Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton


9-11 April 1701   Yesterday an aged man, who used to carry fruit up and down this City, in a wheel-barrow, for sale, was found hang'd in his lodging-room, over-against White-Chappel Church: He had been missing since Saturday; so that 'tis thought, he had committed that horrid sin of self murder that day. It cann't [sic] be guessed what could move him to perpetrate that crime, for he had always the report of a sober and honest man, had served all the offices in the Parish, from the lowest to the highest: When he was cut down, there was found in his pockets, 16s. in silver, as many half-pence and farthings as would fill a peck; as also 5, some say 7l., in silver; so that he could not be tempted thereto for want. [London Post]

19-21 May 1701   On Saturday night, or Sunday morning, an old woman, over-against old Gravel lane end, in Ratcliff-highway, flung her self out of a window 2 story high and broke her legs, confessing she had been tempted to do so, for fear she should be reduc'd to want.
          Yesterday at 6 at night, a Gentlewoman went into a shop against the Royal Exchange, and asking for the maid of the house, desired to ease her self [i.e. use the privy]; whereupon the maid lighted her down into the cellar, and, at her request return'd up stairs, but had scarce got up into the shop, when she heard a pistol go off, and running down stairs found the other lying in her blood; But the pistol being over-charged, burst in firing, so that the bullets, being two, lodged in the nape of her neck; and 'tis hoped, she may recover: She would not discover who she was, nor the occasion of her discontent; but went off in a coach, after her wound had been lookt after. [London Post]

24-26 February 1702   On Sunday last a young woman, who was quick with Child, hang'd her self in Angel Court near Charing Cross. [Post Boy]

13 December 1718   Last week, a porter, who was employ'd at Mr. Crawley's workhouse at Greenwich, being dismiss'd, took it so to heart, that he hang'd himself by the new church at Stepney. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

28 March 1719   On Wednesday morning last, one Patrick a barber, who liv’d near the New Church in the Strand, murder’d himself in a very extraordinary and cruel manner; for having set a razor for the purpose, he first ript open his body, then cut off his privy parts, and at last cut his throat from ear to ear: He was a person always look’d on to live a sober and religious life, and one that went constantly to church; but has been observ’d for about a month or six weeks past, to be inclinable to a kind of phrenzy. (Weekly Journal, or, British Gazetteer)

14 May 1722   On Friday last Mr. John Moor, formerly an upholsterer in Pater-noster Row, who by extravagance was reduc’d to poverty, and by poverty brought to distraction and despair, hang’d himself at the Bear Alehouse in Bow-street, Covent-Garden: Before he did it, he wrote two letters, one to his mother, and another to a woman with whom it is said he kept company, charging the bearer not to deliver them till an hour after; which was accordingly observ’d. Therein we are told he bids them an everlasting farewell; signifying, that death to him was more eligible than life; and that therefore by the time they should receive those lines he should be dead; which by the event they found true. The Coroners Inquiest having sate upon the body, brought in their verdict, Lunacy. (Daily Post)

10 July 1725  Casualties. Mr. Smith in the Old-Baily, being disorder'd in his senses, was lock'd up in his own house; but on Sunday morning he found means to break out and straggle up to a pond in Hide-Park, into which he threw himself, and was drowned. - A journeyman shoemaker going into a pond near Gray's-Inn-Lane, to wash himself, was drowned accidentally on the same day; - as was on the same day and manner another man, near the Neat-Houses [a market-garden area near Chelsea Bridge], in the Thames. - An old basket-man of Hungerford-Marker, kill'd himself by drinking an excessive quantity of gin. - A poor labouring man, who had a wife and several children to maintain, stabb'd himself in Golden-Lane. — Mr. Morris, who kept the Bull in Leadenhall-Street, receiving a letter of his wife's death in the country, shot himself Wednesday morning, and dy'd immediately. — Mr. Cook, a rich leatherfeller [tailor or sewer of gloves etc.] on Snow-Hill, a sober good man to all appearance, threw himself out of his garret window, and dy'd on the spot. — A boat over-set below Woolwich, and a glazier, living at Ratcliff, was drown'd. — A boy run over and kill'd in Jockey's Fields, by a Gentleman's coach. [Mist's Weekly Journal]

16 October 1725   A quack coctor in Eagle-Court in St. John's-Lane, cut his windpipe, and dy'd in three Days; he would have taken opium to have gone the genteel way out of the world, but was prevented. [Mist's Weekly Journal]

12 February 1726   Wednesday last the Coronoer's Inquest sate on the body of one Wood, a poor fellow in Fleet-lane, who had kill'd himself by drinking at one draught a pint of some of those destructive spirits so much complain'd of, and which are detrimental to the poor sort of people; he dy'd immediately, and the Jury's verdict was Excessive Drinking. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

23 April 1726   Some days ago a rat-catcher in Golden-Lane near Cripplegate bring disorder'd in his sense, destroy'd himself by taking a dose of the poisonous preparation he killed the vermin with; he had attempted to hang himself some time before. On Saturday the Coroner's Jury sate upon the body and brought in their verdict, Lunacy. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

11 June 1726   On Saturday last, some words happening between a brasier's apprentice near Smithfield and his fellow-servant, she in a passion bid him go and hang himself. He took her advice, and died in her apron-strings tied to his bedstead. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

