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I can tell you, Laura. She became a nurse (!!!!) and was with Jenny Jerome Churchill's nurses that went out to South Africa in 1899. She was such a flirt with all the officers on the ship that she offended all the other nurses and besides that, was so bossy and bombastic that Jenny seriously thought she was mentally ill, and sent her back to England. After that, I don't know what became of her


Why, Fiz, you are remarkable! Thanks for that interesting nugget. Do you recall where you read it?

I wonder if the trial cracked her, or if....?

Any new chapters, anyone??


This is really interesting - your post plus Fiz's comment...I remember reading about Adelaide Bartlett in Mary Hartman's Victorian Murderesses - I always wanted to now what happened to everyone (in Victorian novels, they tell you, but alas in real life, not so much)


I found it in a a 1991 book called "The Pimlico Murder" by Kate Clarke. It was a UK book, but there might be some copies on ABE. I've just had a brief look at it and undeterred, Adelaide, then calling herself "Madame Blanche" made her way out to France as a liason officer in WW1, but was thrown out by the French. By 1932, she was in Boston and going blind. I don't think the trial cracked her, Laura, I think she was cracked!


I have to say, I am sort of sorry for Adelaide. Her father was a wealthy, probly titled man who went to France when Victoria and the court were visiting the France of Napoleon III. Her mother was a very young English women,Clara Chamberlain, married to a much older, penniless count (he taught for a living, which at this date meant he must have been poor). Anyway, this charmer impregnated Countess Clara, her husband threw her out as he knew it wasn't his baby (interesting - I wonder how he knew that?), Clara died and the baby, Adelaide-Blanche was brought up in France and possibly England and she knew her father, but whoever this man was, he would not acknowlege her, but he paid for her living and her marriage settlement and Edwin's nice smart shops. He also paid Lewis and Lewis, her attorneys who were the lawyers of the day that smart society flocked to for any potentially embarassing little problems, and they instructed Sir Edward Clarke for her defence. After the trial, whoever her father was, he informed Adelaide that she'd had all he felt he owed her. It could have all been so different and I do wonder if Adelaide felt that? I have no doubt whatsoever that so murdered Edwin, though.


I wonder if she ever had children?

The 1930 Boston Census has an Adelaide Bartlett, 80, living with her daughter Madeline (sp?), a 51-year-old sculptor. But they told the census-taker they were born in Maine. Hm.

I think this information about Adelaide Bartlett is dubious at best. Given the notariety of the trial it is unlikely she kept the Bartlett name, and the information regarding her becoming a nurse is also questionable and has been much debated. The identity of her parents was never known, although her mother was almost certainly a french woman.

The question of the fate of Adelaide Bartlett has led to as many questions and different conclusions as the trial itself.

Keith Towers

It is my belief that Adelaide was secreted out of the UK after the trial to somewhere in Europe by her father. From there it is likely she travelled to the United States of America, but of course, I am repeating rumours here. The story goes that she ended up in Boston under the name of Madame Blanche Bartlett, but I'm of similar belief to the poster above, that she dropped the Bartlett name soon after the trial. Blanche was her second Christian name which she preferred to be called and it is likely she used it instead of Adelaide. It seems Adelaide was a talented pianist and lived from the earnings of private tuition and later working for the Aeolian Company. This information was gleaned from Yseult Bridges, book, Poison and Adelaide Bartlett, which Bridges in turn supposedly gleaned from Lady Uvedale who met Adelaide at the opening to the WW1. How reliable this information is, is anybody's guess.

