"Internet Law Book Reviews", Provided by Rob Jerrard LLB LLM (London)

Pen & Sword Books Reviewed in 2008


Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths Around Uxbridge
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Jonathan Oates
Series Editor: Brian Elliott
ISBN: 1-845630-71-8
Publishers: Pen-and-Sword
Price: £12.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

Gripping Account Of The Sinister Side Of The History Of The Uxbridge area
Includes Cases From Hayes, Hillingdon, Yiewsley, Ruislip Murders, Robberies, Conspiracies, Executions, Crimes Of Passion Graphic Insight Into Criminal Acts And The Criminal Mind
 
Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths Around Uxbridge takes the reader on a sinister and sad journey through centuries of local crime and conspiracy, meeting victims and villains of all sorts along the way. There is no shortage of harrowing - and revealing - incidents of evil and despair to recount from the earliest recorded history of the Uxbridge district up to the present day.
 
Jonathan Oates' fascinating research has uncovered some grisly events and unsavoury individuals whose conduct throws a harsh light, on the history of this suburban area west of London. His book records crime and punishment in all its dreadful variety. Among many acts of violence and wickedness are the burning to death of three Protestant martyrs and the execution of .a turbulent priest in Tudor times, a family massacred at Denham in 1870 and several brutal murders that have never been solved or explained. Cases that stand out as particularly shocking or bizarre include a son who was killed by his father, an unsolved murder of an elderly farmer in West Drayton, a fatal schoolboy stabbing in Hayes, and a man tried for manslaughter, and later murder, in West Drayton who committed suicide two decades later.
 
This chronicle of Uxbridge's hidden history will be compelling reading for anyone who is interested in the local history of the area and in the dark side of human nature.
Dr Jonathan Oates is the Ealing Borough Archivist and Local History Librarian, and he has written and lectured on aspects of the history of London, including its criminal past. His books include Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Ealing, Foul Deeds and
Suspicious Deaths in Lewisham and Deptford and Unsolved Murders in Victorian and Edwardian London. He is also an authority on the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745 and recently published Sweet William or The Butcher? The Duke of Cumberland and the '45.


Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in Southport
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Geoff Wright
Series Editor: Brian Elliott
ISBN: 1-845630-61-
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £10.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information
 

Murders, Robberies, Poisonings., Muggings, Abductions
Crimes Motivate1 By, Passion, Greed And Despair Vivid Insight Into Criminal Acts And The Criminal Mind
 
Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths Around Southport reconstructs in vivid detail some startling and horrific murders that have taken place in this Victorian seaside resort. It takes the reader on a sinister and unsavoury historical journey through the annals of local crime.
 
Although Southport is - and always has been - a peaceful and pleasant haven, it has had its fair share of grisly murders and attempted murders, especially in modern times. All the cases described here tell us much about Southport society, particularly where poverty played a part in the crime committed.
Local historian Geoff Wright describes villains and victims from all walks of life. He recalls a harrowing series of incidents - poisonings, hangings, electrocution, crimes of passion and calculation, outbreaks of violence and unexplained · disappearances. These episodes have darkened the reputation of this usually quiet and sunny holiday town on the Lancashire coast.
 

The Author
 
Geoff Wright is a leading authority on the history of Southport. He has worked as a sub-editor on Southport's newspapers and has published several important books on the town's history, including Southport: 200 Years and Southport a Century Ago. He has served as chairman of the Friends of the Atkinson Library, and vice-chairman of the Friends of the Botanic Gardens Museum. He now runs his research business, Southport World.


Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in Cumbria
Edition: 1st
Series Editor: Brian Elliott
Format: Paperback
Author: Nicholas Corder
ISBN: 1-8145630-65-
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £10.99
Publication Date:
 
Publisher's Title Information

A Dark, Unsavoury Journey Through The Annals Of Local Crime
Murder, Robbery, Jealousy, Betrayal 'The Dark Side Of Human Nature Crimes Motivated By Passion, Greed And Despair Vivid Insight Into Criminal Acts And The Criminal Mind.
The criminal cases vividly described by Nicholas Corder in this gripping book take the reader on a journey into the dark secret side of Cumbria's long history. The hills, villages and market towns of this famous landscape have been the setting for a series of horrific, bloody, sometimes bizarre incidents over the centuries. From crimes of brutal premeditation to crimes born of passion or despair, the whole range of human weakness and wickedness is represented here. Swindlers, conmen, smugglers, pirates, child killers, deserters, fraudsters, robbers and common murderers people these pages, along with their victims. There are descriptions of public executions and instances of extraordinary domestic cruelty and malice that ended in death. Unforgettable local cases are reconstructed - the extraordinary career of the imposter John Hatfield, the Whitehaven raid of John Paul Jones, the unsolved murder of poor Lucy Sands, and many more. Nicholas Corder's chronicle of Cumbria's hidden history will be compelling reading for anyone who is interested in the sinister side of human nature.
Nicholas Corder is a prolific author and a keen student of local history He has published many articles and features in a variety of magazines in Britain and the US. His plays, children's books, novels and other writings include Writing Your Own Life Story, StarStruck - A Space Opera With No Singing, A Midsummer Night's Travesty, Nigel's Wrist, Jacobson's Organ, Cash and Carrie, and Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Staffordshire and the Potteries.


Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in & Around the Fens
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Glenda Goulden
Series Editor: Brian Elliott
ISBN: 1-845630-72-6
Publishers: Pen-and-Sword.
Price: £12 99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

A Dark Unsavoury Journey Through The Annals Of
Fenland Crime
Murder Robbery, Jealousy, Betrayal - The Dark Side Of
Human Nature
Crimes Motivated By Passion, Greed And Despair
Vivid Insight Into Criminal Acts And The Criminal Mind
 
'The criminal cases vividly described by Glenda Goulden in this gripping book take 1 the reader on a journey into the dark secret side of the history of the Fens. This flat and wide open landscape, thinly populated with isolated farmsteads and communities, has been the setting for a series of horrific, bloody, sometimes bizarre incidents over the centuries. From crimes of callous premeditation to crimes born of passion, greed or despair the whole range of human weakness and wickedness is represented here. There are tales of conspiracy, robbery, violence and the cruellest murders that reveal a previously neglected side of Fenland society. Unforgettable cases are featured - two Fenland farmers brutally murdered, the widespread · deadly addiction to opium, a prostitute burned alive in a maltings, a baby found in a cardboard box in a river, and more than one, wife who poisoned her husband. Glenda Goulden's chronicle of the hidden history of the Fens will be compelling reading for anyone who is interested in the sinister side of human nature and in this unique area of East Anglia.
 

The Author
 
Glenda Goulden has a passionate interest in the history of Cambridge and the Fens. As well as writing The Cam and Cambridge, she has compiled a history of Wisbech and the River Nene, and she has made a comparative study of immigration and far-right politics in England and France. Her most recent book is Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths In and Around Cambridge.


Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Jersey
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Glynis Cooper
ISBN: 1845630688
Publishers: Pen & Sword
Price: £10.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
Gripping Account Of The Sinister Side Of
Jersey's History
A Chronicle Of Murder, Execution, Theft,
Assault, Scandal And Crimes Of Passion
Reveals A Neglected Side Of The Island's Story
 
In a superb companion volume to her best-selling book Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Guernsey, Glynis Cooper turns her attention to the dark side of the past in Jersey. And there is no shortage of shocking stories to tell - crimes of passion and despair, cases of murder, deceit and pure malice, opportunistic killings and coldly premeditated acts of wickedness that are as disturbing today as they were in their own time.
 
For this journey into a neglected area in Jersey's history she has selected a revealing series of cases dating from the medieval period to the present day. She recalls the torture and execution of four female witches, the murderous outcome of a clash with Norman sheep stealers, a woman who married her husband's murderer and wreckers who preyed on Spanish treasure ships. And among the sensational episodes from more recent times are a man who shot his sister in the face, the suicide of a jilted bride, the murder of French political refugees, a French general who was ruined by his lady love and corrupt officers who disgraced the Victorian police force.
The human dramas Glynis Cooper describes are often played out in the most commonplace of circumstances, but others are so odd as to be stranger than fiction. Her fascinating account of Jersey's secret history will be compelling reading for anyone who is interested in the flaws in human nature.
 
Glynis Cooper is an archaeologist, librarian and novelist with a passion for local history. During the last fifteen years she has researched, written and published over a dozen local history books and a novel. Among her publications ate Castle Hill: Glossop's Other Fort, St Martins: The Roman Port of Scilly, Longdendale: the Travellers' Valley, The Illustrated History of Manchester's Suburbs, Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Bolton, The Wharncliffe Companion to Manchester and Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Guernsey. Recently she helped to compile Spinning the Web, a site based on the history of the textile industry in northwest England.


Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths Around Worcester
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Anne Bradford
ISBN: 1-845630-66-1
Publishers: Wharncliffe (Pen & Sword)
Price: £10.99
Publication Date: 2008
Publisher's Title Information

 
A Dark, Unsavoury Journey Through The Annals Of Local Crime
Murder, Robbery, Jealousy, Betrayal - The Dark Side Of Human Nature
Crimes Motivated By Passion, Greed And Despair
Vivid Insight Into Criminal Acts And The Criminal Mind
 
The criminal cases vividly described by Anne Bradford in this gripping book take the reader on a journey into the dark secret side of Worcestershire's long history. The cathedral city and its surrounding countryside have been the setting for a series of horrific, bloody, sometimes bizarre incidents over the centuries. From crimes of brutal premeditation to crimes born of passion or despair, the whole range of human weakness and wickedness is represented here. There are tales of dark passion and betrayal, highway robbery and murder, riots and repression, public executions and instances of extraordinary domestic cruelty and malice that ended in death. The human dramas the author describes are often played out in the most commonplace of circumstances, but others are so odd as to be stranger than fiction. This grisly chronicle of the hidden history of Worcestershire will be compelling reading for anyone who is interested in the dark side of human nature.
 

The Author
 
Anne Bradford is a well-known Worcestershire author and is the editor of the Worcestershire Local History Forum magazine. As well as publishing many collections of ghost stories, she has compiled a history of Royal Enfield motorcycles and oral histories of Stourport on-Severn and Redditch.


Norfolk Mayhem & Murder - Classic cases Revisited
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Maurice Morson
Series Editor: Brian Elliott
ISBN: 1-845630-49-1
Publishers: Wharncliffe (Pen & Sword)
Price: £10.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
Features Several Of The Most Notorious Episodes In Norfolk's Criminal 'History
Reassesses The Evidence, The Investigations,
The Court Cases
Insight Into Criminal Acts And The
Criminal Mind
 
Maurice Morson has reconstructed, in painstaking detail, several of the most shocking and intriguing episodes from Norfolk's criminal history or this gripping study. He recalls the extraordinary case of Richard Nockolds, the violent weaver who revelled in assault, arson and machine-wrecking; the two cut-throats who were hanged for killing Hannah Manfield; Herbert Bennett, found guilty of strangling his wife with a bootlace; Rosa Kowen who may - or may not - have battered her husband to death; John Stratford who murdered the wrong man; Samuel Yarham, the prosecution witness and real murderer; William Jacobs and Thomas Allen, both convicted of killing policemen; and, perhaps the most infamous case of all, the Burnham Market multiple murders.
 
To these cases Maurice Morson has applied his skill as a historical researcher and his forensic experience as a former detective. Each case is closely reviewed, and the evidence is questioned. He gives a vivid insight into the local background, the personalities of the individuals involved, their relationships, the means by which the crimes were committed, and the workings of the police force and the justice system which often seems, to our modern eyes, clumsy and mistaken.
 
This engrossing new book confirms Maurice Morson's reputation as the leading chronicler of crime in the county.
 

The Author
 
Before embarking on a career as a writer, Maurice Morson was Detective Chief Superintendent and Head of Norfolk CID. Since he retired from the police force, he has used his long experience as a detective to reinvestigate exceptional criminal cases from the past. He has also published several distinguished books on crime and policing in Norfolk, including A City's Finest: Revelations and Reminiscences of the Norwich City Police, The Lost Years: The Story of Missing Schoolgirl April Fabb, A Force Remembered: The Illustrated History of the Norwich City Police, Rough Justice: The Story of the Norwich Scandal and Norwich Murders.

Review
The author describes twelve murder cases covering the period 1829 to 1909. Each is dealt with in some detail and good use is made of contemporary statements and depositions. These serve to illustrate the way evidence came to light and the poverty and squalid living conditions in which most offenders, victims and witnesses lived.
 
The first four cases are set in the pre-constabulary era when such policing as existed relied upon the Night Watch and ward or parish constables. The remainder span the period of the 'New Police' up to 1912. In both cases the active role of magistrates comes to the fore, as does that of the grand jury required to find a 'true bill' prior to defendants appearing for trial. Justice was swift in Georgian and Victorian times with the guilty often executed within a matter of days of the death sentence being pronounced. At the same time there are some instances of a degree of 'compassion' being shown when prisoners were found to be insane, their lives being spared, and of not guilty verdicts being returned in the face of apparently compelling evidence.
 
In some of the cases the Chief Constables of Great Yarmouth and Norwich were themselves active in the investigations. This was a time when chief officers were often in charge of the local fire brigade as well. It followed that they could arrive at the scene of an arson and murder wearing both hats! In other cases the Home Secretary acceded to requests for Metropolitan assistance. This resulted in a fresh viewpoint being brought to an investigation and enabled enquiries to range from Norfolk to London, and even further afield, as the evidence dictated.
 
