Newspapers in Suffolk
Volume 2 - from 1801 to 1825
It had taken over eighty years of local news publishing to produce what was now a truly local newspaper. The Ipswich Journal and Bury & Norwich Post were well established and publishing weekly what was to become the familiar mix of international, national and local news.
They were joined in 1801 by the Suffolk Chronicle & Ipswich Advertiser. This was a paper with entertainment very much in mind. Many a good story found its way into these pages.
Yesterday, two seamen belonging to his Majesty’s late ship Invincible, arrived at the Admiralty, having survived the rest of the unfortunate crew who went down in her by adhering to part of the quarter gallery, which broke away, for two days and nights, from whence they were providentially taken up by the brig Briton, of Sunderland.
Suffolk Chronicle: April 4th 1801
Mr. H. of London laid a wager he would cross the Thames in a washing tub at high water. About 11 o’clock he made the attempt, attended by four boats, and proceeded with much dexterity with his paddles until he got into the middle, when losing his balance, the tub upset, and Mr. H. was immersed in the surge, to no small amusement of the spectators.
Suffolk Chronicle: January 1802
One day last week, as the landlady of a public-house in Sheffield, who had been married in the morning, was feasting with her friends in a room up stairs, a soldier came into the kitchen, and asked for a pint of ale, which he drank, called for a second, and a third: the servant refused giving more than a quart without payment; the soldier loudly insisted on the other pint, when the maid went and told her mistress, cautioning her not to trust him; the bridegroom came down and expostulated with authoritative vehemence; a warm altercation ensued, which brought down the bride, who immediately recognised her former husband, who had been long absent, and whom she supposed dead. To him she renewed her allegiance, and discarded the other.
Suffolk Chronicle: February 20th. 1802
Local Stories, in particular court proceedings and inquests, were well reported...
On Sunday the coroner took an inquisition at Great Barton, on James Melle, who had been out to spend the evening, on Saturday, and drinking too freely was found suffocated, on his way home, the next morning.
On Wednesday last, Henry Warren, for sheep stealing, was executed here, pursuant to his sentence at the Last Assizes. He was 45 years of age, born at Rickinghall Superior and has left a wife and eight children; he conducted himself at the place of execution with great decorum, declaring his innocence as to the fact, till the moment he was launched into eternity. The same day, William Crick, was publicly whipped at the cart’s tail, according to his sentence.
On Saturday last, John Allen, John Day, Richard Grafton and James Chettleburgh were executed at Thetford, pursuant to their sentences. They were all devoutly penitent. Day confessed having committed four burglaries previous to that for which he suffered; and that he had deserted thirteen times from different regiments, and received the King’s bounty from each.
Suffolk Chronicle: April 1801
Unfortunately, the Chronicle met its demise after just 68 issues. It re-emerged in 1810 with the following grandiose announcement.
“This highly improved and improving county, increasing in population, extensive in commerce, approaching towards perfection in its agriculture and of growing intellectual character... are worthy of a newspaper such as this.”
There was to be a strong emphasis on publicity and advertising. Independence of view and accuracy of statements were promised,
“leaving every individual to form his own judgement. Opinion is free. It ought to be so. They [the editors] have no wish to intrude their opinions on other men.”
Suffolk Chronicle: May 5th 1810
This promise was not always fulfilled. Even the most trivial of local stories were now deemed newsworthy, but as the second of these two examples shows, editors found it hard to keep their opinions to themselves.
Fishing Lugger at Stowmarket
On Sunday evening arrived at the Quay, Stowmarket, the Independence fishing lugger, direct from Yarmouth, laden with fish; we notice this as being the first arrival of the kind since the navigable communication between the above place and the port of Ipswich. The cargo consisted of about 4000 mackerel, which found a ready sale, and went off at prices which were satisfactory to the owners.
A Quack Doctor has stationed himself, for these three weeks past, at the Bull public-house, at Bacton, in this county, and excites among the “great vulgar and the small,” more interest than usually accompanies the exercise of such effrontery and imposture. He is attended every day by 100 patients, or more, some of whom travel even in post-chaises, and many in one horse carriages to receive his filthy remedies, to be imposed upon by his medical jargon, and benefited by his drunken inspirations, - He makes, we understand, no charges, but, by working upon the credulous imaginations of his patients, he often wrings from the wretched, as a gift, that mite which is wanted to purchase them bread. Why sleep the parish stocks? Do not those persons, whose business it is to stop this fraud, know that by tacitly permitting, they become parties in the imposture?
Suffolk Chronicle: June 23rd 1810
If the Newspapers of the early 19th century are anything to go by, there was a morbid fascination with death, pain and suffering.
On Saturday last, a servant man to Mr. Roper of Wicken-Hall lost his life near Elmswell Church by the hind wheel of his master’s wagon going over his head on his return journey from Stowmarket. The man was imprudently riding on the Thilhorse and had left his companion behind him, drunk in a ditch.
Suffolk Chronicle: May 11th 1811
Between 6 & 7 on Friday morning a man named Charles Seaton, a journeyman gunsmith put a period to his existence at his lodgings in Fleet Lane by putting a small cannon, fixed on a wooden handle, into his mouth and, placing a lighted match into the touch hole. His head was blown to pieces.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 3rd 1802
The Chronicle, in June 1810, devoted two columns to a detailed account of “a Hindoo Widow” who had chosen to sacrifice herself on her dead husband’s funeral pyre. Reprinted from a Calcutta newspaper, this demonstrates how widely editors now searched for stories that might appeal to their growing readership. Her death agonies were recounted in full.
Wives were very much the possession of their husbands. Laws still existed prohibiting enticement, seduction and breach of promise. These are just a few of a number of articles which investigated all areas of marriage at the time.
A most immoral practice prevails in the town of Manchester since peace has been concluded. Several persons, particularly soldiers exhibit their wives in open market for sale like cattle. Last week, a woman was sold for 4½ pence while another fetched no less a sum than 15 shillings, as she was warranted not to be with child.
Suffolk Chronicle: June 19th 1802
A lady of great good sense having been lately told that her husband devoted his time out of doors to the company of five women, replied, “I am but little concerned about the manner in which my husband disposes of his heart all day, provided he brings it home at night.”
Suffolk Chronicle: January 16th 1802
Early on Thursday morning Mr. Graham Stedman, son of Mr. J. Stedman, of Ixworth had eloped with the beautiful daughter of Mr. Boldero, an opulent farmer of that parish. Mr. B. being informed of the circumstance immediately pursued the flying couple, when by the carelessness of the driver the chaise unfortunately upset, and Mr. B. was so dreadfully bruised that he lingered but two hours, when he expired.
Ipswich Journal: January 14th 1804
A very respectable little man, on Friday (the 13th inst.) preferred a complaint, against his unmanageable rib, in whom it seems the honey-moon once o’er he could discover honey no more - in lieu of that fond, tender, and animated affection; that nameless, yet expressive congeniality of sentiment, and harmonized regularity of feelings, opinions, and attachments, which should stamp the character of the true wife, in place of all these, fury was in her face; rage in her demeanour; fire flashed from her eyes; a tornado rattled from her tongue, and the poor husband had blows for dinner, thumps for breakfast, and kicks for supper - he piteously described the various cuffs, scratches, clawings, and roarings, that she had poured on his defenceless head, and the quantity of missiles which had been discharged on the same, on sundry occasions, she vowed, or rather screamed “in wildest accents,” that she would have his life; and proceeding to keep her promise, grasped a knife, with deadly purpose, with which she would have dispatched him, had it not fortunately chanced that he was enabled to disarm the fury. Disappointed in this, her passion found vent in another manner, and away went bottles, pokers, fire-irons, pots, kettles, saucepans, and stew-pans, against glass, window-frames, mirrors, pictures, and chinaware. Notwithstanding all that had occurred, this frail pattern of woman-kind, and poor sample of domestic tenderness, found favour in her husband’s heart, where she so little merited a place; he felt for her imprisonment in the watch-house; she had been confined there about fifty hours, and begged for her discharge; but lo! The moment she was emancipated, she fled home, and raised such a storm about the sufferer’s ears, that the poor man again sought the aid of the police and begged that his wife might again be secured.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 8th 1817
There is now living at Halsted, Essex, a man of the name of Smith in the 70th year of his age, who is the father of 29 children. The eldest and youngest are now living, the former a son 52 years of age, the latter a daughter, not yet 17 but married and has been a mother about 6 weeks. He also has 54 other grandchildren and 34 great grandchildren and is likely to have an increase.
