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Keeping it in the Family: the Infamous and Bigamous John Blair Wills

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT Sometime in 1850 a nineteen-year-old medic called John Blair Wills fell in love at first sight with a beautiful girl he spotted on a London omnibus.  Following the girl home, he asked her mother, who was very surprised, for her daughter’s hand in marriage.  He explained that he had good prospects and was of respectable stock: …

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The Duchess’s Wolf, or, A Strange Story from the Strand

The morning of the 2nd of March in the year 1820—a Thursday just weeks into the reign of George IV—was a stormy one in London.  Between five and six o’clock in the morning the wind began to blow with great violence from the north west.  As darkness lifted the wind grew stronger, until it was gusting enough to inflict damage …

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Remembering Albert Midgley, Musician, 1892-1918

“It is simply appalling that two strong men of sterling character and great promise should be rudely taken out of the world.”  Fred Midgley 1918. Albert Midgely was born on the 21st of January 1892 in Perth in Scotland, the third son of English parents Fred and Alice Midgley.  The Midgleys had settled in Scotland in 1890 when Fred, a …

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Warning Words to the Wise, or, The Strange Story of Charles Henry Kelly

In the year 1883 a large detached house on the north side of Wandsworth Common was occupied by the Kellys.  They were a family of four, and prosperous enough to have two domestic servants.  Charles Henry Kelly, originally from Salford in what was then Lancashire, was forty-nine years old.  His wife, Eleanor, who came from Sheffield, was forty-one.  With them …