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The Damnation of John Donellan: A Mysterious Case of Death and Scandal in Georgian England

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The Damnation of John Donellan: A Mysterious Case of Death and Scandal in Georgian England Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On August 30, 1780, in Warwickshire, England, twenty-year-old Theodosius Boughton, the dissolute heir to a vast fortune and baronetcy, died suddenly and in violent convulsions after taking a medication prescribed by his doctor. Was he poisoned by his mother, who insisted that he drink the draught despite its scent of bitter almonds? His brother-in-law, John Donellan, who hurriedly rinsed and broke the bottle containing the medicine after Theodosius's death? His cousin, who desperately wanted the baronetcy? The jealous maid with whom Theodosius frequently cavorted? Many had a score to settle or stood to benefit financially from his demise.

But perhaps he wasn't murdered at all. Could he have died from the quack medicines-including mercury-he used to treat his debilitating syphilis? Or was it a heart attack or stroke, rare in young men but the cause of the deaths of his father and grandfather? Or an epileptic fit? With the cleverness of a master detective and the literary skill of the finest crime writers, Elizabeth Cooke deconstructs the evidence, chronicles the sensational trial that ensued, and provides intriguing new proof that Donellan, who was executed for the murder, may not have been guilty after all. In the process, she opens a fascinating window on the dark and violent underbelly of Georgian society.

 

Review:

"In this intriguing, if minutiae-heavy, account, novelist Cooke (The Ice Child as Elizabeth McGregor) retraces the circumstances surrounding the possible 1780 poisoning of 20-year-old Sir Theodosius Boughton, heir to a baronetcy in Warwickshire, England. Theodosius lived at the family's home, Lawthorn Hall, with his widowed mother, Anna Maria; older sister, Theodosia; and her husband, John Donellan. The late Edward Broughton's will, leaving his estate first to Theodosius, then Theodosia, made for chilly family relations. Theodosius's health had recently declined, due to his various self-treatments with mercury for venereal disease (most likely syphilis). On August 30, he took a draught prescribed by the local apothecary, handed to him by his mother, who said it smelled of bitter almonds. Theodosius went into convulsions and died. Donellan allegedly then rinsed out the empty bottle, which strengthened the eventual court case charging him with poisoning his brother-in-law, despite inconclusive autopsy results, shaky witness testimony, and a weak motive. Cooke makes a strong case not necessarily for Donellan's innocence but for a shoddy trial, though her conclusions come a bit late after the unnecessarily detailed account of Donellan's trial. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

On August 30, 1780, in Warwickshire, England, twenty-year-old Theodosius Boughton, the dissolute heir to a vast fortune and baronetcy, died suddenly and in violent convulsions after taking a medication prescribed by his doctor. Was he poisoned by his mother, who insisted that he drink the draught despite its scent of bitter almonds? His brother-in-law, John Donellan, who hurriedly rinsed and broke the bottle containing the medicine after Theodosius's death? His cousin, who desperately wanted the baronetcy? The jealous maid with whom Theodosius frequently cavorted? Many had a score to settle or stood to benefit financially from his demise.

But perhaps he wasn't murdered at all. Could he have died from the quack medicines-including mercury-he used to treat his debilitating syphilis? Or was it a heart attack or stroke, rare in young men but the cause of the deaths of his father and grandfather? Or an epileptic fit? With the cleverness of a master detective and the literary skill of the finest crime writers, Elizabeth Cooke deconstructs the evidence, chronicles the sensational trial that ensued, and provides intriguing new proof that Donellan, who was executed for the murder, may not have been guilty after all. In the process, she opens a fascinating window on the dark and violent underbelly of Georgian society.

 

About the Author

Elizabeth Cooke is the author of ten novels. Little White Lies was televised by the BBC, and The Ice Child recounts the story of the doomed Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage. She lives in Dorset, England.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802779960
Author:
Cooke, Elizabeth
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Subject:
Great britain
Subject:
Crime - True Crime
Subject:
General
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16p BandW ins.
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Crime » General
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » World History » England » General

The Damnation of John Donellan: A Mysterious Case of Death and Scandal in Georgian England Used Hardcover
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$17.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Walker & Company - English 9780802779960 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this intriguing, if minutiae-heavy, account, novelist Cooke (The Ice Child as Elizabeth McGregor) retraces the circumstances surrounding the possible 1780 poisoning of 20-year-old Sir Theodosius Boughton, heir to a baronetcy in Warwickshire, England. Theodosius lived at the family's home, Lawthorn Hall, with his widowed mother, Anna Maria; older sister, Theodosia; and her husband, John Donellan. The late Edward Broughton's will, leaving his estate first to Theodosius, then Theodosia, made for chilly family relations. Theodosius's health had recently declined, due to his various self-treatments with mercury for venereal disease (most likely syphilis). On August 30, he took a draught prescribed by the local apothecary, handed to him by his mother, who said it smelled of bitter almonds. Theodosius went into convulsions and died. Donellan allegedly then rinsed out the empty bottle, which strengthened the eventual court case charging him with poisoning his brother-in-law, despite inconclusive autopsy results, shaky witness testimony, and a weak motive. Cooke makes a strong case not necessarily for Donellan's innocence but for a shoddy trial, though her conclusions come a bit late after the unnecessarily detailed account of Donellan's trial. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , On August 30, 1780, in Warwickshire, England, twenty-year-old Theodosius Boughton, the dissolute heir to a vast fortune and baronetcy, died suddenly and in violent convulsions after taking a medication prescribed by his doctor. Was he poisoned by his mother, who insisted that he drink the draught despite its scent of bitter almonds? His brother-in-law, John Donellan, who hurriedly rinsed and broke the bottle containing the medicine after Theodosius's death? His cousin, who desperately wanted the baronetcy? The jealous maid with whom Theodosius frequently cavorted? Many had a score to settle or stood to benefit financially from his demise.

But perhaps he wasn't murdered at all. Could he have died from the quack medicines-including mercury-he used to treat his debilitating syphilis? Or was it a heart attack or stroke, rare in young men but the cause of the deaths of his father and grandfather? Or an epileptic fit? With the cleverness of a master detective and the literary skill of the finest crime writers, Elizabeth Cooke deconstructs the evidence, chronicles the sensational trial that ensued, and provides intriguing new proof that Donellan, who was executed for the murder, may not have been guilty after all. In the process, she opens a fascinating window on the dark and violent underbelly of Georgian society.

 

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