Newspapers in Suffolk
Volume 3 - from 1826 to 1850
For most of these twenty-five years, the Suffolk public had a choice of four newspapers. The Ipswich Journal, the senior publication, continued to appeal to the landed gentry and to promote the Tory cause. Though less entertaining than its rivals, the Journal still found room for wonderfully eccentric items like this within its pages.
The show of the Ipswich Cucumber Society was held this week. After a comparatively brief existence, it has now attained a distinguished celebrity in every part of the kingdom.
Ipswich Journal: February 10th 1844
The Suffolk Chronicle, younger and more dynamic, was a radical newspaper by the standards of its day, supporting the Liberal cause. It backed electoral and social reform and offered tales to titillate and entertain.
EYE - A new inn called the 'Nursery Ground' was licensed for the sale of beer and spirits. There was an opening dinner for Gentlemen, and tea and fireworks for the ladies, which were numerously attended by every gradation of tag, rag, and bob-tail. The day passed off far beyond expectation, only one lady having her dress burnt off by the fireworks, and one of the gentlemen guests, being suspected of having stolen two pint mugs, was searched and had his throat cut.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 7th 1838
From the Bury direction, another pair of newspapers vied for the public’s attention. The Bury & Norwich Post, which by 1832 was fifty years old, under the ownership of the Gedge family, valued its independence, but was, for all that, a champion of reform, and a strong supporter of the Liberals.
We have been informed that on Sunday fortnight, a sermon was preached at the Parish Church of Hawstead for the benefit of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, when an enormous collection was made amounting to threepence. The population of the parish is, we believe, about 480.
Bury Post: March 18th 1842
(The Bury Gazette of Feb. 21st 1827 had written:
“Satire is a very dangerous instrument in the hands of young people. They have often the inclination, but seldom the discretion to use it.”)
Capable of sounding like a modern tabloid at times, the Suffolk Herald had the advantage of being published mid-week. Not merely a champion of the land-owning elite, (“We will support the farmers and tillers of the soil.”) - the Herald was a Protestant newspaper and vigorously spoke out against the trend of allowing Catholics to enter Public life (“Catholic emancipation and suffrage will only lead to anarchy and revolution.”). It was known, variously, during this time, as the Bury Gazette, the Suffolk Herald and eventually as the Bury & Suffolk Herald.
A brute named Patrick Keefe was on Wednesday fined £5 at Hatton Garden Office for having literally bitten off the nose of James M'Carthy during a quarrel at a Public House. The unfortunate man had taken great pains to find his nose, under the impression it could be sewed on again, but he could not find it, and the prisoner boasted of having swallowed it.
Bury and Suffolk Herald: August 29th 1832
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
In February 1826, the Suffolk Chronicle reported the case of John Gilby, aged 13, who was indicted for… “assaulting Mary, the wife of John Clarke, of Lowestoft by throwing snowballs at her,” which, according to the evidence presented to the Coroner, was supposed to… “have accelerated her death.” He was sentenced to three months imprisonment.
Crime, great and small, featured large in the local news-papers of this period. County Assizes, Quarter Sessions, Borough and Petty sessions were all well reported, as were accidents, offences and inquests. If local crime was thin-on-the-ground, court reports from other parts of the country, especially if amusing or particularly bloodthirsty, would fill the columns instead.
The local papers in August 1828 had a field-day with the case of William Corder. There were ten counts in the indictment, accusing him of murdering Maria Marten by shooting, stabbing and suffocating her and burying her body in the Red Barn at Polstead.
The gruesome nature of the crime and the eager anticipation of Corder’s ultimate execution gave the Bury Post its greatest scoop of all time. The case was reported in full graphic detail. Even in death, Corder was the subject of avid curiosity, and souvenir hunters paid a guinea an inch for the rope that hanged him. Ghoulish collectors hacked away at Maria Marten’s gravestone, until nothing recognisable was left.
Less well known today, but equally enthralling in its day, was the case of the murder of nine year-old George Ansell of Milden, near Monks Eleigh. Shortly after William Corder had been ‘dispatched into eternity,’ the body of a boy was found in a field at Milden with his throat cut, and a labourer by the name of George Partridge was arrested. The case was significant, because it brought to light two problems still relevant in trials of this nature.
Firstly, the Bury Post reporter was banned from taking notes at the Inquest and warned against publishing anything that might prejudice a later trial. To begin with, reluctantly, the newspaper complied. However, when it became clear that the facts of the case were being widely discussed across that part of Suffolk, and comments had appeared in the Suffolk Chronicle, the Bury Post belatedly went to print.
The second issue was one of confidentiality. The defendant had made a confession, under a vow of secrecy to his parish priest, Rev. N. W. Hallwood. The Coroner was able to insist on his revealing the nature of that confession, though the rector had heard it on the understanding he would never divulge the information.
The Suffolk Chronicle described… “the distress, the agitation, and the tears with which the Reverend Gentleman submitted to the compulsion of the law,” observing the folly of making such a promise. For all that, it is likely that the Coroner’s jury would have found enough evidence to commit George Partridge to trial without Mr. Hallwood’s testimony. He received great sympathy from the Bury Post. Ironically, George Partridge, one of a family of eighteen children, had been a witness to the public hanging of William Corder. Less than a year later, he would meet the same fate.
Before his execution, he confessed to another murder he had committed a year earlier. The local newspapers of the day reported…
This wretched criminal paid the earthly penalty of his crimes on Monday last, without the wall of our jail. Although during the trial, the prisoner had exhibited no signs of feeling… We understand that he is believed by the Rev. Gentleman who attended to him in his last hours to have been really penitent - and to have mourned his guilt, not merely his detection… The rope was then fixed and the service read with great impressiveness. At the appointed signal, the bolt was withdrawn, and another victim to licentious indulgence of the passions was sent to his account. Not a single struggle was observed, except a slight heaving of the chest after a lapse of several minutes. (There is no description of the common practice of the executioner adding his own weight to the body by clinging to it to hasten the criminal's end) The multitude conducted themselves with propriety, so far as to refrain from any expression either of sympathy or execration, and very soon dispersed. The body was cut down after hanging an hour, and conveyed to the Shire-hall, when the public were admitted to pass through, the corpse being laid upon the table, with the integuments removed, so as to exhibit the muscles of the thorax.
In the evening, it was conveyed, in pursuance of a special warrant from the judge, to the Suffolk Hospital, where it will be dissected, and the preparations of various parts, will, we believe, be preserved.
Bury Post: April 22nd 1829
Confessions were usual, and, above all, expected from prisoners before they went to meet their maker.
In the case of William Twitchett, (also known as Turtchell), executed at Bury in August 1832 for violent burglary and assault at Stradishall Workhouse, he persisted in claiming his innocence to the last. The Bury Post of the time was anxious to re-examine the case to assure the reading public that they had not hanged an innocent man. Though his partner in crime, Gilly, had testified against him, courts then were very reluctant to accept such testimony unless it was accompanied by a good deal of corroborative evidence.
As it is highly important, for the moral efficacy of the punishment, that no doubt should exist in the minds of the public as to the guilt of this unhappy man, it may be right to bring to their recollection a few of the main points of the evidence. …It is, we think, quite impossible to come to any other reasonable conclusion than that Twitchett has suffered by a righteous judgement for one of the most ferocious attacks upon a defenceless unresisting woman that we ever remember.
Bury Post: August 1832
In 1835, the convicted murderer, Edward Chalker went to the gallows vehemently protesting his innocence, with the following words...
“I am not guilty of the crime for which I am going to suffer, nor do I know who did it. It will be found out when I am gone. Be careful, my friends, if ever you should be a witness before the Judge, what you swear to, when a man’s life is at stake. I die innocent and at peace with all. Goodbye, God bless you.”
Suffolk Chronicle: April 1835
The same article finished...
