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The old watchmen were known for being drunk on duty and the new police suffered the same reputation. This one is from and it shows the fears of the public that a French style political police force was being imposed upon them. As I mentioned earlier, the Metropolitan police had jurisdiction over the whole of London except for the City of London. So the Metropolitan police were responsible for the whole of this area except for the little white bit in the middle which is the City of London.
And even today the City of London has its own police force. All attempts to unite the two police forces have failed over the years. At the same time in , the old constables were finally abolished. They were replaced in by plains clothes detectives within the police force and they eventually became the Criminal Investigation Department, the CID.
Sir Robert Peel set out the structure and salaries of the new force in a written memorandum dated 20 July By London was divided up into four districts, each of which had several divisions — for example, number 4 district included Lambeth, Southwark, Camberwell, Greenwich and Clapham. Each division had a Superintendent in charge and under him were four inspectors and 16 sergeants. There are gaps in some collections and other collections are incomplete in other ways.
There is a particularly bad period from to , when pretty much nothing survives. But there is a good period between and for which there are several sets of records which survive and in which you should be able to find mention of your man. They will give you the name, the warrant number, the division, the dates of appointment or removal from the force. MEPO 4, pieces 31 and 32 — there are only two of these volumes and the entries are arranged in warrant number order.
They were simply completed as policemen signed up. And they give you the warrant number, the name, the date of the appointment, the division to which they were attached and their height. There is also a column for how they were removed from the force, which is usually that they had either died or resigned or were dismissed.
Now when you look down the list of men in this book, you can see that nearly all of them were dismissed for being drunk [laughter]. In fact, of the first 2, new policemen, only managed to keep their jobs. Such a rapid turnover caused Mr Charles Hebbert, the first clothing contractor, to complain to the receiver about the extra cost involved in altering and re-issuing so many uniforms.
The next document is the alphabetical register in HO It also tells you why he was removed from the force at the end of his service, which again is usually death, dismissal or resignation. Most of them when you look down the list are dismissed. And you can see the ones underneath, basically all the same, ditto. Thirdly, we have the registers of joiners. They are easy to use, arranged in alphabetical order of name and they cover the period from to Then there is a gap and they start again in going right up to They should give you the name, rank, warrant number, division, and dates of appointment and removal from the force.
The earlier four volumes also give you the names and addresses of referees. At the front of the volume, you get the oath that they would have sworn at the time of their signing. These ledgers also give you the division that they joined, by whom they were sworn and a signature of the witness which again could be another member of the family. These include quite a lot of information on each person. They are arranged by warrant number, so they were just completed as they were recruited.
And they record the answers to the questions that the recruiting officer would have put to the recruits. Sixth, are Registers of leaving. There are 13 volumes of these and obviously they are arranged in date order, completed as and when people left the force. They give you the division, the warrant number, the rank, the class, number of certificates granted if not dismissed. Now, there are name indexes which can kind of help you on your way through these records.
And it was compiled by combing through the correspondence and papers for the Metropolitan Police in series MEPO 2; picking up names of individual men and their warrant numbers. There is also a separate name index which is just a single volume, again amongst the red set. Police orders were like office notices; announcements of people leaving or joining or being promoted and they can give you specific information on individual policemen. They comprised general and confidential notices, instructions on personnel matters including recruitment, promotions, transfers, awards, retirements and dismissals and other instructions or notices to be brought to the attention of all ranks.
These records are not otherwise easy to use because there is no index to them apart from this binder. So where should you start your search? If you do not have the warrant number then you should start with the chronologically arranged documents listed on the left. If you do have the warrant number then you can start with the numerically arranged collections on the right. Either way you should find enough information to find your man in all the available documents, provided they survive.
Pensions Up until pensions were discretionary and police officers had no legal right to them. After the police pensions act was passed, officers were entitled to claim a pension provided they had served 25 years and they could claim a modified pension or a gratuity if they were discharged medically unfit.
There are two main sources for pension records. The first is MEPO 5, general correspondence and papers of the Met Police Office of the receiver relating to financial matters, between pieces one and And that covers from to But it is one of those collections of correspondence where you might find something about your man; but it is not arranged by name or anything useful. Just type in the name of the person you are looking for and if they received a pension between and , their name should come up with the appropriate MEPO 21 reference.
The records actually continue on until , still in MEPO 21 but individual names are not added to the catalogue yet. So for records after , you simply choose the document that covers the date of retirement and you can then use the register of leavers to find out when your man left the force and then go into MEPO 21 for that date. The moment became immortal. It lives on in three museums and in the debates of the art world, but its impact goes further.
When Copley painted his shark, it was a monster, and as the decades went by, that feeling endured. The mythology builds. Watch Tracy fashion a crude harpoon with a stick and knife. Watch him slam it through the surface of the water. Brock, the curator, notes how goofy the animatronic model for Jaws looks in behind-the-scenes photos.
The artistry of the shark — how it can so convincingly move through and pop out of the water, how in those moments it makes such a strong case for its own realism — creates the fear. We humans are far more complex than the news headlines and clickbait would have you believe. Let the Narratively newsletter be your guide. Love this Narratively story?
Sign up for our Newsletter. Send us a story tip. Become a Patron. Follow us. How a brilliant scientist went from discovering a mother lode of treasure at the bottom of the sea to fleeing from authorities with suitcases full of cash. Thompson had long insisted that he suffers from neurological problems and chronic fatigue syndrome, which impairs his memory, and that his meandering explanations were a symptom of the distress foisted upon him. Thompson was genuinely sickened and overwhelmed, however, and he found it extremely frustrating that nobody seemed to take his condition seriously.
In the 30 years since, the weight of the find had upended partnerships, ended his marriage, and set loose the specter of greed. What began as a valiant mission of science turned into something else entirely. O n September 11, , about 7, feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a set of glowing orbs moved smoothly through the darkness and illuminated the mysterious world below. That far down there are few currents, the water is close to freezing, and it is almost pitch black. The only light typically comes from the bioluminescent creatures that float by like ghosts, but in this case the lights were from a six-ton, unmanned vessel.
