Two murders in a Derbyshire village 1815 and 1819

The first murder took place about a couple of miles from the murderer’s home of Litton, a pretty village in the middle of the Peak district, a mere stone’s throw from the beautiful Chatsworth House. The murderer, one Anthony Lingard was one of the several children born to Anthony Lingard senior and his wife Elizabeth.

Anthony Lingard, the younger, reputed to be aged 21 but who was in fact 25, was charged with the murder, by strangulation, of one Hannah Oliver, a widow aged 48. Hannah was the keeper of the turnpike gate at Wardlow Mires, in the parish of Tideswell.

Wardlow Mires, Derbyshire
Wardlow Mires, Derbyshire

According to the evidence given, Lingard committed the robbery and subsequent murder on the night of 15th January 1815. Having killed Hannah, he left her house taking with him several pounds and a pair of new, red, women’s shoes. He immediately went to see a young woman, Rebecca Nall, in the village who was pregnant with his child and offered her some money and a pair of new shoes if she would agree to say someone else was the father of her unborn child. Rumour of the murder spread quickly, and mention of the shoes convinced the young woman that Anthony had committed the crime. She tried to return them to him but he merely said that it was nothing to do with him and that he had got the shoes in exchange for a pair of stockings form a travelling packman.

In court, no-one believed his story and judge summed up the evidence for the jury, who took a matter of minutes to conclude that he was guilty. The judge, Mr Justice Bayley, then proceeded to pass the death sentence upon Anthony.

Anthony resigned himself to his fate and forgave the girl who gave evidence against him, before being taken to the drop in front of the county gaol, Derby. After a short time occupied in prayer, he was launched into eternity. He met his fate with a firmness and seemed very calm at the end, which was on 28th March, 1815.

Before the judge left town, he directed that the body should be hung in chains in the most convenient place near the spot where the murder was committed, instead of being dissected and anatomised.

The treasurer’s accounts for Derbyshire 1815-16, show that the punishment of gibbeting cost a considerable amount of money. The expenses for apprehending Lingard amounted to £31 5 shillings and 5 pence, but the expenses incurred in the gibbeting reached a total of £85 4 shilling and 1 penny, and this was in addition to the ten guineas charged by the gaoler for conveying the body from Derby to Wardlow.

Subsequent toll -keepers apparently complained about the noise of his bones creaking in the wind, so after some considerable time, his remains were cut down and buried. There remain even today rumours of ghosts and people avoid that area after dark.

The body of Hannah Oliver neé Richardson, widow of Joseph Oliver was buried at the parish church in neighbouring Stoney Middleton.

Burial of Hannah Oliver January 17th 1815 at Stoney Middleton
Burial of Hannah Oliver January 17th, 1815 at Stoney Middleton

Some four years later Hannah Bocking, another local girl from the village of Litton, aged just sixteen, was also to meet the same fate as Anthony Lingard.

Hannah was tried for the poisoning of her friend, Jane Grant, who had angered her as Jane had succeeded in securing a job and Hannah had not.  She purchased arsenic on the basis that she had rats she needed to kill some ten weeks prior to committing the crime. She added the arsenic into a cake which, under the guise of civility, she offered to her victim. The excruciating torment in which Jane Grant died seemed to awaken no remorse in the guilty mind of Hannah.

During the long imprisonment which preceded the trial, Hannah showed no contrition. She showed no emotion when the sentence was passed and simply accepted her fate. During the night preceding her execution she slept soundly, and when the time arrived she ascended the platform with a steady step.

At the trial, Hannah implicated other members of her family, including her sister. It was not until the sentence of death was passed that Hannah retracted this and claimed sole responsibility for her actions. She was hanged at Derby on 22nd March, 1819. After hanging the usual time her body was taken down to be delivered to the surgeons for dissection. Great anxiety was expressed by her friends who wished to have the consolation of interring her body, however, the law at this time would not permit it.

St John the Baptist, Tideswell
St John the Baptist, Tideswell

Her victim, Jane Grant was buried at the neighbouring church in Tideswell, her entry unmistakably noted by the vicar denoting how she died – by arsenic poisoning and who it was that took her young life.

Burial of Jane daughter of Jane Grant of Litton
Burial of Jane daughter of Jane Grant of Litton, which took place September 19th, some considerable time after her death.

Sources used

Parish Registers for Tideswell & Litton.

Parish Registers for Stoney Middleton

Nottingham Gazette, and Political, Literary, Agricultural & Commercial Register for the  Midland Counties. 31 March 1815

Derby Mercury 09 January 1878

Northampton Mercury 28 January 1815

The execution and confession of Hannah Bocking, aged 16, of Litton

Bristol Mirror 03 April 1819 

Derby Mercury 25 March 1819

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Give us our Daily Bread

Bread, a staple of part of the diet today as much as it was in the Georgian era. Hardly something controversial or so you would think.

