What it is and how it came to be
Special Topics in Forensic Science 1, Section 1
November 24, 2008
The incident occurred in England in 1751. Mary Blandy agreed to marry Captain William Cranstoun, a man of supposed wealth and position, but what Mary did not know is that the Captain already had a wife in Scotland and did not have as much money as he often claimed to have. His secrets did not stay secret for long though for his wife soon discovered what he was doing and took Cranstoun to court, “a scandal that embarrassed Mary’s well-to-do father.” Mr. Blandy tried his best to discourage his daughter from continuing to see Cranstoun, but Mary had already fallen in love with the “good Captain” and began to see him in secret.
It was not long before Cranstoun fell deeper into debt, when that happened he enlisted Mary’s help in “settling” her father’s estate. With the help of an herbalist Cranstoun put this powder into Mr. Blandy’s tea. When the powder failed to have any significant affect on the old man Cranstoun instructed Mary to continue administering small doses of the powder in her father’s food. When Mr. Blandy became ill his servant became suspicious and examined his food. When she discovered the powder she took it to an apothecary, a druggist, who informed her that this powder was arsenic. The servant told Mr. Blandy of her suspicions that Mary was poisoning his food, but he dismissed the accusation and allowed his daughter to continue preparing his food, soon after Mr. Blandy died.
Mary attempted to destroy the powder, but the servant saved it and kept it, this would later be used against her at her trial. Cranstoun fled to Europe, but Mary was caught and arrested on her way out of town. Her trial in 1752 was brief. The four doctors who autopsied the body of Mr. Blandy testified about the substance that killed him saying that the “preserved quality” of the remains was highly suggestive...