never so tender in her own domestic circle, tenderness
must not be shown toward a prisoner. The patient may be removed from
her cell to the infirmary, where they will care for her medically,
perhaps as well as they would in a hospital; she may even receive a
few flowers from an infirmary warder whose heart comes out from its
official shell; but through it all, sick though she be, she is still a
prisoner under lock and key, a woman under surveillance, a woman denied
communion with her kind.


What words can adequately describe the long years, blank and weary
enough for all prisoners, but which are indescribably so to one who
has been delicately nurtured! I had enjoyed the refinements of social
life; I had pitied, and tried, as far as lay in my power, to help the
poor and afflicted, but I had never known anything of the barbarism,
the sordid vices of low life. And I was condemned to drag out existence
amid such surroundings, because twelve ignorant men had taken upon
themselves to decide a question which neither the incompetent judge nor
the medical witnesses could themselves determine.

So far as I can learn, there is no other instance of a woman
undoubtedly innocent and of gentle birth, confined for a term of nearly
fifteen years in an English convict prison. In the nature of things a
delicate woman feels more acutely than a robust prisoner the rigors of
prolonged captivity.

Neither confidence nor respect can be secured when punishment is
excessive, for it then becomes an act of persecution, suitable only
for ages of darkness. The supineness of Parliament in not establishing
a court of criminal appeal fastens a dark blot upon the judicature of
England, and is inconsistent with the innate love of justice and fair
play of its people.


The law in prison is the same for the rich as the poor, the “Star
Class” as for the ignorant, brutalized criminal. My register was “L.
P. 29.” These letters and numbers were worked in white cotton upon a
piece of black cloth. Your sentence is indicated thus: “L” stands for
penal servitude for life; “P” for the year of conviction, which in my
case was the sixteenth year since the previous lettering. This is done
every twenty-five years. The “29” meant that I was the twenty-ninth
convict of my year, 1889. In addition to this register I wore a red
cloth star placed above it. The “Star Class,” of which I was a member,
consisted of women who have been convicted of one crime only, committed
in a moment of weakness or despair, or under pressure which they were
not strong enough to resist at the time, such as infanticide, forgery,
incendiarism; and who, having been educated and respectably brought
up, betray otherwise no criminal instincts or inclinations; and who,
when in the world, would be distinct in character from the habitual
criminal, not only from a social point of view, but in their virtues,
faults, and crimes.

There should be separate rules and privileges to meet the case
of a prisoner guilty of moral lapses only, as distinguished from
the habitual breaker of the laws. At present the former gets the
same treatment and discipline as the habitual criminal of several
convictions, and can not claim a single privilege that the old offender
has not a right to ask--for example, members of both classes are
limited to the same number of letters and visits. The “Star Class” is
supposed to be kept separate from ordinary prisoners. It was so at
Woking Prison. But at Aylesbury Prison, to which I was transferred
later, they were sandwiched between two wards of habitual criminals,
with whom they came continually in contact, not only in passing to
and from the workshops, fetching meals, and going to exercise, but
continuously. That contamination should ensue is hardly surprising.
It requires a will of iron, and nearly the spirit of a saint, not
to be corrupted by the sights and sounds of a prison, even when no
word is spoken. It is a serious accusation against any system to say
“that it produces the thing it is designed to prevent,” but such, I
am convinced, is the fact as regards the manufacture of criminals and
imbeciles by the present system of penalism almost the world over.


The Period of Hard Labor


Having passed solitary confinement and probation, I entered upon
the third stage, hard labor, when I was permitted to leave my cell
to assist in carrying meals from the kitchen, and to sit at my door
and converse with the prisoners in the adjoining cells for two hours
daily--but always in the presence of an officer who controls and limits
the conversation. My daily routine was now also somewhat different from
that of solitary confinement and probation.

At six o’clock the bell rings to rise. Half an hour later a second bell
signifies to the officers that it is time to come on duty. Each warder
in charge of certain wards--there are three wards to each hall--then
goes to the chief matron’s office, where she receives a key wherewith
to unlock the prisoners’ cells. All keys are given up by the female
warder before going off duty, and locked for the night in an iron safe
under the charge of a male warder. When again in possession of her key
she repairs to her ward, and at the order, “Unlock,” she lets out the
prisoners to empty their slops. This done, they are once more locked
in, with the exception of three women who go down to the kitchen to
fetch the cans of tea and loaves of bread which make up the prisoners’
breakfast. At Woking the breakfast was of cocoa and coarse meal bread,
while later, at Aylesbury, it consisted of tea and white bread. I am
constrained to remark here that more consideration should be shown by
the medical officer toward women who complain of being physically unfit
to do heavy lifting and carrying. The can is carried by two women up
two or three flights of stairs, according to the location of their
ward, and the bread by one woman only. Each can contains fourteen
quarts of tea, and the bread-basket holds thirty pounds or more of
bread. To a woman with strong muscles it may cause no distress, but in
the case of myself and others equally frail, the physical strain was
far beyond our strength, and left us utterly exhausted after the task.

The breakfast was served at seven o’clock, when the officers returned
to the mess-room to take theirs. At 7:30 a bell rang again, and the
officers returned to their respective wards. At ten minutes to eight
the order was given, “Unlock.” Once more the doors were opened. Then
followed the order, “Chapel,” and each woman stood at her door with
Bible, prayer-book, and hymn-book in hand. At the words “Pass on,” they
file one behind the other into the chapel, where a warder from each
ward sits with her back to the altar that she may be able the better
to watch those under her charge and see that they do not speak. After
a service of twenty minutes the prisoners file back to their cells,
place their books on the lower shelf, and with a drab cape and a white
straw hat stand in readiness for the next order, “To your doors.” This
given, they descend into the hall and pass out to their respective
places of work.


Many of these women have their tender, spiritual moments. At such times
they will beg for a favorite hymn to be sung at the chapel service
on Sunday, and their requests are generally granted by the chaplain.
He is the only friend of the prisoner, and his work is arduous and
often thankless. He is the only one within the walls to whom she may
turn for sympathy and advice. It may not be every woman who gladly
avails herself of the enforced privilege of attending daily chapel.
“Religion,” as a term, is unpalatable to many. But there are very few
who are not better and happier for the few moments’ unofficial talk
with her chaplain, be she Protestant or Roman Catholic.

It is to be regretted that his authority is so limited, and his
opportunities for brightening the lives of those who walk in dark
places so few. Red tape and standing orders confront him at every
turn, so that even the religious training is drawn and sucked beneath
the mighty wheel of the Penal Code, and there is no time for personal
suasion to play more than a minor part in a convict’s life.


The work for first offenders, who are called the “Star Class,” consists
of labor in the kitchen, the mess, and the officers’ quarters. Six
months after I entered upon the third stage I was put to work in the
kitchen. My duties were as follows: To wash ten cans, each holding
four quarts; to scrub one table, twenty feet in length; two dressers,
twelve feet in length; to wash five hundred dinner-tins; to clean
knives; to wash a sack of potatoes; to assist in serving the dinners,
and to scrub a piece of floor twenty by ten feet. Besides myself there
were eight other women on hard labor in the kitchen. Our day commenced
at 6 A.M., and continued until 5:30 P.M. A half hour at breakfast time,
twenty minutes at chapel, one hour and a half after the midday meal,
and half an hour after tea summed up our leisure. The work was hard and
rough. The combined heat of the coppers, the stove, and the steamers
was overpowering, especially on hot summer days; but I struggled on,
doing this work preferably to some other, because the kitchen was the
only place where the monotony of prison life was broken. It was the
“show place,” and all visitors looked in to see the food.


What dining in prison means may be judged by a perusal of the schedule
as given in the Prison Commission Report:



 Three-quarters of a pint of cocoa, containing ½ ounce of cocoa, 2
   ounces milk, ½ ounce of molasses. Bread.


 Sunday. 4 ounces tinned pressed beef. Bread.

                       } 3 ounces (cooked), with its
                       } own liquor, flavored with ½
  Monday. Mutton       } ounce onions, and thickened
  Tuesday. Beef        } with bread and potatoes left
  Wednesday. Mutton    } on previous days, 1/8 ounce
  Friday. Beef         } of flour, and for every 100
                       } convicts, ¾ ounce of pepper.
                       } ¾ pound potatoes. Bread.

 Saturday. 1 pint soup, containing 6 ounces of shins of beef
   (uncooked), 1 ounce pearl barley, 3 ounces of fresh vegetables,
   including onions, and for every 100 convicts, ¾ ounce pepper. ¾
   pound potatoes. Bread.

 Thursday. ¾ pound pudding, containing 1 ounce 2 drachms water. ¾ pound
   potatoes. Bread.


 1 pint gruel, containing 2 ounces oatmeal, ¾ ounce molasses, 2 ounces
   milk. Bread.

 Bread per convict per week, 118 ounces.

 Bread per convict each week-day, 16 ounces.

 Bread per convict each Sunday, 22 ounces.

 Salt per convict per day, ½ ounce.[2]


During the four years I worked in the kitchen I saw many people. The
Duke of Connaught, Sir Evelyn Wood and his staff, Lord Alverston, Sir
Edward du Cane, the late Lord Rothschild, and Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise,
besides judges, magistrates, authors, philanthropists and others of an
inquiring turn of mind, who had obtained the necessary permit to make
the tour of the prison under the escort of the governor or one or two
of his satellites. These ladies and gentlemen expressed the most varied
and sometimes startling opinions. I recollect on one occasion, when
some visitors happened to be inspecting the kitchen during the dishing
up of the hospital patients’ dinner, one old gentleman of the party was
quite scandalized at the sight of a juicy mutton-chop and a tempting
milk pudding. He expostulated in such a way that the governor hastened
to explain that it was not the ordinary prison diet, but was intended
for a very sick woman. Even then this old gentleman was not satisfied,
and stalked out, audibly grumbling about people living on the fat of
the land and getting a better dinner than he did. I firmly believe that
he left the prison under the impression that its inmates lived like
pampered gourmets, and that he no longer marveled there were so many
criminals when they were fed on such luxuries.


On another occasion a benevolent-looking old lady, having given
everything and everybody as minute an inspection as was possible,
expressed herself as being charmed, remarking:

“Everything is so nice and homelike!”

I have often wondered what that good lady’s home was like.

A little philosophy is useful, a saving grace, even in prison; but
people have such different ways of expressing sympathy. A visitor, who
I have no doubt intended to be sympathetic, noticing the letter “L” on
my arm, inquired:

“How long a time have you to do?”

“I have just completed ten years,” was my reply.

“Oh, well,” cheerfully responded the sympathetic one, “you have done
half your time, haven’t you? The remaining ten years will soon slip
by”; and the visitor passed on, blissfully ignorant of the sword she
had unwittingly thrust into my aching heart. Even if a prisoner has
little or no hope of a mitigation, it is not pleasant to have an old
wound ruthlessly handled, and ten years’ imprisonment as lightly spoken
of as ten days might be.


I preferred the kitchen work, although often beyond my strength, to any
other that fell to a prisoner’s lot, because of the glimpses into the
outside world it occasionally afforded. But I never permitted myself
to dwell upon the fact that at one time I had been the social equal
of at least the majority of those with whom I thus came into passing
contact, since to do so would have made my position by contrast so
unbearable that it would have unfitted me to do the work in a spirit
of submission, not to speak of the mental suffering which awakened
memories would have occasioned. I soon found that both my spiritual and
my mental salvation, under the repressive rules in force, depended upon
unresisting acquiescence--the keeping of my sensibilities dulled as
near as possible to the level of the mere animal state which the Penal
Code, whether intentionally or otherwise, inevitably brings about.

I have been frequently asked by friends, since my release, how I could
possibly have endured the shut-in life under such soul-depressing
influences. I have given here and there in my narrative indications
of my feelings under different circumstances. Here I may state in
general that I early found that thoughts of without and thoughts of
within--those that haunted me of the world and those that were ever
present in my surroundings--would not march together. I had to keep
step with either the one or the other. The conflict between the two
soon became unbearable, and I was compelled to make choice: whether
I would live in the past and as much as possible exclude the prison,
and take the punishment which would inevitably follow--as it had in
so many cases--in an unbalanced mind; or would shut the past out
altogether and coerce my thoughts within the limitations of the prison
regulations. My safety lay, as I found, in compressing my thoughts to
the smallest compass of mental existence, and no sooner did worldly
visions or memories intrude themselves, as they necessarily would, than
I immediately and resolutely shut them out as one draws the blind to
exclude the light. While I thus suppressed all emotions belonging to
a natural life, I nevertheless found, whenever I came accidentally in
contact with visitors from the outside world, that my inner nature was
attuned like the strings of a harp to the least vibration of others’
emotions. The slightest unconscious inflection of the voice, whether
sympathetic or otherwise, would call forth either a grateful response
or an instant withdrawal into the armor of reserve which I had to adopt
for my self-protection. But this exclusion of the world created a dark
background which served only to intensify the light that shone upon me
from realms unseen of mortal eyes. Lonely I was, yet I was never alone.
But, however satisfying the spiritual communion, the human heart is so
constituted that it needs must yearn for love and sympathy from its own
kind, for recognition of all that is best in us, by something that is
like unto it, in its experiences, feelings, emotions, and aspirations.


A prisoner is allowed to receive a visit from her friends at intervals
of six, four, and two months, according to her stage of service.
There are four stages, each of nine months’ duration: first, solitary
confinement; second, probation; while the third and fourth stages are
not specially designated. During the first two stages the prisoner is
clothed in brown, at the third stage in green, and the fourth in navy
blue. Every article worn by the prisoner or in use by her is stamped
with a “broad arrow,” the convict’s crest.

A visit may be forfeited by bad conduct or delayed through a loss
of marks. When a prisoner is entitled to receive a visitor, she
applies to the governor for permission to have the permit sent to the
person she names; but if the police report concerning the designated
visitor is unfavorable the request is not granted. When a prisoner’s
friends--three being the maximum--arrive at the prison gates they ring
a bell. The gatekeeper views them through a grille and inquires their
business. They show their permit; whereupon he notifies the chief
matron, who in turn notifies the officer in charge of the prisoner.

The rule regarding visits precluded any discussion of prison affairs,
or anything regarding treatment, or aught that passes within the
prison walls. Had I permitted myself to break this rule the visit
would have been stopped at once by the matron in charge. Consequently,
all the statements on such matters reported from time to time in the
press during my imprisonment, and quoted as received from my mother or
friends, are shown to be pure fabrications.


A visit! What joy or what sorrow those words express in the outside
world! But in prison--the pain of it is so great that it can hardly be

Whenever my mother’s visit was announced, accompanied by a matron I
passed into a small, oblong room. There a grilled screen confronted me;
a yard or two beyond was a second barrier identical in structure, and
behind it I could see the form of my mother, and sitting in the space
between the grilles, thus additionally separating us, was a prison
matron. No kiss; not even a clasp of the hand; no privacy sacred to
mother and daughter; not a whisper could pass between us. Was not this
the very depth of humiliation?

My mother crossed every two months from France to visit me. Neither
heat nor cold deterred her from taking this fatiguing journey. Thus
again and again she traveled a hundred miles for love of me, to cheer,
comfort, and console; a hundred miles for thirty minutes!

At these visits she would tell me as best she could of the noble,
unwearied efforts of my countrymen and countrywomen in my cause; of
the sympathy and support of my own Government; of the earnest efforts
of the different American ambassadors in my behalf. And though their
efforts proved all in vain, the knowledge of their belief in my
innocence, and of their sympathy comforted, cheered, and strengthened
me to tread bravely the thorny path of my daily life.

Almost before we had time to compose ourselves there would come a
silent sign from the mute matron in the chair--the thirty minutes
had passed. “Good-by,” we say, with a lingering look, and then turn
our backs upon each other, she to go one way, I another; one leading
out into the broad, open day, the other into the stony gloom of the
prison. Do you wonder that when I went back into my lonely cell the
day had become darker? I went forth to meet a crown of joy and love,
only to return with a cross of sorrow; for these visits always created
passionate longings for freedom, with their vivid recollections of past
joys that at times were almost unbearable. No one will ever know what
my mother suffered.


As the years passed the repression of the prison system developed a
kind of mental numbness which rendered my life, in a measure, more
endurable. It also came as a relief to my own sufferings to take an
interest in those of my fellow prisoners. Then Lord Russell of Killowen
wrote me a letter[3] expressing his continued confidence in me, which
greatly renewed my courage, while the loving messages from my friends
in America kept alive my faith in human nature.


By the exercise of great self-control and restraint I had maintained a
perfect good-conduct record at Woking for a period of years, when an
act of one of my fellow prisoners got me into grievous trouble.

It is the rule to search daily both the cell and the person of all
prisoners--those at hard labor three times a day--to make sure that
they have nothing concealed with which they may do themselves bodily

To me it was a bitter indignity. I was never allowed to forget that,
being a prisoner, even my body was not my own. It was horrible to
be touched by unfriendly hands, yet I was compelled to submit--to
be undressed and be searched. During the term of my imprisonment I
was searched about ten thousand times, and on only one occasion was
anything found contrary to regulations. I had no knowledge of it at
the time, as the article had been placed surreptitiously in my cell by
another prisoner to save herself from punishment.

The facts are as follows: I was working in the kitchen, when a prisoner
upset some boiling water on my foot. I thought it best not to speak of
it, and did not, therefore, mention it to any one. My foot, however,
became inflamed and caused me great pain, and the prisoner in question,
noticing that I limped, inquired what the matter was. I told her that
the coarse wool of my stocking was irritating the blister on my foot.
Thereupon she offered to give me some wool of a finer quality with
which to knit a more comfortable pair. I was not aware at the time that
this was not permitted, nor that the wool was stolen. When it neared
her turn to be searched, having a lot of this worsted concealed in
her bed, she made the excuse of indisposition in order to return to
her cell and get rid of it. While there she transferred it from her
cell to mine, its neighbor, the doors of the cells being open during

[Illustration: BARONESS VON ROQUES, The mother of Mrs. Maybrick.]

When the time came to search my cell, the wool was, of course, found,
and I was at once reported. The warder took me to the penal ward, and
I was shut in a cell, in which the light came but dimly through a
perforated sheet of iron. This was at eight A.M. At ten o’clock I was
brought before the governor for examination and judgment. I stated that
the wool did not belong to me and that I was ignorant as to how it got
into my cell. The governor took the officer’s deposition to the effect
that it was found in my cell, and reasoned that I must, therefore,
have knowledge of the article. I was taken back to the punishment cell
and left there for eight hours. When the officer opened the door to
read to me the governor’s judgment, I was found in a dead faint on the
floor. With some difficulty I was restored to consciousness and was
then removed to the hospital. When I had sufficiently recovered from
the shock, I was allowed to return to my own cell in the hall to do my
punishment. I was degraded for a month to a lower stage, with a loss of
twenty-six marks, and had six days added to my original sentence.

Had this offense occurred under the more enlightened system that
obtains at Aylesbury Prison at the present time, I should have been
forgiven, as it was a first offense under this particular rule. The
governor at Woking was a just and humane man, and he was not a little
troubled to reconcile the fact of my being in possession of this
worsted, when I had no means of access to the tailor shop or of coming
in contact with any of the workers there who alone had the handling
of it. Of course, I could not explain that the worsted had been passed
into the kitchen by one of the tailoresses, who came every morning to
fetch hot water for use in the tailor-room, and who was a friend of the
prisoner who put it in my cell.

I was kept in the hall during the months of my penal punishment, and
also for twelve months thereafter, since at that time a “report” always
carried with it a loss of the privilege of working in the kitchen.
When I had an opportunity, in “association time,” of speaking to the
prisoner who had got me into this trouble, and reproached her for the
injury she had done me, she frankly confessed her deed, but excused
herself by saying that she did not expect I would be punished; that
she was tempted to do it because at that time her case was under
consideration at the Home Office, and that she had received the promise
of an early discharge if she did not have any “reports.” She well knew
that if this worsted had been found in her cell this promise would
have been revoked. As she was a “life woman,” and had served a long
time, I had not the heart to deprive her of this, perhaps her only
chance of freedom, through a vindication of myself. A week later I had
the satisfaction of knowing that my silence had been the means of her


The punishment of prisoners at Woking consisted of:

1. Loss of marks, termed in prison parlance, “remission on her
sentence,” but without confinement in the penal ward.

2. Solitary confinement for twenty-four hours in the penal ward, with
loss of marks.

3. Solitary confinement, with loss of marks, on bread and water from
one to three days.

4. Solitary confinement, with loss of marks, on bread and water for
three days, either in a strait-jacket or “hobbles.” Hobbling consists
in binding the wrists and ankles of a prisoner, then strapping them
together behind her back. This position causes great suffering, is
barbarous, and can be enforced only by the doctor’s orders.

5. To the above was sometimes added, in violent cases, shearing and
blistering of the head, or confinement in the dark cell. The dark
cell was underground, and consisted of four walls, a ceiling, and a
floor, with double doors, in which not a ray of light penetrated. No. 5
punishment was abolished at Aylesbury, but in that prison even to give
a piece of bread to a fellow prisoner is still a punishable offense.


Punishment should be carried out in a humane, sympathetic spirit, and
not in a dehumanizing or tyrannous manner. It should be remedial in
character, and not degrading and deteriorating. It should be the aim
and object of the prison system to send a prisoner back into the world
capable of rehabilitating himself or herself and becoming a useful
citizen. The punishment in a convict prison, within my knowledge, is
carried out in an oppressive way, the delinquent is left entirely to
herself to work out her own salvation, and in nine cases out of ten
she works out her own destruction instead, and leaves prison hardened,
rancorous, and demoralized.


There are so many prisoners with whom complaint-making is a mania,
who on every possible occasion make trivial, exaggerated, and false
complaints, that it is not altogether strange that officials look
with a certain skepticism on all fault-finding; hence it frequently
happens that those with just grievances are discredited because of the
shortcomings of the habitual grumblers. At the same time, one can not
disapprove too strongly of collective punishment which involves the
utter absence of trust in any prisoner, however deserving. A prisoner
slightly abuses a privilege or is guilty of some small infringement of
the rules, when down comes the hammer wielded by the inexorable Penal
Code, and strikes not only the one offending, but, in its expansive
dealing, all the other prisoners, guilty or innocent of the offense.
Many a privilege, trivial in itself and absolutely harmless, has been
condemned because of its abuse by one prisoner.

I cite one instance. Each cell was provided with a nail on which,
during the day, the prisoner could hang a wet towel, and, during the
night, her clothes. Those who worked in the laundry came in with wet
clothing every evening, which, as no change is allowed, must be either
dried at night or put on wet the next morning. One prisoner pulled her
nail out and purposely wounded herself. She was weak-minded, and no
doubt thought to excite pity. The matter was referred to the director,
Mr. Pennythorne, who gave the order that all the nails throughout
the building be removed. Hence, because of the shortcomings of one
weak-minded woman, all opportunity for the working women to dry their
clothes was taken from them. Others besides myself appealed to the
director and protested. He replied that we would be obliged to submit
to the edict the same as the rest, and that no distinction could be
made in our favor. Of course we could not argue the matter; the penalty
fell heavier upon the laundry women and the kitchen workers than upon
myself. It is a glaring instance of the great wrong done by collective
punishment. However, the prisoners had their revenge, for they never
referred to him afterward except as “Mr. Pennynails.”


Individual supervision is compulsory, and in many cases it is
essential, but not in all. Surely there are some prisoners who might,
with good results, be trusted. The supervision is never relaxed; the
prisoner is always in sight or hearing of an officer. During the day
she is never trusted out of sight, and at night the watchful eye of the
night officer can see her by means of a small glass fitted in the door
of each cell. She may grow gray during the length of her imprisonment,
but the rule of supervision is never relaxed. Try and realize what
it means always to feel that you are watched. After all, these
prisoners are women, some may be mothers, and it is surely the height
of wickedness and folly to crush whatever remnant of humanity and
self-respect even a convict woman may still have left her. These poor
creatures who wear the brand of prison shame are guarded and controlled
by women, but men make the rules which regulate every movement of
their forlorn lives.


The rules of prison, rigorous as they are, are not wholly without
some consideration for the hapless beings who are condemned to suffer
punishment for their sins within their gloomy walls. On the men’s side
the system is harsher, the life harder, and the discipline more strict
and severe; and I can well believe that for a man of refinement and
culture the punishment falls little short of a foretaste of inferno.
But gloomy and tragic as the convict establishment is, it is a better
place than the county prison, and I have heard habitual criminals avow
that a convict prison is the nearest approach to a comfortable “home”
in the penal world. I know that a certain type of degenerate women,
after serving their sentences, have committed grave offenses with the
sole object of obtaining a conviction which would send them back to
penal servitude. For such the segregation system would be the most
effectual remedy.


I had never been a robust woman, and the hardships of prison life were
breaking down my constitution. The cells at Woking were not heated. In
the halls were two fireplaces and a stove, which were alight day and
night; but as the solid doors of the cells were all locked, the heat
could not penetrate them. Thus, while the atmosphere outside the cell
might be warm, the inside was icy cold. During the hard winter frosts
the water frequently froze in my cell over night. The bed-clothing was
insufficient, and I suffered as much from the cold as the poorest and
most miserable creature on earth. Added to this, I was compelled to go
out and exercise in all kinds of weather. On rainy days I would come in
with my shoes and stockings wet through, and as I possessed only one
pair of shoes and one pair of stockings, I had to keep them on, wet as
they were. The shoes I had to wear until worn out; the stockings until
changed on the Saturday of each week, which was the only day a change
of any kind of underwear could be obtained, no matter in what condition
it might be. Therefore, the majority of the inmates in the winter time
seldom had dry feet, if there was much rain or snow, the natural result
being catarrh, influenza, bronchitis, and rheumatism, from all of which
I suffered in turn.


As long as the prisoner is not feverish she is treated in her own cell
in the ward, her food remaining the ordinary prison dietary; but as
soon as her temperature rises, as occurred in my case frequently, she
is admitted as a patient to the infirmary, where she is fed according
to medical prescription.

The infirmary stands a little detached from the prison grounds. It has
several wards, containing from six to fifteen beds, and several cells
for cases that require isolation. The beds are placed on each side of
the room, and are covered with blue and white counterpanes. At the head
of each is a shelf, on which stand two cups, a plate, and a diet card.
In the middle of each room is a long deal table. On the walls are a few
old Scriptural pictures.


When a prisoner is admitted she is first weighed and then allotted a
bed. Her food and medicine are given her by an officer, who places it
on a chair at her bedside if she is too ill to sit at the table. The
doctor makes his rounds in the morning and evening, and if the patient
is seriously ill he may make a visit in the night also. The matron
in charge goes through the wards at stated times to see that all is
going well, but there is no nursing. The prisoner must attend to her
own wants, and if too weak to do so, she must depend upon some other
patient less ill than herself to assist her. To be sick in prison is
a terrible experience. I felt acutely the contrast between former
illnesses at home and the desolation and the indifference of the
treatment under conditions afforded by a prison infirmary. To lie all
day and night, perhaps day after day, and week after week, alone and in
silence, without the touch of a friendly hand, the sound of a friendly
voice, or a single expression of sympathy or interest! The misery and
desolation of it all can not be described. It must be experienced. I
arrived at Woking ill, and I left Woking ill.


[2] A convict employed in washing, or other exceptional hard work, may
have daily an extra allowance of 3 ounces bread, and cheese 1 ounce,
as an intermediate meal between breakfast and dinner, and an extra
allowance of 1 ounce of meat (uncooked) four times a week. A convict
on entering the second-class will have the choice of 1 pint of tea
(made of 1/6 ounce tea, ½ ounce of sugar, 2 ounces milk) and 2 ounces
additional bread instead of gruel for supper; and a convict on entering
the first or special class will have, in addition to the above, the
choice of 4 ounces of baked mutton cooked in its own liquor, not
flavored or thickened, instead of boiled meat or soup, if she takes tea
instead of gruel. The food is wholesome, but spoiled by overcooking.
But oh, how jaded the palate becomes!

[3] Reproduced in the Introduction to Part Two.


At Aylesbury Prison


I had been admitted to the infirmary suffering from a feverish cold.
I had been in bed a fortnight and was feeling very weak, when, on the
morning of November 4, 1896, I awoke to find the matron standing at
my bedside. “Maybrick,” she said, “the governor has given orders that
you are to be removed to-day to Aylesbury Prison. Get up at once.”
Without a word of explanation she left. I had become a living rule of
obedience, and so with trembling hands dressed myself. Presently I
heard footsteps approaching. A female warder entered with a long, dark
cloak covered with broad arrows, the insignia of the convict. I was
told to put on this garment of shame. Then, supported by the warder,
I crossed the big yard to the chief matron’s office. There other women
of the “Star Class” were waiting, handcuffed. A male warder stepped
forward and told me to hold out my hands, whereupon he fastened on a
pair of handcuffs and chained me to the rest of the gang. This was done
by means of a chain which ran through an outer ring attached to each
pair of handcuffs, thus uniting ten women in a literal chain-gang.
This was to me the last straw of degradation--the parting indignity
of hateful Woking; but, happily, this was a painful prelude to a more
merciful régime at Aylesbury.

