Gruesome Murder at the Grey Coat School in 1773

As is often the way we were researching something completely different when we came across the story of a gruesome murder which we thought we would share with you that took place at the Grey Coat School (the one attended today by David Cameron’s daughter).

Grey Coat School

Henry Lockington, a young man aged about twenty years, was examined on suspicion of having willfully murdered Alice Martin, a nurse at the Grey Coat school (commonly known as the Grey Coat hospital) in Tothill Fields, Westminster.

Greycoat school
Courtesy of British History Online

The newspaper, The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser dated  Thursday, March 11, 1773 provides the details:

It appeared by the evidence of Mr. Boorten, master of the school and four of the charity children, that the prisoner came to the hospital on Saturday evening, Monday noon and Monday evening, that he always asked to speak with Mrs. Martin and that after being let in he was not so keen to go out the gate.

Miss Berry proved that Mrs. Martin, after letting him out, told her on the Sunday that he was the son of an acquaintance, that he came to borrow money, that she had lent him a guinea, that his mother owed her four guineas, and that he then wanted more than a guinea, and offered her his note; but being an apprentice, she did not choose to lend her money on such security.

A hat and a bloody knife found in the apartment of the deceased were produced, when Mr. Walker of James Street, Covent Garden (the master of the prisoner), after being sworn in the manner an oath is usually administered to a member of the Kirk of Scotland, declared he believed the hat to be the property of the prisoner, and one of his journeymen swore to having seen the knife in the possession of Lockington.

The lad appeared to be exceedingly penitent and confessed that he had committed the murder, he could give no account of why he did it, but a motive of covetousness.  Twenty-two guineas and some other matters the property of the deceased were produced by Mr. Bond who found them on the prisoner when he apprehended him.

The death wound was a cut four inches across the throat, where the incision was so deep that the wind pipe was nearly parted.  The deceased also received a cut on the head and another in the side of her face; it appeared that she did not fall till she quitted the room in which the wounds were given by the prisoner.

Murder is one of those horrid crimes at which nature revolts; and it rarely happens that the wretch who wars against humanity, and assumes the dreadful power of depriving a fellow creature of existence, escapes the merited punishment.

Alice Martin was buried Thursday 11th March 1773 at St John the Evangelist, Smith Square, Westminster.

We tried to find out what became of Henry, expecting a sentence to be handed down, but instead we found his death in the newspaper, but no explanation as to how he died. From the Old Bailey Session Papers is seems likely that he was due to be transported as his name was amongst a list of felons for whom their sentence was transportation.

died in gaol

He was buried as a dissenter on 10th April 1773 at Bunhill Fields burial ground. no explanation was offered as to the cause of his demise.

Henry Lockington

 

l66-a096t

Header Image

Westminster Abbey from Tothill Fields [where the Grey Coat School was situated] by John Varley, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Other Sources

The Ipswich Journal 13 March 1773

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 18 March 1773

Middlesex Journal or Universal Evening Post , April 6, 1773 – April 8, 1773

London Lives 

Image of Grey Coat School was courtesy of  Ash Rare Books

18th Century Stomachers

Like everything in fashion, stomachers came in and out of vogue, but during the 18th century they were very much statement pieces especially those made for the wealthier members of society and the newspapers always deemed elaborate stomachers worthy of mention when describing the outfits worn by the nobility.

A stomacher is a triangular shaped panel that fills the front of a woman’s gown and was worn from around the 15th century, but of course today we’re going to take a look at some of the ones worn in the 18th century.

004
c1750. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum.

By the end of the 18th century stomachers could be as deep as 10 inches below the waist which would have made them very uncomfortable for a woman to sit down.

In this painting we can clearly see the beautiful stomacher worn by Madame de Pompadour, renown for her love of fashion.

1759. Madame De Pompadour courtesy of the Wallace Collection 1
1759. Madame De Pompadour courtesy of the Wallace Collection

They were often embroidered or covered with jewels, none more so than those designed for royalty as shown in this newspaper article.

St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, August 13, 1761

The rich diamond stomacher for our intended Queen is quite finished, and is the richest thing of the kind ever seen; the capital stone of which is worth about fifteen thousand pounds and the whole piece is valued at one hundred thousand pounds.