The customary preparations being finished, he was led to the platform, and at a quarter to one, the drop fell. He appeared to suffer greatly, as his struggles were protracted and severe. The horrible spectacle attracted a vast crowd of spectators; men, women and children, and many females were seen carrying their infants in their arms.
For all that, public hangings were down to about one a year in Suffolk after 1825 and though a verdict of death was recorded in hundreds of cases, it was commuted to one of transportation or imprisonment for all but the most serious of crimes.
When Charles Lovely (aged 21) and George Day (aged 18) were tried in March 1831 for breaking into the shop of Mr. John Woodward of Needham Market and stealing Irish linens and silk handkerchiefs, the Judge’s sentence included the words… “that their lives would be spared, but sentence of death would be recorded.” Instead, they took a one-way trip to Australia.
This was a national trend. Between 1824 and 1831, on average, only 58 felons were hanged each year in England, this being about one in every 23 unfortunate enough be sentenced to death. The Suffolk Chronicle of April 19th 1834 described how Newgate Jail in London intended to relieve one of its two hangmen of his position. On a wage of £140, he had been idle for a year, and ‘Jack Ketch Junior,’ as he was known, was surplus to their requirements. The Newspaper reported his appeal against his sacking on the grounds that... “vulgar prejudice will prevent his being employed; and if he does get employed, it will be in some low capacity where people are always reminding him of his former work.”
On the strength of this plea he was retained a while longer, though he became no more active.
Serious crime did not necessarily attract a heavy penalty. George White (aged 32), tried at Winchester on the 18th July 1828 for murder, claimed it was a crime of passion. He said he had… “killed Thomas Macdonald, whom he discovered in a criminal situation with his wife. …in the fury of his agitation and the first transport of passion he killed the adulterer.” The court accepted a plea of manslaughter. As he had already been held for one month, he was fined one shilling. According to the Suffolk Chronicle, great applause rang through the crowded court.
Thomas Dykes (aged 27) a labourer from Buxhall was charged in March 1846 with the wilful murder of John Barnes, Parish Constable. Somewhat the worse for drink, he had threatened the constable with a gun, before stabbing him. As Barnes did not die for nearly 10 weeks, consideration had to be given as to whether the wound had been the cause of his death. Courts at that time appear to have been scrupulously fair regarding such matters. Nevertheless a case of manslaughter was proved. The judge’s summing up was summarised as follows…
The prisoner had been guilty of very aggravated manslaughter, committed with the knife upon an officer of justice, bound to do his duty when the peace was in danger. The jury had taken a favourable view of the evidence, with which he by no means found fault. He should pass a sentence as severe as possible, with a view to put a check to the abominable practice of using the knife; the rest of his life would have to be spent in slavery abroad; the sentence was, that he be transported for the term of his natural life. The prisoner, who looked stupefied, was then removed from the dock.
Bury Post: March 25th 1846
He sailed with the convicts to Van Diemen’s land later that year and never returned. But he did not hang!
It is easy to assume that the criminal classes of the early 19th century had little chance of defending themselves in courts of law at that time. However, there were plenty of trials reported that show this to be untrue.
In the case of John Sadd and John Sadd the younger, charged with stealing a sheep belonging to Robert Clarke of Stuston, it was suggested that they had butchered the sheep, shared the mutton, put the entrails in a sack and dropped it in the river.
William Berry had found the sack when wetting his rake in the river, the court was told. The newspaper was typically uncomplimentary about the two defendants. “Old Sadd,” they said, “was reputed to have been oftener in gaol than in church in the last ten years; he appeared very ignorant and didn't even know what time of year Christmas was.”
However, one witness had died before the case came to court, and another had earlier threatened the defendants because they had “laughed at him for once being in Thetford jail.” The case fell apart and the two John Sadds were found not guilty. (Suffolk Chronicle: March 29th 1828)
When it came to catching criminals, to encourage the public to lend support to their local Parish Constable, rewards could be offered, ranging from a few pounds to hundreds of guineas.
DARING ROBBERY - TWENTY GUINEAS REWARD
WHEREAS, Three or Four persons in disguise entered the dwelling house of Mr. PHILIP HICKS of Wetherden, between the hours of Eleven and two, on Friday Evening the 7th, or Saturday morning the 8th of December, 1827, and after stopping about two hours they took away with them 6 silver tea spoons, 1 table spoon and a large silver tobacco box all marked P.H., capped silver watch, maker Thomas Moor, Ipswich and marked I.S. on both cases, with plain gold seal, gold key, metal key, and steel chain; a watch time-piece, maker Robert Hyland, No. 12,477; 1 pocket pistol, maker Lock; 1 horse pistol, 2 light coloured great coats, a new hat, sundry table and other linen, 7 silk handkerchiefs, counterpanes, copper teakettle, several notes of land memorandums, &c. Three persons were seen to go over Haughley Green, in the direction of Bacton, about 3 o'clock on the Saturday morning; one made a half turn when he was passed and another had a bundle at his back. Whoever will give information of the Offenders to the said Mr. Philip Hicks, or to Mr. Sellsby Hunt, Auctioneer, Woolpit, shall upon conviction, receive the above Reward; and if not convicted, all reasonable expenses will be paid.
Suffolk Chronicle: 15th December 1827
The three responsible for the crime that provoked this reward notice, in spite of clearly being guilty, were nevertheless advised by the judge at their trial to give themselves a chance by fighting the case. They persisted with their plea of guilty and were given the ‘full black cap treatment’ by way of death sentence. They still didn’t hang. Instead, James Peachey, George Leabon & William Alexander of Bacton were transported to New South Wales in July 1828.
Petty crime was rife and the punishment on conviction not always in keeping with the seriousness of the offence. However, harsh sentences awarded for minor misdemeanours often meant it was a second or third offence.
At Ipswich Borough Sessions, John Dalisson received six months hard labour for defrauding the overseers of Bacton of nineteen shillings for a coffin, pretending that a pauper belonging to that parish was dead when in fact he was alive.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 11th 1826
J. Cato and F. Bean, sons of carriers were sentenced to be transported for furious driving.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 1827
Jane Bexill, a traveller (32) stole a purse containing £5 from William Clarke at Cavendish Fair, having got him intoxicated. They had gone to a house where a lot of drinking was going on. She was given one month’s imprisonment. For a second charge of stealing a silver teaspoon, she was sentenced to 5 months hard labour. [Thefts from fairs were commonplace]
Bury Post: July 12th 1837
R. Bowers was sentenced to be transported for begging whilst pretending to have wooden legs.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 1827
Samuel Bush of Stradbrooke was transported for 14 years for stealing one oaken plank. [It was not his first offence]
Ipswich Journal: January 1844
William Newman was sentenced at the Ipswich Borough sessions to be transported for stealing a silk handkerchief from John Roberts of St. Clements, Ipswich.
Ipswich Journal: April 1831
Christopher Gross was transported for 7 years for stealing a muck fork and shovel from Henry Smith of Witnesham.
Bury Post: January 1834
William Dodd, aged 16 was sentenced to 7 years transportation for taking the hat of a schoolboy in Bury St. Edmunds.
Bury Post: March 1837
This last case, the transportation of a 16 year old was far from unusual. Child crime was a serious problem and though attempts were made at reform, sentences could be severe. Children as young as ten were indicted for crimes ranging from poaching to pick-pocketing.
Copy-cat crimes in particular brought very young criminals before the courts. In 1844, there was a succession of cases of arson and incendiarism, usually against farms, and often involving boys of 12 or under.
Incendiary fire at Naughton
George Garrett, (11) whose head was just visible above the bar, was convicted of having set fire to a straw shed in the occupation of Mr. James Cooper. He was convicted principally on his own confession; the fire being caused by Lucifer Matches.
