Friday, 24 February 2012

A Chat on Short Walking Skirts

THE ideal of Mrs. Stopes is being slowly realised and the article in the Pall Mall Gazette on sensible skirts has set dressmakers thinking. Women are getting tired rather of wearing dresses that the rational dressers complain either gather the mud and the microbes of the pavement, or else necessitate the wearer carrying several pounds of material by holding her derss up to avoid the London mud. But you cannot avoid it with a dress of the ordinary length. Slowly, but surely, it begins to cake on the edge of the skirt, bespatters the boots, soils the stockings, and renders a woman an object of misery, a martyr to an inch too much of material. For some time a Patent Shapely Skirt Association has been trying to get women to buy a sensible skirt. The feature of it is this - that it is without a foundation, is made within 3in. or 4in. of the ground, and is a dress that will not go mud-gathering, without being ugly. In fact, it is a very pretty dress. The founder of the Patent Shapely Skirt Association explained the principles upon which she worked when I paid her a visit the other day. Her establishment is a very large one, and she told me at the present moment she had twenty dresses to complete a trousseau. "But here is the shapely skirt," she said; and she brought out a smart, neatly-made walking dress of blue serge. . . . "I think," added the dressmaker, "that the writer of the article in the Pall Mall rather exaggerated the advantages of short skirts. It is not necessary for a woman to wear a skirt up to her knees in order to keep it out of the mud. A dress only needs to be three or four inches off the ground to keep it perfectly clean." "But don't women object to even four inches off their skirts? It reduces their height." "Yes, they do complain of a dress when it makes them look short - there is no overlooking the fact that they do; but, at the same time, they appreciate the advantages of always being clean and smartly dressed, instead of being untidy and mud-spattered." "Wouldn't it be possible to invent something that would shorten a dress temporarily?" "Well," answered madame, "we have been putting tape into the skirts of some dresses so that a woman could draw up the back of a dress several inches from the ground; but this gave an ungraceful, lop-sided appearance to the wearer, as the dress longer in front than at the back, and a woman would have to take off her bodice when she got nidoors to let down the back again. The tapes were of no use if rain came on suddenly, because she couldn't get at them. There is nothing made in the nature of a dress-looper. Years ago, clasps to catch up the back or side of a dress were used; they were fastened by a cord to the waist, and were very ugly, so they didn't prospect. There is no way, either, of carrying a dress with ease. To hold it up behind is hard. The best way, if it must be carried, is to bring it in a bunch to the side. Dresses are more difficult to wear than they were, because, when steels were fashionable a woman had something to hold her skirt up by. Even if you wanted to hold up one of our shapely skirts, there is an advantage that you are relieved of the weight of about 2lb. of underskirt by the absence fo a foundation." - "Do you claim any other advantages for the skirt?" - "Yes, gold and tennis can be played with ease on a wet ground, its advantages for walking are appearance; last but not least it will enable Englishwomen to get rid of the idea in the minds of foreigners that Englishwomen have big feet."

London Journal, 1890


An American town-bred lady would as soon think of swimming up the Thames against tide, as walking far in such ankle-deep mud, but English ladies do it, and with consummate dexterity too. We have often in such weather wondered, how the ladies whom we have met on the side-walks could keep themselves so neat and dry, but continued practice has made them expert. You will see scores of fine ladies on such days, as well as on the sunniest, each suspending her garments gracefully with one hand, just above the reach of the mud, and tripping along on tiptoe with admirable skill, or perhaps walking with wooden clogs under her shoes. Some of them will walk miles in this manner, preserving their dresses and skirts in their original purity.

London by Day and Night, David W. Bartlett, 1852

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Mrs. Pye at the Bank

A long forgotten Londoner, Mrs. Pye, the Bank of England's crossing-sweeper ...

A CITY CELEBRITY. Some of the oldest frequenters of the City will remember seeing for some time a woman with a broom in her hand under the shadow of the Royal Exchange and opposite the entrance to the Bank of England. A few may remember her when she was young and in her prime, while others will think of her only as an old siver-haired woman of not uncomely appearance, with a ruddy complexion and a grateful courtesy for the gentlemen as they passed over to the bank. For over 50 years she was regular and punctual in her attendance at the post of duty; and almost up to the last, notwithstanding her age, however inclement the weather might be, she came through snow and rain to meet her daily visitors. There was a time when Mrs. Pye’s broom did good service, and a clean path was made through the mud from the Exchange to the Bank; but since Threadneedle-street has been asphalted the office of crossing-sweeper has become a sinecure – if to stand in a snowstorm at 84 years of age could thus be fitly described. The authorities of the bank did not, however, feel disposed to turn the old woman adrift because a new system of road-making had been adopted, and she remained there for some time longer as a pensioner, receiving gifts of money and cloting from those who had known her in her better days. One could not fail to remark that a thoughtful donor had presented her with a good warm shawl, such as crossing-sweepers do not usually wear, to protect her from the inclemancies of the winter. A gentleman connected with Messrs. Baring Brothers was noted for his Christmas and other gifts to the old pensioner. For some time she had been supporting her disabled husband and her daughter’s family were constant recipients of her bounty; until last winter, after falling asleep several times at her post, she had to give in, and is now an inmate of the workhouse, and is in fact too ill to leave the infirmary.
The Morning Post, September 13, 1880

Saturday, 11 February 2012

London dust

Most of us know of the dreadful fogs that afflicted Victorian London, but the summer months brought a different atmosphere - 'dust'.

