The History of Wandsworth Common


of Wandsworth Common


"Freezing wet December then ..."

Flanders and Swann,
A Song of the Weather

This month's stories

and more...

St Mary Magdalene Church "pillaged five times in the course of a year"

South Western Star — Friday 01 December 1911

The great object of punishment is reformative. That is agreed on all hands there is not a member of Parliament who would dispute it. Wandsworth Prison is a great reformative agency. It is, therefore, a little puzzling to hear, as we have heard, the Rev. Theodore Wood assert that his church at Wandsworth Common has been pillaged five times in the course of one year, and that the pillagers were discharged prisoners.

If there were nothing wrong with national theories and national principles, the neighbourhood of a prison ought to be morally the most salutary in the land. All the undesirable persons would be safe in gaol, and all who were discharged would be reformed characters anxious to redeem the pron.

Unfortunately persons who have undergone a course of reformatory discipline have been known to go straight to the nearest church and take whatever they could lay their experienced hands to.

If discharged prisoners will rob a church when they get a chance, the private residents in the neighbourhood of the gaol must feel it their duty to be extremely watchful.

[BNA: Link.]

South London Journal — Saturday 01 December 1866


Letters from the Metropolitan of Works stated that they had approved of Mr. Maplesden's plan to form a new road (40 feet) along the north-eastern corner of Wandsworth-common, to be called Freemasons-road; and that they had under consideration a proposal of Mr. William Moseley to form a new road (40 feet) to be called Nottidge road, leading out of Garratt-lane, Wandsworth.

When Vampires played on Wandsworth Common

The Sportsman — Wednesday 02 December 1891

VAMPIRES t. MS P. W. JANSON'S ELEVEN, Wandsworth Common. Vampires AJ. Walk (Ml . A Cro-sbUy and W. 1. Lirl ( ton (hscks). O. 8. Prseels. F. A **U. A O Mills . KiJd ul A. Lmlmt (Mi wieg). L. (centra}. A. Cball* and Bogart (right wiog) F. W. Jum'i Blor*n: F. I. 8. Joyce (imD, 0.1. Fox sod O. A South*/ (beaks). A H. Jorc# Lots, P. W. Jsbmo (boll-book*). J. _. mod P. 8. May* (ri .ht vino). A §. Ihbs (contra). W. owl Graham Boberis (Ml «lnc> (lorwarlo). Train Ll«. Victoria Wandsworth Common. Change Surrey Xsvwa.

[BNA: Link.]

A rather different account of Tom Sayers's entry into professional pugilism.

Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review — Saturday 02 December 1865




At the age of fourteen years Sayers came to London to my wife, Louis's eldest sister, at Camden-town, where I was then residing. He was desirous of learning a trade, and the one he chose was that of a bricklayer. I found him a very sharp boy, and I thought he would make a bright man in the world.

I put him along with the bricklayers and he soon got on, but after a little while I was told by some of them that he was always fighting with some boy or other.

I used to talk to him and so did his sister, but all of no avail, for it appeared fighting was his delight...

[A]t that time I had some very extensive works on Wandsworth Common [building Wandsworth Prison].

One day the labourers were what is termed "having a run," which is to overload the scaffold with bricks and mortar. Among the gang of labourers there was a tall strong Irishman, and he shot a hod of bricks over Tom's feet. Tom spoke civilly to him and told him not to do it again; but he did it a second time and Tom again spoke to and he told Tom if he did not like it he would give him a slap of the head.

Dinner time came, and as the Irishman and mates began chaffing Tom a fight was agreed on. All the men started to the common, as I could not allow it on the works — the Irishman told Tom he would get him ready for his coffin — and a ring was formed.

The two stripped, and the difference between them surprising. Tom a mere boy, not eighteen years old, and the other a man above six feet high.

The fight commenced, and during the first hour Tom was thrown tremendously. The ground was very slippery, and Tom could not keep his footing. He pulled off his boots, and at it he went, and, after fighting two hours and three quarters, the poor Irishman was laid for dead on the ground.

Tom, with only a few bruises, commenced dancing, and was soon at his lodgings, while the Irishman was carried on a shutter to his lodgings, three doctors attending all night, for they did not know one hour from another but what he would die. He had never been beaten before, and had fought some very good men.

