On December 6th…

Dr E W Pritchard and Family. Carte-de-visite from the Howarth-Loomes collection at National Museums Scotland.

Dr Edward William Pritchard was born in Southsea on December 6, 1825. He trained as a physician’s apprentice and served as a ship’s surgeon before eventually settling in Glasgow in 1860. His medical career, however, was of less interest to Holmes than was the murder case which made the papers in 1865.

“Holmes,” I cried, “I seem to see dimly what you are hinting at. We are only just in time to prevent some subtle and horrible crime.”

“Subtle enough and horrible enough. When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge. Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of their profession. This man strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson, that we shall be able to strike deeper still. But we shall have horrors enough before the night is over; for goodness’ sake let us have a quiet pipe and turn our minds for a few hours to something more cheerful.” (SPEC – Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

Chips writes: I had often wondered about this doctor when reading of that case but had not taken time to look him and his criminal activity, which included the murders of both his wife and his mother-in-law. I suggest that anyone interested in the life of this notorious murderer look into the fabulous volume that Selena and I have been using as our secondary source for this column: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney. Their write-up includes the most fascinating details.