It is worth observing that in the early Victorian era policemen were rather thin on the ground. Formed in 1836, Great Yarmouth began with 18 men and Norwich 80. Norfolk did not have a police force until 1839 when it initially had 133 officers. Strangely, in the absence of telephones and motor vehicles, when crime occurred local inhabitants did not seem to have difficulty in locating a constable when they needed one!
 
In cases where things 'went wrong' resulting in criticism from the presiding High Court Judge it is interesting to learn how the magistrates were quick to blame the police and how, equally quickly, the press were ready to join the bandwagon and blame everyone.
 
The book is well illustrated with sketches of individuals and murder venues. For those who take the time to study drawings of venues produced for newspapers and broadsheets of the Victorian era, it is interesting to note how accurate sketches of venues turn out to be. The validity of portraits tended to be rather inconsistent - but better than nothing. In the case of the photographs, some are the author's own handiwork or those of modern photographers and others from archive sources. All serve to bring to light the environment, character and individuals to whom each story relates.
 
Maurice Morson was a career policeman who headed the Norfolk CID and is the author of several books with similar themes. Although he does not set out to closely review each case from a modern viewpoint, as the commentary on the back cover suggests, his stories are interspersed with interesting and telling 'asides' which give a modern day perspective. But it is the Georgian and Victorian settings that set them apart and make them absolutely fascinating reading.
 
Norfolk Mayhem and Murder should have a wide appeal. Local historians, police historians and those with a general interest in true crime, will find it a definite page-turner. One constructive comment. There may be a commercial reason for it - but a slightly increased font size would have been advantageous to the more 'mature' reviewer!!
 
PR


Warwickshire's Murderous Women
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Nick Billingham
ISBN: 1-845630-63-7
Publishers: Wharncliffe Books (Pen & Sword Books)
Price: £10.99
Publication Date: 2008-09-01
Publisher's Title Information

 
The female criminals of nineteenth century Warwickshire were far from the delicate and gentle sex of popular belief. Gangs of prostitutes lured men into the back alleys of Birmingham to rob them with extreme violence. The city reeled with shock. Psychotic servants suddenly turned on their unwitting employers with studding savagery. It was an era when domestic tranquillity could be silently stifled with a well-placed dose of arsenic. Sheer greed drove one woman to fake her mother-in law's suicide. She had already buried two husbands. Another lady finally snapped after years of abuse, seeking revenge for being sold into prostitution as a child. Women found devious ways of getting rid of `inconvenient' children but in the context of poverty and alcohol. In a world that seems so distant, we still have so much in common: thwarted love affairs, callous abuse of the weak and sick, exploitation and violence. A few Victorian women were just as wicked as men. Yet many women walked free from court, the judge and jury unable to believe that they could be evil.
 

The Author
Nick Billingham lives in Stratford-upon-Avon but has roots in Birmingham and the Black Country. A canal as well as a true crime enthusiast, his first four books relate to English waterways and their boats. Nick is a regular contributor to Wharncliffe's Foul Deeds series, with titles on Stratford & South Warwickshire and Birmingham (2 -volumes).


Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in Suffolk
Series Editor: Brian Elliott
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Mark Mower
ISBN: 1-845630-55-6
Publishers: Wharncliffe
Price: £12.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
Gripping Account Of The Sinister Side Of Suffolk's History
Murders, Conspiracies, Executions, Robberies, Crimes Of Passion
Vivid Insight Into Criminal Acts And The Criminal Mind.
 
The twin fascinations of death and villainy will always hold us in their grim but thrilling grip. In Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Suffolk the chill is brought close to home as each chapter investigates the darker side of humanity in cases of murder, deceit and pure malice committed over the centuries in this part of East Anglia. From crimes of passion to opportunistic killings and coldly premeditated acts of murder, the full spectrum of criminality is recounted here.
 
The traditionally rural nature of Suffolk creates isolated, inward-looking communities with their own peculiar customs and practices. While this is one of the more endearing aspects of country life, it can also spawn a narrow-mindedness and parochialism that leads to conflict - and occasionally even to death.
 
In this collection of grisly crime stories Mark Mower takes us on a journey through the darker side of Suffolk folklore, with, tales of poisoning, grave robbing, stabbing, shooting and larceny. On the way we meet highwaymen, cut-throats, murderous lovers, homicidal relatives and purveyors of human flesh. The dramas he describes are often played out in the most commonplace of circumstances, but others are so odd as to be stranger than fiction.
 

The Author
 
Mark Mower is a management consultant and an expert on public sector affairs. He also runs a company called East Anglian Murder Mysteries Limited and writes murder mystery plays. His first book, Suffolk Tales of Mystery & Murder, was published in 2006.

Review
 
The book examines a selection of crimes in Suffolk over the period 1750 to 1929. Almost half occurred in the period before the county had its own police force yet, somehow, the parish constables, magistrates and local citizens still managed to bring miscreants to justice. The early Victorian view of justice in Suffolk included a swift and final retribution and the exhibiting of bodies in chains as a warning to all.
 
From time immemorial Suffolk has always been an essentially agricultural county. Even with the advent of the Industrial Revolution the county had more than the average share of sons of the soil. But geographical counties in themselves do not instigate crimes, it is the residents and those who pass through the area who must bear that responsibility.
 
The rear cover offers a view suggesting that the traditionally rural nature of Suffolk created isolated, inward-looking communities with their own peculiar customs and practices. This, it suggests, could also spawn a narrow-mindedness and parochialism.
In his introduction Mark Mower emphasises the role of poverty in Suffolk leading to crime. He too suggests that some crimes reflect the narrow-mindedness shown to outsiders.
 
In defence of present day Suffolk folk it has to be observed that those observations on parochialism are only true to a limited extent. Ancient crimes have their counterparts in modern times. Greed, jealousy and a downright evil streak, all of which are well illustrated throughout the book, play their part.
 
But the fact that narrow-mindedness and intolerance towards strangers cannot be ignored, is well illustrated in a chapter entitled Killed by Gossip (1914). This is the story of William Smith who, from 1884 to 1914, occupied the position of schoolmaster in the village of Hensham. His wife was a schoolmistress there. For three decades they were the highly respected face of the village. A son studied and taught languages and this took him to Germany resulting in two German girls spending a little time in Hensham helping at the school.
 
In 1914, whilst in the course of arranging concerts to aid wounded soldiers being treated at a nearby hospital, William Smith received a letter from the Chief Constable. The effect of this was to tell him he had to move from the area under the provisions of the Defence of the Realm legislation. Local tongues had wagged and raised the German connection. Devastated by the implications William Smith committed suicide by cutting his throat. The inquest verdict was that he 'committed suicide whilst of unsound mind caused by false reports against his patriotism'. A year later his widow hung herself.
 
The facts of the case, as related in the book, paint a clear picture of life and times in the area and the impact that wartime legislation was to have on the populace. It also makes clear that thirty years service to a Suffolk community was insufficient to lead to William Smith being accepted as 'one of them'. He was born in Devon! A fascinating chapter and typical of the book as a whole. Its clarity of expression could well qualify it as the best of the books in Wharncliffe's Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths series. Mark Mower is something of a master of the art of short sentences, which, sparingly used, bring great emphasis to his stories.
 
