24th March 1861


Last week, at a ball in Sloane-street, a cinder shot from the fire, and set light to the gauze dress of one of the lady guests. Her companions rushing in affright from the room, she, with admirable presence of mind, flung herself on the floor, and rolling over, extinguished the flames. She thus escaped with but light burns ​on either hands.


At the York Assizes yesterday, before Mr Justice Keating was tried the case of Maw v Precious. Both parties reside at Spaldington, near Howden, Maw being a grocer in a small way, and Precious the son of an opulent farmer.

The action was brought to recover from the defendant compensation for the seduction of his daughter and for loss of services consequent thereon.

It appeared that, in 1859, the defendant commenced paying marked attention to Ann Maw, the plaintiff’s daughter, who at that time was only just turned 13 years of age. It was presumed by her parents that her infantine age would be a safeguard against any design which the defendant (who was about 24 years of age) might have upon her; but it was eventually discovered that she was enceinte, and she was ultimately confined of a child in August last, since which time she had been disabled from affording her father those services which she was able to render prior to her seduction.

The evidence of the plaintiff’s daughter, who possesses personal attractions, was given in a modest and proper manner; but, in defence, a number of young men were called, all of whom, along with the plaintiff himself, deposed to continual criminal intercourse since 1858.

Some of the evidence was given in that ready and impudent manner which apparently impressed the jury with a want of faith in what they deposed to, and in one instance called forth hisses from the occupants of the court.

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff.

17th March 1861


On Monday evening an inquest was held by the coroner, on view of the body of William Woodcock, aged 62 years, who died in a wretched cellar in Little North-street, Whitechapel, which is surrounded by horse slaughterers’ and knackers’ yards.

The evidence proved that the deceased was living with his daughter in an underground cellar. They obtained a scanty existence by making slop tailoring. They had only occasional employment, and they were often without food for two days together.

On Wednesday last the daughter went to the board of guardians of the Whitechapel Union for some temporary assistance, where she was told that they could not do anything for them.

On Friday evening, the daughter went out to obtain some cash from a friend and upon her return she found the deceased lying in bed in a state of insensibility. She ran to the workhouse and obtained a medical order for the attendance of Dr. Richardson, who found the deceased dead.

Dr. Richardson said that he found the deceased lying upon a quantity of rags, and the place was in a very dirty and filthy condition—in fact, the wretched abode was not fit for a human being to live in. It was an underground kitchen, and the body was in a filthy state from dirt and vermin. The various organs were healthy, but the immediate cause of death was effusion of serum into the ventricles of the brain. The body was emaciated and death was no doubt accelerated by the want of proper nourishment.

The jury returned a verdict that the deceased died by effusion on the brain and death was accelerated by starvation.


On Wednesday afternoon the coroner held an inquest at Bethnal-green. on view of the body of Daniel Christmas, aged 44 years, who committed suicide under the following determined circumstances.

Daniel Christmas, the elder, said the deceased was his son, and he was a silkweaver. He had been low and desponding for some weeks past, through pecuniary difficulties brought on by disappointment with his work, at which he could not get a livelihood. Witness had heard the deceased frequently exclaim, “This work will kill me.”

On Sunday night last the deceased was seen to go into the water-closet in the back yard with a lighted candle. Witness, upon finding that the deceased was so long absent, went to him and found him suspended by a strong rope to a beam in the ceiling. Witness ran out and called in two men who were passing, when the deceased was cut down. A surgeon was called, but life was extinct.

The sister of the deceased stated that she thought that the deceased had committed suicide through utter starvation, as he had for some weeks before his death only partaken of, dry bread and water for his meals. The landlord had threatened to turn him out of the house on account of his filthy habits. The deceased owed his father nearly £3 for arrears of rent.

Mr, James Vaughan. the summoning officer, said he had been nearly fifteen years in office, and he had never met with such a wretched case of destitution in that parish.

The room where the deceased died was covered in every corner with vermin, and it was really unsafe to enter the apartment.

The jury returned a verdict that the deceased had committed suicide by hanging, and that the act was brought on by starvation.


The coroner for West Middlesex closed a lengthened adjourned investigation on Thursday evening in reference to the alleged death from starvation of Leila Kate Dalley, aged two years, daughter of a poor woman whose husband had absconded, leaving her and four children, one of whom was the deceased, totally unprovided for.

Mr Marriner, surgeon, deponed that the child died partly from abscess—which might be termed natural disease—and partly from want of sufficient food.

