DERBYSHIRE HERITAGE Derbyshire Peak District - higger-tor

WINSTER - Duel between Brittlebank and Cuddie

In May 1821 a young surgeon was killed in a duel at Winster.

He was William Cuddie, aged 31. William had fallen in love with Mary, the daughter of the wealthy Brittlebank family of Oddo house. For some reason one of her brothers, William Brittlebank, tried to keep them apart.

One evening the two men quarrelled. The doctor later received this note:
"Sir, I expect satisfaction for the insult you dared to offer me at a time when you knew that my situation with a helpless Woman prevented my chastising you.
Name your time and place, the bearer will wait for an answer.
Sir, Yours, &c. William Brittlebank, Jun.
I shall be attended by a friend and prepared with pistols, and if you don't meet I shall post you as a coward."


Bank house home of Dr Cuddie

Bank House - the home of Dr Cuddie

In other words this was a challenge to a duel, but Cuddie refused to reply. The next afternoon the three Brittlebank brothers turned up in his garden with two loaded pistols.

Cuddie reluctantly accepted one of the weapons. William Brittlebank walked 15 yards away, turned and fired. Two shots were heard but only Cuddie was hit. He died a few hours later.
Dr Cuddie had been very popular in Winster. He used to give free medical advice and treatment, sometimes even sums of money. Many people wondered whether his pistol had actually been loaded.

Two of the Brittlebanks were tried at Derby and found not guilty of murder. Their brother William however had fled to Australia with £100 reward on his head.

William Brittlebank never returned to England. He still has descendants living in Australia.

Mary is thought to have married and moved away but returned to Winster in her later years.

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