Some of the women were weeping, some swearing. When all were ready the
prison-van drove into the yard and we filed out to the clanking of our
chains. Then the door was shut and we were driven off. A special train
was waiting at the station, and escorted between male warders we got
in. It was bitterly cold and raining heavily, but crowds lined the road
and platforms.


  Copyright by S. G. Payne & Son, Aylesbury.

AYLESBURY PRISON, Where Mrs. Maybrick was confined from 1896 to 1904.]


We were objects of morbid curiosity to the idle and curious people, who
may or may not have felt sorry for us. But to be stared at was most
distressing to all, to the first offender in particular. If the public
but realized how prisoners suffer when their disgrace is thus brought
to the public notice, they might feel ashamed of their lack of ordinary
human consideration and pass on. But why should it be necessary at all
to subject a prisoner to such humiliation and degradation? Male as well
as female prisoners could be transferred from one prison to another
without attracting any notice in the street or at the station, if
they were provided with garments for traveling upon which the hideous
brand of shame--the “broad arrow”--is not stamped. It is this mark of
condemnation which attracts the morbid curiosity of the people. Such
exhibitions and the callous disregard of a prisoner’s feelings can
only harden and embitter the heart and lower his or her self-respect.


After a journey of nearly five hours we arrived at Aylesbury Station.
The public were apparently aware that the first batch of convicts was
to be transferred that day, as there were crowds at all the stations at
which we stopped. When we got out at Aylesbury it was with difficulty
that a passage was made for us. The prison-vans were in readiness, and
we were rapidly driven away. I felt weak and faint and cold. A thick
fog enveloped the town, and I could see only the dim outlines of houses
appearing and disappearing as we passed along. We stopped before what
appeared a gigantic structure, and then drove through two large iron
gates into a small courtyard. There we descended and drew up in line
to be counted by the officer, while our numbers and names were given
to the governor, who stood waiting to receive us. The order “Pass on!”
was called by the matron in charge, whereupon we entered a long, dark,
gloomy passage, at the end of which was a strong, barred door. This was
unlocked, and, when we had passed in, relocked.

I have already described what a prison is like. Again we stood in line.
Then a male warder came forward. He unlocked my handcuffs and unclasped
the chain which bound me to my fellow convicts. With a clang that
echoed through the empty halls they fell together to the ground. My
wrists were bruised and sore from the long pressure of their combined

Presently the order “Pass on!” was repeated, and, led by a female
warder, we went up two flights of the iron stairway to the top ward of
the hall. Each prisoner was then in turn locked into a cell. Thus ended
my second journey as a prisoner. The contrast with former journeys in
my life drew bitter tears from my eyes.

During the remainder of the week daily batches of prisoners continued
to arrive, and on the sixth day all had been duly transferred from
Woking Prison, which was then turned into military barracks.

After this short break in our prison life the same daily routine was
once more taken up. Whether it was due to the change of air or other
physical causes I can not say, but from the time of my arrival I began
to droop. I lost strength and suffered terribly from insomnia.


Six months after our arrival, there came a change of authorities, and
with the passing of the years a more enlightened régime was instituted
by the Home Office. If a prisoner has any complaint to make or
wishes to seek advice, she asks to have her name put down to see the
governor. She is then termed a “wisher,” and is “seen” by him in his
office in the presence of the chief matron. Her request is written down
by him in her penal record, and if he can not settle the matter out of
hand it is referred to a “visiting director,” to whom the prisoner is
permitted to make a statement. If this gentleman finds that his powers
are insufficient to deal with the question, he in turn passes it on to
the prison commission, and sometimes it goes even to the Secretary of
State himself.

The same privilege holds good concerning medical matters. If a prisoner
is feeling ill she asks the officer in charge of the ward where she
is located to enter her name on the doctor’s book. At ten o’clock
the prisoner is sent for, and sees the doctor in the presence of an
infirmary nurse. He enters her name in a book, also the prescription,
both of which are copied later in the prisoner’s medical record. If a
prisoner is dissatisfied with the treatment she is receiving, she can
make application to see the “medical inspector,” who comes to the
prison every three months. But if neither the governor, nor the doctor,
nor the director, nor the inspector gives satisfaction, then there is
the “Board of Visitors” to inquire into the complaint.


The idea of the “Board of Visitors” is to act as a guaranty to the
public that everything is honest and above board, and that there
can be no possibility of inhuman treatment. If this is the sole
object in view--namely, that the prisoners shall be seen by these
“visitors”--then the object is largely attained. They have done much
to ameliorate the prisoners’ condition. Whereas, at one time the women
slept in their clothes, they are now provided with nightdresses;
instead of sitting with their feet always on the stone floor, they are
now allowed a small mat, as well as a wooden stool; and, as the result
of many complaints regarding the rapid decay of teeth, toothbrushes
are allowed, a concession which I much appreciated. For a short time
felt slippers were granted us, but these have been discontinued on
the ground of expense. The same beneficent influence also secured
wide-brimmed hats for the women. Formerly they had nothing to protect
their eyes, and the reflected glare from the stone walls was the cause
of much weakness and inflammation.

There were several changes in the diet also. Tea was substituted for
cocoa at breakfast and supper, white bread in lieu of wholemeal bread,
and tinned meat replaced the dry bread and cheese previously given on

The time of solitary confinement was reduced from nine months to four,
and immediately on its expiration the probationers can now work in
“association” in either the laundry or the tailor’s shops where the
officers’ uniforms--of brown cashmere in summer and navy-blue serge
in winter--are made, besides all the clothing for the prisoners’ own
use; also in the twine-room, where excellent spinning is done; while
the prisoner with special aptitude may be recommended to the bead-room,
which turns out really artistic work.


The prisoners were also allowed to receive three photographs of near
relatives and to keep them in their cells. Previously these had to be
returned within twenty-four hours. Best of all, the intervals between
letters and visits were reduced by a month. The number of letters
permitted to be sent by a prisoner varies according to the stage she
is in. In the fourth stage a letter is allowed every two months, and
a “special letter” occasionally, if the prisoner’s conduct has been

The following is a copy of the prison regulations concerning
communications between prisoners and their friends:

 “The following regulations as to communications, by visit or letter,
 between prisoners and their friends, are notified for the information
 of their correspondents:

 “The permission to write and receive letters is given to prisoners
 for the purpose of enabling them to keep up a connection with their
 respectable friends, and not that they may be kept informed of public

 “All letters are read by the prison authorities. They must be
 legibly written, and not crossed. Any which are of an objectionable
 tendency, either to or from prisoners, or containing slang or improper
 expressions, will be suppressed.

 “Prisoners are permitted to receive and to write a letter at
 intervals, which depends on the rules of the stage they attain by
 industry and good conduct; but matters of special importance to a
 prisoner may be communicated at any time by letter (prepaid) to the
 governor, who will inform the prisoner thereof, if expedient.

 “In case of misconduct the privilege of receiving and writing a letter
 may be forfeited for a time.

 “Money, books, postage-stamps, food, tobacco, clothes, etc., should
 not be sent to prisoners for their use in prison, as nothing is
 allowed to be received at the prison for that purpose.

 “Persons attempting to clandestinely communicate with, or to introduce
 any article to or for prisoners, are liable to fine or imprisonment,
 and any prisoner concerned in such practises is liable to be severely

 “Prisoners’ friends are sometimes applied to by unauthorized persons
 to send money, etc., to them privately, under pretense that they can
 apply it for the benefit of the prisoners, and under such fraudulent
 pretense such persons endeavor to obtain money for themselves. Any
 letter containing such an application received by the friends of a
 prisoner should be at once forwarded by them to the governor.

 “Prisoners are allowed to receive visits from their friends, according
 to rules, at intervals which depend on their stage.

 “When visits are due to prisoners notification will be sent to the
 friends whom they desire to visit them.”

While in Woking Prison, under the privilege of these rules, I wrote the
following letter to the late Miss Mary A. Dodge (“Gail Hamilton”)--she
who was my most eloquent and steadfast champion in America:

      P 29, June 24, 1892.


 I feel that I owe you such a debt of gratitude for the truly noble,
 beautiful, and womanly manner in which you have used that glorious
 gift of God--your genius--in the cause of a helpless and sorely
 afflicted sister, whose claim to your compassion was but that of a
 common humanity and nationality, that I feel I must send you a few
 lines, if only to disabuse your mind of any lingering doubts of my
 gratitude that my silence may have caused to arise. My dear mother
 has, I believe, explained to you the almost insurmountable difficulty
 I find in writing to friends abroad, with only one letter every two
 months at my disposal, and which I do not feel justified in depriving
 her of. I can, therefore, only express through her from time to time
 my heartfelt thanks for all that has been and is still being done
 in my behalf. I utterly despair, however, of finding words that
 shall convey to you even the faintest idea of the fulness of a heart
 completely overwhelmed by the sympathy, kindness, and generosity of my
 friends. My feelings of love, however, and admiration for you and them
 is simply beyond all power of expression.

 The world may and does bemoan the gradual extinction in this
 generation of those finer and nobler traits of character which
 our forefathers so beautifully exemplified; lays at the door of a
 higher civilization the terrible increase of selfishness, pride, and
 indifference to all the higher duties of Christianity. But, I ask,
 where can a grander exception be found to such apparent degeneration
 than that displayed by the conduct of those truly noble men and women,
 who, without a thought of self or of the trouble involved, have stood
 forth to plead the cause of their countrywoman? Could man do more
 than he is doing? Could woman do more for her nearest and dearest than
 the ladies of America are doing for me? No! a thousand times, no!

 Some day, my health and purse permitting, I shall hope to tell them
 face to face, if mere words can tell, how greatly their faithful,
 unwearying efforts, their undaunted energy, their sympathy and
 kindness and generosity have helped me to rise above the depressing
 influences of the injustice I am suffering under, to endure patiently,
 to bear bravely the hardships of this life, and to feel through all
 that the hope and comfort afforded me by their help is but a beautiful
 example of the way in which God answers the prayers of his people.

 I would now fain beg of you, dear friend, to express my deepest and
 most heartfelt gratitude to President Harrison, Mr. Blaine, and the
 other members of the Cabinet. Also to all the distinguished gentlemen
 who so generously attached their signatures to the splendid petition
 sent lately from Washington to the Hon. Henry Matthews, Secretary
 of State, London, and to assure them of my great appreciation of the
 honor and justice they have done me in thus espousing my cause. Oh,
 how wretchedly I have expressed what I really feel and would like to
 say! But you, too, have a woman’s heart, and you can therefore realize
 the feelings I find it so hard to express. It would be a still more
 hopeless task to try to tell you what I think of you--noblest and
 truest of women; that must wait until we meet. Until that glad day,
 believe me,

    Yours gratefully and sincerely,

 P.S. My next date for receiving letters is 19th July.

  Washington, D. C., U. S. A.


I was sitting in my cell one day feeling very weak and ill. I was
recovering from an attack of influenza, and the cold comfort of
my surroundings increased the physical and mental depression which
accompanies this complaint. I wondered vaguely why my life was spared,
why I was permitted to suffer this terrible injustice, when my sad
thoughts were distracted by the sounds of approaching voices. I arose
from my seat--which is a compulsory attitude of submission when an
authority approaches a prisoner--and stood waiting for I knew not
what. Presently I heard the tones of a voice which I can never forget
while memory lasts, though that voice is now hushed in death; a voice
which, through the darkest days of my life, ever spoke words of trust,
comfort, and encouragement. Surely I must be dreaming, I thought, or my
mind is growing weak and I am becoming fanciful; for how should this
voice reach me within these prison walls? I looked up, startled, and
once more thought my mind was wandering, for there stood the noblest,
truest friend that woman ever had: the champion of the weak and
the oppressed; the brave upholder of justice and law in the face of
prejudice and public hostility--Lord Russell of Killowen, Lord Chief
Justice of England. He stepped into my cell with a kindly smile on his
face, and sat down on my stool, while the governor waited outside. He
talked to me for half an hour, and I can never forget the beauty and
grandeur of that presence. As he rose to leave he turned toward me,
and, seeing unshed tears in my eyes, he took my hand in his, and in his
strong, emphatic way said: “Be brave, be strong; I believe you to be an
innocent woman. I have done and will continue to do all I can for you.”

It has been denied in England that Lord Russell took any interest in me
other than he might in any client he was paid to defend; but the letter
which I have already given, written to me at Woking, as well as various
statements made by him, and quoted elsewhere, must set that aspersion
at rest.

[Illustration: MISS MARY A. DODGE (“Gail Hamilton”), An American
advocate of Mrs. Maybrick’s innocence.]


A Petition for Release


I had been at Aylesbury about eight months when I petitioned the
Secretary of State for a reconsideration of my case, with a view to my
release. To this I received the usual official reply, “Not sufficient

A prisoner may petition the Secretary of State every three months. In
my opinion, the privilege of petitioning on a case should be reduced
from four times a year to once a year, with the provision that if
anything of importance to a prisoner transpires within that period
it may be duly submitted to the Secretary of State on recommendation
of the governor or director; that all complaints regarding food,
treatment, or medical attention should be referred to the visiting
director in the first instance, instead of the Secretary of State,
who under the present system passes it back to the directors for the
necessary investigation. This would do away with the continual daily
distress and irritation and disappointment created in the prison
on receipt of unfavorable replies from the Home Office. A prisoner
petitions. A private inquiry is held, to which the prisoner is not a
party, and of which she has no information, nor does she receive any
during its progress or after its conclusion, save that the result,
which is nearly always negative, is communicated to her. In this
inquiry any one who is opposed to the prisoner may seek to influence
the official mind. I will state a case in point. A friend asked the
Secretary of State for the United States, the Hon. John Hay, to
interest himself in my case. Mr. Hay replied that he had been informed
by the Home Office that I had been “a disobedient and troublesome


When I was told this at a visit I had my name entered to see the
governor. I insisted that the governor should inform me when, and after
what breach of the rules, such a report had been sent to the Home
Office. After carefully looking through my penal record he could find
no entry to that effect, and concluded by saying that I must have been
misinformed. He said that my conduct was good, and that he had never
made any report to the contrary. Obviously, therefore, this report from
the Home Office to Mr. Hay was due to an adverse influence, of which I
have still no knowledge. Statements are made against a prisoner, of the
nature of which she is entirely ignorant. Being ignorant, she has no
way of refuting them. Worse still, they are retained in the Home Office
to her dying day, and the unfortunate woman knows nothing of them or
their effect. The only thing certain is that she is further condemned.


The Home Office, while exercising a private function of reconsideration
grounded on the royal prerogative of mercy, emphatically disclaims
being a court of appeal or a judicial tribunal in any sense of
the word. Yet the consideration of a convict’s case rests alone
with the Secretary of State. It is a matter of unwritten law that
the Home Secretary shall act individually and solely upon his own
responsibility, and none of his colleagues are to assume or take part

There are numerous instances where judges, witnesses, and juries have
gone wrong. Indeed, it will be found that even in cases which have
seemed the clearest and least complicated in the trial grievous
mistakes have been made. But in England the blame rests on the public
and the bar in that no means are provided to set the wrong right.
What a difference it would have made in my life if I had been granted
a second trial! I could have called other witnesses, submitted
fresh evidence, and refuted false testimony. Is it not the climax
of injustice that men and women, if sued for money, even for a few
shillings, can appeal from court to court--even to the House of Lords,
the English court of last resort; but when character, all that life
holds dear, and life itself, are in jeopardy, a prisoner’s fate may
depend upon the incompetent construction of one man, and there is no

A hard-worked Secretary of State, whose time, night and day, is
crowded with every kind of duty, correspondence, and labor, in the
House of Commons or in the Home Office, has to consider a vast number
of petitions, complaints, and miscarriages of justice, or too severe
sentences, any one of which might require hours and sometimes days to
investigate. He is assisted by several officers, but, strange to say,
it is no part of their qualifications (or that of the Home Secretary
himself), that they should be familiar with the criminal law or the
prosecution or defense of prisoners. These permanent officials are,
besides, occupied with hundreds of other matters which come before
the Home Office, on which they have to guide their chief. Think of
the untold sufferings of individuals and families, the shame and
degradation which they would be spared, if England had a court of
criminal appeal.


The Home Office detects and corrects a larger number of erroneous
verdicts than the public is aware. This arises from the secret and
partial methods of remedying miscarriages of justice frequently
adopted. The first object is to maintain the public belief in the
infallibility of judges and juries. If an innocent person could slip
out quietly, without shaking this belief, he might be permitted to
do so. The Home Secretary is, in fact, a politician, who has little
time to spare for the consideration of criminal cases, and furthermore
must see to it that his conduct does not injure his party. Thus he is
often deterred from interfering with verdicts and sentences by sheer
timidity. When he affirms a sentence he can throw the greater part
of the blame on others if he is afterward proved to be wrong; but
when he reverses either verdict or sentence, he must take the whole
responsibility upon himself. This is, I believe, the true explanation
of the secret and partial reversals which are not unusual at the
Home Office. The Home Secretary, as well as his subordinates, must
frequently let “dare not wait upon I would.”

If a crime is committed and no one is brought to justice, the police
are blamed; but if a person is convicted the police are praised,
without regard as to whether the right person has been convicted.
Hence there is usually a strong effort to beat up evidence against the
person suspected, as in my case and that of Adolf Beck (see page 155),
and to keep back anything in favor of the prisoner that comes to the
knowledge of the police. When an appeal is made from the verdict to
the Home Secretary, the first step is to consult the very judge who is
responsible, in nine cases out of ten, for the erroneous verdict. It
is easy to see that, where such reference is made, the judge is liable
to be biased in support of his own rulings. How much more the ends of
justice would be furthered by having the case retried!

God only knows how many men and women have been innocent of the charges
brought against them, and for which they have been unjustly punished. I
will mention a few only of many cases on record.

A man, Hebron by name, was convicted at Manchester, of murder. He
was sentenced to death, but fortunately this was commuted to penal
servitude for life. After serving two years the real murderer, a man
named Peace, was discovered, and Hebron was “graciously pardoned.”

Another cruel case was that of John Kensall, who was convicted of
murder, but, through action taken by the late Lord Chief Justice
Russell, was shown to be innocent. The Home Office could not at first
“see its way to interfere,” and had it not been for Lord Russell’s
clear head and splendid generalship, by which the authorities at the
Home Office were outwitted, he would not have been released so soon.

The case of the man Hay, wrongly convicted, was of a serious nature,
showing that he was the victim of a conspiracy; yet had it not been for
Sir William Harcourt’s instituting an investigation independent of the
Home Office, it is very doubtful whether Hay would have been able to
establish his innocence. But he did so, and a pardon was granted him.

It looks almost as if justice in England were growing of late more than
ordinarily blind. Thrice, within three years, has the Home Secretary’s
“pardon” been granted to men found to have been wrongfully convicted.

The average man takes it for granted that these hideous mistakes must,
of necessity, be few and far between; but the criminologist knows
better. He, at all events, is well aware that every year a number
of innocent people are sentenced to suffer either an ignominious
death upon the scaffold, or the long-drawn-out living death of penal

Many of these judicial miscarriages never come to light at all. Others
are purposely glossed over by the powers that be. But occasionally one
occurs of so appalling a nature that it rivets the attention and shocks
the conscience of the entire civilized world, as in the case of Adolf


Adolf Beck was twice convicted for crimes committed by a man who
somewhat resembled him. He served his first sentence and had been
convicted for a second crime on “misrepresented identity” when his
innocence was providentially established. The case is too lengthy for
detailed account in these pages, and I shall content myself in giving
the summing-up of Mr. George R. Sims in the pamphlet reprinted from his
presentation of the case in the columns of _The Daily Mail_ of London:

 “I have told in plain words the story of a foul wrong done to an
 innocent man.

 “I have proved beyond all question that Adolf Beck was in 1896, by the
 Common Sergeant, Sir Forrest Fulton, at the Old Bailey, sentenced to
 seven years’ penal servitude for being an ex-convict named John Smith.

 “I have proved that he was _not_ found guilty of being John Smith by
 the jury.

 “The former conviction for which Mr. Adolf Beck was sentenced and
 punished was not only never submitted to the jury, but they were
 warned by the judge that they were not to take the issue of Beck being
 Smith into consideration in arriving at their verdict. They were to
 dismiss it completely from their minds.

 “I have proved that if this issue had been left for the jury to
 consider they must have acquitted Mr. Beck, who showed by an
 indisputable alibi that he could not be Smith, the man convicted in

 “I have proved that this terrible mockery of justice, the conviction
 of an innocent man for a series of crimes that it was quite impossible
 he could have committed, was brought about by the action of the
 leading counsel for the Treasury, which action was supported by the
 Common Sergeant, Sir Forrest Fulton.

 “I have proved that the evidence of the policeman, Eliss Spurrell,
 which was used at the police-court to assist in getting Beck committed
 for trial, was kept out at the Old Bailey, where it would have insured
 Beck’s acquittal.

 “I have proved that at the police-court in 1896 Mr. Gurrin, the
 Treasury expert, reported that all the documents connected with the
 1896 frauds were in the handwriting of John Smith of 1877.

 “I have proved that at the 1896 trial at the Old Bailey Mr. Gurrin
 swore that, to the best of his belief, all the documents were in the
 disguised handwriting of Mr. Beck.

 “I have proved that no one in his senses could at the trial have
 accepted the theory that Adolf Beck was John Smith after listening to
 the evidence of Major Lindholm, Gentleman of the Chamber to the King
 of Denmark, Col. Josiah Harris, and the Consul-General for Peru at

 “The Common Sergeant accepted as true their evidence of a complete
 alibi for Mr. Beck, so far as 1877 and the years Smith was in prison
 were concerned, or he would, it is to be presumed, have taken measures
 to have those gentlemen prosecuted for committing wilful and corrupt
 perjury in order to defeat the ends of justice.

 “I have proved that Beck, after his imprisonment, compelled the Home
 Office authorities to acknowledge that he was not Smith, and to admit
 the physical impossibility of his being Smith--Smith was a Jew, and
 he, Beck, was not--and that therefore, by the evidence of the Treasury
 witnesses, he had been wrongfully committed.

 “I have proved that Beck was stripped and officially examined for body
 marks before his trial, in order that such marks might be compared
 with those on the record in the possession of the authorities as the
 body marks of John Smith.

 “I have proved that Adolf Beck had none of the body marks of John
 Smith, the man in whose handwriting Mr. Gurrin had declared the
 incriminating documents of 1896 to be.

 “I have proved that all the petitions setting forth these facts
 and others, which fully established Beck’s innocence, met with no

 “I have proved that when the frauds of 1877 and 1896 were repeated
 in 1904, and the incriminating documents were found to be in the
 handwriting of 1877, stroke for stroke, peculiarity for peculiarity,
 almost word for word, the fact that the authorities had admitted
 that Mr. Beck _could not be_ the author of the 1877 frauds or the
 writer of the 1877 documents was utterly ignored, and the responsible
 authorities, with every proof of Mr. Beck’s innocence in their
 possession, allowed him to be arrested, charged, tried, and convicted

 “I have proved that the identification of Mr. Beck by the female
 witnesses as the man who robbed them was a monstrous farce.

 “I have proved that, so far from Mr. Beck being the ‘double’ of
 John Smith, he was utterly unlike him, except that each had a gray
 mustache. Beck had neither the noticeable scar at the point of the
 jaw nor the noticeable wart over one eye that are striking marks of
 identity in John Smith--marks which would not escape the most casual

 “I have proved that Beck’s conviction in 1896 was secured by a device
 which was utterly unworthy of a British court of justice--a device
 so unfair and unjust that an innocent and inoffensive foreigner, a
 Norwegian who had sought the hospitality of our shores, was by its
 employment sent into penal servitude for seven years for the crimes of
 another man.

 “I have proved that Mr. Beck was in 1904 convicted of repeating letter
 for letter, word for word, trick for trick, check for check, false
 address for false address, false name for false name, the frauds of
 1877 and 1896, of which the authorities had absolute proof that he was
 innocent, and of which, though they had never remitted one day of his
 sentence, they had _admitted_ that he was innocent.

 “I have been careful to keep to the main issue, and have refrained
 from examining the side issues, some of which reveal most lamentable
 features in connection with our criminal procedure.

 “I will prove one thing more, and leave the facts I have established
 to the judgment of the public.

 “At the end of the report of the second trial of Adolf Beck, which
 took place at the Old Bailey on June 27, 1904 (Sessions Paper CXL.,
 Part 837), are these words, printed as I give them below:

 “‘GUILTY. _He then PLEADED GUILTY to a conviction of obtaining goods
 by false pretenses at this Court on February 26, 1896. Judgment

 “Pleaded guilty to a former conviction! Adolf Beck pleaded guilty to
 nothing. How could he plead guilty, being an innocent man! He cried
 aloud when the charge of the first conviction was read aloud to him,
 ‘As God is my witness, I was innocent then as I am innocent now.’

 “The epilogue to the tragedy of our English Dreyfus is written in
 those damning words in the Sessions Paper, the official minutes of
 evidence in Central Criminal Court trials.

 “Beck’s last hope had perished. Once more a merciless fate had blinded
 the eyes and closed the ears of Justice to his innocence. He was to
 be immured in a convict cell for ten, perhaps for fourteen, years; he
 was to pass the closing years of his life a branded felon amid all the
 horrors of a convict prison. In all human probability he would die
 without ever seeing the light of freedom again, for he could not have
 borne this second torture.

 “His voice, crying aloud for freedom, would be heard no more.
 Petitions for a reinvestigation of his case would be hopeless. He had
 been robbed of his last earthly chance of proving his innocence.

 “Those words, ‘The prisoner pleaded guilty to a former conviction,’
 would have damned him to the last day of his life.

 “My painful task is ended.

 “A foreigner, a stranger within our gates, a man of kindly heart and
 gentle ways, has been foully wronged. There is but one reparation we
 can make him. The people of this country owe him a testimonial of
 sympathy that shall endure and remain. On the site of his martyrdom
 there should rise a national monument. Let that monument take the
 form of a Court of Criminal Appeal. That is the one reparation that
 the English people can make to Adolf Beck for the foul wrong he has
 suffered in their midst.”

In a sense the innocent man who is hanged may be regarded as better
off than he who is called upon to endure lifelong imprisonment. There
are plenty of examples of these judicial murders. Over a score of
undoubted cases occurred in the first two decades of the last century,
and since then there have been twice as many more. A notorious and
awful case was that of Eliza Fenning, who, at eighteen years of age,
was sent to the gallows upon the perjured evidence of an accomplice of
the real murderer. The latter afterward confessed.

Another similar case occurred in 1850, when a man named Ross was
executed for poisoning his young wife by mixing arsenic with her food.
A few years later certain facts came to light, proving conclusively
that the real criminal was a female acquaintance and confidante of the
dead woman.

Thomas Perryman, again, was found guilty in 1879 of the murder of
his aged mother on the very flimsiest of evidence. His sentence was
commuted to penal servitude for life, and in the ordinary course
of events he should now be free. More than 100,000 people have, at
different times, petitioned for the release of this convict, and the
highest judicial authorities have expressed their belief in his entire
innocence of the crime imputed to him. Yet he has been compelled to
drink his terrible cup to the bitter dregs.

In 1844 a gentleman named Barker was sentenced to penal servitude
for life for a forgery of which he was afterward proved to have been
wholly innocent. He served four years, and was then released and
readmitted to practise as an attorney. In 1859, eleven years after
having been “pardoned,” he was, upon the recommendation of a Select
Committee of the House of Commons, voted a sum of £5,000, “as a
national acknowledgment of the wrong he had suffered from an erroneous

The famous Edlingham case will doubtless be fresh in the minds of
most people. In February, 1879, the village vicarage was entered
by burglars, and a determined attempt was made to murder the aged
incumbent. For this outrage two men, Brannagham and Murphy, were
sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. After a lapse of nine years the
crime was confessed to by two well-known criminals named Richardson and
Edgell, the result being that the innocent convicts were released, with
an honorarium of £800 apiece.

