Monday, 26 September 2016

Wild Scenes at Willesden New Cemetery

A New Cemetery for Willesden  Dr Hoffmann, from the Home-office, attended at the Willesden Vestry-hall yesterday for the purpose of hearing objections to an application made by the Willesden Burial Board 'for permission to purchase upwards of 20 acres of ground near the Jews' Cemetery, for the parish of Willesden. Most of the members of the Burial Board were present besides members of the Local Board. Mr Tilley, solicitor, in making the application, quoted figures to show the necessity for a new burial ground, the population of the parish having nearly doubled itself since 1881 when it was 27,000. There being no opposition Dr. Hoffmann said he would recommend the granting of the application.
Morning Post - Tuesday 14 August 1888

The 26 acre Willesden New Cemetery opened in 1891 boasting a pair of ‘Pont Street Dutch’ chapels. At the stone laying ceremony so beloved of local worthies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries members of the Burial Board witnessed a scroll bearing their names and a copy of the previous days newspaper placed into bottles and buried beneath the foundation stones of the chapels. They then retired to a marquee to drink a number of toasts proposed by Mr F.A. Wood, a local antiquary who was standing in for the absent vicar. Mr Wood was, he said, not sure how to propose the toasts as “’success to the cemetery’ would look like as though he wanted the cemetery filled as soon as possible.” The Burial Board spent £20,000 on setting up the cemetery including the cost of the land and of building the chapels (these were demolished in 1986). According to Hugh Meller in ‘London Cemeteries’ over 80,000 burials have taken place and “in an attempt to create room for further burials, graves now fill one of the main paths which resemble a marble traffic jam. As an alternative solution, towards the back of the cemetery earth has been piled up to provide space for yet more.” In this crammed space the council still insists on using mechanical diggers to excavate new graves, much to the outrage of cemetery users:

A grieving son has slammed Brent Council, claiming they have showed disregard for the dead by employing digger truck drivers who are desecrating graves in a cemetery. Maxwell Glengall has told the [Kilburn] Times that the trucks are continuously driven around and over graves in Willesden New Cemetery as they try to dig new spaces. But he says they are carelessly knocking off parts of headstones and even driving over graves, due to overcrowding…. Mr Glengall, whose mother has been buried in the cemetery since July 2012, added that he was also concerned at the dirt tracks being left by the diggers which have made much of the area inaccessible…..“I’m very worried that my mother’s grave is going to be badly treated and worry about those people who have gone to visit their loved ones and found damage to their graves. How must they feel? Is this how council cemeteries are run? I thought it was at least 100 years before a site was retired for re-use. How can it have gone so far downhill?”  A spokesman for Brent Council said they “sincerely regretted any upset” but that they were similar to all other councils in using diggers to excavate graves. He added that it was “a much safer option for staff” and saved time.” (Kilburn Times, March 2013)

Other notable events in the cemeteries history include the funeral of the Australian cricketer Albert Edward Trott in August 1914 who at the age of 41 shot himself at his lodgings in Denbigh Road, Harlesden. Trott is supposedly the only batsman to have hit a ball over the Lords Pavilion during a match. Like his older brother Harry, who captained Australia in the 1896 test tour, Albert suffered from mental illness. At his inquest his landlady, with whom he had lodged for two and a half years, testified that on the day of his death he had sent for a sleeping draught to a local chemist as he had not slept all night but the chemist refused to serve it. She had heard a noise from his room and when she went to investigate found him lying on his back with a bullet wound in his right temple and a revolver in his hand. On a scrap of paper he had written a last will and testament; ‘Drawers and wardrobe to Mrs - , photos and drawers for Mrs— Clark Street, Victoria, Australia.' The MCC paid for his funeral.

