Unsolved Murders

Mary Traill

Age: 80

Sex: female

Date: 16 Aug 1921

Place: Birnock Villa, Bridge of Allan

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Mary Traill was killed after being assaulted with a bottle in her bedroom at her home.

She was an octogenarian and an invalid. Her nurse attendant was also assaulted but she survived although she was not able to make much sense in her statement but did mention a motorbike.

Police suspected that they could have been attacked by a lunatic and said that one had escaped from an asylum in Central Scotland t the beginning of August 1921 and had not been recaptured.

The inside of the villa was bespattered with blood across the carpets and linoleum.

The nurse said that they had been attacked by a man with large velvety eyes and was between 5ft. 7in and 5ft. 8in, clean shaven and had a sallow complexion. She also said that he was dressed in dark clothing, possibly blue and that he was so white in the face that she thought that his cheeks might have been whitened. She said that his eyes seemed to burn through her and that when she screamed he peered down and said to her 'I'll do you in'.

Please also found the remains of a broken bottle with a stopper.

It was not known how the man had got in although there were two open doors which were left open until after midnight, but it was thought that he had entered through the door to the side of the house. However, it was said that he had left by one of the back windows. Police found that the cords to the windows that held the weights had been broken by a sharp throwing up of the bottom portion of the window and there were foot marks on the corrugated iron below of the coal cellar roof that he had landed on. One of the window panes had also been cracked from one corner to another.

Mary Traill had been hit with a Guinness stout bottle which had broken and some of its glass was left embedded in Mary Traill's forehead. Some marks on the bottle neck and cork identified it an Alloa firm but the label was destroyed when the first people on the scene swept up all the broken pieces of bottle.

There was silver on display on the sideboard but none of it was taken which made police think that robbery might not have been the motive.

Birnock Villa was just off the main road through Bridge of Allan and was a holiday boarding house. The villa was two storeys tall and had a large annex to the rear. The villla was occupied by two families one of whom, occupying the top floor, had been there for 9 years and had acted as attendants to Mary Traill but at the time they had gone off on holiday to Stornoway. The family that occupied the ground floor had been to the show-ground in Bridge of Allan.

When the family returned from Bridge of Allan at 12.20am they went upstairs to get their terrier pup who they had left in the charge of the nurse and when they opened the door, instead of it's usual boisterous welcome the dog crept out of the room to it's mistress and then went to sleep on a chair. Its master later said that the dog seemed sleepy and from then on demonstrated fear of strangers and seemed thoroughly cowed.

However, it wasn't for another 30 minutes that the family heard some cries for help from Mary Traill's bedroom. They were making a cup of tea and at the time thought that Mary Traill was having a nightmare but when they went to have a look and saw the nurse struggling down the stairs with a gaping wound to her forehead. She was in a delirious state and kept calling out 'You won't kill my old mistress. I won't let you kill her. I don't care if you take my life, you won't kill her'.

They then went up to Mary Traill's bedroom and saw Mary Traill on her bed with a deep wound on her forehead and a bruise over her left eye.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 16 August 1921

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 09 August 1921