The coltsfoot, which is really the first flower of Spring, was all aglow along the railway banks,: and even in the waste spaces around the city, unmolested by our southern folk, who are not as familiar as more northern races with the rare virtues of this humble plant. There was no sound of the cuckoo, of course; but the fair skies, the warm air, the bright sunlight seemed to tell all the world that summer was a-coming in; and the happy- hearted Londoner started from Hampstead, or Hammersmith, or Highbury, or Clapham, with the determination that he would have a capital "breather" before getting into his office, or counting-house, or  chambers for the day. But very soon, indeed, a change came over the spirit of that pleasant dream. He had forgotten the vestries, or rather the contractors over whom the vestries are supposed to keep diligent watch. He began to get unpleasant whiffs of gritty material as the west wind came swooping along narrow lanes and over broad thoroughfares. His eyes began to smart. There was an unpleasant sensation about his teeth. Then the further he got into town the severer became his penance, until, it may be, the unhappy wretch had to cross one of the Thames bridges. Now the condition of a Thames bridge, on such a day as yesterday, is a thing that must be written about gently, so as not to provoke unnecessary wrath. The winds seem to have a merry time of it when they got clear of the streets, and play cantrips over the open apace above the stream ; and they come charged, as the awful river spirit did in "Undine," with : an element which they love to shower upon the luckless mortals whom they meet, only that it is dust and not water that they bring. If any modern Fuseli wanted to study the various phases of human. anger he could not do better than stand on London Bridge or Westminster Bridge on a windy day in March, just after the first fine weather has dried up the long-standing mud of adjacent thoroughfares. There are people who yield to the coffee-coloured sirocco, and turn their backs to let the worst go by; there are others who will not yield to compromise, but, urge on their wild career with head bent down, teeth clenched, and temper indescribable. At such a time the opinions that are formed, rather than expressed, of our system of London government are far too dreadful to be put into words. Dust, it is true, is not unknown in the City; but there it is seldom so. cloud-compelling as it is-in parts of Oxford-street, Parliament-street, or the Mall in St. James's Park. The City authorities do pay some attention to the cleansing of the thorough- fares (and they are aided by the prevalence of the new sorts of paving), while in dry weather the water-carts are kept busy. But can it be said that any real supervision is exercised over the outer municipal districts of London as regards the state of the streets? Attention has just been called to the condition of the foot-way and carriage-way fronting Buckingham Palace. During wet weather, it is not too much to say, this space of ground is in a state of mud such as could scarcely be found in any other of our great cities, such, as Manchester, Glasgow, or Edinburgh. Naturally, when the dry and windy weather comes in, this mud becomes pounded into dust, and is thrown about in all directions, to the infinite discomfort of the passers-by.
Daily News, 10 March 1875

The dust was, of course, for the most part, dried horse dung.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Eyes of the Victim

I am fairly sure that the belief that the eyes of a murder victim might retain an image of the murderer pre-dates Victorian photography [anyone comment?]. Interestingly, though, the invention of the camera did little to dispel the myth; it may have even strengthened it by providing a 'scientific' explanation for the supposed phenomenon. Hence this from 1863:

PHOTOGRAPHY AND MURDER. Mr. Warner a London photographer in a letter to the Photographic News says: "On the 15th ultimo, after reading an account of the murder of the young woman, Emma Jackson, in St. Giles's, I addressed a letter to Detective-officer James F. Thomson, informing him that 'if the eye of a murdered person be photographed within a certain time after death upon the retina will be found depicted the last thing that appeared before them, and that in the present case the features of the murderer would most probably be found thereon.' I exemplified my statement by the fact of my having, four years ago, taken the negative of the eye of a calf a few hours after death; and upon a microscopic examination of the same, I found depicted thereon the lines of the pavement on the slaughter-house floor. The negative is unfortunately broken, and the pieces lost. I enclose you Mr. Thomson's reply, together with his permission for me to make any use I please of it. The subject is of too great importance and interest to be passed headlessly by, because if the fact were known through the length and breadth of the land, it would, in my estimation, tend materially to decrease that most horrible of all crimes - murder. In reply to the letter spoken of, Detective Thompson wrote: 'The secret you convey in your letter - photographing the eyes of a murdered person - is one of the greatest importance; but unfortunately it is unavailing in this instance for various reasons, three of which I will give you. 1. Life had been extinct some forty hours prior to my seeing the body of Emma Jackson. 2. The eyes were closed. 3. A post mortem examination has been made, and she has been buried - shell coffin - since Monday last. In conversing with an eminent oculist some four years ago upon this subject, I learned that unless the eyes were photographed within twenty four hours after death no result would be obtained, the object transfixed thereon vanishing in the same manner as an undeveloped negative photograph exposed to light. I did not therefore resort to this expedient.'

The Caledonian Mercury, May 15, 1863 

The case of Emma Jackson was a grim precursor of the Jack the Ripper murders, remarkably similar in many ways, though now long forgotten. I have transcribed some of the detail below - beware! some of it is gorily forensic  - taken from the Times, although there is much more to read in other papers. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Victorian brothel; part-time prostitution; how the mid-Victorians described such crimes (in gross detail); the desperation of the police to find a killer - even down to selecting a random drowned body from the Thames; and the willingness of a series of drunks and lunatics to confess to it.