The fact that the book spans almost two centuries allows it to reflect a slowly changing society. It explores the world of highwaymen, family intrigues, poaching, the effects of drinking to excess, the theft of salt and unrequited love. The final two chapters relate to incidents in 1929 - within the living memory of some senior readers. As to the speed at which life changed, readers might conclude that the lot of some people in Suffolk had changed little since 1750.
 
So who will the book appeal to? Probably a very wide readership, in particular to those with an interest in social, criminological, legal and police history. It will also appeal to that wide readership base which enjoys a touch of the macabre. This excellent book offers it in the setting of bygone days.
 
PR


Kent Murder & Mayhem (Local History)
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Roy Ingleton
ISBN: 1845630599
Publishers: Wharncliffe (Pen & Sword Books)
Price: £12.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
Kent Murder and Mayhem takes the reader on a sinister journey through centuries of local crime and conspiracy, meeting villains of all sorts along the way. Cut-throats and poisoners, murderous lovers, desperate wives and husbands, violent thieves, boy killers, infanticides - almost every type of murder is represented here. Roy Ingleton's fascinating book recalls many grisly events and sad or unsavoury characters whose conduct throws a revealing light on their lives and the society of their day. Among the many instances of violence, wickedness and deceit the author recalls are a 14-year-old boy who killed, a mother who did away with her son, a husband who killed his wife and four children, the poisoning of an old lady, the murder of two wives by drowning, and the case of the last man to be hanged in public at Maidstone. These cases are compelling reading for anyone who is interested in the dark side of human nature.
 

Part of the 'Introduction'. The Place of Execution
 
The sleepy residential area on the outskirts of Maidstone mown as Penenden Heath is the picture of suburban calm and tranquillity. Pleasant villas and a traditional English pub surround a large green on which the locals exercise their dogs and play cricket in the summer. It is the sort of village suburb celebrated in the poetry of Sir John Betjeman, and the kind of place John Major spoke about: 'Fifty years from now, Britain will still be the country of long shadows on cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and pools fillers.'
But it was not always so. For more centuries than one can imagine, this large expanse of open heathland, nestling under the North Downs, was the traditional county meeting place. In Anglo-Saxon times it was the location of the shire court, where justice was dispensed in matters of some significance, a practice which continued after the arrival of the Normans.
 
In 1076, Archbishop Lanfranc brought a successful lawsuit against Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earl of Kent, regarding some land within the diocese of Canterbury which he alleged Odo had purloined. Such was the importance attached to tradition that Aethelric, the elderly former bishop of Selsey, was brought to Penenden Heath in a cart to advise on Anglo-Saxon law.

When Wat Tyler led a march on London in 1381 to protest about the treatment of the English peasants, he gathered his protesters and began his march on Penenden Heath.
 
Still later, during the English Civil War, the main Royalist forces in the county under the Earl of Norwich were assembled on Penenden Heath when the Parliamentarian army under the Lord General Fairfax advanced on Maidstone.
 
But, for the purposes of this book, Penenden Heath's claim to fame is a much darker one. With the shire court being held there and, later, the assize court sitting in the nearby county town of Maidstone, the unfortunate felons convicted at these courts of justice knew that Penenden Heath was to be their place of execution.
 
During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in particular, an astonishing number of men, women and even young boys were hanged on the gallows on the Heath, many for such trifling crimes as the theft of a silk kerchief or some other item valued at twelve pence (5p) or more.


Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in Dublin
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Stephen Wade
ISBN: 1-845630-67-X
Publishers: Wharncliffe (Pen & Sword Books Ltd)
Price: £10.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
Explores The Dark Side of one of Europe's Most Famous Cities
Covers A Wide Time-Span, From 1700s To Modern Times
Concentrates On Social Rather than Political Crime: Robbery, Assault, Libel & Murder
 
Dublin has always been a city of paradoxes, opposites and conflicts. Its population expanded rapidly throughout the nineteenth century, despite the great famine and emigration to England, America and elsewhere. Even if we leave out the crime related to political upheavals and dissensions, as the author does in this book, there is still a long and fascinating social history of crime in the story of this wonderful, energetic and cultural city - the pride of Irish achievement in the arts and literature.
 
It is a city of gaols as well as municipal and grandiose architecture. Maps through the centuries show its many prisons, from a Newgate to a Bridewell and several major ones such as Kilmainham and Mountjoy. At times in the eighteenth century the street crime was beyond the strength of the law to manage.
 
This collection of stories include murders, robberies, frauds, libels and even a strange and bizarre offence by a Russian priest; and a killing by a crazed army officer. Here we have tales of courtroom drama, murder in the streets and sensational investigations. The people who figure in these 'strange eventful histories' include Oscar Wilde's father, Jim Larkin, and the working-class hero and the artist, Kirwan, condemned to prison on the horrendous Spike Island.
 

The Author
 
Stephen Wade is a historian writing both crime and military history. He specialises in regional crime and has written several volumes in Wharncliffe's Foul Deeds series, as well as A to Z of Yorkshire Murder; Unsolved Yorkshire Murder and Yorkshire's Murderous Women. He teaches crime writing at the University of Hull and also works as a writer in prisons. Stephen is currently writing a book on tracing police ancestry.

Review

This book is an addition to Wharncliffe's Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths series using as its background events in the city of Dublin over the period 1640-1963. The chapters deal with a succession of murders, duels, riots and robberies and a single reference to violence resulting from the political struggles for independence.
 
The author, Stephen Wade, is a historian whose work covers both crime and military history. He specialises in regional crime and has written several volumes in Wharncliffe's Foul Deeds series.
 
In the present work more than half of the book is taken up with events pre-20th century. Not surprising perhaps, since Dublin suffered, as did many cities on the mainland, from an expansion of its population during the industrial revolution. An English connection crops up from time to time including references to Irish prisons bearing familiar names such as Newgate and Bridewell.
 
Similarly with Dublin's police. As on the mainland most early policing was carried out by watchmen, also known as Charlies', a system which was viewed at the time in much the same light as their counterparts in England. When looking for a replacement system there were concerns that the favoured French system smacked of a 'police state'. Despite this the Dublin force came into being in 1786 - many years ahead of the accepted 'modem' forces on the mainland. The history of the events which led up to the foundation of the force is dealt with in fascinating detail.
 
The 'foul deeds and suspicious circumstances' are brilliantly summarised by Stephen Wade which makes it difficult to select a couple of chapters for comment. However, as fascinating as any are the chapters entitled Libel and Dr Wilde and The Crown Jewels Disappear.
The Dr Wilde in question was Sir William Wilde, a well-known Dublin doctor and father of the even more famous Oscar Wilde. The case involved a young woman patient who spread rumours alleging misconduct by Sir William while she was under anaesthetic. Strangely, the libel case arose, not from any action on the part of Sir William, but as a result of a letter Lady Wilde wrote to the young woman's father. The young woman instituted proceedings against Lady Wilde and, as her husband, Sir William was joined in the action. The eventual verdict was strange to say the least.
 