The eminent King’s Counsel, Sir George Lewis, has openly said that he
will not allow himself to speak of the way in which the “Edalji” trial
was conducted, and he further adds: “I have it on undoubted authority
that every ‘M.P.’ connected with the legal profession believes as I do
that that man is innocent. And yet a declaration from such a source is
allowed by the public to pass unnoticed. As I have before stated, ‘it
is not the business of the public, nor of individual citizens, to prove
the innocence of any unhappy person whom the process of law selects
for punishment; but it is the business of every citizen to see that
the courts incontestably prove the guilt of any person accused of a
crime before sentence is passed.’ Neither condition was fulfilled in
the case of the prisoner. I have studied the evidence, and say, from
knowledge gained by fifteen years’ association with criminals, that
this unfortunate young man is _innocent_.” Surely after the disclosures
of the Adolf Beck case this one, on the word of Sir George Lewis, ought
to receive unbiased consideration from the Home Office.


Religion in Prison Life


On our arrival at Aylesbury Prison there was no chapel. Divine service
was held in one of the halls, in which the prisoners assembled each
morning for twenty minutes of service. This arrangement had many
disadvantages, and one of the ladies on the Board of Visitors came
nobly to our relief with an offer to provide the prison with a chapel.
The Home Office “graciously” accepted this generous proposition, and
twelve months later it was completed and dedicated by the Lord Bishop
of Reading. (It was burned to the ground since my departure from

On the day preceding the ceremony I was asked to assist in decorating
the chapel with flowers kindly sent by Lady Rothschild. It was a
delicate expression of sympathy for the prisoners, which she repeated
on all high festival days. She was deeply affected when I told her how
profoundly the women appreciated her recognition of a common humanity.

On the appointed day all work was suspended to enable the prisoners to
be present. In the galleries were seated the families of the governor,
chaplain, and doctor; at the right of the altar the generous donor of
the chapel, Adeline, Duchess of Bedford, was seated with her friends.
The organist played a prelude, and then the bishop, accompanied by the
chaplain and the clergymen of the diocese, entered the chapel. After
a hymn had been sung, a short service followed, and then the bishop
stepped forward and, facing the altar, read the “dedication service.”
It was most impressive. Then followed a prayer and a hymn, and the
service was over. The prisoners filed back to their respective cells
and the visitors made the tour of the prison.

I was a patient in the infirmary at the time, but had received
permission to attend the chapel. Before the Bishop of Reading left the
prison he visited the sick, and as he passed my cell he stopped and
spoke to me words of hope and encouragement, adding his blessing.


Another occasion on which the Bishop of Reading visited the prison was
the holding of a confirmation service. Many women of earnest minds in
prison sought in this manner to prove the sincerity of their repentance
and their resolution to live godly lives; and, with one exception, all
those confirmed that day have remained true to their profession.

Penal servitude is a fiery test of one’s religious convictions. One’s
faith is either strengthened and deepened or else it goes under
altogether. I have witnessed many a sad spiritual shipwreck within
those walls.

On a dark, gloomy day in October the rain pattered against the window
of my cell and the wind howled dismally around that huge “house of
sorrow.” Now and then the sound of weeping broke upon the stillness,
and I prayed in my heart for the poor souls in travail whose pains
had broken through the enforced rule of silence. There is no sound in
all the world so utterly unnerving as the hopeless sob of the woman
in physical isolation who may not be spiritually comforted. Separated
from loved ones, beyond the reach of tender hands and voices, she has
no one, as in former years, to share her sufferings or minister to her
pain. Alone, one of a mass, with no one to care but the good God above;
for “to suffer” thus is the punishment that man has decreed.

The humanizing influences, in my opinion, can be brought to bear
upon prisoners with beneficial results only when supported by the
advantages of religious teachings. During the early part of my sentence
there were Scripture readers, laymen and laywomen, in all convict
prisons, to assist the chaplain in his arduous duties; but, on the
ground of expense, these have been dispensed with, thus practically
removing the only means of administering the moral medicine which is
essential to the cure of the habitual prisoner’s mental disease.

A large amount of crime is due to physical and mental degeneration.
Nevertheless, crime is also the result of lovelessness, when it is not
a disease, and the true curative system should give birth to love in
human souls. There is not a man or woman living so low but we can do
something to better him or her, if we give love and sympathy in the
service and have an all-embracing affection for both God and man.

If the future system is to treat the criminal in a curative or
reformative way, rather than by punitive methods, the means to
this end must certainly be increased. Even the worst woman can be
approached through the emotional side of her nature. A kind word, a
sympathetic look, a smile, a little commendation now and then, given
by the officers in charge, would soon gain the respect and confidence
of the prisoner, and thereby render her the more amenable to rules
and regulations. A prisoner with whom I worked, and whose inner life
by near association was revealed to me, had got into a very morbid,
depressed state of mind. She was under close observation by the
doctor’s orders. Her penal record was not a good one; her hasty temper
was continually getting her into trouble, and when she was punished she
would brood over it.


One day she asked for permission to see me; the permission was refused.
She made the request a second time, and, the fact coming to the
knowledge of the chaplain, he advised that it be granted, believing,
from his personal knowledge of my influence in the prison, that it
would have a beneficial effect. I was allowed to see her, and after a
few minutes’ conversation she appeared brighter. I told her that the
people of God have a promise of a Comforter from heaven to come to them
and abide with them, even in tribulation and in prison. She promised
me she would try to be more submissive and accept her punishment in
a better spirit. For several days after she seemed to improve. But
one afternoon she once more made the request to be allowed to see me.
As none of the authorities were in the building at the time, and the
chief matron could not take upon herself the responsibility of granting
the request, it was refused. I felt rather anxious about it, but was
helpless. At five o’clock that evening, just before supper was served,
the woman was found dead in her cell; she had hanged herself to the
window. She was only twenty-four years of age, and was serving a five
years’ sentence for shooting her betrayer under great provocation.
The tragedy was naturally kept quiet; none of the prisoners knew of
it until the following morning. How the truth got abroad I do not
know, but when the doors were unlocked after breakfast, instead of
the women passing out of their cells in the usual orderly way, they
rushed out, shouting excitedly at the top of their voices: “M---- has
hanged herself; ... she was driven to it!” In vain the officers tried
to pacify them or to explain the true state of things; they would not
listen, and continued to scream: “Don’t talk to us--you are paid to say
that! If you did not say that it was all right you would be turned out
of the gates!” And the uproar increased. As I have already stated, the
“Star Class” was sandwiched between two wards of habitual criminals,
and we had the benefit of every disturbance. During the excitement one
of the ringleaders caught sight of me and shouted: “Mrs. Maybrick, is
it true that M---- was driven to it?” The tumult was increasing and
was growing beyond the control of the warder, when the chief matron,
becoming alarmed, sent up word that I might explain to the women.
Accompanied by an officer, I did so, and in a few minutes the uproar
calmed down and the women returned quietly to their cells. I have
reason to believe that I always had the full confidence of my fellow
prisoners; they were quick to know and appreciate that I had their
welfare at heart, and that I never countenanced any disobedience or
breach of the rules. A first offender, under sentence for many years,
will suffer from the punishment according as she maintains or damages
her self-respect.


Above others there are four tragic prison episodes which, once
witnessed, can never be forgotten:

1. Breaking bad news to a prisoner--telling her that a dear one in
the outside world is dying, and that she may not go to him; that she
must wait in terrible suspense until the last message is sent, no
communication in the mean time being permitted.

2. Receiving an intimation of the death of a beloved father, mother,
brother or sister, husband or child, whose visits and letters have been
the sole comfort and support of that prisoner’s hard lot.

3. The loss of reason by a prisoner who was not strong enough to endure
the punishment decreed by Act of Parliament.

4. The suicide, who prefers to trust to the mercy of God rather than
suffer at the hands of man.

Why should a woman be considered less loving, less capable of
suffering, because she is branded with the name of “convict?” She may
be informed that her nearest and dearest are dying, but the rules will
permit no departure to relieve the heart-breaking suspense. In the
world at large telegrams may be sent and daily bulletins received, but
not in the convict’s world.

Death is a solemn event under any circumstances, and reverence for the
dead is inculcated by our religion, but to die in prison is a thing
that every inmate dreads with inexpressible horror. When a prisoner is
at the point of death, she is put into a cell alone, or into a ward,
if there is one vacant. There she lies alone. The nurse and infirmary
officers come and go; her fellow prisoners gladly minister to her;
the doctor and chaplain are assiduous in their attentions; but she is
nevertheless alone, cut off from her kin, tended by the servants of the
law instead of the servants of love, and it is only at the very last
that her loved ones may come and say their farewell. Oh! the pathos,
the anguish of such partings--who shall describe them? And when all
is over, and the law has no longer any power over the body it has
tortured, it may be claimed and taken away.

The case of the prisoner who becomes insane is no less harrowing. She
is kept in the infirmary with the other patients for three months. If
she does not recover her reason within that period, she is certified
by three doctors as insane and then removed to the criminal lunatic
asylum. In the mean time the peace and rest of the other sick persons
in the infirmary are disturbed by her ravings, and their feelings
wrought upon by the daily sight of a demented fellow creature.

And the suicide! To see the ghastly and distorted features of a fellow
prisoner, with whom one has worked and suffered, killed by her own
hands--such scenes as these haunted me for weeks; and it needed all my
reliance on God to throw off the depression that inevitably followed.


Have you ever tried to realize what kind of life that must be in which
the sight of a child’s face and the sound of a child’s voice are ever
absent; in which there are none of the sweet influences of the home;
the daily intercourse with those we love; the many trifling little
happenings, so unimportant in themselves, but which go so far to make
up the sum of human happiness? It commences with the clangor of bells
and the jingling of keys, and closes with the banging of hundreds
of doors, while the after silence is broken only by shrieks and
blasphemies, the trampling of many feet, and the orders of warders.

In the winter the prisoners get up in the dark, and breakfast in the
dark, to save the expense of gas. The sense of touch becomes very
acute, as so much has to be done without light. Until I had served
three years of my sentence I had not been allowed to see my own face.
Then a looking-glass, three inches long, was placed in my cell. I
have often wondered how this deprivation could be harmonized with a
purpose to enforce tidiness or cleanliness in a prisoner. The obvious
object in depriving prisoners of the only means through which they
can reasonably be expected to conform to the official standard of
facial cleanliness is to eradicate woman’s assumed innate sense of
vanity; but whether or no it succeeds in this, certain it is that
cleanliness becomes a result of compulsion rather than of a natural
womanly impulse. Also she must maintain the cleanliness of her prison
cell on an ounce of soap per week. After I left Aylesbury I heard that
the steward had received orders from the Home Office to reduce this
enormous quantity. If true it will leave the unfortunate prisoners with
three-quarters of an ounce of soap weekly wherewith to maintain that
cleanliness which is said to be next to godliness. The prisoners are
allowed a hot bath once a week, but in the interval they may not have a
drop of hot water, except by the doctor’s orders.


All human instincts can not be crushed, even by an act of Parliament,
and sometimes the prisoners indulge in a flight of levity, which
is, however, promptly stopped by the officer in charge. But even
wilfulness and levity are to some a relief from the perpetual silence.
A young girl, fifteen years of age, came in on a conviction of penal
servitude for life. In a fit of passion she had strangled a child of
which she had charge. In consideration of her youth and the medical
evidence adduced at her trial, sentence of death was commuted. She
was in the “Star Class,” and it aroused my indignation to witness her
sufferings. A mature woman may submit to the inevitable patiently, as
an act of faith or as a proof of her philosophy; but a child of that
age has neither faith nor philosophy sufficient to support her against
this repressive system of torture. At times, however, the girl had
attacks of levity which manifested themselves in most amusing ways.
One day she was put out to work in the officers’ quarters and told to
black-lead a grate. With a serious face she set to work. Presently the
officer asked whether she had finished her task, to which she meekly
replied “Yes,” at the same time lifting her face, which, to the utter
amazement of the female warder, had been transformed from a white to a
brightly polished black one.

On another occasion she was told that she would be wanted in the
infirmary. She was suffering great pain at the time, and had begged the
doctor to extract a tooth. When the infirmary nurse unlocked her door
she was found in bed. This is strictly against the rules, unless the
prisoner has special permission from the doctor to lie down during the
day. Of course, the officer ordered her to get up at once, to which she
replied, “I can’t.” “Why not?” asked the officer. “Because I can’t,”
the girl repeated. Whereupon the officer lifted off the bed covering to
see what was amiss. To her astonishment she saw that the child had got
inside the mattress (which I described in the beginning as a long sack
stuffed with the fiber of the coconut), and had drawn the end of it on
a string around her neck, so that nothing but her head was visible.

It has been said that no apples are so sweet as those that are
stolen, and the great pleasure the women in prison derive from their
surreptitious levity is because it can so rarely be indulged in, and
the opportunities for its expression must always be stolen.

There is an axiom in prison, “The worse the woman, the better the
prisoner.” As one goes about the prison, and observes those women who
are permitted little privileged tasks, such as tidying the garden,
cleaning the chapel, or any of the light and semi-responsible tasks
which convicts like, one will notice the privileged are not, as a rule,
the young or respectably brought up, but old, professional criminals.
They know the rules of the prison, they spend the greater part of
their lives there, and they know exactly how to behave so as to earn
the maximum of marks; their object is to get out in the shortest
possible time, and to have as light work as possible while they are
in. The officers like them because they know their work without having
to be taught. “There is no servant like an old thief,” I have heard it
said. “They do good work.” This is quite typical of a certain kind of
prisoner who is the mainstay of the prisons.

The conviction of young girls to penal servitude is shocking, for it
destroys the chief power of prevention that prisons are supposed to
possess, and accustoms the young criminal to a reality which has far
less terror for her than the idea of it had. Prison life is entirely
demoralizing to any girl under twenty years of age, and it is to
prevent such demoralizing influence upon young girls that some more
humane system of punishment should be enacted.


In saying a word on what is, perhaps, best described as “prison
self-discipline,” I trust the reader will acquit me of any motive
other than a desire that it may result in some sister in misfortune
deriving benefit from a similar course. That the state of mind in
which one enters upon the life of a convict has some influence on
conduct--whether she does so with a consciousness of innocence or
otherwise--should, perhaps, go without saying. Nevertheless, innocent
or guilty, a proper self-respect can not fail to be helpful, be the
circumstances what they may; and from the moment I crossed Woking’s
grim threshold until the last day when I passed from the shadow and the
gloom of Aylesbury into God’s free sunlight, I adhered strictly to a
determination that I would come out of the ordeal--if ever--precisely
as I had entered upon it; that no loving eyes of mother or friends
should detect in my habits, manners, or modes of thought or expression
the slightest deterioration.

Accordingly I set about from the very start to busy myself--and this
was no small helpfulness in filling the dreary hours of the seemingly
endless days of solitary confinement--keeping my cell in order and
ever making the most of such scant material for adornment as the rules
permitted. Little enough in this way, it may be imagined, falls to a
convict’s lot. Indeed, the sad admission is forced that nearly every
semblance of refinement is maintained at one’s peril, for “motives”
receive small consideration in the interpretation of prison rules,
however portentously they may have loomed in the process that placed an
innocent woman under the shadow of the scaffold, and only by grace of a
commutation turned her into a “life” convict.

Come what would, I was determined not to lose my hold on the amenities
of my former social position, and, though I had only a wooden stool and
table, they were always spotless, my floor was ever brightly polished,
while my tin pannikins went far to foster the delusion that I was in
possession of a service of silver.

Confinement in a cell is naturally productive of slothful habits and
indifference to personal appearance. I felt it would be a humiliation
to have it assumed that I could or would deteriorate because of my
environment. I therefore made it a point never to yield to that feeling
of indifference which is the almost universal outcome of prison life.
I soon found that this self-imposed regimen acted as a wholesome
moral tonic, and so, instead of falling under the naturally baneful
influences of my surroundings, I strove, with ever-renewed spiritual
strength, to rise above them. At first the difference that marked me
from so many of my fellow prisoners aroused in them something like
a feeling of resentment; but when they came to know me this soon
wore off, and I have reason to believe that my example of unvarying
neatness and civility did not fail in influencing others to look a bit
more after their personal appearance and to modify their speech. At
any rate, it had this effect: Aylesbury Prison is the training-school
for female warders for all county prisons. Having served a month’s
probation here, they are recommended, if efficient in enforcing the
prison “discipline,” for transference to analogous establishments in
the counties. It happened not infrequently, therefore, that new-comers
were taken to my cell as the model on which all others should be

I partook of my meals, coarse and unappetizing as the food might be,
after the manner I had been wont in the dining-room of my own home;
and, though unseen, I never permitted myself to use my fingers (as
most prisoners invariably did) where a knife, fork, or spoon would be
demanded by good manners. Neither did I permit myself, either at table
(though alone) or elsewhere, to fall into slouchy attitudes, even
when, because of sickness, it was nearly impossible for me to hold up
my head.

I speak of this because of the almost universal tendency among
prisoners to mere animality. “What matters it?” is the general retort.
Accordingly, the average convict keeps herself no cleaner than the
discipline strenuously exacts, while all their attitudes express
hopeless indifference, callous carelessness, to a degree that often
lowers them to the behavior of the brutes of the field. The repressive
system can neither reform nor raise the nature or habits of prisoners.


Women doctors and inspectors should be appointed in all female prisons.
Otherwise what can be expected of a woman of small mental resources,
shut in on herself, often unable to read or write with any readiness;
of bad habits; with a craving for low excitement; whose chief pleasure
has been in the grosser kind of animal delight? The mind turns morbidly
inward; the nerves are shattered. Although the dark cell is no longer
used, mental light is still excluded. Recidivation is more frequent
with women than with men. The jail taint seems to sink deeper into
woman’s nature, and at Aylesbury numbers of the more abandoned ones are
seldom for long out of the male warders’ hands.


For a considerable period I was given work in the officers’ mess. Their
quarters are in a detached building within the prison precincts, and
are reached by crossing a small grass-plot which separates it from
the prison. Each officer has a small bedroom, in which she sleeps and
passes her time when off duty. All meals are served in the mess-room,
and consist of breakfast at seven o’clock, lunch on turn between nine
and eleven, dinner at twelve-thirty, tea at five, and supper whenever
they are off duty. The cooking is excellent and varied. A matron is in
charge of the commissariat department, and has four prisoners of the
“Star Class” working under her. I did scullery work, which consisted
of washing up all the crockery, glass, knives, forks, and spoons used
at these five meals, besides all the pots and pans required in their
preparation. As a staff of twenty-five sat down to these frequent meals
daily, the work was very hard and quite beyond my strength. The “Star
Class” of workers should not be kept at it more than six months at a
time. Some of the life women have been in the kitchen and mess-room as
long as three and four years, and, as neither the culinary arrangements
nor the ventilation are modern, the consequent physical and mental
depression arising from these defects, and the monotony of the work, is
only too apparent.

I was not feeling well at the time, and soon after I had a long
illness--a nervous breakdown, due partly to insomnia and partly to the
unrelieved strain and stress of years of hard labor. My recovery was
very slow. I was in the infirmary about eighteen months, and was glad
when finally discharged, as the intervals between my letters and visits
were shorter when I was in discipline quarters and could earn more
marks. During the long years of my imprisonment I learned many lessons
I needed, perhaps, to have learned during my earlier life; but, thank
God, I was no criminal! I was being punished for that of which I was
innocent. I believe it is God’s task to judge and ours to endure, but I
could not understand what his plans and his purposes were. I believed
they were good, although I could not see how eternity itself could make
up for my sufferings. Perhaps they were intended to work out some good
to others, by ways I should never know, until I saw with the clear
eyes of another world. Still, the external conditions of life acted
on my body and mind, and I scarcely knew at times how to bear them.
I could not have endured them without God’s sustaining grace. I used
often to repeat these lines:

    “With patience, then, the course of duty run;
     God never does nor suffers to be done
     But that which you would do if you could see
     The end of all events as well as he.”


A woman lay dying in a near-by cell. Of the sixty years of her life she
had spent forty within prison walls. What that life had been I will not
say, but when she was in the agony of death she called to me: “I don’t
know anything about your God, but if he has made you tender and loving
to a bad lot like me, I know he will not be hard on a poor soul who
never had a chance. Give me a kiss, dear lass, before I go. No one has
kissed me since my mother died.


My Last Years in Prison


When I recovered from my nervous breakdown, by medical order I was
given lighter employment, and went into the library. I was now the only
prisoner in the building who had suffered under the hardships of the
old system at Woking Prison, all the rest of those who came with me
having in the interim returned to the world. In fact, I was the only
one who had served over ten years.

My task in the library was to assist the schoolmistress and to change
the library books twice a week. They were carried from cell to cell,
and this represented the handling of over two hundred and fifty books.
In addition to this, I had to be “literary nurse,” whose duties were
to attend to worn-out books, binding up their wounds and prolonging
their days of usefulness; doing cataloguing and entry work; to print
the name of each prisoner on a card placed over her cell door; to copy
hymns, and to make scrap-books for the illiterate prisoners, besides
other miscellaneous duties.

The library was a very good one and contained not only the latest
novels, but philosophical works and books for study; also a limited
number in French and German. To these were added religious works,
especially poetry, and sermons for Sunday reading. I found a choice
collection to help me support the Sabbath day, for the suspended
animation makes a day of misery of the “day of rest.” One could not
read all day without tiring, and the absence of week-day work usually
made it a day of heavy, creeping depression. There are two periods of
exercise, and chapel morning and afternoon. The remainder of the time
the prisoners are locked in their cells. Reading was my only solace;
from first to last I read every moment that I could call my own. The
best index of the quality of the books was that every volume was read
or examined by the chaplain and his staff before it was admitted to
the library. If it contained any articles on prison life or matters
relating to prisoners, these were always carefully cut out.

From my observations I consider that prison schoolmasters and
schoolmistresses are overburdened with miscellaneous and incompatible
duties. No one needs to be told that the average prisoner is a slow
learner, and that even a dull boy or girl is a better pupil than a
grown man or woman plodding along in the first steps of knowledge, and
who is taught, not in a class, but in a cell. Yet the schoolmaster
or schoolmistress has to devote hours daily to teaching, to help in
letter-writing, in the office work, in the distribution of library
books, in the library work; and now that their number is likewise
reduced on the ground of expense, the pressure of their work is out of
all proportion to the hours within which it can be reasonably performed.

I have always been fond of reading, and during my leisure hours I got
through a large number of books. This was between noon and half-past
one, and seven and eight in the evening, when my light had to be put


The rules forbid that any public news be conveyed to the prisoners,
either at visits or by letters. This seems to be a very short-sighted
view to take of the matter. To allow newspapers in the prison might, of
course, lead to cipher communications to prisoners from their friends;
but no harm can possibly come of allowing information regarding public
affairs of national interest to be conveyed through the legitimate
channels of letters and visits. It would give the prisoners fresh food
for thought, and tend greatly to relieve that vacuity of mind which
is the outcome of lack of knowledge of external things, and of the
monotony of their lives; it would also make a pause in their broodings
over their cases, which is the sole subject of their thoughts and
conversations when permitted to converse at all.


The lowering of the prison flag told us of the death of Queen Victoria,
although we had heard several days before that she was sinking. When
King Edward was dangerously ill it was talked of among the officers,
and the prisoners, through me, asked that special prayers might be said
in the chapel.

When Mafeking was relieved and when peace with the Boers was declared,
flags were hoisted. Jubilee and Coronation days were the only occasions
I remember when we had any relaxation of prison rules, and then
there was much disappointment, since in lieu of a mitigation of our
sentences, as was the case in India, they gave us extra meat and plum


I have served under three governors, each of whom was an intelligent
and conspicuously humane man. They knew their prisoners and tried to
understand them, but there is not much a governor can do for them of
his own initiative. I consider that he who holds this responsible
position should have more of a free hand, and be allowed to use his
discretion in all ordinary matters pertaining to the prison discipline
and welfare of the prisoners.

They were all advanced disciplinarians. The routine reeled itself off
with mechanical precision. The rules were enforced and carried out to
the letter. The deadly monotony never varied; all days are alike;
weeks, months, years slowly accumulate, and, in the mean time, the
mental rust is eating into the weary brain, and the outspoken cry rises
up daily--“How long, O Lord! how long?”

The officers are almost as keen as the governor in their efforts to
keep things up to the mark. It is seldom they allow prisoners under
their observation or supervision any slight relaxation which nature may
demand, but the rules forbid. They dislike to punish a woman, and in
their hearts make many excuses for the black sheep.


As a class, with few exceptions, the prison staff is worthy of respect
and confidence, and might be trusted with any task. The patience,
civility, and self-control which the officers exhibit under the most
trying circumstances, as a rule, mark them as men and women possessing
a high sense of duty, not only as civil servants, but as Christians.


The hours of work are long, the nervous strain is incessant. I could
wish that those in high places showed a little more appreciation of
what these faithful servants do, and were not so sparing of their
praise and commendation. The small remuneration they receive can not
make up for the deprivation of the amenities of life which the prison
service entails. Two writers on prison life have expressed themselves
in widely different ways regarding the warders and officers. One writer
compares them to slave-and cattle-drivers; another expresses surprise
that they are as good as they are. As, I trust, an impartial observer,
I agree with the latter opinion. Experience has taught me that, in most
cases, if the prisoner is amiable and willing, the officer on her part
is ready to meet the prisoner fully half way--at all events, as far as
circumstances and duty will permit, for the continual daily changes of
duty, from ward to ward and hall to hall, make it nearly impossible
for any officer to acquire a true knowledge of the character of those
under her charge.

It would be interesting if a trained psychologist could watch
and report upon the insidious effect of the repressive rules and
regulations of a prison on the more impressionable officers and
prisoners. When such officers first enter this service they are natural
women with a natural demeanor and expression of countenance. After a
time, however, the molding effects of “standing orders” become apparent
in the sternness of their expression, the harsh tones of their voices,
and the abruptness of their manner.


These “standing orders” may be paraphrased as follows:

“You must not do this or say that, or look sympathetic or friendly, or
converse with prisoners in any way. You must always suspect them of
wishing to do something underhand, sly, and contrary to orders. You
must never let them for a moment out of your sight, or permit them to
suppose that you have either trust or confidence in them. It is your
duty to see that the means of punishment devised by the Penal Code
are faithfully carried out. You are not to trouble yourself about the
result upon the prisoner--that is the affair of the Government.”

Any familiarity on the part of an officer with a prisoner is
strictly forbidden by the rules of prison service, and the slightest
manifestation of the sort would entail serious punishment on the
officer. Surely this is not as it should be; on the contrary, greater
discretionary power should be permitted to officers in their relations
with prisoners, for the influence for good which a kind, well-disposed
officer could exert upon a prisoner is incalculable. But all this
possible influence for good is denied expression by the spirit of
mistrust and suspicion which pervades the entire prison administration.
This is one of the most regrettable features of the system. No officer
is trusted by her superior, and no prisoner, however exemplary her
conduct, may be trusted by any one officially connected with the

An officer who commits a breach of any rule laid down for her may be
fined a sum varying from one to ten shillings, and if the offense is a
grave one she may be discharged.


When will those connected with prisons awake to the fact that the
criminal is mentally diseased? Ninety-nine out of a hundred criminals,
when not such by accident, through poverty, or environment, come
to their lot through inherited, malformed brains. It ought to be
the sacred duty of earnest men to deal kindly, intelligently, and
patiently with them. The prison, which is now a dreadful place of
punishment and humiliation, ought to be made a home of regeneration and
reformation, in which intelligent effort is made to raise the prisoner
to a higher level; and this surely is not done by withdrawing all the
refining influences.

I hope the time is not far off when men and women will take more of
a heart interest in prisoners, and when, no matter how low they may
have sunk, an opportunity to live honestly will be given them on their
release; when the society against which they have sinned will treat
them so kindly that for very shame they will seek to do better, and
repentance shall enter into the most darkened soul. The “eye for an
eye and tooth for a tooth” doctrine is not a part of the Christian
dispensation. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave his last supreme lesson, as he
turned toward the thief at his side on the cross, and there put an end
to that old law forever.


There is some good to be found in the worst criminal, which, if
nourished by patience and sympathy, will grow into more good. I speak
from a large, intimate personal experience, for during my imprisonment
it was my happy fortune to evoke kindly reciprocations from some of the
worst and most degraded characters. I will cite an instance.

One day I was crossing the hall when a fight occurred. I can not
describe it--it was too horrible. The crowd surged toward me, and I was
being drawn in among the combatants, when one of them, catching sight
of me, stepped out with a face streaming with blood, and pushed me into
an open cell, closing the door after me. When I thanked her the next
day she replied:

“Why, bless your heart, Mrs. Maybrick, did you think I would let them
hurt a hair of your head?”

I believe I had the sympathy and respect of all my fellow prisoners,
and when I left Aylesbury, my feelings were those of mingled relief
and regret. I could not but feel attached to those with whom I had
lived and suffered and worked for so many weary years. I knew, perhaps,
more of the life history of these poor women, their inner thoughts and
feelings, than any one else in the prison. In suffering, in sympathy,
in pity, we were all akin. In the association hour they would bring me
their letters from home to read, and show me the photographs of their
children or other dear ones, while tears would course down their cheeks
at the memory of happier days.


