21st April 1861


Ann Smith, sixteen, described as a servant, was brought up on remand, charged with committing numerous felonies.

The prisoner had been for some time in the practice of meeting children of both sexes in the public streets, decoying them away from the neighbourhood in which they lived, taking them to secluded streets, and stripping them of their clothes. Some of the cases were of a very painful description.

One girl, named Frances Mary Triggs, aged six, was induced by the prisoner to take a walk with her the day before last Good Friday.

The prisoner said she would buy the child a frock, and after taking her some distance from home seated her on a door-step, and said, “You are too hot, my dear,” and took from her a cape, frock, and flannel petticoat The prisoner then said to the child, “Stays to your petticoats are best,” and entered into other particulars relating to female dress with which the child was not familiar, and left promising to return in a few minutes.

The child remained on the door step upwards of an hour, suffering from cold and exposure to the weather, and ultimately a lady observed her, heard the child’s simple story, and took her home.

Two days afterwards the child was at her parents’ door and saw the prisoner on the opposite side of the way. The child immediately called out, “Here is the girl who took my clothes.”

Mr Triggs, on hearing this, left his shop and gave the prisoner into custody.

A boy named Widdell, whose parents live at No 6, Nelson-street, Mile-end Oldtown, was accosted by the prisoner in the street, promised a new jacket, and taken a considerable distance. The prisoner entertained the child for a long time, and then took from him a necktie, boots, and frock.

There were thirty cases against the prisoner, and much indignation was expressed by the parents of the children who had been stripped of their clothing.

Mr. Woolrych committed the prisoner for trial.


Mr Hadcraft, linendraper, of 221, High-street, Poplar, was charged with being drunk and riotous in a place called Woodstock-park, near his own house, and threatening to cut a policeman’s head off.

Gray, 265 K, said he was passing the house in which the prisoner lived at two o’clock in the morning, and saw the street door wide open. He entered the house for the purpose of warning the inmates, and to ascertain if there were any thieves within it, and saw the prisoner walking about the room he was in, and in a very great state of excitement.

The prisoner was intoxicated, and upon seeing witness he demanded his business, and said, “What right have you in this house?” Gray told the prisoner he had seen the door open, and looked in to see who had entered. He then left the house and went upon his beat.

Prisoner followed with a drawn sword in his hand, which he flourished, and exclaimed, “I’ll cut your head off!”

The policeman continued: “When Mr. Hadcraft said he would cut my head off, I said to him, ‘You had better go in doors, sir; you do not know what you are about.” He replied, ‘Yes, I do. I mean to out your head off,” and brandished the sword in a very threatening manner. I then took him into custody. I did not like that sword so close to my neck as it was.”

The prisoner, in defence, said that he had been drinking a drop too much, and that if he had not been under the influence of strong liquors he would not have acted in the way he had done.

Mr Woolrych said that, taking into consideration the prisoner’s sorrow for what he had done, and that he was under the influence of liquor at the time, he should mitigate the penalty to 20 shillings. The fine was instantly paid.


On Tuesday morning a frightful accident occurred to Miss Jane Pratten, aged seventeen years, who resided in the Wyndham-road, Camberwell.

It appeared that the unfortunate young lady was in the act of reaching something on the mantel-shelf, when her crinoline came in contact with the fire, and she was speedily enveloped in flames. She ran into the garden but soon fell down exhausted.

Her cries brought assistance, when the fire was extinguished, and she was conveyed to St. Thomas’s Hospital, where every assistance that surgical skill could suggest was rendered, but she remained in a most precarious state.

14th April 1861


A painful inquiry took place at St George’s Hospital on Saturday, respecting the death of Jane Turner, aged 18, a very fine young woman, who was burnt to death under circumstances of a very lamentable nature.

Mr Horace Charles Downer, a gentleman residing at Sussex-place, Kensington New Town, said the deceased was a cook in his establishment. About six o’clock on the evening of Good Friday, the deceased “dished up the dinner.” Soon afterwards he and Mr Downer were alarmed by piercing screams from the back garden. On looking from the window they saw the deceased running along completely enveloped in flames.

Witness rushed in the hall and, seizing two mats, followed the poor girl, who had run along the path back towards the house. With great difficulty he succeeded in extinguishing the flames but not before the whole of her apparel was consumed, and nearly the whole of her person frightfully burnt.

The mother of the deceased said before death, the unfortunate child had told her that she was stooping with her back to the fire when the lower part of her dress caught. At the time of the accident, she had on a crinoline with double steel hoops. The jury expressed astonishment that a young woman following the avocation of a cook, of all callings, should wear a crinoline.

Verdict, “Accidental Death”, and the jury unanimously condemned the practice of females wearing crinoline.


Mr William Deacon was fined 20s and costs for an aggravated assault with a stick upon his brother, Mr Octavius Deacon, advertising agent, Leadenhall-street. The assault arose out of a family dispute of long standing; the circumstances had little public interest.


A beautiful meteor was seen at Knap-hill, near Woking, last evening about 7.40, the sky being clear and much light in the heavens. Its course may be roughly sketched out as commencing (when first seen) in the constellation Leo, near Jupiter, passing just above Orion, and terminating, without any explosion being heard, some distance beyond and below the Pleiades. Its size and brilliancy were about twice that of Jupiter, and its magnificent course was of unusual length.

7th April 1861


The dangerous custom of dressing children in the prevailing fashion of the day was this week exemplified by an accident which occurred to a girl nine years of age, the daughter of Mr Delamere, architect, residing in Harrington-square, who was amusing herself with some companions on the pavement when her crinoline was caught by the wheel of a cab which was rapidly passing, and she was dragged beneath it.

