24th November 1861


An extraordinary assault case was heard at Michaelstown the other day. A man, named Thomas Quinn, stated that he was sent for by John Condon and Mrs Condon—the defendants in the case—to their house, where he went; and that the defendants dragged him into the piggery in the yard, and assaulted him; that they insisted on his spitting on three large pigs which they were preparing for market, alleging that he had some days previously cast an evil eye on the pigs, and by some witchcraft or necromancy prevented them from eating their food for seven days.

Mr O’Mara: “My defence is that the defendants state most emphatically that Quinn came to their house, stood over their pigs, and by some mysterious or unholy spell or influence prevented them from using food for seven days. Your worship may perceive, on looking at Quinn’s vulpine, countenance, he has an evil eye”—(Loud laughter). “The defendants sent for him to remove the evil he had done, and sent for the police to induce him to do so. Quinn refused, and said, ‘Go, herd them to the ____.’ Defendants then went to some ancient prophet or soothsayer to consult him on the matter, who directed defendants to procure Quinn’s stockings and pocket-handkerchief, and, boil them, and give the water to the pigs. The defendant, Condon, being brother to Quinn’s wife, actually got the stockings boiled, and gave the water to the pigs, and they were instantly as voracious as hawks”—(Loud laughter).

Mr Browne: “It is a most sad and deplorable exhibition to see persons of your age so utterly ignorant as to believe in the odious superstition which you seem to labour under in this case, as stated by your attorney. Let each of the defendants be fined—John Condon, 2s 6d; his wife, 1s; and costs.”


On Monday morning, a young woman, named Mary Ann Winterbottom, aged 23 years, expired at Westminster hospital after most dreadful sufferings.

It would appear that she was in the service of Dr Allen, of 35 Dartmouth-street. Having occasion to stoop down towards the fireplace in the kitchen, her dress, which was expanded by crinoline, came against the bars, and in a moment she was on fire. She instantly rushed into the street, uttering the most piercing screams for help, her clothing all one mass of bright flame. A number of persons soon followed, and eventually caught her and threw her down, and threw coats and mats around her, but met with the utmost difficulty in extinguishing the flames.

She was conveyed to the hospital but, owing to the frightful burns she had received, she gradually sank and expired.

17th November 1861


On Wednesday evening, an inquest was held on the body of M Ernest Becker, aged 60, a German artist, who, through distress, committed suicide by blowing out his brains.

The deceased resided at 88 Charlotte-street, Fitzroy-square, where he occupied apartments as a sleeping room and a studio. He had formerly been in affluence, but latterly his circumstances changed and although he possessed pictures to the value of upwards of £100, he set such store by them that he would not part with them on any consideration. He thus became steeped in the deepest poverty.

About four o’clock on Monday afternoon, a loud report of fire-arms was heard proceeding from M Becker’s apartment. On entering, the body of the unfortunate gentleman was found lying on the hearth in front of the fire-place, with his head literally blown to atoms, and a large pistol lying nearby. The ball had passed completely through the deceased’s head, and lodged in the style of the middle room door.

Verdict, temporary insanity.


George Randell, a dirty-looking man, who described himself as a painter and stated that he was 50 years of age, was charged with being in a dwelling house at 9 Hornsey-street, with intent to commit a felony.

On Sunday evening, a lodger returned from church and knocked on the door. Before it was opened, she heard a disturbance in the house as of some person scrambling up the stairs. When the servant opened the door, she appeared quite flustered, and this, coupled with the state of disarray of her clothing, caused some suspicion, and after supper, every room in the house was searched.

Under the bed in the female servant’s room, the prisoner was found lying at full length with his coat and boots off. There was no doubt that the prisoner had been in the house several times before. The servant admitted that she let the prisoner in the house frequently.

Mr Barker discharged the man, telling him that, as a married man, his conduct was very disgraceful and he had better be careful not to be found in such a predicament again.


Last Thursday evening a robbery on a large scale was committed at the house of Mr W J Barker, surveyor, 29, Bessborough-gardens, Vauxhall Bridge-road. At about half-past-six Mrs Barker and some friends went to the theatre, leaving Mr Barker and the servant, Mary Newell, only in the house. Shortly afterwards, Mr Barker went out, stating that he should return home between nine and ten o’clock. On his doing so he knocked for a long time without obtaining an answer.