Many opinions have been written regarding prisons, but with few
exceptions they are the observations of outsiders, which means, they
must of necessity be to a certain extent superficial.

I have touched only a few spots of the great diseased system of prison
management, but what public opinion did to ameliorate past abuses,
public opinion can still do to improve the treatment of to-day’s
criminal. A little over a hundred years ago there were thirty-four
offenses in England punishable by capital punishment. To-day there is
only one. Charles Dickens did more than any agency toward doing away
with imprisonment for debt, yet last year there were no less than
eleven thousand prisoners in confinement for debt in English prisons.
How many of these have since joined the ranks of the criminals through
loss of self-respect? What has been the effect upon their wives and
families? Why is a man imprisoned for debt? Certainly not to enable him
to pay it. He can earn nothing while in prison, where he is supported
at the expense of the state; and if he has a wife or family, they
either become dependent on the rates, or incur debts which he will
have to pay on his release. Again, he may not improbably lose his
employment, and have to look out for another when liberated, and his
imprisonment does not make it more easy, either to procure work or
to perform it efficiently. The ground of imprisonment is dishonesty.
But is not actual dishonesty sufficiently met by the criminal law?
In what sense is the debtor dishonest? Is it meant that he has money
in his pocket and refuses to pay his debts? Is it not rather that he
ought to have had money? It is proved perhaps that he is earning so
much per week, possibly, but how long had he been earning and how long
was he out of employment before that? Has he had sickness? There have
been many instances where a man was in the hospital when the committal
order was made, and was seized and carried off to prison immediately
on discharge. If non-payment of a debt is not a crime, why is he in
prison for it? If it is a crime, why has he not the benefit of a trial
by jury on the ability or inability of paying his debts? And why
should not the Home Office or other appellate tribunal have the power
of revising his sentence? If the debtor has goods that can be seized,
let them be seized; if there is money coming to him, let the creditor
attach it; if it comes within the scope of the bankruptcy law, let
him be adjudicated and examined on oath to every shilling that he has
received or spent. But why, in the name of justice and humanity, treat
him as a criminal, prevent him from earning his bread, and make him
an incumbrance on the State, exposing his wife and daughter to ruin,
degrading him, lowering his self-respect, and subjecting him to the
taint of the prison atmosphere, without satisfactory evidence of his
ability to pay at the time of committal? Several prisoners that I came
in contact with were made criminals because their husbands had left
their families destitute because imprisoned for debt.


My Release


After I had been incarcerated for a few years I found out that it was
usual in the case of a life convict who has earned good marks to have
her sentence brought up for consideration after she has served fifteen
years. A life sentence usually means twenty years, and three months is
taken off each year as a reward for good conduct. In February, 1903, I
was definitely informed that my case would follow the ordinary course.
I have been accused of obtaining my release by “trickery,” but these
facts speak for themselves.

The impression has also been given by the press that great leniency
was shown in my case, and that through the intervention of friends
the Home Office released me before the expiration of my sentence. No
exceptional leniency whatever was shown in my case. It depends upon the
prisoner herself whether she is released at an earlier period or serves
the full term of her sentence. By an unbroken record of good conduct I
reduced my life sentence, which is twenty years, to fifteen years; this
expired on the 25th of July, 1904.


As a giant refreshed by sleep, the prison awakens to life, and the
voices of officers, the clang of doors, the ringing of bells echo
throughout the halls. What does it portend? Is it the arrival of some
distinguished visitor from the Home Office? Then I hear the sound of
approaching footsteps, as they come nearer and nearer and then stop at
my cell door. The governor ushers in three gentlemen--one tall and
dark and handsome, but with a stern face; another short, with a white
beard and blue eyes which looked at me somewhat coldly; of the third I
have no distinct recollection. The tall gentleman conversed pleasantly
for several minutes about my work and myself, then passed out on his
tour of inspection. I did not know at the time who these visitors were,
but learned later that the gentleman who spoke to me was the Secretary
of State, Sir Matthew White-Ridley; one of his companions was Sir
Kenelm Digby, and the other Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise, the chairman of
the Prison Committee, who takes a really humane interest in the welfare
of the convicts.

One morning, a week later, I was summoned to appear before the
governor. It is an ordeal to be dreaded by any one who has broken the
rules, but I knew I had not, and therefore concluded that I was wanted
in connection with my work. When I entered the office he looked up with
a kindly smile, which was also reflected in the face of the chief
matron. My attention was arrested. I stood silently waiting for him to
speak. After searching among some papers on the table, he picked up
one and read something to the following effect: “The prisoner, P 29,
Florence E. Maybrick, is to be informed that the Secretary of State
has decided to grant her discharge from prison when she has completed
fifteen years of her sentence, conditional upon her conduct.”

For a moment I failed to grasp the full meaning of these words, but
when I did--how shall I describe the mingled feelings of joy and
thankfulness, of relief and hope, with which I was overwhelmed! I
returned to my cell dazed by the unexpected message for which for so
many long, weary years I had hoped and prayed.

How anxiously I waited for those last few months to pass!


It was Christmas Eve of 1903. I had helped to decorate the chapel with
evergreens, which is the only way in which the greatest festival of
the church’s year is kept in prison. There is no rejoicing allowed
prisoners; no festival meal of roast beef and plum pudding, only the
usual prison diet; and the sad memories of happier days are emphasized
by our bare cells with their maximum of cleanliness and minimum of
comfort. But to me it was the last Christmas in that “house of sorrow,”
and my heart felt the dawning of a brighter day. Only four weeks more
and I would have passed out of its grim gates forever! How I counted
those days, and yet how I shrank from going once more into the world
that had been so cruel, so hostile, so unmerciful, in spite of the fact
that there was no proof that I was the guilty woman they assumed me to
be! But kind friends and loving hearts were waiting to greet me, to
give me refuge and comfort.

On Saturday, the 23d of January, my mother visited me at Aylesbury
Prison for the last time. How many weary and sad hours we had passed in
that visiting-room! Our hearts were too full for much conversation, and
it was with broken voices that we discussed the arrangements made for
my departure on the following Monday.

The last Sunday I spent in prison I felt like one in a dream. I could
not realize that to-morrow, the glad to-morrow, would bring with it
freedom and life. In the evening I was sent for to say “Good-by” to
the governor. Besides the chief matron and the one who was to be my
escort to Truro, no one was aware of the day or hour of my departure
from Aylesbury. Not a word had been said to the other prisoners. I
should like to have said farewell to them, also to the officers whom
I had known for fourteen years (for several had come with us from
Woking Prison); but I thought it best to pass into my new life as
quietly as possible. At my earnest request the Home Office consented
to allow my place of destination to be kept a secret. I felt that I
should derive more benefit from the change of my new environment and
association with others, if my identity and place of retreat were not
known to the public.


  Copyright by the London Stereoscopic Co.

RIGHT HON. A. AKERS DOUGLAS, M.P., British Home Secretary at time of
Mrs. Maybrick’s release.]

On Monday, the 25th of January, I was awakened early, and after
laying aside, for the last time, the garments of shame and disgrace,
I was clothed once more in those that represent civilization and
respectability. I descended to the court below, and, accompanied by the
chief matron and my escort, passed silently through the great gates and
out of the prison. At half-past six a cab drove quietly up, and the
matron and I silently stepped in and were driven away to the Aylesbury
Station. On our arrival in London we proceeded at once to Paddington
Station. The noise and the crowds of people everywhere bewildered me.


After an uneventful journey we arrived at Truro at six P.M., and
drove at once to the Home of the Community of the Epiphany, where I
stayed during the remainder of my term of six months. I am told that
some comment has been made on the fact that the Home was a religious
retreat, and that I ought to have been sent to a secular one instead.
I went there entirely of my own desire. On our arrival there I bade a
last farewell to my kind companion--one of the sweetest women it has
been my privilege to meet. The Mother Superior, who had visited me
three months previously at Aylesbury Prison, received me tenderly, and
at once conducted me to my room. How pure and chaste everything looked
after the cold, bare walls of my prison cell! How the restful quiet
soothed my jarred and weakened nerves, and, above all, what comforting
balm the dear Mother Superior and the sweet sisters poured into the
wounds of my riven soul!

I look back upon the six months spent within those sacred walls as the
most peaceful and the happiest--in the true sense--of my life. The
life there is so calm, so holy, and yet so cheerful, that one becomes
infected, so that the sad thoughts flee away, the drooping hands are
once more uplifted, and the heart strengthened to perform the work that
a loving God may have ordained.

I passed several hours of each day working in the sewing-room with the
sisters. During my leisure time I read much, and when the weather was
fine delighted in taking long walks within the lovely grounds that
surround the Home. I did not go out in the country, nor attend the
services on Sunday at the Cathedral.

I left Truro on the 20th of July a free woman--with a ticket-of-leave,
it is true, but as I am exempt from police supervision even in
England, I have no need to consider it in America or elsewhere.

By the courtesy of the American Ambassador, the Hon. Joseph H. Choate,
I was provided with an escort to accompany me and my companion on our
journey from Truro to Rouen, France.

The Hon. John Hay, Secretary of State, Washington; the Hon. Joseph H.
Choate, Mr. Henry White, Chargé d’Affaires, and Mr. Carter, Secretary
of Embassy, at London, have always been most earnest in my cause. I
deeply appreciate their untiring efforts in my behalf.


After staying with my mother for three weeks, on the advice of my
counselors, Messrs. Hayden & Yarrell, of Washington, District of
Columbia, I decided to return to America with Mr. Samuel V. Hayden and
his charming wife. I longed to be once more with my own people, and it
was only physical weakness and nervous prostration that prevented me
from doing so immediately upon my release. I met these good friends at
Antwerp, Belgium, and sailed from there on the Red Star Line steamship
_Vaderland_ for New York. My name was entered on the passenger list as
Rose Ingraham, that I might secure more quiet and privacy; but when
we were a few days out the fact of my identity became known, and with
few exceptions the greatest courtesy, consideration, and delicacy were
shown in the demeanor of the passengers toward me. If any of these
should read these lines I would herewith express to them my grateful
thanks and appreciation; while toward the captain and officers of the
_Vaderland_ I feel especially indebted for their unwearied courtesy and

When I first caught sight of the Statue of Liberty, I, perhaps more
than any one on board, realized the full meaning of what it typifies,
and I felt my heart stirred to its depths at the memory of what all my
countrymen and countrywomen had done for me during the dark days of my
past, to prove that they still carried me in their hearts, though the
great ocean rolled between, and that I had not been robbed of the high
privilege of being an American citizen.

We arrived at New York on the 23d of August. It was a “red-letter” day.
Once more, after many years of suffering and when I had long despaired
of ever seeing the beloved faces of my friends again, my feet once
again pressed the sacred soil of my native land.


A time will come when the world will acknowledge that the verdict which
was passed upon me is absolutely untenable. But what then? Who shall
give back the years I have spent within prison walls; the friends by
whom I am forgotten; the children to whom I am dead;[4] the sunshine;
the winds of heaven; my woman’s life, and all I have lost by this
terrible injustice? Time may heal the deepest wounds when the balm of
love and sympathy is poured into them. It is well; for if mental wounds
proved as fatal as those of the body, the prison death-roll would
indeed be a long one.


[4] The innocents--my children--one a baby of three years, the other a
boy of seven, I had left behind in the world. They had been taught to
believe that their mother was guilty, and, like their father, was to
them dead. They have grown up to years of understanding under another
name. I know nothing about them. When the pathos of all this touches
the reader’s heart he will realize the tragedy of my case.

During the early years of my imprisonment I received my children’s
photographs once a year; also several friendly letters from Mr.
Thomas Maybrick, with information about them. But as time passed on,
these ceased altogether. When I could endure the silence no longer I
instructed Mr. R. S. Cleaver, of Liverpool--who had been the solicitor
in my case, and to whose unwavering faith and kindness I owe a debt I
can never hope to repay--to write to Mr. Michael Maybrick to forward
fresh photographs of my boy and girl. To this request Mr. Thomas
Maybrick replied that Mr. Michael Maybrick refused to permit it. When
the matter was further urged Mr. Michael Maybrick himself wrote to the
governor to inform me that my son, who had been made acquainted with
the history of the case, did not wish either his own or his sister’s
photograph to be sent to me.





The jury’s verdict of guilty was rendered on August 7, 1889. The
evidence at the trial, as well as the learned judge’s “summing up,” was
reported almost verbatim in the English press. The result was that,
not only in Liverpool, but in almost every city, town, and village
of the United Kingdom, men and women of every class and grade of
society arrived at the conclusion that the verdict was erroneous--as
not founded upon evidence, but upon the biased and misleading summing
up of the case by the mentally incompetent judge. Within a few days
my lawyers, the Messrs. Cleaver, of Liverpool, who had notified the
press that they would supply forms of petition, were inundated with
applications. For the first two days they issued one thousand a day,
and I have been informed that no less than five thousand petitions for
a reprieve, representing nearly half a million signatures, were sent to
the Home Secretary within the following ten days. In response to these,
the Home Office issued to the press the following decision:

 “After the fullest consideration, and after taking the best medical
 and legal advice that could be obtained, the Home Secretary advised
 Her Majesty to respite the capital punishment of Florence Elizabeth
 Maybrick and to commute the punishment to penal servitude for life;
 inasmuch as, although the evidence leads to the conclusion that the
 prisoner administered and attempted to administer arsenic to her
 husband with intent to murder him, yet it does not wholly exclude
 a reasonable doubt _whether his death was in fact caused by the
 administration of arsenic_.”


Thus it will be seen that the Home Secretary, Mr. Matthews, ignored
the important statement of the judge at the trial, when, in giving
emphasis to his remarks, he told the jury that: “It is _essential_ to
this charge _that the man died of arsenic_. This question must be the
foundation of a judgment unfavorable to the prisoner, that he died
of arsenic.” Then Mr. Matthews, on reviewing the evidence given at
the trial, finding it impossible to justify the verdict, because the
evidence “does not wholly exclude a reasonable doubt whether his [James
Maybrick’s] death was in fact caused by the administration of arsenic,”
which question was to be the foundation of a judgment unfavorable to
me, instead of giving his prisoner the benefit of the reasonable
doubt, took it upon himself to apply the spirit of the law and of the
constitution, by making use of a wrongful conviction for one offense
charged in order to punish me for a different offense for which I had
never been tried, but with which he, without any public trial, charged
me, viz., “administering and attempting to administer arsenic” to my


These charges, made by Mr. Matthews in 1889, have never been defined;
nor has any statement been submitted to me or my legal advisers of
the evidence relied on to prove them; nor have I been afforded an
opportunity of being heard by counsel in answer to them, nor of
pleading anything in reply to them. Had a second trial been granted
me, I should have seen the evidence upon which the new charges were
made against me, and in open court I could have confronted the
witnesses. But Mr. Matthews sentenced me to penal servitude for life
(without giving me a chance to defend myself against the charges)
which involved nine months’ solitary confinement in my case--in
itself a most excessive punishment for the untried and, consequently,
unproven charges. He sent me to suffer fourteen and one-half years
on suspicion--a suspicion not warranted by any evidence given at the
trial. The new evidence, which has been obtained since my conviction,
is admitted by all fair-minded persons to be of such a nature that it
would satisfy any intelligent jury that I was not only wrongfully found
guilty of murder, but was most wrongfully treated by Mr. Matthews.
It completely exonerates me from the charge of murder as well as
“administering and attempting to administer arsenic.” Since this
evidence was published, no one has attempted to justify the conviction
or the sentence passed upon me.

Had the jury, instead of finding a verdict of “guilty” of murder,
returned a verdict in the same terms as the finding of Mr. Matthews,
the judge must have entered it as “not guilty” and discharged me.


Well might the Lord Chief Justice Russell of Killowen write me, as he
did on the 27th of June, 1895, telling me that he had never relaxed his
efforts to urge my release, and saying:

    ROYAL COURT, 27th June, 1895.


 DEAR MADAM: I have been absent on circuit; hence my delay in answering
 your letter.

 I beg to assure you that I have never relaxed my efforts where any
 suitable opportunity offered to urge that your release ought to be
 granted. I feel as strongly as I have felt from the first that you
 ought never to have been convicted, and this opinion I have very
 clearly expressed to Mr. Asquith, but I am sorry to say hitherto
 without effect.

 Rest assured that I shall renew my representations to the incoming
 Home Secretary, whoever he may be, as soon as the Government is formed
 and the Home Secretary is in a position to deal with such matters.

  I am,

This also seems to be the opinion of the leading counsel for the
prosecution, Mr. Addison, Q.C., M.P. (now Judge Addison, of the
Southwark County Courts), who is reported to have said, after the
summing up, that “the jury could not, especially in view of the medical
evidence, find a verdict of guilty.” This statement will be found in
Sir Charles Russell’s protest to Mr. Matthews.


The public are not probably fully aware how much intensity of feeling
and earnest work has been expended on my case during the fourteen and
one-half years of my imprisonment. The Home Office knows. Men in high
positions in both political parties in England have often united in
demanding a new trial. The almost invariable reply has been that the
best means to effect my release was to obtain new facts or evidence,
and submit these to the Home Secretary for his consideration. Those
well-meaning advisers seemed to forget that the half million of
petitioners for my reprieve or free pardon in England--not to count
those in America--were not moved thereto by new facts or evidence,
but by the absence of facts or evidence sufficient to prove that the
alleged crime had been committed by any one, or that either guilt or
complicity in that crime, if crime it were, attached to me. Surely it
is not the business of the public nor of individual citizens to prove
the innocence of any unhappy person whom process of law selects for
punishment, while it _is_ the business of every citizen to see that the
courts incontestably prove the guilt of any person accused of a crime
before sentence is passed, in the following manner:

1. It must be proved that a crime has been committed.

2. It must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person
is the one who committed it.


Neither condition has yet been fulfilled in my case. The evidence on
which a half million petitioners said and say I was unjustly condemned
is sufficient in itself. While it is true if a new trial had been
granted me I could have produced new evidence that overwhelmingly
demonstrated my innocence, it is also true that more facts or new
evidence were not requisite to enable justice to be done.


The doctors who gave evidence in favor of death by arsenical poisoning
all stated that they would not have felt certain on the subject if
the one-tenth of a grain of arsenic had not been found in the body.
Therefore, since the presence of that arsenic could be otherwise
accounted for, I was entitled to an acquittal even on the evidence
of the Crown medical witnesses. Moreover, the symptom on which two
or three doctors for the prosecution laid most stress--continuous
vomiting--was referred by the third to morphia administered by himself.
All three were examined before any evidence of Mr. Maybrick’s habit
of arsenic taking was given. Had they believed him to be an arsenic
eater, they might have arrived at a different conclusion. The doctors
for the defense, who declared that Mr. Maybrick’s symptoms were not
those of arsenical poisoning, were men of far more experience as
regards poisons than the Crown medical witnesses. The quantity of
arsenic found in the body was, in their opinion, quite consistent with
administration in medicinal doses, and might have been introduced a
considerable time before.

The proved administration of poison with intent to kill is punishable
by penal servitude, but not necessarily for life--sometimes for only
three years; but the charge must be proved in open court to be a
felonious attempt by some means actually used to effectuate the intent,
and it remains with the prosecution to produce the necessary evidence
that the means used were sufficient for the accomplishment of the

The medical evidence proved that the quantity of arsenic--one-tenth
of a grain--found in Mr. Maybrick’s body was not sufficient to have
produced death.


_The Times_ of August 8, 1889, declared that, of the hundreds of
thousands of persons who followed the case with eager interest and
attention, not one in three was prepared for the verdict. The large
majority had believed that, in the presence of such contradictory
evidence, the jury would give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt and
bring in a verdict as much like the Scotch “not proven” as is permitted
by English law.


There was strong prejudice against me, due to the numerous false and
sensational reports circulated by the press during the interval between
the arrest and the trial. The jury belonged to a class of men who were
not competent to weigh technical evidence,[5] and no doubt attached
great weight to the opinions of the local physicians, one of whom was
somewhat of a celebrity. But the main element in the conviction was
Justice Stephen, whose mind, undoubtedly owing to incipient insanity
(he died insane a year later), was incapable of dealing with so
intricate a case.


The Liverpool _Daily Post_, as I am told, had been hostile rather than
favorable toward me, but, on the death of Lord Chief Justice Russell,
that journal, in articles of August 13 and 14, 1900, showed that it
fully appreciated the unfairness of my trial, for it stated that no
human being ought to be handed over to be tried by a “mad judge.” The
following is taken from _The Post_ of August 13, 1900:

 “The death of the Lord Chief Justice may have recalled to the minds
 of some Liverpool folk a sad and sordid tragedy enacted among them
 eleven years ago, in which he was a principal performer. To those
 who were there, a vivid recollection still persists of that bright
 July morning when a thronged court, hushed in expectancy, awaited
 the beginning of the Maybrick trial. In fancy one still hears the
 distant fanfare of the trumpets as the judges with quaint pageantry
 passed down the hall, and still with the mind’s eye sees the stately
 crimson-clad figure of the great mad judge as he sat down to try his
 last case. A tragedy, indeed, was played upon the bench no less than
 in the dock.

 “Few who looked upon the strong, square head can have suspected that
 the light of reason was burning very low within; yet as the days of
 the trial dragged by--days that must have been as terrible to the
 judge as to the prisoner--men began to nod at him, to wonder, and to
 whisper. Nothing more painful was ever seen in court than the proud
 old man’s desperate struggle to control his failing faculties. But the
 struggle was unavailing. It was clear that the growing volume of facts
 was unassorted, undigested in his mind; that his judgment swayed
 backward and forward in the conflict of testimony; that his memory
 failed to grip the most salient features of the case for many minutes
 together. It was shocking to think that a human life depended upon the
 direction of this wreck of what was once a great judge.”


The charge of Mr. Justice Stephen to the jury positively teemed with
misstatements as to the evidence given during the trial. I quote a
statement from the same journal in its issue of August 17, 1900:

 “I should be very sorry to think that the same number of errors as to
 the matters of fact given in the evidence had ever been made in any
 judge’s charge. It simply swarms with them, and as the jury at the end
 of a long trial is likely to prefer the judge’s résumé to their own
 recollection, I doubt if the verdict in the Maybrick case was founded
 on the evidence at all. And if I am right in thinking that the jurors
 founded their verdict on the judge’s recapitulation of the evidence
 rather than on the evidence itself, I do not see how any counsel could
 have saved the prisoner.”

That the jury “did not hear the whole of the evidence very distinctly”
is admitted by one of them in the Liverpool _Daily Post_ of August 10,
1889. Consequently they were likely to be unduly influenced by the
judge’s charge. There is no evidence that the jury detected the judge’s
misstatements, as a more intelligent jury certainly would have done.
Their minds were “taken captive” by the charge of Justice Stephen, and
they were as “clay in the hands of the potter.”


The Lord Chief Justice sent the Home Secretary a memorandum consisting
of twenty folios, in which he stated the strong opinion that “Mrs.
Maybrick ought to be released at once.” The Lord Chief Justice also
requested that the contents of his memorandum be made public. Yet when
asked in the House of Commons to lay the document on the table of the
House in order that it might be accessible to the members, the Home
Secretary emphatically declined. The London _Daily Mail_, in a leader
on this incident, said:

 “The only conceivable reasons for declining to give publicity to the
 letter, which was actually intended for publication, are apparently
 official red tape and the fear of giving new life to the agitation
 in favor of Mrs. Maybrick’s release. This result will be almost as
 effectually achieved by surrounding the case with further mystery and
 leaving upon the public mind the grave suspicion that justice may not
 have been done.”


The following extracts are taken from the “Life of Lord Russell of
Killowen” by R. Barry O’Brien.

 “In November, 1895, he [Lord Russell] wrote to Sir Matthew
 White-Ridley (page 260), conveying his strong and emphatic opinion
 that Florence Maybrick ought never to have been convicted; that her
 continued imprisonment is an injustice which ought promptly to be
 ended, and added: ‘I have never wavered in this opinion. After her
 conviction I wrote and had printed a memorandum, which I presume
 is preserved at the Home Office. Lest it should not be, I herewith
 transmit a copy.’

 “As is known, what happened was that Mr. Matthews, after consultation
 with the present Lord Chancellor, Lord Salisbury, and Mr. Justice
 Stephen, and after seeing Dr. Stephenson, the principal Crown witness,
 and also the late Dr. Tidy, respited the capital sentence on the
 expressed ground that there was sufficient doubt whether death had
 been caused by arsenical poisoning to justify the respite.

 “It will be seen (1) that such a doubt existed as to the commission
 of the offense for which Florence Maybrick was tried as rendered it
 improper, in the opinion of the Home Secretary and his advisers, that
 the capital sentence should be carried out; and (2) that for more
 than six years Florence Maybrick has been suffering imprisonment on
 the assumption of Mr. Matthews that she committed an offense for which
 she was never tried by the constitutional authority and of which she
 has never been adjudged guilty.”

From page 261: “This is in itself a most serious state of things. It
is manifestly unjust that Florence Maybrick should suffer for a crime
in regard to which she has never been called upon to answer before any
lawful tribunal.

“Is it not obvious that if the attempt to murder had been the offense
for which she was arraigned, the course of the defense would have been
different? I speak as her counsel of what I know. Read the report
of the defense, and you will see that I devoted my whole strength
to and massed the evidence upon the point that the prosecution had
misconceived the facts, that the foundation on which the whole case
rested was rotten, for that, in fact, there was no murder; that, on the
contrary, the deceased had died from natural causes.

“It is true that incidental reference was made to certain alleged
acts of Florence Maybrick, but the references were incidental only;
the stress of my argument being, in fact, that _no murder had been
committed, because the evidence did not warrant the conclusion that the
deceased had died from arsenical poisoning_. On the other hand, had
the Crown counsel suggested the case of attempt to murder by poison,
it would have been the duty of counsel to address himself directly and
mainly to the alleged circumstances which, it was argued, pointed to
guilty intent. That these alleged circumstances were capable in part
of being explained, in part of being minimized, and in part of being
attacked as unreliably vouched, can not, I think, be doubted by any one
who has with a critical eye scanned the evidence. I do not deny that my
feelings are engaged in this case. It is impossible that they should
not be, but I have honestly tried to judge the case, and I now say that
_if I was called upon to advise in my character of head of the Criminal
Judicature of this country, I should advise you that Florence Maybrick
ought to be allowed to go free_.”

From page 262: “I think it my duty to renew my protest against the
continued imprisonment of Florence Maybrick. I consider the history of
the case reflects discredit on the administration of the criminal law.
I think my protest ought to be attended to at last. The prisoner has
already undergone punishment for a period four times as long, or more,
as the minimum punishment fixed by law for the commission of the crime,
of which she has never been convicted or for which she has never been
tried, but for which she has been adjudged guilty by your predecessor
in the office of Home Secretary.”


The following is quoted from the American Official Petition sent to the
Rt. Hon. Henry Matthews, Q.C., M.P., Her Majesty’s principal secretary
for the Home Department:

 “As Florence Elizabeth Maybrick is an American woman, without father,
 brother, husband, or kin in England, except two infant children,
 enduring penal servitude for life in Woking Prison;

 “As the conduct of her trial resulted in a profound impression of a
 miscarriage of justice, in an earnest protest against the verdict, and
 the execution of the sentence of death, and its commutation to penal
 servitude for life on the ground of reasonable doubt whether a murder
 had been committed;

 “As a careful legal scrutiny of the evidence given at the trial
 by eminent solicitors, barristers, queen’s counsel, and members
 of Parliament, and the production of facts not in evidence at the
 trial have resulted in a final decision of counsel that the case
 is one proper for the grave consideration of a criminal appellate
 tribunal--if such a tribunal existed;

 “Therefore, we earnestly ask that the Rt. Hon. Henry Matthews,
 Q.C., M.P., Her Majesty’s principal secretary of state for the Home
 Department, will advise Her Majesty to order the pardon and release of
 the prisoner, who has now suffered an imprisonment of three years.

  “LEVI P. MORTON, Vice-President of the United States, President of
    the Senate.

  “CHARLES T. CRISP, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

  “CHARLES FOSTER, Secretary of the Treasury.

  “JAMES G. BLAINE, Secretary of State.

  “S. B. ELKINS, Secretary of War.

  “W. H. MILLER, Attorney-General.

  “JOHN WANAMAKER, Postmaster-General.

  “B. T. TRACY, Secretary of the Navy.

  “JOHN B. NOBLE, Secretary of the Interior.

  “G. M. RUSK, Secretary of Agriculture.


  “J. M. SCOFIELD, Major-General Commanding the Army.

  “A. W. TRULY, Brigadier-General-in-Chief, Signal Office.