Some of the witnesses spoke kindly in the poor child's behalf. They said he had ‘never been taught a letter in a book’ - that he ‘never had a new pair of shoes or stockings in his life’, and what was more afflicting than all was, that ‘he never had a friend’.
His Lordship summed up in his usual feeling and impartial manner, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty, but earnestly recommended the child to mercy.
Mr. Baron Alderson: Now my little boy, I shall, as the most merciful course, sentence you to transportation for 15 years, in order that I may place your case in the hands of Her Majesty's Government. I doubt not that your case will be more kindly attended to there than it has been by your parents and friends here.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 1844
George Garrett was given a more merciful sentence and was never transported.
FEAR OF FIRE
FIRE - Last night about 11 o'clock a fire broke out at the Fleece Inn Boxford. It is supposed to have originated by the carelessness of the servant maid placing the candle too near the furniture of the bed in which she slept, which caught fire and was totally consumed. By the timely arrival of the Engine and the prompt exertions of the inhabitants the fire was happily got under without doing any further damage.
Suffolk Chronicle: Feb 4th 1826
More often than not, owners were insured against loss from fire but tenants were not. So, buildings were covered; contents were not. The article above seems to suggest servants were secondary in importance to property. The danger was greater in the villages where ‘the timely arrival of the engine’ was a luxury they could not expect.
The name of the ‘Red Barn’ has already become sufficiently notorious by being connected with one of the foulest murders on record, but we are deeply sorry to find that there are persons still living who, in the form of humanity, but with the characteristics of fiends, seem bent on adding yet greater darkness to its blackened history by their fearful repetition of the crime of incendiarism.
Ipswich Journal: January 27th 1844
Nine fires were reported in the Ipswich Journal during the week ending June 22nd 1844. They occurred at Rattlesden, Drinkstone, Landbeach, Snailwell, Stanton, Pakenham, Burwell, Gosbeck & Ipswich, all except one on farming property.
Incendiarism at Redlingfield
David Jackson, (14), was charged with having on the 3rd June maliciously set fire to a barn in the occupation of Mr. Charles Cracknell of Redlingfield.
The Judge - I suppose there has been a great deal of talk about the fires in your neighbourhood?
Prosecutor - well, my Lord I have never encouraged any talk on such subjects, because I always thought such talk likely to do more harm than good.
The Judge - then all I can say is, you are a very wise man.
The brother of the prosecutor…is both deaf and dumb, was brought into court but the judge would not permit him to be sworn for though he intimated sometimes that he knew there was a place of punishment, yet it appeared that he was ignorant of the existence of a God, - at least it did not appear he had such knowledge as to warrant his being sworn, and he was ordered to stand down. It appeared, however, that he was a married man.
The Judge - there used to be such things as Christian marriages. How anybody should have married such a person so ignorant of his God, I certainly am at a loss to conjecture!
Following further testimony from other witnesses, the jury found the prisoner guilty with a recommendation to mercy on account of his youth.
The Judge - the only difficulty I have about such cases as this - mischievous boys may do as much mischief as wicked men. I must punish to prevent it…I shall sentence you to transportation but I shall accompany it with a recommendation to the mercy of the Crown. I shall endeavour to have you sent to the penitentiary to be taken care of there. You won’t want my warm recommendation to that institution. You will there be taught everything that is good, and I hope you will come back a better boy.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 1844
David Jackson was transported to Tasmania in September 1844. He was one of twenty or more transported from Suffolk during an eighteen-month period for the crime of arson. The targets were nearly all farms.
The refusal to accept witnesses on the grounds of their not understanding the oath was not uncommon. Take, for example, this exchange that took place during the trial of William Rayner & John Jacob for sacrilege at Eye. This particular dialogue is between the magistrate and a fourteen year-old lad named George Grimes. It was reported in the Suffolk Chronicle in March 1836.
Magistrate: How old are you?
Grimes: I don’t know my age Sir.
Magistrate: Do you know what punishment awaits
those who swear falsely?
Magistrate: Do you know the value of an oath?
Magistrate: Can you read and write?
Magistrate: Have you never been taught to read?
Grimes: I never could learn
Magistrate: Do you ever say your prayers?
Grimes: Yes, sometimes.
Magistrate: Well I think we shall not want your
evidence. You may walk off. It is not your
fault. You are sharp enough. It is the
stupidity of your teachers.
In a remarkably similar case Hezekiah Brown, a lad of about 14 from Ipswich, was similarly denied the right to give evidence in the trial of George Martin for stealing a watch.
Magistrate: Do you know the nature of an oath?
Brown: No I don’t.
Magistrate: Are you aware of the penalty of taking a
Brown: No I ain’t.
Magistrate: Do you know where you will go when you
Brown: No I don't.
Magistrate: Have you never been at Church or
Brown: I should like to go if I had clothes, but they
won’t let me into the church with these
Mayor: I never met a lad of your age in such a
pitiful state of ignorance.
Mr. Brame (Prison Governor): Would you have any
objection to go to the jail for a few days until we can procure you some instruction?
After a further brief exchange, the Rev. W. Harbur entered the room and ‘has kindly taken the lad under his own instruction.’
Suffolk Chronicle: November 10th 1938
Exchanges like these paint a very different picture of society at the time from that indicated by the reading of Dickens’ Novels. Real attempts were being made at improving the lives of the poor.
Another copy-cat crime was the crime of sacrilege. The Quarter Sessions for March 1836 were dominated by a spate of thefts from churches. Eye, Thwaite, Wickham Skeith and Burgate were all victims. The parish church of St. Peter & St Paul at Eye was robbed two days in succession. One of the thieves, by the name of Walter Rayner, was found guilty of the first offence along with George Webb. When being sentenced for the second offence along with Walter Bannister & John Jacob, he tried to tell the same judge he had never been in trouble before.
Rayner: There are several gentlemen in court who
can give me a character. I never had anything against my character before this.
The Chairman: Why man, you were found guilty of
Suffolk Chronicle: March 1836
Walter Rayner was transported for 14 years.
Sacrilege at Burgate.
James Morley (21) a remarkably stupid looking fellow was indicted for having on the 5th Feb. broken and entered the church of Burgate and stolen therefrom a silver plate and silver cup which he tried to sell to Mr George Canley, silversmith of Diss. He received six half-crowns for it. When the prisoner's home was searched, the half-crowns were found, one in each shoe, one in each pocket and two in his purse.
Chairman: Have you any witnesses to call to your character?
Prisoner: (carelessly) I don’t think there is any person who
would give me a good one - but plenty who would
give me a bad one.
Chairman: I am sentencing you to be transported for 14 years.
Prisoner: Thank you Sir. If I had had it fourteen years ago I
would not have had it now.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 1836
DRINK AND DRUGS
Alcohol abuse was a serious problem in the early 1800s. Few weeks went by without an inquest on someone who had fallen under the wheels of a cart whilst intoxicated. New laws made it easier to open beer-houses from one's own home. Gin, ‘the housemaid’s curse’, was cheap, and often seen as a major cause of misery at the time.
MATRIMONIAL FELICITY - An elderly person, who stated that his name was ROBT. TREW, and was a hatmaker, and resided in the parish of St. Nicholas (Ipswich), advanced towards the table, exhibiting a remarkably elongated visage, and said to the Mayor, “I come here, your Worship, to make a complaint against my wife!”
- The MAYOR: Against your wife; where is she?
- TREW: She is at home, on the bed
- The MAYOR: What is the matter with her?
- TREW: (drawing a long sigh) Tipsey, I expect, Sir.
- The MAYOR: Why then, you had better let the matter stand
over until she gets sober!
- TREW: Ah, but I don’t know when that will be.
- Mr. Justice CARTER: Where does she procure the money for
the indulgence of her propensity? Don’t
you, as husband, keep the purse strings?
