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  • A neighbourly dispute (Manchester style).

    From The Manchester Weekly Times, June 5th, 1875:

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    • The Belle Isle Ghost

      From October, 1836, this is a Maiden Lane example of the ghost craze that eventually morphed into Spring-heeled Jack.

      (Frenchman's/The French colony was just to the north-east of Belle Isle - I think.)


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      • Copenhagen Fields/Belle Isle, 1830.

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        • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
          From The Manchester Weekly Times, June 5th, 1875:

          [ATTACH]17086[/ATTACH]
          Amelia Dobson? - apart from the fact that that she beat Sarah Tomkins senseless, I haven't been able to find anything out about this woman. Any offers?

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          • From Lancashire to London (avoiding the tax man):

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C_hPeGniLcs


            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1Jh0wleKQQ

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            • The Croots in Islington

              The Croot family had its origins in Potton, Bedfordshire, where Jesse Croot was born in 1835. At the time of the 1841 census Jesse's father, Richard, and other members of the extended family were agricultural labourers there.

              By 1851, Richard had moved his family to London. The census of that year shows them living at the southern end of Maiden Lane, Islington, close to the potato market (see image below). No surprise then that Richard and his eldest son, Robert, were shown as 'potato dealers'. For some reason the census does not record 16-year-old Jesse as living with the family at the time.

              However, in 1859, when he married Ann Broomhall, Jesse was living at 22a, Clayton Street, which was near the northern end of Maiden Lane, close to the fragrant Belle Isle. On his marriage certificate Jesse gave his occupation, and that of his father, as 'gardener'.

              Shortly after he married, Jesse moved to Wolverhampton, where he operated as a greengrocer-cum-horse dealer. He and Ann produced several children in Wolverhampton, but by 1881, while Ann was still alive, Jesse had hooked up with Kate Eddowes' cousin, Sarah, and she was passing herself off as Mrs Croot. Details of Jesse's antics in Wolverhampton, as well as those of his Eddows 'in-laws', can be found here:

              http://www.jtrforums.com/showthread....ighlight=Croot


              Jesse's brother, Robert, remained in Islington and also lived at the Clayton Street address. Various records give his occupation as manure dealer/collector.

              At the same time, a few streets away, in Pleasant Grove, lived the Tomkins/Carvel lot. At one stage William Tomkins (Henry's father) worked in a manure factory. He had been born at the southern end of Maiden Lane where his father was a (market) gardener. At the rear of Pleasant Grove lived Joseph Carvel, a manure-maker employing six men.

              What are the odds that the Croots and the Carvel/Tomkins's knew each other?

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              • Thank you Gary for all your posts!

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                • Originally posted by Karsten Giese View Post
                  Thank you Gary for all your posts!
                  You're welcome, Karsten.

                  This stuff may have no bearing on the case whatsoever, but I still find it interesting. It feels like I know some of these characters personally.

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                  • Yes, Gary! All this is very interesting.

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                    • God Bless Us, One and All

                      Something a bit Dickensian for the festive season: another extract from All The Year Round, full of knacker-jargon that probably never made it into the dictionary.

                      By four o'clock the slaughterhouse is washed down and clean. The horse-meat is placed in great heaps upon the stones as fast as boiled; and is very like the huge chunks of workhouse beef I have seen turned out of parochial coppers. Soon after half-past five a cart is backed into the shed and is piled up with boiled horse meat. This done, it is driven off in the darkness to the branch establishment of the firm at Farringdon-street station. At six, Mr. Potler, as spruce as ever, but with a butcher's steel suspended from his waist, drives a lighter vehicle in, and, standing up in it, performs a remarkable feat of artificial memory. He is going round to between thirty and forty customers, all dealers in cat's meat, who have given him their orders on a preceding day. He has neither book nor note, but calls out their names and quantities with a precision that never seems to fail "Three quarter Twoshoes and six penn'orth!" "Arf a 'undred Biles and two penn'orth!" " 'Alf fourteen Limey and two 'Undred" and a "Arf, 'undred and three-quarters, Till and nine penn'orth!" went on in rapid succession until we made bold to ask Mr. Potler where his memorandum was, and how he knew the quantities required. "All in my 'ed, sir" (tapping it with a sly laugh). " 'Aven't got no books nor pencils, I 'aven't, and don't want to," was his reply, which is corroborated by the stout proprietor, who stands at the scales, watches the weighing and enters all Mr. Potler's items methodically on a sort of trade-sheet he carries in his hand. The first number, such as the " 'undred and a 'arf," referrred, it was interesting to learn, to the cats' meat of ordinary horse-flesh; the "penn'orth's" are "tripe" and divide the quantities of each customer in the cart. "Tripe" is for the dog or cat of jaded appetite, who cannot relish plain food. Mr. Potler has no check on his memory. He drives round in a certain direction, calling at the same houses in regular rotation, and delivers the "meat" as ordered, without scales or weighing-machine, and purely by eye and head. He is said rarely to make a mistake, and on his return at eleven o'clock will bring back from ten to twelve pounds and an empty cart. Cash on delivery is his motto, and the amount he hands in always tallies with the entries in the trade-sheet of his employer.