Suffolk Chronicle: April 1817
Under this heading we are able to read about the case: Muskett v Gurney, whereby a claim for £10,000 was made as the defendant had... debauched the wife of the plaintiff by means whereof he was deprived of the benefit of her society.
Witness - Mrs. Muskett’s nursemaid recalled: her mistress and Mr. Gurney meeting at Intwood Hall near Norwich and entering a straw hut. When she entered she appeared cool, when she came out (½ hour later) she was warm and flushed and her bonnet was a little bent down before. The defendant had some cobwebs on his back. The straw hut is 9 feet long and open at the front and the witness had orders not to go in front. Though it was considered Mrs. Muskett had conducted herself with great impropriety, the evidence was not sufficient to enable the jury to convict Mr. Gurney of debauchery.
Bury Post: March 25th 1818
In November of 1824, the Bury Post reported a case which had recently come to trial at The Old Bailey. It involved two Suffolk ne’er-do-wells who saw marriage as the answer to their financial problems. John Mulley the younger and William Ennew were accused of using threats, fraud, abduction and perjury to secure marriages to two wealthy sisters, Catherine & Joanna Cooper of Harleston, near Stowmarket. Having encountered the girls at Stowmarket Fair, they arranged to meet them after church at Harleston one Sunday in August. The girls were only about 16 years old at the time. The young men were not much older.
The outcome was, the four eloped to Holborn, where they found lodgings, and by lying about their ages and the length of time they had lived there, the two fortune-hunters conspired to marry the two girls. Points of law meant that the only crime that could be proved was one of perjury. The marriages, for all that, were perfectly legal, though there were laws preventing Mulley & Ennew inheriting their wives’ fortunes by virtue of their deception.
The Judge said to the young men, in commenting on their crime, that all they could do hereafter to compensate would be to act with tenderness and affection towards the young ladies with whom they had connected themselves.
The two were bound by sureties to behave themselves, and released with no further sentence. We have, so far been unable to ascertain whether these marriages proved to be happy ones.
CAUTION - A Gentleman, lately on a visit at a friend’s house, was seized with uneasy symptoms in the stomach; when, having access to a family medicine chest, he took two bottles of a similar form, intending to take 3 drachms of tincture of rhubarb, and a few drops of laudanum; but he incautiously mistook the bottles, and took three drachms of the latter, with a small portion of rhubarb. However, he had scarcely swallowed the dose before he discovered the mistake, and by taking so large a quantity as two flasks of oil, some vinegar, and the early attendance of a medical Gentleman, the deplorable effects apprehended were happily prevented.
Suffolk Chronicle: September 27th 1817
Advertisements for patent medicines were common at this time. Often a certain delicacy of wording was necessary to conceal the true nature of what the product claimed to cure...
A DELUSIVE habit, generally learnt at Great Schools is the most destructive thing that can be practised. Young people should take time to consider, that every act of debauchery of this kind strikes deep at the root of the constitution, inevitably hastens many alarming diseases, and brings on all the infirmities of the most languishing old age, and finally premature dissolution.
DOCTOR SOLOMON’S CORDIAL BALM OF GILEAD is recommended to those whose constitutions have been impaired by such early imprudence...
It is much to be regretted, but indisputably certain, that many persons of both sexes are deterred from entering into the married state, by infirmities which delicacy forbids them to disclose; and there are not a few who, being already married, are rendered miserable for want of those tender pledges of mutual love, without which happiness in this state is at least very precarious. It has been ascertained beyond a doubt, that these circumstances are occasioned by a general or partial relaxation of weakness in either sex, and it is equally certain that the genuine AROMATIC LOZENGES OF STEEL are the best, if not the only remedy ever discovered for this species of debility... When the spark of life begins to grow dim, the circulation languid, and the faculties paralysed, these Lozenges are found to give tone to the nerves, exhilarate the animal spirits, invigorate the body, and reanimate the whole man...
When the delusion of imagination, or the force of bad example, have tempted unguarded youth into the dangerous labyrinth of secret sensuality, debilitated his body, and impaired his understanding; these Lozenges will protect him from lingering disease, the infirmities of premature old age, and a wretched dissolution, amidst the agonizing reflection of conscious guilt.
These two products, amongst others, were advertised in most local papers across the country for a number of years using similarly veiled messages as to their efficacy and value.
Meanwhile, diseases for which there was no known cure were given a fair amount of column space.
The following news may be interesting to anti-vaccinators:-
It appears that Vaccine inoculation will prove even beyond the most sanguine expectations a blessing to mankind. Intelligence from Constantinople recites its efficacy in averting the most dreadful of maladies, the Plague. More that 6,000 persons who had undergone the Vaccine inoculation had been in situations, which exposed them to the Contagion, but had not been in the slightest degree affected.
Ipswich Journal: October 29th 1803
A great scare was caused in the town of Ipswich by several cases of hydrophobia, when the Constables were appointed to walk the streets and secure all stray dogs, which if not claimed, were killed the next day. At a special vestry meeting held at St. Mary Elms, in connection with the relief of the poor, a resolution was passed, “that no relief should be granted to any person who keeps a dog.”
(Ipswich Journal: August 14th 1824)
There were plenty willing to dupe more gullible members of the public with reputed cures for all manner of complaints.
CAUTION: A few days since, a woman, pretending to be a doctress, and deaf and dumb, in company with a man, woman and three children stopped at a village in the neighbourhood of Newmarket when the 2 women called at a gentleman's house, where they sold some of their infallible medicines and partook of the gentleman’s ale, which to the astonishment of many, in 2 hours time made the dumb to speak and the deaf to hear! A tune on a violin was called for and she actually danced for it. The same woman was in that neighbourhood 2 years ago with another imposter who had an artificial ear.
Bury Post: August 25th 1813
The newspapers, meanwhile, were cautious about being used for free publicity by the medical profession, as this warning from a Bury Post of 1823 reminded doctors at the time.
Details of surgical operations written to show the ability of the practitioner, cannot be inserted in a newspaper, unless they are paid for as advertisements, and printed in that form.
Pictures were a rare commodity in old newspapers. When they did appear, it was usually to accompany adverts. As the size of newsprint shrank, these few illustrations helped to draw attention to what was being sold.
The fashionable places to visit
During the County Assizes, (usually held in March and July) the nobility and the gentry tended to gather at Bury St. Edmunds. As it had become fashionable to take the waters, several of the more genteel resorts along the East Coast drew such visitors. It will come as no surprise that Aldeburgh and Southwold were popular, but Yarmouth and Lowestoft too had considerable appeal for the elite of the time.
The fine weather we have lately experienced has caused a considerable influx of genteel company to this delightful and improving bathing place. The races commence to-morrow, and the number of horses named for the Gold Cup and Hunters Sweepstakes (both of which are filled) hold out a prospect of most excellent sport. Among the polite amusements of the place may be reckoned the theatre, the assembly room, bath rooms, and concerts. The promenades are of the most agreeable description. The beach for a considerable distance to the North and South, the jetty and denes, are the most favoured; but there is another which does not fail to attract particular notice, and that is the quay, which is admitted to be the finest, largest, and longest in Europe, being 1014 yards from the South gates to the bridge, and it is in some places 50 yards in breadth. In the middle of the quay a double row of trees has been planted, forming a delightful promenade.
Bury Post: August 18th 1823
Lowestoft, Southwold and Aldborough are this season much resorted to for bathing, but the former place boasts of much the most fashionable company and who are nearly every week entertained with a ball, which is kept up, in full glee, till beyond the approach of morning’s dawn.
Bury Post: August 25th 1813
It was common for titled gentlemen and their families to attend the Suffolk Assizes. This amusing tale appeared in the Bury Post following the Summer Assize of 1823.
A laughable incident occurred while the clerk of the Court was calling over the Commission of the Peace. When he came to John, Earl of Stradbrook, a voice very unlike an Earl’s answered ‘Here.’ It appeared it was a John Earl of STRADBROOK who was attending on business and thought he was called.
