By Carmel O’Callaghan


Dr William Wright appears in Griffiths Valuation in 1856 in Bailieborough at map reference numbered as 53 Market Street and 11-12 William Street. In 1857 he apparently owned two lots of 11 acres in the townland of Drumbannon and also continued to lease a house in William Street from Sir John Young 1st Baron Lisgar who lived in Bailieborough Castle and was the Governor of New South Wales, the late William
Coleman matched Boddy’s house with these numbers.


On 27 July 1856, Dr. Wright was involved in the death of an eight year old boy, an inmate of the work house, who came by his death suddenly, from the effects of strychnine, administered in a mixture of jalap prescribed by him who mistook a bottle containing strychnine for one containing calomel, whilst acting as locum tenens for the medical officer of the workhouse. 

At the end of the inquest Dr. Wright who was under arrest since the day of the deceased’s death was subsequently admitted to bail to stand his trial. (The Anglo-Celt,
14 August, 1856).


On Friday, 6 March 1857, William Wright, a very old man, was indicted for the manslaughter of an inmate of the union workhouse. By the advice of his counsel, he pleaded guilty. It appeared from the statement of Mr Dowse, that the prisoner, Dr. Wright, was acting for Dr Taylor, the medical attendant of the Bailieboro’ Poor-house, and in mistake gave strychnine for calomel.

The prisoner had prescribed for the patient properly, but in taking down the bottle, he had, by mistake, taken one containing strychnine, instead of calomel. The prisoner was so old as to be nearly blind, and the label on the bottle at the side he looked at was defaced, though there was a distinct one on the other side of the bottle.

Counsel submitted that, though in point of law his client was guilty, that a very moderate punishment would answer the ends of justice, and that no punishment his lordship could inflict could add any thing to the poignant regret the prisoner was at present experiencing.


Counsel also called a witness, Dr Clarke, in regard to the prisoner’s health, that he could not endure confinement. The prisoner had previously held two dispensaries in this county.


The Judge said a very wise discretion had been exercised by the counsel for the prisoner, but that he must say that those who allowed this old man to practice were greatly to blame.


His Lordship deferred passing sentence until Saturday morning, when he ordered the prisoner to be confined for one month. (Nation Saturday, March 07, 1857)