The Nemo , looking like an industrial freezer with two robotic arms, made a small adjustment to its thrusters and hovered above the scattered remains of a sunken ship. Video of the wreckage was relayed to a vessel bobbing above, giving the crew — and the world — the first look at a ship whose location had stymied treasure hunters for generations. It was the SS Central America , a massive side-wheel steamship that sank in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in The find was remarkable for many reasons. The artifacts eventually recovered from the ship were a window into a bygone era and gave voice to the hundreds of people who were pulled into the abyss.
But the discovery was also a spectacular victory for pocketbooks — the ship was carrying gold when it sank, and lots of it: coins, bars and nuggets of every size surrounded the wreck and covered its decks and rotting masts. And that was only what the crew could see — somewhere in the remains were said to be between 3 and 21 tons of gold, a haul some experts valued at close to half a billion dollars.
For Thompson, the Edisonian genius who masterminded the expedition, the discovery was the first salvo of what looked to be a long, impressive career. He became an American hero, a mix of brains and daring in the tradition of the scientist-adventurers of yore. But Thompson was subjected to a legal hell storm as soon as he set foot on shore. Numerous people and companies were vying for their share of the gold, and the unending litigation was compounded by the lawsuits filed by investors who claimed Thompson had ripped them off.
In , long after the litigation had sidetracked his calling, Thompson went underground, allegedly taking with him suitcases full of cash and gold. Months later, Thompson was staying under an assumed name at a hotel in Boca Raton, Florida, trying to keep his faculties in check. He was unkempt, unwell and barely left his hotel room, as he had been on the run from federal authorities for the past two and a half years.
From the witness stand in Columbus, Thompson disclosed startling information in a story already laden with tragedy and fortunes lost — and shed light on the mystery of millions in still-missing gold. The pressure 8, feet below the sea is times greater than on the surface, and Tommy Thompson was squeezed by something even more intense for the better part of 30 years. He grew up in Defiance, Ohio, a small city in the northwestern corner of the state.
He was always drawn to the water, and he enjoyed challenging friends to breath-holding contests. When he was a teenager, he bought and fixed up an amphibious car, and he loved pranking his friends by driving unsuspecting passengers into a lake. Rife with lore, the hunters spoke of ships sunken somewhere out in the ocean with more gold than could ever be spent.
However, nobody knew quite where to start looking, nor could they afford the technology necessary to undertake the search. Following his graduation from The Ohio State University with a degree in ocean engineering, Thompson went to work for the Battelle Memorial Institute, a prominent research lab in Columbus that has developed everything from kitchen appliances to nuclear weapons. There, he was able to work on deep-sea engineering projects, at one point developing technology that allowed the U. Thompson wanted to work exclusively in deep water but was routinely warned that such jobs were hard to come by.
So he began looking for other ways to pursue this heady scientific passion. It was actually the means to an end. One of the first orders of business was to find the perfect wreck to hunt. Thompson worked with Bob Evans, an equivalently intelligent polymath and professional geologist, to winnow down the list of candidate ships. The Central America ferried passengers to and from California at the height of the Gold Rush in the mid 19th century. Six hundred people, and up to 21 tons of gold coming from California, were aboard the Central America when it disembarked to New York from a stopover in Cuba on September 3, Five days later, the ship found herself floundering in the middle of a terrifying hurricane.
Passengers attempted a hour nonstop bucket brigade to keep the ship afloat, but the engines flooded and the storm ripped apart masts and sails. The ship was doomed. The vessel let out a final tortured groan as it sank on the evening of September 12, sucking souls down in a horrifying vortex. The loss in gold was so profound that it was one of the factors precipitating the Great Panic financial crisis of Finding the Central America would be no easy matter — proportionally it would be like finding a single grain of sand in the floor plan of a four-bedroom house.
The key, Thompson knew, was to undertake a logical and hyper-organized search. Bob Evans used every known detail about the fateful voyage, including passenger and crew accounts of the weather as the ship sank, and worked with a search theory expert to determine that the wreck was likely somewhere in a 1,square-mile grid miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, in part of the ocean that was nearly a mile and a half deep. Each square on the grid was assigned a number based on the likelihood that the ship had ended up there, and the idea was to trawl a sonar apparatus up and down the grid and take in-depth readings of the most promising results.
Obsessed with his work, Thompson was said to be indifferent to food and sleep, dressed in a thrift store suit and hair afrizz. As a result, the high-powered investors waiting in their upper-floor offices and elegant conference rooms were often skeptical of his bewildering presence.
But time after time, Thompson would speak to them reasonably, thoroughly and intelligently. He was realistic about the low probability of success, outlined various contingencies, and emphasized that the mission offered the chance for the investors to participate in a journey of good old American discovery.
Investors soon found themselves chuckling in delight at the audacious fun of the project and the inspiring confidence they felt in Thompson. Wayne Ashby told the Columbus Dispatch in Thompson was the head of both. Under the aegis of these companies, Thompson outfitted a search vessel, put together a crew, and developed a seven-ton remotely operated vehicle capable of withstanding deep-ocean conditions.
They also conducted various other experiments useful to the recovery, such as purposely giving Evans the bends. As Gary Kinder writes in Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, the deepest an unmanned submersible had gone previous to this was 6, feet. That vehicle had been difficult to control, with only one arm that could perform rudimentary functions. The technology Thompson and his crew developed in secret streamlined and refined the submersible so that it was much easier to control and could perform the delicate tasks needed for the recovery of the ship.