Kitchen Interior with Still Life by Samuel Smith; Bury Art Museum
Kitchen Interior with Still Life by Samuel Smith; Bury Art Museum

In 1757 the weight of a penny loaf was set to reflect the local cost of wheat. Parliament tried to get people to eat lower quality bread by creating the ‘Household Bread’ Act, which stated that half of all bread sold must contain a high proportion of coarse grain – this proved extremely unpopular. Bakers, on the other hand, began to adulterate the basic bread mixture with the addition of less wholesome ingredients such as alum, which they used to make bread appear whiter.

In order to prevent such bad practice it was decided that bakers convicted of adulterating their bread, or of having in their possession any mixture or ingredients with an intention to adulterate the purity of meal, flour or bread, should forfeit a sum not exceeding ten shilling, nor less than two shillings and by the same statute, that the magistrate before whom any such conviction should be made, could cause the offender’s name and place of abode to be published in or near the county, city or place where the offence was committed.

Last Wednesday Thomas Smithers, baker near the butcher row in East Smithfield, was convicted before John Fielding Esq; in the penalty of five shillings for having in his possession a quantity of undissolved alum and a quantity of dissolved alum, with an intention to mix and adulterate the purity of the product. The penalty of 5 shilling was repaid to Mr Fielding, for the use of Magdalen House.

Substitutes for bread by James Gillray. courtesy of Yale Centre for British Art
Substitutes for bread by James Gillray. courtesy of Yale Centre for British Art

There was an interesting article on this subject, in the Hampshire Chronicle dated 27th July 1795 regarding the Prince of Wales who, as we know, was a lover of food; was he trying to improve his diet or simply trying to cut down on the spending?

The Prince of Wales has ordered brown bread to be introduced at his own table at Brighton and forbidden the use of any other amongst his household. At Brighton camp, the officers have been given orders that they had resolved on the use of brown bread only, at their tables, under forfeiture of one month’s pay from each who shall break this resolution. The allowance of bread to each man at the above camp has been reduced from a pound and a half to one pound per day. The deficiency of bread has been made up for with meat and vegetables.

Bread was a continual source of angst for the government of the day. Towards the end of the century, there were successive bad wheat harvests resulting in the price of wheat doubling and with it pushing up the price of bread. This ultimately caused food riots up and down the country. The country turned against King George III attacking his carriage when he went to open Parliament, so again it was debated to work out what grain could be used as an alternative product.

Breakfast Still Life; Pieter Claesz; Roebuck Collection
Breakfast Still Life; Pieter Claesz; Roebuck Collection

The debate in the House of Commons went something like this:

The speaker of the House of Commons, Henry Addington, proposed that where families made use of vegetables in their diet the consumption of bread should be restrained to a quartern loaf (i.e. one weighing four pounds) a head per week. The harvest was looking better for this year so it was anticipated that the scarcity of bread would diminish.

However, he felt that bread made from full grain, bran as well as flour would be more nutritious. His wish was to remove the prejudice against brown bread. There was, of course, an objection to this proposal, that being that mixed bread was likely to be subject to adulteration than white bread. His opinion was that this notion was incorrect and that was easier to detect ingredients in brown rather than in white.

Lord Hawkesbury agreed to a certain extent but felt that such advantage might be over-rated, because swine and other creatures, whose flesh constituted part of human food, were fed by the very part of the meal, which was separated from the white flour, and thus possibly, the very article of bread itself might become scarcer if the practice of making white bread was totally discontinued; for a certain class of persons would be compelled to consume more bread than they do now if they had less animal food.  In a word, he thought there was sufficient to make it a matter of recommendation, but not of compulsion, to make bread of the whole meal.

Still life with Bread by Ceruti 1750
Still life with Bread by Ceruti 1750

After much debate, the Speaker strongly recommended Lord Sheffield was fully persuaded of the necessity of making a compulsory law to enforce the use of only one kind of bread. Mr Wilberforce agreed and gave notice that he would bring in a Bill. The report was agreed to and ordered to be printed.

So, in 1800, the ‘Making of Bread’ Act, also known as the ‘Brown Bread Act’ or the ‘Poison Act’ came into effect which prohibited millers from producing flour other than wholemeal. For many people, bread formed almost half of their diet and this Act proved so unpopular and difficult to enforce that on November 6th, 1801 it was repealed.

Featured Image

Still Life with Bread and Wine, Henri Horace Roland de la Porte (c.1724–1793), York Museums Trust

The Last Days of Mary Ann Burdock

We are delighted to welcome back to our blog, the author Naomi Clifford. For her book Women and the Gallows 1797-1837: Unfortunate Wretches, Naomi researched the stories of the 131 women who were hanged in England and Wales between 1797 and 1837. Here she outlines the last days of the notorious poisoner Mary Ann Burdock.

Women and the Gallows 1797-1837: Unfortunate Wretches by Naomi Clifford

For 25% off the RRP and free UK P&P phone 01226 73422 or visit Pen and Sword Books and use discount code WATG25 on the checkout page.

