In this week's podcast, we look at a crime that gripped the people of Scotland all the way back in the 19th century.  Tune in or read the full story below. 

At the time it was one of the biggest ever crowds gathered in one place in Glasgow. 

More than 100,000 people waiting the arrival of probably the most famous or infamous man in Scotland

However, this wasn't a football cup final, a Royal visit, or an open-air music festival with big name acts. 

The man they were desperate to see was a father-of-five, convicted of murdering his wife and mother-in-law in a trial that had both shocked and gripped Scotland. 

Edward William Pritchard was about to be hanged in public in Glasgow Green having been sentenced to death three weeks earlier. 

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Pritchard was no ordinary double killer - he was a respected city doctor with a successful and thriving GP practice. 

He had not only been accused of a double murder. 

Pritchard was also alleged to have had an affair with his 15-year-old housemaid Mary McLeod who forced her to have an adoption after getting her pregnant, which he carried out himself. 

Glasgow Times:

At one stage he even accused the Islay born girl of the two murders in a bid to clear his own name. 

Ironically Pritchard wasn't a Glaswegian or even Scottish. 

He had been born in the seaside town of Southsea, near Portsmouth to a respectable naval family. 

Pritchard claimed to have studied medicine at King's College Hospital in London and to have graduated from there in 1846.  

He then served in the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon on HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson ship's which had defeated the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805. 

For another four years, he served as a medic on various other ships sailing around the world

He then returned to Portsmouth where he met his future wife, Mary Jane Taylor, the daughter of Michael Taylor a successful silk merchant from Edinburgh. 

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The couple married in 1851 and they had five children together. 

Pritchard resigned from the Navy and took a job as a general practitioner in the village of Humnanby near Scarborough in Yorkshire. 

He became a prominent freemason, where he was a Grandmaster of his local lodge. 

Pritchard was also the author of several books as well as medical articles in The Lancet - or so he said. 

In 1859, he, however, left Yorkshire under a cloud and in debt, and made the fateful move to Glasgow's Berkeley Terrace then one of the most sought after and exclusive residential areas of the city. 

Within a few years the finger of suspicion became to be pointed at him by his fellow doctors, who didn't quite know what to make of this unusual character. 

There were rumours that his medical degree was a fake and stories of affairs with patients and servant girls not only in Glasgow and back in Yorkshire.  

In fact, it was also rumoured that he had even been 'run out of town' by angry husbands back in Hunmanby. 

Glasgow Times:

One of his many detractors, said of his time in the village: "He spoke the truth only by accident." 

Once in Glasgow Pritchard tried to win the respect of his fellow doctors and surgeons by joining various medical clubs and societies. 

He further tried to ingratiate himself with claims that his brother was the Governor General of Ceylon, and that he was a personal friend of the then great Italian leader Garibaldi. 

He even had a walking cane with the inscription: 'Presented by Gen. Garibaldi to Edward William Pritchard'. 

However, many of his colleagues were suspicious of his claims which did not seem to ring true. 

Pritchard also the bizarre habit of randomly handing postcards containing his own photograph to complete strangers in the street. 

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On May 5, 1863, there was a mysterious fire in the Berkeley Street home which killed 25-year-old servant girl Elizabeth McGrain. 

The blaze started in her attic room, but she appeared to have made no attempt to escape,  

This suggested that Elizabeth was unconscious or already dead at the time. 

The fire was investigated by both the insurance company and police but there were no criminal charges. 

Pritchard then made a claim for jewels, which he said were lost in the inferno, but the insurers refused to pay out after they found no evidence to support it. 

The Glasgow Herald in reporting the fatal fire on May 6, 1863, commented:" It is said the poor girl, who has met such an untimely death, was in the habit of reading in bed and the supposition is that after she had fallen asleep the gas-jet which was close to the head of the bed had ignited the bed-hangings and the deceased had been suffocated by smoke,” 

There were rumours the dead girl may have been pregnant at the time of the fire and having an affair with the doctor.  It was even alleged that Pritchard had raped her. 

In 1864 the Pritchards moved to a new house at 131 Sauchiehall Street where his wife Mary Jane suddenly and inexplicably fell ill. 

She moved back through to Edinburgh where her mother nursed her back to health. 

However, when she returned to Glasgow she suddenly fell ill again, 

Glasgow Times:

At one stage her mother Jane Taylor even moved through to Glasgow to further nurse her ailing daughter in her home. 

There, on 25 February 1865, again inexplicably, Mrs Taylor herself fell ill and died at the age of 70. 

Pritchard's wife died a month later on March 18 at the age of 38.  