The relieving officer of Marleybone deponed that the mother of the deceased took her own discharge for herself and children from the workhouse some two months ago, thereby destroying the warrant taken out for the arrest of her husband.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased died partly from want of sufficient food and disease and that no culpability was proved against the parish officers.

10th March 1861


A scene which excited a considerable amount of curiosity was witnessed on Monday morning in the vicinity of Shoreditch. Between seven and eight o’clock a fine fox, with a splendid brush, was discovered roaming about the churchyard of St Luke’s Old-street.

The news of Reynard’s visit to the metropolis soon spread, and the love of hunting being a characteristic of Cockneydom, the churchyard was speedily invaded by a large number of men and boys, who, armed with sticks and whips, commenced an exciting chase amongst the tombstones.

The fox, however, soon distanced his pursuers, cleared the railings of the churchyard and bolted down Mitchell-street, Brick-lane, and Pear-street, showing his tail to the motley crowd, who kept up the “run,” and, getting into Goswell-street, managed to effect a safe retreat.


On Monday, Mr J Humphreys opened an inquiry at the Grasshopper tavern, Charles-street, Mile-end, respecting the death of a male child, which had been left on the step of the door of No 7, Percival-buildings, Mount terrace.

When a policeman found the child, It was alive and crying with cold and hunger. He carried it to the workhouse and gave it to the gate porter. There was a piece of paper pinned on to the frock, on which was written the following:— “Whoever may find this child, pray be kind to it. The few things it has were given to me by a kind lady. I have been seduced; and have lately come from Australia.”

A portion of the clothes were marked with the name of “Shubbuck,” encircled with a wreath, and the undress was stamped with the initials “HM”. Dr. Richardson, the medical officer, stated that the primary cause of death was from the exposure to extreme cold and want of attention by the mother. The deceased was about five months old.

The jury retained a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.

The same day Mr. Humphreys resumed the adjourned inquiry at the new workhouse, Mile-end road, on the body of a newly-born female child, found lying behind a gateway, on the night of the 9th ultimo. Mr Stevens, the parochial medical officer, stated that the deceased had died from exposure to the inclemency of the weather and hemorrhage from the umbilical cord, which was secured on its arrival at the workhouse.

Mr. Humphreys also received information of the discovery of the body of a male child recently born, which had been found behind one of the tombstones in the churchyard of St John, Hackney.

3rd March 1861


Nearly all the bees in the south of England have died this year. A person in the New Forest who had 140 hives has lost every bee.


On Saturday week an accident, which it is feared will be attended with fatal consequences, occurred at the residence of a gentleman in the Queen’s road, Bayswater.

The son, a youth, was passing through the hall, and seeing his father’s gun in the corner, and some percussion caps lying on the hall table, took up the gun, thinking it unloaded, and, placing a cap on the nipple, drew the trigger.

His sister, a young lady aged 17, was unfortunately coming down stairs, and, the gun being pointed in that direction, received the charge of small shot in her face and neck. She fell to the ground bathed in blood.

On the arrival of a surgeon, it was found that some of the shot had entered her eyes. Her sight is utterly destroyed and it is apprehended that from the shock to her system she cannot survive.

When will people learn the folly of bringing loaded fire-arms into a house?


An inquiry was instituted on Saturday at St Thomas’s Hospital relative to the circumstances connected with the death of Caroline Rifton, aged 38, which was caused through an explosion of gunpowder, at her house, No 2 Shrewsbury Place, Prince’s Road, Plumstead, and by which her daughter was dreadfully injured.

From the evidence of Mrs Ann Foster, residing near the above place, it appeared that on Tuesday morning week she heard a terrific crash and on going out saw that a large portion of the side wall of the deceased’s house was thrown down. She then discovered the deceased lying under the ruins, her clothes being on fire. With assistance she was extricated and, after being seen by a surgeon, conveyed to hospital. The daughter of the deceased, a little child, was also found much injured.

Charles Rifton, the deceased’s husband, said he had seen the deceased since the occurrence but before her death, when she told him that on the day in question she was hanging up a picture in the room, when she saw her child drop a lighted piece of wood into a tin box which contained about one and a half pounds of gunpowder and some percussion caps.

A terrible explosion immediately took place, and she was hurled to the opposite side of the room and buried in the ruins of the wall, while the child was also thrown down by the force of the explosion. They had just taken the house and the things were in confusion. The gunpowder belonged to him.

A verdict of “accidental death” was returned; but the jury severely censured the keeping of the gunpowder in such a place.