- TREW: She pawns everything she can get hold of, and
spends every farthing she earns in drink.
- Mr. T. CONDER (the overseer): The truth is, he is the receipt
of parochial relief.
- TREW: Yes, and now is the time when I can get a little
work; but I can’t keep off the parish, because
my wife gets so drunk. I can’t live with her;
she is so abusive, and quarrels so with her
neighbours when she is in liquor.
- The MAYOR: It is of no use sending for her now; the police
will have her before us on Thursday.
Suffolk Chronicle: April 30th 1836
Inquest on Albert Mannell, aged 7 of Iken: died from drinking a large quantity of his mother’s gin.
Suffolk Chronicle: Jan. 1832
Inquest on William Leech , aged 44: died from accidental drowning, falling in a ditch whilst intoxicated from drinking at Bredfield Castle.
Suffolk Chronicle: Nov. 1841
Inquest on William Pain, master of the Albion, moored at Lime Kiln Quay, Wood-bridge: died, drowned attempting to get on board while drunk.
Suffolk Chronicle: June 1841
Inquest on Ben. Goodwin of Orford: having indulged himself freely, attempting to drive home, he lost his way at Hollesley and both he and the horse were found drowned in a muddy ditch the following morning.
CAUTION TO DRUNKARDS
John Cowey of Rendlesham… was sent to Woodbridge with Lord Hay’s wagon to fetch some deals. He staid there till intoxicated… Near Wilford Bridge, running alongside the wagon at full trot, he was knocked into a ditch, the wagon overturning upon him.
Suffolk Chronicle: Nov. 1842
These are only a few of the many drink-related deaths from the papers of the time. Sometimes, the newspapers left out the matter of intoxication. In the case of John Gooderham, a wealthy farmer from Kettleburgh who drowned in a mill-pond in February 1850, the Suffolk Chronicle printed merely this hint of the cause of the victim’s clumsiness…
The body of the deceased was lying in the river, near the water-wheel, in about two feet of water. When taken out, it was found the vital spark had quitted its frail tenement. The feelings of the bystanders at this catastrophe may be better imagined than described. The dwelling, so late the scene of festivity and mirth, was by the inscrutable decree of an all-wise Providence, changed to the house of mourning and grief.
The Coroner’s report was less prosaic and more precise. The verdict was one of drowning whilst intoxicated.
It was widely believed that drink was corrupting the nation, and certainly it was the root cause of a large number of unnecessary deaths.
It was commonplace to keep dangerous substances around. Even those with a medicinal purpose were poorly marked and dosages ignored or misunderstood. Infants were soothed and made placid by means of potent drugs, which could lead to fatal results. A popular sedative was Godfrey’s Cordial, a concoction of sassafras oil, oil of caraway, dissolved in spirits of wine, treacle & laudanum. However, proportions could vary according to the chemist’s whim. In March 1841, James Loines, aged six months of Wickham Market died from being administered an overlarge dose of an above average strength prescription. He was not alone...
A child, named Caroline Julia Hurst, daughter of a watch-maker, died last week through taking “Brodie’s Hooping Cough Drops,” which is a very strong narcotic.
Bury Post: May 13th 1846
INQUISITION – By Mr. Wood on Wednesday last at Woodbridge upon the body of M.K. Grayston, aged five weeks, daughter of T. Grayston of the same place. It appeared in evidence that Mrs. Grayston had been in the habit of giving her children Laudanum to quiet them when cross and restless; that on Monday evening last, she went to chapel, and having cautioned her servant girl not to give the baby Laudanum on any account; the infant, however, becoming cross, the girl to quiet her, gave her a few drops mixed with sugar and water, when it was immediately taken ill, and died about eight o’clock on the following morning. At the parents’ request, the body was opened by a medical man, who proved the quantity of Laudanum given to have caused its death. Great blame being attached to the mother, the Coroner reprimanded her by desire of the jury who returned a verdict that the infant died from the effects of Laudanum, administered through ignorance.
Suffolk Chronicle August 24th 1833
DEATH IN THE POT
A brewer named Hare (residing in Old Kent Road) was on Monday fined £200 for having mixed copperas, opium and other poisonous ingredients with his beer. By a singular coincidence the beer in question had been expressly prepared for a beer-shop keeper named [Mr.] Death.
Suffolk Herald: February 1839
At the inquest of James Brown of Bucklesham in December 1847, the jury came to the conclusion that Amy Francis…
“did in consequence of recklessness and through an error in judgement give and administer James Brown a decoction of poppies (two teaspoons) thereupon he became sick and distempered in his body and afterwards did die.”
In the light of all this, it is not surprising that powerful pressure groups emerged, determined to rid the country of such ‘evil and excess.’
STOWMARKET - ANTI-TEETOTAL RIOT - On Tuesday last, a lecture was delivered by Mr. Inwards, in the Primitive Methodist Chapel in this town. The meeting was announced to take place at 7 o’clock, at which time very few had assembled within the walls, but at 9 o’clock the crowd gave token of the immense mass of beings that would soon throng Regent Street and the outside of the Chapel. Mr. I. Continued his lecture till about twenty minutes past nine, when the crowd who had been waiting outside for the signal to “play their pranks before high heaven” simultaneously commenced hooting, hissing, and hallowing, inter-mingled with showers of stones at the teetotallers, which so alarmed them that they were obliged to make their exit from the chapel in all directions, and in a moulting condition, particularly Mr.______ , Mr.______ , and Mr. Inwards, the later of whom was obliged to be guarded for a short distance by the policeman, and then took to his heels. The word was given that Mr I. had taken shelter in the Temperance Room, Bury Street, to which place the assembled multitude immediately repaired, and commenced throwing stones that almost frightened the atmosphere - the sleepy became aroused, and loud and long huzzas for John Barleycorn resounded with deafening effect, and -
“You would have thought the very windows spoke,
So many greedy looks of young and old
Through casements darted their desiring eyes
Upon their countenances, as though the walls,
With painted imagery, had said at once,
Oh! Inwards! es odiosus omnibus!”
Suffolk Chronicle: March 25th 1842
Almost certainly, one of the teetotallers preferring not to have his name published at this point was Manning Prentice, a leading merchant and businessman of Stowmarket. The Suffolk Chronicle reporter made light of the whole event. Incensed, Manning Prentice circulated a letter to ‘The Christian Inhabitants of Stowmarket’ in which he accused their opponents of being drunk and violent. The fact more were not harmed was put down to… “the protection of the Father of all mercies.” He suggested it was the duty of all Christians to… “stem the torrent of vice” and bring the drunkards… “from a state of wretchedness to one of comparative happiness.”
The position regarding the use and abuse of alcohol drove people to take up extreme positions. Temperance Societies abounded. As much of the business of Suffolk was controlled by Quakers and stalwarts of the Independent churches, a good deal of money was put into the Temperance Cause.
Still greater dangers lurked in the cupboards and on the shelves of nineteenth century homes.
In July 1827, the Chronicle reported the inquest on Mr. Simpson and a servant of Stoke by Nayland who had been poisoned because… “a quantity of arsenic, having been incautiously placed near some flour, was mixed with it in a pudding.”
According to the report… “The rest of the family are recovering in a state of severe suffering, thanks to the very prompt attendance of several surgeons with stomach pumps.”
Which prompts one to wonder how quickly today it would be possible to conjure up several surgeons with stomach pumps in Stoke by Nayland.
THE POOR, RIOT & REBELLION
There were now literate, educated people among the working classes, and even in Suffolk, protest spilled over into violence as inflammatory texts stirred up discontent. In 1830, letters were published in national and local newspapers purporting to come from ‘Captain Swing.’ Starting in Kent, but spreading north and west, protesters grouped, threshing machines were wrecked, straw-stacks set alight and corn stores raided.
