Saturday 19th October 1861: The more I look at newspapers of the past, the more fascinating I find them. Take, for instance, page 5 of this Saturday’s London Evening Standard (some wording has been altered to make modern sense):
Column 1 – This day’s Police report comes from Marlborough Street and reports a SALE-ROOM ROBBERY:
Thomas John Jackson, an elderly man, a frequenter of auctions, was charged before Mr. Tyrwhitt with stealing a time piece, value £2, from the sale rooms, 43, Rathbone Place, the property of Mr. George Richards, the auctioneer. Sergeant Shanley deposed that he saw the prisoner leave the rooms about half-past seven the evening before and, perceiving he had something concealed under his coat, he questioned him. Prisoner said it was a time-piece he had bought. Sergeant Shanley knew this to be false as nothing of the sort had been sold, and the sale had only been on a quarter of an hour. He told the prisoner he must return and see the clerk. He replied “All right,” and did so: the timepiece found on him was produced and was declared to be stolen. At the station he was found to have on him 58 duplicates of clocks, umbrellas, and other property.
The Prisoner stated that – All the property of bona fine sales, sir.
The Sergeant said he doubted that. Several clocks had been purloined lately from the same rooms.
Mr Richards identified the timepiece as seen safe in his rooms not long before. Jackson was remanded for a week.
We also have all the world’s news reported for the country that ‘rules’ much of the world. In column 5 we find: THIS DAY’S TELEGRAMS: ‘The following telegrams have been received at Mr. Reuter’s office today’:-
MORE WARNINGS TO THE PRESS: PARIS, SATURDAY: The Moniteur of to-day announces that the Courrier des Alpes and Journal de Rennes have received a first warning. (The misdemeanours are not recorded)
VICTOR EMMANUEL, TURIN, SATURDAY: The report that the King of Italy is about to proceed to Naples is incorrect.
AUSTRIA, VIENNA, SATURDAY: An Imperial patent has been published to-day, ordering the collection of the direct taxes in a similar manner to last year, with the reservation, however, that any changes in the taxation which may be necessitated by circumstances shall be constitutionally effected.
MEXICO – ALLEGED INTERVENTION: The Correspondencia Autografa of today says Spain, France, and England will dispatch a joint expedition to Mexico; but Spain will make a direct demand for satisfaction for the personal insults she has received.
BATTLE BETWEEN THE TURKS AND MONTENEGRINS, Ragusa, Friday: A Turkish war bulletin announces that a battle has been fought on the frontier of Montenegro between the Turks and 3000 insurgents and Montenegrins, resulting in the defeat and pursuit of the latter. The Turkish dispatch adds that the Montenegrin frontier was respected, but the Montenegrins, on the contrary, state it was violated by the Turks.
There is also a long piece describing the Coronation of the King of Prussia.
Saturday 20st October 1714: By the terms of the Act of Settlement, at her death Queen Anne (who had no surviving children) was succeeded by her second cousin George, Elector of Hanover. He was crowned King George I on this day in Westminster Abbey. He could not speak much English so the ceremonies had to be conducted mostly in Latin as his ministers could not speak German! On this day of the Coronation banners mocking the new king were displayed throughout the country. When loyalists celebrated the coronation they were disrupted by rioters in over twenty towns in the south and west of England. In addition to this the Tory aristocrats and gentry absented themselves from the coronation and in some towns they arrived with their supporters to disrupt the Hanoverian proceedings. In Taunton on 19th October a Francis Sherry said that “on the morrow he must take up Arms against the King”; a Birmingham rioter, John Hargrave, said they must “pull down this King and Sett up a King of our own”; in Dorchester the rioters attempted to rescue an effigy of Catholic James Stuart, who had a strong claim to the throne, that was to be burnt by Dissenters and asked: “Who dares disown the Pretender?”. The Anglican clergy mainly kept a low profile but at Newton Abbot the minister removed the bell-clappers so that the bells could not be rung in celebration of the coronation.
Monday 21st October 1805 was the day of the Battle of Trafalgar. Not far from where I live is the village of Elton and Elton Hall, the home of the Proby family since the time of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Granville Leveson Proby was born in 1781, the third son of John Joshua Proby. In March 1798, at the comparatively advanced age of seventeen, Granville entered the navy as a midshipman on ‘HMS Vanguard’, under Captain Edward Berry and Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson. It was in this year that the Battle of the Nile took place. Nelson had his units sail between the shore and the French ships at anchor, picking them off one by one in a cross-fire. The French ship,’ L’Orient ‘came under fire from five ships, caught fire and spectacularly exploded. Midshipman Proby was one of the junior officers deputed to take to the boats and save all that it was possible to save from the burning vessel. In 1803 he was on Nelson’s flagship ‘Victory’ in the Mediterranean; on 24 October 1804 he was promoted to lieutenant on the frigate ‘Narcissus’ and in May 1805 was appointed to ‘HMS Neptune’, a 98-gun 2nd rate ship of the line. It was on this ship that he took part in the battle of Trafalgar, playing an important role in the battle, stationed third in the line, behind the flagship ‘Victory’ and the ‘Temeraire’. ‘Neptune’ attacked and captured the 130 gun Spanish flagship ‘Santisima Trinidad’. After the battle it was the Neptune, with Lieutenant Proby on board, that towed the crippled ‘Victory’, bearing Nelson’s body, back to Gibraltar.