  “THOMAS LINCOLN CASEY, Brigadier-General-in-Chief of Engineers.

  “JOSEPH CABELL BRECKENRIDGE, Brigadier-General, Infantry-General.

  “J. O. KELTON, Brigadier-General, Adjutant-General.

  “WILLIAM SMITH, Paymaster-General.

  “H. M. BATCHELDER, General-Quartermaster-General.

  “B. DUBARRY, General and Commanding General Infantry.

  “O. SUTHERLAND, General Infantry General.

  “D. W. FLAGLER, Chief of Ordnance.

  “J. NORMAN LISBER, Acting Judge-Advocate-General.

  “THOMAS EWING, Brevet-Major-General, U. S. A., and many others.”


I will conclude by quoting the letter of Secretary Blaine to Mr. Robert
Lincoln, then Minister to the Court of St. James. It will be seen that
Mr. Blaine was of opinion that I had lost my citizenship. Since this
letter was written it has been decided by the Supreme Court of the
United States that a woman married to a foreigner, on the death of her
husband can, on application, be reinstated to citizenship.

[Illustration: HON. JAMES G. BLAINE, American Secretary of State,

      “March 7, 1892.

 “MY DEAR MR. LINCOLN: As Mrs. Maybrick lost her American citizenship
 by her English marriage, and as I fear she does not resume it by her
 widowhood, I can not instruct you officially as to the course you
 should pursue toward her.

 “But her American and Southern birth, her connection with many
 families of the highest respectability and even of prominence in the
 country’s service, have attracted much attention to her fate.

 “I have no other interest in her than an interest which you and
 I share in common with all our countrymen--the desire to help an
 American woman in distress. That she may have been influenced by the
 foolish ambition of too many American girls for a foreign marriage,
 and have descended from her own rank to that of her husband’s family,
 which seems to have been somewhat vulgar, must be forgiven to her
 youth, since she was only eighteen at the time of her marriage.

 “There is a wide and widening belief in this country that she is
 legally innocent and illegally imprisoned. The official charge of the
 judge that murder must be proved and the official announcement of the
 Home Secretary that the evidence leaves a ‘reasonable doubt’ of murder
 are the premises of but one conclusion--the discharge of the prisoner.

 “The fact that she was never indicted or tried by a jury of her peers
 on a specific count of felonious attempt to administer arsenic, yet
 is condemned to penal servitude for life on the Home Secretary’s
 statement that she evidently made such an attempt, can never be
 reconciled to the English principle that an accused person shall be
 tried by a jury of his peers. Lawyers here are among the strongest
 believers in the illegality of her imprisonment. Indeed, the sense of
 injustice is developing and deepening into horror.

 “Officially I could only instruct you on behalf of a multitude of
 American citizens to investigate her case. Personally I beg to
 express to you my deep interest in it, and pray you, if possible, to
 communicate with Messrs. Lumley and Sir Charles Russell as to any
 method of American cooperation which may seem to them desirable.

 “Messrs. Lumley have made a very able brief, which I am sure would
 interest you, and which seems to me unanswerable. Sir Charles Russell,
 whose reputation you know, is her counsel. Consult with them what best
 can be done, from an American point of view, to secure Mrs. Maybrick’s
 release. And if you shall have read Lumley’s brief, I am sure that
 conviction will lead you to personal activity in her behalf.

 “You can communicate with me in strict confidence, as from one
 American citizen to another, for the relief of an American woman
 helplessly enduring a great wrong.

    “Believe me, etc.,
      “JAMES G. BLAINE.”

And yet it required the time from March 7, 1892, until July 20, 1904,
to attain my liberation; and then it was accomplished by time limit and
by no act of grace or concession on the part of the English Government.


_The Strand Magazine_, London, in its November number, 1900, published
an article by Henry W. Lucy, Esq., who, speaking of the late Lord Chief
Justice Russell, says:

 “The most remarkable episode in Charles Russell’s career at the bar
 undoubtedly was his defense of Mrs. Maybrick.

 “I happened to find myself in the same hotel with him at Liverpool
 on the morning of the day set down for the opening of the trial. At
 breakfast he spoke in confident terms of his client’s innocence and of
 the surety of her acquittal. He did not take into account the passing
 mood of the judge who tried the case, and so found himself out of his
 reckoning; but the verdict of the jury, still less the summing-up of
 Fitz-James Stephen, did not shake his conviction. Sir Charles Russell
 was of all men least likely to be misled by appearances or deliberate
 deception; having probed the case to the bottom, having turned his
 piercing eyes on the woman in the dock, having talked to her in
 private and studied her in public, he was convinced of her innocence.

 “Lord Landoff was a lawyer of high position at the English bar when,
 as Mr. Henry Matthews, he came into the Home Office.

 “The verdict of the jury was ‘guilty,’ and her sentence was death,
 which was a real surprise, as was afterward learned, even to the
 judge, Sir Fitz-James Stephen. If Mr. Matthews believed her guilty,
 he should not have commuted her sentence upon the ground that he
 assigned. If she was guilty she well deserved death on the scaffold.
 The evidence, however, satisfied Mr. Matthews that there was
 reasonable doubt that the death of Mr. Maybrick was due to arsenic.
 In this view, as is well known, he was sustained by Justice Stephen.
 If such a doubt really came into Mr. Matthews’s mind, as was made the
 ground of the commutation of the sentence, _under English law that
 doubt entitled the accused to acquittal_.

 “Why he lacked the courage of his convictions can only be surmised. At
 all events he did not dare to take the responsibility of allowing her
 to be executed.

 “The intercession of the American Government through Mr. Blaine,
 Secretary of State, was urgent, strong, and most intense. It is
 incredible that Mr. Matthews desired any loophole to release her. The
 case was full of them.

 “Sir Matthew White-Ridley was not a lawyer, and there is no
 probability that he ever read the evidence in the case, which was
 voluminous. He could not have read the papers in three days if he had
 attempted it. He simply followed his predecessor’s line and was not
 able to take up the case on its merits.”


This statement of Mr. Lucy is of great value as an answer to the
assault made on Lord Russell’s memory after his death, on his firm
belief in my innocence.

Lord Hugh Cecil wrote to a constituent:

 “I believe I am right in stating that he (Lord Russell) never said
 that he believed Mrs. Maybrick to be innocent.”

When this was shown Lord Russell by Mr. A. W. McDougall, Esq., the
Chief Justice exclaimed:

 “Does Lord Hugh Cecil suppose that I would abandon all the traditions
 of the Bar and put forward publicly as an argument in such a case my
 personal belief in this, that, or the other thing? Does he suppose
 that I would have made all the efforts I have been making to obtain
 her freedom if I believed her to be guilty?”


“Personal Rights,” of November 15, in commenting on the statement of
Mr. Lucy in _The Strand Magazine_, says:

 “We do not share the belief that Sir Fitz-James Stephen was insane in
 any plenary sense at the time of the trial; but we are convinced that
 he was not fully sane. His charge to the jury, the report of which
 is reproduced in full in Mr. Levy’s book, is grotesquely inaccurate;
 and if the jury took it to be a compendium of the evidence--as they
 probably did--the result of their deliberation is fully accounted
 for. Indeed, if the facts were such as the judge stated, the verdict
 could hardly be impugned. How different they were may be seen by any
 one who compares the evidence with the judge’s charge, in the book
 already referred to. To take a single instance: the judge stated that,
 according to the evidence of Alice Yapp, at the commencement of Mr.
 Maybrick’s illness, he was very sick and in great pain immediately
 after some medicine was given to him by his wife. Alice Yapp swore
 nothing of the kind. She saw neither any administration of medicine
 nor any sickness. We could give other instances of gross inaccuracy,
 generally leading to the conclusion of the prisoner’s guilt; but, for
 our present purpose, the above incident will suffice.

 “If this was the character of the judge’s charge to the jury, what
 confidence can be placed in his notes? Still upon those notes was
 probably based the conclusions of successive Home Secretaries or of
 the officials employed by them. When Mr. Lucy holds up his hands in
 astonishment at the marvelous consensus of opinion of various Home
 Secretaries, he seems to us to manifest remarkable blindness--for one
 so long behind the Speaker’s chair--as to the vicarious nature of
 that opinion. It is more than possible that the conclusions of Mr.
 Matthews, Mr. Asquith, and Sir Matthew White-Ridley were all drawn
 for them by the same gentleman, or, at least, that the same gentleman
 helped these various Home Secretaries to come to the same conclusion.

 “We hope that Mr. Ritchie, the new Home Secretary, will judge this
 matter for himself. Let him read the salient portions, at least, of
 Mr. Levy’s book, and, per contra, the article of X. Y. Z. in _The
 Contemporary Review_ of September last. If he likes to make the
 inquiry, he will find that X. Y. Z. is one of his new permanent
 staff, and that the doctrines put forward in the article are the
 embodiment of Home Office practise. This is a matter which does not
 concern the Maybrick case alone. Scarcely a month passes without some
 new manifestation of injustice brought about by adherence to the
 traditions of the department over which Mr. Ritchie now presides. If
 he will seek out this hydra and slay it, he will leave for himself
 an immortal name among Secretaries of State, and--what he will hold
 of more importance--he will cut off a permanent source of injustice,
 give releasement and joy to the innocent pining in prison, and breathe
 a new life into a department which is sadly in need of a renovating

[Illustration: HON. ROBERT T. LINCOLN, American Ambassador to Court of
St. James, 1889-1893.]


In the same number of this journal is an article from “Lex,” a
well-known writer in English journals, which we reproduce:

 “SIR: May I call attention to the two articles in the Liverpool
 _Post_ of August 13 and 14, in which the utter incompetence of the
 judge at the Maybrick trial is strongly asserted? The writer is
 distinctly hostile to the prisoner, and writes without any intention
 of raising the question whether the trial was not null and void; but
 as the English system consists of trial by judge and jury, the total
 incompetence of either element should clearly vitiate it. Moreover,
 Mr. Ruggles-Brise, on the occasion of a visit to America in 1897,
 stated that the reason of the steadfast refusal of _the Home Secretary
 to release the prisoner was his desire to uphold the wholesome
 authority of the English justiciary_. That authority can not be
 regarded as wholesome if the judge was insane. Lord Russell, who was
 present throughout the trial, was of different opinion from that of
 the judge. He was undoubtedly sane. If Sir J. F. Stephen was insane,
 the public will, I think, be of opinion that the sane judge should
 have had the most influence with the executive.”


Lord Esher, in _The Times_ of August 17, 1889, strongly advocated
a court of criminal appeal, and _The Times_, in an article of the
same date, supported the views expressed by Lord Esher and by Lord
Fitzgerald, as follows:

 “A court of appeal, as Lord Esher sketches it, would not be open
 to the objections which can be fairly urged against our present
 informal method of procedure. The Home Secretary, as a quasi court
 of appeal, is, as Lord Fitzgerald remarks, not a judge and has not
 the power of a judge.... The judgment pronounced by a strong court
 of criminal appeal, such as Lord Esher’s letter suggests, would do
 more to satisfy the public mind than the best efforts of the Home
 Secretary could possibly do. The reform which Lord Esher advocates has
 been long called for, and Lord Fitzgerald did well to press it on the
 Government.... What the public feel is that they would rather have the
 fallibility of trained judges than the fallibility of an individual
 sitting without any of the apparatus with which a court of law is
 enabled to detect truth from falsehood, and perhaps unconsciously
 confusing the prerogative of mercy with justice.”


[5] The jury was composed of three plumbers, two farmers, one milliner,
one wood-turner, one provision dealer, one grocer, one ironmonger, one
house-painter, and one baker.


This brief of Messrs. Lumley & Lumley, characterized in the preceding
letter of Secretary Blaine as “very able” and “unanswerable,” is
too long for reproduction in these pages in its entirety, and hence
only the main points are given. The document was prepared at the
instance of Lord Russell of Killowen for submission to himself and
three other Queen’s Counsel, with a view of obtaining a new trial. It
may interest the reader to know that the money required to make this
searching analysis by Messrs. Lumley & Lumley was raised by a popular
subscription in America, through the good offices of the New York
_World_. The eminent Queen’s counsel, after a full consideration of the
analysis of the case, submitted the following opinion:


“Having carefully considered the facts stated in the elaborate case
submitted to us by Messrs. Lumley & Lumley, and the law applicable to
the matter, we are clearly of opinion that there is no mode by which
in this case a new trial or a ‘_venire de novo_’ can be obtained, nor
can the prisoner be brought up on a ‘habeas corpus,’ with the view to
retrying the issue of her innocence or guilt.

“We say this notwithstanding the case of Regina _vs._ Scarfe (17 Q. B.,
238, 5; Cox, C. C., 243; 2 Den., C. C., 281).

“We are of opinion that in English criminal procedure there is no
possibility of procuring a rehearing in the case of felony where
a verdict has been found by a properly constituted jury upon an
indictment which is correct in form. This rule is, in our opinion,
absolute, unless circumstances have transpired, and have been entered
upon the record, which, when there appearing, would invalidate the
tribunal and reduce the trial to a nullity by reason of its not having
been before a properly constituted tribunal. None of the matters
proposed to be proved go to this length.

“We think it right to add that there are many matters stated in the
case, not merely with reference to the evidence at and the incidents
of the trial, but suggesting new facts, which would be _matters proper
for the grave consideration of a Court of Criminal Appeal_, if such a
tribunal existed in this country.

  (Signed)  “CHARLES RUSSELL, Q.C.
            “I. FLETCHER MOULTON, Q.C.
            “HARRY BOOKIN POLAND, Q.C.
            “REGINALD SMITH, Q.C.

 “LINCOLN’S INN, 12th April, 1892.”

       *       *       *       *       *

This opinion was based upon the following points, presented by Messrs.
Lumley & Lumley:


The _misdirections_ which are selected for consideration may be
conveniently classed, among others, under these headings:

1. As to the facts disclosed in the evidence of the procuring and
possession of arsenic by Mrs. Maybrick and of her administering it.

2. As to the cause of death.

A perusal of the summing-up from beginning to end impresses the mind
with the feeling that, whenever Mr. Justice Stephen approached any fact
offered by the defense which threw light upon _the possession_ and _an
alleged_ administration of arsenic by Mrs. Maybrick, he drew the minds
of the jury away from it; he played, in fact, the part of the peewit,
which swoops and screams in another part of the field on purpose to
hide where its nest is, and to draw the attention of the passers-by
from the right spot.

Mr. Justice Stephen pointed out to the jury in his summing-up: “You
must begin the whole subject of poison with this, which is a remarkable
fact in the case and which it seems to me tells favorably rather than
otherwise for the prisoner. You must take notice of it and consider
what inference you draw from it. In the whole case, from first to
last, there is _no evidence_ at all of her having _bought_ any poison,
or definitely having had anything to do with procuring any, with the
exception of fly-papers. But there is evidence of a considerable
quantity having been found in various things, which were kept some here
and some there--kept principally, as I gather, in the inner room.[6]
... There is evidence about a considerable quantity of poison in this
house, and more particularly about one or two receptacles which were in
the inner room, Mr. Maybrick’s dressing-room, as it has been pointed


From the testimony it appears that on the 27th of April James
Maybrick, before starting to the Wirrall Races, was sick. There is
no actual evidence of vomiting, but he is described as sick, and as
feeling a numbness in his legs while walking downstairs, which was an
old-standing complaint of his of many years. Both he himself and Mrs.
Maybrick told the servants that this was due to a double dose of some
London medicine. He got wet through at the races and dined in his wet
clothes at a friend’s (Mr. Hobson), on the other side of the Mersey,
and did not return home till after the servants had retired to bed;
but the next morning, Sunday, the 28th of April, he was taken ill, and
Mrs. Maybrick sent a servant off hurriedly for Dr. Humphreys, who had
not attended her husband before, but who was the doctor living nearest
the house, and in the mean time got some mustard and water, telling him
to take it, as it would remove the brandy at all events. Dr. Humphreys
attended James Maybrick on the 28th, but was not told by him that he
had vomited the day before.

Mr. Justice Stephen, when referring to this, said: “The Wirrall Races
were followed by symptoms which were described to be arsenical.” It is
submitted that this was a _misdirection_, the symptom there referred
to being sickness, and there was no evidence of vomiting on any of the
days immediately succeeding the Wirrall Races. But on the 28th of April
the mustard and water was given him by Mrs. Maybrick for the purpose of
_producing_ sickness and removing the brandy, and if he had been sick
it would have been attributable to _mustard and water_, not to arsenic.

On the other hand, the medical evidence showed that gastro-enteritis
might have been set up either by improper food or drink, or an excess
of either; or, again, by such a wetting through as deceased got at the
Wirrall Races. On the 8th of May Alice Yapp communicated to Mrs. Briggs
and Mrs. Hughes her suspicions that James Maybrick’s illness was due to
Mrs. Maybrick poisoning him with _fly-papers_.


The purchase and soaking of fly-papers is the only direct evidence of
the possession of arsenic in any form by Mrs. Maybrick, but the judge
told the jury, and it is submitted it is a _gross misdirection_, that
Mrs. Maybrick “_undoubtedly had access to considerable quantities of
arsenic in other forms_,” inasmuch as the _only evidence as to such
access_ was that after the death of James Maybrick these two women,
Mrs. Briggs and Alice Yapp, who exhibited the most unfriendly feeling
toward her, said they had found in the house certain stores of arsenic.

It is submitted for the serious consideration of counsel that the
circumstances under which these two women produced these stores of
arsenic are so suspicious as to justify the suggestion that that
arsenic was not there before his death, and that Mrs. Maybrick never
did have any access to it or knowledge of it at all. There was no
evidence as to where or by whom this arsenic was obtained, nor was
there any evidence that the police had made any effort to discover
where, when, or by whom that arsenic was procured.

[NOTE.--How and when this arsenic may have been procured by Mr.
Maybrick himself will appear further on as a part of the new evidence.]

The places in which arsenic was found were open and accessible to every
one in the house, and no person gave any evidence that he or she had
ever seen it in the house before these two women found it after death.

As regards the black powder (arsenic mixed with charcoal) and the
two solutions of arsenic produced by Mrs. Briggs and Alice Yapp, Mr.
Davies, the analyst, gave evidence that, when analyzing the contents of
the various bottles, he had searched diligently and microscopically for
any traces, and could find no trace of charcoal having been introduced
into any of them. So this circumstantial evidence may be eliminated.

As regards white arsenic, also produced by these women, it must
be observed that not only was it not shown that Mrs. Maybrick had
purchased any, but it is submitted that the judge _ought to have
pointed out to the jury_, as the fact is, that it would have been
almost impossible for her or any woman to have obtained any white
arsenic at all. No shopkeeper dare sell it to any one except to a
medical man, and even then under the stringent restrictions of the Sale
of Poison Act.

At the trial a wholesale druggist (Thompson, of Liverpool) gave
evidence that James Maybrick constantly visited his cousin, who had
been in his employment at his stores, where he could have obtained
white arsenic from him without any difficulty; and it will be observed
that it was found in his hatbox.

It is a remarkable thing in this connection that, while Edwin Maybrick
called the police in on Sunday night, and gave them the black
solutions and white solutions which Mrs. Briggs had found on the Sunday
morning, he did not give them the black powder which Alice Yapp had
found on the-night before; and, in fact, that Michael Maybrick did not
give it to the police until Tuesday, the 14th.

It is also a remarkable fact that, although these black solutions and
that white solution of arsenic and that solid arsenic which Mrs. Briggs
had found, were not handed by the police to the analyst until several
days afterward, and were therefore _not known to be arsenic by anybody,
yet Mrs. Briggs was able to inform Mrs. Maybrick on Tuesday, the 14th,
as was testified to, that these bottles contained arsenic_.

It is submitted that Mrs. Briggs could not have known that without some
other means of knowledge than looking at them.

The importance of this _misdirection_ of the judge as to the question
of possession of arsenic by Mrs. Maybrick can not be overstated. It
was _conclusively_ shown that no decoction of fly-papers or of the
black powder was the source of the arsenic with which certain articles
found in the house and office were said to be infected, because the
analyst said he had searched for the fibers of the papers and for the
charcoal, _and could not find any traces of either_. If Mrs. Maybrick
knew of the pure arsenic, why should she have bought the fly-papers,
either for a cosmetic purpose or murder, and what should she have
wanted with “poison for cats?”


Out of the list submitted by the police, therefore, the only two things
which could have been the source of the arsenic were the bottle of
saturated solution, No. 10 in the Police List, and the bottle of solid
arsenic, No. 11 in the Police List.

It may be observed that if all the arsenic or “traces” of the same,
with which various things were said to be infected, were collected
together, it would not constitute a fatal dose, the smallest fatal dose
recorded being two grains, and this in the case of a woman, and surely
not in the case of a person addicted to large doses of arsenic.

At the inquest Mr. Davies defined what he meant by the word “trace.” He

“It means something under 1/100 part of a grain. It does not mean
something which I could not weigh, but something which I could _not_
guarantee to be absolutely free from other things; but anything under
1/100 part of a grain I should not consider satisfactory. If I said
_distinct traces_, I should say it meant something between 1/100 and
1/1000 part of a grain, while a _minute trace_ is less than 1/1000 part
of a grain.”

In reference to Reinsch’s test which Mr. Davies used in these
experiments, this passage occurs in Taylor’s “Medical Jurisprudence,”
vol. i., p. 268: “The mere presence of a gray deposit on pure copper
affords _no absolute proof_ of the presence of arsenic. Bismuth,
antimony, and mercury all yield deposits with Reinsch’s test. The gray
deposit of bismuth may easily be taken for arsenic.” And again: “The
errors into which the faulty methods of applying Reinsch’s test lead
have led its reliability to be much discredited, and, although in
skilful hands the results are trustworthy, it would be perhaps unsafe
to rely upon it in an important criminal investigation.”

It is submitted that the evidence relating to the articles which Mr.
Davies said were infected with arsenic only to the extent of _an
unweighable trace_ could not and ought not to be regarded as proof
that any arsenic at all was there, or as being anything more _than
a suspicion_ upon this analyst’s mind that what he saw was arsenic,
and that it was a _misdirection_ on the part of Mr. Justice Stephen
to treat a mere expression of opinion of that kind as proof of the
presence of arsenic.


It will be observed that the only things of which James Maybrick could
have partaken [but did not], in which arsenic in a weighable form was
present, were the bottle of Valentine’s meat juice and the pot of
glycerin, and that the arsenic found in them was found in a state of

As regards the half grain of arsenic found in the _meat juice_,
scientific evidence will be forthcoming that it is a physical
impossibility for any person to dissolve half a grain of solid arsenic
in 411 grains of Valentine’s meat juice, which is all the liquid that
was in the bottle when it was handed to Mr. Davies.

Mr. Davies, moreover, found that (although he used very loose and
unscientific language in his evidence) the specific gravity of the meat
juice was considerably reduced, thereby showing that the half grain
of arsenic found in it had been introduced in the form of _arsenic in

It will now be observed that the _only arsenic in solution_ which was
_available_, among the stores of arsenic found in the house, was the
_bottle No. 10_ in the police list, and it is submitted that bottle No.
11 (solid arsenic) must, like the black solutions, _be eliminated_ from
any store of arsenic which Mrs. Maybrick, whether she had access to it
or not, could have employed for the purpose of infecting any of the
things found in the house to be infected.

Mr. Davies described the bottle No. 10 as a saturated solution of white
arsenic, and he stated that it had been dissolved with water, some of
the crystals remaining at the bottom undissolved.

At the inquest he stated, in reply to a question by the coroner:
“The bottle No. 10, which was also in the box, contained a saturated
solution of arsenic and solid arsenic at the bottom. There was no label
on it. It contained, solid and liquid, perhaps two grains--a grain at
all events.”

_So it is evident that there was not a fatal dose even in the stores
which Mrs. Maybrick could have used had she had access to it._

As regards this bottle, Mr. Justice Stephen told the jury: “A saturated
solution is a solution which has taken up as much arsenic as it can,
the water becoming saturated with arsenic; the remainder of the arsenic
is found at the bottom. In this case there was a saturated solution of
arsenic in the water and a small portion of arsenic at the bottom. With
regard to that these questions arise: What was it for? Who is wanting
such a quantity of strong solution of arsenic? Who has put it there and
how is it to be used? These are the questions, in the solution of which
I can not help you. There is nothing definite about it to connect Mr.
Maybrick with it certainly.[7] If he was in the habit of arsenic eating
he would not keep it saturated in water in quantities he could not
possibly use.”

Mr. Davies found that this bottle “contained in solid and liquid
perhaps two grains--a grain at all events.” Now arsenic can be
dissolved in water by two processes. In cold water by shaking it
constantly for several hours (and the strongest solution that can
be obtained by the cold-water process is a one-per-cent. solution,
which is no stronger than the ordinary Fowler’s solution as sold in
the shops). That is called a “saturated solution” by the cold-water
process. A solution of three or even four per cent. can be obtained
with boiling water, but only when the water is kept on the constant
boil for several hours; and that is also called a “saturated solution,”
so that the phrase “saturated solution” may mean either a weak solution
of one per cent., such as is gained by the cold-water process, or a
stronger solution of three per cent. by the boiling-water process, and
Mr. Justice Stephen _misdirected_ the jury as to the meaning of the
phrase “saturated solution.” He should have told them that a “saturated
solution” of arsenic is one which has by any particular process taken
up as much arsenic and _retained it in solution_ as is possible by
that particular process, and that it might consequently be either a
weak or a stronger solution, according as it has been dissolved by the
cold-water or boiling-water process, by shaking for hours or boiling
for hours.

The questions put to the jury by Mr. Justice Stephen upon the
interpretation of the phrase “saturated solution” which he gave,
namely, “How is it to be used?” “Who is wanting such a quantity of
_strong_ solution of arsenic?” are _misdirections_.


Counsel are referred to experiments made with solutions of arsenic by
Mr. E. Godwin Clayton, of the firm of Hassall & Clayton. From these it
will be seen that by the experiment there marked B, where the arsenic
was shaken at intervals of twenty minutes for six hours, the result
shows that it would require 186½ grains of water to carry half a grain
of arsenic. And that by experiment C, which is the strongest possible
solution by the cold-water process, namely, one-per-cent. strength
(equal to Fowler’s solution), it would require 50 grains of water to
carry half a grain, but to obtain this the arsenic has to be shaken
with cold water _at frequent intervals for four days_.

Mr. Godwin Clayton, in his report as to these experiments, remarks:
“I think, however, that as few people outside a chemical laboratory
would have the patience or opportunity to make a solution by shaking
it at short intervals during four days, the solution obtained in
experiment B--namely, an arsenical strength of 0.268 per cent.--might
be described in a popular sense, though not with strict scientific
accuracy, as ‘saturated solution of arsenic.’” But then if that be so,
that is only about a quarter of the strength of Fowler’s solution!
The evidence of Mr. Davies as to the specific gravity of the meat
juice being considerably reduced ought, it is submitted, _not_ to have
been received as scientific evidence, and it was a _misdirection_ to
treat it as such, because without the slightest difficulty, as will be
seen by a reference to Mr. Godwin Clayton’s experiments, Mr. Davies’s
evidence ought to have been scientifically exact, because he could have
shown that (for example) if a solution of the strength of experiment
B had been used, the 411 grains of liquid would have contained 186½
of solution of arsenic and 244½ grains of meat juice; and, further,
that the specific gravity of the meat juice would, in that case, have
been lowered from 1.2143 to 1.1263; and it was, therefore, not only
possible, but the duty of Mr. Davies, as an expert, to have shown, by
comparing the specific gravity of the bottle No. 10 and the specific
gravity of Valentine’s meat juice, that the “arsenic in solution” which
had been introduced into it had been introduced into it out of that
particular bottle, No. 10.

Then, again, it will be seen from these experiments of Mr. Godwin
Clayton that if the solution in bottle No. 10 had been a strong
hot-water solution of three per cent., the specific gravity would not
have been considerably reduced, because the meat juice would in that
case have contained only 15½ grains of arsenical solution. To have
obtained such a solution, the “arsenic powder” must have been boiled
with distilled water for four hours; and it is submitted that it would
have been _impossible_, in the first place, for Mrs. Maybrick, or
any person outside a laboratory, to have adopted such a process of
dissolving arsenic without the knowledge of the servants or anybody
else; and, further, that even if she could have done this, she could
not have possibly weighed out exactly half a grain of it, which is
what Mr. Davies found; and it is suggested that the only way in which
that half grain of arsenic could possibly have been measured into
that bottle, must have been by introducing Fowler’s solution, _and
no Fowler’s solution was found in the house_--and in no way was it
suggested that Mrs. Maybrick had any access to any, though others in
that house may have been able to procure such a medicinal dose of it.


