Tag Archives: 1880s

A Cornish scandal


Painful excitement has been caused by the disappearance of a young lady, whose father is a Cornish country magistrate, having a town house and also one at Devonport. Last Thursday the young lady, who was spending Christmas at Devonport, met by appointment at Plymouth railway station her father’s coachman, and they went off together. Their disappearance was not known till next day, and by that time they were on their way to the Cape in the mail steamer Pretoria. What makes the matter worse is that the man leaves behind him a wife and family.

The Lancaster Gazette and General Advertiser, Wednesday 4 January 1882


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Filed under Love or Marriage

Some of the story was imaginary



A strange story was told the Coroner and jury on Monday at an enquiry into the death of Ann Georgina Hanks, aged 18, of 11, Frederick street, Greenwich. The court was crowded, considerable interest being manifested in the proceedings on account of the rumour that the deceased girl had been frightened by ghostly signs.—An extraordinary story was told to the jury by Mary Ann Robinson Maxstead, aged 14, sister to the young man with whom the deceased was “keeping company.” She said that on Wednesday evening last she went with deceased to her bed-room. The deceased got an apron out of her box in the back bed room, and with her left hand felt round the corners of the box. When she got to the last corner, something like white thick smoke came up about six inches, startling witness.

When the smoke left her hand the deceased fell on the floor. When she moved her hand the smoke was with it, and when she fell the smoke dispersed in front of witness. There were light sparks in it. She called to her brother down stairs, but when he came the smoke had gone, where she did not see. She was frightened, and went down stairs with the light. There was no noise when witness saw the smoke, and no smell. She could not tell what it was.—Evidence was given to show that shortly after falling to the ground the deceased started screaming, which continued for half an hour.—The witness Maxstead’s brother said that next morning she told him of the fire in deceased’s left hand, and of the cloud in front of her. He put down the cloud as a sign of death, but could not account for the fire.—The Coroner remarked that there had been a story of a Greenwich ghost, which was said to have manifested itself at a house near where the deceased lived. The Coroner thought some of the girl Maxstead’s story was imaginary.—Ultimately the jury found a verdict of “Death from syncope following an epileptic fit.”

The North-Eastern Daily Gazette, Wednesday 18 September 1889

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Filed under Supernatural or Superstitious

Ballooning can never be of practical utility



An exciting narrative of ballooning exploit is communicated by Mr. Pendarves Vivian, member for West Cornwall, to the Western Morning News. With two skilled aeronauts he ascended from South-west London, the start being delayed by unfavourable weather until 10 p.m. They found themselves in a strong current, which in ten minutes had placed them over North London, the lights below presenting a fairy scene of indescribable beauty. Though over 1,000 feet high street cries were distinctly audible. Ascending rapidly to 8,000 feet in an hour they found themselves passing at a tremendous rate over a flat country suitable for descending, and they resolved to come down. Gas was let out and grappling irons dropped, when there was a sharp check and violent jerks, and suddenly they commenced soaring upwards at a frightful pace. The rope of the grappling irons had broken. The danger of so helpless a position, especially at night, was instantly apparent, and shortly afterwards a renewed descent was made hoping to run the balloon against some branches of trees.

When this was done one got out, and the two relieved of his weight were carried upwards with extreme velocity to a height of three miles. Half stunned by the shock, and deaf from the rarification of the air, some time elapsed before renewed descent was attempted, when, to their horror, they heard the roaring of the sea immediately below them. Fortunately they found themselves approaching the shore from the sea, over which they had unconsciously been sailing, but had in descending come into a landward current.

Arrived near the ground they struck not twenty yards from from the sea shore, and after dragging several hundred yards, receiving severe concussions from hedges, they simultaneously let go, and the balloon soared aloft leaving them in darkness in an unknown country, subsequently discovered to be ten miles from Lowestoft, having reached there in three hours from London. No permanent injuries were received by the party, but Mr. Vivian’s experience convinced him that ballooning can never be of practical utility as a means of travelling, and that to render ascents approximately safe duplicate grappling irons, with spring buffers and other appliances must be carried.