According the newspapers there were wild scenes at the funeral of Mrs Ada Petchey and her 2 year old daughter when a crowd of nearly 500 women turned up baying for the blood of Mr Petchey the deceased’s husband. The two women had died from gas poisoning at their lodgings and at the inquest it was revealed that Mr Petchey had left his wife and child without money after a quarrel and hadn’t returned home until he read of their deaths in the papers. An hour before the funeral crowds began to gather at the top of Tubbs Road in Willesden where the funeral cortege was due to start its journey to the cemetery. A crowd gathered around the mourning coach trying to get hold of Mr Petchey who had to be protected by the police and the undertaker’s men. A large crowd of women booed and hissed as the cortege got under way and at the cemetery Mr Petchey was barracked and verbally abused by a seething mass of incensed women who, unable to get at him because of a cordon of police officers, resorted to hurling clods of earth at him as he tried to get away.
Willesden was the burial place of Elsie Cameron in January 1925. Elsie had been murdered by her lover Norman Thorne at Crowborough in Surrey in what the newspapers dubbed the chicken run murder. Thorne was a Sunday school teacher from Kensal Green who met typist Elsie in 1917. When he lost his job as an engineer he used his savings to set up as a poultry farmer in Crowborough. He tried to break his romantic entanglement with the older Elsie several times but without success. When she claimed to be pregnant he snapped and apparently strangled her. His version of the story was that she had hung herself. He claimed that he had panicked and decided to get rid of her body by dismembering it with a hacksaw and burying it on the farm. Not surprisingly the jury did not believe him. Elsie was buried on Monday 26 January with large crowds gathering at the cemetery to see the funeral. Cemetery officials locked the gates to prevent access to the private funeral and so the curious stood twelve deep outside the Wesleyan Chapel and lined the road into the cemetery. Amongst the floral tributes were a wreath from Thorne’s parents and another which seemed to be from the murderer himself, “Till we meet again, Norman” being the message on the card. Elsie did not rest long in her rave, four weeks later in what one newspaper called a “weird scene” she was exhumed. The exhumation began shortly before midnight under the strictest secrecy, in a sharp wind on a bitterly cold and frosty night. It took several hours to dig out the freezing grave and the coffin was not opened until first light. The exhumation had been carried out at the request of Thorne’s legal representatives. As well as Scotland Yard and the accused’s pathologist, Sir Bernard Spilsbury, England’s most famous forensic pathologist was also present. He gave evidence for the crown at Thornes trial. The poultry famer was hanged at Wandsworth prison in April that year, still protesting his innocence.        

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Georgie Girl who Died on Honeymoon; Georgina Robinson (died 1965) Willesden New Cemetery

I was unable to find out any more than was revealed in the epitaph (inscribed with a heart with G inscribed on one side and M on the other) about this rather sad memorial.  

Georgina “Georgie” Robinson, nee Owen
Killed in a road accident – France
4th September 1965
Returning from honeymoon
Two weeks before this day of sadness
We’d stood together in joy and gladness
Our life together was at the start
Too soon came true “Till death do us part”
Your Loving husband Maurice
A smile for all, a heart of gold
No one on earth her place could hold
Never selfish, always kind
These are the memories she left behind

Sadly missed – Mum and sister June

Sunday, 18 September 2016

"Let me have your wife's head and I will give you a pound." How a tooth extraction which went wrong led to a strange dispute between the surgeons of St. Thomas' Hospital and a sailor man.

Crude techniques could lead to serious complications in early 19th century dentistry 
Wednesday 3rd December 1817. Christopher Smith, wine merchant, former radical member of Parliament for St. Albans and the newly elected Lord Mayor of London took his seat as magistrate and judge in the Lord Mayor’s Court in Mansion House. The Lord Mayor had the powers of a magistrate but as few of them had any legal training or background the average Mayor, as a commentator in the Monthly Repository put it, had to “pretend to be a judge, by being the mouthpiece of certain dicta spoken in his ear as he sits, by a salaried lawyer, called a town clerk or city solicitor.” The writer went on to decry the farce by which the Lord Mayor’s were “as gilded speaking trumpets for the use of that legal oracle Mr. Hobler.” The formidable James Hobler, fluent in French, Spanish, German and Latin, noted for his wit and intellect, a "fine, tall, upright, powdered-headed gentleman of the old school, always neatly, though somewhat eccentrically dressed, in a closely buttoned-up black coat, drab breeches and gaiters” had been legal clerk to the Mayor for more years than anyone could remember and would remain in office until his death in 1843.   Successive Lord Mayors were ephemeral annuals briefly flowering in the presence of that hardy perennial Mr Hobler. Boz adroitly captured the atmosphere of mutual admiration that flourished between the Mayors and their clerk; "the Lord Mayor threw himself back in his chair, in a state of frantic delight at his own joke; every vein in Mr. Hobler's countenance was swollen with laughter partly at the Lord Mayor's facetiousness, but more at his own; the constables and police officers were (as in duty bound) in ecstasies at Mr. Hobler and the Lord Mayor combined; and the very paupers, glancing respectfully at the beadle's countenance, tried to smile, as even he relaxed." Whether Dickens was exaggerating can be judged from the scene that unfolded in the Mansion House on that Wednesday morning in December 1817.