It was one of their secret weapons, and the mission to find the Central America was officially launched in June The mission was subject to numerous difficulties: seasickness, short tempers, errant weather, malfunctioning equipment, little sleep, and a stretch of time when the only food served was fried chicken. Investors groused about the delays, but Thompson always managed to assuage their fears. In late summer , the crew sent the submersible robot down to check out an overlooked blip on the search grid.
The control room aboard the ship, with its walls of monitors and technology that made it look like an alien craft from an old movie, exploded with profoundly human joy. Gold and artifacts were brought to the surface starting in fall , the beginnings of a haul that would grow to include gold ingots, 7, gold coins, and, at 80 pounds, one of the largest single pieces of gold ever discovered and at the time the most valuable piece of currency in the world. Wayne Ashby told the Dispatch when the discovery was announced. When asked by a reporter to estimate the value of the haul, Thompson demurred.
The first haul of gold was taken from the ship straight into armored cars by guards carrying machine guns amidst cheering investors, well wishers, and descendants of the survivors of the Central America wreck. But as it would turn out, that brief glimpse was the closest any investor would ever get to the treasure found at the bottom of the sea. I n , the Columbus-America Discovery Group had secured its right in admiralty court to excavate the Central America site and retain possession of whatever they discovered beneath the sea.
But this ruling was challenged almost as soon as Thompson set foot back on the shore. Thompson and his companies were sued by no less than separate entities, including 39 insurance companies that had insured the cargo on the original Central America voyage. Things got even more complex when an order of Capuchin monks sued Thompson, alleging he had copped the intel given to them by a professor from Columbia University whom they had commissioned to do a sonar search of the same area.
Recovery operations were suspended in because of the lawsuits, leaving the fate of the gold brought to the surface in legal limbo — and tons of gold still on the wreck at the bottom of the sea. The back-and-forth continued until and in the process established case law in admiralty court when Thompson and his companies were finally awarded Coupled with a significant devaluing of the rare coin market, a few investors wondered about the future of their investment. The pressure mounted as Thompson attempted to balance his obligations to his crew, his companies, and his investors while being a dad to his three kids.
He was right there, every time there was a hearing. He read every page of every brief, and a lot of times he was helping with the writing, too. Army, but this later proved to be a myth. Meetings with investors became less frequent, they said, as did updates and newsletters. Once lauded for his openness, Thompson appeared to go into a shell. Thompson said that his silence was necessary to protect trade secrets. By , some of the investors were fed up with the way Recovery Limited Partnership was being run and made moves to establish another company, this time with the investors in charge.
The companies were restructured, with the reworked Columbus Exploration as a partner company to Recovery Limited Partnership. Thompson was again the head of both entities, though it was stipulated that he would draw a salary only from the former and not the latter. Much of it was sold to gold and coin dealers, and some of the treasure was displayed in a lavish traveling exhibit across the country, with Thompson sometimes making an appearance alongside his discovery.
Thompson then allegedly told investors that they would not be seeing any of the proceeds, as all the money went to pay off the loans and legal fees that had accrued since the mission began. Thompson took the coins without approval from the board, though his attorney Keith Golden maintains there was nothing clandestine about it. Nonetheless, in , two former investors filed lawsuits against Thompson for breach of contract and fiduciary duty: Donald Fanta, president of an investment firm, the Fanta Group, and the Dispatch Printing Company, owned by the family that ran The Columbus Dispatch.
Dispatch scion John W. However, he died and his cousin John F. Convinced that Thompson was ripping him off, the cousin pushed the lawsuit ahead. Thompson was next sued by a group of nine sonar techs from the original mission who claimed they had been duped out of 2 percent of the profits from the gold, plus interest. The two cases were combined with a third into a mega-lawsuit in federal court, creating a labyrinthine legal situation with a rotating cast of attorneys and thousands of motions and maneuvers that bewildered even seasoned courtroom players.
Missions to the Central America were once again put on hold as Thompson put his mind to work filing legal briefs and appeals. Once having bragged of being the subject of more than 3, articles, Thompson had long since stopped talking to the press, and now spent half the year living in a Florida mansion rented under another name. Thompson began to show symptoms of the gilded affliction. In he was arrested in Jacksonville after a sheriff observed him hiding something under the seat following a routine traffic stop.
In July , U. Organ had never actually met Thompson and claimed that he was out to sea. But Judge Sargus shook his head and declared bullshit. The two were presumed to be together and, some of the investors speculated, in possession of millions of dollars in cash and the gold coins. On top of the civil suits against him, Thompson was charged with criminal contempt of court, and U. Marshals were tasked with tracking down him down. Marshal Brad Fleming told the Associated Press in the midst of the pursuit.
Once the most successful treasure hunter in the world, Tommy Thompson was now the one being hunted. I n late summer , a handyman named James Kennedy walked up to the porch of Gracewood, a large home in Vero Beach, Florida. Kennedy took out his cell phone and pretended to call the landlord. I picked up my cell phone and I said it real loud. He had been a handyman for decades, but even he was taken aback by what he found inside. Thompson had been renting Gracewood since , a home away from the hassles in Columbus, and the mansion had become their home base when they fled Ohio two months earlier.
As renters, Thompson and Antekeier had always been friendly but maintained their distance, Brinkerhoff said. He searched for Thompson on the internet and learned that the tenants were wanted by U. Kennedy himself had once found a mammoth bone and was similarly besieged with people trying to take advantage of his find. So he called the Marshals. But by that point, Thompson and Antekeier had long since fled Gracewood, and law enforcement was once again unable to determine where they went. Marshal Brad Fleming said in an interview.
Based on material found in the Pennwood cabin, the Marshals were alerted to the Hilton Boca Raton Suites, a banal upscale setting where the pair of fugitives had remained hidden since May 30, Marshals prepared to descend on the hotel. Thompson was a brilliant mind and incredible strategist, but he was not suited for life on the run. One of the last times anyone had seen him, it was a worrisome sight: Thompson was in the backyard of a house he was renting, yelling into his phone in his underwear. Think more along the lines of Dilbert in charge of the operation. But what had to be one of the most intense disappointments in the saga, for Thompson, was the fact that the excavation of the Central America would carry on without him.
