A Life for a Life


Doctors are known for saving lives and doing whatever it takes to help people and make them better. This is a case about a doctor who did not think consciously about the consequences of taking a life away and did not want his life ruined for his mistakes; which he did not see it that way. George Caddell was a doctor who felt he could take a life away in order to get out of a relationship, with a woman whom he had seduced for pure intimacy and wanted nothing more.

Men in this time could easily get what they wanted and desired; they did not face such consequences that so many women did. George Caddell practiced medicine and went to London to attend several hospitals to master the art of surgery. He moved in with a capital surgeon named Mr. Randall. Mr. Caddell was admired for his great abilities for his quick learning and his master of surgery. He married Mr. Randall’s daughter who died when she had bore their first child. Mr. Caddell moved on and moved to Lichfield with Mr. Dean, another top surgeon. He courted Mr. Deans daughter but because of his crime, which you will soon learn, it cost him his life. We already see that he moves on quite easily and does not stay single for long.

Elizabeth Price was seduced by an officer in the army. She was easily manipulated by men. This officer in the army got what he wanted and left her broken hearted and alone. Mr. Caddell knew of Miss Prices past history.  As she became acquainted with Mr. Caddell she thought she was an equal match for his “rank of life.” Elizabeth Price lived close to Mr. Caddell and began to fall for him. She was a fool and yet again was falling for a man whom only wanted one thing from her.  Caddell was aware of her past and thought he could get what he wanted from her and do the same.  They met each other and soon realized they had a lot of chemistry between each other. Miss Price became pregnant with his child and had urged Caddell to marry her. He kept telling her that it was not the right time and kept pushing the idea of it. Of course, he really had no desire to marry.

Miss Price became aware of his relationship with Mr. Dean’s daughter and threatened to reveal her relationship with Mr. Caddell. He did not want his relationship to get ruined with Mr. Dean’s daughter so he devised a plan to get rid of Miss Price; thinking it was the only way. Mr. Caddell’s only focus was how his “life” would be ruined because of this woman. He was the one that chose to be intimate with Elizabeth Price and try to court Mr. Dean’s daughter at the same time. He did not think what would happen if either of them found out about each other. He did not want a relationship with Miss Price. Miss Price on the other hand was in love and wanted Mr. Caddell to marry her.

He put his plan to work and he called her on a Saturday evening and asked her to join him for a walk the next evening. He wanted to “discuss” their plans of having a wedding. Little did Miss Price know that all Mr. Caddell was thinking about was murdering her. It is a bit naive of Miss Price to believe that all of a sudden (after she had threatened to reveal his secret) that George Caddell wanted to be with her. He told her to meet him towards “Burton-upon-Trent at a house known by the sight of the Nag’s Head.” On July 21st, 1700 she met him there and together they walked and began to discuss their plans. They sat down and before their discussion became too serious he suddenly pulled out his knife and slit her throat. He had no remorse because before he ran off and fled the scene of the crime he waited to make sure Miss Price was dead. Even though he is a doctor and would be used to seeing blood it was a little sadistic to watch and wait for Miss Price to die. He was so concerned that she was going to ruin his life that he had to make sure that she was dead.

George Caddell only had one incident with the law and was condemned and put to death for his crime. A witness, the neighbour of Miss Price who was at the scene of the murder told that Miss Price had told her she was going for a walk with Caddell. With the witness and the instruments/ knife left at the scene there were no other suspects except for Mr. Caddell. The case against him was very strong and there was no need to look for any other suspects. George Caddell only ever committed one crime. But his crime was unforgivable. He was a doctor who did not want his life to be ruined for his mistakes, not Miss Prices. She was an innocent woman who wore her heart on her sleeve and was suckered into falling for a man not once but twice; the second time ending in her death. He was punished for his crimes and got the punishment he deserved. There is no account of his behaviour while he was sentenced to death. Men try to play women all the time. Some get caught, others do not. Not sticking to one woman was a choice that George decided to make. When Miss Price became aware of this and was going to spill the beans to Miss Dean he was not going to let that happen.

It never says that people knew of Elizabeth Prices pregnancy nor do we know if Miss Price said she was pregnant to hold onto Caddell. Either way George Caddell killed an innocent woman because he was afraid of the outcome if he did not. If she was pregnant then the death of her and the death of an innocent child are even worse. There is no account on what happens during Caddells trial. We do not know if he was remorseful or what is behaviour was at his trial and execution.

There is a valuable lesson that should be learned from this incident.

“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.”

This is an interesting piece taken out from trial and shows how women at this time were treated. Even though Caddell committed the crime and murdered, it is Miss Price’s fault for tempting and seducing him. It is basically saying that Miss Price was fooled once, then twice, and because of this it is what got her killed. And, if she was not such a fool and did not wear her heart on her sleeve she would be still alive. It is unfortunate to know that no matter what the crime and whatever the instance, women at this time were always blamed.




2 comments on “A Life for a Life

  1. donnamac7 says:

    Sophia, I enjoyed reading your essay, “Life for a Life.” It is interesting to note, that the use of the ‘love triangle’ in this story, is as ‘old as time.’ Your description of the events leading to the death of E. Price helps establish a wonderful narrative. I am unclear about the origins of your story; did you obtain the details from the Old Bailey transcripts or some other source?
    Your strong message on the plight of women, illustrates how they were valued in the 17th-18th centuries. This is a good back story!
    Just a couple of ideas for you to ponder: I think if you read your paper very carefully (preferably out loud), you may discover some sentence structure issues, and the over use of the word ‘and.’
    Also, be careful of judgements based on our 21st century thinking. Are you sure of the facts given at the trial? This is not clear to the reader.
    All in all a job well done! You have given the reader a lot to think about…thanks Sophia!

  2. schamill says:

    I really enjoyed reading your trial Sophia! It is really interesting that even though Caddell murdered E. Price, he does not get the blame, and that it is Price’s fault for seducing him. It just goes to show how undervalued women were in the 18th century. I noticed a few places where a comma would have come in handy, but other than that it looks great to me! It was a very interesting story! Good job!

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