Filed under old newspapers

In Praise of Dr Katterfelto

Dr Katterfelto is one of the most fascinating characters from late 18th/early 19th century England. He was called the King of Puff, and his claims to have cured Londoners of the flu epidemic helped sell his remedies. He demonstrated solar microscopes, and danced either side of the divide between science and magic with a big … Continue reading

Female Criminals

Women form a small component of today’s criminals, and their crimes are often linked to poverty. It seems things don’ change.The world was still small, and it seems that once you fell on hard times it was difficult – or impossible – to recover. This is from the Caledonian Mercury of December 1774: Anne Mackenzie … Continue reading

Master Percy Praises The Lever Museum

Master Percy Praises The Lever Museum

Eighteenth century England produced a lot of child proteges who were often put on display by their partents and guardians in a way that to modern eyes seems like exploitation, but for families of humble birth could provide a welcome income. Some went on to achieve well deserved success such as the future President of … Continue reading

Harsh Justice

Our ancestors had to deal with a lot of problems but a major one was ensuring safe reliable supplies of food. This is why markets were established within walking distance of all citizens. In Britain, selling underweight food -especially the staple of grain or bread – was punished with a ducking or heavy fines. The … Continue reading

The Richest Man in All Christendom?

Most people assume slavery was the basis of most fortunes in Britain’s 18th century, but descendants of the original settlers also featured. Here’s a couple of pieces from May 1771’s Kentish Gazette: Wm Baker, Esq; one of the Sheriffs of this city, &c. was married at Spring Garden Chapel, to Miss Juliana Penn, daughter of … Continue reading

A Wily Yorkshire Miller

In the days before modern policing, people had to make do. This miller served up his own justice and probably taught the thieves a lesson about messing with him. This is from a letter in The Kentish Gazette of May 1771 Letter from York A few nights ago a gang of 9 thieves beset the … Continue reading

A Chinese Artist at the Royal Academy, 1771

Once in a while I find mentions of exotic visitors to Britain who were honoured. I have no idea what this Mr … did, but he seems to have impressed the RA. This is from March 1771, The Leeds Intelligencer Yesterday Mr Chitqua, the celebrated Chinese Artist, embarked at Gravesend, on board the Grenvile East Indiaman, … Continue reading

Jews Behaving Badly

This is from the Newcastle Chronicle of August 1766. Fraud is not a new crime, clearly, but this pair seem to have been at it for some time. Yesterday two Jews were taken into custody in Dukes-place for going about this city, pretending to be constables and taking people into custody into order to extort … Continue reading

A Strolling Woman Thief

This is from the Newcastle Chronicle, august 1766. I thought children were taken to the fields during harvest, but maybe it was a long walk for them. Hard to imagine this woman could not be found: On Wednesday afternoon, whilst Mr Francis Holmer, farmer, at the Nag’s Head, near Plausworth, in the road from Durham … Continue reading

Ensuring Fresh Meat at Markets

The guild of butchers was one of the most important, and its members among the most respected, due to their importance in ensuring safe food but also they had to heft large animal carcasses, so they were also big strong men, not the sort you would want to mess with. But it seems the lack … Continue reading