Kane in turn contracted a company called Odyssey Marine Exploration to finish the recovery of the Central America. The goal was to bring the rest of the gold to the surface and ensure that the investors got paid. Thompson has significant holdings in the U. If there are dollars that he is hiding, I want every penny of it. The renewed excavation launched in April , with U. Marshals putting a wanted poster of Thompson aboard the ship in case he attempted to rejoin the mission.
The operation was quite successful, bringing up more than 45 gold bars, 15, coins, and hundreds of artifacts over the course of numerous dives, including a pair of glasses, a pistol, and a safe filled with packages. The sale of the gold was once again undertaken by the California Gold Marketing Group. O n January 27, , Thompson, then 62, was pale and sickly as he sat in his room in the Hilton Suites in Boca Raton, his body racked with the paranoid tics of a man on the run.
She took almost comically cinematic precautions when appearing in public, wearing big floppy hats and taking a succession of buses and taxis to lose anyone who might be on her tail. The hunt was led by an intimidating and extremely direct U. Marshal named Mike Stroh. He had been involved in manhunts all over the country, but the mission to find Thompson had special resonance with him as a professional person-finder. After seven hours of following her, Marshals crashed their way into the hotel and surprised the two, screaming at them not to move. The Marshals would ultimately cart away 75 boxes of evidence from the room, but they came up empty-handed in one aspect of their quest.
Investigators found boxes in the Gracewood mansion that looked a lot like those that had held the restrike coins, but the gold itself was nowhere to be found. Thompson tried to fight the extradition. Marshal Brad Fleming said Thompson was chatty as they made the journey back, perhaps relieved that he no longer had to hide.
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Both pleaded guilty to criminal contempt. T he capture of Tommy Thompson made for a fairly pedestrian end to a story that had captivated Columbus for years. Other associates were wistful about the turn of events. But the notion that not even a brilliant mind could resist running off with gold was too salacious not to report, and the allegations of thievery became the dominant narrative.
It was an unfortunate bookend to the legacy of someone who had long maintained that the historical and scientific aspects of the recovery were the most important point of the mission. Indeed, the non-gold accomplishments of the Central America mission are impressive and resounding. Michael Vecchione, a zoologist with the Smithsonian who briefly worked with the expedition, said the jerry-rigged technology of the Nemo is now standard practice for deep-ocean explorations.
The mission took thousands of hours of video, giving scientists an unprecedented look at deep-sea life and revealing new species and their evolutionary adaptations, he said. Deep-sea sponges were retrieved and studied for their antitumor properties. And the way in which they physically nabbed the gold was incredible in its own right: The robotic arms of the submersible gingerly placed a frame around a pile of coins and injected it with silicone, which, when solidified, made for a block full of gold that could be stored until it was ready to be brought to the surface.
Controlling all of this were systems less powerful than those contained in the average smart phone, Bob Evans said. The coins and other gold items recovered from the Odyssey Marine—led excavation debuted in a public exhibit in Los Angeles in February to record-setting attendance, and they were next seen in May at an NRA convention in Dallas.
After administrative costs, court costs and creditor claims, there would theoretically be a distribution to the investors in Recovery Limited Partnership — the first time they would ever see a dime, 33 years after the initial investment for some. The prison, an imposing but generic detention facility surrounded by razor wire, is about three hours from Columbus, and it is the place Thompson has called home for more than four years.
It appears to be his home for the foreseeable future, as Thompson is serving an indefinite sentence in federal prison for civil contempt for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of the coins. It has been hard to deduce his motivations, even for those who know him well.
His intense concentration and extreme focus found the Central America , and the same focus applied to trying to find an answer to his current predicament is taken as unwillingness to play ball. Only two of the hundreds of investors in the mission have sued Thompson because they knew it was a gamble to begin with, she said. Moreover, as Bob Evans explained, the actual value of the gold was highly speculative in the first place. The inventory has been published. There is no other gold that has been recovered.
Perhaps the math is not simple, but it is not beyond the talents of the most elementary minds, or at least the reasonably educated. But according to Quintin Lindsmith, attorney for the Dispatch Printing Company, recouping the supposedly missing returns is not the point. Thirty years and two months after the treasure was found, Thompson was driven the long three hours from Milan, Michigan, to Columbus, Ohio, to stand trial and answer questions many people had been waiting a long time to ask.
The missing defendant suggested a repeat of previous events. Had he somehow fled? Thompson, in a navy sport coat and light-colored plaid shirt, was momentarily nonplussed, and his eyes, behind his black, thick-framed glasses, registered a small amount of surprise. Most damning, however, was alleged evidence that he had stashed gold at the bottom of the sea, presumably to be retrieved later on: When the receivership went back down to the Central America in , they found coins and gold bars that had been neatly laid out on trays.
Thompson also admitted that he had made off with the gold coins as a form of remuneration he felt he was due. In her testimony, Alison Antekeier said that between and she moved them from California to a safe-deposit box in in Jacksonville, and then to a storage facility in Fort Lauderdale, where she gave them, in a handful of suitcases, to a man who was supposed to transfer them to an irrevocable trust in Belize.
This was the point Thompson was trying to make all along. As his attorney Keith Golden explained, an irrevocable trust means that once the trust is set up, the person who opened it cannot access it without the permission of the named beneficiaries. Who was supposedly named as beneficiaries on the trust is unclear. The ruling was later overturned on appeal. Finally, after weeks of testimony, the attorneys made their closing arguments and the jury reached its verdict.
