Thrilling elopement story found in 19th-century newspapers

Posted on November 21st, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Sue Wilkes 
While researching A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England, author Sue Wilkes discovered an amazing romance which could have appeared in an Austen novel.

We love hearing about what you’re finding in the newspapers. Tell us about your own discoveries in the comments section below.

 
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Heiress Augusta Nicholson, a most intrepid young lady, showed great ingenuity when she fell in love with handsome John Giles, a penniless comedian.

Miss Nicholson was a ward of chancery and would inherit £14,000 when she came of age. Augusta’s mother was dead, and her father Col. Nicholson had remarried. She seemingly did not get on well with her stepmother Mrs Nicholson.
 
An elopement story found at The British Newspaper Archive

The Hampshire Chronicle revealed how the lovers met

In the autumn of 1809, while her father was away, Augusta and her stepmother visited fashionable Tunbridge Wells. A report in the Hampshire Chronicle reveals that Giles gallantly carried Augusta’s library books home one day and a whirlwind romance began.

The very next evening Augusta and her stepmother went to the theatre to watch Giles perform. They sat in a box near the stage and unseen by her unsuspecting stepmother, Augusta dropped a letter to Giles in which she ‘said that she would marry him’.
 
The Hampshire Chronicle reported a fascinating case of elopement in 1809.

Hampshire Chronicle – Monday 13 November 1809
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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When Mrs Nicholson discovered their courtship she banned her stepdaughter from going out. Undaunted, Giles smuggled letters to Augusta through the front door key-hole, and every morning for five weeks, Augusta got up before 5am and chatted to him from her bedroom window.

Augusta Nicholson and John Giles eloped to London in 1809

The lovers were desperate to elope, but according to the Hampshire Chronicle, Giles ‘was destitute of the most needful article, money, for carrying on such an exploit’.

After borrowing £30 from a fellow thespian, Giles hired a chaise-and-four and ‘went for his darling’. Like Lydia Bennet and George Wickham in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, they fled to London, where they could hide easily.
 
Augusta Nicholson and John Giles eloped to London in 1809

Hampshire Chronicle – Monday 13 November 1809
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A wedding ring was purchased, and the banns for their marriage read twice at Marylebone Church. At the runaways’ lodgings in Westmorland Place, Augusta made Giles repeatedly swear on the Bible that he would never marry anyone else.

A ‘frantic scene’ and a tragic end

The article from the Hampshire Chronicle went on to reveal that the Nicholson family solicitor tracked Augusta and Giles down. It reported that ‘a frantic tragic scene took place…both lovers rushed into each other’s arms, and swore attachment, beating their heads, and running about the room distracted’.

The game was up. Giles was in real trouble because Augusta was a ward of court, and he was briefly committed to the Fleet prison. The following spring, Augusta finally married John and they had a little boy. This marriage announcement appeared in the Kentish Gazette:
 
A marriage announcement from the Kentish Gazette

Kentish Gazette – Friday 06 April 1810
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The story had a tragic finale. I found a later report in the Hampshire Chronicle, which revealed that Augusta died shortly before she came of age. The estate went to her brother Captain Nicholson, but he died before he could enjoy it, so Augusta and Giles’ child became heir to her fortune.
 
An inheritance announcement in the Hampshire Chronicle

Hampshire Chronicle – Monday 18 November 1811
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View the whole newspaper page
 

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Visit Sue’s blog to read more about her research and order a copy of A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England.

 
 
 

9 million newspaper pages are now online

Posted on November 18th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Over 400,000 pages were added to The British Newspaper Archive in October, bringing the current total up to more than 9 million pages.

 

Search the newspapers

 

83 newspaper titles were added or updated, including Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, the Manchester Mercury and the Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser. A full list is provided below.

The additions included 12 brand new Irish titles, from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Read this blog post about our Irish newspapers to learn more about the titles we’ve added in the last few months.