The vehicle passed completely over her, and but faint hopes are entertained of her recovery.


Mr McNab, landlord of the Cock public house at Rochester, who received serious injuries through jumping from a railway train on the North Kent railway while in a state of somnambulism, has died at the Gravesend infirmary from the injuries sustained.

The singular accident took place upon the 9.20 PM train from London, between Gravesend and Rochester, which was travelling at a very rapid rate. Mr McNab suddenly got up from the seat on which he had been sleeping and opened the carriage door. He was observed by a young man, the only other occupant of the carriage, to throw himself out of the carriage. The occurrence was so sudden that the young man was unable to prevent its taking place. He informed the station master when the train arrived at Higham.

Servants of the company were dispatched to search along the line. On proceeding to the spot indicated, they found the unfortunate man apparently in a dying state and insensible, having sustained a severe fracture of the skull.

He was conveyed to Gravesend infirmary, where, on recovering consciousness, he had no recollection whatever of jumping from the train, although there is no doubt he did so while in a state of somnambulism.


An inquest has been held on the body of a girl, 16 years of age, the daughter of Mr W Blair, of the Bricklayers’ Arms, Walmgate, who died from the effects of poison.

It seems that a young man, named Birch, was paying his addresses to her, and he was in the house on the night she poisoned herself. While talking at the door, at a quarter to eleven, the deceased said, “Stop a bit; I want to go to Mr Leck’s for some poison for my father to kill a rat in the cellar.”

She said that she was going for a pennyworth, and she accordingly ran away to the shop, where she got a sixpenny packet of rat poison. She then returned to her lover and parted with him, as her father called to her.

She had seemed in good spirits for two or three days, and that night she drew some ale for herself, a thing which her father never knew her do before.

The deceased and her parents slept in the same room, and when they were just about to go to sleep, she called out, “You said I should not have Bob!”

They told her to go to sleep, but soon after they were aroused by a scream, and on the father getting up he found the deceased stiff in bed.

Mr Ball, the surgeon, was sent for and he found her teeth closely clenched, and a general rigidity of the muscles, and all the symptoms of strychnine poisoning. He tried the stomach pump but could not get her mouth open until just before death, when it was too late. She died between one and two o’clock.
A glass was later found in the dram shop, with a sediment in it and a few drops of ale. It was evident she had taken about 20 grains of Wilde’s Instantaneous Vermin Killer, ten of which would be sufficient to kill half a dozen persons.

Mrs Blair said a false report had been spread that the deceased was with child, and this had preyed on her spirits.

The young man had never been prohibited visiting her, and they could not tell what she meant by “You said I should not have Bob.”

The jury returned a verdict that the deceased had poisoned herself whilst in a state of temporary insanity.

31st March 1861


A fearful crime was committed yesterday morning at the Militia Barracks, Kingston-upon-Thames. The victim was a young woman only twenty years old, named Diana Wickins, and while asleep she was murdered by her stepsister, a married woman, the wife of a sergeant-major in the 3rd Regiment of Royal Surrey Militia, who, while in that state, nearly severed her head from her body, dividing the right carotid artery, the jugular vein, and the windpipe with a razor.

It would seem that the husband of the wretched woman, who is highly respected by his officers, who placed the utmost confidence in him, had left his bed about seven o’clock in the morning, and went out into the barrack yard, leaving his wife in her own bed, and the unhappy deceased in an adjoining room, where she slept upon a temporary bed made up for her upon a sofa; and his wife must have got up almost immediately, took one of her husband’s razors from the drawer in which it was kept, and then proceeded to the adjoining, room where the unhappy deceased was lying.

There appears to be very little doubt that at the time she was asleep and lying on her left side, and while in that position the side of the neck, which was uppermost, thus causing the injuries above described. Instantaneous death would not appear to have been the result, for there is very little doubt that upon the first sensation of pain the poor young creature raised one of her hands, and in so doing received a severe injury upon the fingers. She then got out of bed, and staggered for about six feet into the adjoining room, where she fell dead, literally covered with blood.

Dr Cory and Mr Sudlow Roots, two eminent practitioners at Kingston, were speedily in attendance, but all human aid was, of course, unavailing.

After committing the dreadful deed, the wretched woman went out to the barrack yard, where she met a sergeant belonging to the regiment, named Oates, to whom she at once stated that she had murdered her sister, and she then went to the pump and washed her hands, which were covered with blood. A constable was then sent for, and the prisoner was taken to the police station. It may naturally be imagined that the occurrence created the most intense anxiety in the town, and, as is usual in such cases, there were a variety of rumours as to the cause of the dreadful occurrence, among which was one that the deed was committed through jealousy; but so far as the evidence which was given before the magistrates went, there does not appear to be any ground for such a supposition, and at present the motive for the commission of the dreadful crime appears to be entirely a mystery.

The prisoner, at one stage of the inquiry, exclaimed with a wild tone, “Oh, it is not true—it is not true—it cannot be—it is a tale of fiction, and not of reality. If it is true, pray for me, pray for me. Oh, let me retrace my steps to my home—I am sure it cannot be.”

The prisoner was formally ordered to stand committed to take her trial for wilful murder at the ensuing summer assizes for the county of Surrey.


A shocking tragedy has taken place at a place called Edwardstone, not far from Sudbury. A married woman, named Salmon, has murdered two of her children, aged seven and five years, by drowning them in a pond. She is supposed to be insane.