The Foxearth and District Local History Society
1851 Norfolk Chronicle newspaper Selections

January 2nd 1851

Died at Shipdham, Mary, widow of Mr. Henry Tash, farmer, in the hundredth year of her age.

January 3rd 1851

At the Norfolk Court of Quarter Sessions a report was presented upon the expenditure of the county, into which a committee had inquired in consequence of representations made at public meetings in various districts, to the effect that the ratepayers were unable to control the finances. The Court passed a resolution affirming that the evidence given before the committee had tended to prove that the financial affairs of the county had been conducted by the Court of Quarter Sessions with proper attention to economy, with just regard to the public interests, and with the publicity required by law.

January 18th 1851

“A few days since the steeple of Drayton church fell to the ground with a tremendous crash, the lead which covered the falling mass being completely buried in the _débris_.”

January 20th 1851

A prolonged magisterial inquiry took place at Reepham, into disturbances at Lenwade arising out of the Wesleyan schism. Two parish constables, Samuel Fairman and John Elliott, were fined for refusing to perform their duty when requested by the Rev. C. Povah. At Aylsham Petty Sessions, on February 4th, four persons were charged with disturbing the Wesleyan congregation at Cawston on January 19th, and three were committed for trial at the Quarter Sessions. One of the defendants, Elizabeth Southgate, was ordered by the Court, on March 13th, to pay a penalty of £40; the other two were discharged on their own recognisances to appear at the next Quarter Sessions. A singular case arising from the same disruption came before the Vice-Chancellor, Lord Cranworth, on May 7th. The relators and plaintiffs were the Rev. William Worker and the Rev. George Badcock, and the defendants the trustees of two deeds dated 1814 and 1837, declaring the trusts of the Methodist chapel at Holt subject to the trusts of a deed executed in 1784 by John Wesley, by which the Wesleyan body was organized. The funds for building the chapel were advanced in 1814 by Mr. Hardy, who, in 1821, received from the trustees a mortgage of the chapel to secure his advances, which amounted to about £700. In 1833 the debt was reduced to £350. The congregation having increased, it was determined, in 1837, to build a new chapel, and a site was purchased and conveyed to the trustees upon the trusts of a deed of another chapel, prepared in 1832, and known to the Methodist body as the “model deed,” to which all subsequent deeds were conformable. By the trusts then declared, such persons only were to be permitted to preach as should be duly approved by a Methodist body called the Conference. Mr. Hardy assisted in advancing money to build the new chapel, and received as security a mortgage on the chapel. When the schism occurred it was alleged that the majority of the trustees of the chapels mortgaged were among the schismatics, who now called themselves Wesleyan Reformers, and that they had all formed a scheme of wresting the chapels from the preachers appointed by the Conference. The defendant united with the character of mortgagee those of acting trustee and treasurer of the two chapels, and it was alleged that he was using his powers as mortgagee, and had publicly recommended others to do the same—most of the Wesleyan chapels being mortgaged—for the purpose of carrying the general scheme into effect, and thus to deprive the Conference of the old body of Methodists of the use of their chapels. Mr. Hardy accordingly advertised the chapels for sale, and actually sold the old chapel, which was then in possession of the Reformers for their preachers. Similar proceedings by ejectment were resorted to by a person named Hill, to whom Mr. Hardy had transferred his second mortgage, for the recovery of the new chapel, and led to the filing of this information, which disputed the propriety of the transactions. His lordship was of opinion that Mr. Hardy, as mortgagee, had a right to assert a title adverse to the trust, and to transfer his mortgage to Hill. It might be proper to appoint new trustees in the place of those who had ceased to have any sympathy with the religious body from which they had seceded, but there was no ground for immediate interference. The motion was therefore refused, and there was no order as to costs.

January 20th 1851

A great Protestant meeting was held at the Assembly Rooms, Norwich, under the presidency of Mr. Samuel Bignold, at which were adopted addresses to the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury, protesting against the aggression of the Pope, and condemning the Tractarian movement in the Church of England.

February 1st 1851

Douglas’s Theatrical Company, which performed in several of the towns previously visited by the Norfolk and Suffolk Company of Comedians for so many years under the management of the Fishers, concluded a successful season at East Dereham. “Those who have witnessed the performances have been agreeably surprised at finding so great an amount of talent in an itinerant company.”

February 3rd 1851

Died at Lynn, Mr. James Smith, many years manager of the Theatre Royal, Norwich. He was in his 74th year.

