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The Layton Affair: Part One

If you read my recent two-part article on the trial of the six navvies in January 1848—they were driven by extreme hunger to steal a loaf of bread in Marylebone—you will remember that Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper made some trenchant points about the case.  In particular Lloyd’s argued that the problem of crime was exacerbated by the failure of the …

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Beware Poisonous Mushrooms, or, A Grave Warning from Mitcham

On Monday the 10th of October 1808 William Atwood headed off early to Mitcham Common to forage for mushrooms.  William worked as a wood block cutter for one of the many calico printers along the River Wandle, and he lived with his wife Elizabeth and their four young daughters just outside the village of Mitcham, which is now in the …

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Voice of my Heart, or, The Story of Frederick Nicholls Crouch

If you read my piece on the composer Henry Rowley Bishop, you will remember that his most famous melody started life as a song in the opera Clari, or, The Maid of Milan.  That song is the lovely “Home, Sweet Home”.  The opera was given its first London performance in 1823 at Covent Garden, and it enjoyed great popularity and …

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The Case of the Marylebone Six: Part Two

If you read last week’s article, which can be accessed here, you will remember that trouble was brewing in Marylebone Lane on the evening of Thursday the 13th of January 1848.  Two powerfully built young men, John Poole and John Smith, who were both navvies, and out of work, entered a baker’s shop at no. 64 owned by a Mr …

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The Case of the Marylebone Six: Part One

Monday the 17th of January 1848 was a busy day at the sessions house on Clerkenwell Green.  The sessions house was, and would be for the best part of the nineteenth century, the principal judicial centre for the county of Middlesex.  In this imposing classical edifice, with its Ionic columns and pilasters, its ornate pediment and its rusticated basement, the …

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Death in the Dials: Part Three

If you have been following the story of the mysterious death that came to light in late September 1872 at 24 Dudley Street, a slum dwelling in the Seven Dials district of St Giles, then you will remember that Ellen Hannen was a significant player in the drama.  Ellen was at one point thought to be the woman who was …

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Death in the Dials: Part Two

Not the least mysterious of the circumstances surrounding the death at 24 Dudley Street in 1872—concerning which see the article published here—was the identity of the dead woman.  Her body had been discovered in the basement kitchen by Mrs Charlotte Cook, when her daughter, eleven-year-old Anne, had stumbled upon a motionless figure slumped under the stairs.  The time of the …

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Death in the Dials: Part One

On the 27th of September 1872, which was a Friday, a woman by the name of Charlotte Cook decided that enough was enough.  Her son had absented himself from school, and she had made up her mind to punish him.  She had a stick—a cane of sorts—which she used for beatings.  But she remembered that another of her children, who …

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Music in the Menagerie, or, Everard Home Entertains an Elephant

Sir Everard Home was one of the most prominent members of the Georgian scientific establishment.  First and foremost he was a surgeon, and it was as a surgeon that he found favour with the third of the four Georges, being appointed Sergeant Surgeon to the King in 1808.  However, he was also a distinguished comparative anatomist, and his widespread renown, …

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Scholar and Sculler, or, The Life and Legacy of Frederick Furnivall

One of the more remarkable products of the Religious Tract Society was a periodical with the title The Cottager and Artisan, which was published every month from 1861 to 1919.  Originally it was The Cottager in Town and Country—it changed its title in 1865—and it carried the subtitle The People’s Own Paper.  Costing one penny an issue it was aimed …