Charlotte
Allan Ramsay (1713-84) Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) c.1760-61 Oil on canvas | RCIN 405308 Courtesy of the Royal Collection

Morning Post and Gazetteer, Thursday, March 13, 1800

Fashions vary here as often as the wind; Negligés are now worn, the stomacher of which falls lower than the girdle. The robes are very open at the bosom. The girdles are tied either before or behind.

Boston Museum of fine Art
1730-1740. White cotton embroidered with polychrome silk and gilt-silver yarns in vining floral motif. Two side panels lace with gilt-silver lacing over center panel; four flaring tabs at base; gilt-silver galloon trim. 6 linen tabs and 2 linen ties at sides. Linen lining. The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection Courtesy of the Boston Museum of Fine Art

General Evening Post , October 8, 1778

On Thursday evening about seven o’clock their majesties set out from St James’s to stand sponsors for the newborn daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Chandos: her majesty was magnificently dressed in white, flounced with silver and a superb stomacher; the Countess of Hertford, as Lady of the Bedchamber and Miss Vernon and Jefferys, all dress in white, attended on the occasion. His majesty was dressed in a French grey with silver trimming.

Alexander_Roslin_031
1753. Portrait of an unknown Lady by Alexander Roslin. Courtesy of the National Museum, Stockholm

Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, Wednesday, January 18, 1792

The stomacher to be worn today by the Duchess of York is valued at twenty-two thousand pounds – it consists entirely of diamonds; the centre stone alone is supposed to be worth £10,000. The top is festooned, and the centre diamond is set brilliant fashion, as are all the others, pendant in rows from the festoon, in the most elegant manner that can be imagined.

Working Title/Artist: Robe a la Francaise, French or Austrian, ca. 1765, silk Department: Costume Institute Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: photographed by mma in 2001, transparency 3a scanned by film & media 7/23/03 (phc)
Working Title/Artist: Robe a la Francaise, French or Austrian, ca. 1765, silk
Department: Costume Institute

And finally, we came across this sad story in World and Fashionable Advertiser, Monday, July 16, 1787.

The following are the particulars of the unfortunate girl who hung herself last Wednesday week in South Moulton Street: She had been to the Haymarket Theatre with her friend and constant companion Miss Edwards; upon the latter intimating a wish to retire, Miss Charlotte Wood requested she would, and said she should follow shortly. Upon her friend retiring, she sent the maid to bed, and bolted the dining room door. Nothing was heard that night; the next morning she was found hanging in her garters from a peg in a closet with a paper pinned to her stomacher, expressing she had committed this rash act from the love she bore to a Mr A____r, who, we understand is a musician in this town.

William Goodwin, haberdasher, at the Sun & Falcon, facing Leather Lane in Holbourn, from the late Mr. Walkwoods LWL
William Goodwin, haberdasher, at the Sun & Falcon, facing Leather Lane in Holbourn, from the late Mr. Walkwoods Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

The wheelwright of Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire

Wollaton Hall, situated in parkland close to the city of Nottingham in the English midlands, dates from the Elizabethan period. It is now home to Nottingham’s natural history museum.

Wollaton Hall and Park, Nottinghamshire c.1697 by Jan Siberechts Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Wollaton Hall and Park, Nottinghamshire c.1697 by Jan Siberechts
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

In the 1820s and into the 1830s William Burton, a wheelwright by trade, was working at the Hall while renovations were being carried out by the then owner Henry Willoughby, 6th Baron Middleton (1761-1835). William Burton left a letter for a future generation of craftsmen to find, hidden in the fabric of the Hall. His letter, which admittedly falls just outside our remit of writing about the Georgian Era, but only just as it was written less than three months into the reign of William IV, is given below.

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham by Hendrik Frans de Cort, c.1795 Nottingham City Museums and Galleries
Wollaton Hall, Nottingham by Hendrik Frans de Cort, c.1795
Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

September 8th 1830

William Burton Wheelwright, the Son of John & Hannah Burton of the Kings Head Public House Wollaton whose ancesters came from London when Wollaton House was first Built as Blacksmiths.

Born March 4th 1798 having now worked 8 years for Henry Lord Middleton as wheelwright hee his now in his 70th year of age at Birdsall.

