28 July 1865 – Edward Pritchard

Edward Pritchard

Edward Pritchard

The last public execution in Scotland enticed a healthy turnout, after a former doctor was condemned to die.

Edward William Pritchard was strung up in front of a crowd of thousands after he was found guilty of double murder.

Mid-life crisis

The 40-year-old GP had already chalked up an unsavoury past. One servant girl had died when a mysterious fire broke out in her room. Though it was all very suspicious, he still managed to pocket the insurance money.

He then got another 15-year-old servant in his employ up the duff, who he promised to marry, on the proviso that he carried out an abortion on her.

Of course, there was also the small matter of his wife – so the deaths didn’t stop there. His wife mysteriously fell ill too and her mum came to look after her, however both women succumbed to the suspicious sickness. Mary Pritchard, followed by her mum Mr Taylor died in close succession.

Doctored death certificates

Dr Pritchard conveniently provided the death certificates and they were both buried hitch-free. He would have been home and dry, had it not been for an anonymous tip-off implicating the dodgy doctor. The bodies were dutifully exhumed and sure enough, the poison antimony was revealed.

Amid the damning evidence, doctor death was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

That brings us neatly back to the public execution – a good many turned out to witness the event. Roughly 100,000 homed in on the Jail Square in Glasgow to watch Pritchard hang. And the final nail in his coffin came when the Royal Masonic Lodge eradicated the doomed doctor’s name from their hallowed honours’ list.

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