February 11th 1851

A performance of “Speed the Plough” was given at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, for the benefit of Mr. George Bennett, the “Father of the Norwich Stage,” and “a member of the company in the palmy days of the drama in the city.” Mr. Bennett appeared in the character of Farmer Ashfield. “The Mayor gave his patronage, and in every part of the dress circle were to be recognised parties of high respectability, including the old familiar faces of those who, thirty or forty years ago, were wont to uphold and maintain the then palmy but now very depressed cause of legitimate drama.” The night’s receipts amounted to upwards of £90.

February 11th 1851

The Norwich Town Council resolved to petition the House of Commons for the total repeal of the Window-tax.

February 18th 1851

Mr. Peter Master Yarington was presented with a silver salver and a purse of 283 sovs., in recognition of his efficient discharge of duty as Superintendent of the Norwich Police. He was appointed Governor of the City Gaol on July 31st, and was succeeded as head of the police force by Mr. Dunne, formerly of the Kent constabulary. Mr. Yarington died, in his 41st year, on July 21st, 1852, and on October 19th of that year Mr. Robert Campling was appointed Governor of the gaol.

February 19th 1851

Mr. Albert Smith gave his “new literary, pictorial, and musical entertainment,” entitled, “The Overland Mail,” at the Assembly Rooms, Norwich.

February 22nd 1851

A serious riot occurred at Yarmouth. Samuel Graystone, mate of the Ant, from Yarmouth to Plymouth, had signed articles to go the voyage, but was forcibly prevented by seamen from boarding his ship. Masters of other vessels complained to the magistrates that they had been subjected to similar treatment. The staff of the East Norfolk Militia and the Coastguard were called out to keep the riotous seamen in check, and two troops of the 11th Hussars were conveyed by special trains from Norwich to assist in quelling the disturbance. The cavalry rode through the town, and quickly cleared the streets. “The rioters, frightened by the mere appearance of the troops, flew in every direction up the narrow rows of the town, and in a few hours tranquillity was restored.” It was stated that, but for the timely arrival of the troops, a body of Gorleston seamen would have made an attack upon the town. Several of the rioters were tried at the Quarter Sessions on March 6th, when, to the surprise of the Court, a verdict of not guilty was returned.

February 26th 1851

Died at his family seat, Kirby Hall, the Hon. and Rev. Lord Berners. “He succeeded to the title and estates on the death of his brother Robert, Lord Berners, better known in the sporting world as Col. Wilson. He only attended at the House of Lords on a few occasions, one of which was to vote for the Reform Bill; but though absent in person, his proxy was always given to the support of the Whigs, of which, through life, he was a firm and constant supporter.”

February 26th 1851

An exhibition of hawking was given on Hellesdon Brakes, near Norwich, by Mr. Barr, the celebrated Scottish falconer. Many hundreds of persons were present. Mr. Barr used four young hawks of the peregrine species. They were flown at pigeons which were let loose, and in two hours two dozen were brought to the ground. “The first two or three were so frightened, that when pursued by the hawk they took refuge among the people, and one of them alighted on the back of a horse, and was taken by hand.” Mr. Barr gave a second exhibition on March 10th, on Mr. George Gowing’s land at Trowse.

March 9th 1851

A fire occurred at the office of the “Norwich Mercury,” Castle Street, Norwich. The roof of the building fell in, and the compositors’ room, with most of the cases of type, was destroyed.

March 13th 1851

Dr. White, the eminent translator of “D’Aubigné’s History,” delivered, in the old Council Chamber at the Guildhall, Norwich, a lecture on “The Causes and Consequences of the Reformation.”

March 27th 1851

At the Norfolk Assizes, before Lord Chief Justice Jervis, the libel action, Abbott _v._ Bacon and Another, was tried. The defendants published a statement in the “Norwich Mercury,” to the effect that the plaintiff, a superintendent of the County Constabulary at East Dereham, had stolen certain articles from the shop of Mr. Abram, a chemist and druggist in that town. The jury assessed the damages at one farthing. On April 16th a motion was made in the Court of Exchequer for a new trial, on the ground of misdirection of the jury, and a rule _nisi_ was granted. At a meeting held at the Norfolk Hotel, on April 5th, it was resolved, “That the recent trial offered a most painful illustration of the gross injustice which may be inflicted upon the editor of a newspaper who honestly and fearlessly comments on matters of general interest,” and a public subscription was opened to recoup the proprietors of the “Mercury” the loss they had sustained by their successful vindication of the liberty of the Press. In the Court of Exchequer, on June 27th, both sides agreed to a verdict being entered for one farthing damages.

