Letter : Wadham College [Oxford], to his sister Molly

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Summary:A descriptive first-hand account of the famed murder trial of Mary Blandy, who in 1752 stood accused of poisoning her invalid father with white arsenic in his food, on the instructions of her aspiring lover, William Henry Cranstoun, who was, unbeknownst to her, already in possession of a wife, but was hungry for the £10,000 Miss Blandy was due to inherit. The trial, conducted in Oxford, continued for some eleven and a half hours without respite, and saw Mary condemned to death. The ‘fair parricide’, as she was known, was hanged on 6 April 1752, her last words being ‘Gentlemen, don’t hang me high for the sake of decency’. Stillingfleet watched the whole trial, remarking ‘I feel the effects of being at it yet for I was almost squeez’d to death in the crowd’. While admiring Blandy’s speech as ‘very fine & very artfully drawn up’, his own verdict on the case is unambiguous: ‘I never heard of a more premeditated piece of cruelty’.

  • AuthorStillingfleet, Edward, -1795.
  • TitleLetter : Wadham College [Oxford], to his sister Molly, 1752 March 5.

Catalog Record

LWL Mss File 136

Acquired August 2016

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About lewiswalpolelibrary

The Lewis Walpole Library, a department of the Yale University Library since 1980, is an internationally recognized research collection in the field of British eighteenth-century studies. Its unrivalled collection of Walpoliana includes half the traceable volumes from Horace Walpole's famous library at Strawberry Hill and many letters and other manuscripts by him. The Library's book and manuscript collections, numbering over 32,000 volumes, cover all aspects of eighteenth-century British culture. The Library is also home to the largest and finest collection of eighteenth-century British graphic art outside the British Museum; its 35,000 satirical prints, portraits, and topographical views are an incomparable resource for visual material on many facets of English life of the period. Located in Farmington, Connecticut, forty miles north of New Haven and within easy distance of Boston and New York, the Lewis Walpole Library's collections also include drawings, paintings, and furniture, all housed on a 14-acre campus with four historically important structures and extensive grounds. The Library runs an active fellowship program and sponsors conferences, lectures, and exhibitions in cooperation with other Yale libraries and departments.

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