Mr Hobler liked to be prepared and it was his habit to run through the list of applicants and litigants waiting to see the Mayor and carry out a preliminary interview before allowing them into the courtroom.  If Mr Hobler’s extensive experience led him to believe that there was not much in the way of wayward behaviour that he had not witnessed he was to be startled out of his complacency that morning.  A sailor, “a decent looking young man” according to more than one newspaper, presented himself in some agitation wishing to ask the Mayor to intervene with the surgeons of St Thomas Hospital. When Mr Hobler learnt the particulars of the case he could scarcely believe his ears. Once the initial astonishment had worn off Mr Hobler no doubt rubbed his hands together gleefully at the reaction the case would provoke in the new Lord Mayor. The sailor was ushered into the court and told to explain to his Lordship what assistance he required. 
“I would humbly request your Lordship to compel some hard hearted fellows in the Borough to surrender my mother’s head,” said the sailor.
“Your mother's head! For the love of God, is it separated from the body?” barked Sir Christopher.

Portrait of Mr Hobler
“Yes, my Lord, they cut away the head, and told me I might have the body if I pleased. Accordingly I took the body, but I can’t bear to think of leaving the head behind, and I hope your Lordship will see it delivered to me, “said the sailor, quite calmly.
“This is the most strange thing I ever heard of,” Sir Christopher muttered, almost to himself before turning to Mr Hobler and adding “For God’s sake, is the man serious in saying that his mother has lost her head ?”   
“The case is not without foundation my Lord” Mr Hobler said archly before explaining that the sailor’s mother had died some days before in St. Thomas’ Hospital.
“Ahhhh,” said the Mayor, the penny finally dropping, “then, it is of the surgeons of St. Thomas' you complain?”
“Yes, my Lord, of the butchers there. They are willing to let me do what I please with the body, but are determined to keep the head for themselves as a curiosity, for poor mother died of a toothache.”
“Of toothache?” said Sir Christopher, sensing a looming opportunity to exercise his wit and make Mr Hobler laugh, “This is still more extraordinary. I have certainly heard that the most effectual way of curing the toothache is by cutting off the head, but I never before heard that such a complaint would cause death.”  Mr. Hobler, displaying not the slightest sign of amusement and addressing the Mayor as though he were a half wit, began to laboriously explain to the explain the circumstances of the case.
“My Lord,” he said, “the young man means that his mother died in consequence of bungling attempts to extract a tooth, her gums were so lacerated by the operation that gangrene took hold and death soon followed. She was taken to St. Thomas’ Hospital, where the surgeons, no doubt finding that the case presented great novelty, asked for and obtained leave to examine the head.”