There are already between 50 and 60 rioters including 20 for machine breaking for trial at the approaching Chelmsford Sessions. They have been principally apprehended in the neighbourhood of Newport, Clacton & Kirby, which districts remain still much agitated. The magistracy are not insensible to the alarming aspect which the county has assumed and have been actively engaged in swearing in special constables and mounted patrols.
Suffolk Chronicle: January 1st 1831
At the following Quarter Sessions, six men were transported for smashing machines at Withersfield. Four of nine charged with riotous assembly at Hoxne were found guilty, and twenty-one were fined for a similar offence at Cockfield. Seven men charged at Bacton were found ‘not guilty.’ This protest soon died, but it didn’t put food into the mouths of the starving. The following winter, all the local newspapers reported a succession of thefts of grain. Suffolk’s poor continued to suffer, but protest here was less than in the towns of the north and the west where the Tolpuddle martyrs’ and Chartists’ protests led to bloodshed and banishment.
Someone signing himself ‘Observer’ of Woodbridge wrote a letter to the editor of the Suffolk Chronicle in March 1831. He put forward the case that the ten thousand parishes of England were annually relieving two and a half million paupers at a cost of £7,500,000. This, he said, was only the tip of the iceberg, the total cost to the nation being ten times as much. At a cost of £13,750,000 those paupers and their families could be removed and settled with the first instalment paid of fifty acres of fertile land in Canada. This was a view taken by the hard-pressed overseers of a number of Suffolk Parishes. The parish records for a number of parishes record loans taken out and money spent on such a venture. Campsey Ash, Thorndon, Wetheringsett and Drinkstone are just a few who show in their accounts that paupers from those parishes were given financial encouragement to emigrate in the 1820s and 1830s.
The following letter appeared both in the Bury Post and Suffolk Chronicle in February 1826, from a pauper belonging to the parish of Rattlesden. At his own request he, his wife and four small children were sent at the expense of the parish to Lower Canada.
GENTLEMEN: Quebec, Nov 7th 1825
I take this opportunity of writing these few lines unto you, hoping they will find you all in good health, as they leave me and my family at present, excepting my youngest daughter, who is at this time in a sickly condition. We were nine weeks on our passage from home until we arrived at Quebec, where I got work as soon as I landed, and in the first fortnight I earned 3L and after that, I engaged myself to one Capt. Friend, of London, who came in the same ship with me; he is come to Quebec to get two or three ships built, and I am working in one of his yards. As to giving you any information respecting the interior part of the country I am not able, only as I am informed by those who have been there and travelled through the country, who in general are of opinion that any steady man may do much better in America than he can in England, particularly a man with a family.
The farmers’ wages, are about eleven or twelve dollars per month, washing, mending, and lodging: and mechanics’ different prices, from ten to twenty five dollars per month; and land is very good to get for anyone who wishes to settle on a farm, but costs a great deal to cut and clear the timber off it, and make it fit for a crop. In Canada there is no expense on the land, excepting the labour, no taxes of any kind to pay, but it would require a person to have a little money before he should go to live in the bush, as it will take him some time to get his farm cleared of wood, so as to raise anything to support a family; but after two or three years they in general live pretty comfortable, if they are industrious, but a lazy man cannot live here any better than he can at home. I am thinking of going up the country in the spring, if all is well with me, and then I shall be able to send you more exact accounts than I am at present. I received three sovereigns from Mr. Morgan before I left London and when I got to Quebec I got 1L. 2s. 6d. for each. I had forgot to tell you that my children all had the Measles as we came across the sea.
I remain, yours &c.
Emigration continued to be seen as an answer to rural poverty, and hundreds, if not thousands left these shores for Canada and Australia. Under the heading, ‘the distressed state of Bury’, both the Bury Post and Suffolk Chronicle reported…
We rejoice to find that the attention of the court of guardians of this town has been awakened to the subject of emigration. The state of the workhouse, with nearly two hundred inmates, and from twenty to thirty of these able bodied men, affords abundant proof of the necessity for taking some measures to relieve the town of its redundant population… The number of carpenters, bricklayers and others, connected with the building trades, and of mere labourers, who are generally unemployed during the winter months, is this year greatly increased, and their condition aggravated by the small amount of work which they were able to procure during the summer; so that many, instead of paying off the 'shop debts' of the previous winter, have rather added to, than reduced the score…. and the appeals made to the opulent or trading classes of the town have been more pressing than we almost ever remember. (January 13th 1849)
The article concluded with the pessimistic remark that...
‘there is no market for labour in the United Kingdom which is not overstocked.’
The typhus fever and other diseases are very prevalent. On Monday last the counties of Lancashire & Cheshire were visited by a heavy thunderstorm, accompanied by hail and rain. The flashes of lightning were terrific, and the thunder shook the houses to their foundation. The effect of the lightning was such as to cause a stage-like effect of the burning of blue fire.
Ipswich Journal: January 6th 1844
Typhus and Cholera regularly received a mention in the local papers of this time. January 14th 1832 saw the report of a case of cholera at Stowlangtoft. Periodically, others were mentioned. For all that, Suffolk clearly did not suffer to the same extent from the epidemics that were sweeping the cities of Europe, especially in 1848 and 1849, when thousands died elsewhere in England.
The Chronicle described the following treatment under the heading, “a mild and agreeable remedy for cholera.” Apparently, a patient was painted with boiling tar across the abdomen... “and though his skin had gone, so too had the cholera.” The Bury Post of November 1848 suggested an infusion of charcoal powder in white wine.
All the local papers published Edwin Chadwick’s 1842 report which stated what was well known by many at the time: the key to good public health lay in the quality of the drinking water.
Scarlatina was greatly feared as a killer of children, as were other common childhood diseases. The Chronicle of March 20th 1841 described how Eton College was ‘sorely affected by the disease.’
Rabies, too, was regularly reported…
A poor lad, aged about 12 years, named Theobald, fell a victim to this dreadful disorder on Monday last. He had been bitten by a dog, supposed to be mad, six weeks before the first symptoms appeared, but no application for medical advice was made until a few hours before his decease, when, of course, all human aid was unavailing. The deceased had taken a quack medicine which has been much puffed off during the late alarming reports of the prevalence of canine madness, and had implicitly followed the directions of the vendors under a full conviction of its infallibility. He was perfectly well on Saturday morning last, felt the first symptoms (pain in the part bitten) at about one or two o'clock in the afternoon of the same day, and was a corpse on Monday about the same hour. Suffolk Chronicle: July 7th 1827
In spite of Jenner’s success with vaccination, smallpox continued to afflict the poorer sections of society. Many still relied on quack doctors and cheap patent medicines to treat all manner of diseases, often with disastrous results.
EYE -The smallpox is raging fearfully in this town and we regret to say that the system of vaccination has been much neglected by our pauper population. So long as the poor are badly fed and clothed and suffered to eke out their existence in misery and suffering, we cannot wonder at the alarming sickness of the last 5-6 months.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 1838
QUACKERY - It is to be lamented that in these days, when knowledge has done so much to ameliorate the condition of the people and the laws have provided proper medical assistance for every poor family, there should still be people who employ ignorant quacks, the consequence of which is generally increased suffering, and frequently the loss of life. The family of John Evans, a labourer residing in St. Mary’s in Ely, having been infected with the ‘itch’ about three weeks since, applied to Dr. Stevens, who gave them a pot of ointment for its cure; but the children growing worse, the father agreed with a farmer’s man named John Bates to cure his children for 6d. a head. A lotion was prepared, and directions given for it to be well rubbed in all over the children, which was done on Saturday night, and, on the following day the irritation of the skin had increased to a violent inflammation over the whole bodies; in the evening the father became alarmed, and on his way to Dr. Stevens, he met Bates who returned with him to look at the children, whom he pronounced better, and said the stuff, which he then put in his pocket and carried away, was too strong. One of the children, a girl about 7 years old, shortly afterwards died; and the death of another girl is expected. An inquest was held on Wednesday, and adjourned until Saturday, when the Jury returned a verdict of Manslaughter against John Bates, who is now in custody.
