New Brunswick, Canada
29 September 1860
A VERDICT OF MANSLAUGHTER AGAINST DR. TUMBLETY
FLIGHT OF THE DOCTOR
On Wednesday evening Mr. Scoullar, Chief of Police, was sent for in the name of James Portmore, carpenter, a well known resident of Sydney ward. He went to his house, and found Portmore almost speechless and evidently dying. Mrs. Portmore told him that by the advice of Dr. Botsford they had sent for him to have Dr. Tumblety arrested for poisoning her husband. Mr. Scoullar declined to make the arrest unless information was made and a regular warrant obtained. He, however, reported the matter fully on the Police Office report on Thursday. Portmore died shortly after Mr. Scoullar's visit.
On Thursday morning the Mayor saw Mrs. Portmore, and on her hearing her statement, wrote to the Coroner, requesting that an Inquest should be held. Accordingly, this was done, a most respectable jury having been summoned. The inquiry was held during the Thursday afternoon at the house of the deceased and afterwards adjourned to the Court House. Dr. Tumblety was present during the proceedings on Thursday and cross-examined Mrs. Portmore.
Mrs. Portmore, wife of the deceased, swore that her husband has been for ten or twelve years suffering from disease of the kidneys and gravel. Lately he was not so unwell as he had often been, and was able to attend to his work as a carpenter; but about three weeks ago, induced by the advertisements of cures wrought by Dr. Tumblety which were published in the papers, he applied to him and brought home two phials, containing about a gill each, of medicine that looked like water, which he got from him. He took a teaspoonfull of this in water three times day. When first he took it he cried out that "that would burn the heart out of a man." He continued, however, to take it for nine or ten days regularly. He always complained of the same burning sensation in the stomach after taking it, and he lost his appetite, which previously was good. On the 17th. he went to Dr. Tumblety again, and brought another bottle of medicine which looked like the former, and which he took in the same way. After he used this he vomited and grew so sick that he had to take to his bed. He could then eat nothing. She went for Dr. Tumblety to see him, and when he came to the house she charged him with having killed her husband by the medicine he had given him. She pointed to the bottles on the table, and said the medicine was there, and she meant to show it to the doctors. He said very well, and took a bottle up and smelled it, and then put it down again. He told her to apply hot water fomentations over her husband's kidneys, and she did so. He then went away, promising to send a balsam at 4 o'clock to settle his stomach, and immediately after he was gone she missed the bottles. She told her husband Tumblety had taken the bottles, and he said let the villain take them. She had not tasted the medicine, and had no idea what it was. No one was in the room during this time but her husband, herself and Dr. Tumblety. Dr. Tumblety did not send the balsam, nor did he return, but he sent word he was busy. Dr. Humphreys was then called in, and Dr. Botsford saw her husband some hours before he died. While sick at this time he did not suffer much from his old complaint, but chiefly from the pain in his stomach.
In answer to a question by Dr. Tumblety, she swore that her husband did not say to her when she was reproaching Tumblety, Mary don't blame him, or anything of that kind. He only said: "Mary, hold your tongue."
Dr. Humphreys, who attended Portmore on a former occasion, was called in and found him suffering from acute inflammation of the stomach. Dr. Humphreys and Dr. Botsford made a post mortem examination on Thursday. They found the lungs sound, the kidneys disorganised, and evidence that the deceased suffered from calculus or stone, but swore positively that the immediate cause of death was acute inflammation of the stomach; that this was not a necessary consequence of his old disease, and did not arise from it. They stated also that, according to the highest medical authorities, inflammation of the stomach is rarely or ever idiopathic, or arising from natural causes, but is the result of the introduction of some powerful irritant into the stomach. They were satisfied that in this instance the inflammation was caused by some acid, or other irritant introduced into the stomach, although they would not swear that it could not possibly be otherwise, and they could find no such substance in the stomach when they made the examination. They described the appearance and condition of the coating of the stomach, and the Coroner afterwards stated to the Jury that he agreed fully in opinion with them.