“I never had a notion of leaving any part of my mother in their hands!” interjected the sailor. He told Sir Christopher that he had had his mother’s body at home two days and it would stay there until the surgeons yielded up the missing head and he could bury her complete.    
“They certainly are not justified in detaining the head, and should have restored it to you after it had served their professional purposes,” Sir Christopher remarked.
“I suspect that the professional purposes of the surgeons will not be answered until the head is in pickle,” observed Mr Hobler.
“This is indeed a very indefensible practice; besides it will terrify the relatives of patients who die in the hospital, by giving them reason to suppose that when they are following the deceased to their graves they are following bodies without heads, or heads without bodies.” A medical man who happened to be present asked for leave to speak and when this was granted argued that in this situation the interests of science were paramount adding “for my part, if I was going off with a disorder little known to practitioners, I would not care into how many pieces I was cut for the benefit of science.”
“And yet,” said Mr Hobler to Sir Christopher “although it is the common talk of physicians, I never knew one of the profession who had any inclination to have his bones dangling in an anatomy-room, or his head in a bottle.”
“There may be cases of the kind which are concealed in consideration of the prejudices of the weaker sex,” said the physician mysteriously.
“l don't know how we can prosecute resurrection men for stealing dead bodies, if such practices are allowed. Something of this kind is more distressing to the feelings than a church-yard robbery!” said Sir Christopher, “Our habits are such that cannot endure the burial of a body piecemeal. Even in the field of battle we should endeavour to collect the mangled limbs of a friend before we could think of covering an atom of him with earth. At home, then, where the rites of sepulture are attended to scrupulously, it is barbarous to mangle a body and torture the feelings of a son by keeping the head of his mother for exhibition.”

The physician then began to argue the particulars of the case, making it clear in the process that he knew far more about it then anyone had hitherto suspected. He told that court that as a consequence of the gangrene the head had swollen to a “most enormous magnitude and was actually too large to be placed in the coffin with the body.”  He suggested that “the manner in which it might have been prudent to act, would have been to substitute the head of another body, which would be just as useful, at the same time that the imposition would he very excusable, and no detection could take place.” What the hospital would have done with the other headless body, he did not say. The Lord Mayor fulminated against this rather alarming proposal which had been put forward in the name of prudence. 
“The surgeons are highly reprehensible in detaining the head,” he said, “it is notorious that those disturbers of the dead called resurrection-men, who are in many cases robbers of the living, are in the habit of serving the hospital with subjects, and it would now appear as if the surgeons intended to vie with them in their trade against which the public has so great a horror.”
After a final plea from the sailor, who said that “I will go to the hospital, and stay there until my demand is agreed to, whatever reception I shall meet with, even if they were to take it into their heads to cut off my own,” the Lord Mayor ordered Cartwright the marshal to go with the sailor to St Thomas’ and demand the return of the head. i nan, attend the seaman to St. Thomas’s, and inquire the cause of the conduct complained of. An hour later Cartwright returned alone to report what had happened.  The surgeons had explained that the sailor’s father had sold the head to them for a pound. He said the poor son acknowledged he had been present when the bargain was made, but he abhorred the proposal of disposing of the head at any price. In order to satisfy the Lord Mayor that proper arrangement had been made about the head, the principal surgeon sent word that he would wait upon his Lordship the following morning. And there, as far as know, the matter ended.  

(This post is based extensively on an account entitled ‘Strange Case’ which appeared in many British newspapers during December 1817)

I originally thought this was a depiction of a dissection given that the lady on the table seems to be under little restraint for an operation being carried out before the introduction of anesthesia. The rather crude removal of the leg seems inappropriate for a dissection and entirely in keeping with the butchery of surgery. And then I noticed one of the medical gentleman holding the ladies hand, presumably to comfort her, which implies, despite her rather relaxed attitude to having her leg hacked off, that she is still alive.  

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Vagrant monkeys, stewed cat and the heart of a dog - from the casebook of the Solomon of Marlborough Street; Sir George Farrant (1770-1844) Kensal Green Cemetery

DEATHS - Dec 15 (1844) In Upper Brook St Grosvenor sq aged 76 Sir George Farrant of Northsted House, Chelsfield, Kent a Justice of the Peace for that county and a deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex. He was the eldest son of George Binstead esq afterwards Farrant by the daughter and sole heiress of Godfrey Lee Farrant esq principal Registrar of the Court of Admiralty. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple Nov 25 1825 he practised as a special pleader and went the Western circuit. He was unmarried.
 Gentleman’s Magazine January 1845

The Portland stone Farrant mausoleum in Kensal Green is a grade II listed Egyptian revival tomb built in 1844 by the architects J. Bedford of 256 Oxford Street. According to English Heritage it has “battered sides with cavetto cornice. On the west side is a pylon-shaped doorcase (door blocked) with winged disc and the cornice on this side has stylised hieroglyphs and a stylised head. On the south side is a pylon-shaped inscription panel flanked by inverted torches. It is surrounded by stone railings in matching idiom.”