QUACKERY AGAIN! - Robt. Watson, a gardener of Ely died on Tuesday last. It was shown in evidence, that a portion of the Oil of Juniper had been procured by the deceased at the house of an Irishman, a shoemaker by the name of Cavannah. Surely the above cases will make the public cautious of placing their lives in the hands of such parties under any circumstances. Our County Hospitals, where first-rate talent and every other attention are to be found, must be infinitely better, particularly for the poor.
Bury Post: February 18th 1844
THE COMING OF THE RAILWAYS
If Norwich is desirous of a railway communication with London the shortest line is that by Ipswich, and as there are no engineering difficulties in the way, it does not appear to be a justifiable act to divert the present course of traffic any more than it would be to change the course of a river.
Ipswich Journal: November 18th 1843
The Yarmouth and Norwich railway was opened on Friday morning by the directors, contractor and resident engineer; proceeding from Thorpe to Yarmouth in fifty minutes and returning in fifty-seven minutes.
Ipswich Journal: February 10th 1844
The Eastern Union Railway bill proposing the extension of the railway from Colchester to Ipswich and to Bury and Norwich passed through the Committee of the House of Lords.
Ipswich Journal: July 6th 1844
During this time, pictures accompanying adverts grew, as if it was becoming more necessary to include something that would really grab the reader’s attention. The railways sparked a dramatic increase in trade.
The drapers of Ipswich have announced their intention of closing their shops at eight o’clock each evening during the six summer months and at seven during the winter months.
[The signatories to this included H.S. Corder, Richard Grimwade, D.Coe and John Footman]
Ipswich Journal: May 18th 1844
The 1840s in Ipswich saw dock trade grow, with the building of a new Custom House and the New Cut and Wet Dock.
TORY AND LIBERAL SLEAZE
When Dickens published Pickwick Papers, he painted a grim picture of the election process in the country at the time. In the early 1830s electoral reform had abolished rotten boroughs like Orford and Dunwich and given the vote to a wider variety of men. Whilst this was still a long way from ‘one man one vote,’ it meant large numbers of the growing middle classes had the vote for the first time. Those against such reform had predicted the result would be bribery and corruption on a grand scale, for, as they said, ‘it is more difficult to bribe a rich man.’
In 1835, the two Ipswich Tory M.Ps, Messrs. Kelly & Dundas were unseated in consequence of the bribery practised at the elections in that town. From June 3rd 1835, and continuing for the next few weeks, the Bury Post reported in detail the proceedings of the House of Commons Committe’s investigation into embezzlement, bribery and corruption in the previous year’s Parliamentary Election. A number of key local figures were implicated. These included Mr. John Pilgrim, Suffolk Coroner, and Mr. Sparrowe the Ipswich Town Clerk.
At a meeting in the Borough Council committee rooms, “crowded to a degree approaching suffocation,” those left to clear up the mess debated long and hard about who was and was not responsible for the embezzlement of large sums of money in order to bribe voters at up to £20 a man to vote for the Tory cause. Three leading figures in the matter, Mr. Bond, Mr. Clamp and Mr. Cook had temporarily absconded to avoid the service of the warrant of the Speaker of the House of Commons.
The June 17th issue of the Bury Post reported that the election of Messrs. Kelly and Dundas had been declared void, as the pair had been involved in bribery, and had attempted to send witnesses away. The following week, J. B. Dasent,
Fred O’Malley, Messrs. Sparrowe, Clipperton (Dundas’s agent) Bond, Cooke, and Clamp were sent to Newgate gaol. John Pilgrim, already being held at Norwich, was also ordered to be committed to Newgate.
Though they were deprived of their seats, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Dundas, who had most to gain from the bribery, were not arrested. The two ejected M.P.s went scot-free. It was widely believed, locally, that the wrong men were imprisoned. The Bury Post of July 1st reported that a petition in favour of Mr. Sparrowe, containing 300 signatures of leading men of both parties, had been sent to the House of Commons.
Gradually, the Ipswich prisoners were discharged. Mr. O’Malley, in a poor state of health, was released with a reprimand on July 1st 1835. During the month of July, others were discharged on payment of fees. Clipperton was the last to be released, early in August.
By this point, another select Committee was meeting to discuss bribery at Yarmouth. This was a story that would run and run. The Suffolk Chronicle was still reporting details of it well into 1836. At Ipswich, where it had been necessary to have a by-election, Messrs. Morrison and Wason, two more Tories, took the place of the ejected Dundas and Kelly.
The problem of electoral corruption was so bad by 1842 that Parliament introduced legislation to exclude the Borough of Sudbury from sending Burgesses to serve at Westminster. The Suffolk Chronicle reported that... “Parliament is seeking to disenfranchise Sudbury as a punishment for systematic bribery and corruption.”
The paper also claimed investigations were going on at Harwich, Nottingham, Lewes, Penryn, Falmouth and Reading regarding similar claims.
It seems to have been taken for granted that people in towns like Sudbury were prepared to offer their vote to the highest bidder. Mr. Purr, town councillor for Sudbury claimed, “both parties at the last election had tried [bribed] their best and it simply happened that his party [Liberals] were the fortunate winners because the Tory party had not equal material [money] to work with.”
Suffolk Chronicle: May 14th 1842
This remarkable article from the Ipswich Journal of 1841 gives a clear, if somewhat bigoted view of the problems in Sudbury.
SUDBURY - A London paper gives the following biographical sketch of the new member for Sudbury - DYCE SOMBRE Esq. This black coloured gentleman is the adopted child of a rich Indian Princess, BEGUM SUMROO. The early years of the new M.P.’s life were passed in the dominions of his adopted mother, and at her death, which occurred a few years since, she bequeathed to him a great portion of her fortune, which was immense. We omit any comment on the anti-British habits which he must have acquired during this portion of his life; but as in India his only associates and acquaintances were the natives of the country, we leave the public to draw their own conclusions. Soon after Begum Sumroo’s death he came to England, being then about 40 years of age, and now, by the force of his deceased benefactress’s gold, the “free and independent” electors of Sudbury have returned him as their representative in a British Parliament; this alien in blood, an alien in habits, and an alien in ideas. Lord Camelford once threatened to return his black footman to Parliament. The Sudbury folks have realised his Lordship’s intention. Delectable Whigs!
Ipswich Journal: July 1841
According to the Bury Post of May 18th 1842, yet another House of Commons Committee heard that in Sudbury at least 200 voters had been grossly and systematically bribed. Their report included sentences like: “I have known nearly 400 voters out of about 600 upon the register deliberately perjure themselves.” Voters were required when entering their vote in the voting register, to swear an oath that they had not been co-erced in any way. They would then kiss the book to validate the oath. It was common procedure to kiss the hand holding the book, so making their oath invalid.
THE QUEST FOR DISCOVERY
This was an age of invention and change. Those finding the time to indulge themselves, were keen to learn about the arts, history and science. Foremost in this quest were the clergy. Relatively well off and having curates to carry out many of their more parochial duties, rectors at this time wrote history books, argued in favour of social reform, researched the local wild life and even led archaeological digs.
The tumulus at East Low Hill, Rougham was opened on Thursday when a massive leaden coffin was found contained in a tomb, evidently of pagan origin.
Ipswich Journal: July 13th 1844
The following week, a very long and interesting letter appeared, with illustrations by the Rev J. S. Henslow, Rector of Hitcham, describing the appearance of the tumulus.
