Article MT201

Glimpses into the 19th Century Broadside Ballad Trade

No. 26: Norfolk printings of murder and execution (1)
Material in the Norwich Millenium library1

Following the four articles posted in 2005 that considered execution ballads, two caches have subsequently been located at the Norwich Millenium library and at the Norfolk Rural Life Museum in Gressenhall that add to our knowledge of extant execution ballads and, more particularly, the approaches taken by Norfolk printers; and will be examined in this and other articles.2  The majority of the Millenium library ballads were based on local or relatively local cases; but the total discussed here excepts copy from Robert Walker of Norwich, whose output will be considered separately.  The Gressenhall cache spreads a wide geographical net and looks to have come from a newspaper.  Its details will be examined later.  One or two more execution ballads from Norfolk printers have been found in the usual Madden and Bodleian sources - from the likes of Disley - and these and pieces from the Millenium cache are compared and contrasted.  Similarly, by citing other execution balladry as discussed in the aforementioned articles from 2005 a context is offered.

It should be emphasised, as preliminary, that much of the material discussed below does not conform to the conventional single ballad form of printing but, most frequently, includes prose accounts - a clear if not a unique distinguishing mark for Norfolk issues.

The earliest printings to be encountered in the Millenium collection come from R Lane who is of special interest since, as far as can be ascertained, this was Robert Lane who was in partnership with Robert Walker who, in turn, seems to have been an important figure in Norfolk ballad-printing terms - that is as a printer of varied material and as printer of single ballads.  Principally, there are several surviving examples of texts printed jointly and these will be considered more fully in a forthcoming Walker article.3  Meanwhile, consideration of Lane here and in following articles may appear to be offered only in fits and starts.  In mitigation, Lane is proving to be a printer the details of whose life and activities are difficult to assemble.  Certainly, though, there are numbers of local election and national political pieces to be found in another interesting cache, the Colman Ballad volumes in the Norwich Millenium library, which include many from both Lane and Walker and from the two printers separately which help to reveal dates of operation for them and which allow an immediate insight into a field of printing activity still to be fully investigated, both in Norfolk and elsewhere.4

Specifically from Lane, in material connected with murder, there is The Trial and Execution of John Pycraft …5 and this piece, considering its date of 1819, in some ways prefigures a Norfolk pattern of printing of a prose account accompanied by a set of stanzas (as opposed to single ballad), although its actual form is in no way exclusive to Lane.6  The particular prose account introduces the 'unhappy Criminal', this 'miserable' man; and the 'Depravity of human nature'.  Pycraft, a gardener, appears to have led an 'uncomfortable' life with his 'quiet' and 'inoffensive' wife over the course of two years 'in consequence of a secret attachment which existed betwixt him and another woman of a bad character'.  In company with 'another man' he made up a concoction of food and arsenic with the intention of disposing of his wife but it was his child who suffered and died.  Pycraft was brought to a trial lasting six days, witnesses swore against him and 'the Jury found him GUILTY'

The awful sentence of the Law was immediately passed that he should be hung by the neck till he was dead; and his body afterwards delivered to the Surgeons for dissection.
It may be added that it was not until 1st of August 1832 that the Anatomy Act became law, thus ending the practice of dissection of murderers.  Further, it was then enacted that the bodies of those executed were to be buried within the precincts of the prison in which they were last confined.  Examples of both methods (and of other methods) of disposal of bodies will be found in the course of this article.

According to the Norfolk Chronicle of August 14th 1819, Pycraft was first acquitted of the poisoning of his child but then (August 21st 1819) taken up again and convicted.  The discrepancy was explained thus:

The error in our Paper of last week, respecting this case, arose from the misconstruction of a note of our Reporter's, in the hurry of business sent out of Court to us before the verdict was returned - In case the conviction upon this indictment had failed, the prisoner would have been put upon his trial for administering poison to his wife, with intent to kill and murder here.
Since this discrepancy does not appear in Lane material we may conclude that, somehow, he has managed his summary without strict recourse to newspaper accounts but still with an obvious knowledge of testimony at trial as encountered in the description given above.  It is well to bear this in mind as we look at other ballads, their potential material sources and their omissions.

The Lane printing indicated that, although not previously known as a bad character, Pycraft's dislike for his wife induced 'a thirst for her blood'.  And what must his feelings have been when he saw 'the lifeless corpse of his innocent child'?  The latter question is, of course, rhetorical.

At length, Pycraft was executed on August 16th 1819:

pursuant to his sentence amidst a vast concourse of spectators who assembled on the Castle Hill at an early hour to witness the awful retribution of Justice …
One notes the phraseology at this point - to be repeated in the piece discussed immediately below.  Meanwhile, the set of stanzas that follow the prose account are brief and unmistakeably sanctimonious (to our present-day eyes):
DEATH!  'tis a melancholy day
    To those who have no God,
When the poor soul is forc'd away
    To meet her last abode.

