Tag: Old Bailey Online

A Death by Unicorn Horn in 1730

http://www.androidnewsheads.com/?tylymba=binary-options-trading-live-signals-robot-2017&548=1c Posted on August 19, 2013 by - Collecting, Early Modern History, Hans Sloane, History of Medicine

On the 28th of August 1730, Joseph Hastings died after receiving “several mortal Bruises with an Unicorn’s Horn”, wielded by John Williams of St. Andrew’s Holborn eleven days earlier. The assault occurred on a Holborn skittle-ground, witnessed by several local men.

forex sälja dollar Robert Linsey deposed that Joseph Hastings arrived at the skittle-ground “with the Horn in his Hand, and some old Clothes”. According to the defendent, he had been on his way for a pint of beer when he met a friend who encouraged him to drink a pint of gin instead (to help with his ague). While passing through the skittle ground, Williams picked up the horn and “ask’d the Deceas’d, what he would have for it?” When Hastings replied “it was worth more Money than he had in his Pocket”, Williams contemptuously offered three pence.

    Narwhal tusk. These tusks could grow to several metres in length and were often traded as unicorn horns. Powdered unicorn horns had medicinal uses. Credit: Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images.

Narwhal tusk. These tusks could grow to several metres in length and were often traded as unicorn horns. Powdered unicorn horns had medicinal uses. Credit: Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images.

le opzioni digitali cosa sono Hastings unsurprisingly refused, demanding that Williams return the horn. Witnesses testified that Hastings bragged that he had “been bid more Money for that Horn, than any Man at the Ground had in his Pocket”—by no-one other than Sir Hans Sloane himself. Williams called Hastings “a fancy Son of a B – h, and if he spoke two Words more he would knock him down with it”.

http://tanacopenhagen.com/?page=Mette-Svendsen At this point, things are a little unclear. According to the defendant, Hastings swore at him “and lifted up his Hand with the Bowl in order to throw it at him”. Williams claimed that he merely pushed Hastings off in self defence and that it was an accident that Hastings fell back onto the stump.

But some witnesses saw Williams as the aggressor. John Drew saw Williams strike Hastings in the stomach with the horn, then push “him on on the Jaw with the end of it”. After Hastings fell onto a stump, Williams again hit him with the horn until someone took it away. Williams then kicked Hastings “upon his Breast, Belly, and Members”. Hastings was unconscious for at least two minutes.

http://nlst-usa.com/?trere=binäre-optionen-strategie-60-sekunden Charles Wentworth, added “That he had never seen so vile and barbarous a Thing done in his Life”. The other men at the skittle ground held Williams back to keep him from following Hastings, who “went away in a very bloody Condition”. Wentworth visited Hastings several times after the attack: his “Head had been broke, and his Head and Face bruis’d in five places” and his genitals “look’d like a piece of Neck-Beef”.

Much of testimony considered whether or not Williams could be responsible for Hastings’ later death. Apothecary Richard Buckley attended the patient on 27 August, noting that the scrotum was discoloured. He thought the cause of death was probably an apoplexy. The autopsy after Hastings died was inconclusive. Although surgeon Mr Smith believed that the injuries were the cause of death, both Noah Sherwood and Henry Hildip did not think that the injuries were severe enough. The deceased had a rupture in his scrotum, but minor bruises and no skull fracture. The real clincher, perhaps, was that several people saw Hastings walking around after his injuries.

For those close to Hastings, Williams’ guilt was obvious. Mrs Hastings provided the sad testimony that her husband had left home in perfect health and returned with a broken head, “the Mark of a Foot on his Face, and a Bruise the side of his Neck and Throat”. Her neighbours, Mr and Mrs Waller, and brother-in-law spoke about Hastings’ continual pain and insistence that, if he died, it was because of Williams’ attack.

http://longonotgate.co.ke/?kodsas=strategie-trading-binario-30&69f=81 The jury acquitted Williams.

In many ways, this is an ordinary tale of a brutal assault with terrible consequences. The case itself, though, gives us a tantalizing glimpse into daily life in Holborn: neighbours who witnessed the attack or helped to nurse the patient, the importance of the skittle-ground in local social life, the use of any weapon that came to hand, the prickliness of each man’s sense of honour, the use of gin as a remedy for ague…

But it is the unicorn horn and reference to Sloane that captures my attention. The fact that Hastings possessed a unicorn horn is intriguing: from where did he get it and for what price? It was clearly valuable to him—and of interest to others, such as Williams. Had he taken the horn out that day with the intention of showing it off to friends, or (perhaps for a small price) to people down at the local tavern? Sloane’s fame, moreover, even extended to skittle-ground skuffles. His name, it appears, was readily identifiable in popular culture with the trade in curiosities, possibly enhancing the value of an asociated object.

A fascination with curiosities was not only for the educated, but was widespread in eighteenth-century society. The unicorn horn tale is just the tip: people eagerly paid to see wild men or bearded ladies and other wonders. But the story also reveals that the wealthy were not the only ones who might have a prized collection of curiosities; those lower down the social scale could, too—even if it was just a single, and singular, unicorn horn.

You can read the records from the trial at The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online.

Repentance on the Scaffold

Tyburn Tree. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tyburn Tree. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Filled with curiosities, rare books, and commodities from Port Royal to Peking, Hans Sloane’s Bloomsbury Square residence was the perfect target for a break and enter (which I discuss here). The eight men–twice the number reported by witnesses–who attempted such a feat on 5 April 1700, however, seem to have had no idea the house they set aflame possessed so many wonders. Indeed, Sloane and his family were endangered by a group of men “who having consum’d their Substance with riotous Living” seem to have chosen their target at random.

The youngest of the perpetrators, John Hatchman, was only 15 years old and confessed to the crime, citing his inebriated state as the motive. John Titt, 24 years of age, had given Hatchman alcohol, was drunk the night of the offense, and confessed that he was an alcoholic.

Joseph Fisher, nearly 50, refused to admit that he participated in the acts. The fact he served in the Royal Navy, and was therefore prone to debauchery, was enough to secure a conviction. Conversely, Thomas Hixon expelled a “flood of Tea[r]s”, regretted his actions, and promised not to reoffend if he was released. This did nothing to mitigate his punishment.

The apparent ringleaders were more somber and dejected. John David (real name John Shirley), Phillip Wake, and James Walters understood what they had done in committing arson and attempting to burgle Sloane’s house. They regretted their crimes and, as Walters reportedly stated, undertook “the great Work of Repentance, and making… Peace with Almighty God”.

Regardless, the eight men were taken to Tyburn on 24 May 1700. After the men had been prepared for execution, all their resolve disappeared. Davis (Shirley) blamed Wake for the entire affair: “Fear and trembling, said he, have seiz’d upon me, and an horrible Dread hath overwhelm’d me.” The reporter of the events poetically recounts Wake’s acceptance of his death as a logical consequence of his failure “not [to] forsake his evil Courses”. James Walters added it was “bad Company [that] had such Influence on him” and led to a life of crime. The others are said to have cried, prayed, and begged for reprieve, but to no avail.

No matter their words of regret or confessions of guilt, “the Cart drew away, [and] they were turned off.” The tale, as recounted in the court publication, reeks of a morality tale and state attempts to dissuade readers from vice. The Devil may have whispered in their ears, but it seems more likely a mixture of poverty, poor prospects, alcohol, and peer pressure motivated the men’s actions. Sloane and his family were the victims of an arbitrary crime. The consequences were a best-case scenario as far as the Sloane family was concerned: the plot failed, the men ran away, they were quickly apprehended, and eighteenth century justice was meted out on the scaffold.