27th October 1861


On Wednesday morning, between four and five o’clock, a woman named Anne King, 25, was found smothered in a cellar of soot, at 10 Parker-street, Drury-lane, which is occupied by a sweep.

It appears that on the previous day the deceased had attended bridal festivities in Parker-street and had drunk somewhat freely. The deceased on leaving promised to return to tea, and it is supposed on coming back she mistook the house and pitched headlong into the cellar of number 10, landing head-first in the large mound of soot. She had been dead for some time when found.


The following case of brutality was heard at the Clerkenwell police-court on Thursday:

William Down, a rough, dirty-looking fellow, a shoe-maker, residing at 4, Rose and Crown court, Islington, was charged with committing a murderous assault upon Mrs Betsy Ayres, a charwoman. The prosecutrix appeared in court in a sad state. Her head was enveloped in surgical bandages, her face and arms were blackened, bruised and cut.

On the day in question, the prisoner was married and, at the request of Betsy Ayres, who had been a bridesmaid, he and his bride went to her house to spend the day. A great deal of drink was taken by all the parties, and in the afternoon a quarrel took place.

Betsy Ayres continued to abuse William Down, when he got up, struck her over the head and body with a board, knocked her down, and rendered her insensible. Not content with this violence, he took up a poker and with a fearful oath he struck her across the face with such force that he bent the poker.

The prisoner was in a high state of excitement. Had it not been for the interference of the neighbours there is no doubt he would have killed the complainant.

Instead of being one of the happiest of men, enjoying the company of his youthful and blushing bride, he is now one of the sorriest and saddest. Upon being sentenced to six months’ hard labour in the House of Correction, the prisoner commenced dancing, and was then removed.


A somewhat unusual scene occurred on Sunday morning last at Leeds parish church when a man named James Grayson, a painter by trade, accompanied by a female, who hoped shortly to be his bride, and also by a bridesmaid and others, presented himself for marriage.

The ceremony had proceeded undisturbed until the reverend gentleman was on the point of asking the all-important question, “Wilt thou have this woman” &c, when the congregation were surprised, if not amazed, to observe a pretty looking woman, in breathless, haste, and with anxiety depicted on her countenance, rushing into the church and to the altar rails, where she claimed the man about to be united to another as her husband.

The ceremony was, of course, suspended immediately, and an adjournment to the vestry was necessary. There, with the greatest possible coolness and determination, the fellow entirely repudiated the impeachment, and gruffly declared that he had never seen the woman before.

Naturally shocked at this, the wife replied that they had lived together until 8 o’clock on the previous evening, when he left her, taking with him a box containing various articles and representing that he was about to pay a visit to his friends. Still, however, he persistently denied that he was married, and the female, in confirmation of her story, called the parson’s recollection to the fact that he himself officiated at the marriage upwards of two years ago. The register having been examined, an entry of the marriage of the female with Grayson in May, 1859, was found but he even then denied, without a blush or a stammer, that he was the man.

The father of the wife was sent for, and confirmed his daughter’s statement. They were married in that church, he said, and had lived together very comfortably since, and the husband had never been away a single night until the day before.

The “bride”, satisfied that she had been the victim of a deceit, declared that she was “flurried a bit”—as well she might be—and thought she had better go. Her friends, pitying her, accompanied her, and Grayson and his wife were left behind in the vestry. When concealment was no longer possible, he acknowledged his wife, asked where she was going, said he had had no breakfast, and he would go with her. They then left the church together, apparently on the most amicable terms, and walked homewards to their matitutinal meal.

20th October 1861


Dr Andrew Dell, a physician, was passing through Crawley-street on Monday when he was caught by the leg in a lady’s crinoline as the wearer was passing, thrown to the ground, and his ankle-bone fractured.

An old pensioner named Mann, seventy-one years of age, was proceeding along King-street, Yarmouth, when a lady amply crinolined passed him very hastily and her dress catching his leg knocked him down and broke his leg in two places. The “lady” proceeded onwards without offering sympathy for the unfortunate man.


The matter of the wearing of crinolines becomes ever more serious. It would be a public service if somebody would publish a list of the known casualties from this cause. Besides the deaths by fire, there have been many by crushing under carriage wheels and in machinery and in narrow spaces where a woman reasonably dressed would be in no danger. There have been cases of actual disembowelling from the gashes inflicted by broken steel springs and hoops. There have been drownings, wounds, crushings, burnings—many torturing modes of death; and it is no wonder that juries and coroners now appeal to the sex to cease their subornation of murder.

