Tag Archives: heroics

There was an old woman named Vance, Who went on her way to Penzance…


On Monday week an old woman, named Vance, of Penzance, applied to the Mayor at the Guildhall, Exeter, for assistance. Mr. Superintendent Steel stated that she was eighty years old, and had lived for some time with her daughter, who had a large family in London, but as her daughter could not maintain her, the old lady resolved to revisit the home of her youth—Penzance, and set off on this long journey, on foot, in the second week of October. After fourteen days’ walk she arrived at Exeter, and now made her application to the Mayor for a trifle to help her on the road to Plymouth. She is short and stout, and bears her head bravely. In answer to the Mayor she said hat she was eighty on the 18th of last month. The Mayor exclaimed “Well done! you bear it nobly.” In reply to further questions she said that she had been a widow fifteen years. The Mayor directed that a half-crown should be given to this Cornish prodigy, and the old lady curtsied, saying that she had received “great friendship” in Exeter.

The Penny Illustrated Paper, Saturday 9 November 1861

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Filed under Worthy of an huzzah

Deprived him of his most valuable life

‘Tis Trafalgar Day, therefore I display a more respectful countenance than is usually my wont, and inform you how the news of Lord Nelson’s victory – and tragic death – reached these shores.

Death of Lord Nelson


The following is the Admiralty Bulletin, sent in the morning to LLOYD’s:—

Admiralty office, Nov. 6, at One A.M.

“Lieut. Lapenotiere, of the Pickle schooner, arrived last night with dispatches from Vice-Admiral Collingwood, announcing a glorious victory gained by His Majesty’s fleet off Cadiz, under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson.

“On the 19th of October the enemy’s fleet, consisting of 33 ships of the line, four frigates, and two brigs, came out of Cadiz, and on the 21st, at noon, were brought to action by the British fleet, consisting of 27 sail of the line (seven having been previously detached under Rear-Admiral Louis), four frigates, and two smaller vessels.”

“The engagement lasted four hours, and terminated by nineteen of the enemy’s line striking their colours, and being taken possession of, exclusive of one which blew up in the action.

“Lord Nelson’s ship being closely engaged with the Santissima Trinidada, and others of the enemy’s ships, a musket shot fired from the top wounded his Lordship, and deprived him of his most valuable life.

“A gale of wind at S.W. coming on the next day, and on the 24th and 25th increasing in violence, many of the prizes drove adrift, and being close to a lee shore, it is supposed that several of them must have been wrecked, and the Vice-Admiral had made a signal for destroying all that could not be brought away. Two ships, from which the prisoners could not be removed, made their escape into Cadiz. The Santissima Trinidad was sunk, and two others of the line were destroyed before the Lieutenant left the fleet. Admiral Villeneuve, who commanded in chief, and many other officers of rank, are among the prisoners.

“Besides the loss of Lord NELSON, their country has to lament that of Captains DUFF and COOKE, and about 500 men killed.

“ The Belleisle was totally dismasted, and the Temeraire and Royal Sovereign also suffered very much; but no one of His Majesty’s ships was lost in this most glorious conflict.”

The Morning Post, 7 November 1805

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Filed under To be serious

A Long and Desperate Eight Hours


Among the hitherto unrecorded incidents of the late storm is one in which a young gentleman hailing from New Brighton had a marvellous escape from death. The young gentleman in question was sleeping in a friend’s yacht which was anchored off New Brighton, and while in his cabin, his vessel received a sudden shock. Going on deck in his night clothing he found that a fishing boat had broke from her moorings, and being carried against his yacht, the two vessels were partially locked together. He promptly jumped on board the fishing vessel to release her from the yacht, but the next instant the storm and the sea had parted the craft, and he found himself drifting about the river in great peril. Realising his danger, and seeing that to control the fishing boat some sail must be hoisted, the young gentleman ran up a slight jib. The wind blowing from the Cheshire side soon carried the yacht into the middle of the river, and then appeared the fate which befel the schooner the same morning—viz. that of being dashed against the north wall and smashed to pieces. After a long and desperate eight hours the tiny craft was drifting safely into the Canada Basin, and the vessel and her solitary crew were saved. The young man, however, was so exhausted from his terrible labours and the exposure that he had to be placed in a hot bath by the dock master, who also supplied him with clothing.