The Crown Jewels in the other case were housed at Dublin Castle. They comprised the Insignia of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick, otherwise known as the Irish `Crown Jewels' and valued at £40,000 in 1907. Sir Arthur Vicars was the Ulster King of Arms and, as such, responsible for their safekeeping. He had possession of the only two keys to the safe. However, there were two main suspects against whom there was more suspicion rather than hard evidence. The fact that the mystery remained unresolved in no way detracts from the mystery as a whole. Sir Arthur Vicars was shot dead by the IRA in 1921.
 
A fascinating set of tales set into a book which it is difficult to put down, and an excellent addition to the 'Foul Deeds' series.
 
PR


Yorkshire Hangmen
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Stephen Wade
ISBN: 1845630505
Publishers: Wharncliffe Books (Pen & Sword Books Ltd)
Price: £9.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
From the eighteenth century, York was one of the places employing its own hangmen, copying London and Newgate, even to the use of the word Tyburn to define it's Knavesmire gallows, also known as the 'three-legged mare'. That was where highwayman Dick Turpin met his fate; but later, in the Victorian period, Armley Gaol in Leeds also became a hanging prison, the site of the death of the notorious killer Charlie Peace. The tales of the villains and the victims are well documented, but Stephen Wade also provides us with the stories of both Yorkshire-born hangmen and others who worked in Leeds, Hull or Wakefield. For the first time, Yorkshire Hangmen brings together the tales of the lives and professional careers of these men, some famous, others long forgotten, who held a morbid fascination for the public. Their trade was mysterious, revolting and yet justified by many famous figures in history. The book includes accounts of killers, spies and traitors meeting their doom, but also tells something of the personalities of the hangmen, and of their moral dilemmas as they had to hang women and young people as well as hardened villains. Many of the executioners suffered terrible depression; some took their own lives, and others, such as the famous Albert Pierrepoint, even questioned their work in later life.
 

Stephen Wade is a crime historian and freelance writer. His recent books from Wharncliffe are An A-Z of Yorkshire Murder and Yorkshire's Murderous Women. He is currently writing a history of the City of London Police. Stephen teaches at the University of Hull and also does prison work as a writer in residence. Stephen's prison writings are included in An Angle from Above for Dream Catcher Press.

Review.
 
Yorkshire Hangmen by Stephen Wade is another welcome addition to the ever-increasing publications from Wharncliffe Books. However, rather than the more familiar 'Foul Deeds And Suspicious Deaths' format, this book provides an intriguing glimpse into those who performed the ultimate punishment, hanging, and their Yorkshire connections.
 
Anyone idly flicking through this book prior to reading will be immediately drawn by its logical layout and use of relevant illustrations. The line drawings by Laura Carter are particularly striking. Wade, too obviously has access to excellent pictorial source material that enhances the book's appeal. The cover depicts the familiar face of James Berry, a noose and an unidentified gallows scene, providing clues to what is contained within. This book is, however, far more than just a dry factual account and goes some way to explaining how society's attitudes to Capital Punishment changed over the years and, how the hangmen adapted their skills until their forced redundancy in 1965.
 
The first two chapters paint an early picture of the use of hanging or, as the book explains, strangling, as society's deterrent against such minor crimes like burglary, poaching and even the theft of linen. Using early source material and accounts, the ritual of Capital Punishment is portrayed as a pretty gruesome affair. The first chapter also introduces the Lincolnshire born hangman, William Marwood, who effectively transformed the actual barbaric, hit and miss, affair into a science by calculating the ratio of the victims weight to the length of drop required to ensure instant death.
 
Chapters 3-10 look at the hangmen more closely from 1800. The likes of John Curry, for example, who himself was condemned to hang for sheep stealing and earning a reprieve by agreeing to become executioner. Incompetent, usually drunk, and performing his duties in front of huge crowds expecting a 'good show'…what a picture! Curry, Coates, Howard and Askern fill the gap as the Public Executioners until the spectacle was moved behind closed doors in 1868. Bartholomew Binns, James Berry, James Billington, Henry, James and Albert Pierrepoint all get their own chapters, as does the author's namesake Steve Wade. Not only does the reader gain an insight into their lives and motivations, but also details of some of the murders that brought the murderer face to face with the hangman for the final gallows scene.
 
The 11th chapter looks at some of the 'assistant hangmen', the number twos.
It is not clear why Britain's last hangman Harry Allen is relegated here since he was Yorkshire born in Denaby and performed 3 executions as number 1 at Armley. The penultimate chapter relates some of the less clinical performances, highlighting the fact that judicial hanging was never an exact science. The final chapter “Conclusions” provides the reader with Albert Pierrepoint's famous quote…”All the men and women whom I have faced at that final moment convince me that in what I have done I have not prevented a single murder”. If anyone was entitled to a view on capital punishment, then surely it was he. A point well made by the author.
 
All in all this book is a thoroughly good read and much more than a run of the mill account connecting Yorkshire and executioners. As Wade says it does not explain why Yorkshire has produced more than its fair share of hangmen. What is does is provide some clues as to why these particular men chose to become hangmen and how they coped, or otherwise, with doing the State's 'dirty work'. Look for the alcohol connection! As this book is indexed both by names and places and contains an excellent bibliography, it would be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of true crime buffs, social historians and those interested in Yorkshire history.
 
Finally, what is that gallows scene on the cover? Talk about suspense.

Cliff Cohen


Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths Around Portsmouth
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Sarah Quail
ISBN: 1845630467
Publishers: Wharncliffe Books (Pen & Sword Books Ltd)
Price: £12.99
Publication Date: 2008
 
Publisher's Title Information

 
Gripping Account Of The Sinister Side Of Portsmouth's History
Murders, Conspiracies, Executions, Disappearances, Crimes Of Passion
Vivid Insight Into Criminal Acts And The Criminal Mind.
 
Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths Around Portsmouth takes the reader on a sinister journey through centuries of local crime and conspiracy, meeting villains of all sorts along the way - cut-throats and poisoners, arsonists and assassins, mutineers, duellists and marauders, prostitutes and thieves, and the brawling seamen and common murderers who moved through the cruel underworld of this historic town.
 
Sarah Quail has selected over 20 notorious episodes that give a fascinating insight into criminal acts and the criminal mind. She recalls intriguing and shocking cases dating from medieval times to the present day. In the process she uncovers an extraordinary variety of misdeeds, some motivated by brutal impulse or despair, others by malice, which taint the history of every age.