As regards the glycerin, Inspector Baxendale said he found this
bottle in the lavatory on the 18th of May. There was no evidence that
this bottle had ever been in Mrs. Maybrick’s hands, and there was no
evidence that any part of it had been used by James Maybrick. There was
evidence that it was a freshly opened bottle. Scientific evidence will
be forthcoming that it is _an absolute impossibility_ for any person
to distribute arsenic evenly through a pound of glycerin.

It is suggested that there is no possible means by which that glycerin
could have been administered with a felonious intent to James Maybrick;
the mere moistening the lips with small quantities of it could not have
operated in that way.

Scientific evidence will be forthcoming that glycerin, when kept in
glass bottles, generally does contain arsenic, which it extracts from
the glass of the bottle.

In 1888 Jahns drew attention to arsenic being present in
glycerin--_Chemische Zeitung_.

In 1889 Vulpius also drew attention to it--_Apotheker Zeitung_.

Siebold (see _Pharmaceutical Journal_, 5th October, 1889) said, at
the Pharmaceutical Conference, on the 11th September, 1889, that his
experiments were made with toilet and pharmaceutical glycerin, and that
the majority showed presence of arsenious acid, varying from 1 grain
in 4,000 to 1 grain in 5,000.

It may be pointed out that this is _a larger quantity_ than Mr. Davies
found, which was only “about 1/10 of a grain in 1,000 grains.”

The evidence relating to the administration of glycerin was that of
Nurse Gore and Nurse Callery, and was to the effect that on Thursday
night they refreshed James Maybrick’s mouth with _glycerin and borax
mixed in a saucer_ that was on the table in the sick-room, and that
Mrs. Maybrick had brought the glycerin that was used either from the
medicine cupboard in her room or from the washstand drawer.

The attention of counsel is called to the fact that this saucer of
mixed glycerin and borax which was actually used _was not produced_
at the trial, but Justice Stephen, when summing up to the jury, said:
“Then you get the _blue_ bottle which contained Price’s glycerin. Here
is the bottle, which there is no evidence to show that Mrs. Maybrick
had even seen or touched; a considerable portion is still left. That
glycerin was found in the lavatory outside, and if the bottle were
filled and the same proportion of arsenic added, there would be
two-thirds of a grain of arsenic in it. You have heard already that
his mouth was moistened with glycerin and borax apparently the night
before he died. If that be so, and the glycerin be really poison, it is
certainly a very shocking result to arrive at.” Sir Charles Russell: “I
think the evidence of Nurse Gore is that the bottle that was used the
night before was taken, not from the lavatory, but from the cupboard
of the washstand.” His Lordship: “It does not follow that that was the
same bottle. One does not know the history of that bottle or where it
went to. It may or may not have been the glycerin which was used for
the purpose I have mentioned, namely, for moistening the lips. But it
does appear in the case that a bottle was found in the lavatory, and
that it contained a grain of arsenic, and that his mouth was moistened
with glycerin and borax during the night in question; but the identity
between that bottle and the bottle which contained the glycerin is not
established and not proved.”

It is submitted that the above was an _unfair and inflammatory
suggestion_, and amounts to a gross MISDIRECTION, especially after
all the evidence about the condition of deceased’s tongue and his
complaining of a sensation as of a hair in his throat.

This concludes the whole of the evidence to any articles containing
arsenic which were found in the house, in which the arsenic was present
in anything except as _unweighable “traces.”_


Justice Stephen further summed up: “The witness (Dr. Stevenson) stated:
‘I should say more arsenic was administered on the 3d of May.’” It
will be seen, by a reference to Dr. Stevenson’s evidence, that Dr.
Stevenson _did not_ say this.


  Copyright, 1904, by Pach Bros., New York.

HON. JOHN HAY, American Secretary of State, 1898--]

Dr. Humphreys was the only medical man in attendance at that time. The
only symptoms on Friday, the 3d, were that he had “vomited twice.” At
the inquest Dr. Humphreys said as to this:

Q. “Did he say anything about his lunch on the previous day, Thursday,
the 2d?”

A. “Yes; he said some inferior sherry had been put into it, and that it
had made him as bad as ever again.”

And that also appears in Dr. Stevenson’s evidence at the trial:

“He told the doctor he had not been well since the previous day, when I
learn he had his lunch at the office.”

It can not be suggested that the fact that the man vomited twice
on Friday night was attributable to any arsenic taken at midday on
Thursday, for Dr. Stevenson testified that the vomiting, which is a
symptom of arsenic, usually follows the administration in about _half
an hour_.

Dr. Carter, who was not called in to the patient until Tuesday, May
7th, in his evidence, however, suggested that:

“I judge that the fatal dose must have been given on Friday, the 3d,
but a dose might have been given after that. When he was so violently
ill on the Friday, I thought it would be from the effects of the
fatal dose, but there might have been subsequent doses”; and in
cross-examination he explained that he had made this suggestion about
the fatal dose because: “I was _told_ he was unable to retain anything
on his stomach for several days.”

It is submitted that the judge, when summing up, MISDIRECTED the jury
by ignoring entirely the evidence and substituting for it this reckless
suggestion of Dr. Carter’s.


The only occasions on which it was possible to suggest any act of
administration of arsenic were the medicine on the 27th of April and
the food at the office on May 1st and May 2d; and the judge told the

“The argument that the prisoner administered the arsenic is an argument
depending upon the combination of a great variety of circumstances of
suspicion. The theory is that there was poisoning by successive doses,
and it is rather suggested that there may have been several doses. But
I do not know that there was any effort made to point out the precise
times at which doses may have been administered.”

Under such circumstances it is submitted that the statement of the
judge as to the medicine on the 27th of April, and as to the food at
office, and as to the statement that “Friday (3d May) was the day on
which began the symptoms of what may be called the fatal dose,” _are
misdirections of vital importance to this case_, and such as to entitle
Mrs. Maybrick to have the verdict set aside and have a new trial


As regards the question of attempts to administer arsenic, the
occasions upon which such conduct was imputed are changing medicine
from one bottle into another and the Valentine’s meat juice. As regards
the changing the bottle, there were two occasions when evidence was
given as to Mrs. Maybrick’s doing this. The first was on the 7th of
May, when Alice Yapp said that some of the medicines were kept on
a table near the bedroom door and some in the bedroom, and that on
Tuesday, 7th of May, she saw Mrs. Maybrick on the landing near the
bedroom door, and what was she doing? She was apparently pouring
something out of one bottle into another. They were medicine bottles.

That is the whole evidence as to the incident, and as all the bottles
in the house were analyzed, and none found to contain _even a trace of
arsenic_ except the Clay and Abraham’s bottle--which James Maybrick was
not taking at that time--the judge could not properly direct the jury
to regard it as a matter of suspicion; _but he did do so_. He referred
to this incident thus:

“On the 28th April (the day after the Wirrall Races) Mrs. Maybrick sent
for Dr. Humphreys, and afterward she was seen pouring medicine from one
bottle into another.”

It is submitted that this was _a serious misdirection_.

The other occasion was on Friday, the 10th of May, when Michael
Maybrick, seeing Mrs. Maybrick changing a medicine from one bottle
to another in the bedroom, took the bottles away and had the
prescription made up again, saying: “Florrie, how dare you tamper
with the medicine?” Mrs. Maybrick explained that she was only putting
the medicine into a larger bottle because there was so much sediment.
Nurse Callery was present and there was no concealment about what she
was doing, and the bullying conduct of Michael was absolutely without
any sort of justification. _These bottles were analyzed and found to be

Mr. Justice Stephen turned this incident, which occurred on the
afternoon before death, and after she had been prevented from attending
on her husband, against Mrs. Maybrick, thus--quoting Michael’s
evidence: “In the bedroom I found Mrs. Maybrick pouring from one
bottle into another and changing the labels, and I said, ‘Florrie, how
dare you tamper with the medicine?’” And Justice Stephen continued:
“Verily, this was a strange--I don’t say strange considering the
circumstances--but dreadfully unwelcome remark to make to a lady in
her own house, when she was in attendance on her husband, and something
which showed the state of feeling in his mind, and must have attracted
her attention.” It is submitted that this was a _misdirection_.


There was also an attempt by the prosecution to suggest an attempt to
administer medicine, arising out of an occasion when James Maybrick
said to her, “You have given me the wrong medicine again,” from which
it appears that on the Friday, the day before death, Mrs. Maybrick
was not giving him anything at all, but was trying to get him to take
some medicine from Nurse Callery, who was endeavoring to induce him to
take it. This was one of the medicines ordered by Dr. Humphreys, _and
was found free from arsenic_. The judge did not refer to this in his
summing-up, but reference to it is introduced here because it exhausts
the whole evidence, with the exception of the Valentine’s meat juice
incident, as to any suggestions or even of any occasions of attempt to
administer, while Mr. Matthews advised the Queen that “the evidence
leads clearly to the conclusion that the prisoner administered and
attempted to administer arsenic to her husband with intent to murder,”
which formed his ground for consigning this woman to penal servitude
for life. _No evidence, either of any act of administration or of any
act of attempt to administer either with or without felonious attempt,
was given at the trial, which possibly could have led any person to
any such conclusion_, with the single exception of the Valentine’s
meat juice; and as none of that was administered after it had been in
Mrs. Maybrick’s hands, the utmost that could be said of it (assuming
that she did put any arsenic into it) is that it was an _attempt_ to
administer, either feloniously or otherwise. It is submitted that the
judge _misdirected_ the jury as to this incident, in that he did not
tell them that the mere evidence of an attempt to administer arsenic
was not sufficient--that they must be satisfied that the attempt to
administer was with a _mens rea_ and with an intent to murder.


Mrs. Maybrick voluntarily told her solicitors, Mr. Arnold and Mr.
Richard Cleaver, directly she was arrested and even before the inquest,
that she had, at her husband’s urgent request, put a powder into a
bottle of Valentine’s meat juice, but that she did not know, until
Mrs. Briggs informed her that arsenic had been found in a bottle of
meat juice, that the powder she had put in was assumably arsenic. [At
the trial both Mr. Richard and Mr. Arnold Cleaver, her solicitors,
offered to give evidence to this effect, but Justice Stephen refused to
admit it.] She also tried to tell Mrs. Briggs the same thing, but the
policeman stopped the conversation; and she also told it to her mother
on her arrival. Mrs. Maybrick made no attempt at concealment about
having put this powder in, although no one had seen her do it, and her
solicitors, instead of relying as a line of defense on showing there
was no “mens rea” in what she had done, kept back her account of what
she had done. At the trial, however, after all the evidence for the
prosecution had been concluded without a single witness speaking of her
having put anything into anything, she _insisted_ on telling the jury,
as she had told her solicitors, that she did put a powder into a bottle
of meat juice, in accordance with an urgent request of her husband’s,
but that she did not know it was arsenic. If she did not know, there
was no “mens rea.” Upon that evidence, and upon certain suspicious
circumstances connected with her conduct in taking the meat juice into
the dressing-room and replacing it in the bedroom, the judge, as it is
submitted, _misdirected_ the jury in the following passage:

“Mr. Michael Maybrick says: ‘Nothing was given to my brother out of
that.’ That is to say, nothing was given to him out of the bottle
of Valentine’s meat juice, which undoubtedly had arsenic in it.
Its presence was detected, but of that bottle which was poisoned
he certainly had none. He had a small taste of it _before it was
poisoned_, given him by Nurse Gore.”

It is submitted that the words “before it was poisoned” is _a gross


It may be convenient here to interpose the following remarks on
the subject of the identity of the bottle. Counsel will observe
that the judge referred to the evidence at the inquest and at the
magisterial inquiry, which, it is suggested, enables a reference to
any discrepancies in the evidence of the witnesses on the three
occasions--inquest, magisterial inquiry, and trial.

The identity of the half-used bottle, which was found to contain “half
a grain of arsenic in solution,” with the bottle which Mrs. Maybrick
took into the dressing-room, was not proved. It was assumed alike by
the prosecution and the defense, and by Mrs. Maybrick herself, _but it
was not proved_. It was proved that there was another half-used bottle,
of which James Maybrick had partaken on Monday, 6th of May, when Dr.
Humphreys said:

“Some of the Valentine’s meat juice had been taken, but it did not
agree with the deceased and made him vomit. Witness did not remember
him vomiting in his presence, but he complained of it. Witness told
deceased to stop the Valentine’s meat juice, and said he was not
surprised at it making Mr. Maybrick sick, as it made many people sick.”

There was, therefore, another half-used bottle. The attention of
counsel is strongly directed to the question of the identity of this
half-used bottle.

Besides the one in which the arsenic was detected, there was another
half-used bottle produced at the trial, which was found by Mrs. Briggs
after death in one of James Maybrick’s hatboxes in the dressing-room,
together with the black solutions and white solutions of arsenic, and
this bottle was found free of arsenic.

As to the bottle which Mrs. Maybrick had in her hands on the night of
the 9th-10th of May, and which she took into the dressing-room, and
as to which she volunteered the statement that she had put a powder
in, as to which evidence was given by Nurse Gore, was thus voluntarily
corroborated by Mrs. Maybrick in her statement to the jury. From
this it appears that Nurse Gore, on her arrival for duty on Thursday
night, opened a fresh bottle of meat juice, which had been given to
her the night before by Edwin Maybrick, and gave the patient one
or two spoonfuls, and then placed it on the table, from which she
shortly afterward saw Mrs. Maybrick remove it and take it into the
dressing-room, the door of which was not shut, and then return with
it into the bedroom and replace it on the table. Nurse Gore thought
she did this in a stealthy way. It must be remembered that Nurse Gore
was naturally suspicious, as is shown by the fact that on two previous
occasions she suggested suspicions with regard to changes in medicines
by Mrs. Maybrick, which on analysis were proved to be free from
arsenic. When the patient, a short time afterward, awoke, Mrs. Maybrick
came into the bedroom again and _removed_ the bottle from the table and
placed it on the washstand, where there were only the ordinary jugs and
basins, and there left it. Nurse Gore’s usual suspicions were aroused
and she gave the patient none of it, nor did Mrs. Maybrick ask her to
give him any. When Nurse Gore was relieved by Nurse Callery the next
morning (Friday, the 10th), at 11 o’clock, she called her attention
to it and asked her to take _a sample of it_, which Callery did, and
put it into an ordinary medicine bottle, which Nurse Gore gave her for
the purpose. Nurse Gore left the bottle on the washstand where Mrs.
Maybrick had placed it. Nurse Gore did not mention the circumstance
to Dr. Humphreys when he came to see the patient at 8:30 A.M., nor to
Michael Maybrick, whose attention she directed to a bottle of brandy
instead, which on analysis was found harmless; and she then went into
Liverpool and saw the matron, and on her return to the house at 2
o’clock told Callery to throw away the sample in accordance with the
matron’s orders, which Callery did. The bottle in which that sample
was taken was not specially identified, though it must have remained
on the premises. It ought to have been produced, because, if arsenic
was detected in the sample, the bottle of Valentine’s meat juice would
have been identified by that means, and it would have been shown that
the arsenic was in the meat juice which Mrs. Maybrick had taken into
the dressing-room. On the other hand, as all the bottles which were in
the house were analyzed and found free of arsenic, there is negative
evidence that there was no arsenic in the sample taken.


Now the serious, most serious, consideration of counsel is asked for
in comparing the evidence of these three witnesses--Gore, Callery, and
Michael Maybrick--as given at the coroner’s inquest, as it appears in
the coroner’s depositions, at the magisterial inquiry, as it appears
in the magistrates’ depositions, and as given at the trial. It will be
seen that there are great discrepancies as to the place in the room
from which Michael Maybrick took the half-used bottle in which Mr.
Davies, the analyst, subsequently detected one-tenth of a grain of
arsenic in solution. It is suggested that Mr. Michael’s evidence at the
inquest is the true account of where he got the bottle, and that his
evidence at the trial is _cooked_, to suit the evidence of Gore, _and
that the identity of the bottle is not established_. The statement,
which in her statement to the jury Mrs. Maybrick said she was prevented
by the policeman from making to Mrs. Briggs, the moment that person
told her about arsenic being found in the meat juice, was communicated
by Mrs. Maybrick at once to her solicitors, Mr. Arnold and Richard
Cleaver; and it is submitted that it was a _misdirection_ of the judge
to exclude their evidence in corroboration of such a material and
important fact in her favor, _and a misdirection in refusing to allow
corroboration in that way_ of what was in evidence, and did corroborate
it--thereby constituting a matter which the jury should have had before
them, as having a bearing on her statement.


The judge referred to the Valentine’s meat-juice incident, the most
vital point in the trial, in the following extraordinary manner at the
end of his summing-up:

“I may say this, however: supposing you find a man dying of arsenic,
_and it is proved_ that a person put arsenic in his plate, and if he
gives an explanation which you do not consider satisfactory--that is
a very strong question to be considered--how far it goes, what its
logical value is, I am not prepared to say--I could not say, and unless
I had to write my verdict I should not say how I should deal with the
verdict; but being no juryman, but only a judge, I can only say this,
it is a matter for your serious consideration.”

It is submitted that this was a _gross misdirection_ and _a cruel
taunt_ to _drive the jury into finding a verdict_ against the prisoner
upon that ground, _and it is submitted that so monstrously unfair an
utterance can not be found in the reports of any summing-up by any
judge in any criminal case_. See also another _misdirection_ where
the judge read the examination of Nurse Gore and omitted reference to
the sample, but said of the bottle, “In point of fact, _it remained
where it was_ until taken away by Mr. Michael Maybrick,” when it is
in evidence that Nurse Callery had taken a sample of it during the
eighteen hours it remained on the washstand, and that others beside
Mrs. Maybrick had access to it.

It is submitted that, apart from the question of the identity of the
bottle, there was no evidence, except Mrs. Maybrick’s statement, that
she had put anything into the bottle, which justified Mr. Justice
Stephen in using the words, “He had a small taste of it _before_ it was
poisoned,” inasmuch as, except Mrs. Maybrick’s own voluntary statement
that she had put a powder into a bottle of meat juice, there was
nothing to show that the arsenic, detected by Mr. Davies in the bottle
he analyzed, had not been in the bottle when Edwin Maybrick gave it to
Nurse Gore and which she opened when she gave the patient “one or two

Another _misdirection_ in reference to the meat-juice incident will be
found in the summing-up in the words:

“It has a sort of very remote bearing upon the statement which she made
on Monday.”

Instead of “a sort of very remote bearing,” it was a _matter of the
greatest importance_ that it should be shown that _at the very instant_
she heard that arsenic had been found in some meat juice, before even
the inquest, _and before any arsenic had been found in the body_, she
should have attempted to tell Mrs. Briggs that she had put a powder
into some meat juice, but did not know what it was; and, in connection
with this, the attention of counsel is called to the fact that Mr.
Justice Stephen _refused to allow evidence showing that she had made
this statement from the very first_.


As to the cause of James Maybrick’s death, there was a most remarkable
conflict of medical opinion. It was not until the post-mortem
examination, held on Monday, the 13th of May, by Drs. Carter and
Humphreys (the medical men who had attended the deceased during his
illness), and Dr. Barron, that the cause of death was ascertained, and
it was then found to be exhaustion, caused by gastro-enteritis or acute
inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which, in their opinion,
had been set up by an irritant poison, but might have been set up by
his getting wet through.

These doctors agreed that by the phrase “irritant poison” they meant
any unwholesome food or drink.

Up to the time of death the doctors, Messrs. Humphreys and Carter,
had supposed and treated the patient for dyspepsia, notwithstanding
that suggestions had been made to them by Michael Maybrick that the
patient was being poisoned; and they said in their evidence that _but
for the discovery of arsenic on the premises, they would have given a
certificate of death from natural causes_.

At the post-mortem examination they selected such portions of the body
for analysis as they considered necessary, including, among other
things, the stomach and its contents; and the analyst employed by the
police (Mr. Davies) _found no arsenic in the stomach or its contents_,
and was unable to discover any weighable traces of arsenic in any other
portions of the body.

About three weeks afterward the body was, by order of the Home
Secretary, exhumed, and fresh portions of it were taken for analysis,
some of which were examined by Mr. Davies and other parts by Dr.
Stevenson, one of the Crown analysts.

In those portions taken at the exhumation, the total result of the
search for arsenic in the body was that Mr. Davies actually found
unweighable arsenic, 2/100 of a grain, in the liver, and Dr. Stevenson
76/1000 of a grain in the liver and 15/1000 in the intestines, making,
when all added together, the total amount as found by Mr. Davies and
Dr. Stevenson about one-tenth of a grain, made up of minute fractional
portions of one-hundredths and one-thousandths.

It was shown in evidence that the smallest fatal dose of arsenic ever
recorded was two grains, which was in the case of a woman, and who
presumably was not an arsenic-eater.

It was shown in evidence that in the year 1888 Mrs. Maybrick had asked
Dr. Hopper (who was at that time, and had been for many years, their
regular medical attendant) to speak to Mr. Maybrick and prevent him
taking certain medicines, which were doing him harm; that early in
March she made the same appeal to Dr. Humphreys, suggesting at the time
that Mr. Maybrick was taking a _white powder_, which she thought was

At the magisterial inquiry Dr. Humphreys stated that Mrs. Maybrick had,
on the occasion of his being called in to the patient on the 28th of
April, also spoken to him about her husband taking this white powder,
and that in consequence of this he asked Mr. Maybrick about taking
strychnin and nux vomica.

Counsel will find proof, in the evidence given at the trial by Dr.
Hopper, Mr. Heaton, Nicholas Bateson, Esq., Capt. Richard Thompson,
Thomas Stansell, and Sir James Poole, ex-Mayor of Liverpool, as to the
arsenic habit of James Maybrick and his opportunities for obtaining
the drug. [To which must now be added the statutory declaration of
Valentine Charles Blake, son of the late Sir Valentine Blake, M.P.,
that he, about two months prior to Mr. Maybrick’s death, had procured
him 150 grains of arsenic.] It may be stated here that from the
appearance of the little bottles in which the white arsenic was found,
they had been in use for a long time and were such as would be found
as sample bottles in the offices of business houses to which it is
unlikely Mrs. Maybrick would have access.

It is submitted that the discovery of such a tiny quantity of arsenic
in the body of a man addicted to such extraordinary habits might
reasonably be accounted for by those habits.


The conflict of medical opinion which was exhibited on this trial
arose upon the point as to whether arsenic had been the cause of the
gastro-enteritis, of which it was admitted that the man died.

There was _no_ conflict of medical opinion on the facts that the
quantity found in the body _was insufficient to cause death_, nor that
gastro-enteritis might be set up by a vast variety of things besides
arsenic--in fact, by any impure food or by excessive alcohol or by
getting wet through. It was shown in evidence that Mr. Maybrick got
wet through at the Wirrall Races on the 27th of April, and that he
afterward went in his wet clothes to dinner at a friend’s on the other
side of the Mersey.

The conflict of medical opinion amounted to this, that the Crown
called Drs. Carter and Humphreys, who both admitted that _they had
never previously attended a case of arsenical poisoning, nor had ever
before attended a post-mortem examination of a person whose death had
been attributed to arsenic_--in short, that they had had no experience
whatever. The Crown also called Dr. Stevenson (who had not attended
the deceased, but had conducted the analysis of parts of the body) as
an expert in poisoning, and he said, as to the symptoms during life:
“_There is no distinctive diagnostic symptom of arsenical poisoning._
The diagnostic thing is finding the arsenic.”

The Crown also had Dr. Barron, who had attended the post-mortem, and
who expressed himself unable to say that arsenic was the cause of the

These witnesses, it may be observed, gave their evidence both as to
the symptoms during life and as to the appearances at the post-mortem
_before_ the medical evidence for the defense had been called.

The witnesses called for the defense had none of them attended the
deceased, but were called as experts in poisoning, viz., Dr. Tidy, a
Crown analyst, Dr. Macnamara, and Professor Paul, who all gave positive
evidence that neither the symptoms during life nor the appearance after
death were such as _could be attributed to arsenical poisoning_; that,
in fact, they pointed _away from_, instead of toward, arsenic being the
cause of death.

The evidence of these witnesses was summarized very fairly by Mr.
Justice Stephen.

In the face of such a conflict of medical opinion, it is submitted that
Mr. Justice Stephen should have refused to allow the jury to return any
verdict of guilty at all.


On the first day of his summing-up, however, Mr. Justice Stephen told
the jury as to the law under which they were to return their verdict:
“You have been told that if you are not satisfied in your minds about
poisoning--if you think he died from some other disease--then the case
is not made out against the prisoner. It is a necessary step--it is
_essential_ to this charge--that the man _died of poison_, and the
poison suggested is arsenic. This is the question you have to consider,
and it must be the foundation of a judgment unfavorable to the prisoner
that he died of arsenic.”

It is submitted that Mr. Justice Stephen _misdirected_ the jury when
he told them to satisfy their minds whether he died from any other
disease, inasmuch as the only question before the jury was whether _the
cause of death was arsenic_.

“The question for you is by what the illness was caused. Was it caused
by arsenic or by some other means?”

It is submitted that that is a _misdirection_. It might have been put
to a coroner’s jury, but it was not a question which should have been
put to a jury at a criminal trial.

It is submitted that he _misdirected_ the jury in not also telling them
that it was _essential_ to a verdict unfavorable to the prisoner that
the arsenic of which he died _had been administered by her_, and also
in not telling the jury that it was essential to a verdict unfavorable
to the prisoner that, if she had administered any, she had done it with
intent to destroy life.


Mr. Justice Stephen then proceeded: “Now, let us see what the doctors
say. Some say death was caused by arsenic, and others that it was not
by arsenic--that he died of gastro-enteritis”; and he spoke of the
medical evidence in a way which amounted to a direction to the jury
that they were to treat it as _tainted with subtle partisanship_, and
as evidence to which it was not necessary for them to attach _serious
importance_. He, in fact, stated, and in so doing _misdirected_ the
jury, that though it was essential to a verdict unfavorable to the
prisoner that he died of arsenic, that question was one which they,
the jury, could come to _their own opinion about, without taking into
consideration the opinion of the medical experts, who had positively
stated that arsenic was not the cause of death_. In other words, he
directed the jury that, as the medical experts could not agree that
the cause of death was arsenical poisoning, it was for them to decide
that question from their own “_knowledge of human nature_.”

On the second day of the summing-up the judge told the jury (and
it is submitted that it contains _gross misdirections_): “You must
consider the case as _a mere medical case_, in which you are to decide
whether the man did or did not die of arsenic according to the medical
evidence. You must not consider it as _a mere chemical case_, in which
you decide whether the man died from arsenic which was discovered as
the result of a chemical analysis. You must decide it as _a great,
high, and important case_, involving in itself not only medical and
chemical questions, but embodying in itself _a most highly important
moral question_--and by that term, moral question, I do not mean a
question of what is right and wrong in a moral point of view, but
questions in which human nature enters and in which _you must rely on
your knowledge of human nature_ in determining the resolution you
arrive at.

“You have, in the first place, to consider--far be it from me to
exclude or try to get others to exclude from their own minds what I
must feel myself vividly conscious of--the evidence in this matter. I
think every human being in this case must feel vividly conscious of
what you have to consider, but I had almost better say you ought not to
consider, for fear you might consider it too much, the horrible nature
of the inquiry in which you are engaged. I feel that it is a dreadful
thing that you are deliberately considering whether you are to convict
that woman of really as horribly dreadful a crime as ever any poor
wretch who stood in the dock was accused of. If she is guilty--I am
saying if my object is rather to heighten your feeling of the solemnity
of the circumstances, and in no way to prevent you from feeling as you
do feel, and as you ought to feel. I could say a good many other things
about the awful nature of the charge, but I do not think it will be
necessary to do any one thing. Your own hearts must tell you what it
is for a person _to go on administering poison_ to a helpless, sick
man, upon whom she has already inflicted a dreadful injury--an injury
fatal to married life; the person who could do such a thing as that
must be destitute of the least trace of human feeling.” And further on:
“We have to consider this not in an unfeeling spirit--far from it--but
in the spirit of people resolved to solve _by intellectual means an
intellectual problem of great difficulty_.”


  Copyright by G. G. Rockwood, New York.

HON. JOSEPH H. CHOATE, American Ambassador at the Court of St. James,

Mr. Justice Stephen, in short, instead of putting to the jury for
separate answers each of the following three questions:

1. Did this man die of arsenic?

2. Did Mrs. Maybrick administer that arsenic?

3. Did she do it feloniously?

invited them to return a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty” upon a
direction of law, wherein he told them that they were to decide it as
_an intellectual problem_, on the question which, it is submitted, can
be formulated thus:

“Might this man have died of arsenic notwithstanding the opinion of
the medical experts that he did _not_ die of arsenic?” And the jury
answered “Yes.”

It is submitted that this was _a gross misdirection_.