The North-Eastern Daily Gazette, Friday 28 December 1894

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Filed under Narrow Escapes

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 Loud Whiff of Anger


Mrs Minnick killing an alligatorMRS. P. J. MINNICK, living on the Hillsboro’ River, in Florida, recently had a contest with a big alligator in which the reptile was despatched. The saurian was chasing ducks when Mrs. Minnick interfered with his fun by a blow on the head with a long pole. Whirling around, with a loud whiff of anger he charged his plucky antagonist. As the alligator charged down with wide-open jaws and shrilly hissing, she braced herself for the fray, and with a quick and sudden movement, she rammed the pole down the reptile’s throat. Mrs. Minnick kept pushing on the pole with all her strength. The reptile snapped at it and tried to bite it off, but could not secure a good hold on it.

Her arms were tiring, and she began calling for help. Her twelve-year-old son soon responded, and came running down the bank with a light axe in his hand. Creeping up close to the alligator, he dealt him a blow on the back with the sharp blade that nearly severed some three feet of the reptile’s tail. The old alligator roared, and with a violent effort bit through the pole in his mouth and endeavoured to retreat to the water. But this Mrs. Minnick was determined he should not do. Catching the axe from her boy’s hands, she rushed up and with one effective stroke cut off one of the alligator’s front paws.

He fell over on his side, roaring and bellowing with rage. His ugly jaws closed together with a vicious snap, and his half-severed tail thrashed around in an ugly manner. Watching her chance, the plucky woman cut off the tail entirely. Shortly after two heavy blows were delivered on the head of the struggling saurian, and the victory was won. The head was cut off and preserved, as Mrs. Minnick says she intends to have a set of jewellery made from its teeth.

The Illustrated Police News Saturday 20 November 1897



Note: For a British example of  eusuchian-related derring-do, I recommend perusal of the following: An Huzzah for the Reptile Conqueror!

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An Officer of the Guards Nearly Killed at the Royal Wedding

Just before the Royal couple on their journey Citywards were passing Marlborough House the Guards formed into troops across the road. The last troop to wheel into line was headed by the Marquis of Tullibardine, the heir to the Dukedom of Athole. Suddenly the young lieutenant’s horse reared with its forefeet striking the air. A moment more and it had fallen backwards, with its rider beneath. Those near seemed to be paralysed for a moment, and then they rushed forward, but before anybody could reach the unfortunate officer, who, after he fell, had managed to extricate himself from the stirrups, the horse had galloped wildly away, kicking his hind legs in the air. There was nothing, so far as one could tell, between it and the Royal carriage, just then entering the yard, except a stray policeman or two. A moment of breathless suspense, and a policeman rushed out into the roadway, and caught the horse by the bridle just in the nick of time, and Lord Tullibardine was carried across the road and laid on an ambulance couch as the Royal carriage came by. If, as is possible, the Duke and his Duchess thought their reception somewhat cold at this point, this is the explanation. The hinder squadron of Guards having passed, the attention of all present, momentarily abstracted, was turned to the gallant young Guardsman stretched under the arches of St James’s Palace, where the ambulance corps were doing their best to revive him. They were successful after a time, and the poor fellow with a faint smile was able to tell the surgeon when he arrived that he was “all right,” though his spine hurt him. Then he was tenderly lifted onto an ambulance and carried to Mr. Kingcote’s apartments in the palace, where the surgeon attended him. The man who stopped the horse in so gallant a manner was Walter Peacock, 39 B R.

The Illustrated Police News Saturday 15 July 1893

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Filed under Birds and Beasts, Narrow Escapes, Royal Goings-on

An huzzah for the Reptile Conqueror!



Last night, while Madame Paula, described as the reptile conqueror and water queen, was giving her performance in the Gaiety Theatre, Glasgow, one of the alligators escaped from her assistant. It got over the footlight bar and fell with a thud into the orchestra. The frightened band instantly jumped to their feet, while the audience in the stalls stood upon the seats for fear they might get a bite from the reptile. Madame Paula instantly descended into the orchestra, and, securing the animal, regained the stage amidst great applause. She proceeded with her performance.

The Dundee Courier and Argus, Wednesday 11 November 1891

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