 

The Drogheda Journal's newspaper archives are now online

 

Aberdeen People’s Journal – 1878, 1880, 1885, 1898 – 1899, 1901 – 1906, 1908

Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs – 1922 – 1940

Aris’s Birmingham Gazette – 1741, 1746, 1761, 1772, 1791, 1798, 1800 – 1801, 1803 – 1804, 1808 – 1809, 1813 – 1814, 1817, 1824 – 1862, 1864 – 1867

Bedfordshire Times and Independent – 1893, 1899 – 1901, 1903 – 1904, 1908 – 1909, 1912 – 1913, 1917 – 1919, 1923 – 1924, 1930 – 1931, 1934, 1936 – 1940, 1944

Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser – 1842, 1844, 1847

Belfast Mercury – 1851 – 1861

Biggleswade Chronicle – 1898 – 1899, 1901, 1910 – 1911, 1913 – 1918, 1920

Bradford Daily Telegraph – 1869

Bradford Observer – 1835

Bucks Herald – 1922 – 1924, 1934, 1939 – 1946

Bury and Norwich Post – 1845 – 1846, 1848

Cheltenham Chronicle – 1827 – 1831, 1833 – 1835, 1837 – 1840, 1842 – 1849, 1863

Cheltenham Looker-On – 1858, 1878, 1880

Chester Chronicle – 1916

Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register – 1808

Coventry Herald – 1878, 1909

Downshire Protestant – 1858 – 1861

Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser – 1829 – 1830, 1834 – 1835, 1839 – 1840

Drogheda News Letter – 1813

Dublin Builder, The – 1859 – 1866

Dublin Evening Mail – 1845 – 1848, 1859 – 1860

Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current – 1850

Dublin Monitor – 1838, 1841 – 1844

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – 1865

Dundee Advertiser – 1886, 1893 – 1894, 1896

Dundee Evening Telegraph – 1877 – 1950

Dundee, Perth, Forfar, and Fife’s People’s Journal – 1887 – 1888, 1890, 1918

Durham County Advertiser – 1833, 1838 – 1839

Edinburgh Evening News – 1924

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – 1900

Falkirk Herald – 1862, 1864, 1880, 1882, 1884, 1890, 1892, 1914 – 1918

Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald – 1909, 1916, 1922, 1926

Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser – 1841 – 1844, 1846 – 1855, 1864 – 1868, 1870

Gloucester Journal – 1861, 1881, 1887, 1932 – 1933

Gloucestershire Chronicle – 1852 – 1854, 1865, 1877, 1879 – 1880, 1893, 1896, 1911

Gloucestershire Echo – 1888 – 1889, 1893, 1899

Hampshire Chronicle – 1783, 1785, 1795

Hartlepool Mail – 1885, 1925 – 1926, 1930, 1934 – 1935, 1937 – 1939, 1943 – 1954

Hertford Mercury and Reformer – 1871 – 1888

Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser – 1861

Illustrated Times – 1858 – 1859, 1865

Ipswich Journal, The – 1779 – 1780, 1782, 1791, 1793

Irish Racing Book and Sheet Calendar, The – 1849 – 1859, 1861 – 1864, 1866

Kent & Sussex Courier – 1880 – 1882, 1884, 1886 – 1887, 1892, 1894

Lancashire Evening Post – 1894, 1903, 1934

Leamington Spa Courier – 1925, 1929 – 1930, 1934, 1937, 1939, 1949, 1951 – 1954

Leicester Chronicle – 1817, 1821 – 1826, 1848, 1850, 1903

Leicester Daily Mercury – 1879, 1889, 1898

Limerick Evening Post – 1828, 1830, 1832

Limerick Reporter – 1850 – 1852, 1854, 1859 – 1860

Lincolnshire Echo – 1907, 1948, 1950

Liverpool Courier and Commercial Advertiser – 1870

Liverpool Evening Express – 1914

Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle – 1897

Manchester Mercury – 1752 – 1753, 1755, 1760, 1762 – 1764, 1769, 1771 – 1772, 1774 – 1780, 1784 – 1788, 1790 – 1794, 1797 – 1798, 1802 – 1803, 1806, 1809, 1815 – 1816, 1819 – 1821, 1823 – 1825, 1827, 1830

Motherwell Times – 1920, 1929, 1934, 1937

Newry Examiner and Louth Advertiser – 1851 – 1853, 1855, 1857 – 1858, 1860, 1863, 1870

Northampton Mercury – 1908 – 1909, 1913, 1915 – 1916, 1918 – 1920, 1924 – 1941, 1944 – 1946, 1954

Northern Whig – 1852 – 1854, 1858, 1863 – 1867

Perthshire Advertiser – 1840 – 1842, 1847, 1856, 1859, 1862, 1865 – 1869

Portsmouth Evening News – 1905 – 1907, 1909, 1912 – 1915, 1921, 1923 – 1925, 1927, 1943