Sir George Farrant was the hard working magistrate at Marlborough Street Police Court. We know relatively little about his private life, his obituaries in the newspapers are all extremely brief, quite ironically given that in his professional role his name featured regularly in the press.   Marlborough Street, along with Bow Street, were probably the busiest courts in the country and Sir George’s cases were frequently noteworthy enough to make the papers. He was a painstaking magistrate who seemed determined to get to the bottom of every matter brought before him, no matter how trivial. His patient questioning often drew unexpectedly piquant details from the accused, plaintiffs or witnesses and court reporters gathered at his sessions knowing that he was capable of transmuting the most unpromising case into journalistic gold dust. Police magistrates dealt with the full gamut of human misbehaviour from basest criminality, greed, and lust to stupidity, recklessness and folly, the perpetrators coming from all sections of society from the highest echelons of the aristocracy to the lowest reaches of the urban poor.  Sometimes the crimes committed were so outrageous that the newspapers, despite reporting the case, refused to say what the actual offence was; in 1825 the Sussex Advertiser reported that “Sir George Farrant and Mr. Connant were occupied for a considerable portion of the day in the investigation of a case which involved, perhaps, as much of human depravity as can well be imagined, and considerably more than can venture to pollute our columns by detailing in full........” The paper went on to recount how John Grossell Muirhead, Esq., said to be brother-in-law to the Duke of Atholl, “a very venerable and genteel-looking man, apparently about 65,” approached a sixteen year old boy outside a print shop, inveigled him into a nearby coffee shop where he plied him with cider and biscuits before showing him a book containing “a number of prints of the most indecent and shocking nature, and ....after exposing, many of these prints to him, the prisoner took hold of his hand — (Here the witness described what we cannot.)”

Sir George as painted by Henry Wyatt in 1831
Sir George often managed to turn even his more mundane cases, such as bigamy ((“a young fellow, apparently scarcely out of his apprenticeship, was brought before Sir George Farrant, charged with intermarrying with Elizabeth Fry, a pretty woman, who in every sense of the word may be said to have made a very bad choice,” North Devon Journal October 1827) or assault into something slightly out of the ordinary;  The Stamford Mercury of Friday 24 June 1825 reported that “The Right Hon. the Earl of Harborough, and John Bailey, Esq., appeared before Sir George Farrant, the Sitting Magistrate, upon a warrant, charged with grossly assaulting Richard Addison, a watchman, on his duty.—Addison deposed, that on Sunday morning, between the hours of one and two, he observed two gentlemen whom he did not know coming down Bond-street, hallooing and calling out "Hip, hip," in a very boisterous manner. He desired them to be quiet, as by the noise they were making they were disturbing the inhabitants, when Lord Harborough desired him to mind his own business.” The two intoxicated gents then ran and the watch set off in pursuit. They caught up with them outside a coffee-room where “Lord Harborough and Mr. Bailey instantly, called out a rescue, on which the coffee-room was filled with gentlemen, and a fight took place betwixt them and the watchmen; during this time witness was dragged to the back of the house by Lord Harborough and Mr. Bailey, and his Lordship and some gentleman called out for the poker, which having got, be began to beat him severely with it over his head, and Mr. Bailey began to strike him with his clenched fists between his eyes.”  