In vain to heaven she lifts her eyes,
    But guilt, a heavy chain,
Still drags her downward from the skies,
    To darkness, fire, and pain.
The heirs of hell, the stubborn sinners must be driven from the earth.  So 'the wretch', 'the sinner' will sink under the word of the 'Thund'rer'.
Tempests of angry fire shall roll,
    To blast the rebel worm,
And beat upon his naked soul
    In the eternal storm.
Even so death offers the chance of finding the Lord's right hand - a 'joyful day'.  As hellfire stuff, nothing in the ballad stanzas relates to the actuality of Pycraft's crime.

The piece was issued from 'Bridewell Alley' (just to the north of Castle Hill and its scaffold in Norwich) which address appears to have been the earliest and constant location for Lane's activities as a printer.  Many of his election pieces as found in the Colman ballad collection in the Millenium library have the same address.7

Lane's other contributions to murder balladry as found relate to the case of John Stratford (1829 - thus positing an immediate ten-year history of printing activity for Lane that turns out to have continued after Lane's association with Walker).  In one piece, there is a 'Confession' which mixes Stratford's purported own words with independent observation, a very brief summary of Stratford's life and circumstances and an equally brief description of his execution.8

We cannot, though, pass over this account without mentioning the motive for murder.  Our four favourite reasons in murder and execution balladry have been to do with jealousy, money, drunken-ness and the influence of Satan, as discussed in previous articles.  Jealousy, between husbands and wives or sweethearts, is the predominant motive in murder and execution balladry.  We note that it figured, for example, in the cases of Drory (1851), Roberts (1872) and Butt (1874).  Similarly, in a piece on Francis Warne, we find the following lines:

Oh!  Fatal, cursed jealousy,
'Tis then that was the cause,
Of this most dreadful tragedy.
Briefly, an example of a desire for money as prompting murder can be found in the case of Mary Ann Cotton in 1873 - obtaining money from a savings club; and Mary May committed murder in Essex in order to secure burial fees from a club subscribed to by her victim (1848).  For the influence of Satan one might turn to its citing in a ballad on Samuel Fallows who murdered Betty Shawcross in 1823.  John Holden's murder of Sergeant McClelland in 1860 - ''Twas Satan that did tempt me …' - provides another example.  Protests against drunken-ness are to be found in ballads such as that on Alexander Thomson, for instance, who blamed 'cursed drink' for causing him to murder his wife at Coldstream in 1864; on Christopher Edwards, hanged in 1872, who had murdered his wife 'In his drunken rage'; on Henry Evans, who had murdered his wife at Oving, near Aylesbury in 1873, being much possessed of drunken habits; and on Charles Revell, at Epping in 1878, who:
To a public house … went drinking,
The worse for liquor he returned …
and killed his wife.9

Here, though, John Stratford is made, 'with tears', to declare that:

I attribute my downfall primarily to reading the AGE of REASON, and the recent work of Carlile (sic); and the secondary cause is my illicit connection with that abandoned woman Briggs.
No other such startling motives have been found in any material so far surveyed: some kind of distinction for Lane's piece.

A second piece on the same case, Trial and execution … of Stratford, offers a prose account of the circumstances in which Stratford was hanged 'for the wilful Murder of John Burgess, by Poison'.  The piece, declaring that it will consider the life and character of the man, has echoes of the Pycraft piece in certain details such as how it 'excited the most extraordinary interest in the minds of the inhabitants of this City …'.  Stratford is described as a 'wretched man' - a common epithet - although he had been industrious and careful 'until the fatal connexion between him and the infamous woman Briggs', another man's wife (rather like Pycraft).  From then on this 'unfortunate connexion', his 'infatuation', his 'criminal attachment to this disgrace to her sex' encouraged him to sacrifice the well-being of his family and to try to take away the life of 'her husband', a pauper, who already had a cancer of the throat.  To this end Stratford mixed arsenic with flour - to be eaten via 'thick milk' through a tube in the throat.  Briggs, however, could not ingest the substance whereupon the nurse, Rhoda Burgess, figuring it a shame to waste the flour and milk potage, made dumplings of it for herself and her husband, with fatal consequences for the husband.

The piece concludes by saying that Stratford 'was therefore, pursuant to his sentence, brought out for Execution, on Monday, amidst a vast concourse of spectators … ' - thus again, in phraseology, echoing the Pycraft piece already discussed.  One might well think from the detail as noted here that it sprang from trial proceedings and newspaper reports.  If so, there are some interesting omissions; one curious occurrence, at least, that might seem to have been heaven-sent (sic) for a ballad-maker.  Evidently Stratford, on the scaffold, was 'raising his head … ' when, as Calcraft, the executioner:

slipped the rope over his neck, Stratford instantly said, you have got this knot on the wrong side.  The executioner - No, never mind, stand right.  Stratford instantly stood firmly upright.
Calcraft was, at times, well known for blunders.  The point is, perhaps, that such detail, on the evidence of other ballads and on what we know historically, as it were, about crowd behaviour, would, surely, have been relished by the printer and the public.  It seems, though, that Lane was not privy to this particular detail or chose to ignore it and this may indicate how printers made their pieces up, sometimes before the moment of execution even if the execution was then 'described'; and, further, underlines Lane's - possible - independent acquisition of detail as opposed to mere copying from newspapers: through attendance, even by proxy, at trial.10

As a further point of detail and bearing on the fate of Pycraft, Stratford's body, according to the Norfolk Chronicle, was sent for dissection 'to the surgeons of the Hospital' (presumably in Norwich).

