‘Accidents, offences, etc’: reports from the Police courts

Today’s entry is not strictly a report from one police office but rather a short section entitled ‘Accidents, Offences etc.’ from the The Morning Post on May 26, 1806.

It reported that a person of ‘rank at the west end of town’ had been committed to prison by a police magistrate ‘on a charge of an offensive nature’. He (or possible she) are not named nor is the offence described but it was quite likely to have been of a sexual nature. Rape was never referred by its title and this continued throughout the century. So if a press report makes reference to a woman being ‘outraged’ (on the railway for example), then the contemporary reader would have understood this to mean a sexual assault of some description had taken place. The Victorians were not as prudish as they have been made out but they deployed euphemism much more frequently than we do.

In the same column we are told that two ‘young ladies’ drowned themselves that week; one on account of ‘lunacy’, the other of a cause unknown. A vicar at St. Paul’s grammar school also took his own life, hanging himself; it was explained by his exhibiting a ‘deranged mind’ for some weeks previously.


In Drury Lane a journeyman painter fell from a two-story window and was ‘killed on the spot’. He left behind a wife and ‘family’. More happily a raft with seven American seamen on-board, were rescued and brought into Dover. Their ship, the sloop Lilly, had sunk with all hands.

[from The Morning Post , Monday, May 26, 1806]

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