Harvard Professor Webster: His Execution for Murder

By Geri Walton | September 4, 2023

The execution of Harvard Professor Webster happened in 1850 on 30 August. (It occurred the same year that the famous wax sculptor Madame Tussaud died.) John W. Webster was a professor of chemistry and geology at Harvard Medical College and found guilty of murdering Dr. George Parkman. To learn more about the case click here.

A Panorama on Slavery and Henry “Box” Brown

By Geri Walton | August 7, 2023

Henry “Box” Brown was a Virginia slave who mailed himself to freedom in 1849. Afterwards he made a living lecturing on slavery. His tours occurred in America and later England using a moving panorama* on slavery.

Louisa Adams’ Party for Andrew Jackson

By Geri Walton | July 3, 2023

Louisa Adams’ party for Andrew Jackson happened when her husband, John Quincy Adams, was thinking of running for President in the 1820s. Hoping to avoid having the more charismatic and dashing Andrew Jackson run against him, Louisa decided to eclipse Jackson and his backwoods country wife, Rachel Stockley Donelson, by throwing a party to ostensibly…

A Love Gone Sour: A Nineteenth Century Tale

By Geri Walton | June 5, 2023

Love is a funny thing. It doesn’t always work out and in June of 1874 the Boston Globe reported on a missing bride and a love gone sour. According to the Globe:

Pomeranians and Their Popularity in the 19th Century

By Geri Walton | May 1, 2023

Pomeranians became popular in the 19th century because of Queen Victoria but the dogs were originally introduced in England in the late 1700s by Queen Charlotte, Queen-consort to King George III. She had two with her when she arrived and the dogs, Phoebe and Mercury, were depicted in paintings by Sir Thomas Gainsborough.* However, it…

Execution of Mary Pearcey: The Hampstead Murderess

By Geri Walton | April 3, 2023

The execution of Mary Pearcey happened on 23 December 1890 at the Newgate Gaol after she was convicted and sentenced for the killing of Phoebe Hogg and her 18-month-old daughter, also named Phoebe. (You can learn more about these murders in this post, Mary Pearcey and the Hampstead Murders). Pearcey was to be executed under…

Contemporary Police Jack the Ripper Suspects

By Geri Walton | March 6, 2023

An unidentified assailant nicknamed Jack the Ripper committed a series of murders in the East End of London. (The murders began in 1888 on 31 August, when Mary Ann Nichols was found with her throat slashed in the impoverished Whitechapel district. Three more women were found with their throats cut in September (Annie Chapman* on…

Bicycling in the Victorian Era and Lady Riders

By Geri Walton | January 30, 2023

Bicycling in the Victorian Era was a popular pastime with men and women everywhere owning bicycles. However, it was women who found cycling a freeing experience and in fact, America’s devoted feminist and social reformer, Susan B. Anthony, coined the bicycle the “freedom machine.” The president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Frances Willard, thought…

A Hanging Known as English Open-air Entertainment

By Geri Walton | January 16, 2023

The following article (part of a much larger article) starts off with a visitor planning to attend the Lewes Fair but instead finds himself at a hanging in Lewes. The article was first published in Dicken’s Household Words on 8 May 1852 and then appeared in the Leicestershire Mercury and General Advertiser for the Midland…

Jack the Ripper: Contemporary Press and Public Suspects

By Geri Walton | November 7, 2022

An unidentified assailant nicknamed Jack the Ripper committed a series of murders in 1888 from August to November in the East End of London. Since that time the identity of the killer has been widely debated and over 100 Jack the Ripper suspects have been named. Despite all the suggestions, experts have not found any…