The Panneling of the top of the Great Hall now Put up & the Arches Repaired & Strengthened by Iron Rods &c the job was done in a Great Hurry upwards of 40 Hands Employed. We got Plenty of Beer & I hope your not short.

I found no Monney nor non I can Leave.

God bless you & I hope hee has got mee when you find this.

The Wollaton estate encompassed Birdsall House near Malton in East Yorkshire, originally a Tudor building which was remodelled in the Georgian Era, and Lord Middleton was obviously living there while his workmen renovated Wollaton Hall. William hid his letter under the beams of the ceiling of the three story high Great Hall of Wollaton Hall, and God did indeed have him by the time the letter was found, for it remained in its hiding place until 1954 when further renovations to the building discovered it.

Plan of Wollaton Hall, Notthinghamshire, c.1811, by John Bucker FSA and John Chessell Buckler Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Plan of Wollaton Hall, Notthinghamshire, c.1811, by John Bucker FSA and John Chessell Buckler
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

A note from the past

Workmen repairing the roof of the Natural History Museum at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, have found a letter written to them 124 years ago by a workman employed on the roof the last time it was repaired.

In a large clear hand, William Burton, a wheelwright, address the letter to the workmen who next repaired the building. It was dated September 8. 1830, and he put it under the beams in the roof. In it, he mentioned having worked eight years for Henry, Lord Middleton (the sixth Lord) then living at the Hall… The letter has been framed and will hang in the museum.

William was baptised three days after his birth, on the 7th March 1798 at St Leonard’s in Wollaton, the son of John and Hannah Burton. The portraits of his parents, John and Hannah Burton, who ran the nearby Kings Head public house, hang at Wollaton Hall. Hannah was the daughter of Micah Gelding, a Justice of the Peace.

Mrs Hannah Burton by an unknown artist Nottingham City Museums and Galleries
Mrs Hannah Burton by an unknown artist
Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

John Burton is possibly the same man who is recorded as dying on the 20th November 1842 at Wollaton, aged 73 years and ‘universally respected’.

Mr John Burton by an unknown artist Nottingham City Museums and Galleries
Mr John Burton by an unknown artist
Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

We’re ending with one little non-Georgian piece of trivia regarding Wollaton Hall, lifted shamelessly from Wikipedia and because we just couldn’t resist passing it on. In 2011 the Hall featured as Wayne Manor in the Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, and it is located five miles north of Gotham in Nottinghamshire, the Nottinghamshire village which gave its name to Gotham City.

Acknowledgements:

Nottingham Hidden History Team, where you can see an image of the actual letter.

Other sources:

Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties, 25th November 1842

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 3rd September 1954

Birdsall Estates

Header image:

South East view of Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, the Seat of the Right honble Lord Middleton by John Buckler FSA and John Chessell Buckler, 1812. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

18th Century Female Bruisers

We have previously written about women fighting whether it be ‘Lady Barrymore, the Boxing Baroness’, ‘The Petticoat Duellists’ or the 18th Century boxing match for the hand of a farm lad. We know that pugilism was not totally a male domain and that women fought for money including the likes of Hannah Hyfield and Elizabeth Wilkinson.

Star (London, England), Thursday, January 2, 1800

Today however, we’re going to take a closer look at a superb painting by John Collet which depicts two female bruisers. It is difficult to tell whether these two women were a couple of the regular fighters who appear to have existed. The picture is incredibly detailed and Collet gives us some clues.

Collet, John; The Female Bruisers; Museum of London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-female-bruisers-50752
Collet, John; The Female Bruisers; Museum of London

At the window above the poster are two lovers – or could it be a nod to the building actually being a brothel?

Female Bruisers - lovers at the windowLooking at the woman on the left she appears to be quite well dressed with a pocket watch on a chatelaine hanging down from her waist and a bracelet on her wrist. Her bonnet and cloak on the floor and the three children to her left closely examining her fur muff. At the bottom left hand corner we can see the start of a cock-fight. The man just behind her is having his pock picked – so perhaps indicative of the type of neighbourhood she’s in. The butcher has come out of his shop which is in the background; is he offering her some smelling salts or similar?

Female Bruisers - central scene

If we look to the top of the picture we can just about make the wording of a poster advertising a play The Rival Queens which was being performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in 1771.