After dealing with the errant aristocracy Sir George had to turn his attention to the vagrants and vagabonds at the other end of London’s social spectrum. The Morning Advertiser reported in December 1826 on the case of “Eleanor Webster, the blind beggar-woman of Saville-passage, who... was yesterday again brought before the sitting Magistrate at this Office (Marlborough Street)  charged as a vagrant upon the same grounds as before, namely, standing in Saville-passage with her hand extended an attitude of supplication for charity. It appeared that Mr. Wield, a solicitor, who resides in the passage, and near whose door the old woman takes her station, has been much annoyed by her presence there.” Mr Wield apparently began to regret his action in complaining about the blind beggar woman and asked Sir George not to send her to the house of correction. Sir George acquiesced, warning her that “if again she should ever brought to this Office upon a similar charge, she might make her mind upon severe punishment, whoever the sitting Magistrate might be.”  He then let her go.

A detail from the mausoleum
Members of the public often applied to the magistrates for advice. The triviality of some of some of these applications for advice clearly irritated the magistrate, as seen in a story in the Cork Constitution in August 1828 “On Saturday a Scotch Member Parliament applied to Sir George Farrant for advice how he should act with his landlady who had agreed for a specific weekly sum to cook his dinners, but in his bill furnished him with a separate account for coals. Remonstrating with his hostess, she said that dinners could not be cooked without coal, and that unless he paid the money she should keep his trunks. The Magistrate said he could nothing in the matter, and the Member of Parliament departed, declaring that in future, he would get his dinners ready cooked.” At other times he could be much more sympathetic as reported by the London Evening Standard in a heart-warming story in October 1827:

This Day, a young man, a native of Africa, dressed in blue livery, whose buttons were ornamented with a crest, applied to Sir George Farrant for advice, under the following circumstances : — He stated he was a native of Africa, but had been in his infancy transplanted from his native land to the West Indies, where he was sold; he had subsequently been purchased by a military gentleman who, a few months since, arrived in England, and was at present residing near Queen-square. He attended him in the capacity of a servant, but of late his master kept him without a sufficiency of victuals, and a few days since he asked for some money, when his master asked him how he dared to ask for any, for he had purchased him, and he, therefore, continued to be his slave. Sir G. Farrant. — There are no slaves in this country; you must go to Queen-square office, and make your complaint. Applicant — Thank you, sir; me is no slave then, sir; master is wrong. When the poor fellow left the office apparently overjoyed with his information.

Marlborough Street Police court as it looked in 1847, shortly after Sir George's death 
In June 1832 The Morning Post recorded the shocking story of two young ladies brought up in front of Sir George by the Watchmen for wearing Gentleman’s trousers beneath their voluminous Victorian skirts. The magistrate showed the wisdom of Solomon in making his final judgement in this outlandish case:

MARLBOROPGH-STREET. Two fashionably-dressed females were charged under the following curious circumstances:—A watchman deposed, that between mid 11 o’clock Wednesday night they were parading and down Regent-street, annoying every female they met, by carrying a portion of their dresses under their arms, and displaying each a pair of gentlemen’s trowsers. He desired them to behave more properly. This they refused to do, and he, in consequence, took them into custody. Sir George Farrant. What have they done with the trowsers? —Watchman. They have them on.
Sir George. Were they ladies’ or gentlemen’s trowsers? —The Females said, they were gentlemen’s trowsers.
Sir George. Then shew them. —The Females, with deep suffusion on their faces, here lifted up the lower part of their garments, and displayed each a very pretty ankle, surmounted a pair of gentlemen’s trowsers.
Sir George. What! had you been to Masquerade? — They replied in the negative, saying, that they had only put them on for a lark.
Sir George. Come, go home, and take off the trowsers; for no person will like to enter the lists with any Females who wear the breeches. The Females then thanked the Magistrate, and walked out the Office with the trowsers on.

