15th December 1861


A correspondent to the “Star and Dial” submits the following message:

“As my wife and I were passing the end of Mornington-crescent, in the Hampstead-road, last evening about five o’clock, some miscreant came behind us and, stooping down, threw a quantity of vitriol beneath my wife’s dress, inflicting very serious burns upon her legs, and nearly destroying her under-clothing, stockings and boots. Her ample woollen skirts—not distended by crinoline—received a portion of the burning liquid, and perhaps saved her life.

“I regret to add that the wicked perpetrator of this most wanton injury escaped owing to the suddenness of the attack, the darkness and the position he had selected at the corner of the crescent; but a glimpse was had of a big lad running swiftly in the shadow of the railings. I gave chase but found it hopeless, and the state of my wife, who was suffering great pain from the burns, compelled me to relinquish the pursuit.”


Mary Ann Rowley, a young married woman, twenty years of age, died on Wednesday last from injuries she had sustained from burns.

The deceased, who is a collier’s wife, was wearing an extensive crinoline petticoat when she stooped down to take her baby up and her clothing came in contact with the fire. Almost instantly she was in a blaze. Neighbours used a wet towel and a blanket to extinguish the flames, but not before most of her clothing had been consumed, and she was severely burnt on the breast, arms, neck and other parts of her body.

The surgeon attended her daily but his efforts were unavailing and she lingered in a state of agonising suffering until she died on Wednesday.


At Beeston, on Monday, an unfortunate young girl named Sarah Baker, who is in the employment of Mrs Page as a nurse-maid, was in the act of getting a pin from the chimney-piece when her ample crinoline brought her dress into contact with the fire and she was instantly in flames. Mrs Page, who was in the room, endeavoured without success to extinguish the fire, and was much burnt in the attempt.

The screams of the women brought the assistance of two men who were passing and were able to get the burning dress off.

The surgeon was called and the usual remedies were applied, but the girl received such serious injuries that she was removed to the General Hospital, where she now lies in a precarious state.


Great excitement has been occasioned in Chesterfield and Brampton by a case of cruelty to a boy named John Gascoyne, twelve years of age, by John Hallowes, the schoolmaster at St Thomas’s school.

In the school on Sunday, 24th November, the lad turned his head round and laughed at another boy whom he knew. The master came up and boxed his ears and hit him several times over the head. The lad said the master should “catch it” for what he had done, whereupon the curate of St Thomas’s ordered the lad to be flogged.

The lad was forcibly carried to a conspicuous part of the school and laid with his belly over a large stool. The master then got a stick and flogged the lad for a considerable time, amid his cries for mercy.

When the lad’s back was examined later by his parents, it was noted that every stroke of the stick had left its mark on the flesh, which the next day was a blackened mass.

The lad’s injuries were shown to a magistrate, who granted a summons. The case was heard on Saturday, and the charge was dismissed, with one of the magistrates remarking that such lads ought to be corrected.


Mr Sebright, master of the St Marie’s Roman Catholic school, Richmond-hill, was charged at Leeds Town Hall with assaulting William Dyson, a pupil, and beating him so severely about the head that, according to the boy’s mother, her son’s face was very much swollen and that “it was the colour of fire, it was so red.”

The magistrates said it was a very dangerous practice to strike boys on the head with undue severity, and fined Mr Sebright 20s.

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