The majority of commentators in this case believe Adelaide Bartlett to be guilty as charged. One small point which I find quite difficult to grasp is why she chose chloroform over simpler, and perhaps more traditional, methods like arsenic? It had long been established that chloroform was an unstable substance, and certainly considered difficult to swallow by the medical establishment, so why use it?
Chloroform is a liquid at room temperatures which gives off highly intoxicating vapors. It was discovered independently and simultaneously in Germany, France, and the United States in 1831. Its recreational use in the United States began at the time of its discovery like so many drugs to this day. So, as a recreational drug, which it most certainly was throughout Victorian times (as dangerous as it is), is it really impossible to drink the fluid?
In an article entitled ‘The Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs’, the authors, Edward M. Brecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports Magazine, included this remark from the American inventor, Samuel Guthrie, of chloroform:
"During the last six months a great number of persons have drunk of the solution . . . in my laboratory, not only very freely, but frequently to the point of intoxication, and so far as I have observed, it has appeared to be singularly grateful, both to the palate and stomach, producing a lively flow of animal spirits, and consequent loquacity; and leaving, after its operation, little of that depression consequent upon the use of ardent spirits (Alcohol)”; in other words, no hangover.
From this statement we must accept that if it was possible to drink Guthrie’s chloroform freely and without harm up to a point, then we must also ask if there was a difference between Guthrie’s drinkable chloroform and the supposedly undrinkable, or difficult to swallow stuff, used by Adelaide Bartlett to murder her husband.
I would say that there was no difference at all, and thus a definite possibility that Edwin Bartlett could have easily taken the poisonous substance of his own volition.
This time, however, the dose he poured for himself whilst Adelaide was asleep at his feet was to be a fatal measure, though not with instantaneous effect. Before settling down to sleep once again he replaced the emptied glass on the mantelshelf from where he had found it.
This leads us to several more questions: had Edwin Bartlett become addicted to chloroform and quite used to swallowing the substance? Had he been reliant upon Adelaide in the past to administer the correct and safe dosages to him? But on this occasion did he not wish to disturb her from the much needed sleep she deserved when he woke in some pain during the middle of the night wanting more pain killer? Did he then help himself, overdosing unwittingly because Adelaide wasn’t available to administer a safe dose? Or, if Adelaide Bartlett did poison her husband, was it contrived between the two as a mercy killing; perhaps to release him from his distressful illnesses? He had been diagnosed by his doctor with necrosis, possibly brought about by poor and invasive dental surgery. And, as one would imagine, suffered intolerable pain. He was also suffering from imagined or real bowl disorder and sleeplessness, taking medication on a regular basis to alleviate these, including purgative drafts for worms, and Morphia injections to induce much needed sleep. Adelaide was tired and becoming run down from the constant nursing of Edwin, and it was showing. When it was suggested by George Dyson later, that another nurse might relieve some of the pressure from Adelaide she was annoyed with him for suggesting it. Edwin was adamant that she could be trusted and made that fact known to Dyson without apology. She was doing a grand job of looking after him.
Edwin, out of respect and even love for Adelaide, would not have wanted to disturb her when he awoke to find her in a deep, restful sleep at his feet? She had nursed him faithfully for the past 12 years, and now, with the warmth from the well laid fire, she had let herself slip into a well needed slumber.

It is my belief that he would have let her sleep. And on seeing the bottle of chloroform at her side, and the empty glass on the mantelshelf, would have slowly repositioned him self so that he could reach the two. He then, unwittingly perhaps, poured a fatal measure of the stuff and drunk it quickly.

Jeffrey Bloomfield

The only time I found a reference to her later years is when I saw a copy of the novel "SWEET ADELAIDE" by Julian Symon about twenty years ago.
Symon said he traced her to New England (I believe he said Connecticut) where she died in the 1930s. However, I am suspicious of this "fate" for Adelaide. Madeleine Smith died in New York City in 1928 (she is buried in the Bronx as "Lena Sheehy", her last married name). Florence Maybrick (after her release from prison) went to the U.S. and died in Connecticut in 1941. That three major suspects in British poisoning cases died within one hundred miles of each other is odd to say the least.

Another thing about the Bartlett case that arouses my curiosity is the side appearance of the noted surgeon, Sir James Paget. Paget, of course, is recalled for his famous (or infamous) comment: "Now that she has been acquitted and cannot be arrested anymore, can she please tell us (in the name of science) how she did it!". Paget was deeply interested in true crime - it was a family interest. His son John Paget wrote an interesting book on famous mysteries (like Elizabeth Canning, and Eliza Fenning) called PUZZLES AND PARADOXES. It's worth reading for the insight it unconciously sheds on John Paget's interest and what was family table talk. John Paget mentions other cases, one of which is the 1860 case of the murder of Mrs. Elmsley by James Mullins. I do find it fascinating that with all the so-called links of Sir William Gull to both the Bravo Poisoning Case of 1876 and (possibly) to the Whitechapel Murders of 1888, nobody has bothered to look at Sir James Paget.

Kate Clarke

Recent research shows that the evidence given by the late Lady Uvedale regarding the activities of Adelaide Bartlett after her acquittal was erroneous. My recently published revised edition of The Pimlico Murder (first published in 1990)addresses this and contains a few previously unpublished facts about Adelaide's early life now available on Census records.

Charlotte Hopkins

Thank you Kate, I shall have to read your book. I recently discovered a photograph in an album that I picked up some years ago in Lincoln. There is a woman in this studio photograph that looks uncannily like Adelaide Bartlett. It was taken in Charles Pettingell's studio at 180 London Road, Liverpool in late 1880s/early 1890. If I am able to post it here I would be interested to know what people think? If she did happen to be in Liverpool (with a new young man) at this date I started thinking that there was every possibility that she may have travelled to America from here. A long and fantastical-shot but intriguing...

Charlotte Hopkins

Here is the link to the image:


Interesting as the fate of Adelaide Bartlett is no one seems to have shown much interest in George Dyson. What happened to HIM? The notion that he went to the States, married then murdered his wife is surely absurd -- totally against all we know of his character. Any thoughts on the fate of Dyson...?

Anne Other

I read that after the trial she went to live with her father's family in France.

Seems feasible.

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