                      Edit: It's just occurred to me that 'Biles', 'Twoshoes' etc are probably the names of customers.

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                      • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                        Something a bit Dickensian for the festive season: another extract from All The Year Round, full of knacker-jargon that probably never made it into the dictionary.

                        By four o'clock the slaughterhouse is washed down and clean. The horse-meat is placed in great heaps upon the stones as fast as boiled; and is very like the huge chunks of workhouse beef I have seen turned out of parochial coppers. Soon after half-past five a cart is backed into the shed and is piled up with boiled horse meat. This done, it is driven off in the darkness to the branch establishment of the firm at Farringdon-street station. At six, Mr. Potler, as spruce as ever, but with a butcher's steel suspended from his waist, drives a lighter vehicle in, and, standing up in it, performs a remarkable feat of artificial memory. He is going round to between thirty and forty customers, all dealers in cat's meat, who have given him their orders on a preceding day. He has neither book nor note, but calls out their names and quantities with a precision that never seems to fail "Three quarter Twoshoes and six penn'orth!" "Arf a 'undred Biles and two penn'orth!" " 'Alf fourteen Limey and two 'Undred" and a "Arf, 'undred and three-quarters, Till and nine penn'orth!" went on in rapid succession until we made bold to ask Mr. Potler where his memorandum was, and how he knew the quantities required. "All in my 'ed, sir" (tapping it with a sly laugh). " 'Aven't got no books nor pencils, I 'aven't, and don't want to," was his reply, which is corroborated by the stout proprietor, who stands at the scales, watches the weighing and enters all Mr. Potler's items methodically on a sort of trade-sheet he carries in his hand. The first number, such as the " 'undred and a 'arf," referrred, it was interesting to learn, to the cats' meat of ordinary horse-flesh; the "penn'orth's" are "tripe" and divide the quantities of each customer in the cart. "Tripe" is for the dog or cat of jaded appetite, who cannot relish plain food. Mr. Potler has no check on his memory. He drives round in a certain direction, calling at the same houses in regular rotation, and delivers the "meat" as ordered, without scales or weighing-machine, and purely by eye and head. He is said rarely to make a mistake, and on his return at eleven o'clock will bring back from ten to twelve pounds and an empty cart. Cash on delivery is his motto, and the amount he hands in always tallies with the entries in the trade-sheet of his employer.
                        I wonder if this was the sort of thing Thomas Lechmere was doing while he was living amongst the HB men in Winthrop Street and describing himself as a meat carter/salesman (cats)?

                        Sounds like a job that called for a sharp knife.

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                        • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                          Amelia Dobson? - apart from the fact that that she beat Sarah Tomkins senseless, I haven't been able to find anything out about this woman. Any offers?
                          Born in Sheffield, ca 1838, and living there in 1871 and 1881 with her husband, Daniel, a steelworker. One child born in Newton Heath in 1877, all others surviving in 1881 born in Sheffield.

                          Description in 1875:

                          Complexion - Sallow
                          Hair - Brown
                          Eyes - Brown

                          Height - 5' 1 1/2"

                          "2 cuts left of forehead and corner of left eye. Lost several front teeth."

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                          • Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                            Born in Sheffield, ca 1838 and living there in 1871 and 1881 with her husband, Daniel, a steelworker. One child born in Newton Heath in 1877, all others surviving in 1881 born in Sheffield.