SIR - On Thursday morning, the 4th of July last, the workmen were sufficiently advanced, after more than four days’ constant labour in exploring the large Tumulus at Rougham, named Eastlow Hill, to raise our expectations that we should be able to expose an extensive deposit of Roman remains by the hour at which the public had been invited to attend. The discovery turned out to be something of a very different description from what I had anticipated. Instead of urns and vases, paterae and simpula, lamps and lachrymatories, such as were found last year, the only contents of a large chamber of masonry, which I shall presently describe, proved to be a leaden coffin, enclosing a skeleton...
Ipswich Journal: July 20th 1844
The earlier dig, to which Professor Henslow referred, had been carried out at Eastlow Hill in September 1843. It had yielded the items he mentioned.
The second dig, in July 1844, became quite an attraction for local people. Henslow’s plan of the tomb, was published in the Ipswich Journal of the time.
The Reverend Professor’s name appeared again in 1847. After an inaugural committee had canvassed subscriptions from the great and the good of the county, Ipswich Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time. According to the Ipswich Journal, two hundred and fifty invited guests celebrated the event with a grand dinner attended by, amongst others, the Bishop of Norwich, the Dean of Westminster, John Chevalier Cobbold M.P. and Rev. J. S. Henslow. £801 had been collected and spent by a committee headed by W. H. Alexander (Chairman) and George Ransome (Hon. Sec.) The first Curator was Dr. William Barnard. He had had the unenviable task of sorting out the exhibits, many of which had lain for years in the town’s vaults.
As to the admirable collection of stuffed animals, many of these had an altogether less pleasant origin. Readers of Volume II of this series of books may have seen an advertisement for Mr. G. Wombwell’s travelling menagerie, which showed ‘almost every animal and bird that can be mentioned.’ Suffice it to say, they did not tend to live for long, travelling from town to town in cramped wagons. It was Wombwell’s rotting corpses that tended to end up on the steps of the new Ipswich museum, some of which bear testimony to the taxidermist’s art, as they are still on display today.
The new Ipswich Museum, which gave its name to Museum Street, appears to have been constructed along similar lines to the one at Kew, which Professor Henslow had been responsible for creating. Reverend J.S. Henslow was a remarkable man, who was able to follow his early career as Professor in Botany at Cambridge University with his later years spent teaching and preaching from his parish base at Hitcham.
The Press’s fascination with nineteenth century inventive-ness was never more evident than in the reporting of the construction of the first tunnel beneath the Thames at Rotherhithe. Built by Brunel, it suffered from the inevitable problem of flooding. To protect the tunnellers, Brunel created a moveable shield. Its progress was regularly reported.
The Thames Tunnel is now carried on with vigour, and the shield is rapidly approaching the Middlesex shore. Several of the distinguished foreigners now in the country visited the work on Saturday.
Bury Post: July 4th 1838
KING, QUEEN & COUNTRY
According to the Bury Post of June 28th 1837, the day before he died, William IV had said, ‘I am very ill, I know, but I hope it may please God to carry me through this day, as I should grieve to think that my death should cast even a momentary gloom upon a day which is so bright in the annals of my beloved country.’
Although it was a case of ‘the King is dead; long live the Queen,’ it would be a year, almost to the day, before the country could celebrate Victoria’s Coronation.
The Bury Post published a number of very detailed accounts describing how different parishes responded to this occasion. Honington, for example, raised a subscription sufficient to give ‘eight pounds of beef and six pints of beer to every cottage family and half the quantity to all single people.’ At Woolpit, as well as the traditional feasts, they enjoyed fireworks, country dancing and the singing of loyal songs.
At Stowmarket, they fired canons and muskets and rang merry peals of bells from early in the morning. There, 1700 individuals were supplied with meat, raisins and ale. Her Majesty’s health was drunk “in bumpers of the beverage that cheers but not inebriates, amidst most enthusiastic cheering.”
Most parishes made much of the number of paupers they were able to feed, though the rich often chose to have their own celebration. Such was the case at the ‘salubrious bathing place of Aldborough’ where having fed and entertained the poor sailors and fishermen, the principal inhabitants held a ball at the grandest hotel in the town.
We have chosen to include the complete reports of two parishes, just three miles apart, to demonstrate that not all saw fit to celebrate in the same way.
The labourers and their families to the amount of 300 partook of an excellent dinner in celebration of the Coronation provided by their respective masters, in a meadow of Mr. J. Stearn who presided on the occasion. After appropriate toasts had been drunk, rural sports commenced and continued till 6 o'clock when the party repaired to a convenient building and partook of tea and plum cake. An excellent band being in attendance, the merry dance was kept up till eleven o’clock when they retired to their homes. Next morning, they re-assembled and partook of the fragments and remaining portion of beer, which was equally distributed; they then returned peaceably to their homes with every feeling of gratitude for their bountiful feast.
LAVENHAM - We are sorry to say no public demonstrations of rejoicing were made in this once loyal and spirited town, upon this interesting occasion. Seven of the tradesmen and a few of the farmers served their own workmen with a dinner of beef and plum pudding and here and there were to be seen a few women and children, assisted by their immediate neighbours, drinking tea; but the majority of the poor, and amongst them the most in need, were left to their own resources, which, God knows, under the new poor-law, especially as administered in this union, together with the high price of flour, are limited in the extreme. The more wealthy and influential part of the inhabitants, we presume, either not liking to celebrate the event, or regarding the poor as objects undeserving of their notice.
Bury Post: July 1838
A GOOD STORY
As had been the case for years, Suffolk local newspapers continued to publish remarkable tales from around the globe.
BURIED ALIVE FOR A MONTH! - A letter from India, gives the following account of a native who ‘allows himself to be buried for weeks or months by anybody who will pay him handsomely for it, and had that morning been released after a month’s interment.’ The man is said to have acquired, by long practice, the art of holding his breath, by shutting the mouth and stopping the interior opening of the nostrils with his tongue: he also abstains from solid food for some days previous to his interment, so that he may not be inconvenienced by the contents of his stomach while pent up in his narrow grave; and, moreover, he is sewn up in a bag of cloth, and the cell is lined with masonry, and floored with cloth, that the white ants and other insects may not be easily able to molest him... Two heavy slabs of stone five or six feet long, several inches thick, and broad enough to cover the mouth of the grave so that he could not escape, were then placed over him… the door of the house was also built up and people placed outside that no tricks might be played, nor deception practised.’
‘At the expiration of a full month…he was taken out in a perfectly senseless state, his eyes closed, his hands cramped and powerless, his stomach shrunk very much, and his teeth jammed so fast together that they were forced to open his mouth with an iron instrument to pour a little water down his throat. He gradually recovered his senses and the use of his limbs… and conversed with us in a low gentle tone of voice, saying, that we might bury him again for a twelvemonth if we pleased.’
Bury Post: June 7th 1837
SINGULAR CHARACTER - On Thursday afternoon the 3rd inst., was buried in the church of St. Margaret, Pentonville, Mrs Margaret Lawson, aged 112 years, better known in the neighbourhood as Lady Lawson… born during the commencement of the reign of George II… was married at an early age to a wealthy gentleman. At the early age of twenty-six she became a widow… the house she occupied, No. 8 Eccleston Square was large and elegantly furnished, but very ancient. The beds were constantly kept made, although scarcely any of them had been slept in for fifty years. Her apartments being only swept out, but never washed, the windows were so incrusted with dirt that they hardly admitted a ray of light. She was so partial to the fashions that prevailed in her youthful days that she never altered the manner of her dress from that worn in the reign of George I. She always wore powder, with a large toupee of horsehair on her head nearly half a foot high over which her hair was turned up and a cap tied under her chin… she was generally attired in a silk gown, the train long… tightly laced up to her neck round which was a ruff or frill. A large straw bonnet, quite flat, high heeled shoes, a large black silk cloak, trimmed round with lace, and a gold-headed cane, completed her everyday costume for the last ninety years. She enjoyed an excellent state of health, never having had, until a little previous to her death, an hour’s illness. She entertained the greatest aversion to medicine, and, what is remarkable, she cut two new teeth at the age of eighty five, and never lost one in her life. A few days previous to her death, an old lady who was her neighbour suddenly died, which had such an effect on her that she frequently exclaimed her turn was also come, and she should soon follow.
