A strange yet terrifying account

In 1908 the Aberdeen People’s Journal printed “Recollections of a Police Spy” a story set prior to Jessie McLachlan being branded the Sandyford Murderess of Glasgow. Within the article, Mr. Jones claims that at the age of 17 he worked as a law firm apprentice in Glasgow. In the July of 1862, he alleges that he was sent to deliver a note into the hands of Jessie McLachlan of the Broomielaw. The note read that unless she paid the apprentice her rent arrears her furniture would be poinded the following day.

Mr. Jones continued by asserting that Jessie began to scheme. The plan was for the young Mr. Jones to purchase Laudanum from the chemist. Jessie would then visit her friend, a “housekeeper for a dottled old man” ole Mr. Fleming where she would put the Laudanum to use, ‘Stupifying’ her friend Jessie McPherson. Jessie would take the house silver and pawn it. When her husband returned home with his wages from his position as a seaman she would return the silver to the house – no one would be the wiser. Tempted by the sovereign she promised him should he collect the laudanum, Mr. Jones went to collect the drug from the chemist. The following day he was to produce to Jessie the receipt and she would reimburse him the cost alongside his sovereign. Jones arrived the following day, asking Jessie if she had his money for the purchase, Jessie asked to see the receipt first. Producing the receipt Jessie tried to snatch it from him, ripping it. Mr. Jones just barely held on. “Have you got the money?” He asked again. Jessie attempted then to tell him that she had already given him it yesterday, branding him a scoundrel and a cheat.

Suddenly she sprang like a cat, biting at his hand to make him open it so she could claim the receipt. Squeezing the breath out of him she reached across Mr. Jones and caught hold of an old rusty cleaver which had been previously used to cut wood. Raising the weapon above his head she said “Give it up or I’ll split your skull!” Suddenly there was singing at the door, a heavenly voice, then a “Rat – Tat”. “Come in, Mrs. Campbell” Jessie called. Mrs. Campbell asked if they had been quarreling, to which Jessie replied “Aboot money as usual, Lawyers are perfect bloodsuckers, ye ken”. Mrs. Campbell told Mr. Jones he best get going, and never come back to which he responded “You may bet your last shilling on that!”. Jessie stared at him with a look that plainly said “If you utter one word, it’ll cost you your life”. The following day Mr. Jones says he noticed that Jessie had settled up the £4 arrears on her account. Mr. Jones later heard of the murder he continues to tell but was firmly resolved not to say a word of his connection with the affair for he feared an accomplished liar such as Jessie M’Lachlan would turn around and say that it had all been done at his instigation. He had procured the laudanum from the chemist after all. Jones maintains he feared for many years that he may be arrested for the crime.

Do you believe Mr. Jones’s account? I personally believe Jones was good at telling stories, but fear I suspect that he tells tall tales.


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