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.


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