The Murder Scene

Evidence found at 17 Sandyford Place

'I saw the dead body of a woman. It was lying on the face, the back being uppermost. The upper part of the body was covered with carpet; the lower part was not covered; it was naked. We removed the carpet from the upper part of the body, and found various wounds upon the head, the face, and the neck, and also upon the wrists of the body, with one remarkable bruise upon the lower part of the back.
Of the various wounds there was one, a very long one, across the forehead. The bone was cut as well as the soft parts. There were several similar wounds on the back of the head. The neck was also wounded deeply upon the right side. The wounds upon the wrists were one on the back of one wrist, and another upon the front of the other wrist, but I cannot say which wrist had the wound on the back and which on the front.
I then examined, with Dr Fleming, marks of blood, which we traced from where the body lay through the passage into the kitchen, and I also noticed several marks, apparently of blood, upon the door of the kitchen, and on the door mat in the kitchen doorway. The marks upon the kitchen door were inside, and were about a yard and a half above the floor.  The mat was stained with blood, apparently, and when I attempted to lift it I found that it adhered to the floor of the kitchen doorway. I thought it did so from blood having coagulated under it.'

(Deposition by Dr Ebenezer Watson at the trial of Jessie McLachlan, Wednesday 17th September 1862)

Ground Level Plan:

Click on the images to view the larger .PDF format.

Basement Plan:

Jessie M'Lachlan's route to and from the spirit shop:

Isometrical view of street flat of 17 Sandyford Place:


The Two Suspects

Jessie McLachlan 1835 - 1899

Jessie was born on 15 May 1835 in Inverness, Scotland to William McIntosh and his wife Ann (maiden name Kennedy).

She was baptised 'Janet McIntosh' by the Rev Alexander Clark at the Presbyterian Parish Church, Inverness on 19 May 1835.

Her younger sister Ann was born approximately three years later.

Jessie entered Domestic Service in Glasgow circa 1850.

Met Jess MacPherson while both in service at 17 Sandyford Place from 1855 to 1857

She married James McLachlan, a seaman, on 29 September 1858 in Glasgow.

Their son James junior was born on 16 June 1859 at 217 Elliot Street, Glasgow.

The 1861 Census confirms the family were then living (with sister Ann - also in domestic service, and a lodger) at 192 Stobart Street, Glasgow on 7 April.

At the time of the murder (July 1862) the family had moved to 182 Broomielaw Glasgow, while Ann had moved to Greenock.

Following her trial in October 1862, Jessie was admitted to Perth Prison while her son went to live with Ann.

Released from prison in 1877, Jessie at first joined her sister at Greenock.

James McLachlan (senior) died in 1879 and at around that time Jessie and James junior migrated to the USA, probably via Nova Scotia.

Jessie re-married sometime after that date.

She died on 1 January 1899, according to James junior in a letter to his aunt Ann, written from Port Huron, Michigan USA.


Jessie McLachlan and James Fleming

James Fleming

Born 9 August 1775 (or 1784) at Bar Path, Kilsyth, Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.

Early years spent as a hand-loom weaver.

Owned a manufacturing business in Glasgow before retiring to work with his son, John Fleming Senior, collecting rents from properties owned by the family.

8 April 1852 - appeared before Anderston Kirk Sessions accused of 'fornication with Janet Dunsmore' - a domestic servant, with whom he is stated to have fathered a child.

Arrested on suspicion of the murder of Jess MacPherson on 9 July 1862, questioned and imprisoned until 17 July, following the arrest of Jessie McLachlan.

Date of death unknown.

Buried at Anderston Kirk, but remains subsequently moved to another (unknown) site.