Towards night the police were after poor Tom, but his mates let him know of this, and he was concealed at Tooting in a stable in a large corn bin till three o'clock in the morning, when he came up to London under a load of hay. He went to his sister's, and was ready to go to work again in three days.

This fight got quite a name about Wandsworth and Tooting, and a waterman sent word he would fight him for £5. Tom's mates soon got the five pounds, but when man and money put in an appearance Mr. Waterman would not fight him, as Tom told him, if he could not got the money he would give him a chance, and fight him to see which was the best man; but it was no go: no fight came off.

Illustrated London News — Saturday 04 December 1897

(Click on image to enlarge)

Mrs. Brough, who died last week at her house on Wandsworth Common, had reached the ago of ninety-five years.

To the last her memory was unimpaired. She could recollect the imprisonment of Sir Francis Burdett in the Tower in 1810.

Her own husband, Mr. Barnabas Brough, brewer and colliery-owner, of Pontypool, was the chief witness of the Government in the trial of John Frost, the Chartist. The people in South Wales, taken the teachings of Frost, deserted in consequence the inns supplied with his beer, that he had to abandon his business. These facts were turned to purpose by Mrs. Brough in one of her novels, "Hidden Fire."

The members of her family. which has made its name familiar in theatrical and scientific circles, include a number of great-grandchildren of the venerable lady, who was nearly as old as the century.

[Wikipedia: Francis Burdett " (25 January 1770 - 23 January 1844) was a British politician and Member of Parliament who gained notoriety as a proponent (in advance of the Chartists) of universal male suffrage, equal electoral districts, vote by ballot, and annual parliaments. His commitment to reform resulted in legal proceedings and brief confinement to the Tower of London.]


Sporting Gazette — Saturday 04 December 1875


. . . the club met at the County Arms on Wandsworth Common, only a short distance from Clapham Junction . . .

Hares, H. Moresby and W. Rye were sent out at 3.40 — far too late — and after nearly a quarter of an hour's interval, were followed by the pack. . .

The scent ran back a little, outside Neal's nursery grounds on to Wandsworth Common to the west of Nightingale-lane and the right of the station, over the broken ground behind St. James's Schools and across some meadows — with plenty of jumps — in the direction of Balham, till it turned back by the church and across Upper Tooting-street.

The rough furzy ground on Tooting Beck Common to the left of the Avenue afforded several opportunities for false scents, which were not neglected, one especially across the road by the railway bridge deserving especial notice.

Thence by St. Leonard's Church, Streatham, it stretched down the road, leaving Norfolk House to the left, till the turning for Streatham Wells was reached.

Up Wells-lane it extended to the Spa, where, crossing a big brick wall — jumped by A. P. Smith in a manner which will render the incident ever memorable in the club history — it was taken up some very steep grass fields and a road till Streatham Common was reached.

When it was reached, the hares incontinently involved themselves in a thicket of furze, from which they hardly escaped with any skin, but eventually struggling through, got off the Common on to a nice range of damp grass fields to the right of the Rookery, and so down into the Croydon-road.

Crossing a brook near the roadside by Hermitage Bridge, some more meadow land — close by the steeple-chase course — was reached, and after dodging over the brook, backwards and forwards, ad nauseam, the trail was laid to Pig's Marsh, where it grew so dark that, instead of going home by Colliers Wood and Merton Abbey, as was originally intended, the hares returned along the road by Lower and Upper Tooting, coming home about 10 minutes in front of their pursuers.

. . . Fuller, though he lost a shoe, ran the last two miles with only a sock on, came in first by fifty yards, Smith second, Ball, Green, and Stenning together eighth and ninth.

Reay, whose first appearance it was, went very well indeed for six miles, but not unnaturally got tired, and had the satisfaction of not being last.

The distance run has since been carefully measured, and found to be a trifle over 11 1/4 miles.

Hares were away 1 hour 20 minutes, and hounds 1 hour 15 minutes.