People passing by the solid stone gatehouse on Cumberland Road in Bristol would not necessarily be aware that it is all that remains of the city’s New Gaol and that it holds a truly grisly history. Two women were executed on the flat roof above the entrance: Sarah Harriet Thomas, the last person publicly hanged in Bristol, in 1849, and Mary Ann Burdock in 1835. [1]

Gateway to Bristol's Gaol, by Linda Bailey, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikicommons.
Gateway to Bristol’s Gaol, by Linda Bailey, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikicommons

A record crowd waited hours in the rain to witness Mary Ann’s final moments, at 1.40pm on 15 April 1835. The Bristol Mirror estimated the numbers at 50,000 and described it as ‘the largest assemblage of human beings we ever beheld’, their mass stretching ‘the entire line of Coronation Road, from the distance of 200 yards beyond the New Church, to the Bridges, and from the top of the river banks down nearly to the water’s edge’. While they assembled there was a bit of a carnival atmosphere; people did not seem overly impressed with the seriousness of what was about to happen.

Then at about 1.30pm, if they were close enough to get a good view of proceedings, they watched a small female figure dressed in black appear on the platform accompanied by the prison Governor, under-sheriff, turnkeys, executioner and the chaplain, the Rev Jenning. They might have heard Jenning intoning the funeral service… ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life…’ At this point, as understanding that events were reaching a climax rippled through the crowd, the feeling amongst the spectators changed. A ‘shuddering and anxious silence’ pervaded.

Bristol New Cut showing the New Gaol and gateway
Bristol New Cut showing the New Gaol and gateway

Those close enough to the gatehouse would have perceived that there was a hiatus on the platform while an umbrella was called for – whether for Mary Ann or for the Chaplain was unclear. Probably only the official entourage on the platform and the newspaper reporters, who were allowed special access, would have heard the Governor ask Mary to move to her place on the trapdoor and her refusal: ‘I will wait for the umbrella.’ The Governor again insisted and again she refused. But the Rev Jenning resumed reading the service and Mary Ann was led reluctantly but not resisting to the drop. The journalists noted that her face suddenly drained of colour.

Why was there such a degree of interest in this particular execution? Why such enormous crowds? Certainly, Mary Ann’s gender was a draw. This was the first hanging of a female in Bristol since 1802 when friends Maria Davis and Charlotte Bobbett were dispatched on St Michael’s Hill holding hands, punishment for abandoning Davis’s 15-month-old son on Brandon Hill where he died of exposure, and the first since 1832 when William Clarke, Thomas Gregory, Christopher Davis and Joseph Kayes were hanged for rioting. There was the added factor that Mary Ann was young – 30 or 35 at most – and attractive, and her crime had given her a new level of local notoriety. The public was much exercised at the time by an apparent spike in poisoning murders by women.

Mary Ann Burdock in court, Bristol Mirror, 18 April 1835
Mary Ann Burdock in court, Bristol Mirror, 18 April 1835

Burdock was born Mary Ann Williams at Urcop near Ross on Wye in Herefordshire. Aged 19, she joined the household of Mr Plumley, a poulterer living in Nicholas Street, Bristol but was abruptly sacked for petty theft and ‘other improper acts’. Soon afterwards she married Charles Agar, a tailor, but he left her and she then lived with Mr Thomas, a married gentleman’s servant. Later, she ‘formed a connection’ with Mr Wade, who kept a lodging house at 17 Trinity Street. A son and daughter were born but it is not clear who their fathers were. Mary Ann appeared to live by her wits. She was illiterate and, as the middle classes tut-tutted to each other, had no knowledge of religion.

It was in the Trinity Street house, in October 1833, that one of the lodgers, Mrs Clara Smith, a widow in her fifties, was suddenly taken ill with severe stomach pains and expired soon afterwards. Mary Ann told anyone who was interested that Mrs Smith had died in poverty and had no relations and she herself hastily arranged a burial for her lodger at St Augustine’s Church.

But Mrs Smith was not poor. Quite the opposite. She was known to hoard large quantities of cash because she did not trust banks and kept her money, possibly as much as £3,000, in a locked box in her room. It did not go unnoticed that soon after her death, Mr Wade and Mary Ann started doing noticeably well: Wade was able to pay off his debts and bought £400 worth of stock to start a business. But Wade’s own run of luck was short. By April 1834 he too was dead and within weeks Mary Ann was bigamously married to Paul Burdock. She was still legally married to Charles Agar, of course.[2]

A few months later, Mrs Smith’s relatives, who had been living abroad, arrived in Bristol and started making inquiries about her estate. Suspicions were aroused. Mrs Smith’s body was exhumed and the contents of the stomach sent to the analytical chemist William Herapath of Bristol Medical School, who identified arsenic.

On 10 April 1835 Mary Ann came to trial at the Guildhall before Sir Charles Wetherell, the same hardline anti-Reform Recorder of Bristol whose arrival in Bristol for the assize in 1831 had provoked civil disturbance during which four people were killed and 86 wounded and after which Clarke, Gregory, Davis and Kayes were hanged.

