This week we have added 86,414 new pages to The Archive, with updates to six of our existing titles. We have updates to two of our new titles – specialist countryman’s newspaper Field and West Midlands title the Sandwell Evening Mail – as well as updates to four of our other titles.
We have added a long run of late nineteenth century pages to the Acton Gazette, and there are also updates to the Reading Evening Post, the Tottenham & Edmonton Weekly Herald, and finally the Mansfield & Sutton Recorder.
Additions to the Acton Gazette this week include the year 1882, which was the year that Queen Victoria suffered her eighth and final assassination attempt at the hands of Roderick Mclean, a Scotsman who was later found ‘not guilty, but insane,’ and was sent to Broadmoor.
The Penny Illustrated Paper describes the ‘atrocious attempt to shoot the Queen,’ and gives a description of the dramatic scene. Queen Victoria and her youngest daughter Princess Beatrice had just arrived in Windsor on the evening of 2 March 1882, having traveled from London. Welcomed by cheering crowds, their carriage was pulling out of the gates of the station, when a man, later determined to be Roderick Mclean, took a shot at the carriage. He was overcome before he could shoot again, reportedly by two ‘stalwart’ Eton boys – Wilson and Robinson – who were later thanked by the Queen.
Recently added pages from the Acton Gazette give a scathing description of the ‘would-be regicide,’ labeling Mclean a ‘worthless vagabond:’
… the man, Roderick Mclean, who made an attempt to shoot the Queen, has led for a considerable time the life of a loafer and a tramp, though he gave himself out to be a grocer’s assistant, also a clerk. He appears to have been in receipt of a small weekly allowance in money, forwarded to him in the form of post-office orders by some philanthropic relative, but while the sums he thus obtained served to confirm in his idle habits, he still felt the constant pressure of impecuniosity, and regarded himself as a victim of the existing social system, which is all prizes for the rich and all blanks for the poor. In some writing found upon him, he had inveighed against the Queen and the ‘bloated aristocracy’ as the causes of his impoverished condition.
The Acton Gazette gives as Mclean’s motives both his apparent ‘love of notoriety’ and the ‘detestation of those above him,’ and gives an interesting commentary on how his notoriety is fueled by the press.
The misfortune is that the human ghouls who commit, or attempt to commit, great crimes, for the sake of getting themselves talked about, have their reward. The newspapers must gratify the insatiable curiosity of the public by narrating all that can be discovered about their previous careers. Every statement they make is recorded, and their personal appearance is minutely described. Photographs of them are obtained, and attract crowds to shop windows. The notoriety they have achieved by their dastardly crimes is not confined, they well know, to one country; it has a world-wide circulation, and this circumstance no doubt gratifies them still more.
However, Mclean’s eventual sentence did not reflect this premeditated desire for glory, instead at his trial for high treason, he was found ‘not guilty on the grounds of insanity‘ and sent to Broadmoor, where he died in 1921. This provoked Queen Victoria into initiating a change of law – the Trial of Lunatics Act 1883 – which allowed a jury to find a defendant ‘guilty but insane,’ and then treated as a ‘criminal lunatic.’
As for Queen Victoria, she demonstrated her ‘intrepidity of spirit,’ and according to the Penny Illustrated Paper, this final attempt on her life created ‘fresh links of sympathy and love [between] Her Majesty and her Loyal subjects.’
This week we have updated six of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.
|Reading Evening Post||1982-1984|
|Sandwell Evening Mail||1988, 1991, 1994|
|Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald||1869|
|Mansfield & Sutton Recorder||1991|
|Acton Gazette||1880-1882, 1884, 1887, 1904-1909|