The Rvial Queens

The Rival Queens - Public Advertiser, Saturday, March 30, 1771
Public Advertiser, Saturday, March 30, 1771

On the right of the picture we can see that the other woman appears far less well dressed, as you can tell she isn’t wearing stays, and the man who appears to be trying to help her up from the ground has his hand rather too close to a place it probably shouldn’t have been!

Female Bruisers

We also took a quick look in the newspapers of the day for any other examples and found a couple more to share with you.
Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, Friday, December 27, 1765

Yesterday afternoon a severe battle was fought in the ruins of St. Giles, for five guineas a side, between two noted female bruisers, the one from Brick-Lane, Spital-fields, and the other of Buckrage Street; when the championess of Buckrage Street after a contest of 25 minutes came off victorious, with loud huzzas from at least 3000 spectators.

London Evening Post, September 3, 1767

Wednesday a bloody bruising match was fought in the ruins of St. Giles, between two noted bruisers, the one from Newtoner’s Lane, the other from Brown’s Gardens, when the former, after a contest of 20 minutes was crown’d with victory, amidst the plaudits of a vast crowd of spectators.

UPDATE

Since writing this blog we have found an interesting one in the Weekly Journal, Oct 1, 1726 that we had to share with you as it provides us with a snippet of information at the end, almost as an afterthought about their wearing apparel

They fight in close jackets, short petticoats coming just below the knee, Holland drawers, white stockings and pumps.

Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer), Saturday, October 1, 1726

The funeral of Charles Henry Mordaunt, 5th Earl of Peterborough

Charles Henry Mordaunt, the 5th Earl of Peterborough (and 3rd Earl of Monmouth) and cousin to Grace Dalrymple Elliot did little of note throughout his life apart from embroil himself in a couple of scandals with high-born ladies, and if he is remembered at all to history it is chiefly, as we mention in our book An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliot, on account of his extravagant funeral.

The Earl had died at his Wiltshire seat, Dauntsey House, on the 16th June 1814 and was buried in the adjacent churchyard.  A description of this funeral can be found in Wiltshire: The Topographical Collections of John Aubrey, which although largely written in the seventeenth-century was never then published. It was brought up to date by John Edward Jackson, including the information on the 5th Earl’s funeral, and published by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in 1862.  We thought it might interest our readers to hear the details.

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Dauntsey Church, Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

The Funeral ceremonies of this last Earl were conducted on the most expensive scale. The body lay in state in a very large room hung from the ceiling with superfine cloth; eighty wax lights, many of them weighing a pound each, were kept burning. The dress of the body in the coffin was composed of satin and the finest cambric; the coffin, covered with the richest Genoa velvet and escutcheons of Arms: for the silver-gilt nails alone £85 was charged. The pall gorgeous. The body was placed on a magnificent platform ornamented with festoons of black satin, surmounted with a dome lined inside and outside with rich black velvet and covered with ostrich plumes. The platform fringed with velvet and behind it a transparency of the Armorial bearings. Banners and shields round the room and eight mutes in constant attendance. From the room to the Church is about 20 yards: but the procession, in order to be seen, went a circuit of two miles. It consisted of a hearse, seven coaches and six, a carriage and four for the clergymen, six marshalmen, eight mutes, two feather-men, eight underbearers, forty six pages and a grand page on horseback bearing the coronet. Nine servants received two suits of clothes each. The undertaker’s bill was £3000. The executors Sir E. Antrobus and Mr. Coutts Trotter objected. An action was brought at Salisbury: they paid £2000 into Court. Justice Burrough advised a reference and Mr. Moore, a Barrister, finally settled the whole cost to be £2568.

Doom Board, 14th.c., above rood screen, Dauntsey Church, Wiltshire (via Wikimedia).
Doom Board, 14th.c., above rood screen, Dauntsey Church, Wiltshire (via Wikimedia).

