Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blandy, Mary

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1311933Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 05 — Blandy, Mary1886Leslie Stephen

BLANDY, MARY (d. 1752), murderess, was the only child of Francis Blandy, attorney, of Henley-on-Thames, who had said that he could leave her a fortune of 10,000l. An officer in the marines, named William Henry Cranstoun, son of William, fifth Lord Cranstoun, proposed to marry her. The father objected, suspecting Cranstoun to be already married. He had, in fact, married Anne Murray in 1745. Hereupon Cranstoun induced Miss Blandy to administer arsenic in small doses to her father. He died after some months on 14 Aug. 1761. Miss Blandy was tried at Oxford on 3 March 1752, convicted upon strong evidence, including that of her father's physician, Anthony Addington [q. v.], and hanged on 6 April 1752. Much attention was aroused at the time, especially by the pathetic circumstance that the father, when he knew himself to be dying by his daughter's hands, only pitied her and tried to prevent her committing herself. He appears to have thought that she mistook the poison which she perceived from Cranstoun for a potion intended to win his favour to the match. This view was suggested at the trial and solemnly asserted by Miss Blandy at her death, but is inconsistent with many facts brought out in evidence. Cranstoun escaped, but died 2 Dec. 1752. It was remarked as a strange coincidence that a banker in the Strand named Gillingham Cooper, received, as lord of the manor at Henley, the forfeiture of two fields belonging to Miss Blandy and of a malthouse belonging to Miss Jefferys, who on 28 March 1752 was hanged for the murder of her uncle at Walthumstow.

[Tryal of Mary Blandy for the Murder of her Father, &c.. 1752 reprinted in Howell's State Trials, xviii. 1118-1194; Annual Register for 1768, p. 77; Gent. Mag. for 1752, pp. 108, 152, 188; Universal Magazine for June 1752; Letter from a Clergyman to Miss Blandy, with her own Narrative, 1752; Miss Blandy's own Account, &c., London, 1752; An Answer to Miss Blandy's Narrative; A Candid Appeal to the Public concerning, &c., 1752; Horace Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), ii. 281, 286, 290. 306, 312, 346; Notes and Queries, 9th ser., iii. 67, 119; Douglas's Scotch Peerage, i. 868.]

L. S.