                            Description in 1875:

                            Complexion - Sallow
                            Hair - Brown
                            Eyes - Brown

                            Height - 5' 1 1/2"

                            "2 cuts left of forehead and corner of left eye. Lost several front teeth."
                            Imagine Henry Tomkins's surprise when, having legged it ahead of his colleagues into Buck's Row, he was faced with the body of a woman:

                            Complexion - dark
                            Hair - Brown
                            Eyes - Brown

                            Height - 5' 2"

                            Scar on forehead and several teeth missing

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                            • John Harrison's business acumen (or luck) eventually seems to have run out. In 1886/7 he invested in a 'plumbago' mine in the Lake District, which promptly ceased operating (by 1891). How much money he had tied up in the venture, I don't know.

                              The surprising (to me at least) discovery is that, having created the Harrison, Barber monopoly in Jan., 1886, he was being described as 'late of Harrison, Barber' in early 1887 when the Borrowdale Plumbago Mining Co. was floated.

                              He had got into the knacking game on a whim, bought out his partners just before the 'monopoly' was established by Act of Parliament and then slipped out of the business shortly before the arrival of the internal combustion engine.

                              He's not an easy man to track down. I have found him in Islington in 1871 and 1881, keeping a close eye on his Belle Isle investment. He is shown as married, but there's no sign of a wife or children. He was born ca 1818/19 and was living at 'The Woodlands', Wilmington, Bexley, Kent when the Plumbago prospectus was published.

                              His place of birth is missing in 1871 and illegible* (see below) in 1881.

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                              There must be a photo of him somewhere. I'd love to see whether it fits the description given by the All The Year Round journalist.

                              * Looking at other examples of the enumerator's handwriting, I suspect the word may be 'Yorks'.

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                              • Tomkins/Wolverhampton?

                                Here's another possible link between the Tomkins's and Wolverhampton, which I almost missed.

                                Searching online I found a press report of an 18-year-old horse thief named George Thomas Hall who had sold a stolen horse to a knacker in Newton Heath, near Manchester in 1867. It was an interesting story, but nothing particularly unusual. Knackers yards seem to have been the first port of call for horse thieves in the mid-nineteenth century. The knackers generally presented themselves as innocent parties in these transactions, but I suspect that they often asked fewer questions than they ought to have done when offered a sound horse at a knock-down price.

                                In this case, one of the witnesses was a young knacker named Richard Leech, who explained that his brother, Joseph, leased the yard where the transaction had taken place and another brother, George, managed it. There were some irregularities in respect of how the horse had been entered in the knacker's books and the magistrate was rather scathing of George Leech's performance.

                                As soon as I heard the names of the three Leech brothers I recognised the family as one that I had pegged as the employers of the scoundrel Nick Shippy. I was just about to move on to the next report on the list, when it dawned on me that although I was familiar with the family in question, they were in the wrong place.

                                The Leeches I had previously encountered (mother Mary, sons George, Joseph and Richard) had operated as horse-slaughterers in Townwell Fold, Wolverhampton. Nick Shippy had lived in Wolverhampton for a decade or so before moving to Newton Heath in the late 1860's, eventually hooking up there with Henry Tomkins, with whom he was lodging in Newton at the time of the 1881 census. Various press reports of his Wolverhampton antics refer to him as working for a knacker named Leech of Townwell Fold.

                                In 1865, Joseph Leech had had a run-in with the authorities for bringing diseased (glandered) horses by road from Liverpool to the yard in Townwell Fold, from where it seems he operated between 1858 and at least the late 1890s. So what were he and his brothers doing leasing premises in Newton Heath, about 70 miles away, in 1867? Perhaps it had something to do with the apparently relaxed attitude of the Newton Heath authorities in respect of noxious trades. Perhaps Newton was a convenient dropping-off point for diseased Scouse nags.

                                But that aside, I'm wondering whether the Tomkins family also worked for the Leeches. Henry, Thomas and William were certainly working as 'horse-slaughterers employees' in Newton Heath at the same time as Nick Shippy. And the fact that Nasty Nick was lodging with Henry suggests that they may well have been working together. The question then arises as to whether the Tomkins boys ever made it to the Leech's Wolverhampton yard.

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