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Both were taken through to Edinburgh and buried in the family lair at Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh.   

Apparently, grief-stricken Pritchard is even said to have opened the coffin to give his wife one final kiss. 

Several days later the procurator fiscal in Glasgow received an anonymous letter claiming that the deaths were suspicious.  

It's thought to have been written by a neighbour of the family, Dr James Paterson. Paterson had originally been asked to write the two death certificates, and when he refused, Pritchard wrote them himself. 

The police launched an immediate investigation and Dr Pritchard was arrested at Queen Street station, Glasgow, after coming back from his wife's funeral. 

He was said to be stunned when approached by a detective superintendent on the platform. 

Pritchard was read his rights and charged with the murders of his wife and mother-in-law and taken into police custody. 

It was the beginning of the end for the devilish doctor and despite protestations of innocence, his appointment with death was just months away.  

The bodies of both women were exhumed and found to contain the deadly poison Antimony. 

Dr Pritchard had administered the chemicals to the women in their food, drink and medicine. 

He then falsely certified the causes of death saying that his mother-in-law had died following a stroke and his wife of gastric fever. 

Both female victims had been slowly poisoned for several months. 

Some of his fellow doctors at the time, including Dr Paterson, had suspected something was amiss but were reluctant to speak out against one of their own. 

It looked as though Dr Pritchard had got away with murder - or so he thought. 

Following his arrest he stood trial on July 3, 1865, at the High Court in Edinburgh 

A double murder involving a man of the doctor's high social standing was considered scandalous and public interest was immense.  

The four-day hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh gripped the nation. 

Here was a respected pillar of the community having an affair with a young girl, hiding a shady past and accused of poisoning his wife. 

On the first day large crowds of people gathered to watch the police van arrive at the High Court, with Pritchard inside. 

Special tickets were issued for the public gallery and extra space in the court was made for reporters. 

At the time few thought a doctor could be guilty of such evil deeds. 

But as the evidence unfolded the public perception began to change. 

One newspaper reported: "No one who saw the intelligent, thoughtful and mild-looking individual seated in the dock on the first morning, could be prepared for anything like the consummate villainy and diabolic cruelty which each day brought to light."  

Most of the incriminating evidence during the five-day trial came from servants in the Pritchard household, including young Mary. 

They spoke of the two victims' bouts of illness and meals the doctor had prepared for them. 

One witness claimed Mary had boasted of taking Mrs Pritchard's place, if she died. 

It was also revealed that the lady of the house had caught her husband and Mary together in his consulting room. 

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The fraudulent death certificates were a major factor in his conviction. 

Pritchard was the only person with the means, motive and opportunity to commit the murder. 

The fact he had falsely signed both death certificates amounted to a guilty verdict in the eyes of the jury. 

Far from being a pillar of the community Dr Edward Pritchard was in fact a liar, a womaniser and a double murderer.  

It was also proven in court that Pritchard had added the Antimony and another poison called Aconite to an opium-based medicine that his mother-in-law used frequently.  

Pharmacists who gave evidence said a doctor could acquire large quantities of both poisons without it drawing too much attention. 

Pritchard tried every legal trick in the book to try and escape a guilty verdict and the gallows. 

The good doctor made two of his children give evidence and tell the court how much their father loved their mother. 

Tears trickled down his cheeks as they stood in the witness box. 

But evidence of his affair with young Mary ripped his credibility to shreds - not to mention the poison in the dead bodies. 

The jury took just one hour to find Pritchard guilty and trial judge Lord Glencorse put on the traditional black cap and passed the death sentence.  

Following his conviction, a massive crowd gathered outside the High Court later that month to see him taken to nearby Calton Prison. 

At this point he took off his hat and bowed to them theatrically before being taken away to await execution. 

Pritchard had been accused during his trial of "crying crocodile tears" over the death of his wife, earning him the nickname 'The Human Crocodile'. 

The term has its origins in the myth of reptiles weeping while eating humans. 

Pritchard was also dubbed the Poisoning Philanderer in newspaper reports- when his fondness for women and teenage maids - became public.   

In the days following conviction and sentencing, Dr Pritchard claimed he was innocent of killing his mother-in-law and that Mary McLeod had been complicit in the murder of his wife.  

Their affair had begun in the summer of 1863 and Mary had fallen pregnant in May 1864.  

A year later the other two women in his life were dead. 

During his time on death row - just like many condemned men - Pritchard found God, read the Bible and said regular prayers.  

Days before his execution he made a further confession, this time exonerating Mary McLeod and shouldered the entire blame saying: "The sentence is just. 

"I am guilty of the deaths of my mother-in-law and wife.  