Saturday 22nd October 1881 saw George Newnes launch ‘Tit-Bits’ magazine. Tit-Bits – or to give it its full title Tit-Bits from all the interesting Books, Periodicals, and Newspapers of the World – was published as a British weekly magazine until 18 July 1984, when it was taken over by Associated Newspapers’ publication Weekend, which itself closed in 1989. At its peak ‘Tit-Bits’ was a mass circulation commercial publication with sales of between 400,000 and 600,000 copies each week. Its emphasis was on human interest stories concentrating on drama and sensation. Short stories and full length fiction was also incorporated, including works by authors such as Rider Haggard and Isaac Asimov. The first humorous article by P.G. Wodhouse – ‘Men Who Missed Their Own Weddings’ – appeared in ‘Tit-Bits’ in November 1900. In All Things Considered by G.K. Chesterton, the author contrasted ‘Tit-Bits’ with the ‘Times’, saying: “[an author] asks himself whether he would really rather be asked in the next two hours to write the front page of The Times, which is full of long leading articles, or the front page of Tit-Bits, which is full of short jokes.” Tit-Bits magazine is also mentioned in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses; George Orwell’s Animal Farm and H.G. Wells’’ The First Men in the Moon. In our house-hold I remember my father sometimes bring home a copy of ‘Tit-Bits’ – and I suspect that I took a sneaky look at some of the pages. The magazine name has survived as Titbits International.
Tuesday 23rd October 1764 saw the Leeds Intelligencer carry the following ‘instruction’ on page 4:
‘The Public are desired to read the following Advertisement with Attention
‘Those Persons who are desirous to become possessed of a valuable History of England, have now an excellent Opportunity to purchase, at an easy Expense, the most elegant History of England that ever appeared. The Plates are ALL engraved by the celebrated GRIGNION, a Circumstance which no other History of this Kingdom can boast of. The Paper is Superfine, and the Type new and beautiful. As to the Plan and Execution of the Work, let it suffice to say, that we only request it to be compared with any other History of England, and let the Reader judge for himself.’
The ‘himself’ in the above makes it clear that no lady was expected to have any interest in – or perhaps knowledge of – the History of England to wish to make a purchase! The first issue will be published on Saturday 27th October 1764 at the price of Six Pence and your scribe will be ready to tell you more then.
Monday 24th October 1906 saw the birth of Frederick William Pontin in Shoreditch in the East End of London – the first of six children. I suspect many of the readers of this posting will have some knowledge or personal recollections of Fred’s holiday camps, but do you know what his first plunge into a business of his own was? It was ‘Smiths Soccer Totes Limited’ – his version of the football pools businesses of Vernons and Littlewoods. Starting with a mailing list of some 20,000 individuals he launched a fixed-odds business, mailing the exciting news and chances of wealth across the country. He soon added ‘four draws’, ‘seven home wins’ and other opportunities for his followers to take a gamble on. The success prompted him to diversify into horse racing as a Bookmaker. Then war broke out and horse racing ceased! Fred had a level of deafness that excluded him from active war duties and he ended up in the Orkney Islands catering for members of the Armed Forces – and there he remained until just after the German surrender in May 1945. He didn’t return to ‘Smiths Soccer Totes Limited’ or horse racing – he stayed with his Orkney skills in the south of England, and it was there that an idea for holiday camps sneaked into his mind.
25th October is St Crispen’s Day – the feast day of the Christian saints Crispin and Crispinian- twins who were martyred c. AD 286. It was on this Saturday in 1415 that the English defeated the French at Agincourt. Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’ helps us visualise it – but is that really a true description of the event?
Jean de Wavrin, a bastard son of Robert, Count of Wavrin was born around 1398 and provides us with a contemporary story of the battle. He made his military debut as a young squire on the English side at the battle of Agincourt. He took part in numerous later military expeditions for the Burgundians, and their English allies until 1435, when he married a wealthy widow from Lille, and was legitimised by the Duke of Burgundy. As Lord of Le Forestel, he performed numerous official duties for successive dukes, including embassies to the Pope and the English court. Following the battle of Agincourt he wrote: “When the King of England saw that he was master of the field and had got the better of his enemies he humbly thanked the Giver of victory, and he had good cause, for of his people there died on the spot only about sixteen hundred men of all ranks, among whom was the Duke of York, his great uncle, about whom he was very sorry. Then the King collected on that place some of those most intimate with him, and inquired the name of a castle which he perceived to be the nearest; and they said ‘Agincourt’. ‘It is right then,’ said he, ‘that this, our victory, should forever bear the name of Agincourt, for every battle ought to be named after the fortress nearest to the