Old British News

The Lost Exeter Bank note – 1776

The Exeter Bank had been established in 1769 along with England’s first hotel, The Royal Clarence, destroyed by fire in 2016.

Mr. Short was in Oxford in July 1776 and placed this advertisement in the Oxford Journal on Saturday 6th July:

Oxford, 5th July. 1776.

LOST, last Night, – An Exeter Bank Note, signed Short, for 30l (shillings) and supposed to be dropped either in the Theatre, between that and Merton College, or in Merton Garden. – A handsome Reward will be given to any Person who brings the above Note to the lodge of Oriel College.


Diseased Meat – Birmingham 1882

Food safety, the manner it was manufactured, stored, prepared and sold was never out of the news. Despite crude guidelines and basic regulations enforced in law, purveyors of every range of food were endlessly reported with crimes and methods to turn the strongest stomachs.

The law finally caught up with a person called White, potted meat manufacturer, in the early 1880’s:

St James's Gazette - Thursday 28 December 1882

St James’s Gazette – Thursday 28 December 1882

“A potted-meat manufacturer, name White, was charged before the Magistrates at Aston, Birmingham, yesterday, with being in possession of meat unfit for food. On the 13th October an inspector seized upon the defendant’s premises a large quantity of pork-rind, which was bad. The defendant removed to another street, and the summons could not be served on him until lately, when there was discovered at his new premises a quantity of bad meat. The was sentenced to 6 months’ hard labour, without the option of a fine.”

Ian Waugh
Old British News

Fraudster John Salmon – Old Bailey 1894

A solicitors clerk working Bethnal Green is at the Old Bailey charged with deception, forgery, theft and embezzlement, 30th April 1894. Here’s the report from the London Evening Standard – Tuesday 01 May 1894.

London Evening Standard - Tuesday 01 May 1894“John Salmon, a 31, clerk, pleaded guilty to stealing three cheques, of the value of £448, and with forging the endorsements thereto.

Mr Geoghegan, who prosecuted, said in November the prisoner the Prisoner entered the service of Messrs Voss and Co., solicitors, Bethnal Green road, as a shorthand clerk, in the faith of a character which purported to come from Mr Reginald Davis, solicitor, Southend, but which Prisoner had written.

He represented to his employers that certain monies were owing to Mr Davis, a solicitor, on behalf of client named Hart, and cheques were drawn accordingly for £411, made payable to Mr Hart, of Liverpool, and handed to the Prisoner, who forged the endorsements, and opened an account with the National Bank of Australasia, where he cleared the cheques.

He then wrote an impertinent letter to him employers, informing them of what he had done, and stating that he was going to America with the proceeds. A warrant was obtained, which was placed in the hands of Detective Inspector Egan, of the City police, who eventually arrested the Prisoner in Dublin. At that time he had £326 in gold in his possession.

The Prisoner had been twice to Australia and once to India, and had been employed by a solitor in the East-End.

Whilst with Mr Voss the Prisoner made himself acquainted with his employers wealthiest clients, and got their addresses and where they kept their banking accounts, which information he kept in a diary, which was taken from him when arrested. These persons had evidently been sought out as easy prey for fraud and plunder. The Prisoner received 37 shillings and sixpence a week wages.

In extenuation, the Prisoner said he was driven to crime consequent on domestic trouble. He was sentenced to four years’ penal servitude”.

Ian Waugh
Old British News

Dubious John Shepherd, died aged 100 in 1830

Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties - Friday 04 June 1830The Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties – Friday 04 June 1830 reports the extraordinary story of a recently deceased 100 year old man with a long and dubious past.

“The veteran rogue.

On Friday the 21st ult., John Shepherd was interred in Ripponden churchyard.  The deceased was 100 years old; he was father to 15 children, grandfather to 55, great grandfather to 89, great great grandfather to four; she was a native of Rochdale, and obtained a settlement in the township of Spotland, from which in the course of his life he has received of relief, him money, to the amount of £250.

He has received from the Benevolent Society, held at the Angel Inn, Blackwater street, Rochdale, £135. 5s 3d in the weekly pay.  He residing at a distance from the society, the stewards could not easily prevent he is imposition, and it is known whether one time he was receiving six shillings per week from the society, two shillings per week from the overseers of Spotland, and was earning at the same time 15 shillings per week, with working; he has had three wives, and his younger son was born the very day he was 80 years of age.

His widow mortgaged a part of his funeral money, 10 years since, with Mrs. Sally Mills, of the Angel Inn, but in consequence of the old man living so much longer than she expected, the whole of the funeral money was claimed, and Mrs. Mills debt was disowned; however, the old woman at last acknowledged it, and in cant terms thanked Mrs. Mills for her former kindness, and even extorted a promise of future favours, for having been for once to acknowledge the truth.”

Ian Waugh
Old British News

Lamplighter assaulted in Whitechapel – 1869

Clerkenwell News - Wednesday 14 July 1869A lamplighter in Whitechapel, going about his business in the early hours of Wednesday the 14th of July 1869, was set upon and assaulted.  Various excuses were made when the case went to court as was reported in the Clerkenwell News:

“At Worship-street, yesterday, James Hart, 23, described as a gas fitter, residing in Goulston street, Whitechapel, was charged before Mr. Newton with assaulting James Lomell, a breaking his lighting stick.

Mr BG Abbott, solicitor, of Worship-street, defended the prisoner.

The prosecutor stated that he resided in Edward street, Bethnal-green road, and was a lamplighter in the employment of the Independent Gas Company.

About 3.15 on the previous morning he was in Goulston street, engaged in turning out of the gas lights, when the prisoner, who was standing talking to a young woman there, began making some remarks to which the witness replied that he had better mind his own business.  The prisoner walked up to him, and seizing hold of the stick with the light at the end, with which the witness turned out the gas, struck him with it on the forehead, then a below between the eyes with his fist, which knocked him against the wall and blackened his eyes.  He then broke the stick across his knees, and from the pieces into the road.  Police constable 166 H came up at the moment, and witness gave prisoner into custody.  The Constable gave evidence, stating that saw the blow given.

Mr. Abbott cross examined the constable very severely, and taxed him with having been drinking with the prosecutor that morning before the case was called on.  The constable deny this, but admitted being in a public house with the prosecutor was.  The defence was that the prosecutor was drunk and could not see to turn out the gas; that when the prisoner went to help him he abused him, and, saying that he would make the – “Jew swallow the stick” struck him with it.

They then enclosed, and the prosecutor, who fell against the wall, broke the stick in the struggle, and received the injury to the eye.  Witnesses were called in support of this, but Mr. Newton, characterising the defence has an aggravation of the offence, find the prisoner 60 shillings, for six weeks hard labour.

The money was paid”.

Ian Waugh
Old British News

The Race for Flight – 1899

As the Victorian age was slowly coming to a close the brave and exciting Edwardian era was to bring a brief and thrilling period for invention and development. Experiments in wireless broadcasting were already underway, cable telegraph transmissions throughout the Empire were already established, the motor car was beginning to feature on our roads and tracks. But the biggest prize was air flight.

Here is a special feature I have found from The Penny Illustrated Paper of August 1899 that would have thrilled any adventurous Victorian living in a world that was already beginning to shrink.

1899 Flying Machine