Some time on Thursday, probably about midday, an; atrocious murder was perpetrated in George-street, St. Giles's, one of the worst neighbourhoods in the metropolis. It became notorious about 18 months ago in consequence of an attempt by a cab-driver to get a young woman who had been his fare into one of the brothels there, after hocussing her and robbing her of her clothes and the property she had about her person. In consequence of the resistance offered by the person who was in charge of the house the cabman was prevented from carrying out the worst part of his design, and in consequence of the disturbance which ensued he was captured, tried, and convicted.
    The circumstances connected with the murder are not very fully known, but it seems that about 7 o'clock on Thursday morning a man and a young woman, whose name is Emma Jackson, and whose friends live in the neighbourhood of Berwick-street, Soho, went to No.4, George-street, the door of which was opened to them by a servant, who had been aroused from her sleep by the knocking at the door. The man asked for a room, and they were shown up to the back room on the first floor, but the servant, being sleepy, failed to notice their appearance and can give no account of them. As there was perfect quietness in the room during the day no suspicions of any kind were aroused, but at about half-past 5 o'clock is the evening the servant girl went upstairs, and, finding the door unfastened, entered. On the bed she found lying the woman she had let in the same morning with her throat frightfully cut. The bed was saturated and the walls were spattered with blood. She immediately ran down and gave an alarm to the police, and a medical man was called in. He found that is addition to the windpipe having been severed enough of itself to cause death, there was another wound severing the carotid artery, and on the back of the neck two large stabs running obliquely towards each other. All the wounds had been inflicted with great force, and it is very certain that the girl struggled desperately for her life. No noise, however, was heard, a circumstance which is all the more singular on account of there being little coach traffic through the street. Moreover, the landlord, whose practice it was to sit up during the night, was sleeping all day in the back parlour, immediately under the room in which the murder took place. The murderer escaped, but by what means or when, nobody knows. When the body of the murdered woman was discovered life hail been extinct, in the opinion of the surgeon, for at least four or five hours. No instrument was found in the room, and the man, prior to his departure, appears to have carefully collected everything belonging to him.
    The deceased, Emma Jackson„ lived with her father, mother, and brother, in a little house immediately behind and connected with No. 10, Berwick-street, a butcher's shop in the possession of Mr. Andrew Osborn. Her father is a clerk out of employment, and her mother a shirt maker. The deceased is described by those who know her in the neighbourhood as a quiet, peaceable girl, but as being occasionally given to excesses. She would remain at home for weeks working hard, and conducting herself reputably, but at times she would, to use the language of her friends, "break out" and absent herself from home for days together, and go with anybody. She was a shirt maker, and in pursuit of that business earned a decent livelihood. After one of her periodical, fits of irreggularity she returned to her home about three weeks ago, and again prosecuted her ordinary calling until Tuesday last, when she again left home. She was last at her mother's house in Berwick-street at 8 o'clock on Wednesday evening. About 1 o'clock yesterday morning, long after they had retired to rest, Mr. Osborn's family was aroused by a violent knocking and ringing at the door. Mr. Osborn on going downstairs found two girls at his door, who communicated to him some of the particulars of the murder of his lodger. They told him that she had had her throat cut, and requested him to accompany them to George-street, where the murder bad been committed. He did not adopt that course, but went and communicated to Emma Jackson's mother the information he had received. The father and brother were then called, and immediately proceeded, with the police who had by this time arrived, to George-street where they identified the body of the unfortunate woman, who, they stated, was 23 years of age. The girls who had thus communicated the intelligence said they were intimately acquainted with the unfortunate deceased. One of these girls said she had seen Emma Jackson on Thursday morning in the company of a foreigner. who was having his boots cleaned at the corner of Greek-street and Compton-street, and that he had the appearance of a German baker, or sugar baker, with which class of people the neighbourhood abounds. That the murderer lived in the same neighbourhood as the deceased seems to be pretty clear, and the police are making anxious inquiries in that direction.
    The murder took place in the first-floor back-room, and the landlord, David George, occupies the back parlour, and has been laid up nine or 10 weeks with palpitation of the heart, which will somewhat account for his not having heard the screams, if there had been any. The Connor murder, committed 10 years ago, took place at No. 11 in the same street. Although every exertion had been made by the police authorities to discover the perpetrator of the murder, up to 11 o'clock last evening they had not succeeded in doing so.