Bury Post: July 9th 1823
War and Peace
The early years of the nineteenth century were dominated by the on-off war with France. The great national heroes of their day received a number of mentions. In June 1802, Lord Nelson visited Ipswich as part of a fund-raising venture for the orphans of “those gallant men who died in the service of their country.” Sir Hyde Parker was the organiser.
Three years later, in November 1805, the Ipswich Journal reported... “the ever to be lamented death of Lord Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronte, the Commander in Chief, who fell in the action of the 21st in the arms of Victory, covered with glory, whose memory will be ever dear to the British Navy and the British Nation.”
(Lady Hamilton, whose name was so often linked with that of Nelson is referred to in a cutting from 1815 at the end of this book.)
The following article, appearing 20 days after the battle of Trafalgar, reminds us that in those days, editors waited for official notification of important events before going to press.
As well as mentioning the last order Lord Nelson gave before the action commenced - “England expects every man to do his duty,” there is the contemporary account of Nelson’s last moments...
...A few minutes before he expired, he ordered his captain to be called to him, and asked how many of the enemy’s ships had struck? The Captain replied that as nearly as he could ascertain, 15 sail of the line had struck their colours. His Lordship then, with that fervent piety which so strongly marked his character, as skill and courage, returned thanks to the Almighty; then turning to the Captain he said, “I know I am dying. I could have wished to survive to breathe my last upon British ground, but the will of God be done.” In a few moments he expired! He had been engaged in 124 actions with the enemies of his country. He lost an eye at Calvi and an arm at Santa Cruz.
Ipswich Journal: November 9th 1805
Napoleon Buonaparte appeared both as hero and villain at different times. Even when he was reviled, there appears to have been a guarded admiration for his achievements. This personal sketch appeared on June 12th 1802 in the Suffolk Chronicle.
Buonaparte’s day is made up of fourteen hours of almost uninterrupted labour. He gives very little time to sleep and recreation. His meals are abstemious, and quickly finished; but he drinks a great deal of strong coffee, especially during his nightly labours. “This mode of living (said his Physician lately to him) must ruin your health. You cannot long hold out under it.”
“How long do you think?” (said Buonaparte).
“Perhaps three years or so.”
“Well (replied the Consul), that is quite long enough for me.”
A walk in the Park, or half an hour at tennis, is his daily recreation. His natural bias leads him to avoid the crowd. His conversations, which do not turn on the great affairs of Europe and France, are extremely short. Of those trusted persons, known by the name of favourites, he has none. He never once allows the least appearance of influence to be exercised over him. In company, he is silent, and retired within himself. In the private circle of his own family, he is placid and agreeable, and never appears morose or insolent to his domestics. His behaviour to his wife is that of a Citizen, and by no means of a Parisian. Many tradesmen in Paris call their wives ‘Madam,’ and ‘you;’ Buonaparte thou’s his, and never calls her but by her Christain name, Josephine. She calls him, General and usually thou (tu). Speaking of him, she says, ‘my husband,’ or ‘the General’; but rarely, the Consul.
Suffolk Chronicle: June 12th 1802
As the threat of war grew, there were countless reports of military embodiments, and exercises involving a host of different regiments and local militias.
A tar barrel is fixed upon each of the churches of Lowestoft and Woodbridge in order to give the alarm, in case the enemy should effect a landing in the night time on the coast near there.
Ipswich Journal: September 11th 1803
The [Bosmere & Claydon] Corps was led by a circuitous route to Stowmarket, through passes, difficult defiles, by lanes, broad roads and open fields, in order to practice them... which they performed with astounding alertness and military precision. The men were then marched to the centre of the town and drawn up before the principal inn. There was a previous order sent to the publicans to provide a good dinner of roast beef and plumb puddings for the men; and while the billets were delivering out, the music played the Roast Beef of old England. They then marched back to Needham and were dismissed.
Ipswich Journal: February 25th 1804
After the defeat of Napoleon and his banishment to Elba, the peace celebrations rivalled those at the end of World War II. Local newspapers reported how each village celebrated what they believed was the end of war.
Stanningfield - The Festival held at Stanningfield on Thursday in commemoration of the Glorious return of Peace... has not been surpassed by any in the neighbourhood. At 11 o’clock in the morning, the whole of the resident poor of the Parish assembled at the Parsonage and after the arrival of the Rector and Principal Parishioners, a procession was formed, preceded by a select and excellent band to Hagget’s Green, a distance of about ½ mile, where the dinner was provided. The decorations on the Green of flags, flowers, shrubs, garlands, &c. quite exceed description, and which produced a sublime and beautiful effect; a more interesting one could not be seen in the London parks. In the centre of the Green is a fine piece of water, which served for an excellent purpose, not, however, for a sham naval action, but for a situation for the effigy of the great Emperor of Elba - an Island was made, and the effigy placed in the middle of it in a weeping position with the following appropriate inscription -- “My Armies, Ships, Colonies, Commerce, and Crown, Alas !!! all gone.” - this really had a good effect and was considered as far superior to the effigy burning system!
The representation of Wellington was placed in a very elevated state, but the regimentals appeared as if they had been worn during the whole of the Duke’s long campaign in the Peninsula; at all events a new suit was wanted.
At 2 o’clock, the poor of the Parish amounting to about 250, sat down to a substantial dinner of roast and boiled beef, plumb-puddings, and exceeding strong ale; part of which was from the cellar of G.R. Rookwood Esq. After the poor had dined, the Rector (the Rev. Thomas Image) the parishioners and their friends withdrew to a booth which was tastefully decorated with the foliage from the neighbouring fields, where an excellent dinner was served up to a company of 70, consisting of every delicacy of the season, and the choicest wines. The cloth being removed, the usual routine of loyal and complimentary toasts were drank with enthusiasm, some of them in six times six, and the National airs of “God Save the King” and “Rule Britannia” were sung with a pleasing harmony produced by at least 800 voices accompanying the band - after which the Olympic sports commenced, consisting of men and women racing, boys and girls racing, donkey racing, boys diving for oranges, and also in barley-meal for money, &c. jumping in sacks, a jingling match, and a pig hunt, which produced a considerable deal of amusement to all present. After the sports were over, a merry dance commenced by about 70 couple, who kept upon the “light fantastic toe” till the dawning of day summoned them to their respective homes.
Bury Post: August 3rd 1814
Their joy was short-lived as Napoleon escaped and returned, to a rapturous welcome, to Paris. Wellington was called upon to finish the job. Napoleon met his Waterloo and spent his declining years in exile on St. Helena. There were renewed celebrations following the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815.
A number of poems were published in honour of the returning heroes, many long and predictable. This is a short extract of one such poem, by someone whose initials were R.G.S.B.
...The fiend of Europe smites his breast
By lively fears and horrors prest
“It must not be - on, warriors, on!
It must be ours or we’re undone!
Myself will lead you - win or die,
Let Death or Vict’ry be the cry”
His voice a ten-fold imparts,
Rouses their pride, and nerves their hearts.
Another struggle! boldly on!
Behold, behold YOUR WELLINGTON!
Encircled your valiant walls
Your General to vict’ry calls
For LIBERTY and EUROPE fight;
Resist, resist, with all your might!
They stand - they falter - see they run
Confusion! - now the field’s our own.
What earthly honors can repay
The perils of this arduous day!
To thee, great instrument of Heav’n
Thy grateful country’s thanks are giv’n
Their hearts, their voices, and their love,
Thy glorious bright career approve,
To Heaven be paid our highest praise
For Heaven alone our fame can raise
In music’s hallow’d strain, let all rejoice
The GOD of BATTLES hail with swelling voice,
To him, the LORD of HOSTS and Victory
Be GLORY, POWER and MIGHT and MAJESTY!
Suffolk Chronicle: July 1st. 1815
However, voices were not unanimously raised in support of Napoleon’s defeat and exile. A well-known supporter of lost causes, Capel Lofft of Troston Hall, used his eloquence in letters to the editors of several Suffolk papers to compare Napoleon to Julius Caesar and predict his demise would be... “not only most calamitous to France but to the general equilibrium and interests of Europe.”
This touching comment appeared eight years later...
The Field of Waterloo no longer wears even a distant appearance of having, within a few years, been the scene of so much slaughter. The crops of corn produced there during the past harvest were more abundant than the oldest living man can remember, and the ground is again ploughed, and in part sown with wheat for the next year.