David Russell had acted as an assistant to Mr Dore, the undertaker, and said that, in the twelve years he had been in that line of business ‘the funeral ceremonies were on the largest and most expensive scale that he had ever witnessed or heard of.’ Mr Dore had received his first instructions on the funeral ‘from an intimate friend of the late Lord Peterborough, Mr. Smith, who informed him that the funeral was to be conducted in no ordinary way and that he must exercise his own judgment in the preparation of it, on a plan of adequate splendour.’ Mr Smith was Joseph Bouchier Smith, also mentioned in our book, making free with the money of others in planning his friends’ funeral! The ensuing disagreement over the bill took some four years to settle.[1]

Header image:

Dauntsey Park House – you can read more about the house, now a wonderful location for film, television, events and weddings, by clicking here.

[1] The Bury and Norwich Post, 9th December, 1818

Would you ‘beelieve’ it: the Lincolnshire pub with a ‘living sign’

Stop traveller this wonderous sign explore,

And say when thou hast view’d it o’er and o’er.

Now Grantham now two rarities are thine,

A lofty steeple and a living sign

The Beehive public house on Castlegate in Grantham lays claim to being the only pub in the country with a ‘living sign’. Indeed, in its early life it was known as ‘the Living Sign’ as well as ‘the Beehive’.

Both names are apt: the living sign in question in a beehive located outside the pub in which a swarm of bees often resides, and it has been there, in one form or another, since at least 1791 when it was mentioned as a curiosity in several newspapers the length and breadth of the country.

In 1791 the beehive was located on a pillar in front of the house, now a newer hive is located in a tree to the side of the doorway.

© Copyright Jo Turner (Flickr) and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
© Copyright Jo Turner (Flickr) and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In May 1814 the landlord of the Beehive was one Edward Wood, and presumably he was there when Colour-Serjeant George Calldine of the 19th Foot was there.

Grantham has a very fine spire, the highest in England except Salisbury. Here also is a living sign, it being a bee-hive up in a tree, which I remember seeing when I passed through in 1814.

By March 1822 Mrs Elizabeth Wood was the landlady of the Beehive (presumably Edward Wood had died and Elizabeth was his widow) and it was Elizabeth who was painted in the doorway of the pub, with the ‘living sign’ on proud display.

'Beehive' Public House and Landlady Elizabeth Wood by unknown artist Grantham Museum
‘Beehive’ Public House and Landlady Elizabeth Wood by unknown artist
Grantham Museum

Interestingly, George Calladine refers to the beehive being in a tree in 1814, but in 1791 it is recorded as being on a pillar. In this painting it is still, quite clearly, on a pillar, so either painted earlier than 1814 or George has misremembered his anecdote. The sign with the rhyme on it can also be seen on the corner above Elizabeth’s head.

Via Explore Lincolnshire
Via Explore Lincolnshire

The church spire alluded to in the rhyme is atop St Wulfram’s in Grantham, the sixth highest spire in the country.

St Wulfram's Church, Grantham, Lincolnshire by unknown artist Grantham Museum
St Wulfram’s Church, Grantham, Lincolnshire by unknown artist
Grantham Museum

 

Header image of the Beehive public house from Flickr: © Copyright Colin Park and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Sources:

Caledonia Mercury, 21st November 1791

Stamford Mercury, 6th May 1814

Stamford Mercury, 8th March 1822

The Diary of Colour-Serjeant George Calladine, 19th Foot, 1793-1837

 

Women in Music and Art in the Georgian Era

Needless to say in the 18th century women were regarded as being of lower status than their male counterparts, this was especially noticeable in music. How many well-known female composers of the 18th century have you heard of – not many, if any for a guess! Many women were however expected to study music and to be accomplished at playing an instrument or singing, merely as a form of entertainment for their family and friends. This went hand in hand with being the perfect hostess.

Adolphe, Joseph Anton; Caroline D'Arcy (d.1778), 4th Marchioness of Lothian; National Galleries of Scotland; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/caroline-darcy-d-1778-4th-marchioness-of-lothian-209742
Adolphe, Joseph Anton; Caroline D’Arcy (d.1778), 4th Marchioness of Lothian; National Galleries of Scotland; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/caroline-darcy-d-1778-4th-marchioness-of-lothian-209742

In this post we thought we would take a look at how art captured women playing a musical instrument, whether these women were actually able to play theses instruments we have no idea, maybe they were simply used as props in the paintings.  One of the most popular instruments for a woman to become accomplished at playing was the harpsichord and so we begin with Anastasia Robinson, mistress of the 3rd Earl of Peterborough followed by A Girl at a Harpsichord 1782 attributed to Mather Brown.