He noticed that although the gas was burning in different parts of the house, the light in the passage was extinguished. Finding it impossible to obtain admission, Mr Barker applied to Mr Allen, his next neighbour, and this gentleman entered the house by a back window, which was found open.

A most extraordinary scene presented itself. In the passage stood a pail, containing a red fluid, which was supposed to be blood. Near it lay two parts of a poker, which had been broken in two and to which adhered blood and hair, which was presumed to belong to the servant girl.

The whole house was in confusion, the articles of furniture having been strewn about in every direction. Mr Barker, not being able to find his servant, repaired to the police-station in Rochester-row, and Mr Humphreys, an inspector of the B division, immediately accompanied him back to the house. Diligent search was then made for the servant, but she was nowhere to be found. It was evident, by two bonnets belonging to her being in their places, that she must have left or been taken from the house without one.

On entering the parlour a quantity of plate was found packed up ready for removal, and in the drawing room a valuable clock was in the same condition. In the bedroom several trinket boxes also were found empty, whilst the drawers had been cleared of their contents. The servant’s boxes had been emptied, and her clothes and some letters strewn about the room. It seemed as though an entrance to the house had been effected by a back window into the hall, as a pane of glass was broken near the fastening, and the window was found open.

Upon a close examination, it was evident to Mr Humphreys that the pane of glass had been broken from the inside, and that, coupled with the circumstance that only the drawers containing valuable property had been opened, led him to the conclusion that the servant girl, far from being murdered, had committed the robbery, perhaps with an accomplice.

In the course of a few hours Mr Humphreys ascertained that a cab had taken up a young man with a large box in the form of a settee, a large portmanteau, and a carpet-bag from Mr Barker’s, at a quarter to nine on the evening in question, and had proceeded to the Eastern Counties Railway, where he had been seen walking up and down the platform for an hour, smoking cigars. It was next ascertained that the young man, who had picked up a companion in the train, had slept at the White Hart at Brentwood that night, declining to have part of a double-bedroom with his companion. Next morning he proceeded alone to Great Yarmouth.

Michael John Sheen, a detective officer, was sent after the man. It was certain that the box in the form of a settee had been taken from Mr Barker’s, and was among the luggage conveyed with the passenger, but who he was there was nothing to show. The cigar-smoking negatived the notion that it could possibly be Mary Newell.

The young man, having arrived at Great Yarmouth, took apartments at No 10 Row 136, calling himself Mr Heath (the name of a gentleman residing with Mr Barker). Producing his card, he stated that he had come to Yarmouth to fill the situation of clerk in an insurance-office. He made himself very agreeable, chatted and smoked, and ordered his dinner at late hours. Having dressed himself in a suit of the gentleman’s clothes whom he personated he took his landlady to the theatre, and on Sunday to church.

In the afternoon, Sheen found where the settee had been taken to. He called at the house and told the landlady that he would wait to see her gentleman lodger, who was then out. In the course of an hour he came home. He entered smoking a cigar, and was at once discovered to be Mary Newell. The officer then told her his business, and brought her to town on Tuesday.

The prisoner was placed in the dock of the West police-court, in the attire in which she had been captured—another suit of Mr Heath’s—wearing one of his shirts and Wellington boots. She had cut her hair short, the more closely to resemble a man. She buried her face her hands and endeavoured to hide herself from the gaze of those present. In the course of the day clothing of a more feminine nature was procured for her.

The prisoner was sentenced to hard labour for 18 months.

10th November 1861


Word has been received of a singular occurrence that took place on the 24th of September, in the Indian ocean. An immigrant vessel had anchored off Pamben. Suddenly, the bow of the vessel was pulled to a level with the sea, then it shot off at railway speed. It was soon found that a whale had swallowed the anchor, and was running off with the vessel. He continued, sometimes twisting the vessel about, at others darting ahead at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, from 8pm til 1am, when he got loose.

The captain immediately sent an account of the occurrence to the Immigration Commissioners. He stated that it stood alone in his experience, and that he had never heard or read of anything resembling it—[We are of the same opinion.]


Another of those dreadful accidents occurred on October 13th which make people shudder as they read the details.