It may be interesting and applicable to quote from a paper read by
Sir Fitzjames Stephen himself at the Science Association in 1884:
“It is not to be denied that, so long as great ignorance exists on
matters of physical and medical science in all classes, physicians will
occasionally have to submit to the mortification of seeing not only the
jury, but the bar and bench itself, receive with scornful incredulity
or with self-satisfied ignorance evidence which ought to be received
with respect and attention.” How prophetic this was as exemplified by
his own attitude in this trial need not be pointed out.


Under the head of Misreception of Evidence may be classed the
observations of the judge, where, apparently in order to prevent
the jury from being influenced _in favor of the prisoner_, owing to
the small quantity of arsenic found in the body of the deceased, he
mentioned _an instance of a dog_ being poisoned, in the body of which,
though it had taken a large number of grains of arsenic, no arsenic was
found after its death. The judge, in other words, turned himself into a
witness for the prosecution. The unfairness to the prisoner of such a
course is obvious. Had the judge been an ordinary witness he might have
been cross-examined to show, _e.g._, that arsenic _passes away from the
body of a dog much more quickly than from that of a man_, or that the
circumstances as to time and quantity taken were such as to prove that
there was no analogy between the two cases. As the matter stands, the
judge’s recollection of an experiment _on a dog_, which had been made
many years before, was meant to rebut a proposition much relied on by
the defense, viz., that the small quantity of arsenic found in the body
of the deceased was consistent with the view that he was _in the habit
of taking arsenic_, rather than with the case for the Crown that he had
been intentionally poisoned.


The inquest was formally opened by taking the evidence of the
identification of the deceased by his brother, Michael Maybrick, and
then adjourned for a fortnight, the coroner announcing that there had
been a post-mortem examination by Dr. Humphreys, and that the result
of that examination was that poison was found in the stomach of the
deceased in such quantities as to justify further examination; that
the stomach of the deceased, and its contents, would meanwhile be
chemically analyzed, and on the result of that analysis would depend
the question whether or not criminal proceedings against some person
would follow. Now the announcement that “poison had been found in the
stomach of the deceased” was _contrary to fact_, and in consequence
of this _cruel misstatement_ the proceedings caused an immense amount
of popular excitement and prejudice against the accused, who, being
too ill to be removed, remained at Battlecrease House, in charge of
the police, till the following Saturday morning, the 18th May, when a
sort of court inquiry was opened in Mrs. Maybrick’s bedroom by Colonel
Bidwell, one of the county magistrates.


The evidence of Dr. Arthur Richard Hopper, who had been Mr. and Mrs.
Maybrick’s medical adviser for about seven years, was taken. He had not
attended Mr. Maybrick during his last illness, but spoke about Mrs.
Maybrick having asked him the year before to check her husband from
taking _dangerous drugs_, and that Mr. Maybrick had admitted to him
that he used to dose himself with anything his friends recommended, and
_that he was used to the taking of arsenic_.

Dr. Richard Humphreys spoke as to the symptoms of the illness and
his prescriptions, and that he had not suspected poisoning until it
was suggested to him and his colleague, Dr. Carter, and that he had
_himself administered arsenic_ to the deceased, in the form of Fowler’s
solution, on the Sunday or Monday before death, and that he refused
_a certificate of death only because arsenic had been found on the

Dr. William Carter spoke of being called the Tuesday before death, and
he agreed with Dr. Humphreys that an irritant poison, most probably
arsenic, was the cause of death.

Dr. Alexander Barron gave evidence to the effect that he was unable to
ascertain _any particular poison_.

Mr. Edward Davies, the analyst, was called, and gave evidence to the
effect that he had found _no weighable arsenic_ in the portions of the
body selected at the post-mortem, but that he had subsequently _found
one fiftieth of a grain of arsenic_ in a part of the liver, nothing
in the _stomach or its contents, but traces, not weighable_, in the
intestines, and that he had found arsenic in some of the bottles and
things found in the house after death and in the Valentine’s meat juice.

The first issue which the jury at the trial had to determine was
whether it was proved beyond _reasonable_ doubt that the deceased died
from arsenical poisoning.

Mr. Justice Stephen, in his summing-up, put this issue to the jury in
the following words:

“It is _essential_ to this charge that the man _died_ of arsenic.
This question must be the foundation of a verdict unfavorable to the
prisoner, that he _died of arsenic_.”

It must be assumed that this was a question exclusively for medical
experts, notwithstanding which the judge, in summing up, told the jury:

“You must not consider this _as a mere medical case_, in which you are
to decide whether the man _did_ or _did not die of arsenic poisoning
according to the medical evidence_. You must _not consider it as a mere
chemical case_, in which you decide whether the man _died from arsenic
which was discovered as the result of a chemical analysis_. You must
decide it as a _great and highly important case_, involving in itself
not only medical and chemical questions, but involving in itself a most
highly important _moral question_.”


Dr. Humphreys gave it as his opinion that the appearances at the
post-mortem were _consistent with congestion_ of the stomach not
_necessarily caused by an irritant poison_, and that the symptoms
during life were also consistent with congestion not caused by an
irritant poison, but with acute inflammation of the stomach and
intestines, produced by any cause whatever, and which would produce
similar pathological results. He thought death was caused by some
irritant poison, most likely arsenic, but he _would not like to
swear that it was_. Dr. Humphreys’ evidence, therefore, amounted
to this, that the deceased died from gastro-enteritis, a natural
disease, attributable to a variety of causes, and that, apart from the
suggestions already referred to, he would have certified accordingly.

Dr. Humphreys’ evidence was confirmed by that of Dr. Carter, who
stated he came to the same conclusion as Dr. Humphreys, “but in a
more positive manner.” Dr. Carter had assisted at the post-mortem
examination, besides being in close attendance on the deceased for the
five days preceding his death, which he attributed to taking some
irritant wine or decomposed meat, or to some grave error of diet; and
when pressed as to whether he had any reason to suppose the article
taken was poison, he explained that he did, but that by poison he meant
something that was bad--it might be tinned meat, which the deceased had
partaken of at the race dinner, or wine, or something which had set
up gastritis. This witness’s account of the post-mortem was that they
_found no arsenic_, but merely evidence of an irritant poison in the
stomach and intestines, probably arsenic. Dr. Carter’s evidence was
therefore _against poisoning by arsenic_ being conclusively accepted as
the cause of death, _although subsequently he said he had no doubt it
was arsenic_.

Dr. Barron’s evidence as to the cause of death was that he considered
from the post-mortem appearances that death was due to inflammation of
the stomach and bowels, due to some irritant poison, but that he was
unable to point to the particular poison, apart from what he heard;
and, pressed as to what he meant by poison, the witness stated that
poison might be bad tinned meat, bad fish, mussels, or generally bad
food of any kind, or alcohol taken in excess.


Dr. Stevenson expressed his opinion that the deceased died from
arsenic poisoning, giving as his reasons that the main symptoms were
those attributable to an irritant poison, and that they more closely
resembled those of arsenic than of any other irritant of which he
knew. He stated that he had known a great number of cases of poisoning
by arsenic in every shape, and that he acted officially for the Home
Office and Treasury in such cases. Dr. Stevenson was the witness of the
prosecution, and gave his evidence _before_ he had heard the evidence
for the defense.

Dr. Stevenson also stated that the general symptoms of arsenic
poisoning appeared _within half an hour_ of taking some article of
food or medicine, and were nausea, with a sinking sensation of the
stomach; vomiting, which, unlike that produced by any ordinary article
of food or drink that disagrees, afforded as a rule no relief and
often came on again; that there was most commonly pain in the stomach,
diarrhea; after a time the region of the stomach becomes tender under
pressure, the patient becomes restless, often bathed in perspiration;
the throat is complained of; pain in the throat, extending down to the
stomach; the tongue becomes very foul in appearance and furred. There
is not a bad smell as in the ordinary dyspeptic tongue, a rapid and
feeble pulse, thirst, great straining at stool, vomits and evacuations
frequently stained with blood. Of fourteen symptoms of arsenic
poisoning named by Dr. Stevenson, Mr. Maybrick exhibited _only one_,
according to the testimony of Dr. Stevenson. With the exception of the
foul tongue with malodorous breath, none of these symptoms coincided
with those given by Drs. Humphreys and Carter, who were in attendance
on the patient, while Dr. Stevenson _never saw him_.


Then came the evidence for the defense, rebutting the presumption
that death was caused by arsenic. First in order being Dr. Tidy, the
examiner for forensic medicine at the London Hospital, and also, like
Dr. Stevenson, employed as an analyst by the Home Office. This witness
stated that, within a few years, close upon _forty cases of arsenical
poisoning_ had come before him, which enabled him to indicate the
recurring and distinctive indications formed in such cases.

Dr. Tidy describes the symptoms of arsenic poisoning as purging and
vomiting in a very excessive degree; a burning pain in the abdomen,
more marked in the pit of the stomach, and increased considerably by
pressure, usually associated with pain in the calves of the legs; then,
after a certain interval, suffusion of the eyes--the eyes fill with
tears; great irritability about the eyelids; frequent intolerance of

Dr. Tidy added that there were three symptoms, such as cramps,
tenesmus, straining, more or less present, but the prominent symptoms
were those he had mentioned, especially the sickness, violent,
incessant sickness, and that poisoning by arsenic was extremely simple
to detect. Further, that he (Dr. Tidy) had known cases where one or
more of the four symptoms mentioned had been absent, but he had never
known a case in which all four symptoms were absent; and stated that he
had followed every detail of the Maybrick case so far as he could, and
had read all the depositions before the coroner and magistrate, and the
account of the vomiting did not agree with his description of excessive
and persistent vomiting, and was certainly not that kind of vomiting
that takes place in a typical case of arsenical poisoning.

Dr. Tidy further stated that, taking the whole of the symptoms,
they undoubtedly were _not_ those of arsenical poisoning, nor did
they point to such, but were perfectly consistent with death from
gastro-enteritis, not caused by arsenical poisoning at all; and
that, had he been called upon to advise, he should have said it was
undoubtedly not arsenical poisoning, and that his view had been
very much strengthened, to use his own words, by the result of the
post-mortem, which distinctly pointed _away_ from arsenic.

Then there was the evidence, in the same direction, of Dr. Macnamara,
the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, and its representative
on the General Medical Council of the Kingdom, which is summed up in
the general question put to him and his answer:

Question: Now, bringing your best judgment to bear on the matter--you
having been present at the whole of this trial and heard the
evidence--in your opinion, was this death from arsenical poisoning?

Answer: _Certainly not_.

In cross-examination Dr. Macnamara stated that, to the best of his
judgment, Mr. Maybrick died of gastro-enteritis, not connected with
arsenical poisoning, and which might have been caused by the wetting at
the Wirrall races.

Dr. Paul, professor of medical jurisprudence at University College,
Liverpool, and pathologist at the Royal Infirmary, stated he had made
and assisted at something like three or four thousand post-mortem
examinations, and that the symptoms in the present case agreed with
cases of _gastro-enteritis pure and simple_; that the finding of
the arsenic in the body, in the quantity mentioned in the evidence,
was quite consistent with the case of a man who had taken arsenic
medicinally, but _who had left it off for some time, even for several


So positive were Dr. Tidy and Dr. Macnamara of their position as to the
effect of arsenic on the human system, that they subsequently published
“A Toxicological Study of the Maybrick Case,” thus challenging medical
critics the world over to refute them. From this study the following,
in tabular form, is taken, in order to contrast the symptoms from which
Mr. Maybrick suffered with those which, it will be generally admitted,
are the usual symptoms of arsenical poisoning:


  Countenance tells of severe         | Not so described.
    suffering.                        |
  Very great depression an early      | Not present until toward
    symptom.                          |   the end.
  Fire-burning pain in stomach.       | Not present.
  Pain in stomach increased on        | Pressure produced no
    pressure.                         |   pain.
  Violent and uncontrollable vomiting | “Hawking rather than vomiting;”
    independent of ingesta.           |   irritability of stomach
                                      |   increased by ingesta.
  Vomiting not relieved by such       | Vomiting controlled by
    treatment as was used in Mr.      |   treatment.
    Maybrick’s case.                  |
  During vomiting burning heat and    | Not present.
    constriction felt in throat.      |
  Blood frequently present in         | Not present.
    vomited and purged matter.        |
  Intensely painful cramps in         | Not present.
    calves of the legs.               |
  Pain in urinating.                  | Not present.
  Purging and tenesmus an early       | Not present until twelfth day
    symptom.                          |   of illness, and then once
                                      |   only.
  Great intolerance of light.         | Not present.
  Eyes suffused and smarting.         | Not present.
  Eyeballs inflamed and reddened.     | Not present.
  Eyelids intensely itchy.            | Not present.
  Rapid and painful respiration       | Not present.
    an early symptom.                 |
  Pulse small, frequent, irregular,   | Not so described until
    and imperceptible from the        |  approach of death.
    outset.                           |
  Arsenic easily detected in urine    | Not detected, _although looked
    and fæces.                        |  for_.
  Tongue fiery red in its entirety,   | Tongue not red; “simply filthy.”
    or fiery red at tip and margins   |
    and foul toward base.             |
  Early and remarkable reduction      | Temperature normal up to day
    of temperature generally.         |  preceding death.

“Maybrick’s symptoms are as unlike poisoning by arsenic _as it is
possible for a case of dyspepsia to be. Everything distinctive of
arsenic is absent._ The urine contained no arsenic. The symptoms are
not even consistent with arsenical poisoning.

“Regarding the treatment adopted by the medical men, and more
especially Dr. Carter’s action with regard to the meat juice, we
are justified in assuming that the doctors themselves, even _after_
a certain suggestion had been made to them, did not come to the
conclusion that the illness of Maybrick was the result of arsenic.

“It is noteworthy (1) that none was found in the stomach; (2) that
Maybrick was in the habit of taking drugs, and among them arsenic.

“Thus two conclusions are forced upon us:

“(1) That the arsenic found in Maybrick’s body may have been taken in
merely medicinal doses, and that probably it was so taken.

“(2) That the arsenic may have been taken a considerable time before
either his death or illness, and that probably it was so taken.

“Our toxicological studies have led us to the three following

“(1) That the symptoms from which Maybrick suffered are consistent with
any form of acute dyspepsia, but that they point _away_ from, rather
than toward, arsenic as the cause of such dyspeptic condition.

“(2) That the post-mortem appearances are indicative of inflammation,
but that they emphatically point away from arsenic as the cause of

“(3) That the analysis fails to find more than _one-twentieth_ part of
a fatal dose of arsenic, and that the quantity so found _is perfectly
consistent with its medicinal ingestion_.”


Such was the complete evidence of the cause of death. The quantity
of arsenic found in the body was _one-tenth_ of a grain, and upon
this evidence rests the first issue the jury had to consider, namely,
whether it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased died
from arsenical poisoning.

As to the value of the medical testimony on both sides, Dr. Humphreys
_admitted that he never attended a case of arsenical poisoning in
his life_, nor of any irritant poison, and that he would have given
a certificate of death from natural causes had he not been told of
arsenic found in the meat juice.

Dr. Carter laid _no claim to any previous experience of poisoning by
arsenic_, and was unable to say from the post-mortem examination that
arsenic was the cause of death, which he could only attribute to an
irritant of some kind, and he admitted that it was the evidence of Mr.
Davies, as to the finding of arsenic in the body, which led him to the
conclusion that arsenical poisoning had taken place.

Dr. Barron did not see the patient, but assisted at the post-mortem
examination, and stated that, judging by the appearances and apart from
what he had heard, he was unable to identify arsenic as the particular
poison which had set up the inflammation.

Now, assuming for a moment that this issue as to the cause of death
rested entirely upon the uncontradicted testimony of these three
doctors called for the prosecution, Humphreys, Carter, and Barron, the
jury would not have been justified in coming to the conclusion that
there was _no reasonable doubt_ that arsenic poisoning was the cause
of death. The doctors themselves had admitted that they were unable to
arrive at that conclusion, apart from the evidence that arsenic was
found in the body. _The idea of arsenical poisoning never occurred to
them from the symptoms, until the use of arsenic was first suggested._

_The doctors could not say that_ death resulted from arsenic poisoning,
_and yet the jury have actually found that it did_, in the face of the
opinions of three eminent medical experts, who say it did not.

Even if these doctors had never been called at all for the defense, the
jury were yet not justified in taking the evidence of Drs. Humphreys,
Carter, and Barron, in the terms which they themselves never intended
to pledge themselves to, namely, to exclude _a reasonable doubt_ that
death was due to arsenic.

Let us consider the position of the medical men called for the defense:
Drs. Tidy, Macnamara, and Paul _are the highest authorities on medical
and chemical jurisprudence in Great Britain_. No sort of hesitation or
doubt attached to the opinions of any of them, and their experience of
post-mortem examinations was referred to, as including in the practise
of Dr. Tidy, the Crown analyst, some forty cases of arsenic poisoning
alone. Dr. Macnamara indorsed the opinion of Dr. Tidy. In addition to
that, there was on the same side the evidence of Dr. Paul, professor of
medical jurisprudence and toxicology at University College, Liverpool,
with an experience of three or four thousand post-mortem examinations.
It is impossible to conjecture _by what process of reasoning_ the jury
could have come to the conclusion, upon the evidence before them, that
it _was beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Maybrick_ had met his death
by arsenical poisoning.

_This volume of evidence before the jury pointed not only to a doubt as
to the cause of death, but to a reasonable_ conclusion that it was _not
due to arsenical poisoning. It is inconceivable that the jury should
have_ found as they did, _except under the mandatory direction of the
judge, which left them apparently no alternative but to substitute
his opinions and judgment for_ their own, so that on that _issue the
finding was not so much the finding of the jury, to which the prisoner
was by law entitled, but the finding of_ the judge, _of whom the jury,
abrogating their own functions, became the mere mouthpieces_.


The consideration of the facts as given in evidence also covers the
second issue which the jury had to determine, namely, whether, if
arsenic poisoning was the cause of death, it was the prisoner who
administered it with criminal intent. The evidence on this point was
most inconclusive.

_No one saw the prisoner administer arsenic to her husband._

She had no opportunity of giving her husband anything since one or
two o’clock on Wednesday afternoon (8th of May), after which she was
closely watched by the nurses. _It was not shown that any food or drink
administered to the deceased by the prisoner contained arsenic._ It
was not shown that the prisoner _had placed arsenic in any food or
drink intended for her husband’s use_. Nor, in fact, was any found,
although searched for, in any food or medicine of which Mr. Maybrick
partook during his illness, _except the arsenic in Fowler’s solution,
prescribed and administered by Dr. Humphreys himself_.


The episode of the fly-papers may be considered as one of the most
important factors in the whole case. It supplies, so to speak, the
only link between Mrs. Maybrick and arsenic, which, it is well known,
forms their chief ingredient. It was proved she had purchased the
fly-papers without any attempt at concealment, and, while soaking, they
were exposed to everybody’s view, quite openly, in a room accessible
to every inmate of the house. It was not suggested that Mrs. Maybrick
bought the other large quantity of arsenic, between seventy and eighty
grains, found in the house after death, _and no one came forward to
speak to any such purchase_. It was found in the most unlikely places
for Mrs. Maybrick to have selected, if she had intended to use it,
and the evidence against her on this point is of _a particularly
vague and indefinite character_. [Justice Stephen, commenting on the
quantity of arsenic found on the premises, himself observed that it
was a remarkable fact in the case, and which, it appeared to him, told
most favorably than otherwise for the prisoner, as in the whole case,
from first to last, there was no evidence at all that she had bought
any poison, or had anything to do with the procuring of any, with the
exception of those fly-papers.] The accusation rests entirely _on
suspicion, insinuation, and circumstantial suggestions; not one tittle
of evidence was adduced in support of it_, and yet the jury came to the
conclusion, without allowing of any doubt in the matter, _that it was
her hand which administered the poison_.


On this question the prisoner made a statement. She accounted for the
soaking of the fly-papers upon grounds which were not only probable,
but were corroborated by other incidents. That she was in the habit
of using arsenic as a face wash is shown by the prescription in 1878,
before her marriage, and of which the chemist made an entry in his
books, which came to light, after the trial, under the following

Among the few articles which Mr. Maybrick’s brothers allowed to be
taken from the house, they being the legatees of the deceased, was a
Bible which had belonged to Mrs. Maybrick’s father, and which, with
some other relics, came into the hands of Mrs. Maybrick’s mother, the
Baroness von Roques, who, months afterward, happening to turn over
the leaves of the Bible, came across a small piece of printed paper,
evidently mislaid there, being a New York chemist’s label, with a New
York doctor’s prescription written on the back, for an arsenical face
wash “for external use, to be applied with a sponge twice a day.”

This prescription contained Fowler’s solution of arsenic, chlorate of
potash, rose-water, and rectified spirits; and was again made up, on
the 17th of July, 1878, by a French chemist, Mr. L. Brouant, 81 Avenue
D’Eylau, Paris. It corroborates Mrs. Maybrick’s statement at the trial
that the fly-papers were being soaked for the purpose alleged by her.
If Mrs. Maybrick had obtained or purchased the seventy or eighty grains
of arsenic found in the house after the death, it is inconceivable that
she should have openly manufactured more arsenic with the fly-papers.
At the time she prepared the statement she had reason to believe that
the prescription had been lost. She knew, therefore, it would be
impossible for her to corroborate her story about the face wash, and
she could have omitted that incident altogether, and contented herself
by saying that she learned the preparation while at school in Germany.

[In further explanation I desire to state that during my girlhood, as
well as subsequently, I suffered occasionally, due to gastric causes,
from an irritation of the skin. One of my schoolmates, observing
that it troubled me a good deal, offered me a face lotion of her own
preparation, explaining that it was much more difficult to obtain
an arsenical ingredient abroad than in America, and to avoid any
consequent annoyance she extracted the necessary small quantity of
arsenic by the soaking of fly-papers. I had never had occasion to do
so myself, as I had a prescription from Dr. Bay; but when I discovered
that I had mislaid or lost this, I recalled the method of my friend,
being, however, wholly ignorant of what quantity might be required. The
reason why I wanted a cosmetic at this time was that I was going to a
fancy dress ball with my husband’s brother, and that my face was at
that time in an uncomfortable state of irritation.--F. E. M.]


Dealing with the question, did Mrs. Maybrick administer the arsenic,
there is absolutely no evidence _that she did. It was not for the
prisoner to prove her innocence._ She was seen neither to administer
the arsenic nor to put it in the food or drink taken by the deceased,
and this issue was found against her in the absence of any evidence in


Mrs. Maybrick’s statement also bears strongly upon the question of
administering with intent to murder. It is equally inconceivable that
a guilty woman would have said anything about the white powder in the
meat juice. She had nothing to gain by making such a statement, which
could only land her in the sea of difficulties without any possible
benefit, and here again the probabilities are entirely in her favor. It
is beyond a doubt that Mr. Maybrick was in the habit, or had at some
time or other been in the habit, of drugging himself with all sorts of
medicines, including arsenic, and assumably he had obtained relief from
it, or he would not have continued the practise.

Mr. Justice Stephen, in his summing-up, animadverted in very strong
terms on the testimony of arsenic being used for cosmetic purposes,
although expert chemists had certified to large use of arsenic for such
a purpose. An immense degree of speculation must have entered the minds
of the jury before they could find as they did, and bridge the gulf
between the soaking of the fly-papers and the death of Mr. Maybrick,
for it is quite evident that the soaking of the fly-papers was the one
connection between the arsenic and the prisoner upon which all the
subsequent events turned; and, if that be so, the importance is seen at
once of the statement she made regarding that incident, and conclusive
evidence as to which was subsequently found in the providentially
recovered prescription.

[Illustration: SAMUEL V. HAYDEN, Of Hayden & Yarrell, American counsel
of Mrs. Maybrick.]


Another remarkable circumstance is the absence of any attempt at
concealment on the prisoner’s part. The fly-papers were purchased
openly from chemists who knew the Maybricks well, and they were left
soaking in such a manner as at once to refute any suggestion of
secrecy; and her voluntary statement about the white powder which she
placed in the meat juice, as to which there was absolutely no evidence
to connect her with its presence there, seems inconsistent with the
theory the prosecution attempted to build upon _a number of assumptions
of which the accuracy was not proved_.

The question of the prisoner’s guilt was not capable of being reduced
to any issue upon which the prosecution could bring to bear direct
evidence; the most they were capable of doing was to show that the
prisoner had _opportunities_ of administering poison, which she _shared
with every individual in the house_; further, that she had arsenic
in her possession (and this was an _open secret_, as we have already
explained with reference to the fly-papers); and, lastly, that she
had the possibility of extracting arsenic in sufficient quantities
to cause death, which was, however, extremely doubtful; and then the
prosecution tried to complete this indirect evidence by proving that
Mr. Maybrick died from arsenic poisoning, _which they signally failed
to do_. The strong point of the prosecution, as they alleged, was that
a bottle of Valentine’s meat juice had been seen in her hands on the
night of Thursday, the 9th of May, and she replaced it in the bedroom,
where it was afterward found by Michael Maybrick, and analyzed by Mr.
Davis, who found half a grain of “arsenic in solution”; but there was
_no direct proof_, such as is absolutely necessary to a conviction in a
criminal case, _of the identity of the bottle_ seen in Mrs. Maybrick’s
hands and that given to the analyst, and there was evidence that it had
remained in the bedroom _within reach of anybody, Mr. Maybrick himself
included_, for eighteen hours, and did not until the next day reach
the hands of the analyst. These bottles are all alike in appearance,
of similar turnip-like shape as the bovril bottles now sold, and it
is clear there was more than one, because Dr. Humphreys says in his
evidence that on visiting his patient on the 6th of May he found some
of the Valentine’s meat extract had made Mr. Maybrick sick, which he
was not surprised at, as it often made people sick; while Nurse Gore,
speaking of the bottle seen in the hands of Mrs. Maybrick, said it was
a _fresh, unused bottle_, which she had herself opened only an hour

No evidence was given of what became of the opened bottle, and the
presence of the arsenic having already been accounted for, and the fact
recorded that the meat juice was not given to Mr. Maybrick, there is
nothing to add to what has already been said, except that the account
exactly dovetails with the prisoner’s own voluntary statement.

Can any one, closely following the evidence throughout, fail to be
impressed with the _inconsistency of Mrs. Maybrick’s conduct in
relation to her husband’s illness with a desire to murder him?_ In
all recorded cases of poisoning, the utmost precautions to screen the
victim from observation have been observed. In the present instance it
would seem as if just the reverse object had been aimed at. We find
the prisoner _first giving the alarm about the attack_ of illness;
first sending for the doctors, brothers, and friends; first suggesting
that something taken by her husband, some drug or medicine, was at the
bottom of the mischief. We find the very first thing she does is to
administer a mustard emetic--the last thing one would have expected if
there had been a desire to poison him. If the prisoner _had wished to
put everybody in the house, and the doctors themselves, on the scent of
poison, she could not have acted differently_.

[See also “Mrs. Maybrick’s Own Analysis of the Meat-Juice Incident,”
page 366.]


From Dr. Humphreys’ testimony it appears that, after the days when
he was away from the patient, and when Mrs. Maybrick had undisturbed
access to her husband, _no symptoms whatever of arsenical poisoning
appeared_. If, then, arsenic was administered by Mrs. Maybrick under
the doctors’ eyes, without their detecting it, _what value can attach
to the testimony of the medical attendants_ as to the cause of death,
apart from the post-mortem examination, by which they practically admit
_they allowed their judgment to be governed_?

Does not the only alternative present itself that Drs. Humphreys
and Carter are driven to the admission: “That the deceased died of
arsenical poisoning we deduce, not from the _symptoms during life_, but
from the fact that _arsenic was found in the body after death_”?


From the medical testimony it appears that the following list of
_poisonous drugs_ was prescribed and administered to Mr. Maybrick
shortly before his death:

 April 28, 1899, diluted prussic acid; April 29, Papaine’s iridin;
 May 3, morphia suppository; May 4, ipecacuanha; May 5, prussic acid;
 May 6, Fowler’s solution of arsenic; May 7, jaborandi tincture and
 antipyrin; May 10, sulfonal, cocain, and phosphoric acid.

 Also, during the same period, the following were prescribed: bismuth,
 double doses; nitro-glycerin; cascara; nitro-hydrochloric acid
 (composed of nux vomica, strychnin, and brucine); Plummer’s pills
 (containing antimony and calomel); bromide of potassium; tincture of
 hyoscyamus; tincture of henbane; chlorin.

Now it will be observed that up to May 6, when Fowler’s solution of
arsenic was administered, no symptom whatever had been observed _at
all compatible with the effects of arsenic_.