The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday 31 December 1881

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Filed under Aeronautical Adventures, Narrow Escapes

Excuses for drunkenness, no. 546

At the Newcastle Police-court, on Tuesday morning, Mr. Dix appeared on behalf of Malcolm Lontitt, who was summoned for being drunk on licensed premises – the Albion Inn, Ouseburn – on the 26th April. Mr Dix said he was instructed by the defendant that he (the defendant) was in bad order at the time, he having had his nerves shattered by the nightly shouting of the Salvation Army, and also having lost his domestic servant. A fine of 10s. and costs was imposed.

The York Herald, Saturday 10 May 1884

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Filed under Under the Influence

Stop press! It’s the scoop of the year!

A Nearly white sparrow has been shot at Pattingham, near Wolverhampton. The bird was slightly streaked with brown, but the white preponderated.

London Journal, 29 December 1883


Editor’s Note: Good grief! How have I hitherto missed the fact that an event of this magnitude has occurred? I have never seen cutting-edge reportage of this calibre in all my born days.  Spread the astounding news, one and all – the WHITE PREPONDERATED. I am struck down with awe. 

London Journal, how can you live with yourself, having been so concise ‘pon a matter of such import? The country waits with bated breath for every detail of this emperor among avians. WHATEVER NEXT?


Filed under Birds and Beasts

A Mediocre Medium


A Heywood correspondent writes:— A well-known Manchester spiritualist had an unlooked for adventure at the house of a medium in Heywood the other evening. The Manchester gentleman is what is known in spiritualistic parlance as a materialiser—that is, he professes to be able to make the spirits of the departed visible to their friends. Within the past two days he has held two dark séances in Heywood for materialisation. Both were well patronised by a number of young men determined if possible to put to the test the abilities of the medium.

The first séance passed off without any untoward occurrence. At the second a charge of 1s 6d was made for admission. Seventeen persons attended with the intention of catching “the spirit.” A cabinet was provided for the use of the medium in a dark room. The medium said that materialisation could not take place that evening, but the spirit who often controlled a local medium would manifest its presence by removing articles of furniture from the room. To prevent the feat being performed by the medium his hands were dusted with flour.

A circle was formed, and one of the party took up a position favourable for spirit catching. The lights were put out, and the room was soon pervaded by a phosphorescent luminosity. The supposed spirit also began to move about, and removed a bowl, with which he touched the back of the hand of the person posted to intercept him. This individual did not take advantage of the opportunity presented, and having his feet stretched out the spirit stumbled, but managed to get out of the way before the circle was broken.

The gas was lighted, and the medium told the audience to draw their feet well up and better results would be gained. The lights were put out a second time, and the supposed spirit made another appearance, and again touched the individual selected to make the capture. The latter took hold of the materialised spirit, which proved to be the Manchester medium.

The 17 persons who had paid for admission pounced upon him, and demanded back the admission money before they allowed him to depart. In order to escape out of the clutches of his tormentors, he gave up to them his watch, which they hold, a purse presented to him by Rochdale spiritualists, and 7s 1d in money. The watch is said to be of the value of £1 8s. The affair has caused a commotion in spiritualistic circles.

The Dundee Courier and Argus, Wednesday 26 March 1884

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Filed under Supernatural or Superstitious

An Apparently Terrible Wound


Many of the residents of Windsor have for the last two days been considerably mystified by a remarkable and alarming incident which had evidently occurred in the course of Wednesday night. Early on Thursday morning hundreds of bloodstained footprints were noticed on the pavements of the principal streets and upon an investigation being made it was discovered that the gory tracks extended from Thames-street, by the Great Western Station, into Peascod-street along the left side of thoroughfare to Osborn-road and thence on the right to the Spital Cavalry Barracks, where the Royal Horse Guards are quartered—a distance of over a mile the haemorrhage throughout having been very extensive. The heel and portions of the sole of a left boot, linked between the steps by numerous splashes of blood were distinctly impressed upon the pavement and asphalte and in places where the injured man had stopped for a few moments on his course were small pools of blood, that had flowed from an apparently terrible wound. All sorts of theories were afloat as to the nature of the occurance, which is now believed was caused by the sudden busting of a blood-vessel on the left leg of a person living in the vicinity of the town while on his way home from Windsor. At least, this is only solution obtainable of an affair which has caused much speculation in the Royal borough.

The Star (St Peter Port), Saturday, 7 June 1884

The typographical errors contained herein are none of my doing. ‘Occurance’ indeed! My despair increases daily.—I.H.

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Filed under Ghastly and Gruesome