London Evening Standard — Friday 08 December 1876



The virulence of the small-pox ep!den appears to be travelling towards the extreme east of London. Mr. W. D. Co'dins, of the B. aural green euardians, yesterday reported that the parish, whisk had hitherto counted its small pox patients almost by units, hod now 22 Colin at the flomerton Hospital, and the guardian@ have rewired to continue the suspension of doh of paupers In the workhouse end the schools the prohlbiton extending even to those who In the spiritual oversight of the Mr. Wentzell reported on W. aziesZay to the Harkey guardians a rapid increase In the number of smit'l pos patiaaa from the parish. There been 40 additional cases during the week in Hackney. Hackney had DOW a total of smallpox patients in the hospitals, of were at Homerton, total number week ago being IV. Dr. Stevens, Local Government Board inspector, has made an Inquiry the vaccination work in Hackney, and 'czarists Ito oiri, ion into two districts, the resent district being too large for ose during themmeht eir triter-F.

A meeting of the board of guardians for Westminster was held yea/airily, to deputation on the subject of the resolution passed by the board on the inst., . whereby the guardians agreed to give up possession of their schools on Wandsworth common to the Metropolitan Asylum Board tomorrow for the pupae of a tempormy borpital for small pox patients, pursuant to an order of the Local Government Board lamed last Bettazday night. Henn reek, lai P., intro. dared the deputation, which was comp at inhaM teats and OW err of property le the neighheurheod of the school. After representing how touch a hospital in that position would the utility of Wandsworth common as breathing et ace for the metropolis, and the injury it would do to the property to the looa:ity, it was stated that eenneelaapiniathad been taken which doubted the pewerof the Local use. rawest Board to tame the order.

A memorial then presented from several hundred persons resident on the Shaftesbury peak Estate, who represented that the drainage from the common passed late the sewer which flowed down towards the estate. — Mr. Wyatt, Rea of the reses, said be was authorised to appear CI the post of the Surrey maghstertes te protest against the enention of art older, which would neciessatily leave effect on the Inmates of the county prison and court, asylum for lunatics. — Alderman Six W. Rose corn' planed that the president of the Local Goverement Hoard had ref hied to receive deputation on the subject — Mr. Goat, M.P., she spoke the proposed teamster.

At a subsequent meeting the guardians adopted the following resolutien That the resolutions of the board on Tuesday, the sth Desember. the giving we el the mam en a Wandsworth Common. and lhe ebilaben le tbs else at the bused Union, be sad that the he required to inform the deeetesset Mead-- haviag mad to the state. by the bedded ad lodesettel deputation this day received by the heed sad regard to the, haste wlth whisk the ef de Lied Government Board was gulped ad breed, ad de burry with which the resolutions at the sad to the views at le el the and serious permanent dames Wm, wee temporary occupational the owe deo at trend indict upon the adjoining 14 urea in ter present to mrry taut the et tie Led IMAM sad I give up possonisa at the sabeels takes this illegally compelled eel compellable to oarry out lame order.""

[BNA: Link.]

Morning Post — Friday 10 December 1813


Burntwood Cottage, Shrubberies, Plantations, and Fifteen Acres of rich Land, Wandsworth, — Pereaproriv, by Mr. MUNN. at the auction Sart, on Wroxtsoay, December 22, at Twelve, by direction of the Assizes of Messrs. Clark and Brown,

THE Singularly Romantic FREEHOLD COTTAGE RESIDENCE, with suitable attached and detached Offices, called Burntwood Cottage, seated a desirable distance from the carriage road across Wandsworth common, leading from Tooting to Wandsworth, embosomed in a plantation of forest trees and shrubs of the choicest kinds, and fifteen acres of rich Land.

The ground commands views In every direction singularly luxuriant and picturesque, and the Land is esteemed to be of the first quality.

The Residence, Plantations, and Eleven Acres of Land are in the tenure of the Right Hon., Albinia Countess Dowager of Buckinghamshire, on Lease for an unexpired term of 20 years, determinable at the expiration of six and fourteen years of the term, at an annual rent of two hundred and Eighty-five Pounds; the remaining four acres are in hand.

May be viewed with tickets only, which, with particulars, any be haut Sie, ban, Walbrook, near the Royal Exchange; particulars aise oof G. 'Rabourdin, eq. Soltetor, King's Beachewalk, femptes of Messrs. Gaty and Haddon, Solicitors ac the Catnaussion, Lrrel-court, Thogmorton-street; and at eA ting stoi.

