United Kingdom

Bicycling in the Victorian Era and Lady Riders

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…

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A Hanging Known as English Open-air Entertainment

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…

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Jack the Ripper: Contemporary Press and Public Suspects

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…

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Cat Superstitions in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

There are many cat superstitions, much more so than dog superstitions. In fact, superstitions surrounding cats have existed for a long time. One example is Ancient Egypt where cat sacrifices were made to the gods during the Hellenistic period and where mummified remains of cats have been discovered. Cat superstitions were also known to have…

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William Marwood: British Hangman from 1874 to 1883

William Marwood was born in 1818 in the village of Goulceby. He was the fifth of ten children born to William and Elizabeth Marwood and became a cobbler like his father. However, he harbored a deep desire to be an executioner and eventually did becoming the chief executioner for London and Middlesex from 1874 until…

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Onion Pie Murder in 1852 by Sarah Ann French

In 1852, the Onion Pie Murder occurred. The case involved Sarah Ann Piper who married William French on 14 September 1844 in Hellingly, Sussex, England. She was heavily pregnant at the time and later delivered a strong healthy boy who they named James. As far as anyone knew Sarah and William had a happy marriage,…

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Mary Pearcey and the Hampstead Murders

Mary Pearcey was born Mary “Nellie” Eleanor Wheeler in 1866 and was convicted of what became known as the Hampstead Murders.* These killings happened on 24 October 1890 and involved the murder of 31-year-old Phoebe Hogg and her 18-month-old daughter, nicknamed “Tiggy.”

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Robert Burns 119th Birthday Celebration in 1878

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist who pioneered the Romantic movement and is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. He also became a cultural icon in Scotland and a great source of inspiration world-wide because he influenced people like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Steinbeck, and Alexander…

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Strange and Terrible Deaths in the 1800s

There were many strange and terrible deaths in the 1800s and among them is a story from 1879 about a poor woman roasted alive in her carriage. It all began when Mrs. Honora Lacy left her home in Chester County. She was traveling to Wilmington, Delaware to buy a large quantity of cotton, straw, and…

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May Day 1876 and the Coach from Oxford to London

A new stagecoach commenced running between Oxford and London in 1876, which was the same year that Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a story set in the 1840s about a boy growing up along the Mississippi River. The Oxford and London stagecoach’s first journey was not as…

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