Pue’s Occurrences – 1748, 1756

Reading Mercury – 1786, 1788, 1914

Sheffield Evening Telegraph – 1920

Sherborne Mercury – 1770 – 1771

Shields Daily Gazette – 1911

Sligo Champion – 1869 – 1870

South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal – 1859, 1865

Southern Reporter – 1945

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – 1916, 1938

Surrey Advertiser – 1869 – 1870

Sussex Advertiser – 1849, 1852

Sussex Agricultural Express – 1897

Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle – 1861

Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser – 1837, 1906 – 1907, 1909, 1921 – 1922, 1926, 1928

Ulsterman, The – 1856 – 1859

Waterford Chronicle – 1836, 1839

Watford Observer – 1868

Wells Journal – 1884

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – 1889

Western Daily Press – 1863

Western Mail – 1914

Worcester Journal – 1808 – 1809, 1811 – 1816, 1818 – 1821, 1829 – 1830, 1850 – 1851, 1864

 

17 Irish newspaper titles added to The British Newspaper Archive

Posted on November 12th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Those of you who keep an eye on our Latest Additions page will have noticed that we’ve recently been adding a lot of new titles from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

In total, 17 Irish newspaper titles have joined The British Newspaper Archive in the last few months. There’s more to come, but take a look at what’s already available online.

Newspaper titles from Northern Ireland

1) Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser

The Belfast Mercantile Register's archives are online at The British Newspaper Archive
 
Current coverage: 1,200 newspaper pages from 1842, 1844-1845 and 1847-1849.
 
Search the Belfast Mercantile Register
 
 

2) Belfast Mercury

Belfast Mercury archives are available online at The British Newspaper Archive
 
Current coverage: 2,800 newspaper pages from 1851-1861.
 
Search the Belfast Mercury
 
 

3) Downshire Protestant

The Downshire Protestant's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 1,000 newspaper pages from 1856 and 1858-1861.
 
Search the Downshire Protestant
 
 

4) Newry Examiner and Louth Advertiser

The Newry Examiner newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 4,500 newspaper pages from 1851-1855, 1857-1858, 1860, 1863 and 1869-1870.
 
Search the Newry Examiner
 
 

5) Northern Whig

The Northern Whig's newspaper archives are being added to The British Newspaper Archive
 
Current coverage: 15,000 newspaper pages from 1839-1840, 1846-1847, 1852-1854, 1858 and 1863-1870.
 
Search the Northern Whig
 
 

6) Ulsterman

The Ulsterman's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 1,800 newspaper pages from 1856-1859.
 
Search the Ulsterman
 
 

Newspaper titles from the Republic of Ireland

1) Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser

The Drogheda Journal's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 4,400 newspaper pages from 1828-1836 and 1838-1840.
 
Search the Drogheda Journal
 
 

2) Dublin Builder

The Dublin Builder's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 3,400 newspaper pages from 1859-1866.
 
Search the Dublin Builder
 
 

3) Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current

The Dublin Mercantile Register's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 200 newspaper pages from 1850.
 
Search the Dublin Mercantile Advertiser
 
 

4) Dublin Monitor

The Dublin Monitor's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 3,000 newspaper pages from 1838-1839 and 1841-1844.
 
Search the Dublin Monitor
 
 

5) Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser

The Galway Vindicator has been added to The British Newspaper Archive
 
Current coverage: 9,600 newspaper pages from 1841-1844, 1846-1855, 1858-1859, 1861 and 1864-1870.
 
Search the Galway Vindicator
 
 

6) Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty

The Hibernian Journal's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 6,300 newspaper pages from 1773-1776, 1778, 1780-1783 and 1805-1806.
 
Search the Hibernian Journal
 
 

7) Irish Racing Book and Sheet Calendar

Search the archives of the Irish Racing Calendar
 
Current coverage: 400 newspaper pages from 1849-1859, 1861-1864 and 1866.
 
Search the Irish Racing Book
 
 

8) Limerick Evening Post

Seach the online archives of the Limerick Evening Post
 
Current coverage: 1,900 newspaper pages from 1828-1832.
 
Search the Limerick Evening Post
 
 

9) Limerick Reporter

The Limerick Reporter's newspaper archives are now online
 
Current coverage: 3,200 newspaper pages from 1850-1852, 1854-1855, 1859-1860 and 1864.
 
