Florence Maybrick: Death Sentence Commuted - A MAN WITH A DOUBLE LIFE?

Behind his gentlemanly facade, James Maybrick lived a double life.

Florie thought she had fallen in love with a successful cotton merchant who lived in Liverpool but also spent much of each year in Norfolk, Virginia. But

  • Unknown to Florie, Maybrick had an English mistress with whom he had several children.
  • Unknown to Florie, Maybrick had a bad drug habit. He was hooked on arsenic and strychnine.

People with double lives are often very good at keeping personal secrets. James Maybrick was one of those secret-keeping people.

In the summer of 1881, when Florie married Maybrick at St. James Church in London's Picadilly, she did know her husband had contracted malaria during one of his trips to Norfolk. (Malaria had spread in epidemic proportions during the Civil War.)

While Maybrick had recovered from the disease itself, he had not recovered from the treatment (Fowler's Medicine).  For the rest of his life, he would remain addicted to the ingredients of Fowler's Medicine (arsenic and strychnine).

A chemical element, arsenic was a component of other interesting products during the late 19th century. Women (including Florie Maybrick) sometimes used it as a cosmetics base and chemists used it in flypaper (among other things). Even Queen Elizabeth I had used arsenic as part of the preparation which made her face appear white.

It wasn't until Florie found "white powder," stashed in various places around her house, that she knew her husband had a drug habit. But ... that was several years after her wedding. And ... it was well after Florence had two children: James Chandler (called "Bobo"), born in 1882, and Gladys Evelyn, born in 1885.

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