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Tales from The Ratcliffe Highway*

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  • Spring Onions

    I think we can claim Bill Onions for the Highway. He was born in Severne Street, STGITE (just north of Cable Street) but he killed an 'old pal' outside the Old Rose (see posts 105 - 9 below) in St George Street and according to press reports he died in 'Ratcliffe'.

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    https://www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com...east-end-poet/

    https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/brow...-478#highlight

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    • I wonder if Bill was the origin of the term 'rapscallion'?

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      • Quite a character! I suppose he went into a paupers' grave, so we'll never know what he wrote for his tombstone.

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        • Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
          Quite a character! I suppose he went into a paupers' grave, so we'll never know what he wrote for his tombstone.
          When he popped his clogs he was in possession of 10 in gold and banknotes. So not destitute, but probably not enough to give him a decent burial.

          On the 1901 census he was described as a 'poetaster'.

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          • He's put 'police court' as an occupation in 1911.

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            • Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
              He's put 'police court' as an occupation in 1911.
              Yes, and I see there he gives STGITE as his place of birth.

              He doesn't resolve the Onion/Onions debate, though. He fills out the form as 'Onion' but seems to sign it as 'Onions'.

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              • When you think about it, quite natural for an Onion to react aggressively to a Peeler.

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                • Looks as though he was born in Severne Street STGITE, one street north of Pinchin Street, in 1835.

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                  • Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
                    When you think about it, quite natural for an Onion to react aggressively to a Peeler.
                    On one occasion a barman was just about to refuse him another drink when a copper appeared in the bar and asked if there was a William Onions present.

                    The barman looked from one to the other and said 'That's shallot'.

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                    • The William Onion story always brought a tear to my eye.

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                      • He once wrote a poem called Allergy On The Death Of A Hay Fever Sufferer.

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                        • Originally posted by Jerry Dunlop View Post
                          The William Onion story always brought a tear to my eye.


                          I wonder if he really had 500 convictions?

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                          • He went to the infirmary with horrible eruptions on his face, only to be told he was suffering from chives.

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                            • Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
                              He went to the infirmary with horrible eruptions on his face, only to be told he was suffering from chives.
                              Thought he had a urinary problem but it was only a leek.

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                              • Red Lion Timeline

                                A fairly random selection to demonstrate how the address alternated between Pennington Street and Breezer's Hill over the years.


                                RED LION, Pennington Street/Breezer's Hill, timeline:


                                15/7/1797: From the London Gazette. 'Thursday evening, about eight o'clock, Mr. Dawes, master of the Red Lion public-house in Pennington-street, St. Georges in the East, fell down in his tap-room in a fit and expired almost immediately.'

                                1799: Horwood’s Map. 79, Pennington Street is on what would become the SE corner of Breezer's Hill, but no other buildings are shown on the Eastern side of Breezer's Hill between 79, PS and 1, Ratcliff Highway.

                                21/7/1827: From the Morning Advertiser. 'THE LEASE, with immediate possession, of a snug, Free Public House, known by the Sign of the Red Lion, situate in Pennington-street, Ratcliff-highway...' .

                                10/8/1840: The will of John Cracklow refers to 'the freehold at Breezers Hill, STGITE, Middlesex, called the "Red Lion", and house adjoining...'

                                1851 Census: Shows 'Red Lion, Breezers Hill'. There is no 79, Pennington Street or 1, Breezer's Hill shown.

                                15/10/1855: Advertisement in The Morning Advertiser. For sale, by auction, 'the RED LION public-house, Pennington-street, St. Georges East, corner of Breezer's-hill'.

                                19/11/1855: Transfer of the license for the Red Lion, Pennington Street from Edward Rayner to Mary Matilda Blinkhorn.

                                1871 Census: Shows 1, Breezer's Hill as the 'Red Lion', but no 79, Pennington Street.

                                ?/1/1873 - Transfer of the license for the Red Lion, Pennington Street from Mary Matilda Blinkhorn to John Salter.

                                1873: OS Map. 1, BH and 79, PS are shown as a single premises labelled 'PH'.

                                18/7/1874 - Advertisement for the Old Red Lion, Pennington Street, an unoccupied building offered as a site for building and the freehold of the adjoining dwelling house on Breezes (sic) Hill.

                                1881 Census: Lists 1, Breezer's Hill and 79, Pennington Street next to each other but as separate premises.

                                Goad Map - Shows 1, Breezers Hill as a dwelling and 79, Pennington Street as a public house. 1, BH is of two storeys with a tiled roof, 79, PS is of three and a half storeys, has a mansard roof of both tiles and slates.

                                1891 Census: 1, Breezer's Hill and 79, Pennington Street are shown as separate dwellings, several pages apart.

                                19/10/1891: Old Bailey trial of Joseph Brescher for an axe attack on Lottie Jones at 79, Pennington Street. Witness Rose McCarthy States that she lives at 1, Breezer's Hill 'that is next to 79, Pennington Street'. However, a press report of the incident quotes her as saying that her home 'almost adjoined' 79, Pennington Street.

                                1894: OS Map. Both 1, BH and 79, PS have been demolished and replaced by a wool warehouse

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