Ipswich Journal: December 6th 1823
Letters to the editor were becoming a means by which dissonant voices could be heard. In March 1818 Capel Lofft again wrote at length to the editor of the Suffolk Chronicle on the subject of... “the system for meliorating our criminal law.” The severity of punishment meted out in courts of law, he believed to be too great by far...
“Some reform has been lately made by abolishing the punishment of the pillory; except in perjury; and the shameful practice of publicly whipping women. Privately whipping ought to have abolished at the same time. And indeed this punishment of whipping ought not to exist for men; as being destructive of shame and self respect and contrary to the decency and humanity of law.”
His other gripe was the readiness with which judges recorded sentences of death against prisoners. At this time, the death penalty could be imposed for over 150 offences. It was certainly illogical that so many sentences of death were recorded at a time when hangings in the county were rarely more than one or two a year. In 1825 at the Lent Assize in Bury, 16 sentences of death were recorded in one week. They were all commuted to imprisonment or transportation.
Capel Lofft was of the opinion that the authority of man to take away the life of man... “unless in cases of manifest or extreme urgency” ...was questionable at the least.
This was a time of reform, and it is not unusual to find substantial amounts of column space devoted to social issues. The plight of the poor was beginning to draw attention. It was estimated in the Ipswich Journal that in 1804, there were 15,000 beggars in London. Donations to the local poor by local benefactors were well documented...
Mileson Edgar Esq. gave his annual contribution of meat to the labourers in the district; the children of Tattingstone Sunday School were entertained by Thomas Burch Western Esq.; the poor of Brantham & Bergholt received blankets. The poor of Wattisfield had coals distributed amongst them and at Horningsheath, 400 poor persons were fed at the expense of Rev. H. Hasted.
Ipswich Journal: Christmas 1823
MISERIES of INFANT CHIMNEY-SWEEPERS.
Did not facts stare us in the face, who would have believed that the cruel practice of compelling poor children, of five to eight years old, to sweep our chimneys, was tolerated in this land of liberty and refinement?
The miseries which these friendless infants endure, are hardly to be conceived, much less to be described. Forced by their merciless masters or mistresses to climb chimneys at an age when their bones are in a soft and growing state; and to carry bags of soot, too heavy for their tender years, and frequently for a great distance and length of time, often occasions deformity in the joints of their ankles and knees. It is also observed by medical men, that chimney-sweepers are subject to inflammation in their eyes, from the soot lodging in their eyelids; as well as to sores on their bodies, for want of cleanliness; and particularly to a complaint called the chimney sweeper’s cancer, arising from the same cause.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 8th 1817
For the agricultural labourers of Suffolk there were problems nearer home associated with low wages, the high price of food and the introduction of threshing machines that could work faster and more efficiently than a number of men. Between 1816 and 1818 these cases were typical.
Quarter Sessions, Ipswich
Dan Colinwood, Jos. Cook, Sam Page, Thos. Seager, John Driver, Jer. Lucas, Geo. Sells, Nat. Turner, Wm. Mason, Jos. Glanfield, Robt. Gooch, Martin Gosbeck, Zadok Bailey and Robt. Payne were charged with the breaking of a threshing machine at Holbrook in August 1815. All were found guilty and sentenced to 6 - 9 months imprisonment.
Suffolk Chronicle: January 13th 1816
On Sunday and Monday last, about 40 or 50 of the labouring poor assembled in a body at Norton and went to the parish officers complaining of the lowness of their wages, and soliciting that the wages of all of them, single as well as married, might be made up to 1s 6d. per day.
Suffolk Chronicle: April 27th 1816 (the paper then cost 7d)
The Norton group were lucky. Such a gathering could easily be interpreted as a riot. At the August Assize in 1817, fourteen Cowlinge ‘rioters’ were discharged on the assurance not to repeat their actions. Two years earlier, “a group of vociferous and tumultuous rioters at Gosbeck destroyed two threshing machines.” The newspaper commented, “We deplore such shameful and disgraceful conduct.” (Suffolk Chronicle: Feb 1815) One month later, at the Bury Assize, they were all sentenced to one month’s gaol.
Hunger led to further crime. At the Assize of March 1818, the majority of cases for trial involved the theft of corn from farms by starving labourers.
Amongst a range of crimes from the time, the majority of which involved petty theft of one kind or another, we found these...
On Monday night, Robert Banks was convicted before Samuel Thorndyke and Henry Seekamp Esqs. in the penalty of 20 shillings for driving a wheelbarrow on the footways in this town [Ipswich] contrary to the statute.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 4th 1815
John Copping and John Hammond, servants of Mr. Geo. Simpson of Stonham Aspall were convicted and fined 10 shillings each for driving their master’s wagons furiously upon the King’s highway.
Suffolk Chronicle: February 3rd 1816
On Friday night last, some evil-disposed persons committed several depredations in Newmarket, and on Saturday night, the same party (it is supposed) broke into the cellar of Mr. Pettit, but did no injury except turning the tap in the beer cask topsy-turvy, and carrying the shutter and bolt into a neighbouring field where they were found next morning.
Bury Post: July 9th 1823
Jacob Cohen, an Egyptian Jew from Cairo, was indicted for stealing a coat from John Cuthbert of Finningham, stealing a slop, a pair of breeches and a pair of buskins from Thomas Frost of Gislingham. As there were three other indictments and he had been before the court four times previously, he was sentenced to 7 years transportation.
Suffolk Chronicle: October 1825
It having been represented to the Magistrates of this Town, that divers persons are in the constant practice of opening their Shops, or of exposing at the Windows for Sale, on the Lord's Day, Fruit and other Articles:- The Magistrates do hereby strictly forbid such practices in future. Great Irregularities having been permitted to continue in Public Houses at unreasonable hours:- The Magistrates have resolved to use their utmost exertions to suppress these insufferable evils; and do hereby order that the Public Houses within this Town, and the Liberties thereof, be closed at the hour of Ten o'clock on Saturday nights, and at the hour of Ten o'clock on other Nights and require the Constables of the several Parishes to be very attentive and vigilant in their Duty; and to give information to them of all persons offending in any of the cases above mentioned, that such breaches of public decorum may meet with exemplary punishment.
By Order of the Magistrates
S. JACKAMAN Town Clerk
Ipswich Journal: February 7th 1824
The Bury Post for March 11th 1818 reported the theft of a large number of Library Book Plates from Bury Library. Optimistically, they stated, “It is however hoped that effectual means will now be taken to recover the property, detect the delinquents and prevent the repetition of such shameful conduct.”
The lack of success in coping with crime, led to groups being formed to detect and prosecute felons...
In consequence of the many robberies committed in Woodbridge and its neighbourhood, a patrole has been appointed from 6 o'clock in the evening to the same hour in the morning.
Ipswich Journal: March 2nd 1805
The Family from Hell?
In the court records for July 1820, six different members of the Rayner family were tried for four separate crimes around Mellis and Thrandeston. Two were acquitted, three imprisoned and one transported.
Significant problems nationally, involved the forging of bank-notes, a crime which could lead to execution. Between 1816 and Feb. 1818 there were 288 prosecutions for forgery, 57 of which attracted the death penalty.
Though most of the population were unable to vote, passions ran high at election time. In the July election of 1802, at Liverpool two men were shot and the offender trampled to death by the mob. At Westminster, the Suffolk Chronicle described “a dreadful scene of riot, several people dreadfully hurt and one life is said to be lost.” Similar reports came from all over the country.
Serious crime such as murder was rare. That was probably why it drew such attention when a major case came to court.
Ann Arnold was capitally convicted of the wilful murder of her bastard child, a boy between 4 & 5 years old, (about the 10th Feb. last) by deliberately taking off his clothes, with the exception of his shirt, and throwing him into a pond covered with bushes, in a field in the parish of Spexhall, whereby he was drowned; the body was not discovered till near three weeks afterwards in a putrid state, and then in a most extraordinary providential manner, by a boy keeping sheep in the same field, who observed one of his flock looking stedfastly into the water and making a noise, which attracted him to the spot.
She was sentenced to death on Friday, and immediately conveyed from hence to Ipswich gaol in a post chaise; was there executed on Monday last, apparently exhibiting a penitent behaviour, amidst an immense concourse of spectators, and her body delivered to the surgeons to be dissected and anatomised. - For a more enlarged account of this atrocious murder, our readers are referred to the Trial at large, accurately taken in short-hand, and published by an inhabitant of this town.