Bury Post: Aug. 16th 1837.
The Frances Mary, a ship of 398 tons of New Brunswick, has been discovered wrecked and waterlogged. All that had kept her afloat was her cargo of timber. Her six survivors, from a crew of 16 had taken refuge in her main-top for 22 days... when, horrible to relate, the cravings of nature compelled them to live on the corpses of their deceased fellow-sufferers and drink their blood.
Suffolk Chronicle: March 25th 1826
A ship laden with human bones has arrived at Lossiemouth, the property of an agriculturist. They are intended to be ground for manure. The master of this vessel states that the bones were collected from the plains and marshes around Leipzig, and are part of the remains of thousands of French soldiers who fought there with Napoleon in 1813.
Suffolk Herald: November 1829
GRAND CRICKET MATCH - The match between Bury (or Suffolk) and the Mary-le-bone Club commenced on Monday morning on Lords Ground. The Bury won the toss and chose the first innings.
Matthews…. 5 stumped by Vigne
Leech…. 7 bowled by Burt
Jenner…. 51 caught by Lloyd
Pilch…. 31 bowled by Knight
Romilly…. 28 run out
Blake…. 0 caught by Lloyd
King…. 11 hit wicket
Hanbury…. 0 bowled by Burt
Cheverton…. 6 bowled by ditto
Wright…. 4 caught by Dyke
Brooks…. 0 not out
Byes… . 2
Betting at commencement 6 to 4 on MCC, and at the end of Bury’s innings, 7 to 5 on Bury. The following was the state of the game at the close:- Bury won by 21 runs
As if to confirm that Bury really were better than the M.C.C., a return match was played at Bury at the end of July the following year. It became a regular fixture, amply reported in the Bury Post each year, as was the nature of the entertainment offered. The accompanying feast of turtle and venison may have proved as much an attraction as the quality of the cricket.
Often, the best bits are the shortest...
William Williams (32) was acquitted on the charge of having stolen a shovel, the property of John Pearce. In this case, the charge was dropped on account of the owner not appearing in court to identify the shovel.
Suffolk Chronicle: January 14th 1832
William Bann, Miller of Wickham Market dropped dead in church. At the inquest, the Coroner’s verdict was ‘a visitation from God.’
Suffolk Chronicle: February 1827
A calf belonging to Mr. May of Ramsholt, whilst feeding, was suddenly taken ill, and a farrier was sent for, who administered a drink to the animal, and in the course of a few days, it voided a snake nearly a yard long. The snake was dead, but the calf is perfectly recovered.
Suffolk Chronicle: August 1827
James Clare for the 29th time is committed to our County Prison for poaching. He is now in the 81st year of his age, and for the last twenty- five years, he has made our prison ‘his town house,’ as he calls it. Though age and infirmity have caused him to stoop much, he is said to have the same ardour for his favourite pursuit as ever and makes no secret of his intention to continue it, so long as he is able to lay a snare.
Bury Post: September 26th 1832
Daniel Baxter, of Ipswich, appeared before the magistrates at Woodbridge to answer the complaint of Sophia Girling, alleging him to be the father of her illegitimate child, born Nov. 4th 1849. The intimacy, it was alleged by the complainant, took place in one of the cells of the Ipswich Borough Gaol, of which the defendant was turn-key, which to a certain extent deprived her of corroborative testimony, and the case was therefore dismissed for want thereof.
Suffolk Chronicle: February 9th 1850
CAUTION TO FRUIT EATERS - the mischiefs arising from the bad custom of many people swallowing the stones of fruit are very great. There is an account of a woman who suffered violent pains in her bowels for thirty years owing to a plum stone, which had lodged. There is also an account of a man who, dying of an incurable cholic, which had tormented him many years, and baffled the effects of medicine was opened after his death, and in his bowels was found the cause of his distemper, which was a ball, composed of hard and tough matter weighing an ounce and a half; in the centre of this there was found the stone of a common plum. Cherry stones swallowed in great quantities have occasioned the death of many people, and there have been instances even of the seeds of strawberries and kernels of nuts, collected into a lump and causing violent disorders, which could never be cured till they were carried off.
Suffolk Chronicle: July 21st 1827
Last Wednesday morning, William Coe, plumber and painter, was employed in doing repairs upon the top of the house of Mr. Browne, breeches-maker, of Abbeygate Street, when the ladder, on which he was standing, broke, and he fell from a great height to the ground, his fall was broke by his brother, who was at work below him on a pair of steps. He was taken up in a bruised state and conveyed to our new Suffolk Hospital.
Suffolk Herald: May 23rd 1827
At the county petty sessions on Wednesday, a poor woman, from Drinkstone, appeared before the Bench, and in the deepest distress of mind, complained of being called a ‘witch’ by her neighbours, who used to call after her children “to carry a pail of swill to their old mother to feed her imps.” The magistrates endeavoured to relieve the poor woman’s great anxiety by assuring her that were no such things as witches and that she need not mind what they called her.
Bury Post: September 4th 1844
Remarkably, belief in witchcraft appears to have been alive and well. We have come across a number of stories like these.
WITCHCRAFT IN ELY - there is an old woman at Ely named Ann Gotobed, who is supposed to possess the power of witchcraft. Her own brother says he often feels the effect of it, and being a fisherman, he avers that when he has offended her, he can ‘catch no fish’ until he has an opportunity of doing something to her cartwheels.
According to this article, having been ejected by her landlord, she caused him to be taken ill, so his neighbours met to discuss what could be done...
It was agreed that a horse-shoe should be nailed over the door; a shoe was obtained but the man still groaned with rheumatics; another assembly took place; they wondered that this well known specific for witchcraft was unavailing, and the shoe was eventually examined, when, behold: a sad mistake had occurred; the shoe of an ass had been stuck over the door instead of a horse’s; and the mistake being remedied, the sick man is recovering.
Bury Post: March 18th 1846
In 1828, the Suffolk Chronicle reported the case of William Watkins (farmer), John Prosser (Constable), Thomas Jenkins and Henry Evans (Churchwardens) who were indicted for riot and assaulting Mary Nicholas. Watkins had had several cattle die suddenly and believed Mary Nicholas had bewitched them. ‘First of all, they placed her behind a colt and made her hold its tail, whilst reciting the Lord’s Prayer. They drew a rose briar across her arm in the belief that if you spilt a witch’s blood she couldn’t hurt you. Then they stripped her upper-parts looking for the extra nipple (which witches were reputed to have for suckling the devil), shaved her head and finding a tell-tale wart, proceeded to duck her.’ The four accused were found guilty of assault, but not of riot. The judge commented how horrified he was that ‘in this modern day and age people should still harbour such superstitions.’
- or is it?
PREMATURE INTERMENTS - Dr. Ranking, in his recently published ‘Abstracts of Medical Science’ states that it appears in the cases of premature interment prevented by fortuitous circumstances amount in France since the year 1833 to ninety four. Of these, thirty-five persons awoke of themselves from their lethargy at the moment the funeral ceremony was about to commence, thirteen recovered in consequence of the affectionate care of their families; seven in consequence of the fall of the coffins in which they were inclosed, nine owed their recovery to the wounds inflicted in sewing the winding sheet; five to the sensation of suffocation they experienced in their coffins; nineteen to their interment having been delayed by fortuitous circumstances and six to their interment having been delayed in consequence of doubts having been entertained of their death.
Bury Post: October 21st 1846
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