Friday 3 January 2014

Mary Moriarty - A Lovely Woman

MARLBOROUGH STREET - MARY MORIARTY, a young Irishwoman, of a more desperate character, was charged with cutting and maiming another female, named Catherine Denby. The outrage was committed in Dudley-court, St. Giles, where the prisoner was creating a disturbance, and she inflected several severe wounds upon the complainants face, upon the latter interfering to protect another woman whom the prisoner had attacked. The knife was produced with which the prisoner had perpetrated the outrage, and she was ordered to find bail. Upon hearing the Magistrate's decision, she saluted him with the most opprobious epithets and vowed vengeance on the complainant, who, she said, had bitten off two of her fingers. She was ordered to be locked up, and in going along the avenues of the office, she dashed four panes of glass to pieces. Having on previous occasions repeated the same outrage, Mr. Dyer undertook that the parish should prosecute her, observing that she was the most outrageous offender of her class in the Metropolis, and the whole parish of St. Giles did not equal her.

The Morning Chronicle, 23 April 1829

Mary Moriarty was convicted of two utterings and an attempt at uttering, all within the space of two hours, on the 5th of November. Her first visit was to Mr. Phillips at the George and Crown, Broad-street, Bloomsbury, where she had a glass of gin, and although the landlord detected the shilling to be base, knowing her to be a most abusive and violent woman, he preferred taking it to provoking her temper by a refusal. She then went to the Crown in Threadneedle-street, and got a quartern of gin, and change for a bad half-crown at a baker's in Broad-street. She was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, the first and last fortnight to be spent in solitude.

The Standard, 5 January 1833

HATTON GARDEN - LOVELY WOMAN - Mary Moriarty was brought before Messrs. Bennet and Halswell charged with being drunk and disorderly. The prisoner is one of the most extraordinary women in existence, and, for the last ten years, has been nine months out of every twelve in the House of Correction. Her prowess is astonishing, of which the following is a remarkable instance: A few years back one of Meux and Co.'s draymen, having given her offence, she watched him out with his dray, and seized from it a cask containing 36 gallons of ale, which she dashed upon the pavement and broke to pieces. She then attacked the drayman, who was five feet eleven inches high, and beat him so severely in a regular stand-up fight, that he was compelled to keep his bed several days. On Friday night she was very drunk, making a disturbance in Broad-street, Bloomsbury, and it was found necessary to send for a posse of constables to remove her to the station-house. Mr. Halswell, who is one of the visiting Magistrates, addressing the prisoner, said, "Well, Mary, I am surprised to see you here. Why it was only yesterday that you were discharged from prison." - Defendant: Yes, my dear, that's true enough. You see the moment I comes out, they put me in again. (Laughter). - Mr. Halswell: How long were you last in prison? - Defendant: Only six weeks, honey. (Bursts of laughter). - Mr. Halswell: What was that for, Mary? - Defendant: Only for whopping a policeman. (A laugh) Mr. Bennet: I remember it. You were sentenced by myself and Mr. Rogers. You are certainly a very bad woman. - Waddington, the officer, said that it was always necessary to confine the prisoner's hand when taken before a Magistrate. She once flung an ink-stand at Mr. Rogers, and her pattens at Mr. Laing. - Defendant: It's the cursed drink. The moment I comes out of prison I am surrounded by lots of friends, bad luck to 'em, and they make me taste the crature, which then sticks in my throat till I get back to my own quarters. - Mr. Halswell: How many times have you been in the House of Correction? - Defendant: Fifty, or more; and you know that I am the best and most hard-working woman in the gaol? - Mr. Halswell (to Mr. Bennett): That is a fact. She works liek a slave, and is as peacable as possible. - Mr. Bennet ordered her t pay 5s. for being intoxicated, and she was locked up in default.

John Bull, 11 March 1838

CANDIDATES FOR NEWGATE - Mary Moriarty, a profligate Irishwoman, was charged with having stolen a sovereign, the property of James Brown. The prosecutor entered a public house in St. Giles's. and asked for change of a sovereign, when the prisoner snatched it up and swallowed it. - Mr. Benett: I shall remand the prisoner - Prisoner: Good look to you for it; it will take a little of the gin out of me. (A laugh). - Mr. Benett: What have you to say to the charge? - Prisoner: The devil a word; you may settle it between yourselves. (Laughter). - Mr. Benett: You are remanded. - Prisoner: I'm glad of it; I wish you had transported me ten years ago, and then I would be a different character; you might set fire to me with a match. (Increased laughter.) - The prisoner has been repeatedly charged at the various police offices for disorderly conduct and theft, and for years past has scarcely been a week out of prison. Her sister was taken to Bow street on Saturday week for a robbery, and it was previously agreed between them that they should both be in Newgate togther.

The Examiner 31 March 1839

Mary Moriarty, alias "Polly" Moriarty, whose fame for breaking windows of licensed victuallers equals that of the late May Ann Pearce, alias Lady Barrymore, was brought before the New Prison for further examination, charged with having stolen a sovereign. The prisoner was in the Hare and Hounds in St. Giles's, when a man laid down a sovereign for change, when she snatched it up and swallowed it. Polly, who was formerly a fine robust-looking girl, now stood at the bar the mere shadow of what she was, with languid sunken eyes, and ghastly pale and wrinkled countenance, the effect of the ravages of gin and dissipation.
   Mr. BENNETT asked her whether she could give any honest excuse for having swallowed the sovereign.
   Polly. - To be sure I can. I have been here many a time for being drunk and breaking windows, but never in all my life before for any felony, and sure wasn't I thrunk when I done it?
    Mr. BENNETT - Was the prisoner drunk?
    Thornton, the constable, replied that she was sober.
    Mr. Banker, the landlord of the Hare and Hounds said that she was sober.
    Polly. - Oh! then it's many a bright sovereign I have spent at your house and I never stole any of them.
    Mr. BENNETT inquired whether she did it as such loose characters frequently did - by way of joke.
    Mr. Banker - She swallowed it to keep it. (A laugh)
    Mr. BENNETT - Is she known?
    Waddington - I don't know a worse character for getting drunk and breaking windows, but I never knew her here for felony before.
    Mr. Malett, the Clerk. - She was been here for bad money.
    Polly. - Oh, then I see you are all against me. I was never here for stealing; but you would be glad to hang me for a red herring. (Laughter)
    Here the prisoner's sister, Nelly, was brought into the office in a shocking state of intoxication, without a bonnet, and her clothes and hair hanging loosely about her.
    Polly (looking at her and bursting into a flood of tears) - Oh, then, do take her out and let her go; she was come here to injure me; take her out. She made a rush wildly from the bar, and seizing hold of her sister, forced her out of the office, and she was allowed to depart.
    It was stated that Nelly had been charged at Bow Street, on Saturday for "Sawning Hunting" and discharged; and on the explanation of the slang expression being solicited, it was given "Bacon Stealing." Nelly was charged with stealing a pound and a half of bacon from a cheesemonger's shop.
    Thornton then stated the prisoner confessed having swallowed the sovereign, but she had not seen it even since. (Increased laughter)
    Prisoner - And sure, that is thrue; how could I see it. (Laughter). But I dare say you'd be glad to see it. (Increased laughter)
    Mr. BENNETT said he would remand the prisoner until Monday, when Polly "heaved a sigh" and said she wished they'd settle at once, or else discharge her, and she left the bar condemning her sister.

The Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser, 6 April 1839


  1. what an interesting post. I was reading about Broad Street recently in a work of fiction; this post brought the area to life.