March 28th 1851

George Baldry (33) was found guilty, at the Norfolk Assizes, before Mr. Justice Erle, of murdering Caroline Warnes, at Thurlton, by striking her on the head with a hammer. The sentence of death was commuted to transportation for life.

March 29th 1851

At the Norwich Assizes, before Mr. Justice Erle, John Whitley Cooper and Edmund Slingsby Drury Long, solicitors, and Frederick Goose, dealer, were indicted for unlawfully conspiring to obtain, by false pretences, from Sarah Roberts Tooke, widow, divers goods, furniture, and effects, with intent to defraud. Cooper was at the time undergoing sentence of twelve months’ imprisonment, passed upon him at Norwich Quarter Sessions on December 31st, 1850, for fraud. He was now sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in the Common Gaol; Long was acquitted, and Goose, who had absconded, forfeited his recognisances. The victim of this conspiracy, said the Judge, had been reduced from a position of respectability to one of absolute ruin.

April 12th 1851

Mr. Fred Phillips, while performing the part of Rob Roy at Norwich Theatre, fell from a “fictitious precipice” and sustained a compound fracture of the bones of the leg “implicating the ankle joint.” He was removed to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, and “upon a consultation among the surgeons it was deemed necessary to amputate the lower extremity of the bone, an operation which was borne with heroic fortitude by the poor sufferer.” A performance was given at the Theatre on May 6th for the benefit of Mr. Phillips, when Mr. George Bennett made his last appearance on the stage, in the part of Farmer Ashfield, and Mrs. Phillips sustained the character of Miss Blandford in “The Ladies’ Club.” Mr. Phillips received a second benefit on April 20th, 1852, and on July 9th, 1853, announced that he had taken the Boar’s Head Inn, Surrey Street.

April 23rd 1851

The headquarters of the 11th Hussars, commanded by the Earl of Cardigan, marched from Norwich Barracks for Nottingham, and were succeeded on the 25th by the 2nd Dragoon Guard’s (Queen’s Bays).

April 23rd 1851

Samuel Woodhouse, of Plumstead, and William Pyle, of Holt, were buried alive in a well 115 feet deep, at Docking, by the falling in of 36 feet of soil. “Some of the inhabitants proposed to fill up the well and let them remain in it, stating that the same thing had been done at Tittleshall, where an inquest was held at the mouth of the well and the body or bodies remain there to this day.” Efforts were made, however, to recover the bodies. That of Pyle was found on May 14th, and of Woodhouse on the 15th. “Though the bodies had been buried exactly three weeks, on their being brought to the surface and moved about blood flowed freely from both of them.”

April 30th 1851

Died, aged 78, Mr. Richard Slann, of Southtown, Great Yarmouth, historical engraver to her Majesty the Queen.

May 3rd 1851

The Census returns for the city of Norwich were published. The number of inhabited houses was 14,990, of uninhabited 339, and in course of building 101. The population was 68,706, of whom 31,213 were males, and 37,493 females.

May 4th 1851

A pauper named John Rowland, who had had a remarkable career, died at Lynn Workhouse. He was educated at Eton, and was afterwards a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. Ordained deacon and priest by Bishop Horsley, he officiated at St. James’s, Westminster, and went out to St. Petersburg as chaplain to the Embassy. Subsequently he either threw off his gown or had it taken from him, and became a blacksmith and coach-spring maker in Norfolk Street, Lynn. He was apprehended, tried, and transported for stealing iron, the property of Mr. Bottomley, of South Gates, in that town. At the expiration of his term of transportation he returned to Lynn, made a settlement in the town, and was for several years an inmate of the Workhouse. He died at the advanced age of 78 years.

May 12th 1851

Died, at the age of 63, at his residence, the Close, Norwich, Mr. William Ollett, “who obtained justly-deserved eminence as a carver of wood for ecclesiastical purposes, and whose skill was called into requisition in most of the cathedrals of this kingdom.”

June 5th 1851

The “members of Reffley” celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the building of their temple, “the society having existed before the memory of the oldest inhabitant” (of Lynn).

June 21st 1851

The hand of a female was found in Miss Martineau’s plantation, Martineau’s Lane, Norwich, by a lad named Charles Johnson. Other portions of human remains were discovered between this date and the end of the month, in various suburbs of the city, namely, at Lakenham, Hellesdon, Mile Cross, &c. The remains were deposited at the Guildhall, where they were examined by Mr. Nichols, Mr. D. Dalrymple, and Mr. Norgate, surgeons, who pronounced them to be those of an adult female. (_See_ January, 1869.)

