Unsolved Murders

JR Shotton

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Date: 22 Jul 1916

Place: 86 Manchester Road, Hapton

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Dr JR Shotton was poisoned. He had gone to the chemist to buy some morphine and was given strychnine instead.

A verdict of death by misadventure was returned stating that his death had been an accident but it was not possible to say how that accident had occurred.

He had gone to a chemist's shop in Padiham on the Padiham Road, to make a purchase on 28 June 1916 and later in the afternoon was taken ill remarking 'I am poisoned. I called at the drug stores, and they have given me strychnine in mistake for morphia.'. He then collapsed and died.

The chemist said that when Dr JR Shotton had called at his shop he had asked for strychnine and said that there had either been a slip of the tongue or a lapse of memory on Dr JR Shotton's part. However, the chemist admitted that he had made a mistake in not labelling the bottle he had given Dr JR Shotton.

A woman said that she had heard the chemist admit that he had made a mistake in giving Dr JR Shotton strychnine instead of morphia but the chemist denied having made any such suggestion.

Dr JR Shotton's 14 year old son said that he later went to the chemist's around 5.30pm on 28 June 1916 and said to the chemist 'Mother wants to know what you gave him' and the chemist replied 'By jove, I've given him strychnine'.

A doctor who had been in the shop when Dr JR Shotton's son had come in said that he heard the conversation but couldn't hear what was being said. However, he said that after he asked the chemist ask what the matter was and said that the chemist replied that Dr JR Shotton was dead saying 'Dr Shotton is dead. He took half a pound of strychnine from here this afternoon, and he has swallowed it'.

The coroner told the jury that they had three options, first, that the chemist had made a mistake and was guilty of misadventure, that Dr JR Shotton had made a mistake and taken the strychnine thinking that it was morphia or that Dr JR Shotton had taken the strychnine deliberately. The coroner also pointed out that there was no evidence at all to support the view that the chemist was guilty of gross criminal negligence.

The jury returned the verdict of death by misadventure.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Burnley News - Saturday 22 July 1916