Sir George found himself intervening in the relationship between man and animal more frequently than magistrates have to do today. In February 1829 the Spectator reported  how a “miserable looking foreign lad and his monkey” were brought up before Sir George by one Webb, the Inspector of Nuisances, accused of begging in St James. Soft hearted Sir George speculated that perhaps the boy did not realise he was committing an offense to which Webb, the Inspector of Nuisances, responded that he certainly did realise because he was an old hand at it. Sir George changed tack, wondering what would happen to the monkey if he committed the boy, “It is no use to send him to the house of correction, you must get an act of Parliament to authorise these animals to be sent to the Zoological Garden!” This line of exculpation was thwarted by Cheddle, a Constable of the Mendicity Society who chimed in that “Oh, your worship, the Zoological Society are very happy in accepting them."
"What!  Have they had any presents of this description sent them before?" Sir George asked.
“Yes,” said Cheddle, “they have had several monkeys and a porcupine sent them from Hatton-garden, by the Magistrates: and the Society has expressed their thanks for the present. After the porcupine was sent there, one of our men saw an Italian begging for upwards of five weeks."
"Then I suppose you intended making the Zoological gardens a house of correction for monkeys?" Sir George commented sardonically.
"It is the intention to send all there in future,” said Cheddle smugly. Sir George turned back to Webb and demanded to know if he was certain that the boy was begging for money. Webb admitted that he had not seen him actually receive any alms at which Sir George said, triumphantly, “Aye, the Zoological gentlemen will not get the monkey this time then." He told the miserable looking foreign lad that he was free to go but warned him not to get caught begging again.

A detail from Sir George's mausoleum

Sir George’s most bizarre cases often involved animals. In September 1827 the Morning Advertiser reported that as soon as he took his seat the previous morning Sir George had been handed a letter from one of the Overseers of the Poor for the Parish of St James. The letter explained that the Governor of a farmhouse in Islington where the parish were accustomed to lodge such paupers as required country air or for whom they did not have accommodation in the parish, had been forced to turn out three male paupers for conducting themselves in “a violent and riotous manner, smashing all that came in their way, threatening the lives of the other paupers, and of the officers and servants of the place, and had actually killed a favourite cat.” The Parish Overseer suspected that the three men would show up at Marlborough Street to complain of their treatment and wanted Sir George to be in full possession of the facts before they appeared. “Scarcely bad the Magistrate finished the perusal of this letter, when in marched to the office the three worthies alluded to, and sure enough to make a grievous complaint against the governor; but, on their announcing themselves and their business, they were surprised find that the Magistrate was already in possession of their history.”  The three men denied all the charges against them and alleged that the conflict with the governor had arisen when they had demanded food “as they were without a hit to eat, so that they were often driven to the utmost extremity; one instance of which, they were compelled Thursday night last to kill one of the farm house cats and eat it for their suppers; as a proof of which, one of them held up to the Magistrate the rope with which they hung the cat, while second displayed the blade, and the third a thigh-bone the poor animal which they said they had picked. Sir George Farrant asked them if they had eaten the cat alive, or in raw or dressed state They said; they first hung it with the rope produced, and then boiled it in a pipkin; after which they made their supper off it. Sir George asked if they were sure it was a cat, for he could scarcely believe it—perhaps it was a rabbit which they thought proper to call a cat? They assured his worship it was not rabbit—it was nothing else but one of the governor’s cats. They had nothing given to them since, but were turned out of the house without any reason, except eating this cat to allay their hunger. The Magistrate said, it as a strange business, and ordered the paupers to be taken for the present into the town workhouse; and that the governor of the farm house should attend to explain their marvellous account of this cat transaction.”

Zoophagy featured in another case heard the same month by Sir George, though this time it was a dog on the menu. John Enright was brought up before Sir George for assaulting a 70 year old widow called Mrs Alsop of 77 Davies Street, Berkeley Square. The Windsor and Eton Express takes up the story: “Mrs. Alsop said, that on Monday morning her little spaniel had a bone on the step of the door, over which the wife of the prisoner passed, when the animal snapped at her foot. In the afternoon, the prisoner came to the house in a violent rage, and demanded to see the owner, when witness went to the door with the spaniel under her Arm; she told him, if his wife had sustained any harm, she would send a doctor to her, or pay for medical advice; but the prisoner, without a reply, seized the dog from her, tore the back of her hand in doing so and raised his arms above his head, dashed the spaniel on the stones, and then jumped upon it till he killed it. He then left the house. She came to the office afterwards to know what she should do.” It was while the distraught Mrs Alsop was at Marlborough Street seeking advice on what to do about the murder of her little spaniel that the story took a really bizarre turn. John Enright returned to 77 Davies Street and demanded that the servants handed him over the carcase of the dog. The intimidated domestics did this and then Enright “drew a knife from his pocket, ripped up the belly of the dog, and cut out the heart, which he took away with him... Sir George asked the prisoner what was his motive for killing the dog. “For fear it should he mad,” said the fellow. Sir George told him that would be no preservation to his wife, as, supposing it to be so, the mischief was done. The dog was proved to be a harmless one, and the lady had offered to pay a doctor; therefore he had nothing to fear. “But for what did you again to cut out the heart of the dog ?" asked Sir George. Enright — To give, it to my wife. Sir George.— To give it to your wife! What did »he do with it ? Enright.— She ate it. I cooked it for her. Sir George.—Ate it! Did she know what she was eating? Enright.—No, she did not. I gave it for fear of her going mad. Sir George said he had never heard anything so brutally superstitious and ordered the prisoner find good bail for the assault, and told Mrs. Alsop he hoped she would prosecute him for his brutality.”

