Evil love and the trial of Madeleine Smith (7 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
17 June 2024

Love is evil. And so it happened that lovers are prone to doing all sorts of stupid things that make them create butterflies in their stomachs. Unfortunately, among the cute madness there can also be sad incidents. But is love to blame for them?

Did Madeleine Smith commit murder or not? This issue is still being debated in the UK. Did this pretty girl kill her lover on the night of March 23, 1857?

Forbidden relationships

Madeleine Smith

Madeleine came from a wealthy Glasgow family of architects. She was expected to live within this social class and certainly not associate with the poor working class, to which Emile L'Angelier, an attractive but penniless clerk, belonged.

Emile L'Angelier

However, Madeleine maintained a secret relationship with Emile for two years, writing passionate letters to him that would later outrage Victorian Scotland, and holding secret meetings with him at her bedroom window while her family slept.

Threats by Emile L'Angelier

Her father, not knowing about their relationship, selected a suitable groom for Madeleine. Madeleine wrote a note to Emil in which she broke off their relationship and asked to return her letters. Emil refused and threatened to show them to the girl’s father, which most likely would mean the family’s abandonment of her and expulsion from home due to shame. Madeleine begged Emil not to reveal their relationship. She vowed to continue dating her lover, and managed to maneuver between the two men.

At this time, Madeleine began buying arsenic. She later claimed that she uses it as a cosmetic to improve her complexion. Perhaps by coincidence, Emil began to suffer from painful stomach problems. On March 23 he died.

The coroner determined that Emil died of arsenic poisoning. Authorities found Madeleine's letters and evidence that she had purchased arsenic. And soon after Emil’s death she was arrested.

Judgment of the Century

Madeleine Smith in the dock

The press and people flocked to what could be called the “trial of the century.” Both sides made brilliant arguments. But Madeleine was released because, although the circumstantial evidence was largely against her, the prosecution could not prove that Madeleine and Emile had met in the weeks leading up to his death.

But during the investigation, interesting information about the deceased surfaced. Emil once already tried to marry a girl from a rich family, but nothing worked out. Plus, the testimony of the valet also helped, who stated that Emil had repeatedly thought out loud about voluntarily leaving this life. We cannot even rule out the fact that he deliberately poisoned himself in order to finally annoy his former mistress.

Madeleine Smith (Lena Wardell) in the States circa 1920

The girl was free, but Glasgow society wanted nothing to do with her. Madeleine moved to England and later to the States. She married George Wardell and changed not only her last name, but also her first name. And she categorically did not want to remember the story of the secret romance, which almost ruined the life of a romantic, impulsive person.

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