Bury Post: March 31st 1813
Some cases, however, were clearly published for their amusement value alone.
In consequence of a complaint from a number of respectable inhabitants in the neighbourhood of Hampstead, a female fortune-teller was yesterday brought before the Magistrates at Bow-street. The Officer who apprehended her, described her residence to be frightful and disgusting; and, to strengthen the idea that she dealt in witchcraft, she had in the room with her, two owls, a jack-daw, and a guinea-pig. A pack of cards was produced, ornamented in a very uncommon and frightful manner, some of them representing the devil, hell, etc. The Magistrate, on examining the cards, always cut the seven of diamonds, which was no doubt contrived to deceive the ignorant. She was committed as a rogue and vagabond.
Suffolk Chronicle: February 20th 1802
Poachers, Gamekeepers, and Spring-Guns
At the Ipswich Quarter Sessions Joseph Dale brought an appeal against a former verdict of Guilty for poaching at Crowfield. It was not upheld and he was sentenced to six months in Botesdale Bridewell.
Suffolk Chronicle: January 13th 1816
On Wednesday week, a desperate affray took place at Parham Wood. Four of Mr. N. Barthrop's men (of Hacheston), were sent by that gentleman on the look-out at his coverts, and to assist the keepers of F. White Esq. whose coverts adjoin, if their services should be wanted. About 12 o'clock at night, whilst on this duty, and before they had joined the keepers, a party of four poachers fell upon them, wrested a gun from the hands of one of them, and knocked three of them down. The skull of one of the men was fractured, and the others were much injured. The poachers then made off, early the next morning four men were taken up, and carried before the Magistrates, but three of them, it appeared, were not the right men. One of them however, impeached his companions, and they have gone away. Three of the poachers, we understand, belong to the parish of Charsfield, and the other to Kettleburgh. Our correspondent informs us that half the labourers in these parishes are poachers.
Ipswich Journal: November 8th 1823
POACHERS - A terrible affray happened yesterday week, at night, in a wood belonging to John Vernon Esq. at Wherstead. A gang of poachers, armed with guns and bludgeons, dangerously wounded two of the keepers, by firing at them with balls, and several others were dreadfully wounded and beaten. Mr Vernon has offered a reward of £500 for the discovery of the offenders.
Suffolk Chronicle: January 17th 1818
Some weeks ago, a man of the name of Crannis, was convicted in the sum of fifteen pounds, for having been found on the lands of Mr. Newton, of Elden, with three hen Pheasants in his pockets; he being a person not qualified to kill game; and for non-payment of the penalty was committed to the gaol here for three months; on his arrival at the prison, he was put into the receiving ward, to be examined, as is the usual mode, before admitted into the interior of the gaol; he was left there alone nearly half-an-hour; during the time he amused himself by drawing three pheasants upon the walls with a piece of charcoal, and writing under them the following lines;-
I am a carpenter by trade, I never was incroaching,
I had no work, no money, which made me go a poaching,
Three hen pheasants I had got, and homeward I was making
Two fellows stop’d me on the road, so poor Joe was taken;
Then to the Justice they did bring me, with him I could not
For my mittimus he did sign, and sent me off to gaol
The pheasants I should have caught, I have now left for store,
And this summer if they have luck, they’ll breed plenty more,
And as soon as ever the next season do come in,
If I am alive and not confined, I shall be ready to begin,
And if that I am taken again, the money I will pay.
For I shall never stand for money, while pheasants look so
Bury Gazette: April 3rd 1822
Using the technology available to them, gamekeepers set lethal traps known as ‘spring-guns.’ They were as much of a danger to those that set them as to poachers or unwary travellers. In one spring-gun accident at Brettenham Hall, George Davey, gamekeeper to Miss Wenyve accidentally triggered his own trap so... “the contents of the gun lodged in various parts of his own body from head to foot.” (Suffolk Chronicle: March 25th 1818)
The Suffolk Chronicle of April 2nd 1825 described how such accidents appear to have been commonplace on a certain estate in Bildeston.
A poor woman, a stranger from Needham lost her way in a wood called Scapes Grove and set off a spring-gun by treading on a wire. Fortunately, her thick clothing protected her from serious consequences. Shortly after, the gamekeeper responsible for the gun, by the name of Scott, in a wood called Muckenger, fell foul of his own spring-gun, “receiving the contents principally in one leg. The man being in a bad habit of body, a mortification soon followed and his limb above the knee was amputated.”
A third accident involved the landowners themselves, Richard Wilson Esq. and his son-in-law Mr. Oxenden who received the contents of another spring gun in their knees and thighs. “...the family surgeon was sent for, who extracted several of the shot but many were out of his reach.” Ironically, referring to forthcoming legislation, the article ended with the words, “In a month or so the law, it is hoped, will deprive Gentlemen of the pleasure of shooting themselves.” They were warned, however!
The Ipswich Journal carried adverts warning people to stay out of woods at Polstead and Wherstead as spring guns and man-traps had been put there.
As they do today, newspapers competed with one another for attention-catching stories. Without a doubt, the Suffolk Chronicle found the best of the tall tales.
The following singular circumstance took place a few days ago, at the Royal Navy Asylum, at Greenwich. - A female child, five years of age was sent anonymously to that establishment with an intimation that £50 in bank notes were sewed up in the child’s clothes, which were accordingly found. The following account of the birth, parentage and education of the little foundling was also given. The father was described as a seaman on board a British man-of-war, and however unusual it appears, that his wife, from some cause or other was permitted to go to sea with him. The tar was killed in action, and the day after his death, his wife was delivered of a female infant under one of the guns and almost immediately expired. The child was taken care of by the messmates of its deceased parents, and fed with biscuit and water; all of them acting the part of nurses, by turns, and carefully removing it from hammock to hammock when they were called upon duty. On the ship’s arrival in port, the £50 above mentioned were collected among the ship’s company and the object of their bounty transmitted to the asylum. The child, which is remarkably healthy, has been baptized ‘Sally Trunnion.’
Suffolk Chronicle: May 19th 1810
A GOOD STORY
An almost incredible tragic event lately happened in a Hanoverian country town. A mother of three little children threatened one of them in the presence of the other, in a joking manner, to cut off its nose, for some naughty trick, which it had got a habit of. Soon after, she was busy downstairs in bathing the youngest child, who was ill, but hastens upstairs on hearing a dreadful cry in the upper part of the house, and meets, on the stairs the eldest child who tells her he has executed the threatened punishment upon the other child, who had again been guilty of the same trick. In her anger she pushes the child so that he falls down the stairs, finds the maimed child, swimming in its blood in the agonies of death, rushes downstairs again, finds the other child lifeless at the foot of the stairs, totters into the bathing room, finds the youngest child suffocated in the bath, and hangs herself shortly after in the extremity of despair!
Suffolk Chronicle: April 13th 1816
Mrs B, a respectable old lady, residing at the West End of Oxford, returning from church, a Sunday or two ago, called on an undertaker, and saying she had not long to live, wished to know what he would charge for burying her. They fixed a price of £50. The next day she died and was buried in the family vault.
Suffolk Chronicle: September 28th 1811
A SERIES OF MISFORTUNES. - A farmer, residing at Chediston, in this County, lately lost a child, very suddenly, it having been found by the mother, dead in the cradle, in which she had laid it a short time before, in apparent good health. She was so much affected by the loss, that her husband sent her on a visit to her mother, in hopes that a change of scene might restore her spirits. A few days after her departure, the remaining child, who was between five and six years old, was found drowned in a pond near the house. This affliction, added to the former, nearly broke the heart of the unfortunate mother. On Tuesday, the 30th ult. the farmer’s house was discovered to be on fire; every assistance was immediately given, and it was extinguished without doing much damage; but it was soon discovered that it had been wilfully set on fire by the servant, who had been nursemaid to the two children. She confessed that she had set fire to some straw in the apple-chamber; that her life was a burthen to her, and that she committed the act in the hope that she might be hanged for it. This has given rise to a suspicion that she destroyed one, if not both, of the children, but no proof can be brought of it. She is now in Beccles gaol.
