I usually trawl through the classified advertisements of The Times at random but when I saw the date on two copies laid out at Lacock Abbey I had to investigate what had been published on the days.
November 14th 1849
As usual, up until 3rd May 1966, the front page was packed with small advertisements.
Sailings to Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Adelaide for both passengers and cargo were plentiful. There was just one listings the costs to New Zealand.
For each passenger: Chief Fore Steerage
7 years old and under 14 27 15 10
1 year old and under 7 18 10 8
Under 1 year old 0 0 0
A guinea was worth £1/1/- so 45 gns = £45 + 45 shillings = £47/5/-.
Today the prices £2750 £1500 £1200
But less exotic destinations seemed to be in demand, Madeira, Calais and nearer home Margate and Ramsgate.
Then several “Lost” items. Most of them give the address of a local shop for their return.
A bunch of keys (5/- reward), one large and several small.
A gold chain (£2 reward), in or near Chancery Lane.
A pearl brooch (10/- reward), with hair and the name of Emily on the back.
A mourning ring (£1 reward), with the name of Tooke in enamel.
A candlestick maker’s envelope containing papers (no reward but expenses paid), addressed to Mr Gough.
A small gold Geneva watch (£2 reward), near London Bridge.
Smooch – an Isle of Skye terrier (£2 reward), black eyes, cinnamon colour.
Double ivory opera glasses (2 gns reward), made by Dixey.
A yellow canvas bag containing £23.6s.7d in silver (£10 reward), from Mr Knight’s wagon, marked “Mansell”.
An oval shaped straw basket with lid, (3 gns reward) containing red Morocco leather case, key box, blue envelope case, all containing letters and papers. Left in a first class carriage at Maidstone. Please return to Bloxley House, Maidstone; it is used as a wedding venue today.
Only one item found, to be collected from The Engineer’s Arms Camden, a liver-coloured setter dog which would be sold if not claimed within the week.
The rest of the page consisted of adverts for exhibitions, books, loans & mortgages along with legal notices.
Charles Dickens had a letter published that day. He had witnessed the execution of Marie Manning, a servant, and her husband Frederick, a publican, after they had been found guilty of murdering her lover, Patrick O’Connor, a money lender. They buried his body under the flag stones in their kitchen after dismembering his body. She then went to his lodgings to steal his money and processions.
Here is an extract from the letter…..
I believe a sight so inconceivably awful as the wickedness and levity of the immense crowd collected at that execution this morning could be imagined by no man, and could be presented in no heathen land under the sun, the horrors of the gibbet and the crime which brought the wretched murders to it, faded in my mind before the atrocious bearings, looks and language of the assembled spectators. When I came upon the scene at midnight the shrillness of the cries and the howls that were raised from time to time, denoting that they came from a concourse of boys and girls already assembled in the best places, made my blood run cold.
As the night went on, screeching and laughing, and yelling in strong chorus of parodies of Negro melodies, with substitutions of “Mrs Manning” for “Susannah”, and the like, were added to these. When the day dawned thieves, low prostitutes, ruffians and vagabonds of every kind flocked on to the ground. With every variety of offensive and foul behaviour. Fighting, fainting, whistling. imitations of Punch, brutal jokes, tumultuous demonstrations of indecent delight when swooning women were dragged out of the crowd by the police with their dressed disordered, gave a new zest to the general entertainment.
When the sun rose brightly – as it did – it gilded thousands upon thousands of upturned faces, so inexpressibly odious in their brutal mirth or callousness, that a man had cause to feel ashamed of the shape he wore and to shrink from himself, as fashioned in the image of the Devil.
When the two miserable creatures who attracted all this ghastly sight about them were turned quivering into the air, there was no more emotion, no more pity, no more thought that two immortal souls had gone to judgement……
Also in the paper was a detailed article about the murder and the execution.