Eugene Marie Chantrelle

The grave can easily be found. It also lies in Grange Cemetery situated on the south walk on the right after going through the tunnel. Her name - Elizabeth Dyer, later Mrs. Chantrelle, has not been inscribed on the stone, but it contains names of the Dyer family. 

Poor Elizabeth Dyer. Little did she think when she went as a young girl from her home at 5 Buccleuch Place to Newington Academy in Arniston Place (now 3 Newington Road) that she was to become the central figure in another of the murder sensations of the century. In 1867, while attending Newington Academy, Elizabeth Dyer became infatuated with a Frenchman named, Eugene Marie Chantrelle, who was one of her language teachers and had recently come to Edinburgh to seek his fortune. 

Chantrelle was born in Nantes in 1834. In his younger days he was a brilliant student, but left France and went to America. 

He became an outstanding suecess as a teacher and was the author of several French text books. He taught Latin, German and Greek. Handsome and elegant with a dark moustache, it is not surprising that his infatuated pupil was unable to resist his advances and the couple were married when Elizabeth was only sixteen. 

After the marriage Chantrelle and his wife settled in a comfortable house at 81a George Street, but Mrs.Chantrelle was most unhappy. Chantrelle treated her very badly and made her life a misery. He threatened her with pistols and often struck her. 

In 1877 Chantrelle insured his wife for £1,000, which was a very large sum in those days. On New Year's day, 1878, Mrs. Chantrelle became very sick. The following morning the maid heard moans in the wife's bedroom and found her unconscious. She was immediately removed to the Royal Infirmary where she died. 

Dr. Henry Littlejohn, who was the city's first medical officer, was not satisfied with the circumstances of Mrs. Chantrelle's death, and he had an autopsy performed by Dr. Douglas Maclagan, then Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in the University of Edinburgh. 

It was subsequently established that Mrs. Chantrelle had died from narcotic poisoning, possibly morphia. On 7th May, 1878, Chantrelle was charged with murder and found guilty after a trial lasting 4 days. 

In spite of vigorous attempts by a number of well-known opponents of capital punishment to obtain a reprieve Chantrelle was subsequently executed in the Calton Jail. This was the first execution carried out in the Calton Jail in private. All previous executions in Edinburgh had been carried out in public mainly at the Market Cross. 

After the trial Mrs. Chantrelle's mother, Mrs. Dyer; continued to live in the south side and latterly moved to a house in South Gray Street. Chantrelle's son for many years managed a tobacconist's shop in Edinburgh under an assumed name. 


The full text of the trial of Eugene Marie Chantrelle can be found at http://www.archive.org/details/trialofeugnema00chanuoft (click on the read online in the left hand page)

The text of the trial has been cleaned up and can be downloaded from here

Paul Nelson, a direct relative of Eugene Marie Chantrelle and Elizabeth Dyer wrote to the website and his email can be viewed here