How is it to be done? some ask. We are told our country-women are apt to follow a fashion abjectly because they have a horror of appearing independent in their judgment about external appearances and of earning the name of being “strong-minded women”. Has it never occurred to them what dreadful strength of mind it must require to uphold a fashion which will inevitably cause the death by torture of a certain number of persons before the end of the year?

We are told that the imaginations of women are too strong for their judgment; and that they are carried away by an idea. We should say rather that it is from defect of imagination that they err in this case. If they could once see a girl in the agonies of burning, and hear her shrieks; if they could once encounter the little procession carrying a child to the hospital, his back broken by a lady’s petticoat having swept him under the wheels of a dray; if they could see a factory worker caught by the skirt, and crushed before the shaft could be stopped, they would gladly wear any shape of gown for the rest of their days rather than be responsible in the millionth degree for any more such intolerable spectacles.

Who will introduce a change in the habits of women? Surely we may look for this to the first lady in the land. If the Queen were known to discountenance the fashion of hoops which renders it all too easy to set women and children on fire, the evil would immediately disappear from our drawing rooms, our streets and our places of work.

13th October 1861


A fishmonger at Preston last week gave a lecture in the theatre on “Oysters”. Being an wholly uneducated man the lecture promised great fun and the crowded audience was not disappointed. He had little else to say except that oysters were “the strongest thing a man could eat,” and they were to be sure and get them fresh and not take vinegar with them. The scene was of the most ludicrous and boisterous description.


 • Mr Isaac Moses, a Jew of immense wealth, committed suicide last week by cutting his throat in the garden of an inn.

 • A member of the 3rd Roxburghshire Rifle Corps named Maxwell was returning from practice, near Melrose, when he met a girl named Rutherford, to whom he playfully raised his musket and drew the trigger, believing the deadly instrument to be unloaded. The shot entered the poor girls mouth, shattered some of her teeth, and passed through the cheek below the ear. It is hoped that she will recover.

 • No little excitement has been created at Stratford New-Town from the fact of a married man eloping with a married lady. The parties were traced to Norwich. During the past week, an effigy of the man has been paraded through the streets, preceded by a band, and followed by hundreds of persons. The excitement still prevails.


On Wednesday evening an inquest was held by Mr Brent, at the Castle Tavern, Holloway-road, on the body of Miss Ann Maria Amelia Carter, aged 25, who lost her life by fire through the ignition of her dress by extended crinoline.

It appeared that about three o’clock on Sunday afternoon, October 6, Mr French, an invalid, was lying on a sofa in the room, when the deceased entered and stood with her back towards the fire. Suddenly she uttered a piercing scream, when the invalid gentleman saw the back of her dress in flames. She then threw herself upon the ground, and he endeavoured to suppress the flames, but his efforts were fruitless.

He then ran into an adjoining bed-room for the purpose of getting something in which to envelope the unfortunate young lady, but, unfortunately, before he could return to her she had run down two pairs of stairs.

Her father, mother, and brother then attempted to extinguish the fire, which had by that time nearly consumed the muslin dress, which was set out with extensive hoops. Each of those relatives, as well as Mr French, in their attempts were severely burned

The poor young lady’s back, neck, face, and arms were most seriously burned, the latter almost to a cinder. She lingered in a state of suffering till two o’clock on the following morning, when she died.

The Jury returned a verdict of accidental death, but strongly recommended that, from the numerous fatalities which had occurred in all classes of female society, such a fashion should be immediately abandoned. The Coroner agreed with the Jury, and thought that, at least in the house, such acquirements of dress might be dispensed with.

6th October 1861


On Sunday, a man’s skull was discovered about two feet from the surface, in a bank beside the Keltie Burn, about a mile above Callander-bridge. There were many rumours regarding it until Wednesday, when the procurator-fiscal from Dunblane got it dug up, and declared it to be the remains of a person named Green Colin, who was in olden times chief of the clan called the Bochastle Clan, and must have lain there for nearly two hundred years.

The story relating to the chief’s death says he went to Auchlishia and demanded to see the titles of the possessor, Mr Buchanan. The latter said he would show them, and in an instant got up and took down a large two-edged sword hanging from the roof, and said that was his title. The next demand of the chief was to get it into his possession, but Buchanan cleaved him to the ground with it by a stroke on the side of the head.

The rut from the blow can be seen on the skull, which has been taken to the Edinburgh museum.