- 10 December 1908


Although political agitation in respect to unemployment has died down, at least for the present, in somewhat remarkable manner, the distress amongst worker# in many parts of London remains very acute. It was stated by Mr. Burns in the House of Commons yesterday that whereas 38, 678 unemployed had registen'd themselves in London to December 6, the number for whom work had actually been found was 4185. These figures leave very serious margin distress from unemployment, — although Mr. Burns declared in the Lobby, last night, that at least 10, 000 men, who would not otherwise be work, had been provided with employment — from funds derived through rates, loans, and grants — by the Local Government Board, the Water Board, the London County Council, Central Unemployed Committee, borough councils, and distress committee-. Notwithstanding the efforts of these bodies, atx'ounts given by various London members, both Unionist and Liberal, of the acuteness the distress in their several constituencies show relatively abnormal industrial conditions in the present year.

The views given to our tabby Correspondent are follows; Battersea. Mr. Burns claims that there are proportionately fewer men out work Battersea than in roost other parts of the metropolis. ascribe# this the existence, in his particular district, of parks and common-, where London County Council have been able find a good deal of work for extra bands. For instance, ISO men ere employed this way Clapham Common, 70 men in Battersea Park, and others Tooting and Wandsworth Commons.

Clapham. The distress in Clapham proper, says Mr. Percy Thornton, decidedly worae than it was the foregoing year; but it has slightly improved, according the reports him by those who are position to judge, since the question of unemployment waa discussed recently in the House of Commons. Mr. Thornton admits that the improvement is due to the endeavours of the London County Council and the Local Government Board.

[BNA: Link.]

14 December 1881

Acc. to BV Slater

But nothing could save the the Asylum. On 14th December 1881, the boys etc etc parting supper...Magic Lantern show...the Asylum disappeared for ever, its place taken by a migrant from Westminster.

RVPA Boys and Emanuel School

On 14th December 1881, the boys were addressed in the dining-hall by the Chairman of the Committee, Earl Nelson, and a parting supper was authorised for them, with the amusement of a Magic Lantern”.

A few months later the Asylum had disappeared for ever, its place taken by a migrant from Westminster.

South Western Star — Friday 14 December 1917



Mr. Thomas Rudge, the well-known sculptor, of St. Vincent Studios, Bolingbroke-grove, Wandsworth Common, has invented and perfected a mechanical hand which is believed to be a great improvement on all previous efforts.

During a demonstration at the studios it was proved that the hand could do almost all that can be done by the living limb. It is of great strength, and of such delicacy that it can pick up pins and small coins from the floor. The great merit of the hand are its simplicity and strength. It can be manufactured at a price which renders it easily possible for one to be supplied to every soldier who has had the misfortune to be maimed... ... Mr. Rudge is, we believe, the only inventor who has solved the problem of flexing both finger joint. The thumb and all four fingers can open and shut at the same moment. If desired, the thumb and only the first two fingers work, the other two fingers being in a set position. Thew, fingers and thumbs are detachable. Fingers suitable for special requirements can be reidib inserted. The expansion of the muscles of the chest or shoulder one quarter of an inch opens the fingers and thumb to the extent of 21in. to 3in. The power of the *and can regulate the grip of the fingers and thumb to his own liking. Mr. Rudge's invention has been favourably considered by the authorities

[BNA: Link.]

Norwood News — Friday 15 December 1922



... A further list of works consisting of the renovation of bare areas is parks and open spaces, including Clapham Common and Wandsworth Common, were recommended by the Parks Committee to the L.C.C., on Tuesday, to be carried out for providing additional employment at an estimated cost of £8,005, of ',Mei £5,300 would represent the east of labour. and E 2,645 that of materials and other incidental charges. The scheme was adopted. The Finance Committee of the eenseil reported that the sum mentioned could be charged to the maintenance account.

Croydon Chronicle and East Surrey Advertiser — Saturday 14 December 1901


Second Sale.

To Builders, Contractors, and others. Ralharn, Adjoining Wandsworth Common Railway Station. Messrs. HOOKER WEISS Will Sell by Auction at Fernald- House. on the Fermi& Estate, between Balham and Wandsworth Common Railway Stations, L. B. & B. C. Ballwin, on Tue-day, 17th December, 1901, at One o'clock precisely, the 1 — BUILDING MATERIALS of the mansion, comprising 200 squares of flooring boards, 30. 000 feet of qoaxtering and stout timber, 15, 000 feet of joists, 30 baulk timber., 40 good 4 and 6 panel doors. ecipboer fronts, panel partitioning. 6 box cupboards with shelves and drawers, 100 glazed ma h lights, some with frames, stone and marble chimney pieces, quantity of sla' 20in. by 10in. and 21in. by 12in., 2. 000 feet of York stone paring and landings, 60, 0/0 brick., slate cistern, wrought irro tanks, 7 wrought iron girders, steaks of timber and firewood. 800 loads of dry lola rubbish, and numerous other items. On view the day before and morning of male, and eatalogaes may be obtained at the pl. ce of sale, an. i of the Auytioneers, 4, High Street, Croydon. Telephone No. 121 Croyd, in.

