He stood accused: 200 years ago

11th January 2011

Daniel Dawson

Daniel Dawson was an ex-groom who had become a tout and who is reputed to have lodged at the Five Bells Inn on St Mary's Square in Newmarket in 1811.

Just up the road from St Mary's Square, on Mill Hill,  was Richard Prince's stables. Prince trained a number of horses that were entered for the Newmarket Spring Meeting that year, some of which had been heavily backed. As was the custom then Prince would water his horses after a strong gallop from his own locked troughs situated on the Heath near the Well Gap.

After drinking from one of Prince's troughs four of his horses subsequently died from poison.

A notice had been posted in 1809, after two horses belonging to Mr Stevens were suspected to have been poisoned, stating that Mr Weatherby offered a 100 guinea reward to anyone providing information to the conviction of the perpetrator. A second notice was posted after the second occurence in 1811,  raising the reward to 500 guineas.

 Notice in the Racing Calendar, 1811 Notice in the Racing Calendar, 1811

Daniel Dawson soon came under suspicion. His landlady  is said to have found a poison bottle amonst his possessions.  Evidence accumulated and Dawson was arrested and sent for trial.

To find out what happened next :  Go to the Museum's website, www.nhrm.co.uk , and check out The Museum Treasure of the Month for Winter 2010/2011.

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