of Dr. William Palmer was created in 2001 by Andy Holt, from a photograph of the
death mask, using modern software technology.
from his Death Mask
From the Trial of William Palmer (part
of the Notable English Trials Series) Second Edition published in 1923 revised
by EricR. Watson. (Original edited by George H. Knott published in 1912).
The Rugeley Poisoner
was published in November 2003 written by the author of this site,
detailsclick on the image above.
He was only actually tried for one murder although a Coroner's Jury found
him guilty of the murders, by poison, of his wife Ann
and Walter one of his brothers. He was convicted
from circumstantial evidence in the absence of concrete facts. Until the very
end efforts were made to get him to confess to the murder of John
Parsons Cook but he refused, always maintaining that Cook did not die from
strychnine. This was the first ever trial in this country for murder by strychnine.
In a botched post-mortem no strychnine was found in the body of Cook but it was
claimed that he died of symptoms that could have been caused by strychnine.
Act of Parliament was made, later referred
to as "The Palmer Act", so that the trial could be held in London.
Newspapers of the time printed every rumour and accusation that reporters
could extract from the local gossips. If the gossips were to be believed, then,
Palmer was also guilty of poisoning at least a dozen other human beings. Amongst
his alleged victims were his outrageous mother-in-law, four of his five children,
his lovely wife, and his drunken bother to name but a few
there are a few people who think that he was innocent and well liked in Rugeley,
that, in a country which many thought was on the brink of revolution, the notoriety
and outrage that the case brought to the nation took much publicity away from
the unrest in Britain.
would liken it to the situation in 1982 when many believe the Falklands War focused
people's minds away from the state of the country and Margaret Thatcher was saved
from losing the election and with it her post as Prime Minister.
Plus Key Dates page.
might wish to see the teacher
resources on this web site in the Related Topics Section, which contains ideas
and a few sample lessons.
1st May 2003
is a new Palmer web site:- www.williampalmer.co.uk
which has details of places from the story that can still be seen today. This
new web site has also been written and designed by Dave Lewis and Jim Wheeler.
for comments or queries about this web site email: Dave
would like to acknowledge the help I was given by Andy Holt, Web Development Manager
for the local Education Authority in Staffordshire (IT technical knowledge and
enthusiasm), John Godwin (for his depth of knowledge of Palmer), Kath Smith (for
her dissertation claiming his innocence), Tony Stanley (knowledge of the prison
history), Mrs. Thea Randall Head of Archive Services, Sarah Williams at Tamworth
Castle, Fiona Pirrie (Press Assistant, Madame Tussauds), Kevin Smith (owner
of 'The Surgery Cafe Bar & Lounge') and last, but not least, my long suffering
wife and daughter, Chris. and Katie, for putting up with me whilst I have been
involved in this long project.