The Poisoning of William Cotesworth, 1725

Joyce Ellis describes how, among the mine-owners of Tyneside, there was bitter animosity of which the successful William Cotesworth was nearly a victim.

Early on June 10th, 1725, at Gateshead Park in County Durham, the country seat of William Cotesworth esquire, the peaceful household routine was disturbed by the news that the master of the house had been taken ill. Cotesworth, who was an elderly man by the standards of his time, was recovering from a severe attack of a recurrent illness so that a relapse might have been expected.

The violence of his symptoms, however, raised immediate suspicions, which were confirmed when the gardener broke down and confessed that he had been persuaded by the butler to supply a large dose of arsenic, administered to the victim in his morning cup of chocolate. Cotesworth survived this attack and both men were tried for attempted murder, being sentenced to a whipping and the pillory on the anniversary of the offence.

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