18 June 1726   Casualties. One Gillingham, a grocer's Apprentice in Pater-Noster-Row drowned washing in the Thames. — On Sunday also a peruke-maker's son, washing in the New-River. — The same day one Campbell having had some words with his wife, made a shift to drown himself in a cistern at a stable yard in Duke-Street, St. James's, where he was a helper. — One Williams a nurse, disordered in her senses, threw herself out of a garret window in Hart-Street, Covent-Garden, and was most miserably bruised. — A barber's wife in Black-Fryers, being long ill of a fever, in a delirious fit threw her self down the house of office [privy], and was smother'd. — A young man washing himself near the Hermitage, in the Thames, was drowned. — A poor alms-woman in St. Martin's Workhouse being delirious, threw her self out of a garret window, and killed by the hurt she received. [Mist's Weekly Journal]

28 January 1727   On Saturday . . . one Mr. Wolfe, a German, being out of business and destitute, shot himself thro' the head with a pistol at his lodgings in St. James's-Street.

And Sunday morning one St. Lawrence, a person that letts out small sums of money to poor people, on pledges, cut his throat with a razor, at his habitation in Liquor-Pond-Street. The women in his neighbourhood give out, that he had sold himself for a certain term of years to the Devil, and that the time being near expiring, he had absconded, and was fallen under a deep melancholy. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

2 April 1730   Newcastle, March 14. On Monday last, in an out-of-the way den in Newburn parish, near 4 miles from hence, was discovered a very miserable object, who had hang'd himself, as 'tis believed, for want, being a travelling beggar. He had hung till the crows picked out his eyes, and mangled his body. [Grub-street Journal]

27 August 1730   Some days ago a poor woman was found hanging on a tree in the road between Greenwich and Woolwich, a child of about a year old sitting near her on the ground, by persons who cut her down, and soon brought her to her self, when she told them, that fear of starving had induc'd her to that act. And on Sunday morning the same woman was found dead, hanging on a tree in an orchard in Plumsted-parish, near Woolwich.

A few days since the York Stage-Coachman coming to town, saw a woman hanging in the wood on the other side of Highgate, whereupon he quitted his bow, went thither and cut her down; and there remaining some symptome of life, the passengers took her into the coach, and carried her to Highgate, where, after some time she recovered. The occasion of her committing this violence on her self, was the distress she was reduc'd to by being left by her husband, who is gone to Ireland, with whom, however, she parted by consent. [Grub-street Journal]

16 September 1731   They write from Bath, that on Thursday last the celebrated Miss Fenny B[raddoc]k was found unfortunately hanged in her golden girdle, at her lodgings in that city: by the position of her chair, and a book lying on the table, she had been reading just before she committed the violent act on herself. She was daughter to the late General —, who at his death left the above young Lady and her sister 6000l. but the latter dying about 4 years ago, her sister became mistress of the whole fortune, who being a great admirer of that hazardous dependance, gaming, lately met with some unlucky chances, which both depriv'd her of her fortune and reason, and occasioned the dilemma abovementioned. It was observed, she had been observed to say, after the last stroke given to her fortune, that no one should ever be sensible of her necessities, were they at the last extremity. She is generally lamented by all who knew her, and was greatly esteemed for her courteous and genteel behaviour, and good sense. The Coroner's Inquest sat on the body, and brought in their verdict Lunacy. [Grub-street Journal]

30 September 1731   We hear from Bath; that the following lines were found upon the table of the late unhappy Miss
B[raddoc]k written with her own hand.

O Death! thou pleasing end of humane woe!
Thou cure of life! thou best of things below!
May'st thou still shun the coward and the slave;
And thy soft slumbers only ease the brave.
[Grub-street Journal]

9 November 1734   Bristol, Oct. 2. Last night a sailor, newly came home from sea, and having received his wages, happened to fall in company with some courtezans without Lawford's-Gate, who were so uncivil to pick his pocket of all his cash; the loss so much perplexed him, that soon after he hanged himself in his silk handkerchief, on a tree in a field adjacent. (Read's Weekly Journal, or British-Gazetteer)

22-24 July 1790
The unhappy effects of Novel Reading.
A young lady near Chester, not long since married to a gentleman of considerable fortune and private worth, but rather advanced in years, was observed for some weeks past in a very gloomy and perturbed state of mind; every effort was used to discover the cause, and every means was also tried to remove the effect, yet all to no purpose. A few days ago, however, she appeared to recover her usual spirits, and her friends fondly imagined they had accomplished their wishes; but on Sunday se'nnight, after breakfasting with her family, she retired to her bed-chamber, and desired the maid to call her at twelve o'clock; as her head ached, she would lie on the bed: the servant left her on the bed, and departed; in a short time the house was alarmed with the report of a pistol; the servants ran up stairs, found the bed-chamber door bolted, which they forced open, and there saw their mistress in the last agonies of death; the pistol still in one hand, and an old novel, called Content; or, The Happy Choice, in the other; a leaf of which was turned down, inclosing the picture of a gentleman in her father's neighbourhood, formerly her admirer. (London Chronicle)

(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, "Suicides", 18 November 2001, updated 5 April 2007 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/suicide.htm>

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