25th August 1861


A young servant girl, named Elizabeth Cancell, was on Saturday admitted into Westminster Hospital, having received very severe injuries. Whilst engaged in cleaning the floor of the house in which she served, a steel point, which projected from a crinoline petticoat which she wore, entered her leg at different parts and inflicted several serious wounds, from the effects of which she remains in great suffering, and apprehensions have been expressed by the medical authorities as to the chances of saving the limb.


At the Sheriff Criminal Court, Dunfermline, William Beveridge, a pensioner, was charged with committing an indecent assault on the person of a child between four and five years of age.

The prisoner did not deny the charge; but the trial assumed a character different from it altogether—and went to proof on the sanity of the prisoner.

From the general evidence provided by witnesses it appeared that the prisoner Beveridge had been of weak intellect from his childhood, that he could not be kept at school when a boy, being incapable of receiving or retaining any kind of learning; and that, when a youth, he could not be got to stay and learn a trade, and went about stable-yards, strapping horses and running messages; but even in these tasks he was unsteady.

In 1854, he volunteered out of the Fife Artillery into the army, was sent to India, and was at the storming of Lucknow. After he came home from India, he was sent down to Dunfermline with one of his regiment as a guide to take care of him and, when landed, delivered into the keeping of the police.

“If he was weak-minded before he left,: said one of his brothers, “he was fifty times worse when he came from India.”

The prisoner states that, while in India, one of the regiment—he cannot name the individual, but he was a “high business man”—blew some poisonous stuff up his nose that set all his veins on fire, and that the same individual then placed him in the centre of the sun, where he kept him for six months. Since that time, his head has always been in flames; and he expresses a strong desire to get out to India again, that he may catch and cut the throat of that individual who played him such tricks. On this subject he never wearies of speaking.

The prisoner acknowledged that he had before this committed an offence of the same criminal nature with that with which he was now charged and that he had been guilty of other moral malpractices which will not bear repetition.

Drs Morris and Dewar believe that the prisoner is of unsound mind and would have no hesitation in committing the same offence if he were set at large.

The prisoner is a man of about thirty, and he sat at dock quite composed and to all appearance without the least sense of shame or any idea of having done anything criminal or uncommon.

The clerk read the sentence, which was to the effect that, due to the evident insanity of the prisoner, he should be recommitted to the prison of Dunfermline, there to remain until Her Majesty’s pleasure was made known.

18th August 1861


A case of singular atrocity was this week tried in Chester. Two children, each eight years old, were charged with stripping and murdering a playfellow aged only two years and a half. Having undressed him, they forced him into a pool, and there beat him with a hedge stake till he fell from exhaustion, and was thus drowned.

The young villains appeared perfectly conscious of the crime. The jury returned a verdict of “Manslaughter,” but by what process of reasoning we are unable to explain. The Judge thereupon sentenced them each to one month’s imprisonment, and afterwards to five years in a reformatory.


Much excitement was created last night by the committal of another extraordinary outrage by a boy; and as the crime has followed so closely upon the trial of the two young urchins for the murder of their playmate at Stockport, the present case has caused a more than usually painful sensation.

From information rapidly gathered it seems that, last evening between seven and eight o’clock, two boys were at play on the sands in front of the house of Mr Holland, a magistrate for Cheshire, residing near the Magazines between New Brighton and Egremont, on this side of the Mersey, when a quarrel arose, and one of them pulled out a knife and thrust it into the neck of his playmate (a son of Mr Holland’s coachman). It penetrated the jugular vein, and it is said death was almost instantaneous. The blood flowed in torrents and the deceased never spoke after being stabbed.

The boy assassin is only about nine years old, and his victim somewhat younger. The perpetrator of this terrible outrage has been taken into custody. This is the third case of a similar character which has occurred within a few weeks.


A labouring man at Kingsbridge, with a loaf under his arm, was going down Fore-street, and in passing a young lady his foot caught in her crinoline. He stumbled and fell, and in so doing the loaf flew out of his arm and went through a large square of glass and broke it to pieces. The question now raised is, Who is to pay for the glass?

One thing is certain, that if there had been no crinoline the man would not have fallen, and the glass would not have been broken. Therefore, as the crinoline was the cause, the crinoline ought to pay the expenses.

11th August 1861


Last week, a farmer and butcher in Ardwickle-street, near Doncaster, pointed a gun, which he did not know was loaded, at two Irishmen who, with himself, had taken refuge from a storm in a wheelwright’s shop, but the contents did not go off. The gun missed fire. He put a second cap on, and was about to point at them again, when it went off and shot two boys who were standing close by. The wounds, in each case at the back of the head, were most serious and may yet prove fatal.


Mr Townson, of Southwark-bridge road, said that, about eleven o’clock one night last week, himself and family had retired to rest, when he was roused up by hearing a rattling noise at his street-door. He jumped out of bed and listened again, when the noise was repeated, as if some one was trying to open the door. Wondering who it could be, he went down stairs, and on opening the street-door he perceived Mr Thomas Cockerel, a neighbour, on the step. He said to him, “Mr Cockerel, you have made a mistake in the house; your house is next door.”

Mr Cockerel, making use of an oath, said, “I’ll come in here and I’ll have your head off.” Mr Townson, perceiving that he was under the influence of alcohol, endeavoured to shut the door upon him, but he forced his way in and attacked him in a violent manner, actually tearing his nightshirt off him, placing him in a state of nudity. He was compelled to use all his force to keep Mr Cockerel off after that, and, while they were struggling, some ladies who lived in the upper part of the house came down and, fortunately, a constable entered from the street and conveyed Mr Cockerel to the station house. Mr Townson was greatly confused at the ladies coming down and finding him utterly bereft of all clothing.