[BNA: Link.]

Pall Mall Gazette — Friday 17 December 1886


THE inhabitants of Battersea and Wandsworth have a very clear grievance against the Royal Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund; and they are taking vigorous action, by public meeting and otherwise, to get that grievance removed. The first Report of the Royal Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund, issued in 1858, contained the announcement that the lord of the manor and commoners of the parishes of Battersea and Wandsworth had generously allowed some fifty-five acres of the common (the value of which at that time was Cioo, ooo) to be transferred to the Royal Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund, for the purpose of a site for two schools for the maintenance and education of the orphan children of our soldiers and sailors who sacrifice their lives in the defence of their country,

What has happened since then? The schools and grounds as first established were intended [ to affortda ""visible and permanent memorial of the national generosity, "" but since that time the Commissioners have. sold the boys', school,: and. with iĘ a | site of eleven acres; and they have leased for profit nearly twenty acres of the site in connection with the girls' school to a market gardener, who, forsooth, is also a lime and cement merchant, a tar pavior, and a contractor for public works, whose horses and carts have for months past been working over a portion of the common, doing damage to the turf and the footpaths, notwithstanding the fact that in 1871 the inhabitants secured at great cost the passing

C. House newly built for tenant.

of an Act to preserve the remainder of their common. They claim now that the Commissioners should not allow any portion of the grounds, whether |, leased or unleased at the present time, to be diverted for building' purposes; and that they shall give some assurance that the school and 'the whole of the grounds' as originally established shall either continue to be ""a visible and permanent memorial of the national generosity which provided tle:means for its foundation, "" or if not now required for its original pur- pose be restored to the common. That is a perfectly fair and reasonable.

request, and it will be strongly urged at the meeting to be held to-night at | ° Balham, At any rate, the inhabitants will not cease their exertions, for they know full well that if they do the end of it will be the covering of the land | | with buildings. Our map explains the agitation., |


Wallington & Carshalton Herald — Saturday 17 December 1892


A letter has been received by the General Purposes Committee from the Wandsworth Common Protection Association. in favour of the acquisition of the Railway Enclosure (adjoining Wandsworth Common railway station) with the view of its restoration to the Common.

The pries asked for the 5 acres wan £7,500, and it was suggested that the Board of Works should contribute £l,000.

On the recommendation of the committee it was resolved that the he informed that the piece of land in question not being within the district of the Board, and having regard to its position and the extent of open spaces in the locality, the Board declined to make any contribution towards the cost of acquring it.

[BNA: Link.]

South London Press — Saturday 31 December 1892

Wandsworth Common.

The District have refused to contribute towards the purchase of five acres, near the Surrey Tavern, Wandsworth Common, which the London County Council propose to acquire. Battersea Vestry declined to contribute £1000 towards the purchase of the piece of land adjoining the railway station, Wandsworth Common, for the use the public.

[BNA: Link.]

This is the Railway Extension Piece [james Anderson Rose's land]


Hampshire Chronicle — Monday 21 December 1807

Yesterday morning a duel took place on Wandsworth Common, between a Gentleman in the neighbourhood of High-street, Lambeth, and his confidential Clerk.

After an exchange of three shots, the latter unfortunately fell, and expired almost immediately.

Morning Post — Saturday 31 December 1831


A meeting took place yesterday on Wandsworth Common, between Lieut.-Colonel Sir Robert Gill, Lieutenant of the King's Yeomen Guard, and D. Finlaison, Esq., in consequence of a very serious dispute which occurred between those Gentlemen at one of the Clubs.

The parties were accompanied to the ground by Sir J. Wedderburn, Bart., and Lieutenant Walsh, Royal Artillery; and after receiving Mr. Finlaison's fire without effect, ?? Robert Gill fired in the air, when an explanation took place satisfactory to the seconds, and the parties after becoming reconciled left the field.