Search the Limerick Reporter
 
 

10) Pue’s Occurences

Search historical copies of the newspaper, Pue's Occurences
 
Current coverage: 1,100 newspaper pages from 1748 and 1756-1758.
 
Search Pue’s Occurences
 
 

11) Waterford Chronicle

The Waterford Chronicle's newspaper archives are online at The British Newspaper Archive
 
Current coverage: 800 newspaper pages from 1836 and 1839.
 
Search the Waterford Chronicle
 
 

WW1 recipes found in copies of old newspapers

Posted on November 10th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Juliet Greenwood

You can search more than 390,000 newspaper pages from 1914-1918 at The British Newspaper Archive, with more being added all the time.

Juliet Greenwood got in touch to explain how she used the collection to research World War One recipes for her novel, We That Are Left.

 

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Seed cake created from a WW1 recipeWhen I first began writing a novel set during the First World War, I knew I wanted to focus on the experience of women and civilians.

For Elin, the heroine of We That Are Left, learning to run the family estate in Cornwall, and particularly the kitchen garden, leads to her developing a passion for baking and creating recipes from the scarce ingredients available as shortages begin to bite.

I knew I wanted to find actual recipes from the time, which was where the real difficulty began. I found old recipes, but nothing that was specific to the war. Then I read that many newspapers began giving advice and recipe hints to their readers to help them to cope with the shortages.

That was when I discovered an invaluable online resource – The British Newspaper Archive.

 

Researching World War One recipes

Rosehip syrup made from a WW1 recipeI’d had visions of trawling through dusty paper archives, or endless microfiche. Instead, I simply typed in ‘recipes’, selected a year and up came all kinds of recipe ideas, instructions for preserving the produce of allotments and hints on how to cope without meat.

The British Newspaper Archive is a wonderful resource, not only for the recipes themselves, but for the context in which they can be found. It’s just incredible to be able to read the words that people living through the war would have read, sandwiched between mentions of Gallipoli and a photograph above an obituary for a soldier.

There were indignant protests against the placing of much-needed allotments, advertisements for coats and stomach powders. All of them signs of life going on, as it does, amongst the horrors, and of a society being changed forever.

 

The Cornish Lady’s ‘Meatless Meal’

I loved using the newspapers for my research and found lots of wartime recipes. I tried out as many as I could – photos of some of my creations illustrate this blog post.

My favourite recipe was the Cornish Lady’s ‘Meatless Meal’ from 1918 which serves 2 or 4, but I have to confess to cheating a little by adding cheese. Be warned, it’s delicious!

The recipe appeared in the Liverpool Echo on 13 March 1918. You’ll find my version of the recipe below.

 
A World War One recipe for a 'Meatless Meal'

Liverpool Echo – Wednesday 13 March 1918
Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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Meatless meal from 1918

A ‘Meatless Meal’

Chop three leeks. Fry gently in butter until soft. Add a clove of garlic and ten chopped mushrooms (add more if you like mushrooms).

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, slowly add one tablespoon of flour and stir for one minute. Then add approximately ½ pint (284 ml) milk slowly until you reach a consistency of double cream. Add approximately 4oz (113g) grated cheese.

Pour over 2 – 4 large pieces of toast. Place in a fireproof dish, scatter grated cheese on top and place under a hot grill until golden brown. Serve hot.

 

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Visit Juliet’s website to learn more about her research. You can also buy a copy of We That Are Left from Amazon.

We’d love to hear about the stories you’ve uncovered in the newspapers too. You can post information and images of the articles you’ve found in the comments section below.

 

 

Remember remember, the fifth of November – images of Bonfire Night in the past

Posted on November 5th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Every year on 5th November, people in Britain celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 with bonfires, effigies of Guy Fawkes and fireworks.

You’ll find thousands of descriptions and images of Bonfire Night celebrations from the past in our collection of historical newspapers. We’ve selected some of our favourite examples for you to enjoy.

 

1861: Burning the Guy on the fifth of November

Burning the Guy on the fifth of November 1861

Penny Illustrated Paper – Saturday 09 November 1861
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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1883: Guy Fawkes celebrations at Bridgewater

Guy Fawkes celebrations at Bridgewater in 1883

The Graphic – Saturday 17 November 1883
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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1910: Inventive begging on Guy Fawkes’ Day

Inventive begging on Guy Fawkes’ Day in 1910

Hull Daily Mail – Friday 04 November 1910
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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1913: Searching the vaults at the Houses of Parliament

Searching the vaults at the Houses of Parliament in 1913

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Tuesday 11 March 1913
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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1926: Celebrating the gunpowder plot with a bonfire in Somerset

Celebrating the gunpowder plot with a bonfire in Somerset in 1926

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Saturday 06 November 1926
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page

 

Have you found an amazing image or story about Bonfire Night in the newspapers? Comment below and show us what you’ve found.

