The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Marguerite Dixblanc

Marguerite Dixblanc

A carte-de-visite portrait of Marguerite Dixblanc, a 29-year-old Belgian cook found guilty of murder in 1872.

While employed in the Park Lane household of 46-year-old widow Mme Marie Caroline Besant Riel, Dixblanc battered her employer to death, hid the body in a pantry, and fled to France with some money and other stolen property. Detectives followed her trail, arrested her in St Denis and brought her back to England to face trial.

When she appeared at the Old Bailey on 14 June she pleaded she had been provoked and the defence tried, unsuccessfully, to get the charge reduced to manslaughter. The judge ruled that verbal abuse was insufficient cause for provocation and Dixblanc - described in court as a 'coarse, muscular type' - was found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. Her sentence was subsequently reduced to penal servitude for life.

Photographed by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company.

Code: 125041
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