The sickness produced by the morphia continued after the taking of
arsenic, and down the unfortunate man’s throat prussic acid, papaine,
iridin, morphia, ipecacuanha, and arsenic, some of the most powerful
drugs known to the pharmacopœia, had found their way by the advice of
Dr. Humphreys, in less than a week, while he was told to eat nothing,
and allay his thirst with a damp cloth; and the charge of poisoning
is made against the prisoner because he is suggested to have had an
irritant poison in his stomach, and minute traces of arsenic in some
other organs, within five days afterward.


The whole history of the case, from its medical aspect, is consistent
with the small quantity of arsenic found in the body being part of
that prescribed by Dr. Humphreys, or the remains of that taken by the
deceased himself, _there being no particle of evidence to show that he
discontinued the habit of drugging himself almost up to the day of his
death_. This is also in accord with the evidence of Dr. Carter, who
attended at a later period, and, taken as a whole, the evidence of both
of these doctors, as well as their treatment of the deceased, points to
_death from natural causes_.


The evidence of the prosecution in connection with the analysis was
thoroughly _unreliable and misleading_. Dr. Stevenson’s difficulty was
that, while two grains of arsenic was the smallest quantity capable
of killing, the analyst had found only one-tenth of a grain, or the
twentieth part of the smallest fatal dose, and, in substance, Dr.
Stevenson proceeds to argue as follows:

(_a_) I found 0.015 grain of arsenic in 8 ounces of intestines.
(There is no record as to what part of the intestines he examined.) I
have weighed the intestines of some other person (not Mr. Maybrick),
and find their entire weight to be so much. If, then, 8 ounces of
Mr. Maybrick’s intestines yield 0.015 grain, the entire intestines
(calculated from the weight of some one else’s intestines), had I
analyzed them, would have yielded one-eleventh of a grain.

(_b_) Dr. Stevenson then proceeds to argue: “I found 0.026 grain of
arsenic in 4 ounces of liver. The entire liver weighed 48 ounces,
_therefore the entire liver contained 0.32 grain of arsenic_.”

(_c_) Dr. Stevenson argues further: “The intestines and liver,
therefore, may be taken to contain together four-tenths of a grain of
arsenic, and, having found four-tenths of a grain, I _assume_ that the
body at the time of death _probably contained a fatal dose of arsenic_.”

Such was the deduction Dr. Stevenson arrived at, _necessitating the
assumption that arsenic was equally distributed in the intestines and
liver_, whereas it is within the _personal knowledge of eminent men_
(such as Drs. Tidy and Macnamara) that arsenic may be found after death
_in one portion of the intestines, and not a trace of it in any other
part_. That in arsenical poisoning the arsenic may be found in the
rectum and in the duodenum, and in no other part, is beyond dispute,
and the _fallacy of Dr. Stevenson’s process must be self-evident_.

The witnesses for the prosecution themselves supply the proof of the
unequal distribution of the arsenic in the liver.

Mr. Davies calculates the quantity in the whole liver as 0.130 grain.

Dr. Stevenson, in his first experiment, puts it at 0.312 grain, and in
his second experiment at 0.278 grain; in other words, Dr. Stevenson
finds _double in one experiment_ and considerably _more than double in
another experiment, the quantity found by Mr. Davies, and it is upon
this glaring miscalculation and discrepancy that the case for the
prosecution was made_ to rest, and Mrs. Maybrick was convicted.

But with all this miscalculation the approximate amount of arsenic _can
only be swelled up to four-tenths of a grain, less than one-fourth of a
fatal dose_, and it was demonstrated that every other part of the body,
urine, bile, stomach, contents of stomach, heart, lungs, spleen, fluid
from mouth, and even bones, _were all found to be free from arsenic_.


The legal points of the case may thus conveniently be recapitulated
under the following short heads:

There _was no conclusive_ evidence that Mr. Maybrick died from other
than natural causes (the word “conclusive” being used in the sense of
_free from doubt_).

There was no conclusive evidence that he died from arsenical poisoning.

There was no evidence that the prisoner administered or attempted to
administer arsenic to him.

There was no evidence that the prisoner, if she did administer or
attempt to administer arsenic, did so with intent to murder.

The judge, while engaged in his summing-up, placed himself in a
position where his mind was open to the influence of public discussion
and prejudice, to which was probably attributable the evident change in
his summing-up between the first and second days; and he also _assumed
facts against the prisoner which were not proved_.

The jury were _allowed to separate_ and frequent places of public
resort and entertainment during such summing-up.

The verdict was _against the weight of evidence_.

The jury _did not give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt_ suggested
by the disagreement of expert witnesses on a material issue in the

The Home Secretary should have remitted the entire sentence by reason
of his being satisfied that there existed a _reasonable doubt of her
guilt_, which, had it been taken into consideration at the time, would
have entitled _her to an acquittal_.

The indictment contained no specific account of felonious
administration of poison, and consequently the jury found the prisoner
guilty of an offense _for which she was never tried_.


[6] Mr. Maybrick’s dressing-room.

[7] Later evidence showed that Mr. Maybrick secured as much as 150
grains from one person, only about two months before his death.

Mrs. Maybrick’s Own Analysis


 I said in my statement to the Court, regarding this meat juice,
 that: “On Thursday night, the 9th, after Nurse Gore had given my
 husband beef juice, I went and sat on the bed by the side of him. He
 complained to me of feeling very sick, very weak, and very depressed,
 and again implored me to give him a powder, which he had referred to
 early in the evening and which I had then declined to give him. I was
 overwrought, terribly anxious, miserably unhappy, and his evident
 distress utterly unnerved me. He told me the powder would not harm
 him, and that I could put it in his food. I then consented. My lord,
 I had not one true or honest friend in the house. I had no one to
 consult and no one to advise me. I was deposed from my position as
 mistress in my own house and from the position of attending on my
 own husband, notwithstanding that he was so ill. Notwithstanding the
 evidence of nurses and servants, I may say that he wished to have me
 with him. [This desire was corroborated by the testimony of Nurse
 Callery.] He missed me whenever I was not with him. Whenever I went
 out of the room he asked for me, and for four days before he died I
 was not allowed to give him even a piece of ice without its being
 taken from my hand. When I found the powder I took it into the inner
 room, and in pushing through the door I upset the bottle, and, in
 order to make up the quantity of fluid spilled, I added a considerable
 quantity of water. On returning to the room I found my husband asleep,
 and I placed the bottle on the table by the window. When he awoke he
 had a choking sensation in his throat and vomiting. After that he
 appeared a little better. As he did not ask for the powder again, and
 as I was not anxious to give it to him, I removed the bottle from the
 small table, where it would attract his attention, to the top of the
 washstand, where he could not see it. There I left it until I believe
 Mr. Michael Maybrick took possession of it. Until a few minutes before
 Mr. Bryning made the terrible charge against me, no one in that
 house had informed me of the fact that a death certificate had been
 refused, or that a post-mortem examination had taken place, or that
 there was any reason to suppose that my husband died from other than
 natural causes. It was only when Mrs. Briggs alluded to the presence
 of arsenic in the meat juice that I was made aware of the [supposed]
 nature of the powder my husband had asked me to give him. I then
 attempted to make an explanation to Mrs. Briggs, such as I am now
 making to your lordship, when a policeman interrupted the conversation
 and put a stop to it.”

Some time after my conviction there was found among my effects a
prescription for a face wash containing arsenic (the existence of
which Justice Stephen in his summing up flouted as an invention of
mine to cover an intent to poison). This, together with the fact that
on analysis no trace of “fiber” was discovered in the body or in any
of the things containing poison found in the house, should remove the
“fly-paper incident” from all serious consideration in its bearing on
the case (although it was the source of all “suspicions” before death).

[Illustration: LEONIDAS D. YARRELL, Of Hayden & Yarrell, American
counsel of Mrs. Maybrick.]

There remain only as “circumstantial evidence of guilt” what has come
to be known as the “motive,” and the Valentine’s meat-juice incident.
The “motive,” however regarded, was surely no incentive to murder,
as inasmuch if I wanted to be free there was sufficient evidence in
my possession (in the nature of infidelity and cruelty) to secure
a divorce, and it was with regard to steps in that direction that
I had already taken that I made confession to my husband after our
reconciliation, and to which I referred as to the “wrong” I had done
him, because of the publicity and ruin to his business it involved. The
“motive,” which was introduced into the case in the form of a letter
written by me on the 8th of May, in which I said that my husband
was “sick unto death,” was made much of by the prosecution, and it
led Justice Stephen to say, in his summing-up, “that I could not have
known that my husband was dying (except I knew something others did
not suspect), inasmuch as the doctors, from the diagnosis, did not
consider the case at all serious.” The justice either did not or would
not understand (though it was testified to) that the phrase, “sick
unto death,” is an American colloquialism, especially of the South,
and commonly employed with reference to any illness at all serious.
Aside from the fact that all in attendance (save and except the doctors
per their medical testimony) did regard it as serious--a witness for
the prosecution, Mrs. Briggs, testified that she regarded him on that
day as “dangerously ill,” and Mr. Michael Maybrick said that when he
saw his brother on the evening of the same day “he was shocked by his
appearance”--I may say here that the phrase “sick unto death,” in
connection with other causes for apprehension, was prompted by the fact
that my husband had told me that very morning that “he thought he was
going to die”; and that this was his feeling is conclusively shown by
the evidence of Dr. Humphreys at the inquest, when he testified that he
had remarked to Mr. Michael Maybrick on this same Wednesday, the 8th
of May: “I am not satisfied with your brother, and I will tell you why
[not because the symptoms seemed serious to him, it will be observed].
_Your brother tells me he is going to die._”

That I regarded the case as really serious is surely further supported
by the fact that, notwithstanding the easy-going attitude of Dr.
Humphreys, I had persisted in urging a consultation, which accordingly
took place on the 7th. As to what the attending physicians _knew_ or
_did not know_ about the medical aspects of the case, I confidently
refer the reader to their own remarkable testimony.

There then remains for serious consideration only what is known as the
“Valentine meat-juice incident.” Of this I know no more now than is
included in my statement at the trial--namely, that at my husband’s
urgent, piteous request I placed a powder (which by his direction I
took from a pocket in his vest, hanging in the adjoining room, which
room until his sickness had been his private bedroom, he having been
removed to mine as being larger and more airy) in a bottle of meat
juice, no part of the contents of which were given him, and hence at
the very most there could only have legally arisen from this act a
charge of “intent to poison.”

I do not assume that I can solve a problem that has puzzled so many
able minds, but I trust I shall make clear that the prosecution can not
acquit itself of the inference of “cooking” up a case against me with
reference to this meat-juice incident:

1. At the inquest, only a few days after the occurrence, Nurse Gore
testified, “I could and did see _clearly_ what Mrs. Maybrick did
with the bottle,” though she failed to tell what she saw; and it
is remarkable she was not further questioned on this point. At the
magisterial inquiry and trial, _per contra_, she testified that “she
[I] pushed the door to conceal (note the animus) her [my] movements”;
but on cross-examination she so far corrected herself as to say: “Mrs.
Maybrick did _not_ shut the dressing-room door.”

2. When I returned with the bottle to the sick-room, she testified that
I placed it on the table in a “_surreptitious manner_,” though this
action, according to her own testimony, happened while “she [I] raised
her right hand and replaced the bottle on the table, while she [I] was
talking to me [her].”

If one wanted to do such an act “surreptitiously,” would one choose the
moment of all others when by conversation one is calling attention to
oneself? Do not the two things involve a direct contradiction?

3. It is in evidence that an hour after I had placed the bottle on a
little table in the window, I returned to the room and removed it from
the table to the washstand (where it remained during most of the next
day), lest the sight of it should renew Mr. Maybrick’s desire for it,
as he had just awakened. Note how this bottle is juggled with by the
witnesses for the prosecution.

Michael Maybrick, at the inquest, in answer to the question, “Where did
you find the Valentine’s meat juice?” replied: “I found it on a _little
table mixed up_ with _several other bottles_.” Note the particularity
of this bottle being _mixed up with several other bottles_. Obviously
he at this time, only a few days after the event, had a clear picture
of the situation in his mind. In corroboration of this testimony that
the bottle _he took_ was on the table and _not on the washstand_, there
is the testimony of Nurse Callery, who at the inquest stated: “My
attention was called by her [Nurse Gore] to a bottle of Valentine’s
meat juice, which was on _a table_ in Mr. Maybrick’s room. I took a
sample. I don’t know what became of the bottle of meat juice. I saw
Mr. Michael Maybrick in the room before going off duty at 4.50 P.M. on
Friday, but did not see him take the meat juice away.”

Nurse Gore gave her testimony at the inquest _after_ the two others,
and deposed that Mr. Michael Maybrick took the bottle from the
_washstand_ where I had placed it, thus contradicting Michael Maybrick,
and in a way also Nurse Callery, who testified that Nurse Gore called
her attention to a bottle on the _small table_. Obviously this
difference introduces _two_ bottles; but this would never answer the
prosecution, and accordingly Mr. Michael Maybrick at the trial dropped
_the table_ sworn to at the inquest and fell in line with Nurse Gore
in so far as to say: “It was standing on the _washstand_, and it
was _among some other bottles_.” Note that, while he substitutes the
_washstand_ for the _table_, he still clings to the _bottles_--a most
important circumstance--as it was indubitably shown that there were on
the _washstand_ only the “ordinary basins and jugs” (water pitchers).
Obviously Mr. Michael Maybrick had not fully comprehended the purpose
of the prosecution in “harmonizing” the testimony with that of Nurse
Gore; the “bottles” were too clearly in his mind to be dropped without
a distinct effort, and he naturally introduced them again; and, to fit
in with the Nurse Gore and the amended Mr. Michael Maybrick evidence,
Nurse Callery also changed front at the trial, and the _table_ of her
inquest testimony is also turned into a washstand. It is in evidence
that as late as the 6th of May my husband took meat juice out of a
bottle then in the room, the contents of which, however, did not
agree with him, and upon the _order of Dr. Humphreys_ its giving was
discontinued, he adding that he was “not surprised,” as it was known
not to agree with some people.

Although this was the doctor’s order, Mr. Edwin Maybrick took it upon
himself to procure a fresh bottle, and, distinctly against the same
order, Nurse Gore set about to administer its contents. Subsequently
a bottle of meat juice, half full, was found in a small wooden box
with other bottles (one of them containing arsenic in solution) in my
husband’s hat-box.

Nevertheless, though we are here undeniably dealing with _three_
meat-juice bottles, only two were accounted for at the trial. What
became of the third bottle? And which of the _three_ was missing? Now,
furthermore, it is in evidence that Nurse Callery handled one of these
bottles (between the time that I placed one on the washstand and the
time when Mr. Michael Maybrick, more than twelve hours later, took one
either from the _table_ or the _washstand_ for analysis), for she took
a sample of it, which she afterward threw away.

As all Valentine’s meat-juice bottles look alike, Mr. Michael Maybrick
showed sufficient caution to say he could not identify the bottle shown
him; but Nurse Gore, to whom every act of mine, however innocent, was
fraught with “surreptitiousness” and “suspicion,” balked at no such
scruples, but boldly testified that the bottle produced in court was
the identical one that Mr. Michael Maybrick “took from the washstand,”
even though at the inquest, when his memory was freshest, he testified
that he took it from the _table_.

It should be remembered that my statement to the court was to the
effect that I put a powder (its nature unknown to me) in the meat-juice
bottle I had in my hands. Yet no bottle containing a powder, or in
which a powder had been dissolved, appeared in evidence. According to
the analyst, the bottle submitted to him contained arsenic that had
been put in in a state of solution. Now it resolves itself to this:
either I uttered a falsehood about the powder and really introduced a
solution, or another bottle was substituted for the one I had for two
minutes in my possession.

The contention of the prosecution was that I “invented” the powder,
precisely as it was contended I “invented” the face-wash prescription
which was found after the trial. If I “invented” the powder, how
did I come by the solution? If I had had arsenic in solution in my
possession, would I have gone to the trouble of making a solution
for a face wash by the clumsy method of soaking fly-papers? Is not
the proposition quite absurd on its face--that I should openly call
attention to a method of arsenic extraction with the object of murder,
when I already had the means at my command?

Finally, let it be borne in mind, as stated by Justice Stephen himself
as a remarkable fact, that no arsenic was traced to my procurement
or found in my personal belongings (save and except the innocuous
fly-papers), and I may add that no arsenic was traced to any one
connected with the case, except to my husband.

I say it is absolutely clear that the bottle of Valentine’s meat
juice which Mr. Michael Maybrick took possession of and handed to Dr.
Carter is not the same bottle which Nurse Gore saw me place on the
washstand. There should be no flaw in the identity of the bottle which
was handed to the analyst and the one which was in my hands, and I
think the reader will say that it is impossible to conceive a greater
_flaw in any evidence of identity_ than shown by these witnesses of the
prosecution at the inquest, when their minds were freshest as to their
respective parts in this incident, and at the trial.

Those of my readers who follow the analysis of the testimony as
presented by Messrs. Lumley & Lumley can hardly have failed to be
impressed by the fact that I was surrounded by unscrupulous enemies,
by people who not only had extraordinary knowledge as to where to look
for deposits of arsenic, but also remarkable intuitions that arsenic
had been administered before any evidence of the presence of poison had
been analytically proven.

In the above I have not aimed to make an analysis of the testimony,
such as, for example, on the evidence now available, Lord Russell could
have made; I have simply endeavored to satisfy my readers that I have
substantial grounds for asserting my innocence before the world.




In a memorial for respite of sentence of Mrs. Maybrick, which was
signed by leading medical practitioners of Liverpool, the petitioners
say in part:

 “3. It was admitted by the medical testimony on behalf of the
 prosecution that the symptoms during life and the post-mortem
 appearances were in themselves insufficient to justify the conclusion
 that death was caused by arsenic, and that it was only the discovery
 of traces of that poison in certain parts of the viscera which
 eventually led to that conclusion.

 “4. The arsenic so found in the viscera was less in quantity than
 _that found in any previous case of arsenical poisoning in which
 arsenic has been found at all_.

 “5. There was indisputable evidence on the part of the defense that
 the deceased had been in the habit of taking arsenic, both medicinally
 and otherwise, for many years, and that the small quantity found in
 the viscera was inconsistent with the theory of a fatal dose at any
 time or times during the period covered by the illness of the deceased.

 “6. Lastly, your memorialists agree with the evidence given by Dr.
 Tidy, Dr. Macnamara, and Mr. Paul on behalf of the defense, that the
 medical evidence on behalf of the prosecution _had entirely failed to
 prove that the death was due to arsenical poisoning at all_.”


Leading members of the Bars of Liverpool and London signed a memorial
praying a reprieve of Mrs. Maybrick’s sentence “on the ground ... of
the great conflict of medical testimony as to the cause of death” of
Mr. Maybrick.


A petition for reprieve of Mrs. Maybrick’s sentence was signed by many
and influential citizens of Liverpool. Among the reasons urged were:

3. Lack of direct evidence of administration of arsenic.

4. The weak case against prisoner on general facts unduly prejudiced by
evidence of motive.

5. Preponderance of medical testimony that death was ascribable to
natural causes.

 [I feel a deep respect for the noble avowal given in the petition
 of the medical practitioners of Liverpool, who must have felt the
 honor of their profession at stake, and that their individual dignity
 and humanity were concerned. The feeling among the Bar on receipt
 of the verdict was an almost universal, if not a quite unanimous,
 one of surprise. I have already mentioned (in Part One), the change
 of attitude of the citizens of Liverpool toward me, as the trial
 progressed, from hostility to belief in my innocence.--F. E. M.]



Mr. Edwin Garnett Heaton, a retired chemist (druggist), formerly
carried on business at 14 Exchange Street East, Liverpool, for
seventeen years; he retired from business in 1888. He testified at the

 “Mr. Maybrick called frequently at my shop for about ten years or
 more, off and on. He used to get the tonic called ‘pick-me-up.’
 He would come to the shop, get it, and drink it up. He gave me
 a prescription which altered it, which I put up with _liquor
 arsenicalis_. He brought the prescription for the first few times;
 I used afterward to give it him at once, when he came into the shop
 and gave his order. I prepared the ‘pick-me-up’ and added the stuff.
 At the beginning of giving it to him, a certain quantity of _liquor
 arsenicalis_ was given, and as it continued it was gradually increased
 from first to last, so at the last it was 75 per cent. greater in
 quantity than it was originally. He used to get it from two to five
 times a day, and each containing 75 per cent. increase.”

This testimony of Mr. Heaton’s was challenged by the prosecution, and
considerably nullified by the fact that he did not know Mr. Maybrick,
his customer, by name, but identified him by a photograph. To show
how inexorably one fatality after another was woven into the web of
my tragic case, it is in order to state that Mr. Heaton’s connection
with Mr. Maybrick could and would undoubtedly have been perfectly
established but for what in the circumstances can be characterized only
as a criminal blunder on the part of the police. In the printed police
list of the score or more medicine bottles found locked in the private
desk of Mr. Maybrick at his office was one entered as follows: “Spirit
of salvolatile, Edwin G. Easton, Exchange Street East, Liverpool.”
This misprint of Easton for Heaton escaped the attention of everybody
at the trial, and thus prevented the defense from identifying most
circumstantially Mr. Maybrick with Mr. Heaton’s customer who had the
arsenic habit.


About ten years ago Mr. Valentine Charles Blake, of Victoria
Embankment, son of a well-known baronet and Member of Parliament,
made a voluntary statutory declaration [corroborated on oath in every
possible essential by William Bryer Nation, of No. 7 Lion Street, a
manufacturing chemist and patentee], that Mr. Maybrick, about two
months before his death, procured through him (Mr. Blake), from
Mr. Nation’s supplies, as much as 150 grains of arsenic in various
forms. Mr. Nation, assisted by Mr. Blake, had made certain chemical
experiments in preparing ramie, the fiber of rhea grass, to serve as a
substitute for cotton. Among other ingredients used was arsenic, some
in pure form (white arsenic), some mixed with soot, and some mixed with
charcoal. In January, 1889, the process was perfected, and some time
during the same month Mr. Nation sent Mr. Blake to see Mr. Maybrick, to
get his assistance in placing the product on the market. Mr. Maybrick
was interested in the proposition and inquired closely into the nature
of the process, what ingredients were used, etc. The deponent told him
that, among other materials, arsenic was employed.

Then, to quote the exact words of the deposition, Mr. Blake went on to

 “14. The said Mr. Maybrick shortly afterward, during discussion at the
 same interview, asked me whether I had heard that many inhabitants of
 Styria, in Austria, habitually took arsenic internally and throve upon
 it. I said that I had heard so. He then spoke to me of De Quincey,
 the author of ‘Confessions of an Opium-Eater,’ and asked me had I
 read the work. I said, ‘Yes,’ and that I wondered De Quincey could
 have taken such a quantity as 900 drops of laudanum in a day. The
 said James Maybrick said, ‘One man’s poison is another man’s meat,
 and there is a so-called poison which is like meat and liquor to me
 whenever I feel weak and depressed. It makes me stronger in mind and
 in body at once,’ or words to that effect. I ventured to ask him what
 it was. He answered, ‘I don’t tell everybody, and wouldn’t tell you,
 only you mentioned arsenic. It is arsenic. I take it when I can get
 it, but the doctors won’t put any into my medicine except now and then
 a trifle, that only tantalizes me,’ or words to that effect. After
 a pause, during which I said nothing, the said James Maybrick said:
 ‘Since you use arsenic, can you let me have some? I find a difficulty
 in getting it here.’ I answered that I had some by me, and that, since
 I had only used it for experiments which were now perfected, I had
 no further use for it, and he (Maybrick) was welcome to all I had
 left. He then asked me what it was worth, and offered to pay for it in
 advance. I replied that I had no license to sell drugs, and suggested
 that we should make it a _quid pro quo_. Mr. Maybrick was to do his
 best with the ramie grass product, and I was to make him a present of
 the arsenic I had.

 “15. It was finally agreed that when I came to Liverpool again, as
 arranged I should bring with me and hand him the arsenic aforesaid.

 “16. _In February, 1889_, I again called at the office of the said
 James Maybrick, in Liverpool, and, as promised, I handed him all the
 arsenic I had at my command, amounting to about 150 grains, some of
 the ‘white’ and some of the two kinds of ‘black’ arsenic, in three
 separate paper packets. I told him to be careful, as he had ‘almost
 enough to poison a regiment.’ When we separated the said James
 Maybrick took away the said arsenic with him, saying he was going home
 to his house at Aigburth, to which he invited me. Having a train to
 catch, I declined the invitation, promising to accept it on my next
 visit to Liverpool, but before that occurred I read of his death.

 “17. After the wife of the said James Maybrick had been accused of
 his alleged murder, I wrote to Mr. Cleaver, her then solicitor, of
 Liverpool, to the effect that I could give some evidence which might
 be of use to his client, and I posted such letter but received no

 “18. At this time I was intensely anxious as to the fate of my only
 son, Valentine Blake, who had in the previous year sailed on board
 the ship _Melanasia_ from South Shields for Valparaiso, which ship
 was then very long overdue and unheard of. I eventually learned, as
 a result of a Board of Trade inquiry, that the said ship must have
 foundered with all hands, my only son included. At the time I wrote
 as aforesaid to Mr. Cleaver, my entire attention was engrossed in
 endeavoring to get news as to the ship which never came home, and I
 felt little interest in any other subject. Receiving no reply to my
 said letter to Mr. Cleaver, I took no further steps in the matter
 until, seeing recently in a newspaper that Mr. Jonathan E. Harris, of
 95 Leadenhall Street, in the city of London, was now acting for Mrs.
 James Maybrick and her mother, the Baroness de Roques, I called at the
 offices of the said Mr. Harris and made to him a statement.”


On August 10, Henry Bliss, former proprietor of Sefton Club and
Chambers, Liverpool, made a sworn deposition, in which he said:

 “Mr. Maybrick lived in the chambers on and off several months, and was
 in the habit of dosing himself. On one occasion he asked me to leave
 a prescription at a well-known Liverpool chemist’s to be made up by
 the time he left ‘Change. The chemist remarked: ‘He ought to be very
 careful and not take an overdose of it.’”

On March 31, 1891, Franklin George Bancroft, artist and writer, of
Columbia, S. C., made a sworn deposition, in which he said:

 “1. Between the years 1874 and 1876 I was personally acquainted
 with James Maybrick, late of Battlecrease House, Aigburth, near
 Liverpool, merchant, deceased, who was then living in Norfolk, Va.
 I was frequently in his company, and from time to time I have _seen
 him take from his vest pocket a case resembling a cigarette case,
 which contained a packet of white powders_, and place the contents of
 one such powder on several occasions into the glass of wine (usually
 Chablis, claret, or champagne) he was at the time drinking, and
 swallow the same.

 “2. Seeing him take this powder, I did, on one occasion, ask him what
 it was, and the said James Maybrick replied, ‘Longevity and fair
 complexion, my boy!’ and he subsequently informed me that the said
 white powders were composed of _arsenic_ among other ingredients.”


There are also facts in relation to the judge who tried the case which,
had they been anticipated at the time of the trial, could not have
failed to have had some weight, directly or indirectly, on the minds
of the jury; that is to say, his retirement from the Bench not long
afterward, in April, 1891, when, to quote his own words in addressing
the Bar, of whom he was taking leave, “he had been made acquainted with
the fact that he was regarded by some as no longer physically capable
of discharging his duties”; and it will be no matter of surprise, to
those who have read critically the summing-up of Mr. Justice Stephen on
this trial, to notice the entire change from a favorable bias between
his address to the jury on the first days of the trial to the violent
hostility shown at its conclusion.

This change of front can be in a manner accounted for, as it had been
suggested to the prisoner’s friends, by a conversation on the case
between Mr. Justice Stephen and another member of the Bench, Mr.
Justice Grantham, at a social meeting of an entirely private character.

A mental malady was developed in the judge so soon after the trial
that it was properly said to have been caused _by his brooding over
it_, and this condition increased so rapidly and markedly that his
_resignation was demanded_. It is but reasonable to suppose that the
judge’s mental incapacity reached farther back than its discovery, and
that the illogical and unjust summing-up was connected with the mental
overthrow of the otherwise able judge. And it may be here added that
Justice Stephen himself, in the second edition of the “General Views of
the Criminal Law of England, 1890,” says, at page 173, that out of 979
cases tried before him, from January, 1885, to September, 1889, “the
case of Mrs. Maybrick was the only case in which there could be any
doubt about the facts.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Note

Minor punctuation errors (i.e. missing periods) have been corrected.
Variations in hyphenation (i.e. hatbox and hat-box) present in the
original text have been retained.

In the illustration caption, Miss Mary A. Dodge was incorrectly
referred to as “Miss Mary F. Dodge.” This has been corrected.

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