Anastasia Robinson c.1727 via Wikimedia
Anastasia Robinson c.1727 via Wikimedia
A Girl at a Harpsichord by Mather Brown (attributed to), 1782 (c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
A Girl at a Harpsichord by Mather Brown (attributed to), 1782
(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The harp was also immensely popular as we can see here in the painting by Joshua Reynolds, who captured  the Countess of Eglinton playing it, then we have  A Young Lady Playing the Harp  by James Northcote.

The Countess of Eglinton, 1777 by Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723-92) Private Collection © Agnew's, London English, out of copyright
The Countess of Eglinton, 1777 by Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723-92)
Private Collection © Agnew’s, London
English, out of copyright
A Young Lady Playing the Harp by James Northcote, exhibited 1814 (c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
A Young Lady Playing the Harp by James Northcote, exhibited 1814
(c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Lady Frances Seymour Conway (1751–1820), Countess of Lincoln by William Hoare (c) The University of Nottingham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Lady Frances Seymour Conway (1751–1820), Countess of Lincoln by William Hoare
(c) The University of Nottingham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Sarah Curran (1782–1808), Playing the Harp by William Beechey (c) Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Sarah Curran (1782–1808), Playing the Harp by William Beechey
(c) Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The guitar was also a popular instrument for women to play as we can see in these next paintings.

(c) The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
A young Woman playing the Guitar with a Songbird on her Hand by Louis-Léopold Boilly
(c) The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Artist-Painting-a-Portrait-of-a-Musician
Artist Painting a Portrait of a Musician, Marguerite Gerard, Before 1803 courtesy of the State Hermitage Museum

And finally, an all female quartet.

The Sense of Hearing by Philippe Mercier courtesy of Yale Center for British Art
The Sense of Hearing by Philippe Mercier courtesy of Yale Center for British Art

But the post would not be complete without Gillray’s take on an old woman playing the harpsichord now would it!

lwlpr07752
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

The Coroner’s Verdict is final

Life expectancy was much lower in the Georgian era mainly due to lack of medicine, poor diet, hygiene and sanitation but, looking back through the newspapers of the day, Health & Safety and personal injury/accident lawyers would have had a high old time with many accidents and deaths resulting from guns accidentally discharging and killing people, fires in the home, deaths as a result of falling off horses and accidental drownings due to due to excessive alcohol intake appears to have been a common cause, as does being run over by a waggon … the list goes on. The eighteenth-century was clearly a dangerous time to live in, as demonstrated by this example

Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer, December 14, 1754 – December 17, 1754

Reading, Dec 14. On Monday last an Inquisition was taken at Beaconsfield in Bucks, on the body of a woman, well known in that part of the county to be a common prostitute, who meeting with one William Clarke, at the Hare and Hounds at Red Hill in the said county, who was driving a cart, she got into the cart and calling at several places to drink gin, they were both intoxicated, and about half a mile from Beaconsfield the woman fell out of the cart when the man was asleep, and about two in the morning she was found dead on the road, several carriages having run over her head and body, but unknown to anyone who they belonged to. The jury brought in their verdict of accidental death.

The remainder of our post looks at some more unusual instances of death which were recorded by the Coroner as ‘accidental’.  There are certainly some verdicts which, if viewed today, could quite easily be regarded as murder or at least manslaughter, but the Coroner’s Verdict was recorded as accidental and his decision was final.

Coroners inquest Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library Banner

We begin with the Daily Advertiser, Friday, November 7, 1777

On Tuesday a pack of goods, weighing about three hundred and a half, fell from the Bengal India Warehouse, in New Street, Bishopsgate upon Mr. Netherhood, belonging to the above house, by which accident his back, thigh and both legs were broke and he died on the spot. On Wednesday the Coroner’s Inquest sat on the body of Mr. Netherhood, at the Magpye, a public house in the above street, and brought in their verdict – Accidental Death.

Lloyd’s Evening Post, November 21, 1798

Wednesday evening, a Coroner’s Inquest sat at the parish church of St. Laurence, Cateaton Street on the body of Norman, a private in the West Yorkshire Militia, who was unfortunately killed by a fall from the roof of the Manchester Coach the preceding day.

