Posts by Geri Walton

James Hadfield: His Attempt on King George III’s Life

James Hadfield was charged with high treason after attempting to assassinate King George III at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on the evening of 15 May 1800. Hadfield was sitting in the second row from the orchestra towards the middle of the pit as King George III entered his box. As usual the King began…

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Caroline Norton: Fighting Against Injustice

Caroline Norton was born in London on 22 March 1808 to actor, solider, and colonial administrator Thomas Sheridan and his novelist wife, Caroline Henriette Callander. In 1817, the same year that Madame Récamier’s good friend, Madame de Staël died, Thomas also died. His family was then left penniless. Luckily, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and…

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Murder of Hiram Sawtelle: A Cain and Abel Story

Hiram Sawtelle and Isaac Sawtelle were the sons Hiram F. Sawtelle. The elder Hiram was born in 1812, a year or so after Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Marie Louise, gave birth to Napoleon II. The elder Hiram became a carpenter and because he whistled “Yankee Doodle” and carried a shoe over his shoulder his behavior attracted…

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Washerwomen of Paris and the Mi-Carême Celebration

Washerwomen of Paris were known to celebrate a special holiday known as Mi-Carême or mid-Lent, celebrated in the so-called Lent period, which is a period of forty days of deprivation that precedes Holy Week in the Christian calendar. Just like Mardi Gras was the traditional fete of the butcher, Mi-Carême became the holiday of the…

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Emma Hardinge Britten: Spiritualist Medium of the 1800s

Emma Hardinge Britten was an English advocate for the early Modern Spiritualist Movement and is remembered as a writer, orator, and practitioner of the movement. She was born in London, England, in 1823. Her father Ebenezer was a schoolteacher who died in 1834 when Britten was eleven years old.

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Bertha Heyman: “Big Bertha” or the “Confidence Queen”

Born in 1851 in Kobly, near Posen, in Prussia, Bertha Schlesinger, later known as Bertha Heyman, was a 19th century swindler dubbed “Big Bertha” or the “Confidence Queen.” That was because she managed to swindle people out of thousands of dollars. In fact, she sometimes even did so while incarcerated.

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Duchess of Kendal the Longtime Mistress of George I

The Duchess of Kendal was the longtime mistress of King George I. Described as a thin woman, she was said to be “lean and haggard” and was known as “the Scarecrow” in Germany, as “the Maypole” in England, and called “the Goose” by Jacobites, who most famously taunted her in the Scottish ballad Cam Ye…

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SS Princess Alice Sinking Tragedy of 1878

The SS Princess Alice was a passenger paddle steamer formerly known as the PS Bute. It sank in 1878 after it collided with the big heavy iron collier Bywell Castle on the River Thames. The accident was a devastating tragedy and the greatest loss of life of any British inland waterway accident.

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Smithsonian Institute Fire: An 1865 Tragedy

The Smithsonian Institute was founded on 10 August 1846, the same year that the Countess of Blessington introduce Harriet Howard to Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Smithson Institute’s founding donor was a well-to-do British scientist named James Smithson. He left most of his wealth to his nephew Henry James Hungerford, who died…

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