 

 

11 unusual tales of terror from historical newspapers

Posted on October 27th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive is full of grisly stories about the unusual and the unexplained. We’ve selected some of the oddest tales, including a description of a monster with the head of a sea lion and a rumour that Germany was turning dead soldiers into explosives during WW1.

Let us know if you’ve found a story to rival these. You can comment below or post on our Facebook page.

1) 1877: A bizarre 70-foot beast

What the giant monster might have looked like in 1877

A very strange creature was sighted in St Genevieve, Missouri in 1877. The Dundee Courier included a detailed description, stating that the monster was ‘at least 70 feet in length’, with the head of a sea lion and a tangled mane like a horse.

The ‘immense horn’ on its head was shaped like a pelican’s bill and it had a long tail that looked like a double-edged saw, with ‘a spreading fan-like fin’ at the end. According to the article, the beast made no sound apart from ‘an occasional puff, loud and sonorous, similar to that of the sea-cow’.

A report of a bizarre monster with the head of a sea lion, found in the Dundee Courier

Dundee Courier – Tuesday 23 October 1877
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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2) 1897: The haunted London taxi

According to this spooky story from the Shields Daily Gazette, you could hear ‘muffled moans and harsh cries’ coming from a dilapidated London cab if you were brave enough to go near it on dark nights in 1897.

A tale of a haunted London taxi cab, printed in the Shields Daily Gazette

Shields Daily Gazette – Thursday 10 June 1897
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The article goes on to explain the story behind the haunting. On a dismal night, the cabbie picked up a man who was on the run from some invisible enemies.

After frantically driving his vehicle away, urged on by his fare’s terrified screams, the cabby discovered the man had committed suicide in the back of his taxi. Within a few days, the driver was also found dead in his cab – apparently strangled ‘by the ghost of the suicide’.

3) 1895: Woman almost buried alive

A woman was almost buried alive according to the Illustrated Police News

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 25 May 1895
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Illustrated Police News was full of reports about strange crimes and odd occurrences, including this story about the narrow escape a woman had in Limoges, France. As her coffin was being carried into church, some mourners insisted that they heard knocking coming from it.

It was quickly opened and the woman was found ‘alive and conscious, although terribly frightened at the awful ordeal’. It seems she had mistakenly been pronounced dead while she was actually suffering a cataleptic fit.

4) 1917: WW1 explosives made of dead soldiers

The Sheffield Evening Telegraph was one of many newspapers to report a shocking rumour during World War One. In April 1917, it stated that the Germans were ‘distilling glycerine from the bodies of their dead’ to make soap and explosives.

It is thought that the report was actually anti-German propaganda and in 1925, the British Government announced that there had never been any foundation for the story.

A rumour that Germany was turning its dead soldiers into explosives appeared in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph during WW1

Sheffield Evening Telegraph – Wednesday 18 April 1917
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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5) 1883: Terrified to death by a donkey

The Illustrated Police News reported that a child had been terrified to death by a donkey

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 21 July 1883
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A strange and terribly sad story was printed in the Illustrated Police News in 1883. One night, a young girl set off to visit her grandparents and heard footsteps behind her. She ran for her life and fainted with exhaustion and terror at the door of their house.

The child’s grandfather found her and noticed his donkey standing close by. The poor child had evidently been frightened by the sound of the animal following her home.

6) 1894: A gruesome Parisian nightclub

The Cabaret du Néant was a rather bizarre nineteenth-century bar, decorated with skeletons, pictures of dead bodies and coffins. According to this article from the Pall Mall Gazette, patrons could even take part in an eerie faux funeral.

After stepping into a coffin, you would be covered ‘up to the shoulders with a white cloth [as] the harmonium played solemnly’. The lights would go out and you would appear to turn into a skeleton!

The Cabaret du Néant in Paris was described in the Pall Mall Gazette

Pall Mall Gazette – Monday 01 October 1894
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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7) 1951: Fight with a giant rodent

This image of a giant rodent appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Press in 1951.

