THE CASE OF MADELEINE SMITH

By Tim Lambert

Madeleine Hamilton Smith was born in Glasgow on 29 March 1835. She was the daughter of a wealthy architect named James Smith. In 1855 Madeleine Smith met a man named Pierre Emile L'Angelier in Glasgow. L'Angelier was born in Jersey. When he was 18 he moved to Glasgow and he worked as a clerk. In 1855 he began a relationship with Madeleine Smith but their different social positions made things difficult. Madeleine's father and mother would certainly have disapproved of their daughter becoming involved with a lowly clerk. Nevertheless the pair met in secret for two years and they exchanged love letters. However a prosperous businessman named William Minnoch asked to marry Madeleine. She accepted and she asked L'Angelier to return the love letters she had sent him. However he refused and threatened to show the letters to her father. So Madeleine continued to see him in secret.

In February 1857 Madeleine obtained arsenic from a chemists shop and L'Angelier fell ill. He died of arsenic poisoning on 23 March 1857. A post mortem found arsenic in his body and love letters from Madeleine were found in his home. Madeleine Smith was arrested on 31 March 1857. Madeleine was tried for murder but she claimed she purchased arsenic for cosmetics. On 9 July 1857 the jury returned a verdict of not proven, which meant the prosecution had not proved its case but she was not necessarily innocent.

After her release Madeleine Smith moved to London where she married a man named George Wardle. However they separated in 1889. Madeleine moved to the USA where she married a man named Lena Sheehy. Madeleine Smith died on 12 April 1928. She was 93.

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