at Lawford Hall

at Lawford Hall

Liverpool Journal, 21st January 1882

A strange story

Ninety years ago there stood not far from Rugby a fine mansion called Lawford Hall, of which now scarce a trace remains.

It was the property of a young baronet, Sir Theodosius BOUGHTON, a dissipated youth of twenty. The family resident at the hall were, his mother and his sister, the wife of one Captain DONELLAN, when Sir Theodosius, who was under medical treatment, was seized with convulsions, after taking some medicine suddenly died.

His funeral took place in due course, and he was in a fair way soon to be forgotten of all save his mother, when rumours of suspicious circumstances attending his death reached the ears of an active neighbouring magistrate. Inquiry aroused increasing suspicion and an exhumation was ordered.

An inquest was held, and evidence elicited so seriously inculpatory of DONELLAN, that he was committed to Warwick Gaol on the charge of murder.

DONELLAN was an Irish adventurer. He had been in India, and was dismissed under a cloud from the East India Company.

Returning to England, he lived on his wits, and at length came to the surface, in the company of a crowd of similar aspirants in the Pump-room at Bath. Lady BROUGHTON was weak, and her daughter, following her own sweet will, fell in love with DONELLAN and married him.

From the date of their marriage the son-in-law took charge at Lawford Hall and its affairs. It was he who commanded and all the rest obeyed.

But DONELLAN foresaw that this was too good to last, and that should the young baronet marry a lady who had a will of her own, or whose mother was in possession of one, his reign might permanently terminate, and he, on the very slender means of his wife would be turned out to face a cold and unsympathetic world.

On the other hand, if Sir Theodosius was to die unmarried, Mrs DONELLAN stepped into £1,000 a year – a sum representing a considerable greater purchasing power than at present.

Here, then, was the motive for the murder. The case was tried at Warwick before Sir James BULLER, a famous judge, whose severity is recognised by the circuit.

Bon mot, “Is that hung beef?” “Why yes Buller has just tried it.”

From the outset of the case the judge was convinced of the prisoner’s guilt.

DONELLAN, to the last, protesting his innocence, was hanged – a circumstance that did not prevent his wife from having no less than three husbands afterwards. Sir Theodosius’s heir raised Lawford Hall and sold the estates.


Copyright 2002 / To date