Thompson sat in his wheelchair, legs shackled, as the official paperwork was handed from the foreman to the bailiff to the judge. After the decades of science, discovery, stress and flight, it all came down to this. In the matter of the civil case against, it was determined that defendant Thomas G. Thompson sat expressionless while everyone else gasped. However, the jury declined to award any punitive damages or court fees, indicating that there was no evidence that Thompson acted with malice.
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Either way, Lindsmith said the victory is once again about the principle. Like the cost of the litigation itself, the financial cost is immaterial to the larger point. The receivership is fielding offers for a multitude of items from the Central America and the recovery missions. Available for sale are bits and pieces of scientific and historical ephemera , including silicone molds with gold coin impressions, and even the Nemo , the remote underwater vehicle that was the first human contact with the Central America since They have tickets from the passengers.
Golden adds that the relentless litigation torpedoed an opportunity that would have made the Central America recovery look like chump change. Thompson was working with the Colombian government in the mids to recover an old galleon whose estimated value is legitimately a few billion dollars. The next steps for Thompson in the case brought by Dispatch Printing include an appeal of the judgment, with the hopes that the award will be diminished or overturned.
Separately, Thompson has filed an appeal in federal court to be let out of prison. Thompson is currently awaiting the ruling of a three-judge panel about whether or not his is valid. What little time he has to use the phone is spent speaking with lawyers, business partners, and his family; ditto for the days he can have visitors. And after decades of developing new technology, going after hidden gold, and having to fight in court, Thompson is used to secrecy and has no reason to talk about the case to anyone.
Alison Antekeier still lives in Columbus, keeps a low profile, and is still reportedly very sympathetic to Thompson. Numerous attempts to contact her went unanswered. In Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea , Gary Kinder includes chilling survivor accounts of the Central America disaster, including men and women screaming maniacally as they dumped out purses and emptied hidden pockets of gold as the ship sank. The vacated wealth was something they otherwise would have killed to protect. It was mania wrought by the plague of gold, a crippling infirmity that afflicts humans alone.
These Syrian children survived attacks that left them burned beyond belief. One program thousands of miles from home is offering them life-changing treatment. W inter was on its way in northwestern Syria when Hana Al Saloom awoke around 6 a. There was a chill in the air. Her 5-year-old daughter, Aysha, was asleep near a gas heater, as her brothers and sisters slept in other rooms. Hana blinked. The blast knocked her down. Then screams. She swiveled on her knees. She looked around.
Everything was on fire. It was as if her house had exploded. The impact must have caused the gas heater to blow up too. Accommodation on the Deal Street site was provided for men, but there were rarely more than lodgers. It became clear that the Association could not continue to operate so unprofitable a venture, and in the building was converted into dwellings for forty-six families, under the name of the HowardBuildings. The dormitories were subdivided into rooms, some of the windows made into doors, and external iron access galleries added, entirely transforming the side elevation of the building.
Each flat consisted of a living-room, bedroom, scullery, and sanitary facilities, and each had a separate entrance paired with that to the adjoining flat. The new family flats were occupied at the end of The conversion must have been a success because in the building was extended to accommodate an extra thirty-seven families. Before the conversion in , the Association had already enlarged the site in , by building two parallel terraces of cottages in adjacent Pelham Street. Each cottage had a separate dwelling on each of the two floors, thus accommodating thirty-two families. These two terraces were known as the Albert Cottages, and in they were duplicated by the Victoria Cottages further along the street.
The Albert and Victoria Cottages were intended for those who could not afford the higher rents of the family dwellings. The Association was criticized for using the land to provide housing of such a low density. It appears that the initial plans had been to build other large blocks, but instead the Association experimented with an urban estate, more typical of suburban districts in the North of England. In the previous eight years, in dwellings belonging to MAIDIC, the death-rate had not exceeded 14 per 1,, compared to the general death-rate in London of 24 per 1, His was a family refuge, not one for single people, but the basic rules will have been similar.
He must faithfully account for all monies received by him or his wife from the Lodgers, at such time, and in such manner, as is required by the owner of the house. He is to keep a book, in which, besides a regular entry of the names, period of occupancy, and payments made by each lodger a record shall be kept of any circumstances which may occur either of the nature of a complaint or otherwise. The Superintendent is to occupy free of rent, the apartments appropriated to him, and he will be allowed fuel, candles, salt and soap, and such necessary articles as may be required for keeping the house in proper order.
He is to be responsible for all the Beds, Bedding, Furniture, and other effects in the House, and as far as is in his power, to preserve them and the buildings and fixtures from injury. No alcohol was allowed on the premises, and smoking only allowed in the kitchen. The Superintendent of a lodging house could, at his discretion, give lodgers up to two weeks credit on their rent payments, which could then be repaid in instalments. He could also lend out copies of the Bible, and various improving books, to those who wished to avail themselves of the opportunity.
Most working people would have been illiterate at the time, but one of the objectives of these residential developments was to offer people the chance to make a better life for themselves. Howard Buildings in with the Victoria Cottages next door. George and Sarah had obvious suitability for this job, and retiring military men of the middle ranks were keenly sought for this quite challenging position. An Army pension, free accommodation and a small wage would have been attractive for George, with no trade to fall back on.
The coloured photos of the couple, wearing rather austere dress, looks like Wesleyan attire, and their involvement in the church may have been much greater than the available evidence suggests. Their children were certainly baptised into the Wesleyan Church, and the social values of the family suggest that this was an important part of their lives. Hand tinted photos of George — , age 46 and Sarah — , age The Metropolitan Association and its shareholders wanted both a good return for their investment and to be seen to giving something back to society, by running a respectable establishment.
They spent money to modify the Howard Buildings from single to family accommodation, and it was George and Sarah Browning who were entrusted to make it work. My father, Hugh, was taken by his father, Arthur, to see the Howard Buildings in around He remembers his father pointing out his old home, on the southern corner of the building, which was then occupied by a branch of the Midland Bank.