Most of the cases she recounts involve ill-fated individuals who are only known to us because they were caught up in crime, but she also reconsiders more famous episodes like the murder of the Duke of Buckingham and the disappearance of the Cold War frogman Buster Crabb. The human, dramas that are played out in these pages often take place in the most commonplace of circumstances, but others are so odd as to be stranger than 'fiction
 
The author

 
Sarah Quail is a freelance consultant and writer in the museums, libraries and archives sectors. She worked for many years in local government and was Portsmouth City Council's Head of Arts, Libraries, Museums and. Records. She has written, edited and co-edited a number of books on the history of Portsmouth and Hampshire including Images of Portsmouth (with John Stedman), Portsmouth in the Twentieth Century, The Complete Photographic History of Portsmouth 1900-1999 (with John Stedman and others,) Southsea Past and Portsmouth - A History and Celebration.
 
Preface

 
Three factors have shaped the history of Portsmouth - for good and ill. They are the sea, geography and war. The great natural harbour has provided a safe anchorage and ship-repair facilities, and the deep-water channel which hugs the Coast of Portsea Island has brought ships safely to these shores on official business for almost a thousand years. Portsmouth's geographical position on the south coast, barely one hundred miles from the French coast, has also placed the town firmly on a natural line of communication between this country and continental Europe and, in due course, more faraway places. Thus, almost by default, Portsmouth has supplied this country for much of its history with what William Shakespeare described as the 'sinews of war': ships and men.
 
This role was recognised officially as early as the sixteenth century when the town was designated a royal dockyard and garrison town. What did all this mean for the people of the town? First and foremost it has meant that the history of Portsmouth is not just a local story, it is a regional, national and, often, an international story. This is reflected in many of the chapters in this book from the stories of Adam de Moleyns and Margaret Pole by way of George Byng and 'Jack the Painter' to the astonishing, and still topical, story of the life and death of Buster Crabb.
 
The town's naval and military history is therefore a thread which runs through almost all these chapters, not only those devoted exclusively to the naval and military but also those devoted to the 'ordinary' people of this town in the final section.
 
The last chapter is something of an exception to the rest of the book but I felt that it was worth celebrating the fact, little known outside the circle of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, that the most famous fictional detective in the world was born here, in Portsmouth, and that his first case was penned in a small room at the top of a house in Elm Grove, Southsea by a local doctor hoping to supplement his modest income as a general practitioner.

Review
 
Portsmouth has a long association with the Senior Service. As the author says, 'three facts have shaped the history of Portsmouth - for good or for ill. They are the sea, geography and war.' The book of course reflects this with chapters on, The Honourable John Byng, Admiral of the Blue, Commander (Special Branch) LKP Crabb RNVR GM OBE of HMS Vernon (the Diving School was within this establishment), the Spithead Mutiny of 1797 and Transportation and Prison Hulks.
 
In addition to naval matters Chapter 15 discusses Dr Arthur Conan Doyle, who in fact lived at Southsea and to whom I shall return later. The whole of the book is a delight to read, but I will concentrate mostly on matters naval and the great fictional detective.
 
Commander Crabb is buried in Milton Cemetery, but will we ever know the full truth -probably not and perhaps in our lifetime we never will. Use is made for reference to Marshall Pugh's book, which is worth reading, 'Commander Crabb the Amazing Story of a Remarkable Man', Mcmillan & Company Ltd 1956. Worth reading is also 'The Frogmen' Tom Waldron and James Gleeson, Evans Bros Ltd 1950. My 1970 paperback version contains a postscript written in 1970 which discusses the origins of the Cousteau - Gagnan demand valve, which allows a person to dive in safety to a depth of 300 feet and the wet as opposed to dry suit. To quote from that book:-
 
'The Russian cruiser Ordzhonikidze came to Portsmouth with Marshal Bulganin and Mr Khruschev on board. Naval Intelligence were interested 'in its bottom'. A junior Officer of the Department asked Crabbie to go and have a look. Crabbie, who had not been doing too well as a free-lance civilian diver, was delighted to go. He dived on oxygen in a frogman's suit which he hired from a London firm. He was not very fit, he was forty-six years old, and it was a long, cold swim. He never returned. The Russians claim to have had a glimpse of a frogman on the surface - he must have been dead then…. Nobody ever mentioned that every time a British ship went to Russia, the Russians had a good look underneath it is standard practice… Lieutenant-Commander L. K. P. Crabb, OBE, GM, is dead, his epitaph was spoken by a Prime Minister of England, the land that our old friend Crabbie loved and served so well may he rest in peace. Tom Waldron and James Gleeson.'
 
There are one or two issues, which I would wish to comment on. It is interesting to note that the book discusses articles by John Stretton in 'The News' 1974 where it is claimed Crabb dived from Kings Steps to reach the Russian ships berthed at South railway jetty. Kings Steps was a very busy place used regularly by boats of all sorts. I always dropped the Rear Admiral Submarines there when he came across by Barge from HMS Dolphin. It was always necessary to complete a full turn and use both engines with full power. The thought of a diver being about horrifies me.
 
Page 51 says that he was wearing 'a special breathing set which would leave no tell-tale bubbles'. Of course he was, these sets were used by all Royal Navy Divers up until 1959 and were standard issue until SABA came into use.
 
The Royal Navy had dived on 'closed-circuit' oxygen for obvious reasons, because oxygen was re-breathed via a container of CO2 absorbents, it gave off no bubbles. It did of course present problems.
 
A) Sometimes when going onto pure oxygen you tend to have a black-out.
 
B) You cannot dive below 33 feet because if you do you may get oxygen poisoning because the partial pressure of oxygen falls below one atmosphere.
 
C). If water got into the sodalime CO2 absorbent you could get an alkaline burn. We always carried vinegar in diving boats for that reason. The absorbent had to be changed after every dive. The Admiralty instruction had been distributed in 1934:
 
'The C02 absorbent granules must be renewed after use when the set is laid aside prior to further practice. Remember that breath on the granules starts the chemical reaction, which continues after breathing ceases, so that in a very short time all the granules are -useless. So remember that if you do breathe on the granules and leave them you might not be the one to wear that set in a case of emergency . . . you therefore might, perhaps, commit murder.'
 
My memory (not so good these days) tells me we had about 1. 5 hrs of oxygen. On Pager 57 it states that he was carrying sufficient for 2 hrs, so that could be correct. There are still many unanswered questions, but some remains high on my list - who authorised this and why didn't we do a professional job? Why use an unfit 46-year-old RNVR Officer with borrowed equipment and no back-up? If he did dive from Kings Steps he did so with authority.
 
Chapter 3 Executed on the Quarterdeck should whet your appetite for a fuller account such as 'At 12 Mr Byng was Shot' Dudley Pope, 1962, Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 'At 12 Mr Byng was shot dead by 6 Marines and put into his coffin…' Masters log of HMS Monarch, Monday March 14, 1757'
 
Chapter 15 relates the fact that Dr Arthur Conan Doyle lived in Portsmouth from 1882-1890 and during those years set up business at 1 Bush Villas, Elm Grove, which was destroyed on the nights of 10 and 11 January 1941 by German bombing.
 