Mr Cockerel stated that he had been out with a number of friends and unfortunately had imbibed rather too much grog, and had made a mistake in the house on returning home.

Mr Townson said he had no desire to press the charge of assault against an old neighbour. Mr Cockerel said he would pay the damage that had been done and promised not to make such an unlucky mistake again.

4th August 1861


On Saturday an inquest was held on the body of Mrs Elizabeth Broadhurst, aged thirty-two years, the wife of Bernard Broadhurst, Esq, of No 20, Grosvenor-street. Mr Broadhurst was deeply affected and deposed that he came home about ten o’clock last Wednesday night, and found Mrs Broadhurst writing letters in the drawing-room, it being but a few weeks after her confinement. He sat with her for a short time, while she told him the purport of the note, and was writing another to a friend, when he left her and went upstairs to change his coat.

Ten minutes afterwards he was startled by her screams, “Oh, save me, save me! I’m on fire!” He ran down to the drawing-room, and discovered his wife in the middle of the drawing-room, enveloped in flames. Her clothes seemed entirely consumed and the furniture near her was on fire. She had on a white muslin dress and, unfortunately, one of those crinolines made of steel hoops. He lost no time in seizing upon two hearth-rugs, with which he covered her, and rang violently for assistance. The nurse, housemaid, and butler immediately attended. Every means was tried to extinguish the fire about and under the hoops with sofa cushions and other things at hand. He also knelt on and tried to compress and break the hoops for the purpose of putting the fire out. By their united efforts the burning dress and other garments outside the unfortunate lady’s crinoline were extinguished. It was found, however, shortly afterwards, that the flames had insinuated themselves underneath the steel-hooped crinoline, and that she had been still smouldering without their knowledge. The hoops had to be cut off before the fire could be extinguished.

Mr Broadhurst supposed that the deceased must have first ignited her sleeve by reaching over a candle for an envelope.

Dr Gull, of 17 Brook-street, deposed that he attended the deceased lady, and that she died from the effect of the burns she sustained a few hours afterwards. Dr Gull said he thought the jury ought to be advised that laundresses could, at the expense of one-eighth of a penny, put in their starch a chemical solution which would prevent their articles of dress from being so inflammable. In these days of art and science, he considered it shameful that something of this sort was not done to prevent these sad occurrences.


The Boston Daily Advertiser gives the following particulars of the fatal accident which happened to Fanny, the wife of Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, at their residence at Cambridge (US), on the afternoon of the 9th instant.

While seated at her library table, making seals for the entertainment of her two children, a match or piece of lighted paper caught her dress, and in a moment she was enveloped in flames. Her husband ran to her assistance, and succeeded in extinguishing the flames, with considerable injury to himself.

Both of the sufferers were under the influence of ether during the night, and the following morning Mrs Longfellow rallied a little, but at eleven o’clock she was for ever released from suffering.

Professor Longfellow’s injuries, though serious, are not of a dangerous kind.


This week brought news of two more shocking deaths resulting from the fatal use of crinoline: the wife of Dr Broadhurst and the wife of the poet Longfellow. In the former case, we are informed that the coroner, in summing up, said that the deceased lady’s life might have been saved if it had not been for the crinoline, as it was impossible to extinguish the flames beneath those fatal hoops until they were cut off!

To protest against the use of an article of dress which can thus in an instant be converted into a fiery furnace is, we know, perfectly useless; for if writing against it could have driven it out of fashion, “crinoline accidents,” which we now so frequently see in large type at the head of newspaper paragraphs, would long ago have been things of the past. Had the warning been heeded, a hundred lives might have been spared; but, unfortunately, we may as soon expect to see the furnace hoops discontinued as hope, when an accident does occur, to extinguish the flames, and save the lady that wears them.

Of course, our fair friends, when they hear of these dreadful occurrences, exclaim with the utmost sympathy “How very shocking!” But, while they say so, they are wearing crinoline themselves, and never think that a drop of sealing-wax or a tiny taper may set their light muslin dresses instantaneously in a blaze.

There is a safeguard, which is as simple as it is easily adopted. It is only necessary for laundresses to put a little soda or ammonia into the starch used in preparing muslin dresses to render them perfectly uninflammable. It may perhaps save the life of a sister or wife, of a friend or an acquaintance. We cannot but hope, in all charity, after the pitiful losses which have recently been sustained, that its use will speedily become so universally known and practised, that never again may another fair victim be sacrificed while bound by cords of steel to the cruel crinoline.

28th July 1861


Margaret Caroline, aged 24, was brought before Mr Woolrych charged with assaulting and wounding Charles Woodin, a seaman belonging to the ship Charles Ward, lying in the City Canal.

The prosecutor, who was in a weakly condition from loss of blood, and whose left temple was covered with a large surgical plaster, said that he and a shipmate met the prisoner and another female, and they asked them for a treat. He paid for some liquor, and treated the prisoner, and his shipmate did the same for the other woman. They afterwards accompanied the two women to a house In Elbow-lane, Shadwell, when the prisoner began to rifle his pockets, and wanted to rob him of his money.

He shoved her away, and she took up a pair of scissors, and after using horrid oaths and imprecations, swore she would have his heart’s blood or his money, called him a son of a ____, and then stabbed him in the head with the scissors and inflicted a dreadful wound. He bled like a horse and fainted away.

Charles Hinner, a police constable, No.439 EL, said that he was called to an infamous house in Elbow-lane, and saw the prisoner there. She was a most savage and disorderly woman. She had the scissors in her hand brandishing them. He took them from her. They were covered with blood. The prosecutor had a deep hole in the temple, from which the blood was flowing profusely, and he conveyed him to a surgery.

Mr Woolrych commented on the atrocious conduct of the prisoner, who was a perfect fury. He sentenced her to pay a fine of £5 for the assault, and in default to be committed for two months.