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Location: 81 George Street
Eugene Chantrelle (1834 – 1878) was born in Nantes, France. He trained as a doctor but, he was a communist and left France for political reasons before qualifying. After living in America and England for a time he settled in Edinburgh in 1866 as a teacher. His text books in French were widely adopted.
He was said to be a charmer and seemingly respectable, but he got Elizabeth Cullen Dyer, one of his students, pregnant at the age of 16. They married in 1868 and lived at this address, where Eugene beat Elizabeth regularly. He drank heavily and and frequented the city’s taverns and brothels.
In 1876 he was charged with assaulting a servant and his wife. By 1877 Eugene was heavily in debt and he insured Elizabeth’s life for £1,000. In January 1878 Elizabeth died at the Royal Infirmary. Eugene claimed she had died of a leak from a cracked gas pipe. However the doctors diagnosed narcotics poisoning, and the police found opium on Elizabeth’s nightdress and in her bedroom. Eugene Chantrelle was found guilty of murder and hanged.
Robert Louis Stevenson, whose home is also on this walk, is understood to have met Chantrelle and may have based his character Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on him, “Man is not truly one, but truly two”.
You can read more about this here.
On your way to the next stop you will pass Hanover Street named after the royal house at the time of construction of the New Town. George I was the Elector of Hanover when he became king of England and Scotland.
Continue walking East along George Street for about 500 metres until you reach St. Andrew Square. Turn right on St. Andrew Square and after about 70 metres, you come to 8 South St. David Street, where David Hume, the famous European philosopher lived.
Picture credits: Stuart Baillie Strong/Edinburgh4Europe, Stevenson’s Paris