S.B. Estey was called, and stated that Dr. Tumblety's Christian name was Francis; that he had boarded with him about thirteen weeks; that the last he saw of him was on Thursday night about 9 o'clock, when he came down stairs, lit a cigar and went out. Witness had been speaking to him about this case, and had asked him how it was likely to go. He had no idea that he meant to go away, and knew nothing of it until next morning about 9 o'clock. Dr. Tumblety's clerk paid him his bill since he went away. He does not know where the Dr. is now. He knew nothing of the medicines he used.
William Hamilton said he was engaged by dr. Tumblety about three weeks ago to be his clerk. His business was to wait in the hall, and if the Dr. was engaged to tell any parties who called that he was busy, and to provide chairs for them, or to show them in if the Dr. was disengaged. He also engaged to do any writing that may be required; but did none except copying some advertisements. He last saw the Dr. between 10 and 11 o'clock on Thursday night, on the St. Andrews Road, beyond the Suspension Bridge. The Doctor told him to come with him and show him the way to the Bridge. The Doctor rode his white horse, and wore his cloak and cap and grey trousers, and had his hound with him. He might have had money with him, but he had nothing else. He did not know where they were going. The Doctor and he rode and walked alternately. The Gate Bridge was closed, and when he went to knock the Doctor told him to tell the gatekeeper, who asked if any one was sick in Carleton, that he had been sent for to the Rev. Mr. Dunphy's. He told the man so, and believed himself it was true. About a quarter of a mile beyond the bridge, the Doctor asked him about the road to Calais. He did not know this, but told him all he knew of the roads, and the Doctor then told him he thought he would try to ride to Calais, and gave him what he said was a $100, and told him to pay Mr. Estey's bill and Mr. Stockford. He spoke of no other bills. He bade him not tell any one where he had gone. He told him to take charge of his room. He said he would probably return, but if he did not he would telegraph to him, and he could send him his trunks, and, if his parents would permit him, could go to him himself. He was to let him know where he would send the trunks. Witness does not know where they are to be sent. He supposes they will be sent by the American boat. There was no arrangement that he was to telegraph to the doctor anywhere. The doctor did not say anything about the Inquest, or that he was running away on account of it, but witness suspected himself that it was on account of this case he went away. Witness knew nothing of what medicine the doctor used. He spoke to him first on the steam ferry about three weeks ago. He never mixed medicines, and was not in his room when patients were there. He got the medicines at Mr. Barker's. He did not know what sort. There were packages of herbs, and some in bottles. He got no letter or order, but merely asked for a package of herbs, or for the mixtures. The Doctor said Mr. Barker knew what he wanted. They were not labelled.
He was down at Portmore's one day last week, in the buggy with the doctor. The doctor told him after he came out that he never met such a woman as that; that she charged him with killing her husband, and was going to strike him with a chair, and that Portmore said to her: "Mary, don't blame him." He swore positively that the doctor told him this at that time, and not since. The doctor also told him that he had brought the medicine he gave away. He said the medicine he gave the man would not hurt any body, as it was quite harmless.
Mr. Barker being called, stated that he is an apothecary, and supplied drugs to Dr. Tumblety. He got chiefly Irish moss, made up in quarter pound packages. He must have used a large quantity as 70 or 80 pounds, bought by witness at Reed's sale, is all gone. He also got compound extract of Sarsaparilla, and some Mandrake. Next to the moss, he got most often a six ounce mixture of Balsam Copaiba, and Sweet Spirits of Nitre in equal proportions. He also used a cough mixture, the ingredients of which were Balsam of Fir, Balsam of Tolu, and some other simples. They made up occasionally some pill mass for of a very simple kind for him, and he once got some ounces of Cayenne Pepper; but he used as much as anything Perry Davis' Pain Killer - the quarter dollar bottles - and Russia Salve. He never got any Ammonia or any Mineral Acids from witness. He frequently told persons who enquired of him, that the medicines Dr. Tumblety got would do no harm if they did no good.
The Coroner addressed the Jury at some length. The Jury, after deliberating for thirty or forty minutes, found a verdict of manslaughter against Dr. Tumblety.