123 Years of History | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week we have added 94,482 new pages to The Archive, covering 123 years of history across the British Isles and Ireland. We have updated seven of our existing titles, with significant updates to Newcastle publication the Newcastle Daily Chronicle, to which we have added over 60,000 pages spanning the years 1870-1914.

We also have significant updates to society publication The Queen, as we continue to augment our early twentieth-century holdings for this newspaper. We have added pages to regional titles covering the North West of England – Penrith Observer and Lichfield Mercury – as well as Aberdeen – Aberdeen Press and Journal and Aberdeen Evening Express. Rounding off our updates this week is the Sunday World (Dublin).

We have added the year 1903 to the Newcastle Daily Chronicle. 1903 was the year that one of Britain’s most infamous serial killers, George Chapman, went on trial accused of poisoning three of his mistresses, and through the pages of the Newcastle Daily Chronicle, it possible to read accounts of his trial and sentence.

Born Seweryn Antonowicz Klosowski in Poland, George Chapman later relocated to London, where he ran several public houses. Over a period of five years, three of his mistresses (Mary Isabella Spink, Bessie Taylor and Maud Marsh) died in similar circumstances, each suffering from extreme vomiting and exhaustion.

George Chapman | Penny Illustrated Paper | 21 March 1903

In February 1903 Chapman was remanded for his crimes. The Newcastle Daily Chronicle describes his appearance in court, where he was ‘looking pale from his long period of incarceration.’ Taking the stand was one Dr Stoker, ‘whose suspicions were aroused by the similarity of the symptoms in the case.’ However, Stoker did not attribute the deaths of Maud Marsh and Bessie Taylor to poison, rather noting that their deaths were ‘the result of intestinal obstruction, vomiting and exhaustion.’

However, at the trial at the Old Bailey, the jury heard evidence from Dr Stevenson of the Home Office, who performed a post-mortem on Maud Marsh. At the time, George Chapman ‘said he did not the see the use of ‘ a post-mortem on his former mistress, but Dr Stevenson found traces of an arsenic-like poison – tartar-emetic – in the body of Maud Marsh. Tartar-emetic was a ‘white powder which would dissolve in water without changing the appearance of the water. In repeated small doses it lowered the pulse, weakened the heart, set up gastro-enteritis, and caused death.’

Funeral of Maud Marsh at Croydon Cemetery Penny Illustrated Paper | 15 November 1902

Also covered at the trial was the death of Mary Isabella Spink in 1897. She became violently sick after Chapman had prepared food and drink for her, and she died on the morning of Christmas day. Once exhumed, tartar-emetic was found in her system, as it was in the body of Bessie Taylor.

Newcastle Daily Chronicle | 2 April 1903

George Chapman – the ‘Southwark Poisoner’ – was found guilty of the murders and was executed on 7th April 1903 at Wandsworth prison. The Newcastle Daily Chronicle gives a full account of the execution:

Chapman spent a broken and restless night, but had a fairly good breakfast…As the hour approached Chapman appeared to feel his position acutely and apparently he suffered the greatest mental anguish.

Before his death by hanging, the condemned man was offered brandy and water. He did not confess his guilt. Indeed, in his last letter to friends, he wrote: ‘if I was guilty I would say. They can take my life, but they cannot kill my soul.’


This week we have updated seven 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.

Years Added
Newcastle Daily Chronicle 1870, 1872, 1877-1887, 1891-1896, 1899-1906, 1914
Sunday World (Dublin) 1994
Penrith Observer 1903
Aberdeen Press and Journal 1993
Lichfield Mercury 1957
The Queen 1909-1912
Aberdeen Evening Express 1993

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You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.



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