Yorkshire Evening Post – Monday 10 September 1951
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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Not to be outdone by Victorian newspapers, the Yorkshire Evening Post printed this terrifying image of a ‘giant rat-like animal with webbed feet and teeth an inch long’ in 1951.

The creature was 19 inches long with a 15-inch tail and was found in a house in Creskell Grove, Leeds. According to the article, it took a rat catcher and the RSPCA two hours to capture the rodent.

8) 1901: The woman who married a ghost

On 15 January 1901, the Sunderland Daily Echo reported that Bessie Brown of Cameron, Oklahoma had married a ghost. The writer explained that Bessie’s fiancé had died a few weeks before their wedding and, after his spirit appeared to her, she decided she would marry his ghost.

The article reported that Bessie had moved into a cottage with her husband and that ‘persons who pass the house can hear them talking and laughing just as if they were both in human form’.

The Sunderland Daily Echo reported that a woman had married a ghost in 1901

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Tuesday 15 January 1901
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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9) 1870: Death by corset

The Illustrated Police News reported that a woman had been killed by her corset in 1870.

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 25 June 1870
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Victorian fashion could be more terrifying than stories of ghosts and ghouls. This image accompanied a report in the Illustrated Police News about a young woman who was killed by a corset that had been laced too tightly.

The newspaper stated that the lady collapsed while dancing at a ball because ‘the heart’s action had been impeded [and] the excitement and exertion was, under the circumstances, too great a strain upon the system’.

10) 1886: Monster shark in Scotland

An image of a monster shark, printed by the Dundee Courier

Dundee Courier – Tuesday 07 September 1886
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A giant basking shark was found 25 miles to the east of Bell Rock in 1886. The Dundee Courier reported that it was 31 feet in length and 17 feet in girth – much larger than a typical basking shark.

The ‘monster shark’ had eight rows of teeth and was exhibited in the Scouringburn before being handed over to the University College of Dundee.

11) 1869: Killed by eating her own hair

A horrifying discovery was made when a young woman died in Grayton-le-Marsh, Lincolnshire in 1869. The Liverpool Daily Post reported that her medical attendants found that her stomach and gullet were full of a mass of human hair.

The woman’s sister was questioned and stated that ‘during the last twelve years she had known the deceased to be in the habit of eating her own hair’.

The Liverpool Daily Post reported that a woman had died from eating her own hair in 1869

Liverpool Daily Post – Wednesday 03 November 1869
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Examples of Winston Churchill’s work as a war correspondent

Posted on October 13th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Simon Read

Simon Read is currently using The British Newspaper Archive to research Winston Churchill’s adventures as a war correspondent. He got in touch to show us some examples of Churchill’s journalism.

 

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Hear the name Winston Churchill, and what comes to mind? Most likely, it’s Churchill the war leader with his ever-present cigar, bulldog scowl, and never-surrender spirit. But long before Churchill’s Finest Hour, there was Winston Churchill the young adventurer.

Between 1895 and 1900, Churchill covered wars of empire in Cuba, India’s North-West Frontier, the Sudan, and South Africa as a correspondent for several London newspapers.

 Winston Churchill

Churchill’s journalism and The British Newspaper Archive

I’m currently writing a book on this aspect of Churchill’s life and am putting The British Newspaper Archive to great use.

Churchill’s dispatches are vivid, graphic, and make for compelling reading. Although he published some of his articles in book form, I wanted to rely on his reports as they originally appeared.

There is something to be said for doing research in the comfort of your own home, printing documents the moment you need them, and not having to scroll through endless reels of microfilm. The British Newspaper Archive has been a great treasure trove of information.
 
 

Winston Churchill at the Battle of Omdurman

As a war correspondent for the Morning Post in 1898, Churchill was attached to General Kitchener’s army and followed the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest of the Sudan. At the Battle of Omdurman, Churchill was commissioned with the 21st Lancers and took part in an epic cavalry charge against several thousand enemy Dervish.

We can see exactly how he described it in this report, printed in the Morning Post on 29 September 1898:

 

Winston Churchill's newspaper report in the Morning Post, 29 September 1898

Morning Post – Thursday 29 September 1898
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Equally vivid is his detailing of the bloody aftermath, which appeared in the Morning Post on 6 October 1898:

Winston Churchill reported from the Battle of Omdurman for the Morning Post

Morning Post – Thursday 06 October 1898
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Churchill’s report from the Battle of Spion Kop

In 1899, Churchill was again reporting for the Morning Post, this time from the South African battlefields of the Second Boer War. It was here he made an international name for himself after being captured and then escaping from an enemy Prisoner of War camp.