July 12th 1851

The Yarmouth magistrates issued a warrant “to apprehend the bodies of George Danby Palmer and James Cherry, charged on the oath of William Norton Burroughes with being about to commit a breach of the peace by fighting a duel.” The incident arose out of an extraordinary scene at a public meeting, where “Mr. Palmer gave the lie to Mr. Cherry.”

July 14th 1851

Died at Rackheath Hall, in his 83rd year, Sir Edward Hardinge John Stracey, second baronet. He was born in India, came to this country as a boy, and was educated at Norwich Grammar School and Christ Church, Oxford. He was subsequently called to the Bar, was for a time Clerk of the House of Commons, and succeeded his uncle, Mr. Hardinge Stracey, as counsel to the Chairmen of Committees of the House of Lords on Mr. Pitt’s appointment to office. For several years he was Chairman of Quarter Sessions for Cheshire, and a magistrate for that county as well as for Norfolk and Suffolk.

July 26th 1851

At the Norfolk Assizes, before Lord Chief Baron Pollock and a special jury, was tried the action, Baldry _v._ Ellis. This was an issue directed to be tried by the late Master of the Rolls, and involved the disposal of a sum of about £25,000. The jury had to decide whether one Bailey Bird, deceased, who contracted marriage in the year 1818, was competent to make that contract. A large number of witnesses deposed that Bird was of perfectly sound mind at the time of his marriage; an equally large number, including several medical men, asserted that he was an idiot. The jury were of opinion that Bird was not of sound mind at the time of the celebration of his marriage, and returned a verdict for the defendant.

July 28th 1851

Henry Groom (42) was indicted at the Norfolk Assizes, before Mr. Justice Cresswell, for the murder of John Ayton, by shooting him with a pistol, at Burnham Thorpe, on July 4th. He was executed on the Castle Hill, Norwich, on August 16th.

August 8th 1851

The steeple of St. Cuthbert’s, Thetford, fell upon the roof of the church, carrying away one of the arches and destroying the organ.

August 9th 1851

“A letter from Philadelphia, of the 16th ult., announces the death of Mr. Davenport, formerly lessee of the theatres on the Norwich circuit. He had been making a successful tour in the United States with his talented daughter. He died a few days before, at Cincinnati.”

August 16th 1851

On this date was published an extract from the “New York Express,” giving particulars of a confession of murder by a private named Thomson, belonging to the 1st Royals, then stationed at Halifax, North America. He stated that when at Norwich eight years previously he was on terms of intimacy with a woman. A quarrel had occurred between them, and he had thrown her into a canal. The crime had so preyed upon his mind that he determined to give himself up to justice and allow the law to take its course. On September 13th it was announced that Thomson had been brought to England and committed to Winchester Gaol, pending inquiries by the police of that city. Two police-officers came to Norwich, investigated the affair, and elicited the following remarkable facts: Thomson was stationed in Norwich with the Carabineers in 1846, and afterwards exchanged to the 1st Royals, then in Canada. A girl named Anna Barber was in the habit of frequenting the barracks, and became acquainted with Thomson, whom she appeared to have displeased. In the month of August, 1846, a tailor named James Taylor was fishing for eels in the river near Blackfriars Bridge when he heard a scuffle, a shriek, a splash, and the sound of retreating footsteps. He immediately rowed to the place and assisted out of the water a young woman, who refused to give him her name. She went away, and no report was made to the police. In 1850 Anna Barber was again seen in Norwich. It was evident, therefore, that the remorse which impelled Thomson to make his confession was groundless.

August 28th 1851

The Norwich Corporation adopted the Public Health Act of 1848, and appointed twenty members as a Local Board of Health.

August 29th 1851

The church of St. Matthew, Thorpe Hamlet, was consecrated by the Bishop of Norwich.

September 10th 1851

Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, then on a visit to England, attended a dinner given at the Norfolk Hotel, Norwich, by members of the Valpeian Club, established in 1847.

September 25th 1851

A severe gale occurred off the Norfolk coast, and did much damage to shipping at Yarmouth.

September 30th 1851

The opening of the Norwich Waterworks was publicly celebrated. The band of the Coldstream Guards played selections in the Market Place, 220 guests dined at the Assembly Rooms, under the presidency of Mr. Samuel Bignold, chairman of the Waterworks Company, and twenty thousand persons witnessed a display of fireworks in the Market Place. The works were commenced by Messrs. Lucas Bros., the contractors, in February. There were 20,000 yards of excavations, and 2,500,000 bricks, 15,000 yards of clay, 5,000 yards of filtering sand, 7,000 yards of filtering stone, 3,000 yards of concrete, and 40 tons of lead were used. The rising main was 4,000 yards in length, and 15 inches in diameter.

