Category Archives: Criminal Capers

Depredations on the High Seas

This ‘ere post be in honour of International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Hold on to yer eau de Cologne, me fine fellers, for the fearsome fishers o’  Lowestoft wish ter apply it to their fancy whiskers – and if ye step in their way, ye face a roight BUFFETIN’.


Our gallant life-boat crews have over and over again proved their indomitable bravery during the lamentable storms which have visited the British coasts; but in one or two instances brutal selfishness has, unfortunately, characterised the actions of a few English fishermen. Piracy, it would seem, has, no more than wrecking, died out of the experience and practice of our seafaring population. It was but the other day that we had to record the dishonesty and greed which marked the conduct of the people when the Royal Adelaide was wrecked near Portland. Four Lowestoft fishermen, however, as appears from an inquiry instituted by the Board of Trade, have boldly carried out their depredations to the high seas, boarded a Dutch vessel in the German Ocean, split open the mate’s head, knocked one of the crew into the hold, buffeted the captain on the mouth, and stole a quantity of gin, cigars, tobacco, and eau de Cologne. Three of the enterprising fishers, however, have been discharged, and one alone stands committed for trial.

The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, Saturday 11 January 1873

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They will never get him now


About noon on Friday a singular and exciting incident was witnessed in Strangeways. Two soldiers were seen running from new Bridge-street towards the Assize Courts, pausing now and again as if in doubt, and occasionally peering through the shop windows on either side of the way. It turned out that they had been escorting a prisoner who had contrived to make his escape. While the soldiers, who looked thoroughly scared, were meditating a descent into one of the shafts of the new sewer now in course of construction in Strangeways, a constable in the county force sat on the top of a tramcar going townwards and commented on their proceedings.

“They will never get him now,” said the policeman.

At that moment a man in plain clothes, having the appearance of a labourer, crossed from the footpath to the tramway, and without undue hurry got on to the car and took a place inside. The policeman promptly descended, and a minute later his fellow-passengers saw him rolling in the middle of the road under the railway viaduct with the man who, so to speak, had just stepped into his arms. The prisoner struggled desperately, but was at length overpowered and secured until the soldiers came panting up to resume possession.

Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday 12 August 1893



Editor’s Note: I am greatly obliged to the inestimable Mr Amateur Casual at The Victorianist, who has considered this humble blog worthy of being “tagged” in a “meme”. I am to dredge from my archives – like so many crushed oyster-shells from the clinging mud of the Thames – seven posts worthy of renewed attention.

I may point out that the majority of my posts gained NO ATTENTION WHATSOEVER ‘pon their first appearance, so I shall be only too glad to haul them into the roseate light of dawn and present them before my subscribers, (and may I address you directly, subscribers, and say that I am eternally grateful to both of you for your patronage of my work – perhaps one day we shall be the triumvirate of a new world order).

At the present time, however, I am happily (at least, as happily as one of my melancholic and poetic nature can expect) engaged in the only social habit that – in Mr Peacock’s words – the disappointed spirit never unlearns. Oh, Mr Co-operative’s cheapest bottle of Rioja, thou art the only styptic to a bleeding heart! Therefore I shall cogitate upon the meme for some time, and shall endeavour to complete it at some point in that abyss of potential (nay, inevitable) disappointment – THE FUTURE!

For now, my friends (though friendship is but a mayfly that began its day’s existence in innocence yet collided with a steam locomotive after no more than a minute) I shall…

I have forgotten my intention in starting the previous paragraph. Oh Morpheus, embrace me, for I am doomed to have no other bedfellow but thee.


Filed under Criminal Capers, Narrow Escapes, The Editor Gets Drunk and Opines on Things

A prodigiously long bladder


A gentleman, who said he had reason to know a good deal about the tricks used by smugglers, mentioned at the Mansion-House, London, on Wednesday week, a laughable incident which had occurred in a town on the coast of Scotland. A celebrated actor of that nation determined to run some very find French brandy, and adopted the following plan. He procured a prodigiously long bladder, and caused it to be painted in the exact likeness of a boa constrictor, and being in possession of the stuffed head of a formidable snake of the boa species, fastened it to the bladder, which he nearly filled with brandy. He then tied the tail of the boa to one of his legs, and twisted the body round his body, holding the head, in which there were two tremendous glass eyes, in his breast. When he reached the place which he considered to be most dangerous on account of the inquisitiveness of the revenue officers, he took out the head of the boa, in which, by an ingenious contrivance, he made the eyes and jaws to move with great rapidity, and in an instant every body scampered off, leaving a clear passage to the snake and its master. The fraud was practised several times, but was detected by the curiosity of the actor’s landlady, who was found one night blind drunk on the floor, with the empty bladder in her arms.

The York Herald and General Advertiser, Saturday 27 October 1838

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Filed under Birds and Beasts, Criminal Capers