Bristol Riots: The Burning of the New Gaol from Canon's Mars by William James Muller
Bristol Riots: The Burning of the New Gaol from Canon’s Marsh by William James Muller; Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

Mary Ann’s trial lasted three days, ending with a nine-hour summing up by Wetherell, after which the jury retired for 15 minutes and returned a verdict of Guilty. Execution was inevitable [2].

Two days later, on the morning of her death, dressed in a black dress, bonnet and veil and wrapped in a dark shawl, Mary Ann attended the condemned service in the prison. She sat in chapel ‘sullenly silent, never once rising or kneeling’. At one o’clock, leaning on the Governor’s arm, she was led out to the press room situated under the platform in the gatehouse to be prepared for the gallows. Her bonnet and shawl were removed, her arms pinioned, a white cap placed on her head and the rope put around her head. According to newspaper reports, it was only then that she responded to Jenning’s prayers and uttered loudly ‘Lord have mercy on my soul’ and ‘Christ have mercy on my soul.’

Understandably, she was in no hurry to proceed to the next stage and when reminded that it was time to go said, ‘Dear gentlemen, the time is short – it is hard to die.’ She asked to be remembered to her husband, who seems to have abandoned her, and friends. Faced with the stairs up through the gatehouse to the roof, she again hesitated but when the Governor offered assistance, declared that she could manage.

On the platform, the executioner William Calcraft fastened the rope to the gallows, pulled the white cap over her face and placed a handkerchief in her hand. This was to be the signal she was ready for him to release the trap door. Within seconds she dropped the handkerchief and was hanged. ‘A thrill of terror pervaded every countenance,’ according to the Bristol Mirror. Mary Ann died relatively quickly ‘with a slight convulsive movement of the hands’, her ‘stoutness’ apparently helping to speed her end.

Mary Ann Burdock’s body was taken down from the gallows and casts were made of her head and bust for the use of doctors at Bristol Royal Infirmary, after which it was buried within the precincts of the gaol, the Anatomy Act of 1832 having ended the practice of dissection of murderers’ corpses. Three weeks later ‘P.R’ wrote to Richard Smith, chief surgeon of the Infirmary, with the conclusions of a phrenological analysis of the casts, which concluded that they indicated Destructiveness, Combativeness, Secretiveness, a lack of Benevolence as well as ‘a masculine degree of force and energy’. That energy was, of course, now extinguished.[3]

The next and last person executed on the roof of the gatehouse was 19-year-old Sarah Harriet Thomas, convicted of bludgeoning her elderly employer to death. It was a traumatising scene. Sarah was dragged struggling and screaming to the roof of the gatehouse, pleading for mercy until the end. The prison governor fainted.[4]

The gaol closed in 1883, replaced by the prison at Horfield, and the site was sold to Great Western Railway. The gaol ruins were gradually removed and the ground levelled for rail yards and buildings. The gatehouse, now Grade II listed, is all that remains. Now a shiny new development is planned, the entrance to which will be through the gatehouse. As they pass through perhaps residents and visitors will spare a thought for the souls who were dispatched just a few metres above them.

Notes

[1] A total of nine people were executed on the flat roof above the entrance to the gaol. The original gatehouse, first built in 1820, was demolished in 1831, having been damaged in riots, and was rebuilt in 1832. Historic England.

[2] Bristol Mirror, Royal Cornwall Gazette 18 April 1835.

[3] Charles Agar, Burdock’s legal spouse, later sued Stuckey’s bank for the contents of Mary Ann’s bank account, some of which was probably ill-gotten gains from Mrs Smith. He won.

[4] Bristol Mirror, 2 May 1835.

 

Scene in a Bedchamber; British School, c.1700; V&A.

The Life of Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon

In our book, An Infamous Mistress: The Life Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott, we uncover Grace’s maternal family for the first time and reveal that her aunt was the Countess of Peterborough. Robinaiana Brown was, for many years, the mistress of Charles Mordaunt, 4th Earl of Peterborough (and 2nd Earl of Monmouth): he could not marry her for he already had a wife. When that wife died he married Robinaiana with indecent haste, anxious that the child she was carrying could be born legitimate.

The 4th Earl of Peterborough was not the only member of his family to have marital misadventures, for three successive generations of the House of Mordaunt made irregular marriages. We’re going to slip in to the end of the reign of Queen Anne to have a look at the 4th earl’s father, John, wonderfully titled the Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon in the county of Somerset (c.1681-1710), who, like his own father Charles Mordaunt (1658-1735), the ‘celebrated’ 3rd Earl of Peterborough (and 1st Earl of Monmouth), was a noted military commander.

Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough (1658-1735) by Charles Jervas (c.1675-1739). Burghley House Collections.
Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough (1658-1735) by Charles Jervas (c.1675-1739). Burghley House Collections.

John was a Colonel in the army, fighting bravely with the Duke of Marlborough’s forces: a wound received during the Battle of Blenheim (August 1704) caused him to lose his left arm.   He also followed the example of his father when it came to matters of matrimony. The 3rd Earl of Peterborough had eloped with John’s mother, Carey Fraser and initially kept the marriage secret. (Carey Fraser the daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser was, by her mother, a descendant of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne, as was the 3rd earl’s mother, Elizabeth Carey.)[i]

The Battle of Blenheim, 13 August 1704 by John Ross.
The Battle of Blenheim, 13 August 1704 by John Ross. Government Art Collection.