And finally, a scene from the Jeremy Kyle Show, reported in the Morning Advertiser of 6 June 1826: MARLBOROUGH-STREET.—Yesterday a meager half animated looking shoemaker, named Thomas Evans, was brought from the watch-house of St. Ann’s Parish, Soho, in company with a smart comely married woman, named Mulhern, before Sir George Farrant, the former charged with occupying the place of Mrs. Mulhern’s husband, in the affections and bed of that lady on Sunday night, and the latter charged with over hospitality in giving part of her bed to the shoemaker, the exclusion of her lawful husband. The husband Mr. Mulhern, who is gentleman’s servant, and a very fine looking young man, being sworn, stated, that he and his wife have lodged for some time past with their only child, at a house in Compton-street, Soho, where Mr. Thomas Evans, translator, “or mender of old shoes, also unfortunately happens to be a sojourner. There was no particular intimacy or acquaintance between the parties, nor did he, the husband, even suspect Mr. Evans. About two o’clock yesterday morning witness returned home, after being engaged as usual all the previous day with his master’s family, and to his astonishment and horror, entering his apartment, where his wife was in bed, he found Mr. Thomas Evans fast locked in her arms. He was unwilling to disturb their repose abruptly, or, at all events, until had some other witness to the fact of his wife’s incontinence. He therefore went out and quietly brought a neighbouring watchman, to whom he exhibited unequivocal proof of Mrs. Mulhern’s frailty, and Mr. Evans’s nocturnal gallantries. He then gave both the violators of his bed into the watchman’s custody, and had them conveyed to the watch-house, there to pass, in separate cells, the remainder of the night. The watchman said that he could fully confirm Mr. Mulhern’s complaint of his wife’s infidelity, at least far as appearances go; and moreover he said, that a more impudent woman, after detection in such a situation, never could have existed at any period in the world. Mr. Thomas Evans, who, either from the effects of love or of mending shoes, or of fright, seemed scarcely able to keep his legs in a perpendicular position under him was asked by the Magistrate, what explanation he could give for hiss very immoral and improper intrusion into the complainant's bed ? Mr. Evans said, the fact was, that Mrs. Mnlhern had for some time past made love to him, in such a bewitching and seductive way, that on Sunday night, when she gave him a direct invitation to her bed, no man could resist Mrs. Mulhern’s winning ways, and that was all he had to say. Mrs. Mulhern said, on her own part, that she thought she had a right to dispose of herself and her bed as she thought proper, without any busybody troubling themselves about her; and as for Mr. Mulhern, she had very Little of his society: she supposed he amused himself elsewhere; he gave her very little support. Mulhern, the husband, said that nothing could equal the falsehood and Ingratitude of his wife; as to not supporting her, he declared that he has always given her the greater part of his earnings for the support of herself and his child. Sir George Farrant said that it was a grievous thing for the young man to tied to such woman, but a Magistrate had no power to interfere. He would, however, advise the husband to advertise the woman’s conduct, so as to prevent her getting credit on his account. The parties were then discharged. Several respectable persons attended, who spoke in the highest terms of the husband’s character.