In January 1900, he was present at the disastrous Battle of Spion Kop. This article was published in the Morning Post on 17 February 1900. It’s yet another example of his gripping journalism:

 

Winston Churchill worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post in 1900.

Morning Post – Saturday 17 February 1900
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Churchill’s exploits rival those of Indiana Jones – and The British Newspaper Archive is allowing these early adventures to come to life once more on the page.

 

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Simon Read has published several non-fiction books, including Human Game: Hunting the Great Escape Murderers and The Case That Foiled Fabian: Murder and Witchcraft in Rural England. Visit Simon’s website to find out more.

 

Twiggy on Who Do You Think You Are? – Grace Meadows in the newspapers

Posted on October 9th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Twiggy used historical newspapers during her WDYTYA? episode to research the life of her great-great-grandmother, Grace Meadows.

 

Grace Meadows charged with stealing bank notes

The York Herald printed the following article about Twiggy’s ancestors on Thursday 9 July 1874. Grace Meadows and her 14-year-old daughter Lucy were charged with stealing ‘three Bank of England notes for £20 each’ from Lucy’s employer.

The newspaper article states that Twiggy’s ancestors were initially discharged as there was no evidence. Grace Meadows was said to have made ‘much show of virtuous indignation [and] threatened the prosecutor with a civil action’.

 

Twiggy's ancestor Grace Meadows was mention in the York Herald in 1874.

York Herald – Thursday 09 July 1874
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Twiggy’s ancestors stole money to pay their taxes

The newspaper article goes on to reveal that one of the stolen £20 notes was found to have been paid into the Bank of England by a rate collector. The note had been collected from Grace Meadows two days after the robbery.

Twiggy’s ancestor was called back to court and admitted to the theft. She returned two £20 bank notes and £8, which remained of the third note.

 

Grace Meadows appeared in the York Herald, now available at The British Newspaper Archive.

York Herald – Thursday 09 July 1874
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Find out whether your ancestors appear in the newspapers

The British Newspaper Archive is a fantastic resource for family history. Twiggy, Mary Berry and Sheridan Smith all found newspaper articles about their ancestors during their Who Do You Think You Are? episodes.

Can you find some of your own family members? Register for free today and you’ll be able to view three newspaper pages for free.

 

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175,000 extra newspaper pages and 7 new titles

Posted on October 7th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive added 175,000 pages in September. They come from newspapers published in England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland between 1753 and 1953.

 

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7 extra newspaper titles to search

The following newspaper titles were added to the website last month.

You can click on the titles below to start exploring them. Let us know if you find something exciting!

  1. Aberdeen People’s Journal
  2. Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser
  3. Dublin Monitor
  4. Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser
  5. Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty
  6. Pue’s Occurrences
  7. South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal

 

Search the newspaper archives of the Galway Vindicator

 

Thousands of English, Irish and Scottish newspaper pages added

As well as adding seven new ones, 66 existing newspaper titles were updated last month. These included the Bedfordshire Times and Independent, the Hull Packet and the Perthshire Advertiser.

A full list of recent additions is provided below.

 

Aberdeen Journal – 1880, 1884, 1891, 1892, 1899, 1901, 1902, 1903

Aberdeen People’s Journal – 1900, 1907

Alnwick Mercury – 1909

Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs – 1907, 1929, 1931

Bedfordshire Times and Independent – 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1902, 1905, 1911, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1932, 1933

Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser – 1845, 1848, 1849

Biggleswade Chronicle – 1898, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909

Birmingham Daily Gazette – 1862, 1868

Blackburn Standard – 1835, 1836, 1839, 1845, 1846, 1847, 1848, 1849

Bucks Herald – 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1938, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal – 1836, 1889

Chelmsford Chronicle – 1870, 1884

Cheltenham Chronicle – 1820, 1821, 1832, 1837, 1839, 1841, 1843, 1847, 1849

Cheltenham Looker-On – 1858, 1878, 1880

Chester Chronicle – 1914, 1915, 1917, 1918

Coventry Herald – 1830, 1912

Coventry Times – 1862, 1880

Daily Herald – 1915

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald – 1950

Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser – 1828, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1836, 1838, 1839

