Cremorne Gardens, c. 1864
The path of true love doesn’t always run smoothly as we know but most people deal with rejection better than Louis Laroche. Louis, a 23 year-old goldsmith was living in digs in fashionable Chelsea in 1876 and was courting a young lady named Miss Sinclair.
She lived in Camera Square and often entertained Laroche at her home. The couple seem to have had a tempestuous relationship with one neighbor testifying to hearing them quarrel loudly on many occasions.
On Wednesday 21 June 1876 this neighbour, Mr Sigismond Turner, overhead a loud exchange between the pair late in the evening. The dispute seemed to revolve around Miss Sinclair’s alleged infidelity (as Laroche understood it at least). He accused her of going to Cremorne Gardens ‘with another man’. She ‘had deceived him’ he declared, and he was now intent on ‘doing away with himself’. HIs lover was refusing to marry him and poor Louis was at his wits end.
Cremorne Gradens was a popular entertainment spot in Victorian London. While it boasted music and dancing, places to eat and drink, it also had a reputation for prostitution and immorality. For some it was the place to be seen, for others it was a place to avoid. The fact that Miss Sinclair might have gone there without her beau to see another man probably spoke volumes as to her character in the eyes of the newspaper reading public in late Victorian London.
As he listened Sigismond was startled to hear talk of a pistol and a struggle over it. He thought he heard Miss Turner say that she would rather ‘he kill her than kill himself’ and then heard he demand he hand over the gun. Laroche refused, left the room and shortly afterwards a gunshot was heard.
This brought other neighbours out of their rooms and houses and Laroche, who was unhurt, was quickly apprehended and handed over to the nearest policeman. He was in possession of a six shot revolver, with only one live bullet in position. He was brought before Mr Arnold at Westminster Police court on a charge of attempted suicide.
However, he hadn’t been injured nor was there clear evidence that he’d intended to kill himself, or hurt anyone else for that matter. So as far as the magistrate was concerned the only offence he had clearly committed was to discharge a firearm in public. Louis Laroche was bailed to appear at a later date, when Miss Sinclair would also be called to give her evidence in person. Bail was set at £50 and the unhappy lover released.
[from The Morning Post, Friday, June 23, 1876]