22nd September 1861


A correspondent sends us an account of a crinoline accident. He says that last Sunday a party of boys and girls went on a pleasure boat to some public gardens in his locality. On the grounds in question there are several hives of bees, and in stooping in the vicinity of these, one of the girls’ crinolines hooked over the top of a hive, and when the poor girl, ignorant of the fact, walked away, down came the hive, of course. The whole corps d’arme, trapped within the crinolines, instantly set upon their unwitting assailant, who was obliged to run for it and eventually to take refuge in a pool of water. From thence she was drawn and, being badly stung, she was taken home to bed, where she lay in some pain for a few days. Our correspondent says she is now quite recovered.


In August, 1851, a girl of sixteen, named Sarah Watts, was barbarously murdered at Woodlands, near Frome. Her father had left her at home alone, while he went to market, and on his return he found her mangled body in the dairy, and the house ransacked. Subsequent examination showed that the girl had been outraged and probably drowned in a milk pail. Three bad characters, named Maggs, Sparrow and “Frome Bob”, were apprehended and were committed to trial on a capital charge, but a jury acquitted them.

Suspicion also fell on a young man named Joseph Seer, who lived near the Woodlands, but shortly after the murder he left the neighbourhood, and enlisted into the army.

Within the last few days, Seer has returned to Frome, being invalided. On Tuesday morning, he went to the police station on some other business and, upon being asked by the superintendent of the police why he appeared so unhappy, he made a voluntary confession that he was guilty of murdering Sarah Watts.

He is short in stature and was attired in the uniform of an infantry soldier. His appearance was that of a sullen, pre-occupied man.

The prisoner’s confession was as follows:

“I murdered Sarah Watts. I hope the God above will let me live to see her again in another world. I have it on my mind a long time. I have been very unhappy ever since. I went away, I was so unhappy. I hope the God above will wash away our sins.

“I done it for love. It was on a market day in August it happened. I asked her to go up Birch Hill-lane and pick some water-cresses. She wouldn’t go. I asked her then to go upon a Sunday, and she said she wouldn’t go. I often played with her.

“About 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I went to the house. I thought she was worth some money and I told her to tell me where it was and I would marry her and take her to America. I was very fond of her. I wanted that we would live happy together.

“She said, ‘The money don’t belong to you.’ I said, ‘If you don’t tell me where it is, it will be the death of you.’

“I took hold of her by the neck. I had connection with her on the settle. I had a poker in my hand and I hit her on the head with it and knocked her down. I said, ‘I will have to suffer for this either in heaven or in hell.’

“I struck her in the kitchen and dragged her into the dairy. I caught hold of her by her feet and put her head first into the milk pail and left her in the dairy, dead.

“I took two shillings out of a cup on the mantelpiece. I went up-stairs and searched about, and took some clothes, and went my way, and went to sea. I enlisted as a soldier to get out of the way, as I was being blamed for it at the time.

“I have never got it off my mind. I killed her for love. I was very fond of her.”

The prisoner was remanded for a week.


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