Doyle was a very keen sportsman; he played bowls, he played cricket for North End Cricket Club and it seems certain he was a founder member of Portsmouth Football Club for whom he kept goal under the name of AC Smith. Much of the material can be found in 'A Study in Southsea - from Bush Villas to Baker Street - the Unrevealed Life of Dr Arthur Conan Doyle the Creator of Sherlock Holmes', Geoffrey Stavert, Milestone Publications, 1987.
 
As a person who spent his childhood in Portsmouth (Southsea) I tried, out of curiosity to find Doyle's address on an 1896 OS Map and just about succeeded. A map would have helped, but I enjoyed the experience of being young again and wandering around the streets of Southsea.
 
Chapter 14, 'The Blossom Alley Murder of 1923' refers at one point to a woman's harrowing experience of St Mary's Workhouse. When searching the Creed Registers at the Portsmouth Records Office (BG/W2 1879-1953) I discovered that my Great-Grandparents had spent very short periods in what I believe is the workhouse during the years 1905 to 1927, and later, one Great uncle had also been admitted for a period in 1901. When I questioned my father he said people went in to receive medical treatment and this is borne out by the entry stating, who admitted “self”. In fact my Great-Grandmother had died in St Mary's in 1941 when she had asked to go there to be with her friends; by then of course it was more like a hospital.
 
For those with an interest in Portsmouth this would be a good buy and it is the type of book that one can dip into at will.
 
Rob Jerrard


Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in Barking, Dagenham & Chadwell Heath

Edition: paperback

Author: Linda Rhodes & Kathryn Abnett

ISBN: 1-845630-34-3

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price: £12.99

Publication Date: 2007

Publisher's Title Information


The Sinister Side Of The History Of Barking, Dagenham And Chadwell Heath

Murders And Accidental Deaths, Disasters, Robberies And Conspiracies, Executions, Crimes Of Passion

A Moving Record Of Violent, Often Tragic Local Events

Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath takes the reader on a sinister journey through centuries of local crime and conspiracy, meeting villains of all sorts along the way - murderous husbands and lovers, cut-throats, police-killers, highwaymen, Gunpowder Plotters and even a Nazi collaborator sentenced to death for High Treason.

Luckless individuals who came to cruel or unjust ends are also recalled, from martyrs and witches to the fishermen who perished in the Great Storm of 1863 and the hundreds who lost their lives when the pleasure steamer the Princess Alice sank in the Thames in 1878. There is no shortage of harrowing and revealing tales of accident and evil to recount from the history of this part of Essex to the east of London.

This chronicle of crime and disaster features many stories published here for the first time, and gives a vivid insight into the hidden history of Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath from Tudor times up until the 1950s.


The Authors

Linda Rhodes and Kathryn Abnett were both born and bred in the area. Their previous book, The Dagenham Murder: the brutal killing of PC George Clark, 1846, written in collaboration with Lee Shelden, won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award for Non-Fiction in 2006.


Review
Foul deeds and suspicious deaths in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath
 
If you propose moving house, what are your immediate prime objectives? To live in a rural or urban area, buy a house or bungalow? Having made those decisions and fixed an affordable price, how important is the district where you commence searching? For the sake of argument suppose you decide you are interested in the Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath area of Essex and eventually, after many weeks of searching you select a few possible properties, will you ever consider whether any of the houses - or those in adjoining streets - might have a “history”? Would you object if you were informed that a former occupant might have been burnt at the stake or murdered or that a convicted murderer once slept in the house?
 
Many celebrated authors of fiction have written about newcomers to haunted houses and the subsequent effect on their lives but, how would you be aware of the history of a house? These days with the ever-increasing interest in genealogy it would not be difficult to find a house researcher, but another method would be to buy a book from this series. This is a series of seventeen books relating foul deeds, etc in different parts of the country. Presumably other titles will gradually appear, until it will be possible to research the vast majority of infamous properties in every part of the UK.
 
This particular book contains a diversity of subjects. It begins in the middle 1550s with the story of Christopher Lyster, a blind farmer, and others who spoke against the authority of the Pope and were burned at the stake. This is followed by stories about witches, after which the authors consider the legend that the Gun Powder plot conspirators met at Eastbury House in 1605. We are then introduced to a Barking fisherman who was ambushed by pirates and sold into slavery and, not to be outdone by yet another infamous historical event, we are provided with a story about the highwayman Dick Turpin (with not a mention of his horse “Black Bess”). The first chapter then concludes with a bedtime story about bodysnatchers!
 
The book contains twenty-one chapters that include the murder of PC George Clark in 1853; a graphic account of the sinking of the pleasure steamer the “Princess Alice” in 1878; murderous husbands and lovers, cut-throats and even a Nazi collaborator sentenced to death for High Treason and many more nasties that occurred in this particular part of Essex.
 
The events are well written in the same style and the sources are in the main from national and local newspapers and periodicals. These are usefully listed at the end of each chapter, although it is a pity that dates are not shown. This may be the overall policy of the publishers and if so it is hoped it will be rectified in subsequent editions in the series. There are a large number of photographs, which increases interest of each story and brings life to the text, even though some are modern and merely refer to where incidents occurred years ago.
 
In books such as this, which can, loosely be termed as of an historical nature, I always turn to the end before opening the cover to check whether an index has been included. I am pleased to say the book does contain a comprehensive index. Overall, if this is a typical example of the series as a whole, I am certain they will become extremely popular, not only with existing residents in the areas concerned, but also with amateur family historians.
 
ICONOCLAST


Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Hampstead, Holborn & St Pancras

Edition: paperback

Author: Mark Aston

ISBN: 1-903425-94-8

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price: £10.99

Publication Date: 2005

Publisher’s title Information


Gripping Accounts Of The Sinister Side Of Camden's History

A Chronicle Of Murders, Conspiracies, Executions And Crimes Of Passion

Features Cases From Belsize Park, Bloomsbury, Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Euston, Fitzrovia, Hampstead, Holborn, Kentish Town, Kilburn, King's Cross, Primrose Hill, St Giles, St Pancras, Somers Town

The twin fascinations of death and villainy will always hold us in their grim but thrilling grip. In Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras, the chill is brought close to home as each chapter investigates the darker side of humanity in cases of murder, deceit and pure malice in this corner of London. From crimes of passion to opportunistic killings and coldly premeditated acts of murder, the full spectrum of criminality is recounted, bringing to life the sinister history of this part of the capital over the last 400 years.

The Author

Mark Aston is Local Studies Librarian at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre. He was born in Camden and lives there still, and he is steeped in the rich, varied and sometimes notorious history of this distinctive part of London.


Review

Mark Aston is Local Studies Librarian at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, and he was born in Camden, so he is ideally qualified to write this, and will have had at his disposal some of the more obscure cases.  As with most volumes in this Wharncliffe series, the period covered extends across the centuries; Aston starts with 'Mother Damnable' of the seventeenth century and ends with a case in the 1950s.