There were new experiences to undertake, like shopping, and if anything needed doing it was up to him to fix it. A few months later, in July , their youngest child, Edith Anne, also died from bronchitis, both probably related to the foul air and damp living conditions. Soon, Sarah became pregnant again, but things must have proved difficult because in the census, held on 2 nd April, only Egbert was at home, with Wilfred and Victor staying with William and Harriet Perry, in Chingford, Essex. Harriet was a Cooper cousin from Trudoxhill and does show that family connections were maintained with Somerset, long after the family had left the area.
I am indebted to Dave Dixon, descendent of Sarah Browning, for discovering the original of this photograph. Lydia Browning Birth: in Tytherington, near Frome. Death: in Frome. Spouse: William Read. George Browning Birth: 28 Apr in Frome. Spouse: Sarah Louisa Cooper. Charles Browning Birth: 14 Nov in Frome. Death: 20 Jan in Frome. Marriage: 14 Dec in Badcox Baptist Church. Spouse: Martha Cannings. Sarah Browning Birth: 21 Mar in Frome. Marriage: 20 Apr in Christ Church, Frome.
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Spouse: Stephen Papps Adams. Samuel Browning Birth: 28 Mar in Frome. Spouse: Elizabeth Pulling. James Browning Birth: 24 May in Frome. Death: in Bristol Marriage: in Bristol. Spouse: Ellen Cooper. Isaac Browning Birth: 12 Jan in Frome. Death: in West Ham. Marriage: in Bristol. Spouse: Mary Ann Goodman. Spouse: Edwin James Whitworth. The damp, polluted air in both Bristol and London was taking its toll on the young and old alike. So, three healthy boys were followed by three girls, who all died in infancy.
Doubts must have been cast as to the wisdom of the move to Whitechapel, as two girls had died there in three years. However at the time little was understood about the relationship between airborne pollutants and chest disease or polluted water and typhoid, cholera and diphtheria. Philip was born the following year and it was clearly a message from George to his sister that he was still thinking of her.
His oldest children were now of working age and expected to fend for themselves. Wilfred had already left, to travel the world as a seaman, whilst Egbert finished school in and was given two weeks, by his father, to get himself a job. He must have had a skill at drawing as he became a designer in a lace factory, and copies of his delicate drawings survive today. At the time of the census there were five healthy children living at home, with the oldest 17, and the youngest less than two years old. They had moved from Chingford and so George was obviously looking after his extended family and friends.
Ethel, like her previous namesake, had a very short life and died of measles a year later, in December Sarah was pregnant yet again at the time of the death of the second Ethel, and had her twelfth child on 7 th April The date was actually registered for the 8 th , because George got the date wrong.
This was an important birth for me, as Arthur James Browning was my grandfather. This meant thirteen children, with all the boys surviving infancy, but with four girls dead before their second birthday. The Victorian Age brought about a population explosion of previously unheard of proportions. More children were born and more survived. Families of children were common, with often children making it through to adulthood.
Overcrowding was the norm in most families. George Browning Born Frome 28 Apr Died 27 Oct , in Whitechapel. Sarah was born on 20 Jun in Peasedown, Somerset. She died on 17 Feb , in Walthamstow. D: 24 Dec , Whitechapel. D: 26 Feb , in Colchester. Reportedly, the young girls had strong Welsh accents, and took time to adjust to the modern ways of London life. The eldest child still at home, Egbert known as Uncle Bert became attracted to and married the eighteen year old, Sarah Wathen, in the summer of Initially Bert and Sarah lived in Euston, but by , they were back living with his parents, in the adjacent flat to his father, in the Howard Buildings, the one previously occupied by the Perry family.
Bert and Sarah wasted no time in starting their own family, and by they had two children, Hubert and Victor. Living arrangements must have been very cosy and organised on military lines. He was a house decorator at the time of his marriages, but his story later takes as many twists and turns as others in this extraordinary family. His choice of wife was even more remarkable than his younger brother, as he chose to marry the youngest daughter of his uncle, Charles Browning.
So with father, George, and now two of his sons, this was the third time cousin had married cousin. The marriages could have been prevented by strong parenting, but rather they seem to have been condoned, because all concerned were kept at the heart of the family. Sometimes closed religious sects marry within the group and sometimes rich families marry close cousins to keep money and estates from being diluted; Royal families have been doing it for centuries. They might also marry to keep a skill in a family or they could marry to protect a family secret.
The reason why Brownings kept marrying their cousins might be a combination of all of the above, but the reasons definitely seem to have Cooper roots, and that might lead back to Trudoxhill and Marston Bigott. Perhaps also relevant could be that a member of the Boyle family was almost certainly the father of Sarah Louisa Cooper. Blindness and disability were common and the problem was so acute that the men of the family made an agreement not to have children, although not all kept to the promise. Remarkably most lived to a very good age and had successful lives, despite their disabilities.
Simple footstools and priceless antique chairs came to Alan. He has preserved their beauty and usefulness for years to come. Many examples of his craftsmanship grace the Legislative Buildings in the State of Washington and in our own Legislative Buildings in Victoria. His willingness to teach his skills to others, especially the handicapped, was often overshadowed by his own working excellence.
He turned no-one away who wished to learn. For those who love and admire beautiful old furniture his legacy will live on for many years. His great ambition was that the craft of caning and rushwork be preserved. All six survived the experience, contributing over years of military service to their country. Queenie Ford lived to be , and her sister Winifred lived to However, back in the Howard Buildings, in the late summer of , the Brownings had other things to worry them.
The killings began in August, and although the exact number is disputed, they carried on until November. The serial nature of the assaults was realised when the mutilated body of Annie Chapman was found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street, lying against the fence. It was her killing that caused genuine fear and panic to begin in Whitechapel. The unrest that followed the second murder, of Annie Chapman, caused an increase in public criticism of the authorities. The inadequacy of local policing had long been a complaint but the Home Office refused to offer a reward for information caused further anger with the local residents.