Suffolk Chronicle: January 17th 1818
In 1821, the Bury Gazette was first published. Coming out on a Wednesday, instead of a Saturday, it probably drew its audience from those readers of the established Saturday papers. Later to become the Suffolk Herald, and finally to merge with the Bury Post, it was widely distributed across all the counties of East Anglia. Improved Turnpike Roads and increased speed of the Suffolk stagecoaches enabled a faster distribution to all corners of the region.
There was tremendous competition between the rival coach companies. Papers from the early 1820’s often carried adverts for 4 or 5 different coaches, including the Marquis Cornwallis Coach, Norwich Day Coach, Phenomena Day Coach, Self-Defence Day Coach and the Original Day Coach. Selling points were speed, comfort, price and safety. They communicated with the famous London Coaching Inns such as the Golden Cross (Charing Cross), Black Bear (Piccadilly), Bull Inn (Aldgate), Angel Inn (Strand), and the Swan with Two Necks (Lad Lane, London)
The Suffolk Gazette included local reports covering a far-flung area. It remains an excellent source of local information.
On Thursday last, at Stowmarket, during the time of market, a horse in a cart set off in the midst of the people who were assembled in the street, and killed a youth on the spot. A child in the cart was fortunately snatched out. The unfortunate boy was 14 years old, son of a labouring man of the name of Barker, who lives in the hundreds of Essex, and nephew of Mr. Nunn, a jobber, at Stonham. A woman, from Hitcham, was also much hurt. The horse and cart belong to Mr. Moore, of Newton (late of Foxhall) and were left by the servant, whilst he stepped into a shop for some goods.
Bury Gazette: October 31st 1821
Stories about the Weather
The violent and unpredictable nature of the British Climate
has always thrown up newsworthy items. The Bury Post of May 6th 1818 described how heavy rain had led to the collapse of Stoke Bridge in Ipswich (pictured below). One unfortunate man was drowned.
The warm summer weather that followed in July of that year drew fashionable people to take the waters at Aldeburgh. The Ipswich Journal of 1804 reported extraordinarily hot weather for the month of September, with afternoon temperatures in the seventies and eighties thirteen days running.
Storms, often described as tempests, brought about reports of shipwrecks around the coast and damage inland.
On Sunday morning a large North-country vessel went ashore at Sizewell Gap, nearly opposite the old chapel. The vessel foundered and the crew took to the rigging. They were observed from the shore, but no one dared venture out to their relief, till Wm. Tuffnell, Esq., of Leiston went down and offered his services at the hazard of his life, which had the desired effect... and saved the crew, consisting of 16 men and one woman.
Ipswich Journal: January 7th 1804
We thought we could not take a better step [at Lowestoft] than to attempt to raise by subscription a fund sufficient to establish one or more lifeboats.
Ipswich Journal: October 13th 1804
On Wednesday se’night, about five o’clock in the afternoon, amidst a tremendous storm of snow and hail (coming up from the North), a sudden hurricane arose, when a post windmill at Laxfield was blown down and dashed to atoms, and to the astonishment of all who witnessed the amazing and tremendous crash. Mr. Henry Garrard had stopped the mill and being upon the threshold of the mill in the act of descending the stairs, which instantaneously broke, and the mill run upon her peers and fell, and Mr. G. within the midst of her ruins, but the door being left open (outward) and falling exactly perpendicular, and the bearers of the peutice sticking into the ground and becoming shores with the door, which prevented the tail end of the mill falling flat on the ground. In which small space Mr. G. made his providential escape, without sustaining the least bodily harm, being thrown under the doorpost, which space was not more than 2½ feet from the ground; at the same time the wheat, barley, beans, and weights, which were in the mill, fell in the space of the door-way where Mr. G. was standing the moment before.
Ipswich Journal: March 13th 1824
On Wednesday evening, a young woman of the name of Susan Bloomfield, set out from Livermere for Bury, when, after passing some hours in endeavouring to resist the force of the wind, she was at length carried a very considerable distance over Fornham Heath into a ditch, with such violence as to nearly deprive her of her senses, where she remained throughout the night, exposed to the torrents of hail and rain. Fortunately, the water was not deep, and some time before daybreak, she was found by a poor man who humanely relieved her from her perilous situation, and conveyed her to a place of shelter.
Bury Post: March 11th 1818
By the high wind of Thursday se’nnight, two of the chimnies of Orbell Oakes, Esq at Bury, were blown down, beating in the roof, breaking the glass, and otherwise damaging his dwelling-house in Guildhall-street - the garden wall of Mrs. Palmer, at the back of Northgate-street, was blown down, and a child’s leg broken by the fall - a chimney at the King’s Head Inn was blown down, and breaking in the roof of the chamber, it was with difficulty that Mr. Oldham, the landlord, escaped the danger. Numerous other houses at Bury sustained similar damage in their roofs. Several beautiful trees on Sir Charles Bunbury’s lawns at Great Barton were snapped asunder. The windmill at Cockfield, and several others in the neighbourhood, suffered materially. The great barn at Hornings-heath, measuring 112 feet by 40, was nearly all blown down; - a barn at Rushbrooke; two others at Chedburgh and Shimpling-hall; others at Hawstead, Lavenham; Thorpe Morieux, and Hundon, are all said to have been either partly blown, or materially injured in the roofs. Numerous stacks of corn and stover were blown down in most parishes.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 8th 1817
The same newspaper described more fully the problems of Thos. Collen, miller of Wetherden, whose newly renovated mill was destroyed in the storm... “a subscription is proposed to save an industrious man with a wife and two children from poverty.”
The following advert appeared on the front page of that paper.
The Humble Petition of THOMAS COLLEN, of Wetherden, Suffolk, Sheweth:- That on Thursday morning the 27th of February, his Mill was blown down by a dreadful gale; and the Stones and other parts thereof so much shattered, that upon a moderate estimate, it will cost the sum of £330 to replace the same, without taking into account the loss of trade.
Your Petitioner also begs leave to inform you, that he is unable to defray the expences of replacing the said Mill, and that he and his Wife and Family must, without assistance, be reduced to poverty.
Your Petitioner therefore, in consideration of his circumstances, prays the assistance of a generous and charitable Public, to enable him to alleviate, as much as possible, that distress which was so unexpectedly brought upon him; trusting that his character will, upon enquiry, merit support.
Perhaps the most dramatic of all was the dreadful storm of August 1824, when... “ice, large as walnuts dropped,” giving the appearance of... “a curtain falling from the sky”. At Fornham, corn was... “completely stripped off the stalk; a hundred acres of turnips were washed away, swedes cut to atoms.” Ice was described as being... “four feet deep in some hollows.”
Wildlife suffered too...
At Sir Henry Bunbury’s farm at Great Barton, fifty brace of partridges were found dead, killed by the force of the hail storm.
Suffolk Chronicle: August 12th 1824
A number of stories appeared during this period involving extreme weather and wildlife.
The following extraordinary circumstance occurred at Leybourne, near Malling [Kent] on Thursday 19th [January]. A boy in the service of Mr. W. Newman miller, at Leybourne went into a field of his master’s called the Forty Acres and saw a number of rooks on the ground, very close together. He made a noise to drive them away, but they did not appear alarmed: he threw snowballs at them, to make them rise, but they still remained. Surprised at this apparent indifference, he went in amongst them, and actually took up 27 rooks. He also picked up, in several parts of the field, 93 larks, a pheasant and a bustard. The cause of the inactivity of the birds was a thing of rare occurrence in this climate; a heavy rain fell on Thursday afternoon, which freezing as it came down, so completely glazed over the bodies of the birds that they were fettered in a coat of ice and completely deprived of the power of motion. Several of the larks were dead, having perished from the intenseness of the cold. The Bustard being strong, struggled hard for his liberty, broke his icy fetters, and effected his escape.
Ipswich Journal: February 11th 1809
Newspapers of the time, with the benefit of hindsight attached messages of caution to reports of accidents and most inquests. For example, warnings were regularly given against riding on the shafts of wagons, particularly when intoxicated, wearing loose-fitting clothing when in close proximity to machinery and taking particular care of fire and poisons.
The Bury Gazette of February 20th 1822 cautioned against wearing copper insoles in shoes –
Three respectable individuals have recently lost their lives in this neighbourhood, from the mischievous practice of wearing sheet copper in the heels of their shoes to keep their feet warm and dry, as it often happens that the inner soles give way, in which case the perspiration of the feet acts upon the copper and communicates to the system an active and dangerous poison.
