The mid 19th Century newspaper headlines saw no shortage of cases involving poison. Unsurprisingly, given the relative ease of obtaining such deadly materials, a long narrative of death, whether by accident or design, formed throughout the period and still today the Victorian period is often characterised as something of a heyday for poisons and poisoners. From time to time, salacious stories of a murderer utilising these violent compounds broke out and captured the public’s attention, stacking up a list of names of cold, calculated criminality. In 1855, William Doves name was added to the list after he killed his wife, Doves name drew attention over many of his fellow poisoners, however, when it was uncovered that he had killed her after taking advice from a local wizard, had sold his soul to the devil at a young age and later went on to write a letter to the Prince of Darkness in his own blood, inviting him to collect on his side of the bargain.

The Leicester Journal (1856) Execution of William Dove. The Leicester Journal, Friday 15th August, 1856. 

Sheffield Daily Telegraph (1856) The poisoning of a Lady By Strychnine, At Leeds. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Thursday 13th March, 1856.

The Morning Post (1856) Serious Charge Of Slow Poisoning From Strychnine, At Leeds. The Morning post, Monday 10th March, 1856. 

Davies, Owen (2005) Murder, Magic & Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the Wizard. Pearson Education Limited, UK

Davies, Owen (2008) Cunning-Folk in England and Wales during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Rural History, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 1997, pp. 91 – 107

Davies, Owen (2007) Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History. Hambledon Continuum, UK               

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