Antiqua Print Gallery Madeleine Smith
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Madeleine Smith

Madeleine Hamilton Smith (1835–c. 1920) was a 19th century Glasgow socialite who was the defendant in a sensational murder trial in Scotland in the summer of 1857.
Although she is widely regarded as a convicted murderess, in fact, the verdict given at her trial was not proven.
Madeleine was the first child of an upper-middle class family in Glasgow; her father James Smith (1808–1863) was a wealthy architect, and her mother, Janet, the daughter of leading neo-classical architect David Hamilton. The family lived at No 7, Blythswood Square, Glasgow, and also had a country property, "Rowaleyn", near Helensburgh.
She broke the strict Victorian conventions of the time when, as a young woman in the spring of 1855, she began a secret love affair with Pierre Emile L'Angelier, an apprentice nurseryman who originally came from the Channel Islands.
The two met late at night at Madeleine’s bedroom window and also carried on a voluminous correspondence. During one of their infrequent meetings alone, she lost her virginity to Emile.
Madeleine’s parents, not knowing that Madeleine was carrying on an affair with Emile (whom she had promised to marry) found a suitable fiancé for her within the Glasgow upper-middle class — William Harper Minnoch.
Madeleine attempted to break her connection with Emile and, in February 1857, asked him to return the letters she had written to him. Instead, Emile threatened to use those letters to expose her and force her to marry him. She was soon observed in a druggist's office, ordering arsenic, and signed in as M.H. Smith.
Early in the morning of 23 March 1857, Emile died from arsenic poisoning. After Madeleine’s numerous letters were found in his lodging house, she was arrested for murder.

The trial

Although the circumstantial evidence pointed towards her guilt (Madeleine had made purchases of arsenic in the weeks leading up to Emile’s death, had a clear motive, etc.), the jury in her trial freed her by way of the Scottish verdict "not proven", which essentially said that they did not believe she was innocent of the charge, but the Prosecution had failed to make a strong enough case against her.
The notoriety of the crime and trial were scandalous enough that Madeleine left Scotland, eventually marrying (see below).

Later life

On 4 July 1861 she married artist George Wardle, William Morris's business manager. They had at least one son and one daughter.
Madeleine's final years are lost to view. A common (but most likely erroneous) theory that she died in New York City in 1928 under the name of Lena Wardle Sheehy is accepted by the author of the article on Smith in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, but is argued to be contradicted by several government documents (including her death certificate) that state that Mrs. Sheehy was at least 20 years younger than Madeleine would have been at the time. Other questionable newspaper stories have Madeleine living and/or dying at various times in places such as New Zealand and New Orleans.

(Source Wikipedia)