A young man named Duncan, aged nineteen years, employed as a clerk by S T Murray at Niagara Falls, undertook to cross the river in the morning to Chippewa, where his parents reside. He left the American shore a mile or more above the Falls at a point where crossing is often made, in a skiff, in which under ordinary circumstances, he could have gone safely to the Canada shore. It is supposed that one of his oars broke, or the rowing apparatus in some way gave out.

He was seen in the skiff about midway of the river, drifting into the rapids above the Horse Shoe Fall. but no human power could save him from destruction. He passed into the abyss, and that is the last that was seen of him.

What moments of torture the poor man must have endured as he was drifting through those rapids, knowing, as he well did, the frightful leap he had soon to make into eternity.


On Friday last, Mr J Burton, an extensive lace manufacturer; Mr W Blackwell, upholsterer; and Mr G Burrows, commission agent, were brought before the magistrates and charged with violently assaulting Mr W H Brooke, on Friday 18th October.

The complainant stated that a few days previously he was met in one of the streets by the defendant Burton, who was in his carriage, and was invited to dine with him on Friday. He accordingly went.

During dinner, wine passed freely, and shortly afterwards the defendant Burton left the room, and was absent a considerable time. While he was away, Blackwell and Burrows asked complainant if he could count the pictures in the room blindfolded, to which he replied that he could not, nor had he come for that purpose. The two defendants then commenced sparring round the room until they reached his chair and then fell on to him.

He was then dragged into the hall and thence to the lawn. Here they commenced the most revolting indecencies against the complainant. One of them cut the crown of his had, which they then put on his head, brim uppermost, saying, “Let’s crown the old b______.” They afterwards pulled him about, tearing his clothes into shreds. Burrows threw a pot of harness blacking onto him, blacked his face, and then poured a quantity of treacle upon him, and ultimately covered him with flour. Some liquid had previously been thrown in his face, which caused him very great pain, and for a time blinded him. They afterwards took disgusting liberties with him (too revolting for publication).

Mr Burton came home while the other defendants were assaulting the complainant, and stood by laughing.

After a severe struggle, in which complainant smashed a very costly set of china, he got away, but the injuries he received were so severe that he was confined to his bed for two days.

The Bench acquitted Mr Burton, but thought his conduct reprehensible. The other two were fined £10 each.

3rd November 1861


About ten o’clock in the morning last Sunday, a woman was seen, by two boys, loitering under an arch on a piece of waste ground close to St Peter’s Church, Saffron-hill, with apparently a bundle of rags in her arms. She left the bundle on the ground and made off.

The boys went to the arch and saw a black parcel tied up with rope. On examining it, they found it to contain the body of a child.

Dr Brown, attached to the Clerkenwell workhouse, found the death of the child had been produced by putting its head in water until suffocated by drowning and then, to make doubly sure, the skull was forcibly fractured.

No fresh evidence has been produced.


On Tuesday morning, a female named Mahoney found the dead body of a female child in a small wicker basket which was lying in a dust-bin in front of houses situation it Dalston-square, Storer-street, Mile-end. When she opened the lid she found that the deceased had been recently born.

The body was removed to the workhouse, where one of the men in the dead-house unfastened the bandages around the waist and found a slip of paper stained with blood, upon which was written, “Mrs Clark, 1 Little Drummond-street, Euston-square”. Upon the lower portion of the paper there the following disconnected sentences: “See to parcel No 5” and “Front west flowers”.

A constable proceeded to the address, where it was discovered that a man and a woman named Clark had lodged there, but had gone away about a month.


A female child, newly born, was found in a cigar box, under very strange circumstances. On Thursday last, a workman was engaged in gardening in the Tower Hamlets Cemetery when he discovered a box lying in the grass, covered with leaves. The box was quite clean, and tied round with a piece of cord. He opened the lid and found the child.

The deceased was fully developed. The umbilical cord was not tied, and it appeared that the child had been born alive. There were marks from pressure around the mouth and nose.


On Tuesday, some workmen who had occasion to enter a house in West-street, Horsham, head the plaintive screams of a child coming from the water-closet. On looking down the aperture they discovered a fine full-grown female infant lying on the soil at a depth of twenty feet. With some difficulty they rescued it from its fearful position, yet alive, but at the last gasp.

The poor little thing, who had thus been so miraculously preserved from death, was taken to the work-house, and an investigation was set on foot by the police, which has resulted in the capture of a young woman, who will be charged with the attempted murder.