South Western Star — Friday 27 December 1935


Disastrous Explosion at Wandsworth Common. Our special correspondent writes. Last Friday evening a disastrous explosion occurred in a 19 bus which was hound to the "" Wbeatsheaf, "" at the corner of Tooting and Balham High-road. Fortunately, no-one was injured, but the conductor's was out of action and two passengers were iA consequence carriefl bevond the di'. . tante for which they hail paid.

The circumstances of the disaster are these: A lady boarded the bus at. Inling and Hobles's (loner, Clapham Junct . She carried a bunch of mistletoe in one hand and her shopping bag in the other. It was noticed with satisfaction that there were a good many en the mistletoe, berries being nom year, a circumstanee %huh soma pooplo maintain denotes a hard winter, h was also uot iced that the lady careful not at any moment to hold the mistletoe over her head. She was accompanied by a little girl five or six years of age. The child carried a long and highly-inflated balloon, ' such as those seen at most Christmas toy banners. She seemed both fond] and proud of her treasure, and from time to time eke gently caressed it, and talked to it suftiv, as little girls, talk to their dolls. The bus being, crowded, the balloon was for a time el source of embarrasment, until a made rat for it and the child. — The mother was a lady of foreip birth. She was extraorifinarily for a passenger in a London bus, hound. She said, "" Thank vow, "" tioneve... . arilv as was tl gist. When the full-up signal had been given (three sharp (mils at the bell ropei. and the bus was ploughing its way across the wilds of Wandsworth Common, everybody. was startled and alarmed by a loud bang. gripped their. dioeeing baskets. Men placed their hand. over the pockets which contained their wallets. The conductor tugged at the bellrope to signal the driver to go forward with all speed, there having been a rumour that raiders sad hold-op men were lurking on the common. To the conductor dismay rope ""came off in his hand. "" as ono timorous penny fare expressed it. It had been blown or otherwise forcibly, removed from the hell lever. A from the little girl who belonged to lath, with the mistletoe caused all tol look in her direction. To the surprise of everybody she no longer was toying with the captive balloon. It had burst and nothing of it remained but a shapeless bit of rubber dangling from a strum. The cause of the disaster could not he discovered, but. one of the older lady passengers gave it as her opinion that the heat of the bus had something to do with it.

[BNA: Link.]

- 29 December 1877


Jolla Braley, an undertaker, of York-road, Battersea, and Henry William WeZ.o, jnn, undertaker's man, of Bridge-road West, Battersea, were summoned by the Battersea Burial Board for violent and indecent behaviour in a burial ground. Mr. W. Roger 4 appeared for the Burial Board, and Mr. J. Haynes for the defendant Webb. Thomas Akerinau, superintendent of Battersea Cemetery, deposed that on the 13th inst. he saw the defendants in Battersea Cemetery. They were wrestling togther, and he thought they were playing, but he then saw Webb knock Bratley down. Some Udies said it was Bratley's fault. The defendants had just lowered a coffin into a grave. Brstley refused to leave the cemetery until a constable was sent for. Bratley was intoxicated, but Webb was sober. John Britley was sworn, and deposed that Webb had thrown his umbrella in the mud the day before. On the 13th witness said to him,"" When you want to practise jokes, you don't practise them on me."" Webb then said, "" You -, take that,"" and hit witness in the eye, knocking him down. Witness was sober. Henry William Webb was sworn, and deposed on the day in question he and Bratley were employed by Mr. Smith. Mr. Bratley came late, and was drunk. When on the hearse, Bratley said he would break witness's face. When in the cemetery, after lowering the coffin, Bratley caught bold of witness by the throat, and gave him a black eye. He then came at witness again, and threatened to murder him. Witness then struck him with the strap they had used to carry the coffin with, and knocked him down. The day before witness had thrown Bratley's umbrella to him, and he had failed to catch it. Henry Strith and Mre. Farmelow corroborated Webb's account of the occurrence. Mr. Bridge said it was a most unseemly and horrible affair to be brawling and fighting at a funeral, and he considered both defendants equally to blame. He fined them £3 each and costs, or one month's imprisonment.

[BNA: Link.]



The fact may interest many of our readers that on Sunday week died at Battersea-rise, Wandsworth, a person who some few months since was expected to startle the world with a revelation more mystifying and of wider interest than the cause celebre now dragging its weary length along in the Court of Queen's Bench.

