Margaret Dickson was Executed, Survived, and Pardoned

Margaret Dickson was Executed, Survived, and Pardoned: Margaret Dickson
Margaret Dickson Rising From Her Coffin. Public Domain.

Margaret Dickson was executed, survived, and pardoned, and because of it she was nicknamed “ill hangit Maggy Dickson.” Her story begins with her birth in Musselburgh, Scotland, near Edinburgh in 1702. When she was an adult, she married a fisherman and together they had several children. However, Dickson found herself practically single because her husband was impressed and went to sea aboard a warship.

In Scotland, at the time, any woman who committed fornication was punished publicly. The punishment occurred over three Sundays with the fornicator seated in the most conspicuous place in church and receiving a public rebuke from the minister. This spectacle resulted in people attending church who never attended just so that they could see offenders shamed. Female offenders found the punishment so embarrassing, some “destroyed the fruits of their amours, rather than be made a spectacle to all the inhabitants of the parish.” Continue reading

Standen Versus Standen: 18th Century Man Attempts to Bastardize His Own Son

Standen Versus StandenOn 5 June 1789, at Westminster-Hall, a case was brought by a son against his father in Standen versus Standen. If the son did not prevail, his father’s marriage to his mother would be discredited and the son would be “ruined and undone.” The case began when the son, Charles, produced the registry and showed that the entry of marriage had been made and signed by the clergyman. Continue reading

John Bellingham, Assassin of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval

John Bellingham, Assassin of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval
John Bellingham, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Russian ship Soleure (or Sojus) belonged to Solomon van Brienen and Vassiley Popoff, and it was lost at sea in 1803. At the time, it was insured through Lloyd’s of London. The ship’s owners filed a claim to receive restitution for their loss. Unfortunately, Lloyd’s of London received an anonymous letter alleging the ship had been sabotaged, and, so, they refused to pay compensation to the owners. At the time, John Bellingham was working in Russia as an export representative. Van Brienen believed Bellingham had sent the letter to Lloyd’s of London and, therefore, he and Popoff took retaliatory action against Bellingham by claiming Bellingham owed them a debt of 4,890 rubles. Continue reading

Art Theft of the Princesse de Lamballe Painting in the 1980s

Paintings of Princesse de Lamballe, Callet (left), Rioult (top right), and Le Brun (bottom left), Public Domain
Paintings of Princesse de Lamballe, Callet (left), Rioult (top right), and Le Brun (bottom left), Public Domain

Princesse de Lamballe, who was Marie Antoinette’s friend and her Superintendent of the Household, married the heir of the richest man in France. Because the princesse was royalty and because she was rich, many people were intrigued by her and many portraits were painted of her. One well-known painting that is currently displayed at Versailles was done by Antoine-François Callet in 1776. Another painting was painted by Louis-Édouard Rioult between 1780 and 1785 and appeared on a supplementary issue of Le Petit Journal in 1892. Another person who painted the princesse de Lamballe was one of Marie Antoinette’s favorite painters, Madame Le Brun. Yet, perhaps of all the paintings of the princesse, one particular painting bears mention because it was stolen in an art heist in the 1980s. Continue reading

Wrong Doings of Married Women

Married women, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1833, two English women — a Mrs. Emma Lush (wife to a groom employed by the Royal Family) and Mrs. Sarah Wolfe (a servant in a distinguished family) — decided to go on a shopping excursion. After making several purchases, they fell into the company of two strangers who prevailed upon them to accompany them for drinks. Despite not knowing the men — John Clack and a man named Faulkener — Mrs. Lush and Mrs. Wolfe decided to have some enjoyment and went with the men. Continue reading

The Murder of Comte d’Antraigues and His Wife

Comte d'Antraigues, Public Domain
Comte d’Antraigues, Public Domain

Emmanuel Henri Louis Alexandre de Launay, comte d’Antraigues, was a French citizen. While living in France, d’Antraigues become involved in an incident known as the Favras Plot. When his involvement was discovered he fled to avoid execution. His mistress, a celebrated French operatic soprano named Madame de Saint-Huberty, followed him. They eventually married and lived in several countries before finally settling in Russia. However, the comte and his wife were expelled in 1806 because the comte published a pamphlet against Napoleon and the French Empire. Because of the expulsion, the comte and his wife moved to England. Continue reading

“The Monsters” or the “Vere Street Gang” Homosexuals

Vere Street Sign in Westminster, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Vere Street Sign in Westminster, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Police received a tip about the “rendezvous of a society of miscreants of a detestable description.” These rendezvous involved homosexuals and had been occurring for six months at the White Swan. Based on tips, police raided a public house on Sunday, 8 July 1810. It was located on Vere-street and when officers proceeded to search it, police netted 26 people, “the whole of whom, together with the landlord of the house, they apprehended, and lodged for the night in the watch-house of St. Clement’s parish.” Continue reading

The Unsolved Victorian Robbery of Baum, Sons and Co.

Green Arrow Shows the Location of Lombard Street of the Victorian Robbery, Courtesy of Google Maps
Green Arrow Shows the Location of 58 Lombard Street, Courtesy of Google Maps

On Saturday evening, 3 December 1864, about nine o’clock in the evening, the bill-broker, money exchanger, and bullion merchant, Baum, Sons and Co. was locked up and closed until Monday morning. Baum, Sons and Co. was located at 58 Lombard Street in London, and Mr. Peter Frederick Baum had been in business some 40 years. The business was a partnership between Baum, his three sons — Joseph, Godfried, and Noa — and his oldest son Adolphus. In addition, a clerk, a porter, and a young boy worked there. Continue reading

Executed for Jealousy, Elizabeth Richardson

Elizabeth Richardson and Pilmott's Murder
Pilmott’s Murder, Public Domain

Elizabeth Richardson (alias Forrester) was seduced at an early age and when older, she subsisted on wages made from “casual prostitution.” It was her casual prostitution that allowed her to meet an attorney named William Pilmott (perhaps Pilmot or even Pimlot or Pimlott). His chambers were located at Symond’s Inn.

Their relationship seemed to be filled with passion, and Pilmott liked Richardson enough to keep her. It is unclear whether or not the pock-marked Richardson had cause for jealousy, but whether she did or not, she was intensely jealous of Pilmott. In fact, her jealousy drove her to regularly visit Pilmott at his chambers thinking she would find him engaged in some sort of compromising situation with another woman. Continue reading

Detecting the Villainous in Georgian London

Georgian London Pickpockets
Pickpockets, Author’s Collection

Country folk visiting Georgian London and returning unscathed with their purse or their virtue intact was a rare thing. It was easy for gullible country visitors to be taken advantage of by nefarious crooks. Crooks sought to obtain a country person’s hard-earned cash or to despoil an innocent virgin and turn her into a whore. Moreover, country visitors could not readily tell whether a person was good or bad. A Londoner’s  clothing was no clue as to who was good or bad: Quacks dressed like physicians wearing great wigs, sharpers pretended to be gentleman in fancy waistcoats, and procuresses always dressed in the best finery. Continue reading