The 'King's Harms', British (English) School (a painting of the 'King’s Arms' inn in Manchester. As the sign on the façade shows, the artist misspelt the name of the establishment, hence the title of the picture). Compton Verney http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-kings-harms-54665
The ‘King’s Harms’, British (English) School c.1800 (a painting of the ‘King’s Arms’ inn in Manchester. As the sign on the façade shows, the artist misspelt the name of the establishment, hence the title of the picture).
Compton Verney

Whitehall Evening Post, September 1, 1798

On Friday morning last Mr. Benjamin Hale, a soap-boiler in Goswell Street, having been up all night at work, unfortunately lost his light, and, shocking to relate he fell into a pan of lees then boiling, by which he was so much scalded and mortification coming immediately on, that he died in the afternoon of the same day. The coroner’s Inquest was held on the body on Monday.

Bone House - Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Bone House – Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Star, Friday, September 7, 1798

On Tuesday an Inquisition was taken at Stone, Bucks, before Mr. Burnham, his majesty’s Coroner, on view of the body of Edwin Smith, a boy about eight years old, who, as he was climbing upon the spokes of the wheel of a harvest cart, with an intent to get up and ride in the same, in consequence of the horses suddenly moving forward, he fell to the ground, the wheel passed over his boy and killed him on the spot.

The Harvest Wagon by Francis Wheatley, 1774. Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-harvest-wagon-46836
The Harvest Wagon by Francis Wheatley, 1774.
Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery

St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, August 4, 1774 – August 6, 1774

On Wednesday night died, of a mortification in this thigh, Mr. Edward Paget, many years Master of the Queen’s Head Alehouse in Marsham Street, Westminster. His death was occasioned by being shot in the back part of his thigh, by standing too near one of the cannons going off on Millbank at the time of the boats passing by for the rowing match on Monday for Doggett’s Coat and Badge, which immediately mortified. The Coroner’s Inquest on Thursday morning brought in their verdict – Accidental Death.

The Race for Doggett's Coat and Badge by Thomas Rowlandson. © The Trustees of the British Museum
The Race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge by Thomas Rowlandson.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

True Briton, Thursday, October 4, 1798

On Thursday se’nnight, Joseph Beight, a well-cleaner of Damerham, undertook to clean a well in Mr. Coomb’s yard at Milford, near Salisbury, and when about to descend, a rope was procured, which Mr.  Coombs wished him to fasten round his body, that me might be pulled up in case of accident, which was rather to be apprehended, as the well was about 30 feet deep, narrow and very foul; he, however, unfortunately rejected this advice and was let down in the bucket, holding the rope in his hand only.

When about half way down, he called to the people above to let him go faster; but when they had turned three rounds more, he called ‘stop!’ and presently after, ‘pull up’, it was immediately discovered that he had let go the rope, and, overcome by the foul air, his body sunk by the side of the bucket, and obstructed its passage as it was drawing up. More assistance was then called, but from the exertion that was used, a link of the chain gave way and the man’s body sunk precipitately to the bottom of the well. Another man was let down, with the rope fastened round him, but he felt himself so strongly affected by the noxious effluvia, that he was obliged to be drawn up when he had reached half way.

Grappling irons were then resorted to and near an hour was spent in their efforts to draw the body up. No hope could be entertained of restoring animation and account of the time that had elapsed and the sad bruises the body had received. Mr. Whitmarsh held an Inquest on the body the next day, Verdict – Accidental Death. The unfortunate man was 54 years of age and has left a widow and eight children to lament the loss of an industrious husband an affectionate father.

Middlesex Journal and Evening Advertiser September 6, 1774 – September 8, 1774

On Saturday a chimney-sweeper went up a baker’s chimney, near the Maze Pond, Southwark, when the chimney was so hot that he had not the power to get down again, but was suffocated in a few minutes. The Coroner’s Inquest brought in their verdict – accidental death.

John Wesley as The Pious Preacher – but who is Miss D___ple?

Today we offer a little exclusive snippet of extra information to our biography, An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott. It concerns something we looked at in the course of our research, but which proved too vague to be included. And so we present it here instead, for our readers to make up their minds on. Does it relate to Grace’s family, or not?

