Elizabeth Mary PRITCHARD was born this day 1860 in East Kirk Parish, Edinburgh. She had five older siblings who had entered the world in Hunmanby or Filey. One sister, Zillah Catherine, hadn’t survived infancy but at the 1861 census, four of the children were with their parents in Berkeley Terrace, Glasgow while the eldest girl Jane Frances, age 9, was at the home of her maternal grandparents in Newington, Midlothian. Michael Taylor was a silk merchant and judging from Google Street View owning a property in Minto Street today shows that you are “comfortable”.
Edward William PRITCHARD informed the enumerator in 1861 that he was an “MD University of Erlangen (General Practitioner)”. As a young man he had acquitted himself well as a navy doctor but after winning the hand of Mary Jane TAYLOR while serving on HMS Hecate he decided to resign his commission and enter general practice. His qualification from Erlangen was purchased rather than earned but it must have impressed the folk at the Bridlington Union because he was employed as the medical officer to the No. 3 District based at Hunmanby. The family lived there for some years but later moved to Rutland Street, Filey. A Glasgow Morning Journal report in July 1865 had this to say about the bad doctor:-
Those who knew Dr Pritchard in Filey say that he left that place with an indifferent reputation – that he was fluent, plausible, licentious, politely impudent and singularly untruthful. With regard to the last named characteristic, one who knew him intimately states that he was “the prettiest liar” he had ever known. In Filey as well as Hunmanby his lascivious disposition, manifested in some disgraceful amours, as well as his untruthfulness, became so notorious that all confidence in him as a professional man was destroyed. It may, therefore, be supposed that when he left Filey in 1859 it was because Yorkshire was too hot to hold him.
Glasgow society soon realized that “a perfect Baron Munchausen” had appeared in their midst. When the Pritchard’s servant girl died in a bedroom fire at their house he came under suspicion. Sometime later, on the 21st March 1865, gossip flew that “a medical gentleman belonging to Glasgow” had been apprehended following the death of his wife by poisoning and Dr Pritchard’s name was common currency before he was formally charged. Investigations proved that he had killed his mother-in-law too. He was tried and the day after his youngest daughter Elizabeth Mary turned five he was hanged in Glasgow, watched by 100,000 people according to one estimate.
What became of the murderer’s children? Horatio Michael married Amelia Rebecca MILLMAN in 1887 and they had at least one child, Violet Eola Robertson who married Edward Atherstone WALMISLEY in 1912. William Kenneth married Gertrude Hannah CREESER in 1904. But Jane Frances, Charles Edward and birthday girl Elizabeth Mary seem to have kept the lowest of profiles.
Filey Genealogy & Connections can give you a substantial cast of PRITCHARD characters – and Kath supplies several notes relating to the Doctor’s crimes but, as I write this the Search engine is playing silly beggars so I can’t give a link. On FamilySearch Tree the Pritchard clan is all over the place. Here is Elizabeth Mary on FST:-
The last four lines of A Lament for Dr Pritchard’s Children:-
Oh think of his orphans you kind hearted people,
And I hope there is none that so heartless will be,
As point with the finger of scorn towards them,
And say that their father he died on a tree.
And here is Elizabeth Mary sitting on her mother’s knee in the Cramb Brothers studio portrait of the doctor and his family, Glasgow 1861.