A fire occurred at the farmhouse of Mr. Cason of Yaxley; it destroyed the house, barn, stables cowhouses, 11 pigs, a calf, and 50 coombs of corn. The fire was occasioned by the singular carelessness of a servant in lighting a copper fire with pea straw, which she obtained from a stack, leaving a train behind her, which immediately the fire was lit, ignited and communicated to a rick of pea straw, thence to the buildings.
Ipswich Journal: April 7th 1804
The church of this town [Southwold] had, a week ago, nearly fallen a sacrifice to the stupidity and carelessness of the plumbers who were repairing the leads, on which a fire literally was kindled, with the precaution only of a little mould underneath. The consequence was, the fire communicated to the timber underneath, unperceived by them, but which, fortunately was observed by a carpenter at work in the church. While the fire was making a rapid progress, a supply of water was instantly obtained, the leads stripped off, and the demolition of this fine and venerable fabric was providentially averted. We insert this as a caution, if any were wanted, after the recent instances of similar accidents to the Cathedral of Norwich, St. Paul’s, Covent Garden and Westminster Abbey.
Ipswich Journal: August 25th 1804
Accidental damage was not the only problem affecting churches at this time. It is easy to assume everyone in the past was god-fearing and thefts from churches are a modern problem. This was not necessarily so.
Framlingham Church has been lately sacrilegiously broken open. This was effected by taking out part of a window in the North aisle. The parish chest being too well secured to be forced, was turned on one end, and a hole cut in the bottom by means of a centre-bit, and the chest used by the sexton was forcibly broken open. The Communion Plate appears to have been the object of the burglars, but this never being kept in the Church, they were disappointed of their prey, and left the place without committing further depredation. But afterwards the same men as is presumed, broke into the dwelling house of Mr. S. Wightman, where they took plate and other articles to about £10 in value.
Ipswich Journal: January 17th 1824
The Bury Gazette seems to have learned from the Suffolk Chronicle the value of news as entertainment. Whether we choose to believe this next story or not, it is at the very least, a good read.
Mr. Coke, of Longfield in the County of Derby is the father of several amiable and accomplished daughters. One of the tenants on his estate a young farmer of respectable address and attainments, had by the depression of the times become in arrears for his rent; his landlord sent for him and expostulated with him on the subject, and hinted to him, that with his handsome person he might easily obtain a wife amongst some of his richer neighbours, that would soon enable him to pay off his arrears and place him in better circumstances in the world. The young farmer listened to the advice, looked thoughtful, and departed. In a few days he returned again, and told his landlord he had been reflecting seriously on their conversation, and would his counsel. At this interview one of the daughters of his wealthy landlord was present. In a short time afterwards, it was discovered that the young farmer had effectually taken the hint, and by an elopement to Gretna-Green, had become Mr. Coke’s son-in-law.
Bets and Wagers
In volume 1 of this series, we described how sporting wagers were widely reported. They continued to be so.
James Bigmore, the Suffolk Pedestrian started on Monday the 1st, at Sudbury to go 50 miles in nine hours, on a half mile piece of ground, which he performed in eight hours and 50 minutes.
Ipswich Journal: March 6th 1824
A curious wager was decided a short time since by a baker at Whethersfield, who undertook for a bet of 1 guinea to drive his boar half a mile on the Turnpike road, between that place and Horseheath and to ride him back again within an hour, which he performed with great ease in 35mins.
Ipswich Journal: September 29th 1804
Wednesday, an uncommon fat man undertook for a wager of 5 guineas to pick up 100 stones placed a yard distance from each other in one hour and a quarter and the spot fixed on was the ring in Hyde-Park. He gathered up the first fifty in less than twenty minutes, but was so exhausted by the exertion that he was actually compelled to lay down. This was decisive of the wager, as he was incapable of renewing his labours with any chance of success. The party weighed at least 18 stone and occasioned an infinite deal of mirth to the by-standers; he seemed as if he was dissolving, the exertion having thrown him into a violent state of perspiration.
Didn’t he do well?
This curious account introduced the public to a singularly talented young man.
Brantham Church in this county having been recently repaired… has also received a further embellishment, in a large and handsome picture as an altar-piece painted under the permission of the Rev. Rector by Mr. John Constable of East Bergholt. The picture is in size 7 feet by 4 feet. The design is taken from St. Mark Chapter 10 - Our Saviour blessing the young children. The painting has been allowed by many who have seen it, to be a performance of great merit… and when considered as the unassisted production of a young artist from his own self-taught genius … is not a little creditable to his early talent and correct taste.
Ipswich Journal: August 10th 1805
Such accounts are fascinating and illuminating, but the best reports were always the most bizarre...
A Fatal and Horrible Feast
A few nights since, the huntsman of a gentleman, to whom the sportsmen of Devonshire are indebted for amusement, from one of the finest packs of foxhounds in the kingdom, hearing an unusual disturbance in the Kennel, left his bed, and went thither, without his coat, to ascertain the cause. No sooner had the unfortunate man crossed the threshold, than the dogs, who it would appear knew him only in his scarlet livery, sprang upon him, and completely devoured him, clothes and all, with the exception of the thumb of his right hand, on which grew a large callous from the pressure of the whip, and which, being probably too hard for mastication, was left to declare the dreadful tale.
Ipswich Journal: January 31st 1824
25 YEARS OF NEWSPAPER ITEMS
National debt statistics
The national debt, being 538,365,203 pounds, if the amount was in shillings, allowing 30 to be counted in a minute for 10 hours in the day and six days in the week, would require something more than 1917 years to count it - the weight of it in gold would be 5760 tons - in guineas it would extend in a right line 8092 miles and it would wholly cover upwards of 63 acres of ground.
Suffolk Chronicle: June 26th 1802
30 Guineas will be immediately given to any healthy man, between 18 and 45 years of age, to serve as a Substitute in the Army of Reserve, for the parish of St. Stephen, Ipswich; he must be 5 feet 2 inches high, and a native of Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk or Cambridgeshire, and it is particularly requested to observe that no person serving in the Army of Reserve is compelled to serve anywhere but in Great Britain, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, and Alderney.
Apply to the churchwardens of St. Stephen’s aforesaid.
Ipswich Journal: September 24th 1803
There is now in the barracks at Woodbridge, occupied by the Royal Lancashire Militia, a cat, which has brought up two young chickens. The circumstance happed as follows; some days ago a hen was observed sitting upon two eggs, and was frequently visited by one of the soldiers, till the hen was missing, supposed to be killed by a dog; he immediately took the eggs, and laid them under a cat and 3 small kittens, and to the surprise and admiration of a number of people, 4 days after, two chickens made their appearance, one of which has 5 claws on each foot, and the other only 4, the whole have lived together in the greatest harmony for this fortnight past; when the chickens go from the cat, she immediately fetches them back in her mouth, and is as fond of them as she is of the kittens.
Ipswich Journal: June 16th 1804
A Gentleman at Oundle, the other day, conceiving that one of his horses was rather tender about the fore-feet proposed that his son should sell him in the afternoon, previous to the fair, for 22£ to a horse dealer, and the bargain was concluded. Wishing however, to keep up his stock, he sent his son to the fair on the following day, to purchase another. After some hours spent in viewing &c. he fixed upon one in possession of the same dealer for which he gave 35 guineas. On his return home it was discovered he had bought the same horse he had sold the day before.
Ipswich Journal: March 9th 1805
At the execution of George Christian for horse-stealing he said, altho’ it might appear extraordinary that a man in his unhappy situation should attempt to offer an advise, yet he warned them against bad company, and particularly bad women, with whom he had lived a life of dissipation, drunkenness and debauchery, which led to his untimely end.
Bury Post: April 16th 1806
FIGHT between GULLY & GREGSON
The match between the celebrated Gully and Gregson, took place on Wednesday near the six mile bottom on the road from Newmarket to London, and it was one of the most obstinately contested ever witnessed... At five minutes past nine they set to. Current betting was 5 - 2 on Gully. After 25 rounds it was any body’s battle, as it was reduced to the game and constitution of the combatants who should win; they each were most hideously disfigured and scarely able to get off the knees of their bottle holders. Although the battle lasted 11 more rounds it would be superfluous to detail them... they met each other like two helpless men inebriated, and it was with the greatest difficulty that either could hold up his hands to stop or hit... Gully in this state, was still a favourite, and by an extrodinary effort of nature he gave Gregson a blow in the throat, the 36th round which prevented him from rising off the ground in time.