The nature of the series is such that crimes of all kinds may be included, and many of these will inevitably be the familiar ones for any readers who enjoy the crime history genre. But although there are a few very notorious stories, such as Dr Crippen and Mary Pearcey, this volume is full of surprises for the crime aficionado. Among the most intriguing narratives here are the tales of the Euston Murder Mysteries of 1872-4 and the 'Little Italy' death of 1864.

One of the pleasures of reading this genre is the unique insight such tales give us into the darker corners of social history. An example is the account of the first police deaths in the 1830s when the Metropolitan Police were only just in existence. A constable in Holborn was killed and the ensuing enquiries were farcical and so clumsy that it is hard to believe they happened.

Aston is very enlightening on matters of incidental detail and on fusing together the verified recorded sources with that fascinating area of folklore and oral tradition the genre needs to give it an injection of speculation. The story of Mother Damnable is exactly that: her story exists somewhere between legend and local literature, but she may even have been a camp-follower in Marlborough’s wars and also it may be true that the famous rake, Lord Rochester, met her.

The author has all the necessary skills required for a crime casebook, knowing how to balance fact and inference, and how to relate the local tales to the national story in each context as he moves through the centuries. As always with the 'Foul Deeds' series, we also have the interest created by the mix of illustrations, and this book has some excellent curiosities, images that evoke the periods and the people with equal fascination.

This is a valuable addition to the Wharncliffe series and I recommend it to all readers with an interest in the social history of crime and in the biographies of people - ordinary and extraordinary - who become criminals either by chance or design.

Stephen Wade



Unsolved Murders in Victorian & Edwardian London

Edition: paperback

Author: Jonathan Oates

ISBN: 1-845630-45-9

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price: £12.99

Publication Date: 2007

Publisher's Title Information


Compelling Accounts Of Over 20 Notorious Unsolved London Murders.

Exposes The Secret, Brutal Side Of Existence In The Victorian Metropolis.

Reveals How Murderers Got Away With Their' Crimes.

Insight Into Crime And Policing In The Nineteenth Century.

Unsolved crimes have a particular fascination, none more so than unsolved murders. The horror of the crime itself, the mystery surrounding it, the notion of a killer on the loose, the insight into primitive police work, the chance to speculate about the identity of the killer after so many years have passed - all these aspects of unsolved murder cases make them compelling reading.

For this collection Jonathan Oates has selected over 20 varied and intriguing cases from the late 1830s to just before the Great War. Among them are the headless body found in a bag at Waterloo Bridge, the--pregnant maid who was bludgeoned to death, the shooting of the night watchman at the Cafe Royal, the barmaid whose corpse rode the train from Hounslow to Waterloo, the dead girl packed in a parcel, and the enigmatic case of Frances Coles, the Whitechapel prostitute who may have been Jack the Ripper's final victim.

Each of these case histories is recounted in precise, sometimes shocking detail. The inadequacy of the detection and forensic techniques employed over a century ago is revealed, as is the corrupt and brutal side of life in the Victorian city. Above all, this catalogue of vicious crimes sheds light on the lives of the victims and summons up the ruthless, sometimes lethal character of London itself.


The Author

Dr Jonathan Oates is the Ealing Borough Archivist and Local History Librarian, and he has written and lectured on aspects of the history of London, including its criminal past. His books include Images of England: Southall, Images of London: Acton, Southall and Hanwell: History and Guide, Acton: A History, Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Ealing and Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Lewisham and Deptford.



Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in London's East End

Edition: paperback

Author: Geoffrey Howse

ISBN: 1-903425-71-9

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price: £10.99

Publication Date:

Publisher's Title Information


For centuries, the site of many of London's docks, and historically one of the capital's poorest areas, the East End has also been associated with some of the worst elements of human depravity, a place where Foul Deeds and Murder were commonplace. The murder of Harriet Louisa Lane at 215 Whitechapel Road in 1874 is a particularly Dreadful case; and in 1903 Sinister Goings On in Church Road, Leyton, followed by a GRISLY discovery in the garden of of No 89, created quite a stir. But it was in 1888 that the East End's notoriety was added to by the horrific murders.-committed by Jack the Ripper. This book presents an account of some of the East End's Darker Past, contrasting well-known cases with lesser known but nonetheless equally Despicable Crimes.

The Author

Geoffrey Howse, actor, writer and local historian, was born in Sheffield and grew up in the village of Elsecar, one of the satellite villages situated amidst the great estate surrounding historic Wentworth Woodhouse, onetime seat of the Wentwo ths, about which he has written extensively. Geoffrey has lived in London since 1975°and has been uncovering evidence about the capital's darker side for many years. When he is of acting, Geoffrey spends time in archives and libraries, or in his study at his North London home, situated close to Highgate Cemetery and Hampstead Heath.


Review

All these foul deeds and deaths occurred between 1811 and 1903, but before that there are two chapters on 'Through the Ages' and 'Within the Precinct of the Tower and on Tower Hill'. It makes sense to define where or what you consider to be the East End. Certainly as a former City of London Policeman I would not agree with; 'many commentators say the East End begins at Aldgate pump'. For me it starts further east just beyond Aldgate East underground station, where the City of London jurisdiction ends. However I wouldn't make a big issue of it because when policing around Petticoat Lane you felt that you were on the very edge of the East End.
 
We are reminded of Wat Tylor, and later of the fact that until recently (how it doesn't say) a gibbet was hung at the end of the narrow alley that runs down the side of the 'Town of Ramsgate' pub to Old Wapping Steps as a reminder that nearby was 'Execution Dock' where pirates were executed. The 'Prospect of Whitby' gets a mention as the author explains its history.
 
The history of the Tower of London has a chapter devoted to it and that chapter gives an insight into how precarious life for a noble might be, when the author discloses that over 1,500 nobles were found buried beneath the floor of St Peter Ad Vincula as well as Queen Ann Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and the Duke of Monmouth, all of whom kept their heads, albeit, severed from their bodies.
 
I am not sure if it will be described as a distinction, but John Gerrard, who appears on my family tree was executed there for treason.
 
The execution of the Duke of Monmouth makes very unpleasant reading and I hope my relative did not suffer similarly.
 
Jack the Ripper must of course get a mention and this occurs in Chapter 5. Strictly speaking it could be said that these murders are not all in the 'East End'. One certainly was and still is within the precincts of the City of London, and I like so many of my colleagues before and since have patrolled Mitre Square, where Catherine Eddowes was found only half an hour after she had been released from Bishopsgate Police Station.
 
I am glad that the author does not point a finger at the likely Ripper, but merely list the usual suspects.
 
Of all the Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths series, I found this to be one of the most interesting and the book is packed with photographs as well.
 
As I said at the beginning the book ends in 1903. There have been many foul deeds in the East End since, but perhaps that's another book?
 
Rob Jerrard