Sunday 31 January 2010

Local News - Stoke Newington

Here's some random news items from my local area ... just a century or so too late ... all telling you a little bit about Victorian life ...

SEDUCTION AND SUICIDE. – Mr. Collier, deputy-coroner for East Middlesex, held an inquiry at the Red Lion, Church-street, Stoke Newington, on the body of Frances Townes, aged twenty, a domestic servant, who had destroyed her own life under the following sad circumstances:- Deceased had been general servant in the employ of Mrs. Sarah Snellgrove of 44, Broughton-road, Stoke Newington, fro a year and nine months. She had been keeping company with a young man up to Easter when it was broken off, and witness’s husband, having reason to suspect deceased and his nephew of improprieties, instituted a watch upon them, the result of which was that he turned him out of the house early last month. After he left the girl became low-spirited, and more than once said she would commit suicide. On Tuesday last she was found in bed in great pain, and a doctor was sent for, but ere he arrived she was dead, and a packet which had contained Battles Vermin Killer was found close by her side. Her condition was not known until her pockets were searched, when the following letter was found amongst others:- “44, Broughton-road. – My Dearest Mother. – For the last time I write to you to state what a wicked daughter you have got. You will hear a great many lies about me but all of them are not true. I was made to tell lies by Mr. Hazell (the nephew spoken of). I hope that my sisters will never be led into such temptation as I was, and I hope they will see further than I have. I am not able to see you again on this earth, but I hope to meet you in the next. Please to thank her and Mrs. Snellgrove for their kindness to me. I remain, your wicked daughter, F. TOWNES. – You will find money in my box to bury me. I should like to see you all before I go.” The medical evidence showed that deceased was five months advanced in pregnany, and that death arose from the result of taking a large dose of Battle’s Vermin Killer. The ocoroner having commented upon the heartless conduct of the seducer, and expressed his regret that such men could not be made answerable for the death. The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide while of unsound mind.” Reynolds's Newspaper, August 3, 1879

AN ACTOR’S LEADING PART. J.H.Clayton, an actor, of Kynaston-road, Hackney, appeared to a summons charging him with having travelled in a superior class of carriage, on the Great Eastern Railway, to that for which he had taken a ticket. A solicitor appeared to prosecute on behalf of the company, and Mr. J.B.Abbott defended. The defendant, it was stated, was in the habit of travelling every evening from the Rectory-road Station to Bethnal-green on his way to the theatre at which he was engaged. The solicitor remarked that the defendant, as a leading actor and a popular man, was well known by the officials. Mr. Abbott objected to the statement. Mr. Hannay said that he could stop the prosecution stating anything to the prejudice of the defendant until they had proved their case, but could not prevent the solicitor praising the defendant (Laughter.) Evidence was then given showing that on the 4th of May the defendant at 6.16 in the evening arrived at the station about a minute before the train. The station-master, who said that he had previously had reason to suspect him, ascertained that the defendant had taken a third-class ticket, but he saw him pass carriages of that description and enter a second-class carriage. A porter being sent to watch him the defendant was seen to leave at Bethnal-green, and on passing out to give up a third-class ticket and go away without offering any excess or mentioning that he had ridden in a superior class of carriage. He was then stopped and his name and address taken. At first he said he had not so ridden, and then he admitted it, and offered to pay the excess, and it was said he had since made a written apology and offered a guinea to the Railway Porters’ Benevolent Fund. Mr. Abbott pleaded that the defendant had no intention to defraud. What he had done was in forgetfulness, he being in the habit of riding sometimes second-class. Mr. Hannay said that the defendant might have entered the carriage in a moment of abstraction, particularly as being engaged on the stage, he might have been repeating the words of his part; but the fit of abstraction, he thought, would scarcely have lasted throughout the journey, and still less likely was it that he would not have been cognisant of his mistake when giving up the ticket. It was a bad kind of offence, the difference between it and steading 2d. out of the company’s till being merely technical. He fined the defendant 40s. and costs. Daily News, June 2, 1880

ROBBING OMNIBUS HORSES OF THEIR TAILS. Wm. Thos. Ferray, 35, of Northwold-road, Clapton, and Edward Rist, 19, of Defoe-road, Stoke Newington, horse keepers, were charged with stealing during the past fortnight a quantity of hair from the manes and tails of horses in the omnibus yard of the London General Omnibus Company at Church-street, Stoke Newington. Evidence was given on behalf of the company that the prisoners were horse keepers, who each had daily charge of eleven horses in the omnibus yard. There are 122 horses kept in the yard. It was discovered that the prisoners had been in the habit of pulling hairs from the horses’ tails and selling them to a marine store dealer’s near by. The dealer, Jacob Ludkin, who said that he had not known that the prisoners were acting wrongly, proved having purchased horsehair from them at a rate of 10d. a pound. It was stated that the foreman of the horse keepers was the only employ√© in the yard who was allowed certain small perquisites, and the amount of hair that would be combed out of the horses’ tails and manes in a legitimate manner would be very small. The company did not prosecute on account of the value of the horsehair, but because the prisoners had disfigured the horses’ tails – Mr. Hannay sentenced both the prisoners to 21 days hard labour. Daily News, November 8, 1884

STRANGE IDEA OF A LARK. – Arthur Oliver, 26, printer of Bouverie-road and Edward Wilson, 22, clerk, of Sandbrook-road, Stoke Newington, were charged with being concerned together in wilfully extinguishing six public lamps in Church-street, Stoke Newington, late on Wednesday night. – The prisoners said they were very sorry. They only did it for a “lark” – Mr. Barstow ordered both the young men to pay a fine of 10s. Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, June 20, 1886

DALSTON. DAMAGING AN AUTOMATIC SWEET MACHINE. – Mr. Bros heard the first summons at the new police-court. – The defendant, a lad named Edmund George Long, living in Neville-road, Stoke Newington, was charged with wilfully breaking the glass of an automatic sweet machine, in Ridley-road, Dalston, the property of Henry Pearce. – The prosecutor said the prisoner apparently broke the glass to get at the sweets, but this the defendant denied. He said that he had put a penny into the machine, which did not act, and he smashed the glass. Mr. Bros fined the lad 5s. Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, April 22, 1888


  1. because the prisoners had disfigured the horses’ tails – Mr. Hannay sentenced both the prisoners to 21 days hard labour.

    The 19th c equivalent of an ASBO?

  2. They were pretty free handing out hard labour in the nineteenth century, certainly.

  3. Having kept horses most of my life, all I can say is they must have taken a LOT of hair from the horses' tails to make them noticably disfigured! Bet they thought twice before trying that one again . . .

  4. It's very interesting to read the sort of punishments that were handed out in those days, or even the reasons people were punished lol