He lay in a helpless state, unable to move or speak for about 7 minutes. Gully, roused by victory leaped with joy. It would be difficult to say which was the most beaten. The seconds were as much disfigured by the blood as the combatants...Gully received a handsome subscription purse and Gregson was liberally rewarded as a game loser.
Bury Post: October 21st 1807
PROCLAMATION of the EMPEROR NAPOLEON
Soldiers! You have justified my expectations. You have made up for numbers by your bravery. You have gloriously marked the difference that exists between the soldiers of Caesar, and the armed Cohorts of Xerxes.
In a few days we have triumphed in the three battles of Tann, Abensberg, and Echmuhl, and in the actions of Peising, Landshut, and Ratisbon. One hundred pieces of cannon, 40 standards, 50,000 prisoners, 300 waggons harnessed for baggage, all the chests of the Regiments - such is the result of the rapidity of your march and courage.
The enemy, besotted by a perjured Cabinet, seemed no longer to preserve any recollection of us; their waking has been prompt; you have appeared to them more terrible than ever. Lately they crossed the Inn, and invaded the territory of our Allies; lately they presumed to carry the war into the heart of our country. Now, defeated and dismayed, they fly in disorder; already my advanced guard has passed the Inn - before a month is elapsed we shall be at Vienna.
From our Head-quarters, Ratisbon, April 24
Bury Post: May 17th 1809
An Irishman who was tried last week in the Quarter Sessions in Dublin was asked, “What he had to say in his defence?” To which he replied, “Nothing, and please your honour; for I’m not a spokesman like your worship; but I would thank your lordship to say what you can in my favour.”
Suffolk Chronicle: December 1810
A very singular discovery has been made at Colchester regarding the sex of a servant who had lived 30 years in a family in that town as housemaid and nurse. Having lately paid the debt of nature, it was discovered on examining the body that the deceased had been a male. No reason is assigned for his having assumed the female garb; and he had never excited suspicion, or been the subject of bets or law-suits.
Suffolk Chronicle: April 13th 1811
On Thursday evening last as Charles Moore (employed as a post-chaise driver at the Angel Inn, in this town) was returning home with a carriage from Euston Hall, he had not proceeded far when he found it neccessary to get off the box in order to adjust some of the harness: in doing which he slipped down, and unfortunately broke his leg. In this distressing situation he espied a creature which bore the human form, (we will not say a man) of whom he craved assistance; The fellow inquired which road poor Moore was going, and having ascertained his route, swore, as the later was not proceeding towards Brandon, he would not help him; and the unfeeling brute actually passed on, although the agonised supplicant proffered his watch and money by way of temptation. Thus, in a severe frosty night, the unfortunate cripple was compelled to remount the box as well as he could, and drive to the turnpike gate at Ingham (a distance of nearly 5 miles) where the keeper generously afforded that assistance which had before been so inhumanly refused him.
Bury Post: December 23rd 1812
On opening a vault in Windsor, a body was discovered, believed to be that of Charles I. In a leaden coffin, the unfortunate martyr’s body dripped blood as the head separated from the neck. His features were as perfect as when he had lived. The Prince Regent was invited to attend the discovery.
Suffolk Chronicle: April 10th 1813
We are authorised to contradict the marriage of Mr. Cullum of Hawstead to Miss Hobart of Ipswich as inserted last week, no such circumstance having taken place.
Bury Post: January 19th 1814
The death of Lady Hamilton has occasioned another example of French intolerance. It seems that in the village near Calais where Lady Hamilton died, there was no protestant clergyman, and as no catholic priest would officiate, on account of her being a heretic; but this is not all. She was even refused a Christian burial, and it is said, no coffin allowed her, the body was put into a sack, and cast into a hole. An English gentleman, having heard of this act of bigotry and barbarity, had the lady dug up and put into a coffin and interred, though not in the church-yard.
Suffolk Chronicle: February 18th 1815
DESCRIPTION of a COUNTRY FAIR
An inn full of people, a street full of boys,
Some listing for soldiers, some making a noise;
Races on donkies and ponies and mules
And pitching the coit and playing at Bowles;
Three or four donkey-carts driving a-main,
Ladies, worth looking at, holding the rein:
Here boxing and scuffling ’twixt man and wife,
There dancing away to the tune of a fife:
Three or four sailors singing a song,
Three or four drunkards reeling along;
Three or four special good watchmen on duty,
This is Whit-Tuesday - how does it suit ye?
Bury Post: July 3rd 1816
A curious incident occurred on the Royal Exchange on Friday. A real Bull gravely marched in soon after 12 o’clock, by the Cornhill Gate and, advancing to the centre, looked around him with great solemnity and consideration. The few persons who were engaged in transacting business respectfully gave way and retired to the porticos. He maintained his situation for an hour and was then dragged out at the tail of a cart.
Bury Post: December 23rd 1817
CONVICTION - On Wednesday week, the Magistrates at the Shire-Hall Bury, convicted Francis Brown and W. Hobbs, in the penalty of £4, for raising the water on the Navigation of the River Lark, higher than the top water marks lately established.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 21st 1818
Pycraft whose execution we announced last week, was as remarkable for personal as for mental deformity - his height from the crown of the head to the foot was only four foot two inches; his legs being only 18 inches long and his arms, exclusive of his hands, but 13½ inches, whilst the circumference of his scull was 23½ inches.
[Pycraft had been found guilty at Norwich Assizes of poisoning his wife Elizabeth by putting arsenic in her food and tea. He was acquitted of administering arsenic to his infant child.] Bury Post: August 25th 1819
A robber dressed in the shape of the Devil, with horns, tail &c. lately made an attempt to rob a farmer at York in Pennsylvania; but by the assistance of a pedlar, who happened to lodge there on the night of the attempt, His Satanic Majesty was secured, and put in irons, to await his trial.
Bury Post: July 19th 1820
On Wednesday last, the sexton of the parish of Martlesham, intending to adjust the turf around the grave where the wife of Capt. Foreman, of Woodbridge had been buried on the 11th inst, observed that some of the flags had been removed, and the earth strewed on each side of the grave. His suspicions being awakened by these circumstances, he immediately communicated them to the relatives of the deceased, who consented that the grave should be re-opened. The search proved that the body had been stolen, and that the coffin and shroud were left.
Bury Gazette: November 28th 1821
At a sale of autographs, the autograph of Napoleon Buonaparte fetched 18 shillings, the autograph of the late Princess Charlotte fetched £5.
Bury Gazette: August 1822
A melancholy instance of the precarious tenor by which we hold existence in this world was exemplified in the deaths of Mr. Robert Lloyde, of St. Mary Elms, and his wife. Mrs Lloyde died on Tuesday, after an illness of a fortnight, and her husband was so deeply affected with the loss he had sustained, that he expired at the very time the remains of his wife were consigned to the tomb, leaving behind three helpless children, one of whom is blind. Mr Lloyde and his wife were both in the 37th year of their age. They were both interred in one grave.
Ipswich Journal: December 6th 1823
Political Parties at this time wined and dined their supporters and the lists of the toasts drunk give a good indication of Political opinion at the time as well as the drinking capacity of the voting man. At the Reform Party dinner, among the 24 toasts drunk were…
“The King may he long reign constitutionally over a free people”
“The Land we live in, and may the Standard of Liberty ever wave triumphantly over it”
“The Liberty of the Press”
“The Cause of Liberty in Greece, may they Triumph over their Despotic Oppressors”
“The Dissolution of the Unholy Alliance of Despots, who are combined to darken and enslave the human race”
and “The Ladies of Ipswich.”
Among the 32 toasts drunk at the Constitutional Party dinner were…
“The King, God bless him”
“The Protestant Ascendancy”
“Prosperity to the Town and Borough of Ipswich”
“Sir P.B.V. Brooke - the Suffolk Hero”
“Mr. H. Bristow and the Freemen of the Independent Blue Club”
“Plenty in the Land, and Loyalty of the People”
“A long Pull, a strong Pull, and a Pull altogether.”
Ipswich Journal: October 2nd 1824
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