Times 11 April 1863
THE MURDER IN ST. GILES'S. On Saturday evening Dr. Lankester, the coroner for the western division of Middlesex, commenced the inquest into the circumstances connected with the death of the unfortunate prostitute, Emma Jackson, whose murder in a low lodging-house and brothel in St. Giles's has excited such a painful interest. As will be seen, the inquiry was merely of a preliminary nature, there being very little evidence forthcoming at this early stage of the investigation beyond the usual formal proofs of identification of the body and of the circumstances under which it was found. These were taken at once, with a view to the post mortem examination of the deceased being ordered, that the remains might be removed as soon as possible from the low den in which the poor woman met her death, and round which great crowds have continued to assemble ever since. The event appeared to excite intense interest is the miserable neighbourhood in which it took place, and the tavern room where the inquest was begun was not only crowded to excess, but some hundreds of people were congregated outside while it was proceeding. The jury having been sworn,
    The CORONER said he had felt it his duty to call the jury together that evening, for though he by no means anticipated that they could do much more than open the inquiry, yet he had wished that begun at once, in order that the jury might themselves see the body in almost precisely the condition in which it was discovered in the room where the murder had been comitted. He had, the moment that the notice of the death was received by him, directed that the corpse should not be moved or touched till the jury had seen it ; and he was sure he need not impress upon them the importance, after viewing the body, of also examining minutely the apartment in which it lay, and that which closely adjoined it. Having done this, he proposed on their return to take evidence as to the identity of the deceased, and also that of the medical gentleman who was called in upon the discovery of the body, and who would describe to them the condition in which he then found it. After that it would be necessary to adjourn the inquiry for a few days.
    The jury then proceeded to view the body--a spectacle of singular horror, as it lay in the dirty, squalid room, on a foul, rumpled bed, soaked through with half-dried blood. The room itself bore no tokens of a struggle, or rather its dirty poverty was such that no struggle short of one which smashed the furniture would leave many traces. Some slight straggle, such as a woman might make in her death agony, had very likely taken place upon the bed, but even this is little more than conjecture. The reason of the remark made by the Coroner as to the necessity of examining the adjoining room was at once apparent to the jury when they had entered the chamber of death. The next room to it, in front of the house, looking out on George-street, was only divided from that in which the body lay by a thin plaster partition, with a frail door in the centre of so slight a kind that a person speaking even softly in one room could, as was proved by actual test, be distinctly heard in the other. Yet two young women were sleeping in this front room on the morning of the murder and heard no sounds of struggling up to the time when they rose from their beds, nor did the proprietor of the house, who was in the room immediately beneath that where the woman died, hear anything unusual, though he was in the lower apartment throughout all the day.
    On the return of the jury,
    The brother of the murdered woman, John Jackson, was examined, and stated that the age of the deceased was 28, and that she was unmarried. She worked at shirtmaking with her mother, with whom she lived, in Berwick-street, Soho. Witness saw her last alive on Sunday evening, at the Fox, in Wardour-street, where he was employed. She was then with some other persons, and had been drinking a little, though he was not aware that she was in the habit of drinking. The persons with her on that Sunday night were men. He knew nothing of where she was on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, though he had seen the men who were with her on the Sunday since that date, and one of them he had seen as recently as that day (Saturday). He had seen the body when it lay, and identified it at once as that of his sister.
    Martha Curley, a very quiet and rather a respectable looking young girl, employed as a servant at the brothel where the murder was committed, was the next witness. She said she was servant to Mr. George, who kept the house in George-street. It was what she called a lodging-house. They took in people at all hours, without inquiry as to their characters. She had a young woman to assist her in the house at times, and to answer the door. Her name was Catharine Mulind. She remembered admitting the deceased into the house about 7 o'clock on Thursday morning last. Witness was not up when she came, and the street door was shut. She was made aware of the deceased and a man coming in by a young girl and a man who were going out. The latter called her and she got up, and found the deceased and a man coming up the stairs together. She did not take any particular notice of the man ; he was. about the middle height, but she could not tell his age. He had black clothes on, but she did not notice sufficiently to as whether he had cap on or a hat. The young woman asked her for a bedroom for two hours, and witness showed her and the man into the room on the first floor back—that in which the body was found. They said nothing more to witness. The man paid her a shilling, but did not speak a word that she heard. Witness afterwards put the hasp through the staple in their door on the outside and went to bed. There were two young women sleeping in the room in the front, adjoining that which the deceased and her companion had entered. There is a door leading from the front to the back room, and she thought that any noise made in the back room might easily be heard by those in the front. Witness did not get up again till past 11 o'clock, when Mulind called her. Witness placed the hasp in the staple of the door after the deceased and the man had entered, because it was their custom to do so, to prevent robberies.
    Examined by the CORONER.— She first she learnt of the murder was by her sending up Mulind in the afternoon of Thursday to find out why the parties had not left the room. Mulled came rushing downstairs back to her, saying there was a woman murdered in the back room. That was at about a quarter to 5 o'clock. Witness at once ran upstairs with Mulind, and they saw the deceased lying half across the bed, with her feet on the floor. She was lying on her back, with her head towards the foot of the bed. To the best of witness's recollection, deceased's arms lay over her chest, and she was covered with blood all over her head and neck. Witness came down at once and told Mr. George, who sent for the police. The body was not moved or touched till the police came, and they saw it exactly as she herself first saw it. When she went into the room after the discovery the back-room window was wide open, but it had been closed down when the police came into the room. The back-yard door was not fastened, and if the man who was with the deceased had dropped from the window into the back yard he could have let himself out by the front door unnoticed.
    Mr. John Weekes, surgeon, of 4, High-street, Bloomsbury, said,—I was called by the police at about half-past 5 on Thursday afternoon to the first-floor of No, 4, George-street, St. Giles's. I there found a woman lying dead on her back on a bed, with her feet, which were rigid, touching the floor. She was lying with her face uppermost, one arm across the chest and the other across the abdomen. She only had on her chemise, and it was turned low below the breasts. Some portions of the bed clothes were quite saturated with blood. These were the upper parts. The neck and back of the deceased were a mass of congealed blood. The arms and hands had very little blood upon them, but I did not notice which had the most. There is blood upon the arms now. I washed the blood from the face and neck, and then examined the body superficially. I found five wounds altogether. On the right side of the neck there were two wounds, one a little above the other. They were both incised wounds and very deep. The first, which is the largest, extended in an oblique direction and quite severed the windpipe. The second, although of less size, had laid open the internal jugular vein. The third and fourth wounds were both at the back of the head, and extended into the bones of the spinal column. The first and second wounds I have described would certainly have caused death ; the third and fourth at the back might not do so. All the wounds are of that character that I think it impossible the deceased could have inflicted them on herself—indeed, I am sure it could not have been done by her. A strict search was made for any knife or instrument with which the wounds might have been inflicted, but none was found. Judging from the oblique character of the wounds, I am quite positive that it was impossible for the deceased to have inflicted them on herself. Supposing the wound which severed the windpipe to have been inflicted first, it would have been almost physically impossible for the deceased to scream or cry out, whereas had either of the wounds in the back of the neck been the first inflicted she could have cried out. I believe the deceased had been dead some five or six hours when I saw her.
    At this stage of the proceedings the Coroner stated that he had directed a post mortem examination of the body to be made, as it might possibly turn out that one or other of the wounds beside that which had severed the windpipe had caused death, or even that poison might be detected in the stomach. In order that this examination might be made, and that in the meantime the police, who had the matter in hand, might gather fresh evidence to lay before the Jury on their next meeting, he suggested that the inquiry should stand adjourned to the afternoon of Friday, the 17th.
    The inquiry was then adjourned accordingly till that date. Up to last night no person had been arrested on suspicion of having committed this most cruel and deliberate murder. The police-officers charged with the investigation are very properly, and with a view to furthering the ends of justice, keeping secret all the clues which they possess towards discovering the murderer, of whom it is only necessary to say that they have now, from various sources and by joining. together small fragments of material evidence from all quarters, succeeded, they say, in getting a rather full, and, as they believe, an accurate description. We venture to think that the sooner this description is made public the better. Two or three years back when a similarly foul murder to this was committed by a foreigner at a brothel in the Haymarket, it was the publicity given to his description by the press which alone led to the murderer's detection on board a vessel at Gravesend about to sail on the following day for Montevideo. As in that case, so in the present a widespread knowledge of this murder's appearance, height and age might be of the last importance to the efforts of justice. Though, as we have said, the police are reserved as to the clues which they possess to the discovery of this cold-blooded ruffian, the public will be glad to hear that at present they feel confident of being able to trace him in the course of a day or so. Only one obstacle perplexes them, but that is a serious one —namely, the absence of any knowledge that any of the poor unfortunate's companions or intimates entertained ill-will towards her, much less had motives likely to lead to the commission of a murder so determined and apparently so deliberately resolved on. The idea of robbery—the motive in the case of the murder in the Haymarket - is in this instance quite out of the question. The poor woman's clothes were scarcely decent, and money or ornaments she, of course, had none. At the close of the preliminary inquiry on Saturday a great deal of surprise and almost indignation was evinced by lookers on in the inquest room that the servant Catharine Mulind and the two young women who slept in the front room adjoining that where the murder was committed were not called on as witnesses. We believe that the reason they were not then called was because their testimony, if made public, might have materially interfered with the efforts of the police to arrest the murderer—a reason which, if founded on fact, is of course amply sufficient to have justified the coroner and the police in not calling them. As far as the case has yet been examined into the police are of opinion that the murder was committed early in the morning, certainly before 10 o'clock, and that the first dreadful wounds in the throat were in all probability given as the poor woman was sleeping, and the stabs in the back of the neck as she strove to rise before she fell backwards from weakness and loss of blood. Such a struggle, if the mere death agony of a creature without power to scream or call out may be called a struggle, would make no noise that would attract attention in a den of infamy, where altercations, blows, and cursings must have been frequent enough. That the murderer escaped. by the window is not considered likely. Such an attempt would have so certain to result in detection that it would have been madness for one trying to avoid notice to make it, though such an idea may have crossed the man's mind on finding the door fastened outside, and he very likely opened the window to reconnoitre in that direction before he abandoned the notion. That he succeeded in opening the door is evident from the witness Catherine Mulind finding it unfastened when she went up at a quarter to 5. No trace of the murderer, no signs of washing himself from blood were in the room, and when once he was free of the house he had ample time before him to destroy all the clothes he wore, which must, more or leas, have been stained with blood. All these things tell sadly against the search of the police, yet, still, as we have said, they express themselves hopefully of being, able to trace he man.