Following John’s rejection (in 1703) as a suitor for the hand the Duke of Marlborough’s daughter, Mary, the duke wrote:

I have heard that he is what they call a rascal, which can never make a good husband.

In 1705 history repeated itself and John Mordaunt eloped with Lady Frances, daughter of Charles Powlett, 2nd Duke of Bolton. His parents, despite their own elopement, disapproved. Lady Frances might have been the daughter of a duke but she had brought no money to the marriage and there were no expectations of a later settlement from her father. John’s mother was especially displeased, writing to Lord Shaftesbury that her son’s:

unhappy marriage had shown the deepest ‘ingratitude’: ‘O that Heaven had left him no hand to dispose of!

Their marriage has not yet been discovered and possibly it was conducted abroad, for Lord Mordaunt was neglecting his military duties in 1706 to attend to ‘his lady, who is at Ghent’.

Scene in a Bedchamber; British School, c.1700; V&A.
Scene in a Bedchamber; British School, c.1700; V&A.

By April 1708 Lord Mordaunt and his regiment were quartered in York. As well as his military career he had also entered the political arena, but now he stood down. The parish register of St Mary Bishophill Senior in York contains the baptism entry, on 19th Oct 1708, of Charles, son of Lord Mordon [sic] and on 16th Dec 1709 the baptism of John, son of the same. John, Lord Mordaunt and his wife Frances were living at Middlethorpe Hall at the time, a beautiful William and Mary country house located about two miles from York city centre, built in 1699 for Thomas Barlow, a master cutler from Sheffield.[ii] We have a brief description of the Hall dating from 1702 recorded in the diary of the Yorkshire antiquarian Ralph Thoresby:

17th September 1702. ‘Received a visit from Mr. Barlow, of Middlethorp, near York, which very curious house he built after the Italian mode he had observed in his travels to Rome…

As the Barlow’s retained custody of the hall well into the latter years of the eighteenth-century, the Mordaunt’s were temporarily renting the residence. (Following the Mordaunts’ residence there, in 1712 Thomas Barlow embarked upon the Grand Tour with his son Francis and the hall was let to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.)

Middlethorpe Hall
Middlethorpe Hall. © Copyright J Thomas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

By September 1709 the disagreement between the 3rd Earl of Peterborough and his eldest son over the elopement was at an end. For the earl was also staying at Middlethorpe Hall; he wrote to the Duke of Marlborough from there, congratulating him on his recent military success in France in taking the fortress of Tournai. Possibly the birth of John’s son and heir had mended the rift?

Sept. 12th, 1709

I received the late agreeable news at my Lord Mordaunt’s house in Yorkshire, where Lord Huntley had brought his wife to see me… I congratulate your Grace the more upon this occasion, because it seems by the account we have received that the enemies never fought so well; the vigorous resistance added a grace to your victory and will make their submission less shameful. Upon Lake’s death, I desired Lord Mordaunt to make all possible haste to his regiment.

A year later all turned to tragedy. Smallpox was a dreaded disease at the time, with no class distinctions, striking down the wealthy in just the same way as the poor. It must have been particularly virulent that year as both John, Viscount Mordaunt, and his younger brother Henry (a naval officer) succumbed to the disease. By the middle of April, both brothers had been consigned to their eternal rest inside the family vault at their estate of Turvey in Bedfordshire.[iii]

On Thursday last, the Lord Mordaunt, only Son to the Right Hon. the Earl of Peterborough and Colonel of the Scotch Fuziliers, died of the Small-Pox, at Winchester, much lamented; he has left behind him two Sons.

John died intestate and administration of his effects was granted to a creditor in August 1711. Regardless of the fact that his ancestors lay buried there, many years later Charles, 5th Earl of Peterborough and 3rd Earl of Monmouth sold Turvey to cover costs following a Criminal Conversation case after Lord Foley discovered him in flagrante delicto with Lady Foley in a shrubbery.

Lord Peterborough and Lady Foley ' in flagrante delicto'.
Lord Peterborough and Lady Foley ‘ in flagrante delicto’.

The 5th Earl was Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s cousin – who knew that she was not the only member of her family to appear in a Criminal Conversation trial! But, for more information on Grace and her family you’ll have to read our book, An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott. Currently, and for a limited time, it is available at the bargain price of just £4.99 as an eBook (Kindle and ePub) direct from Pen and Sword.

If you prefer to read a physical book, Pen and Sword also have both An Infamous Mistress and our second book, A Right Royal Scandal on offer at the moment for just £31.49 with free postage when they are bought together, saving 30% on the RRP price. You can get this offer by clicking here.

 

Notes:

[i] The 3rd Earl of Peterborough married, secondly, the opera singer Anastasia Robinson – and that marriage was kept secret for many years, publicly acknowledged only months before the earl’s death.