Dublin Evening Mail – 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857, 1858

Dublin Monitor – 1839

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – 1917

Durham County Advertiser – 1830

Edinburgh Evening News – 1914

Falkirk Herald – 1862, 1864, 1876, 1879, 1881, 1883, 1888, 1891

Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald – 1911

Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser – 1858, 1859, 1861

Gloucester Journal – 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1870, 1894, 1895

Gloucestershire Chronicle – 1833, 1834, 1852, 1853, 1865, 1871, 1880

Gloucestershire Echo – 1893, 1899, 1918

Grantham Journal – 1918, 1950

Hartlepool Mail – 1910, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1929, 1931, 1932

Hastings and St Leonards Observer – 1950

Hertford Mercury and Reformer – 1870

Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser – 1866

Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty – 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1778, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, 1805, 1806

Hull Packet – 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1817, 1819, 1823, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839

Inverness Courier – 1870

Ipswich Journal – 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, 1784, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1796, 1797, 1798

Kent & Sussex Courier – 1876, 1885, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891

Kentish Gazette – 1772

Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser – 1867, 1868

Lancashire Evening Post – 1942

Leamington Spa Courier – 1922, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952

Leeds Mercury – 1912

Leicester Chronicle – 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1817, 1818, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1852, 1901, 1902, 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915

Lincolnshire Echo – 1914, 1932, 1949

London Evening Standard – 1869

Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle – 1905, 1906, 1936

Manchester Mercury – 1753, 1754, 1757, 1770, 1781, 1785, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1795, 1796, 1804, 1805, 1814, 1822, 1828, 1829

Middlesex Chronicle – 1916

Motherwell Times – 1890, 1891

Northampton Mercury – 1906, 1907, 1911, 1914, 1915, 1917, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1931

Perthshire Advertiser – 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1848, 1849, 1850, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854, 1855, 1857, 1858, 1860, 1861, 1863, 1864

Portsmouth Evening News – 1910, 1911, 1942

Pue’s Occurrences – 1757, 1758

Reading Mercury – 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918

Royal Cornwall Gazette – 1802, 1803

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – 1950

Sheffield Evening Telegraph – 1905

Sheffield Independent – 1898

South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe and Maidenhead Journal – 1860, 1862

Stirling Observer – 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918

Sunday Post – 1914

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – 1917

Surrey Advertiser – 1869

Surrey Mirror – 1881

Sussex Agricultural Express – 1857, 1859, 1861, 1950

Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle – 1861

Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser – 1889, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1915, 1928

Wells Journal – 1882

Worcester Journal – 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1829, 1830, 1850, 1851

 

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‘Dear Boss’ letter: how Jack the Ripper got his name

Posted on September 18th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

On 27 September 1888, in the midst of a series of horrific murders in Whitechapel, the Central News Office in London received a letter, signed by ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Known as the ‘Dear Boss’ letter because of the way it was addressed, the letter changed the way British newspapers reported the Ripper murders.

 

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Facsimiles of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter in the newspapers

The name ‘Jack the Ripper’ reached the British press and general public on 3 October 1888, when Scotland Yard released images of the letter in the hope that somebody would recognise the handwriting.

A number of newspapers reproduced these facsimiles, including the Nottingham Evening Post:

 

A facsimile of the 'Dear Boss' Jack the Ripper letter, printed in the Nottingham Evening Post

Nottingham Evening Post – Friday 05 October 1888
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The letter read as follows:

 

Dear Boss,

I keep on hearing the police have caught me. but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits.

I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games.

I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you.

Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work. then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good luck.

Yours truly
Jack the Ripper

Dont mind me giving the trade name

Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now- ha ha

 

‘Jack the Ripper’ before the letter was released

Newspapers from August and September 1888 show that, prior to the publication of the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, the British press largely referred to Jack the Ripper as the ‘Whitechapel murderer’, ‘Whitechapel fiend’ or presumed that the killings were the work of more than one person.

The letter itself also references the name ‘Leather Apron’. Before the murderer gained the moniker ‘Jack the Ripper’, the British press often referred to him in this way.

Some newspapers printed vivid descriptions of the man, as demonstrated by this snippet from the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette:

 

Leather Apron aka Jack the Ripper, described in the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Monday 10 September 1888
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Read newspapers from 1888