Times April 13, 1863
Yesterday afternoon Dr. Lankester resumed the inquiry at the Oporto Stores, Broad-street, Bloomsbury, into the circumstances connected with the murder of Emma Jackson.
    The CORONER said that last Saturday he opened the inquest for the purpose of taking the depositions of the principal witnesses.. The brother of the deceased said he knew nothing of the cause of death. The servant of the house said she remembered letting the deceased and a man into the house, but, she being sleepy, did not take any particular notice of the parties. She said that she went upstairs and found the window wide open, but the door locked on the outside. The Coroner then called,
    Dr. Weekes, who said that performed a post mortem examination of the body. The face of the deceased was pitted with smallpox. The arms and hands were smeared with blood, and there were slight stains of blood on both thighs. On the left buttock was a mark of the grasp of two fingers. In the neck there were four punctured wounds or stabs, two front and two behind. The first wound, above the centre of the upper bone of the sternum was one inch and a quarter in length, and extended upwards to the left of the trachea, dividing the trachea transversely for nearly three-fourths of its circumference. The second wound was on the right side of the neck, and was three-quarters of an inch in length. There was no wound of the carotid artery. The third wound was a clear transverse cut, seven-eighths of an inch long, and situated exactly in the middle of the left side of the back of the neck. The distance between the third and the fourth wound was an inch and, a half external. There was a considerable effusion of blood on the membranes of the vertebrae, particularly to the right of the spine. There was a very clean cut three quarters of an inch long. The stomach was healthy in appearance. The cause of death, he believed, was partly by suffocation and partly by loss of blood, which had been effused in considerable quantities both from the wound in the internal juggular and the veins in part of the trachea. The wound in the trachea would suffice to prevent the person from screaming, and the wound through the skin would prevent the ready escape of blood, and would naturally assist suffocation. He thought deceased must have been asleep when the first wound was inflicted, which has in the windpipe. After the second wound, he believed the deceased was dragged into the position in which she was found. It was difficult to estimate the quantity of blood that was lost.
    By a Juror.—Would the first wound prevent the deceased making a noise?—Witness thought it would.
    By the CORONER.—He had no doubt that when he saw the deceased she had been dead from nine to 12 hours, and in his opinion no intercourse had taken place, and that the injuries on the deceased were inflicted by a mere common pocket-knife. He did not think the wounds were inflicted in the position in which the deceased was found, and thought that she must have been placed by her murderer, on receiving the second wound, in the position in which she was found. She could have had no power of resistance or calling out after the windpipe had been separated.
    Several witnesses were then called, among whom were Clara Mulinde, the assistant servant at 4, George-street, who gave evidence as to seeing the parties enter the house, but she did not particularly notice them at the time. After some further evidence, the jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person unknown."
    (From the Globe).
    Some information of an important character has reached the city and metropolitan police-stations respecting the supposed murderer of Emma Jackson, and little doubt is entertained of the speedy capture of the man. On the afternoon of the day of the murder (Thursday, the 9th inst.) a man entered a shop in Stratford in a hurried and excited manner, and purchased a new shirt, the one he wore being stained with blood, a circumstance which was remarked upon at the time by the shopkeeper. The man accounted for the fact by saying that he had a severe quarrel with his wife, and that he carried on business in the City-road. Be then left in the direction of Epping Forest, and is supposed by the police to be concealed in some hollow tree there, following in that respect the example of Jonathan Gaynor, who murdered Mrs. White, at Chigwell, a few years ago. The following is the description of the man as given by the police :—About 40 years of age, 5ft. 6in, in height, fresh complexion, rather weather-beaten, dark sandy whiskers, clean shaved under the chin. Wore a pilot coat buttoned close up to the chin. It is supposed by the police that if he can get out of the forest he will make for sea.
The Times April 18, 1863
BOW-STREET — A man of about 5 feet 7 inches in height. stoutly built, but of haggard countenance, with sandy hair and florid complexion, and wearing a "tuft' or "imperial" on his chin, was brought before Mr. HENRY, charged upon his own confession with being the murderer of Emma Jackson.
    John Kell, police constable N 574, stated that about it quarter to 10 o'clock on Tuesday evening he was on duty at the old station-house in Robert-street, Hoxton, when the prisoner entered and said he wished to give himself up for murdering the woman Emma Jackson. in St. Giles's. Witness told him the inspector had removed to the new station in the Kingsland-road, whither witness offered to accompany the prisoner. As he had no constable to assist him, he sent a cabman to the nearest rank to fetch the waterman. Passing by a public-house, on the way to the station, the. prisoner wanted to go in to get a pint of beer, and as witness would not allow him to do so, he tried to get away, and witness was obliged to hold him very tight. At the station he refused to answer any questions or make any statement. By the inspector's order the witness took him in a cab to the station-house in Clarke's-buildings, George-streets St, Giles's. He had been drinking rather freely, but was not very drunk.
    The Prisoner – I was quite drunk. I had been drinking for two or three days, with some friends just returned from abroad. I have no recollection of what occurred. There is not the slightest foundation for what I said. My wife will prove that I was at.home on that night. Some months back I was thrown of a cab, and when I take a little drink it gets into my head.
    Inspector Williamson said he had no doubt that the prisoner's present statement was true, and that he had made the confession in a drunken frolic.
    Robert Ward, a carpenter, and Frederic Land, a painter, working for Mr. Davis, a builder, said the prisoner was in the same employ, and was at work with them on a job in Macclesfield-street on the Thursday in Easter week, the day of the murder. Ward said the prisoner came to work at 7 in the morning and was there all day. Land said he saw the prisoner at half-past 7. The prisoner was then discharged.
    Mr. Rivolta, solicitor to. the St. Giles Vestry, applied for warrants for the apprehension of the landlord of the house in which the murder was committed, No. 4, George-street, and the keepers of Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, and 10. in the same street, for keeping brothels and disorderly houses. The warrants were granted, and the inspector of nuisances, Mr. Braddick, was bound over to prosecute at the sessions.
The Times April 23, 1863
THE MURDER IN BLOOMSBURY .—Yesterday afternoon Mr. John Humphery, coroner for Middlesex, held an inquiry at Hoare and Co.'s taphouse, Lower East Smithfield, respecting the death of a man, aged about 30, who is supposed to have been the murderer of Emma Jackson, in George-street, St. Giles's, last April. Richard Reilly, examining officer in the Customs, said that last Monday evening he saw the body of the deceased floating past his boat, off the St. Katharine Docks. He assissted in getting it ashore. It appeared to be that of an Englishman rather than of a foreigner. The hands were tied together with twine, apparently by himself. The coat, trousers, and waistcoat matched. They were made of brown and gray crowd tweed. The coat was a lounging coat. The trousers had a Russel cord. A red shirt, a white all-round collar, and a black silk tie completed the dress. When searched, a fusee box, a leather belt, two pieces of comb, and a handkerchief were found in the pockets. No money or knife was found. The deceased was about 5 feet 7 inches in height. Inspector Henry Beckett, Thames police, said he was present when the deceased was found. He produced the articles found upon deceased. The pieces of comb were apparently of caoutchouc, and were of French manufacture. Witness should say that the deceased had been a clerk, not a labouring man nor a sailor. He was respectably dressed, and had on a red Garibaldi shirt. The Coroner said that be should take deceased to be a foreigner from his appearance. The boots had kid tops, and they were certainly more slightly fashioned than was usual with English ones. Mr. Perry, coroner's officer, said that several detectives had been down to see the body, and they had brought with them Margaret Curling, the servant who had opened the door of the brothel in George-street, Bloomsbury, for Emma Jackson and her murderer, on the morning of the 13th of April, and also William Stokes and Charles Henley who had caught a glimpse of the suspected person. The deceased's face, however, which on the recovery of the body was as pallid as the hands, had since become so much discoloured that they were unable to identify it. Although they had been subpoenaed they had just gone away without giving evidence. The Coroner said it was essential that they should be sworn and examined, and he should adjourn the inquest for that purpose. Meanwhile, the body should not be buried, but be taken to the workhouse, so that after a minute description of the deceased had gained publicity in the newspapers anyone might have the opportunity of identifying him - a matter of considerable importance, if the deceased was, is supposed, the murderer of Emma Jackson. The comb found in deceased's pocket was marked "Fauvelle a Paris - caoutchouc." It was about six, itches long, and was broken in two. A Large white cambric handkerchief was also in the pocket. One comer was torn off, evidently by design, and with the view of getting rid of a name or initials. The Coroner directed that it should be shown to the relatives of the murdered woman. The proceeding were then adjourned.
The Times May 7, 1863
THE BLOOMSBURY MURDER— On Saturday afternoon Mr. John Humphreys, coroner for Middlesex, concluded, at the Dock Hotel, East Smithfield, the investigation relative to the identification of the man whose body was found opposite the St. Katherine's Docks, in the river, last Monday, and whose general description appeared closely to correspond with that given of the murderer of Emma Jackson. The Coroner stated that as the change produced in the appearance of the deceased from decomposition had rendered the witnesses unable to form an opinion  decisively as to whether he was or was not the suspected man, a new scientific process had been resorted to for the purpose of restoring the features to their pristine shape and hue. The experiment had been so far successful. Margaret Curley, of 4, George-street, St. Giles's, said that she had examined the deceased since the operation hand been performed, but that she did not recognize him as a person she had ever seen before. Charles Ansley, of 20, Peter-street, St. James's, said that he did not recognize the deceased. H. Stoke, shoe-black, was certain the body was not that of the man who was with Emma Jackson. Dr. B. Ward Richardson, of 12, Hinde-street, Manchester-square, said that he had, in conjunction with Dr. Edmunds made certain experiments on the body of the deceased. They could not form any opinion as to the time that had elapsed since death. The body seemed to be that of a man 21 years of age, whose beard and moustache had never been shaved. The hands were those of a person who had worked manually. The Coroner said that though the chemical experiments had not been as successful as could have been wished, on account of the extreme decomposition of the body, they had not been fruitless, as they had enabled the witnesses to arrive at the conclusion that he was not the man charged with the commission of the St. Giles's murder. The jury returned a verdict "that deceased was found drowned in the river, but how he came into the water there was no evidence to show."
The Times  May 11, 1863