[ii] Viscount Mordaunt died intestate; his probate confirms the place of his death and says he was ‘of Middlethorpe.’

[iii] Henry Mordaunt died on the 24th February 1710 at Bath (and was buried on the 1st March). Just over a month after his brother’s burial, John, Lord Mordaunt, also succumbed to the same disease, dying at Winchester on 5th April and joining his brother in the family vault on 13th April 1710.

Blackfriars Bridge and St. Paul's by Francis Nicholson, c.1790.

French Misadventure: Alexander and William Walker

As Lewis Troughton, the Beadle of Christ Church, Southwark walked along Blackfriars Road one crisp, fine November day in 1817, his attention was taken by a crowd gathered around two young and frightened boys who were dressed ‘in the French costume’. Only two years after the Battle of Waterloo, the youngsters garb might have excited some suspicions but when they began to explain their predicament the mystery only deepened. The younger of the two, aged around nine or  ten years, was sitting in the road crying, his feet blistered and his legs swollen and no matter how much the elder lad, who looked to be about twelve, begged him to get up he refused; he could not, he cried, walk another step.

Blackfriars from Southwark, London; Daniel Turner; City of London Corporation
Blackfriars from Southwark, London; Daniel Turner; City of London Corporation

The beadle intervened and took the boys to Mr Evance, the Surrey magistrate where they were asked to give their names and the elder of the two, an intelligent lad, told their sorry tale, which was then reported in the newspapers as follows.

The two boys were brothers, Alexander and William Walker; their father had been an officer in a dragoon regiment and lived in County Tyrone, Ireland. Their maternal grandfather was a Frenchman who lived near to Amiens and, some four months earlier, the family had received news that the old man was dying and wanted to see his daughter one last time. Mrs Walker set off for her former homeland, taking her two sons with her, and they made it in time to pay their respects. However, a fortnight after her father’s death, Mrs Walker was taken ill and also died. The two boys were left all alone in a strange country, with no other relatives to care for them.

French School, 19th Century. Amiens, St. Luc Neighborhood and Cathedral
French School, 19th Century. Amiens, St. Luc Neighborhood and Cathedral. Via Expertissim.

A French lady who had known their grandfather sold the clothes left by their mother, presumably fine ones, and dressed the two boys in poorer clothes. She then gave them a small sum of money, told them that it was all that was left and pointed them towards the road that led to Boulogne. Did she see an opportunity and cheat them or was this the best way she could provide for their journey home? However it came about, the brothers were destitute when they reached Boulogne but luckily they found a kindly captain of a Dover packet who took pity on them and allowed them to sail on board his ship.

Sands near Boulogne by William Clarkson Stanfield, 1838. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Sands near Boulogne by William Clarkson Stanfield, 1838. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

From Dover, the boys decided to walk to London, begging their way and hoping to find a way to travel from there to Dublin where they had friends who would take them home to their father. And so they had been found, with their money spent and their legs so swollen that they could go no further. Luckily for them, the officers of Christ Church were charitable and, once the pair were recovered, they were helped to get back to Ireland and their home.

The Beggar Boy; John Opie; Falmouth Art Gallery
The Beggar Boy; John Opie; Falmouth Art Gallery

So, who was their father? Although the newspapers which reported on the story said he was an officer in a dragoon regiment, we do wonder if he was not the William Walker who was a private in the 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons? William Walker was born in Ballygreenan (Baile an Ghrianáin) in County Tyrone, c.1769, and enlisted at the age of nineteen. He was discharged in December 1814, at the age of 45, due to ill-health and in consequence of:

Asthma of long standing, worn out and lately returned from France where he has been a Prisoner several years.

This dragoon regiment had seen action at Bousbecque on the French/Belgian border in 1794 as part of the Flanders Campaign and had returned to England the following year. After that, they went to Africa and on to India where they remained until 1819. Had Private Walker been held a prisoner in northern France since the skirmish at Bousbecque until 1814? And had he met and married his French wife during that time, fathering two sons despite his status as a prisoner of war?

Finally in 1794 the 8th moved to the low countries for eighteen months of conflict. The first battle they fought on the continent in May surpassed even “The Charge of the Light Brigade” for bravery and devotion to duty. Two squadrons of the 8th charged a body of French infantry supported by four guns well positioned in a churchyard in the village of Bousbecque. The 8th Light Dragoons routed the infantry, jumped the churchyard walls and captured the guns. The casualties were staggering, of the 200 men who engaged the French, 186 were killed, wounded or captured. Lesser skirmishes followed for a year as the allies were pushed back into Germany and then left for England in November 1795.

NB: Private Walker’s discharge papers gave his birthplace as Ballygrina, Co. Tyrone, Ballygreenan is the closest approximation to this that we could find.

