Murder by Cat: 1837

snarling cat

The criminal court at Madrid was lately occupied with the following curious case:

The Senhora Mendez, 17 years of age, had married a rich old merchant. The relations of the husband having observed with secret dissatisfaction that the young wife would soon become a mother, endeavored to excite jealousy in the mind of the old man, and finding their attempts unavailing, resorted to a scheme for causing the death of the offspring. For this purpose they administered some drugs to a large black cat, in order to drive it mad, and bribed the female attendant of the Senhora to introduce the animal into the chamber of her mistress, when she was asleep. This was done, and the animal, beginning to utter dreadful cries, awoke the lady, who, fancying herself visited by a ghost, jumped out of bed, but before she could take refuge in the adjoining chamber of her husband was bitten by the infuriated cat. Her cries brought several parties to her assistance, and the wicked intentions of the relations were frustrated by the skill and attention of a young medical man who resided in the house. All the domestics were arrested, when the femme de chambre, on being closely examined by the alcalde, confessed her share in the plot, and impeached her accomplices, who proved to be a female cousin and two nephews of the old merchant. The four culprits were each sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. London paper.

Spectator [New York, NY] 4 April 1837: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: While admiring the spirit in which the plucky cousin and nephews tried to retain a grip on the family fortunes, Mrs Daffodil really cannot condone unkindness to animals.

One feels that a more prudent approach would have been for the cousin to ingratiate herself with the young bride and the nephews to  both encourage the old gentleman’s marital excesses and compete for the eventual widow’s favours. It could then be arranged to have the nephews fight a duel to the death over the lady, the widow to “die of grief,” and the infant heir (providing it survived the birth) to succumb to any number of childhood ailments, leaving the cousin to, as they say, “scoop the pot.” One does likes a happy ending.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


4 thoughts on “Murder by Cat: 1837

  1. Pingback: The Black Cat Elemental: 1870s | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

  2. Pingback: Black Cat Tales: 19th century | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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