BOW-STREET. Edward Collins was brought before Mr. VAUGHAN having given himself up at Harlowe, Essex, as the murderer of Emma Jackson, who was found dead in George-street, St. Giles's, nearly a year ago.
    Mr. WIlliamson, the Chief Inspector of the Detective Department Scotland-yard, said the prisoner was brought to the police-office Scotland-yard by the Inspector Hammond of the Essex Constabulary, to whom he had given himself up at Harlowe. It appeared that he then stated that he had murdered Emma Jackson and was so miserable that he felt prompted to give himself up. He asked whether he was likely to be hanged. He was at first somewhat excited, but subsequently was much worse, and on the way to this court he became very violent. It took four officers to hold him. There was very little doubt that he was insane, and it was not believed that he committed the murder. He certainly did not answer the description of the man who was seen at the house. He now stated that he was not the person.
    Mr. VAUGHAN desired that the prisoner should be taken to the workhouse, there to be examined by the medical man as to his state of mind. He also directed that the persons who had seen the alleged murderer should have an opportunity of seeing the prisoner.
    The prisoner was then removed.
The Times March 22, 1864
At BOW-STREET, WILLIAM SQUIRES gave himself into custody for the murder of Emma Jackson, who was found dead in a house in George-street, Bloomsbury, about six years ago, and was charged upon his own confession before Mr. Vaughan yesterday morning, Police Constable 143 E stated that he saw the prisoner in Clarke's-buildings. He was drunk and shouting out "I am a murderer." Witness told him he should not say that unless it were true. The prisoner then took an oath that he had been taken to George-street by the woman Emma Jackson, and because she tried to rob him he stabbed her in the neck, not intending to kill her. He was then taken to the police-station and examined by Inspector Harnett, but the prisoner did not then feel inclined to answer the questions put to him. The prisoner in court denied that he had ever murdered Emma Jackson, but admitted that he had told the officer so. The prisoner's mother stated that when he was intoxicated he was like a madman. Mr. Vaughan remanded the prisoner for a week.
The Times January 25, 1871
ANOTHER CONFESSION OF MURDER. - A man who gave the name of William Squire, apparently about 40 years of age, gave himself into custody at Margate on Thursday night for murdering Emma Jackson, by cutting her throat, in 1862, at Clarke's-buildings, Tottenham-court-road. Yesterday he was taken before the magistrates on another charge, and when his statement was repeated he neither admitted nor denied it. He is detained for inquiries.
The Times November 8, 1879
At BOW-STREET before Sir James Ingham, WILLIAM SQUIRES a dull-looking poorly-clad man was charged on his own confession with the murder of a woman in George-street, St. Giles's, in the year 1863. The prisoner gave himself up to Police Constable Perkins, 380 W, in the Atlantic-road, Brixton, and stated that he had met his alleged victim named Emma Jackson in a public-house in neighbourhood of Drury-lane in the summer of 1863. After drinking freely they went to his rooms in George-street, St. Giles's, and during the night he saw her in the act of robbing him, whereupon he cut her throat with a razor. He afterwards went to America, and it had been supposed that the man who committed the murder was drowned, but he declared that such was not the case, and that he was the person. The prisoner was slightly intoxicated at the time of making the statement, and Mr. Superintendent Thomas said there was no reason to believe what he had said, but a remand was asked for and granted, that inquiries might be made.
The Times March 19, 1880

