Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton


27 June 1730   Last Tuesday a cobler and a taylor, having been drinking and playing at cards together most part of the night before, quarrel’d and box’d one another in Bartholomew-Close so violently that the latter was kill’d, whereupon the former ran away. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

1 April 1731   Norwich, March 27. Mary Taylor on Thursday last was burnt to ashes at Lynn, for being concened in the murder of her mistress; and at the same time one Smith, who murdered her, was hanged. She denied to the last her being any way guilty, seemed very penitent, and declared she died in charity. Smith was very drunk, behaved like a mad man; and when the cart was drawing away, called out to have it stop, and then pull’d off his shoes, saying, my mother always told me I should die in my shoes, but I will make her a lyar. [Grub-street Journal]

9 September 1731   On Sunday Mr. Longley, a cornfactor at the White-hart Inn in Southwark, (who about 6 weeks ago marry’d the widow who kept the Pine-apple, a noted eating house, the corner of S. Martin’s-court in Castle-street) died, under violent suspicions of being poison’d, his body having swell’d that it burst. Daily Journal. He dy’d on Tuesday morning: there had been a great difference between them ever since the unhappy marriage: it is reported, that she was much vex’d to find his circumstances not so agreeable; and he was uneasy to find that she kept company with another man, whom he found one night in her chamber: she then said she would give him a pill for it; and acordingly sent a servant for some poison, and under some pretence gave it him in a cup, immediately after which he fell into violent disorders, and in a little time died. On Thursday night between 11 and 12 the Coroner’s inquest brought in their verdict Wilful murder. Some of the poison dregs, lodg’d in the body, were given to a dog, which expir’d as soon as he eat it. Dorothy Longley is in custody in the New Jail in Southwark. [Grub-street Journal] [Soon after, the servant maid and brother of Dorothy Longley were also committed to gaol.]

16 September 1731   Stafford, Aug. 30. This day John Naden, who murdered his Master, Mr. Brough, was carried on a horse, having his legs ty’d and hand-cuft, to Leek. The next morning he was carried to the highest hill on Gun-heath, within a quarter of a mile of his Master’s house,

where, in the presence of some thousands of spectators, he confessed the facts for which he died. The gibbet is 21 foot high, and may be seen 5 miles round the country. The chains which were made by one of Birmingham, are made in so curious a manner, that they will keep his bones together ’till they turn to powder, if the iron will last so long. [Grub-street Journal]

2 September 1731   On Wednesday last as a sand cart was passing the turnpike at Kent-street end, Southwark, it was met by a coach, in the passage thro;’ the gate, and rubbing against the coach a Gentleman in it jumpt out, drew his sword, and wounded the driver in several parts of his body, then got into his coach and drove furiously away, without being known who he was. The poor man was just able to drive home his cart, and coming into the yard, laid himself down and died. [Grub-street Journal]

Monday 14 December 1750   From Cremona in Italy we have an Account, of a tragical Affair that lately happened at Soncino, the Particulars of which are as follows. A young Lady of noble Extraction, but, it seems, not of noble Sentiments, forgot her Rank so far as to fall in Love with one of her Footmen; and the Laws of the Country not being quite so arbitrary as in some other Parts of Italy, to warrant the confining her to a Cloyster, in order to effect a Cure, the Lady gave Way to her Inclinations so far as to resolve to marry her Servant; than which there cannot be a greater Crime in Italy, it being better to commit Fornication, Sodomy or Bestiality, than to match beneath one's Birth. But the Day before the intended Wedding, the Object of her Love was found murdered in a Ditch; and the young Lady, who seem'd in good Health, died about the same Hour, suddenly, as is supposed, no Marks of Violence being found on her Body. However, as there was sufficient Cause for suspicion, the Episcopal Court took Cognizance of the Affair, and ordered Enquiry to be made after the Assassins, who are supposed to be some of the Lady's Kindred; but all Informations were quickly stifled, and in less than a Week there was no more Noise made about the Murder of the Footman, nor of the sudden Death of his intended Bride, who is supposed to have been poisoned, lest she should have brought the Assassins to Justice, or at least cut them off from any Expectations they might have in her Fortune, which was very considerable. (Derby Mercury)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Murder", 18 March 2002, updated 27 January 2012 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/murder.htm>

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