October 4th 1851

Died at Hampton Court, in his 80th year, George William Stafford Jerningham, Baron Stafford. He inherited a baronetcy as Sir George Jerningham on his father’s death in 1809, and established his title to the barony, under letters patent of Charles I., through his great grandmother, after a reversal of the attainder of Sir William Howard, Viscount Stafford, in 1824. He assumed the additional name of Stafford in 1826. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry Valentine.

October 7th 1851

Mr. George Cruikshank presided at the annual temperance festival held at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, and delivered an address.

October 16th 1851

Bexfield’s oratorio, “Israel Restored,” was “brought out” at the Choral Concert, held at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich. The principal vocalists were Miss Birch, Miss Williams, Mr. Benson, and Mr. H. Phillips. Dr. Bexfield conducted his work, which “created the greatest interest throughout the musical world, and hundreds of applications for reserved places were received from all parts of the kingdom.”

October 26th 1851

Died at Philadelphia, the United States of America, aged 62, Mr. Richard Cowling Taylor, F.G.S. He was the author of many valuable works during his residence in Norwich The most important was his “Index Monasticus,” published in 1821. Mr. Taylor was a member of several scientific societies in America.

October 30th 1851

Mrs. Fanny Kemble gave a reading of “King John,” at the Assembly Room, Norwich, and on the 31st read “Much Ado about Nothing.”

November 4th 1851

A lecture on the “Bloomer costume” was delivered at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, by a Mrs. Knights. “The large audience was composed for the most part of the male sex, shop assistants, and milliners’ apprentices. The amount of money taken must have been considerable, and we regret that there should have been so many persons found in this city ready to be taken in with such nonsense. Mrs. Knights was attired in Bloomer costume, an essentially ugly and unfeminine dress. She was greeted with derisive laughter, applause, and hisses, and she left the orchestra amid a storm of groans and disapprobation.”

November 5th 1851

A sculling match from Surlingham to the New Cut at Thorpe took place between Lett, of London, and R. Buttle, of Norwich, for £25 a side. Lett’s boat was overturned soon after the start, and Buttle rowed over the course. A second match, for £10 a side, was rowed on the 10th, between Bramerton Wood’s End and the New Cut, and was won easily by the Norwich man.

November 8th 1851

“Before the Lords Justices of Appeal was heard the case of the Attorney-General _v._ the Corporation of Norwich. It arose on the question whether the Corporation have authority to apply the borough fund in soliciting a Bill in Parliament to enable them to improve the navigation of the River Wensum. The information was filed at the relation of two of the ratepayers, and it prayed that the Corporation might be restrained from promoting and prosecuting a Bill in Parliament for this purpose and at their expense. The appeal was dismissed, with costs.”

November 10th 1851

Mr. Charles Winter was elected Mayor, and Mr. Robert Wiffin Blake appointed Sheriff of Norwich.

November 10th 1851

Mr. S. C. Marsh and Capt. Pearson (the retiring Mayor) were nominated for the Mayoralty of Yarmouth. The voting being equal, Capt. Pearson gave the casting-vote in his own favour, and declared himself duly elected.

November 18th 1851

Winter set in with great severity; snow fell to the depth of two or three feet, and a severe frost commenced.

December 6th 1851

The Eastern Counties Association for obtaining Agricultural Relief held its first public meeting at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich. Its principal objects were to obtain the repeal of the Malt-tax, a re-adjustment of the tithe system, security for tenants in making improvements, a reform in the management of county expenditure, and the abolition of the Game Laws.

December 11th 1851

A coarse urn was turned up by a plough at Easton. The vessel contained about 4,000 small brass coins of the Lower Empire. The earliest amongst them were of the period of Gallienus, and there were about 2,500 of the Constantines; nearly 600 had the wolf and twins, and about 800 bore the victory with spear and shield. Mr. Goddard Johnson made a descriptive list of the coins.

December 26th 1851

Died, in his 38th year, at Malvern, Worcestershire, Mr. J. B. Wigham, son of Mr. Robert Wigham, of Norwich. “He was a Fellow of the Royal Geological Society, and was well known as having personally collected one of the best cabinets of tertiary fossils in the kingdom.”

December 26th 1851

Macarte’s Circus Company performed in a temporary building erected on the Castle Meadow, Norwich.