Inquiries were made, Squires was discharged - again . The murderer of Emma Jackson was never found.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

He Wore a Brown Silk Dress

A very typical court case, from the Daily News of Februrary 28, 1846, revolving around a man cross-dressing and cruising for sex. I'm assuming he was probably a 'rent-boy'; but I'm not sure if that's to be taken as read, or not ...
BOW STREET.—Yesterday a person, who at the station house had described himself as "Frederick Bentstone (or Bentson) a clerk, residing 19, Wickham-place, Kent-road," was placed at the bar before Mr. Jardine, charged with having been found loitering about the public highway in Cockspur-street, dressed as a woman. He wore a brown silk dress, a black velvet shawl, a fashionable bonnet, and false curls.
    The constable (56 A) who detained him deposed that having observed him loitering about Cockspur-street and Spring-gardens, from half-past 12 o'clock on Wednesday night until 2 o'clock in the morning of yesterday (Thursday), and moreover been informed that men disguised as women were in the practice of promenading in that part of the town, he told him he was fully aware that he was not what he appeared to be, and that unless he explained his motive satistfactorily of assuming a female dress, he should consider it his duty to take him into custody. Upon this he affected to be very indignant, and angrily affirmed that he was a woman. " Why," rejoined the constable, "your voice alone betrays you." "Oh,that is the effect of a cold and hoarseness," replied he, and the constable, telling him that if such was the case the night air would but increase the malady, took him to the station-house out of the cold " night air."
    The magistrate asked the defendant before him what he had to say in excuse for such extraordinary conduct, and if his object was a wise and honest one, why he refused giving his address to the constable?
    He replied that the dress he wore belonged to a lady of his acquaintance. On Monday night he was present at a masquerade in the self same dress, and having been much admired in it, he put it on again on Wednesday night, that some friends whom he had appointed to meet on that night might see and admire it also. He refused to give the constable his address, because he had no idea that it would turn out so seriously, and he had a great objection to involve his friends in any way.
    The constable here begged to add to his former statement, he observed the same person, attired exactly in the same way, prowling about in Carlton-house gardens and on the steps of the York column.
    The prisoner did not deny that he had been there, and Mr. Jardine said there was reason to suspect that he had assumed female attire for a less innocent purpose than attending a masquerade—in which perhaps, there might be no great harm, however silly it might be. However, to prevent a repetition of such practices, for a time at least, he should require him to find bail, himself in 50l. and two sureties in 25l. each, who would undertake for his being of good behaviour for the next six weeks.
    The prisoner made a sort of nondescript obeisance, and was removed to the cells.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Remembering Victorian London