Several Jewish businessmen, including Samuel Montague the local Member for Parliament, put up their own money in the hope of encouraging local residents to give up the killer. Residents began forming themselves into vigilance patrols, in the hope that their own private endeavours might succeed in bringing the killer to justice. George Browning and his family must have been as terrified as the rest. The murders were taking place all around them.
The first was a quarter of a mile to the east and the second the same distance to the west. The police were then saying there had been a third murder a quarter of a mile to the south of them. The murderer might have walked past their front door. He might even be one of the residents. Vigilante patrols were begun and extra police patrols started and George would probably have organised night watchmen for the main doors, a routine he had known before in India. It was the Alumbagh Palace all over again. The two murders of 30 September gave the letter greater importance and to underline it, the unknown correspondent again committed red ink to postcard and posted it on 1st October.
It was at this time that the panic was at its height, and the notoriety of the murders was becoming truly international, appearing in newspapers from Europe to the Americas. Even at this early stage the newspapers were carrying theories as to the identity of the killer, including doctors, slaughterers, sailors, and lunatics of every description. There were dozens of arrests of suspects, usually followed by quick release.
There was a police, house to house search, handbills were circulated, and Vigilance Committee members and private detectives flooded the streets. The murder of Mary Kelly, in November , was accompanied by mutilation of such ferocity that it beggared description and left the press short of superlatives. Any suspicious death in the area continued to arouse the police and the press.
People were well on their guard into , but there no more and people gradually began to go back to business as usual. Not only must the women of the Browning family have feared for their lives during those few months in and beyond, but there was also a wave of opinion which was blaming the murders and indeed all the ills of Whitechapel and Mile End on the very existence of the Common Lodging Houses. This was not far from where the Howard Buildings were situated. By law, every one of these common lodging houses had to be licensed and was subjected to strict police supervision.
Unlike George, many of these wardens had criminal backgrounds and operated on the periphery of the law. They would turn a blind eye, probably in return for a share of the proceeds, to illegal activity and blatantly flouted the regulation stating that men and women, unless married, must be kept separate. Referring to Thrawl Street, where Mary Nicholls, was lodging at the time of her murder, he wrote:. It is a risk for any respectable person to venture down the turning even in the open day. The police gave the number of Common Lodging Houses at , the number of residents at 8, and the number of brothels at So now, it was doubly important that George and Sarah kept Howard Buildings to the best possible standard, something they seem to have achieved, as life around them threatened to collapse.
The women earned 1s. However, they did not always receive their full wage because of a system of fines, imposed for talking, dropping matches or going to the lavatory without authorisation. The women were also risking their health when they dipped their match heads in the yellow phosphorus. The whole side of their faces turned green, then black, and finally caused death. Nearly match girls picketed against their employers, who gave in after a three week strike. This strike was followed by the London Dock strike of , when for the first time the rights of unskilled people to organise their labour and to join a trade union were established.
Both events provided a platform for the next great social break through, one that also took place in West Ham. Socialism and Non Conformist religion were intrinsically linked during the late Victorian period, particularly amongst the working classes, who had seen little of the wealth of the Victorian Age. Non-conformist religion seems to have been important for the Browning family but how important is difficult to assess.
We know the Coopers came from a Congregational Church background in Trudoxhill and Brownings in Frome had their roots in the Baptist tradition. In Blaenavon we find the Wathens were Evangelical Christians, associated with both the Wesleyan and Congregational church. The two wonderful photographs we have of George and Sarah Louisa look as though they were taken for a religious purpose.
Both have a rather unusual style of dress, which looks as though it was their Sunday religious best. A picture of an un-named Wesleyan minister and the formal photo of George Browning from the same period. This couple seeming to mirror George and Sarah in their attire. The Non-Conformist Church was becoming more militant, in the fight for social justice for the poor and to control the menace of drink and drugs that afflicted the middle classes.
This militancy also put them in straight competition with the Church of England, who rarely upset their friends in Westminster. George and Sarah Louisa seem to have bred a family with a strong social conscience and both came from a working class background, typical of the militant sections of the non-conformist church. George had witnessed, and indeed been a part of, the horrors of the Indian Mutiny, and so there is every reason to believe he would hope to make a contribution to a more peaceful world, on his return to civilian life. Evidence is patchy, but the accounts we do have put the family at the very front line in trying to create a better life for the average working citizen.
It was originally suggested that Egbert was the election agent for Keir Hardie, the first socialist Member of Parliament. He was the illegitimate son of a servant, Mary Keir. His mother later married David Hardie, a carpenter. By the age of 11, he was a coal miner. By 17 he had taught himself to read and write. He was a Member of Parliament from to and from to , and was leader of the Labour Party from to Lansbury acted as electoral agent for Samuel Montagu in Whitechapel , at the General Election of , but became increasingly disillusioned with the Liberals after he came into contact with the Social Democratic Federation during the London Dock Strike.
He became a prominent member of that organisation, standing twice as a parliamentary candidate for the SDF in the s, before leaving to join the Independent Labour Party around In he resigned his seat to force a by-election in support of the Suffragette movement, but lost the election and did not return to Parliament until Lansbury was one of the founders of the Socialist newspaper, the Daily Herald , in He became editor just prior to the Great War and used the paper to oppose the conflict. In the paper got into financial difficulties and he handed it over to the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party.
The library came to be known as the Octagon and was completed a year later in June The library was extensively used by 1, to 1, readers every day. On a bank holiday in the Palace was visited by over 26, people and one and a half million passed through the turnstiles in the first year. Hence it would have been a natural home at this time for a popular library to commemorate a popular author.
The Palace also published its own newspaper. The project, included a technical school, swimming baths, winter gardens, gymnasium and lecture rooms. Later a music hall was built on the site and the buildings, rebuilt after a fire in , eventually came under the umbrella of St Mary College, University of London. To become his election agent at some point shows their association must have been close and that he saw Egbert as a trusted confederate.
