James Maybrick was a 50-year-old Liverpool cotton merchant, who died in May 1889. He was an arsenic and strychnine addict for almost ten years, having taken them originally to treat a bout of malaria. Addiction at the time was not considered a serious problem and was deemed socially as acceptable as its alcoholic counterpart: in moderation.
However, following his death, his 26-year-old American wife, Florence, and mother of his two children, Gladys and James Jr., was accused and convicted of murdering him — becoming, “the first American woman to be tried in a British court.”
The crown’s case was specious and very sensational so everyone weighed in. From searching the New York Times historical archive, this is what we could piece together.
Florence was a Southern belle born in Mobile Alabama during the war between the States. She was on her grand tour of Europe with her mother the Baroness von Roques, when James Maybrick, forty years old to her eighteen, detoured her charmingly to his native Liverpool. Her mother, the Baroness, was dead set against it. No one in London knew him and no one could corroborate the success of his cotton business. Florrie, as she was called, did not care, she was in love and believed him.
- Forgotten Books has republished a book on the whole scandal.
- James Maybrick’s brother, Michael was a noted composer. michael-maybrick-obit
- The Harvard Law Review wrote about Jury’s duty in 1900.maybrick-harvard-law
- The British Lancet discussed the health of Mr. Maybrick.
- There is also letter to the editor disputing its findings..maybrick-lancet
Florence Maybrick was originally condemned to hang, her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. She served 15 years before being released and then left the country for America. She died in New Milford, Connecticut, October 25, 1941 near a friend who had befriended her while the former was in prison.