A brief but lovely reminiscence from the Times of 30 May 1930 -  ending with a tightly-regulated Hyde Park in which  'perambulators might only choose certain paths'.

About 55 years ago I looked down with joy through my barried nursery window at Jack-in-the-Green, in his laurel-covered twoer with attendant chimney-sweeps dressed in gay paper costumes, dancing down Chesham-street on May Day. Next our nursery party sallied forth for the regulation walk to Hyde Park, passing on our way a consumptive crossing sweeper established on an up-ended box near a kindly area gate, and then an active sweeper at Pont-street, with a short stubby broom; he ran before you and swept. In Lowndes-place the crossing-sweeper wore an old red hunting coat and despised the perambulator. In Lowndes-square, the toll-bar keeper had a tall coat and gold braided top-hat. At Knightsbridge the crossing was variously held and indifferently swept. (Once it was all “up” because the wooden conduit-pipes for drinking-water were being replaced by modern ones). In Hyde Park perambulators might only choose certain paths and no cabs or trade carts could enter there.
Miss MIRA F HARDCASTLE, 4 Golf Links-avenue, Hindhead, Surrey

Fully Authorised Crossing Sweepers

THE CROSSING SWEEPERS OF BELGRAVIA.-- The authorities of the Grosvenor district, which possesses a jurisdiction of its own, and comprises the localities of Grosvenor-place, Belgrave, Eaton, and Lowndes squares, and Chesham-place, have just taken the initiative in organizing the crossing-sweepers who occupy the many crossings in that locality. For some time past none have been permitted to hold a "commission" or "carry brooms"  in that neighbourhood without the sanction of the trustees; but yesterday each man was properly enrolled, and furnished with a blue cloth badge to fasten round the left arm, upon which were worked the letters G. P. D. (Grosvenor-place district), and a corresponding number to one which is registered at the secretary's office against the wearer's name. Most of these men are old soldiers, and being of an active disposition, are very useful in carrying messages or posting letters during the "season" for the servants, when those functionaries are too busy to do it themselves. On account of this they have at last come to be an "institution" of this strictly fashionable and aristocratic quarter, and it has frequently happened that when a crossing-sweeper had been away on an errand some tattered stranger has opened shop under false colours, and the false assumption of being "connected" with the regular man, or "it's the same concern," and, having obtained something to carry, has carried it away altogether. To remedy evils of this character the present organization has been undertaken, and the vacancies will henceforth be filled up by candidates of "established reputation;" so that, whenever they are employed upon an errand, those employing them will have some guarantee; and the place cannot be temporarily occupied by an unknown sweeper. as they will be obliged to wear the badge when "on duty".

Times, 15 September 1854

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Wicked Luxury

We may complain about the current bout of cold weather, but it's nothing compared to what our ancestors put up with ... for a cold spell in Victorian London could freeze water pipes (most houses only had water supplied for a few set hours per week), burst gas mains and generally cause chaos. Here's James Payn - an overly florid but interesting journalist - on a cold spell in the 1860s:-

May this 10th of January, whereupon the Home Correspondent begins this paper - upon which, for the first time for a fortnight, his stony fingers have been able to hold a pen - be henceforth a festival among readers; and yet not a white day, for the frost is gone, and, by comparison, a very summer has succeeded it. Ever since last year (or December 31), the Londoner has been obliged to restrict his washing within continental limits, for the water has not "come in" at all. The turn cock, who, in ordinary weather, is considered a useless functionary, something like an aquatic beadle, whose duties nobody understands, has of late become a person of importance. His deputy - for it is not to be supposed that so great a man would do any work himself - has been the cynosure of all neighbouring householders. When would his Eminence please to come and turn on the water from the main at the top of the street ? has been literally the great question of the day. It is understood that he will ring a bell in the public thoroughfare, to give notice when that ceremony takes place; but this he declines to do, and therefore our households are kept in a state of indescribable anxiety, and perhaps miss the favourable hour after all. The street-boys surround the unaccustomed fountains, and enjoy the spectacle; but our unfortunate cook, who is momentarily expecting the kitchen-boiler to burst for want of its native element, is unconscious of the supply until it is too late. Under these circumstances, hot water for the hands has become a wicked luxury, and scarcely to be procured even for necessaries - such as toddy. If we have had no water, however, we have had plenty of gas, which has "escaped" in all directions, and with such alacrity, that there has been none left at the jets. Dirt and darkness have therefore been the position of most people during the late "glorious weather"; while in the case of those few persons who possess any scientific knowledge, there has been added to these disadvantages the well-grounded apprehension of being suddenly blown into the air. It has been said that the world may be divided into knaves, fools, and fox-hunters, in sly disparagement, as I conceive, of this last class of our fellow-creatures; but there is this to be asserted in their honour, that at least they never rejoice with the Thoughtless or Malignant upon the setting in of Frost.