Executed for the Cruel Murder of Miss Price, Whom he had Seduced and Promised Marriage
George Caddell was a native of the town of Broomsgrove, in Worcestershire, where he was articled to an apothecary, with whom he served his time, and then repaired to London, where he attended several of the hospitals to obtain an insight into the art of surgery. As soon as he became tolerably acquainted with the profession he went to Worcester, and lived with Mr. Randall, a capital surgeon of that city: in this situation he was equally admired for the depth of his abilities and amiableness of his temper. Here he married the daughter of Mr. Randall, who died in labour of her first child.
After this melancholy event he went to reside at Litchfield, and continued upwards of two years with Mr. Dean, a surgeon of that place. During his residence here, he courted Mr. Dean's daughter, to whom he would probably have been married but for the commission of the following crime, which cost him his life:
A young lady, named Elizabeth Price, who had been seduced by an officer in the army, lived near Mr. Caddell's place of residence, and, after her misfortune, supported herself by her skill in needle- work. Caddell becoming acquainted with her, a considerable degree of intimacy subsisted between them; and Miss Price, degraded as she was by the unfortunate step she had taken, still thought herself an equal match for one of Mr. Caddell's rank of life.
As pregnancy was shortly the consequence of their intimacy, she repeatedly urged him to marry her, but Mr. Caddell resisted her importunities for a considerable time: at last Miss Price heard of his paying his addresses to Miss Dean; she then became more importunate than ever, and threatened, in case of his non- compliance, to put an end to all his prospects with that young lady, by discovering every thing that had passed between them. Hereupon Caddell formed the horrible resolution of murdering Miss Price; for he could neither bear the thought of forfeiting the esteem of a woman that he courted, nor of marrying her who had been as condescending to another as to himself.
This dreadful scheme having entered his head, he called on Miss Price on a Saturday evening, and requested that she would walk in the fields with him on the afternoon of the following day, in order to adjust the plan of their intended marriage. Miss Price, thus deluded, met him at the time appointed, on the road leading towards Burton-upon-Trent, at a house known by the sign of the Nag's Head. Having accompanied her supposed lover into the fields, and walked about till towards evening, they then sat down under the hedge, where, after a little conversation, Caddell suddenly pulled out a knife, cut her throat, and made his escape. In the distraction of his mind, he left behind him the knife with which he had perpetrated the deed, together with his case of instruments.
When he came home it was observed that he appeared exceedingly confused, though the reason of the perturbation of his mind could not even be guessed at. But, on the following morning, Miss Price being found murdered in the field, great numbers of people went to take a view of the body, among whom was the woman of the house where she lodged, who recollected that she had said she was going to walk with Mr. Caddell; on which the instruments were examined, and known to have belonged to him. He was accordingly taken into custody, and committed to the gaol of Stafford; and, being soon afterwards tried, was found guilty, condemned, and executed at Stafford on the 21st of July, 1700.
We have no particular account of the behaviour of this malefactor while under sentence of death, or at the place of execution; yet his fate will afford an instructive lesson to youth. Let no young man, who has connexions of any kind with one woman, think of paying his addresses to another. There can be no such thing as honourable courtship while dishonourable love subsists. Mr. Caddell might have lived a credit to himself, and an ornament to his profession, if he had not held a criminal connexion with Miss Price.
Her fate ought to impress on the mind of our female readers the importance of modest reserve to a woman. We would not be severe on the failings of the sex; but we cannot help observing, that a woman who has fallen a sacrifice to the arts of one man should be very cautious in yielding to the addresses of another. One false step may be recovered; but the progress of vice is a downhill road; and the farther we depart from the paths of virtue, still the faster we run. On the contrary, the ways of Virtue are pleasant; and "all her paths are paths of peace." From this story likewise the young officers of our army may learn an useful lesson: for, if Miss Price had not been debauched by one of that profession, the fatal catastrophe above-mentioned had never happened.