It will be within the recollection of those whose memory dates back some thirty years ago to the time of the loss of that ill-fated vessel, the President, that amongst the crew who were at the time supposed to have found, without one single exception, a watery grave, and to have carried with them to that last silent bourne all details of the pitiless wreck, which spread a cloud off misery over so many English homes, two voyagers were singled out as something more than ordinary passengers, and their loss was specially dwelt upon in the newspapers of the day. One, on account of his universal popularity as an actor, the gifted Tyrone Power; the other - Lord Fitzroy Lenno - a scion of one of the most aristocratic families in the realm, and bearing a name of time-honoured distinction in the Councils of the State and on England's battle-fields, carrying with it into the present generation an undimmed lustre.

The family having no reason to doubt the authenticity of the story, and it being proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Lord Fitzroy Lennox had taken his passage and embarked in the President, his loss was duly mourned, the sudden and special circumstances adding to the distress: of the grief-stricken parents. But if we are to believe the story of the person whose death we are recording, and! who claimed to be Lord F. Lennox himself, he waa not; wrecked, nor at the time of the wreck was he even on t board the President. He did not leave New York at all; ! bat after going on board returned ashore; nor did he embark from the port in the ill-fated vessel.

His statement, without the faintest trace of eccentricity or symptom of aberration of mind, he maintained to his dying day, »! and his last request, when in full possession of consciousness, which has we know been acted upon, was that he should be buried in what he asserted was his true name, and that his coffin-plate should be inscribed with his full Style and title - viz., Lord Fitzroy George Charles Gordon Lennox.

Monday, therefore, saw the remains (if the inscription on the funeral urn is to be credited and accepted in the spirit of the truth tableta should generally carry with them) of Lord Fitzroy Lennox committed to their last resting-place, attended only by three mourners: and some twenty fellow clerks, who followed asa last ( mark of special respect.

The coffin-plate bears the following inscription: ‘Lord Fitzroy George Charlem Gordon Lennox, aged 51. Died, December 3, 1871.’ The ground for this was deceased's statement, so far removed! from hallucination, that it fully satisfied many well able to jadge, and more especially one medical gentleman of t]/some eminence as a London practitioner, who, after spending much valuable time in investigating the truth.

of the story, was so convinced of hia identity as the missing member of the Lennox family, that the treated him upon all occasions, not as an imposter, but as a friend and confidant; and in his professional capacity sanctioned the making out of the cortifjgate of death im the fall atyle and title of the Lord Fitzroy Lennox, Passing under the name of Henry Clay, but generally known as the "Captain," the deceased obtained a situation with the London and South-Western Railway Company, and has been employed as clerk at their London, Goods Terminus for the past twelve years, carning the respectful esteem of all his fellow-servants. The Rev.

T. Lander was the officiating minister at the funeral, and his ministerial attentions to the deceased were most kindly and acceptable.

Some time an advertisement was inserted in a daily contemporary by the deceased, soliciting those who knew Lord Fitzroy Lennox prior to his supposed loss in the President, in 1841, to communicate with him. This was the advertisement: Lord Fitzroy Lennox, who was supposed to have been on board the President when she was lost about thirty years since, begs, if any of his old friends are still living, they will put themselv:; in communication with him for the purpose of identitication. so that if recognized they may intercede with his relatives, _ who, after five years correspondence (under alvice),, — decline an interview.— H. C., 1, Albert Cottages, St.

George's-place, Battersea-rise.’ This at the time called forth sundry comments from the press, notably an article b on “ Double Lives,” based more particularly on the case of this Lennox and the Tichborne baronetcy, which was written by a well-known lady contributor, and created a, great sensation. Many attempts, it is ramoured, were made by the professed Lord Fitzroy Lennox to obtain an.

interview with the present representatives of the Richmond family, all of which, however, failed: they refusing, under advice, to recognize the claim or to negotiate with the said Henry Clay.

The principal features in the life ef the deceased, as narrated by himself, assimilate considerably with those of the Tichborne claimant, mach of his career during the last three decades having been spent in Australia, his life being one of great hardships, and marked by many escapades of a similar nature, corroborated in a measure by the ruggedness of contour and general, yet, withal, gentlemanly appearance.