Sources:

Evening Mail, 5th November 1817

The Queen’s Royal Hussar’s Association – click here for more

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Header image:

Blackfriars Bridge and St. Paul’s by Francis Nicholson, c.1790. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

The Death of Princess Charlotte 1796-1817

Prince George (later King George IV) and Princess Caroline’s daughter, Princess Charlotte, tragically died shortly after the birth of her still-born son on 6th November 1817. As the original ‘people’s princess’, we thought we would take a look at how the media of the day reported this sad news.

Princess Charlotte Memorial Ring, Black enamel mourning band, dated 1817, commemorating the death of Princess Charlotte.
Princess Charlotte Memorial Ring, Black enamel mourning band, dated 1817, commemorating the death of Princess Charlotte.

On Wednesday, 5th November 1817 Claremont House, at 10pm, issued the following bulletin.

At nine o’clock this evening, her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte was delivered of a still-born male child. Her Royal Highness is doing extremely well.

Caroline, Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1801. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Caroline, Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1801. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

The London Gazette gave a more detailed account of the events leading up to her death.

Her Royal Highness, the Princess Charlotte Augusta, daughter of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent and consort of his Serene Highness Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg was delivered of a stillborn son at 9 o’clock last night, and about half past twelve her Royal Highness was seized with great difficulty of breathing, restlessness and exhaustion, which alarming symptoms increased till half past 2 o’clock this morning, when her Royal Highness expired, to the inexpressible grief of his Royal Highness the Prince regent, of her illustrious consort, the Prince Leopold and of all the Royal family.

Princess Charlotte c1816 by Charlotte Jones. Courtesy of the Royal Collection
Princess Charlotte c1816 by Charlotte Jones. Courtesy of the Royal Collection

At 6 o’clock on 6th November, Claremont House issued this statement.

I had hoped to have sent you very, very different tidings; and yesterday, when I despatched my last letter to you, I felt confident that my next would have announced the commutation of our wishes, in the birth of a future heir or heiress. However, I will endeavour to write all I have heard, as well as the general grief and consternation will allow me. Monday in the night, or about 3 on Tuesday morning, her Royal Highness was taken ill, and expresses were sent off to the great Officers of State, the Archbishop of Canterbury immediate attendance, Earl Bathurst, Lord Sidmouth, the Lord Chancellor, Mr Vansittart, together with the Archbishop and Bishop immediately attended.

Dr Baillie and Dr Croft were the medical attendants. During the whole of Monday, the labour advanced slowly, but without the least appearance of danger. Princess Charlotte showed uncommon firmness and the utmost resignation. Towards evening, as the labour lingered, it was deemed advisable to send for Dr Sims, who arrived in the middle of the night. Nothing could be going better, though too slowly and the excellent constitution of the Princess gave every assurance that she would not be too much exhausted by the delay. No language, no panegyric can be too warm for the manner in which Prince Leopold conducted himself. He was incessant in his attendance and no countenance could more deeply express the anxiety he felt. Once or twice he exclaimed to the medical attendant that the unrepining patient endurance also a deep affliction at her sufferings being so lengthened.

About six o’clock yesterday, the labour advanced more rapidly, and no apprehensions were entertained of any fatal results; and the child was ascertained to be still living. At nine o’clock her Royal Highness was delivered of a male child, but still-born. Throughout the whole of this long and painful labour, her Royal Highness evinced the greatest firmness, and received the communication of the child being dead born with much resignation and saying that it was the will of God.

Prince Leopold exclaimed to the medical attendants as soon as the intelligence was communicated to him ‘Thank God, thank God, the Princess is safe’. The child was perfect, and one of the finest infants brought into the world.

The Princess was composed after her delivery, and though of course much exhausted, every hope was entertained of her doing well. This pleasing intelligence being communicated to the great officers of State who left Claremont about 11 o’clock.  

It was reported that although exhausted the Princess took some gruel, but expressed difficulty in swallowing it, she also complained of feeling very chilly and a pain in her stomach. The nurse, Mrs Griffiths was concerned and summoned the doctors to return.

A little after 12, a change was observed in her Royal Highness, her quiet left her, she became restless and uneasy and the medical attendants were alarmed. Expresses were sent off, I believe to the Officers of State stating the change that had taken place. From half past 12 restlessness and convulsions increased till nature and life were quite exhausted, and her Royal Highness expired at half past 2 this morning. Prince Leopold was with her Royal Highness at this agonizing moment.

Princess Charlotte of Wales c.1817, by Joseph Lee. Courtesy of the Royal Collection
c.1817, by Joseph Lee. Courtesy of the Royal Collection

Featured Image

The Funeral Ceremony of Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Wales and Saxe Coburg. In St. Georges Chapel, Windsor. the 19 of November 1817.  published 1 Feb 1818 Courtesy of the Royal Collection RCIN 750746

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.

So, how, in the Georgian Era did England celebrate this failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament?  Well, it seems that things have changed little since then, bonfires, burning effigies and setting off fireworks were the order of the day, just as they are today. We thought we would take a look at a few reports from the newspapers. The first thing we should just point out is the spelling of his name has evolved from Guy Faux as he was known in the Georgian Era to the name by which we know him today –  Guy Fawkes.