Bert did have an ally in his sister, Beatrice, who was 19 at the time of the election. She was a very compassionate individual and he has memories of discussions when only 7 or 8 years old of the inhumanities of the Great War. Ron became an active socialist politician in his teens, but he became disillusioned with the Labour Party during the turmoils of the s Depression and the rise of Nazi Germany.
He had been offered a safe Labour seat in an East End constituency, but instead he resigned from the party and joined the Communist Party in Ernest stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, in Hackney and later became a political correspondent for the Daily Herald, with responsibility for reporting events in the House of Commons.
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We know from army records that he had previously had two pension increases, but this time there is no record that his plea was successful. Two decades later, in , a report by the Board of Trade, found that the typical urban labourer, was earning 29 shillings and 10 pence per week, and spent 22s 6d of it on food alone. Another study by the Rowntree Foundation, in , found that a clerk earning 35s a week, spent over half his income on food. I beg most respectfully to solicit your favourable consideration at this my application for an increase in my pension. I beg leave to place before you a list of my services, active, foreign and home, which were all performed in the 5 th Northumberland Fusiliers.
I enlisted under the unlimited service act on the 4 lh November , joined the Regiment at Plymouth. The first Regiment landed of the Reinforcements called for by the Indian Mutiny. Proceeded up country at once detained at Cawnpore until relieved by the 90 th Regiment. During this period I was present at most of the minor actions including that of Guilee 22 nd Dec in which Pt McHale and myself captured a gun and turned it on the enemy firing several rounds on the mutineers.
On the 12 Nov marched into Oudh and was present at the surrender of the Fort Ameatie. Action at Doondiekeera. Returned to England 8 th July after 14 years foreign service including one year and a half active in the Mutiny. I therefore most respectfully beg that my services be taken into favourable consideration both in the field and in quarters and that you may be graciously pleased to grant me in my old age, 63, an increase in pension. I have the honor to be your humble and obedient servant.
He had previously received a slight increase in and another on 29th October George seems to have had a very good recollection of the dates and places. Some of us suspected that George, himself, may have been politically active, but there was no evidence of this until , when it emerged that he was elected as a local councillor right at the end of his life. It seems he had a mess to sort out.
Those elected in were E. Gibbs and J. Bacon, but H. George was 73 years old when elected and died the following year.
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At the meeting held on 9th November, , the Council, by unanimous resolution, expressed its condolence and sympathy with the widow and family of the deceased. The ease with which George took on an important role, so quickly, suggests he could well have been a councillor previously. He was clearly a trusted and popular man amongst the local community. There is another family story about a Browning involvement with another famous person, one with strong socialist values. Beatrice Browning, who as mentioned already was a socialist activist, was said to have been friends with the famous American novelist, Jack London, who she introduced to her brother Bert and others in the Browning family.
Jack had joined the Socialist Party in , and when he returned to the US, in , he began to write short stories, to make money and to express his social conscience, which is when he took up his pseudonym. He seemed to have spent his short life on the other side of the Atlantic. However, Jack had heard at socialist meetings in the USA, that London was not only one of the richest cities in the world but also had areas of the greatest poverty. To Jack, in the more democratic and egalitarian California, this seemed like something he wanted to explore, understand and expose. It will be readily apparent to the reader that I saw much that was bad.
The starvation and lack of shelter I encountered constituted a chronic condition of misery which is never wiped out, even in the periods of greatest prosperity. Following the summer in question came a hard winter. To such an extent did the suffering and positive starvation increase that society was unable to cope with it. Great numbers of the unemployed formed into processions, as many as a dozen at a time, and daily marched through the streets of London crying for bread. All the charitable institutions have exhausted their means in trying to raise supplies of food for the famishing residents of the garrets and cellars of London lanes and alleys.
The quarters of the Salvation Army in various parts of London are nightly besieged by hosts of the unemployed and the hungry for whom neither shelter nor the means of sustenance can be provided. It has been urged that the criticism I have passed on things as they are in England is too pessimistic. I must say, in extenuation, that of optimists I am the most optimistic.
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But I measure manhood less by political aggregations than by individuals. But for a great deal of the political machinery, which at present mismanages for them, I see nothing else than the scrap heap. Beatrice probably first met Jack at a Socialist meeting in Whitechapel, and being of similar age became friends. They also seem to have had similar ideals and so we can imagine Beatrice might have helped him with his research.
Jack London was then just an unknown young American socialist wanting to write and photograph life amongst the social outcasts. Only later did he become famous, and so Beatrice and Egbert must have followed his rise to fame with interest. There are extensive photographs of many parts of Whitechapel and features all parts of the life of the area. I have read the book but found no reference or character that resembles Beatrice or the Brownings, but it does give a great insight into what everyday life must have been like for George, Beatrice, Egbert and the rest. He had moved into a newly refurbished building in , and other new buildings were springing up all over Mile End New Town, which had previously been undeveloped, wasteland.
Irish and other victims of the potato famine arrived in the s and they were replaced by Jewish settlers during the mid s. The Jewish population rose rapidly from about 45, in to , in Jewish areas in turquiose — Howard buildings; yellow dot. George Arkell, compiled the map from information gathered by the London School Board through its various visitors. The complete map is available here — Jewish map The following accounts are contemporary, the first written in and the second in They give some idea of the changes George must have seen between his arrival in and his death in The roadway is filled with large tramcars, and the footways are crowded with groups of busy shoppers.
But we soon begin to make the great and startling discovery which awaits every new comer in Whitechapel. Here, in spite of the English-looking surroundings, this is practically a foreign land, so far as language and race are concerned. In this Whitechapel Ghetto the English visitor almost feels himself one of a subject race in the presence of dominant and overwhelming invaders. Yet the crowds are peaceful and entirely non-aggressive in demeanour.