29 December 2011

In and Out of the News

My obsession with the British Newspaper Archive continues, particularly as I've found one bloke, my 3xgreat uncle, who was mentioned a number of times.

Frederick Staden, for t'was he, was born in Sundridge, in Kent, in 1815, the eighth and youngest child of Thomas and Sarah (nee Dodd), and was christened on Christmas Eve that year.  He joined the Army and in the 1841 census he's at the Infantry Barracks in Walmer, an acting serjeant.  

Note:  the spelling of "serjeant" shall, from hereon in, be interchangeable with "sergeant" ....

To continue: Between 1841 and 1851 he married Margaret and the pair of them are to be found in barracks in Winchester in the next census.  Then he's posted to Gibraltar and it's a moot point whether wife Margaret went with him; I suspect not, because he marries again whilst on the rock, this time to Martha Milner, the daughter of another sergeant, and then his life gets ever so slightly complicated.....

Back home in Berkshire, Frederick joined the Royal Berks Militia and, in 1860, is awarded "an emblem of honour" for his service.  The 1861 census shows him and Martha living in Reading.  

Later that year, an inkling of disharmony appears and he takes out an advert in the Reading Mercury to tell the locals that he will not be held responsible for his wife's debts.  A few more mentions of him in the Militia, by now a Drill Instructor, and then trouble.

Charged in 1865 with assaulting a young lady, the paper now goes into salacious detail about how he "behaved in an indecent manner" towards her.  Except that he didn't.  It was very quickly proved that Frederick wasn't even in town on the date given!  Verdict: Not Guilty.  Cue loud applause from the assembled throng.

Honour restored, he doesn't appear in the newspaper again for five years.  This time, a series of reports from different newspapers, all giving the same detail about the divorce between Frederick and Martha.  She comes out as quite a "character", being described as having "dirty, drunken habits" and eventually running away to Southsea (as you do) to be with her co-respondent.  Case proved.  Decree Nisi.

As far as I can tell, Frederick goes on to live a quiet life from then on.  By 1881 he was a publican/beer seller in South Stoke, Oxfordshire.  When he died there, at the "Eight Bells", in 1884, the newspaper reported that he had been in the Royal Berks Militia for 21 years.

Somehow, I feel there's more to be found about Martha, but I'll leave that for another day.

Happy New Year.

More soon.

11 December 2011

More Sinned Against ......

There are some newspaper entries which make you go "aaaah":

"On the 6th inst., at the Free Church, St Ives, Hunts, by the Rev. T R Jones, Charles Culpin, of Reading, to Maria Broadway, of St Ives"

And those which make you go "oh":
"4th inst., at Southgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, Stanley Frederick, third son of JC Staden jun., aged 1 year and 7 months."

And then there are those which make you go "what the ......?":
"William Fuller, a truculent looking fellow as ever held a hand up at a bar of justice, was indicted for destroying on the 18th of July, in a most barbarous manner, an ass, the property of Charles Culpin.

Charles Culpin is a blacksmith, living at St Ives.  On the 18th of July he saw the ass, which he kept in a hovel in a close: she was then quite well; the next morning his son fetched her up in a dying state – went to the hovel where he found a fork, the handle of which, for about a foot and a half, was smeared with blood.  The ass died in consequence of a wound, given in the most revolting manner.  Mr Culpin, on being asked on what terms he had been with the prisoner, said, that some time ago, while he was swearing among Mr Culpin’s children, he had sent for a constable, who took him into custody; since which he frequently insulted witness.  Mr Swallow was present on the 19th of July, when the prisoner was apprehended – on being charged with an atrocious act on Mr Culpin’s donkey, he said I never did it, but Joesph Harrop did.  On Harrop being sent for, his father came with him, who swore that his son was in bed at half-past seven.  Mr Swallow then asked him what further he had to say, when he fell a-crying, and said, if Mr Culpin will forgive me, I will never do it again.  On being asked what he had done, he said, I ran the shaft of the fork a foot, or half a foot, up the donkey.  Verdict Guilty. Sentence, 14 years transportation."

Copyright (in order): Reading Mercury, 15th July 1871; Bury & Norwich Post, 15th May 1877; Cambridge Chronicle & Journal, 20th October 1826.  All via the British Newspaper Archive.

Ah, happy times (chronicle/journal/post &c)

More soon.

8 December 2011

Newspapers, newspapers everywhere .....

Yep, I have been immersing myself in the glorious www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.  Just online in the last couple of weeks I am gentling paddling around in the shallow end, searching for Stadens and Culpins.  Thank 'eavens for some unusual names!

And what did I find? A couple of divorce cases, both on the grounds of adultery; both adulterers being the spouses of my relatives. See, pure as the driven snow, my lot!

Well, not quite......  There's Thomas Culpin, found guilty in 1800, of sheep-stealing (sentenced to death, but reprieved), and William Flavell sentenced to 6 months in 1823 for stealing ten pigeons, not to mention William Culpin who went on the run in 1835 after stealing from, and attempting to kill, his aunt.  Arthur Ernest Culpin distinguished himself by stealing in Kings Cliffe and earned himself nine strokes of the birch.

By sheer coincidence, I found two rellies (one Staden, one Freeman) in the same edition of the Bury & Norwich Post in 1861. And, for a change, neither had done anything wrong!

Did I mention the young Culpin who was found guilty by a coroner's court of 'Murder of a bastard child' but acquitted by the magistrate? Or another horribly young Culpin who attempted to take her own life? 

Fortunately, I have also found some marriage and deaths dates, none of which will cause a scandal.  Even better, one of the marriages showed that the spouse was a widow, and I was able to dig around on FreeBMD and find her maiden name.

Anyway, I'm going back to the archive now and will attempt to publish more little snippets, both here and on the website.

More soon.