At Stafford, on Sunday morning, a party of from thirty to forty lunatics were, as usual, taken for a walk by the keepers of the county asylum, along the Weston-road. Whilst the party were passing through the Littleworth toll-gate, one of the lunatics got into the house, the door of which he immediately locked. Finding himself alone in the house with the wife of the toll collector and two little children, he went to the fire-place and caught up the tongs, intending to murder the children.

The keepers, whose attention had been called to what had occurred by the screams of the wife of the toll collector, burst in and, seizing the madman, removed him to the asylum.


On Thursday evening, an inquiry was held into the death of a child ten months old, named Mary Ann Western, whose parents reside at 30, Charles-street, Edgware-road.

William Western, the father, deposed that he was a wheelwright, and on his return home from work on the night of the 23rd inst, at about eleven o’clock, his attention was attracted to the child, who was head downwards in a pail of water by the bed, dead. His wife and another child were asleep in the bed.

Mr Jeffs, surgeon, deposed that on a post-mortem examination, he did not find any of the usual symptoms of drowning, and believed the child was dead before it got into the pail, most probably from convulsions, yet he did not see how the child could have rolled from the bed into the pail.

Other evidence mainly went to prove that the mother was not sober; that the child always appeared healthy; and that no one in the family, the mother included, was aware of what had occurred until awoken by the cries of the father.

Verdict, “Death from Natural Causes, but how the child got into the pail there is no evidence to prove.”

The learned deputy-coroner then severely reprimanded the mother for drunkenness, and the strange proceedings were brought to a close.


An inquest was held on Monday last on the body of Mrs Harriet Beagley, wife of Mr G Beagley, of the Crown inn, Spital, near Windsor, whose death was caused through her crinoline coming in contact with a burning ember while she was putting some greens in the pot to boil. Deceased was twenty-nine years of age, and had been married only seven weeks.

The deceased was extensively burnt all over the body, her clothes reduced to cinders, except the band of her petticoat, her stays and the frame of her crinoline.

Verdict, “Accidental death.”

29th September 1861


A Mr Johnstone, residing in Newcastle-under-Lyne, lately met his daughter walking with a young man whom he had forbidden her to associate with. He ordered her into the house, went in himself, and immediately returning with a poker, dealt a blow that knocked the young man to the ground. Upon examination, the young man proved to be a stranger and, what is worse, he died of the blow; and Mr Johnstone is now in gaol to answer for his crime.


John Tucker, a dirty, bald-headed old man, who was described as a jobbing porter in Spitalfields market, was charged with committing indecent assaults on two girls, named Ellen Thompson and Emily Wooton, each aged eleven years.

The case was one of a most revolting description. The prisoner was dwelling in a small, ill-ventilated and filthy room in Cable-street, Whitechapel. The girls live with their parents in Mansion-street, St-George’s-in-the-East, where the prisoner formerly dwelt. On Tuesday the 10th inst, the prisoner decoyed the two girls into his apartment in Cable-street, by promising them halfpence, and then laid them on his bed, and committed the vile assaults.

The illness of the children was subsequently discovered by their parents, and on Monday they underwent an examination by Dr Edmunds, who discovered they had been seriously injured.

The prisoner was immediately given into custody, and it was ascertained that the old villain was labouring under a loathsome disease. The medical evidence against the prisoner was conclusive as to his disgraceful intercourse with the girls, and the injury he had done them.

From the evidence of Police-constable Kelly, 130H, it also appeared that the prisoner had contaminated many other little girls, and that he was one of the most wicked old men in the district.

It was also stated by a woman named Wood that fifteen months ago he outrageously assaulted an orphan girl, only ten years of age, in the same house, and that Mr Wood, her husband, was so disgusted with the atrocious conduct of the prisoner that he inflicted a severe beating upon him. The prisoner suffered from this treatment for a considerable time, but it did not cure him of his evil propensities.

The prisoner made a very long and rambling defence, imputing every species of immorality to the girls.

Mr Woolrych committed the prisoner for trial.


The discharged soldier, Joseph Seers, who is in custody, charged, on his own confession, with the murder of the young girl, Sarah Watts, at the Woodlands, Frome, in the month of August, 1851, under circumstances of great atrocity [see last week’s report—ed.], was found to be not guilty of the crime. It has transpired that he was not resident in the locality at the time of the murder.

Investigations have revealed that, while with his regiment at Corfu, he became insane, chiefly through his intemperate habits, and was sent to the military lunatic asylum at Fort Pitt, Chatham, from where he has only recently been discharged as incurable, after twice attempting suicide.