"I can assign no motive beyond terrible madness. I alone - not Mary McLeod - poisoned my wife."  

Pritchard was what we would call today a narcissistic sociopath. 

A man confident of his innocent and refusing to admit guilt until shortly before he was executed.  

He was hanged for his crimes on July 28, 1865, shortly after 8am, on the gallows at Jail Square on Glasgow Green facing Nelson's Column. 

There was a carnival atmosphere, and the police were in large numbers to keep the crowd under control and look out for pickpockets. There were even said to be prostitutes in the crowd looking for custom. 

Pritchard arrived on the gallows wearing a dark suit and polished black shoes and was both cheered and booed by the massive crowd. 

Many had been there since early that morning to get a grandstand view of the eagerly anticipated execution. 

Pritchard's hangman was the legendary Londoner William Calcraft - known as the executioner extraordinaire.  

In a 45-year career, he executed 450 criminals and his fame and celebrity was part of the reason there was such a big crowd. 

The previous year he had hanged five pirates in public during the one execution. 

Normally curtains would be drawn below the scaffold so the prisoner could suffer their last moments in privacy.  

But on this occasion, in acknowledgement of the horrific nature of the crimes, the spectators were permitted to witness the condemned man's final moments by Calcraft. 

A noose was placed around Pritchard's neck and a white cap placed on his head.  

The executioner released the trap and the doctor dropped to his death 

At this point women screamed, and men cheered – marking the end of Pritchard the poisoner. 

There were no tears for The Human Crocodile as he suffered the ultimate public disgrace. 

To add to his humiliation, it was said that his body fell out of the poorly made coffin while on its way to a burial site on the site of the High Court at the Saltmarket. 

Ironically there were two men at the hanging as interested spectators who would later draw swords with each other. 

It is unlikely Alexander McCall and John Greatrex actually bumped into each other. But both men were there in prominent capacities. 

Superintendent McCall was the man who arrested Pritchard at Glasgow Queen Street station. 

Greatrex was a member of the Plymouth Brethren and was there to preach to the crowd. 

He also ran a photographic shop, also in Sauchiehall Street, and around that time was engaged in a criminal venture to forge £1 notes using the latest photographic techniques. 

Greatrex would later get rumbled and flee to New York with his mistress where he would eventually be arrested the following year by McCall and sentenced to 20 years in prison. 

It was never quite clear what Pritchard's motive was for the double murder and how he developed into the double killer that drew 100,000 Glaswegians to his execution. 

His mother-in-law had left two thirds of her £2500 estate (worth around £350,000 now) to Mary Jane so greed was probably the most obvious reason as the doctor was reputed to have many debts. 

There were also questions as to whether he was what we would now call a serial killer. 

As he sat in Duke Street jail awaiting execution, rumours emerged he had also poisoned patients while working in Yorkshire. 

Death seemed to follow him around. First, his maid died in a fire at his home.  

Another maid became pregnant with his child, so he performed an abortion. 

The hanging of Dr Edward Pritchard was also the last public execution in Scotland.  

In the wake of a Royal Commission all executions in Great Britain were carried out in prisons from 1868 including those by William Calcraft. 

Hanging was eventually stopped in Britain in 1965 - one hundred years after the death of the Human Crocodile. 

Over the years the Pritchard case has featured on television, radio and theatrical drams, even to this day. 

In 1947, legendary Scottish playwright James Bridie wrote Dr Angelus, based on the double murder. 

It originally starred Alastair Sim and George Cole, who went on to find fame in the Minder TV series. 

The play was revived at the Finborough Theatre, London, as recently as 2016. 

In 1956, Pritchard was played by Citizen Kane star Joseph Cotten in an episode of the US television series "On Trial" 

The case also features in the Sherlock Holmes short story, The Adventure of the Speckled Band. 

At his trial Pritchard was represented by distinguished Glasgow law firm Maclay Murray and Spens.  

After his execution the law firm pursued his estate for their outstanding fees.  

As there was no money, they seized his wooden consulting chair along with some other property to pay off the debt.  

The chair is said to have remained on display in the firm's boardroom until as late as 2016. 

There is also another strange fact attached to this case. 

In 1910, when rebuilding work was carried out on the High Court in Glasgow, a grave was discovered with the initials EWP.  

The corpse was examined and was found to be wearing the same shiny black shoes that Dr Pritchard had worn more than forty years earlier on the scaffolding.  

They were also in a perfect state of preservation and probably for that reason stolen. 

They were later said to have been sold to a friend of one of the workmen, presumably unaware that he was now walking around Glasgow in the shoes of the Human Crocodile.