At the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, June 2, 1862, Mary Struth appeared before Lord Ardmillan and Lord Neaves charged with the murder or attempted murder of her father John Struth in Silver Street in Kincardine with whom she lived with her son.

It was claimed she had poisoned him with salt of sorrel, sugar of lead or other poisons at various times between December 1861 and January 1862. She pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution case was led by the Solicitor General and Mr Ivory, while she was defended Mr W A Brown and Mr Balfour.

On January 17, 1862 Mary had appeared before Sheriff Substitute John Grahame at Dunblane. He went to Kincardine on January 25 to take Struth’s statement at a house in John Street which belonged to Janet Black or Strang. However, he was unable to make one as he could not speak. The reason Grahame had left it so long was that he was told the man would recover, but he never did.

At court, 31-year-old Mary Struth, through her solicitor, stated that she was a native of Kincardine, and that her father was a sailor. She worked as a labourer when she could find work.

She insisted she never gave her father salt of sorrel or sugar of lead, or any other substances that would cause him any harm. She did admit to purchasing a pennyworth of salt of sorrel to clean a stain on a sheet on her father’s bed, and to kill vermin in the house. The salt of sorrel was put into a cup on top of a chest of drawers, but she claimed she never knew it was poisonous.

As for the sugar of lead, she had once asked a neighbour Jane Drysdale to purchase it for a sore eye and breast, and said that she had not personally bought it as she was dirty at the time. She said she gave her father salts and saltpetre, but nothing else.

Elizabeth Maxwell, a farm servant and lodger with the Struths, and a neighbour Elizabeth Scotland both told the court that Mary seemed to be very kind to her father.

Dr William Forrest, who carried out the post mortem, told the court Struth’s symptoms were consistent with those caused by salt of sorrel.

Dr Douglas MacLagan carried out a chemical examination and agreed that salt of sorrel may have played a part in his death.

The jury retired for 20 minutes and returned the verdict of not proven.