Guy Vaux or Fox blowing up the Parliament House.
Guy Vaux or Fox blowing up the Parliament House. courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

In the 1600’s Popish books and pictures were burnt and from the early 1700’s the event was celebrated with the ringing of church bells and bonfires. This is the earliest reference we have come across regarding the symbolic creation and burning of an effigy.

Flying Post or The Post Master , November 4, 1712 - November 6, 1712
Flying Post or The Post Master, November 4, 1712 – November 6, 1712

Even royal residences joined in, as demonstrated in an etching by Paul Sandby which depicts a view of the festivities in the lower court of Windsor Castle during Guy Faux Night, showing the gathering near the bonfire and fireworks in the sky.

Windsor Castle from the lower court on the 5th of Nov[embe]r by Paul Sandby, 1776. British Library.
Windsor Castle from the lower court on the 5th of Nov[embe]r by Paul Sandby, 1776. British Library.
According to the Derby Mercury, 15th November 1792:

On the 5th of November, a number of people, at least five hundred, assembled in St George’s Field’s, carrying at their head an exceedingly elegant dressed figure, with a crown upon its head, which as occasion required they denoted Guy Faux or the Duke of Brunswick; this was preceded by a man carrying a long pole, on the top of which was a board, with the inscription’ Universal Liberty and no Despots’. This figure, after they sufficiently paraded it about the streets, they carried to Kennington Common, when a large gallows was erected, upon which, after burning the crown, they hung it, and then burnt it, gallows and all, the mob dancing round signing.

A completely different approach to the day was taken in Hampshire in 1801, it was a far more sedate occasion, with the day being ushered in by the ringing of bells and at twelve o’clock the guns on the platform and at one o’clock the ships at Spithead fired a salute.

In 1801, The Stamford Mercury, however, carried the following news:

Among the different effigies of Guy Faux which were exited in this city [Lincoln] on the 5th November, we could not but notice one in the habit of an honest farmer, with the characteristic emblems of a sickle, smock frock etc which was hung up near the toll bar. While we can smile at such a piece of harmless wit, we are happy to congratulate the more peaceable inhabitants on a second year passing over without the horrid practice of bull baiting; the enormity and cruelty of which, we should hope, the populace themselves are at last fully sensible of, and will in future discontinue.

Execution of two celebrated enemies of old England and their dying speeches Novr. 5 1813.
Execution of two celebrated enemies of old England and their dying speeches Novr. 5 1813. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

In 1802 a great annoyance was occasioned to the public by a set of idle fellows going about previous to, and on, the fifth of November, with a figure dressed up as Guy Faux and, after assembling a mob, was the cause of many depredations and disorders. The magistrate determined to punish all such offenders in the future and, therefore, five men and a boy were apprehended in St. Martin’s Street, with a cart, in which was a rude figure as the effigy of Guy Faux. One of the party was dressed as a priest, habited in a white smock-frock, with a large wig, the boy riding on horseback as the sheriff conducting the offender to the place of execution. They were immediately taken before Mr Graham, at Bow Street; and it being proven on oath, that the prisoners were seen to beg and receive money, they were all, except the boy, committed to prison as idle and disorderly persons.

Guy-Vaux discovered in his attempt to destroy the King & the House of Lords : his companions attempting to escape. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Guy Vaux discovered in his attempt to destroy the King & the House of Lords: his companions attempting to escape. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

In 1814, a most melancholy accident happened in Northampton Street, Clerkenwell, where some boys had a bonfire to celebrate the annual burning of Guy Faux, and throwing squibs; a wagon and horses passing at the time, the horses took fright and ran off, when a young man ran in front to stop them, he was pushed down by the foremost horse and the wagon passed over his boy and killed him on the spot.

London celebrated relatively peacefully in 1821, as The Morning Post reported that:

The anniversary of the gunpowder plot, which has caused so many scenes of painful confusion here, passed off last night, with the hissing explosions of a few squibs and crackers, here and there a bonfire, with Guy Faux in flames and with but little inconvenience or damage to anyone. The constables were commendably on the alert.

In The Globe of 1812, we learnt that:

Ever since the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Faux meant to blow up the Parliament House, it has been the custom, on the first day of the session, for certain officers to examine the cellars under the House, and ascertain that all is right. Accordingly, at eleven o’clock, on Tuesday morning, Lord Gwydir, the officiating Great Chamberlain of England; Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, the Usher of the Black Rod; Mr Curtis, Exon of the Yeoman of the Yeoman of the Guard, attended at the House of Lords to examine the premises. For this purpose, the table in (the House of Peers was removed, the trap door under it was taken up, and the passages underneath were closely inspected. They also inspected the vaults under the House of Commons, which are filled with excellent wines, of which the inspectors tested, that they might be sure they were not gunpowder.

Just in case you weren’t aware, this tradition still takes place today.

Featured Image

The Fairs or Guy Fawkes a Print made by Rowney & Forster, active 1820–1822,  after John Augustus Atkinson, 1775–1831. Courtesy of the Yale Centre for British Art