Up to within a short period prior to his last and fatal illness, the inhabitants of Vauxhall must have been familiar with a tall, gaunt-looking man, rather shabbily attired, and wearing a round felt hat, from long usage of questionable colour and shape, but originally white man, nevertheless, bearing the decided impress in, his general demeanour of having seen better days.

His unmistakably aristocratic mien warranted the most superficial observer in stamping him as above the common herd of humanity, and his daily peregrinations between Vauxhall station and the South-Western Goods Terminus rendered him a marked man, a few strangers passing him without a second look.

Whether "Captain" Clay was an imposter or not we cannot say, nor do we vouch for the authenticity of his claim to the title. We simply record the fact of its being made, and the strange persistency of the claimant.

even in his dying moments. It certainly is worthy of notice that now lying encased in a plain coffin are the mortal remains of one whom the registry of death, the medical certificate, and very coffin lid proclaim to be no other than Lord Fitzroy Lennox, long given up as lost, long mourned for by his bereaved parents thirty years ago.

[BNA: Link.]

Derby Mercury — Thursday 30 December 1736

Woodcock, from Henry Leonard Meyer (1797—1865), Illustrations of British Birds, 1848.
Dutch-born illustrator Henry Meyer is buried in Battersea Cemetery.
(Click on image to enlarge)

Yesterday one Fielder, a Butcher, Goswell, a Baker, and Rowler, a Gardener, all of Wandsworth, were committed to the New Jail in Southwark, by Justice Pettywood, of Putney, for robbing the Rev. Dr. Baker of St. Michael's Corn-hill, and Minister of Barnes in Surrey, of thirty Guineas and a Gold Watch, in the Manner following:

They tied their Horses to a Gate and robbed as Foot-pads; but upon their Return the Horses had broke loose, which gave the Doctor's Man an Opportunity of alarming the Country People, who immediately pursued and easily took them before they could recover their Horses.

In their Flight they flung away the thirty Guineas and the Gold Watch; but being perceived the Booty was regained by the Pursuers.

It is said they had been at a Cock-Match and lost their Money, which put them upon this desperate Way of recruiting.

[Comment on phrase "as Foot-pads".]


The People — Sunday 31 December 1905

OFF AS A LOITERER. ""dale Albert ]tiro, 21, enater1 Wager, wee charged, on remand, ' 'With loitering with another man, not outtody. at M. DalwivA. He was summoned for wilfully interfering with wild ducks at the Wandsworth Common lake.

- The proceedings were I taken under the by-law of the L.C.C., and the prosecuting solicitor said the duck was killed.

- Mr. de Grey (smiling): What was the cause of death? Was any post-mortem examination made?

- The common keeper said the bird was fleet attack with a stone from a catapult and then taken from the water, when its neck was wrung and thrown into the furze bushes. lf, — defendant leave an enelpsttp, .1. Sal, de, and the bird was afterwards discovered in a dying state. Defendant, ho added, left the common, but returned later, and it one then that his name and address were taken.

- Mr. do Grey (to defendant) You eel, von made a mistake in returning. — ' [defendant: Yen. (Laughter.)

- TM' duck, a One-looking bird, woe pea duced. — His worship imposed nominal penalty of gs. rd.. remarking that after all defendant we, only is pursuit of game.

[BNA: Link.]

The Sportsman — Saturday 31 December 1887

Woodcock, from Henry Leonard Meyer (1797—1865), Illustrations of British Birds, 1848.
Dutch-born illustrator Henry Meyer is buried in Battersea Cemetery.
(Click on image to enlarge)


A real live woodcock has been discovered on Wandsworth Common. On learning this item of information we felt that the time might be approaching when Londoners would be enabled to have good sport without journeying to the far north or the green breasts of the Yorkshire Wolds.

With the harmless but necessary woodcock flapping its wing on Wandsworth Common doubtless we shall soon hear of grouse at Walham Green, the red deer roaming amidst the wilds of Balham, or a good day's partridge shooting being obtained at the Green which lies alongside Fulham bearing the clerical name of Parsons.


December 2022

November 2022

The Black Sea: Birth, Life, Death (video of my Talk to the Friends of Wandsworth Common, 18 October 2022).

October 2022

Barrage Balloons over Wandsworth Common

Queen Elizabeth II visits Wandsworth, 1953

September 2022

August 2022

July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022

December 2021

November 2021

October 2021

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

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