At the very end of 1774, The Town and Country Magazine included another of their infamous Histories of the Téte-à-Téte annexed, this one titled ‘Memoirs of the Pious Preacher and Miss D___mple’.  The Pious Preacher is easily discernible as John Wesley, the Methodist preacher, who had been attacked in the same magazine before.  But Miss D___ple?  The most likely surname for this lady is Dalrymple and this would be a name well known to the readers of the magazine with Grace herself having appeared in her own ‘Téte-à-Téte’ following her indiscretion with Lord Valentia.  The description of Miss D___ple does seem to fit with a daughter of Hugh Dalrymple, Grace’s father.

This young lady is the daughter of an eminent attorney, who made a capital fortune by usury and the rapine of the law.  He gave her a polite education and imagined, with the portion he could bestow on her, that she was entitled to a husband in a man of fashion and family.  Upon the death of his wife he sent for Miss D___ from the boarding-school to superintend his domestic affairs.  She was not about eighteen and though not a regular beauty was a very genteel, agreeable girl.

We know Hugh practised as an attorney, we know Grace at least had attended a convent school and returned home after the death of her mother.  If this is a daughter of Hugh’s, perhaps the mysterious third daughter sometimes alluded to, she would be born c.1750 if she was just under eighteen at her mother’s death in 1767, placing her as a middle sister between Grace and her elder sister Jacintha.

(c) Dr Johnson's House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
John Wesley preaching in Old Cripplegate Church. (c) Dr Johnson’s House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The magazine tells us that this girl fell in love with her father’s clerk and he with her, but her father, when approached to ask if they may marry, ‘would not listen to it, having far more elevated views for his daughter’.  The clerk, having finished his service, went abroad and settled in America.  The bereft Miss D___ple, whilst her father was seeking a match for her, met an army officer.  He, ‘finding he had no chance of succeeding in an honourable way, he used all the artillery of stratagem to succeed upon other terms.  He was too fortunate and the event was very natural.  Upon her being visibly pregnant, her father banished her, his house and the only asylum she could find was at a kinswoman’s, who prefessed midwifry’.

Grace’s sister Jacintha married an army officer, but he at least was in line for inheritance to a fine estate.  If this is indeed a daughter of Hugh Dalrymple, this affair took place before he left for Grenada in the spring of 1772 and presumably before Grace’s marriage in October 1771.  Was this the reason he was so happy to marry his youngest daughter off to Dr. Eliot, not wanting to see her follow in the footsteps of a sister?

The kinswoman attended discourses held by the Pious Preacher and, after helping her to abort the baby, began to remonstrate with Miss D___ple on ‘the heinous sins she had been guilty of… she persuaded Miss D___ to follow her footsteps and be regenerated’.  The Pious Preacher, the magazine states, ‘made a great impression upon our heroine.  He now frequently visited mother Midnight [the kinswoman] and seemed to take particular pains and pleasure to make Miss D___ a convert.  He at length successed to the utmost extent of his wishes and gave her the appellation of his fair Proselyte’.

The article ends with the suggestion that Miss D___ple has borne twins to the Pious Preacher.  No evidence can be found to back up any of the assertions in the article, but it would suggest a reason why, if there were a third Dalrymple sister, she may have been airbrushed from their family history.

Grace, as Mrs E__t in her own Téte-à-Téte alongside Miss D___mple. It's a shame that Grace is in profile or else we might be able to guess at a resemblance between the two women. Images via Lewis Walpole Library.
Grace, as Mrs E__t in her own Téte-à-Téte alongside Miss D___ple. It’s a shame that Grace is in profile or else we might be able to guess at a resemblance between the two women. Images via Lewis Walpole Library.

NB: In an earlier blog post for Laurie Benson, we recounted a night at a Ridotto in 1777, and speculated that a ‘Mother M’ who was mentioned was ‘Mother Mordaunt’, aka Grace’s aunt, Robinaiana Mordaunt, Countess of Peterborough. Here we have another ‘Mother M’ mentioned, seemingly in connection with a close relative of Grace’s, ‘Mother Midnight’, an eighteenth-century term for a midwife or, sometimes, for a bawd.