Still further, in respect of echoes between the Pycraft and Straftord cases, the accompanying stanzas in the latter instance embody the general tone of Lane's Pycraft piece although, perhaps, in a less absolute, condemnatory fashion:

Look down, O Lord, with pitying eyes,
And save the soul condemn'd to die …
'Show pity, Lord' for may not a sinner 'trust in thee?'  The voice is that of Stratford:
My crimes are great, but don't surpass
The power and glory of thy grace …
Stratford (supposedly) continues in this vein of remorse and supplication asking, finally, that the Lord should 'save a trembling sinner' and so 'support against despair'.  Again, the piece has little connection with actuality; and in both Lane pieces that include stanzas with their prose accounts - on Pycraft and on Stratford - the stanzas may well have been meant to be taken into conjunction with the same prose accounts.  Otherwise, they have no coherent standing.  This, as we shall see, is a different prospect to that offered in other pieces discussed below.

There is a third connecting echo between one piece and another, a header block on Lane's second Stratford piece that can be compared and contrasted with those on other printings.  Here, it consists of a fairly rough woodcut with a hooded figure suspended from gallows set alongside a stone gateway and faced by a representation of a crowd which has but one or two distinguishing characteristics in headgear.  Robert Walker, as will be seen in this and other articles, seems to have adopted a similar form of header block - found again in the pieces from other Norfolk printers - containing the same idea of figure and scaffold and a hint of surroundings as in this Stratford piece but much elaborated.  In respect of the partnership between Walker and Lane it is not possible to work out who invented the form.

Yet other points are to be made.  First, a line in the prose account on the Stratford piece declares that he was the first to be executed on the particular spot.  This is puzzling.  We are talking about Castle Hill, Norwich, and the evidence of the Pycraft piece indicates that this was the location for his execution too.  It seems to be supported by listings of other executions.11  On the other hand a new gaol was built between 1824 and 1828 so the exact site of the scaffold may have been changed.

Second, both the Stratford pieces from Lane were printed from 'St George's'.  He had clearly moved premises from Bridewell Alley.  There are, in fact, two St George's in Norwich: one in Tombland, next to St Andrews and another 'over the water' on the north side of the river Wensum.  In respect of the second St George's, we have references for Robert Walker indicating that he printed out of St George's but with the addition of the designation 'Bridge Street' in the address this would seem to confirm his location as being the second one cited here.  Moreover, on copy, Lane never used 'Bridge Street' as named detail of his address so it looks as if 'his' St George's was in Tombland.12

Finally, as far as Lane's second offering on the Stratford case is concerned, his prose account - but not the verses - is found in exactly the same terms in a printing from 1829 issued by George Stewardson in Norwich (although Stewardson has 'admist' when describing the execution).  This is Stewardson's only contribution to the genre as far as has been ascertained but an indication, nevertheless, of how Norfolk printers 'shared' their material, a point taken up again below.  Stewardson, it may be added, can be found issuing material on other subjects such as local elections.  He is not a negligible printer.13

Overall, the style of issue, the relative consistency in the conventions of description and the tone of each piece from Lane (and Stewardson) allow us a chance of comparison with other examples.  The first of these to be considered is from E E Abbott, in Diss, who printed A True And Particular Account Of A Most Cruel and Bloody Murder, Committed At Diss, In Norfolk14, that has a quotation from an unusually explicit source at its head:

“And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen - unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.” 6 Judges xix.  30.
We will find the shade of this quasi-religious context cast in other cases of Norfolk execution balladry as the Lane pieces discussed above illustrate and the phenomenon is not wonderfully different from the more overt religious content of other balladry such as was found during examination of printings from Devon and Cornwall.  Catnach does also provide us with such examples and they are dotted here and there in other printers' output though not with the same emphasis as in Devon and Cornwall.15

Underlining the religiose tone in the particular prose account, there is a paragraph warning whoever was responsible that they must not deceive themselves since their crimes would be found out: it is not clear that this would be achieved through an earthly or a celestial agency.

There follows an extensive prose section recounting something of the life history of one Lorina (or 'Lorena') Gooderham (currently separated from her second husband) and her murder on May 14th 1829:

… a considerable alarm was excited in the town of Diss, a parish remarkable for the strictness of its police, and the peaceable behaviour of its inhabitants …
The perpetrator is described as an 'inhuman wretch'.  Lorina Gooderham's injuries are listed: 'She appeared as if first struck with a violent blow on her head' and then stabbed in various parts of her body.  She was found lying on her back, with her head reclining and covered in blood.  Certain journalistic details emerge - Lorina Gooderham's 'leghorn bonnet' nearby, her cap, a set of curls and a pocket torn off, a silk handkerchief round her neck - just like the kind of journalistic detail represented in other execution ballads by the hop-garden of the Frederick Baker ballad and the bleach-field of the Mary Bell ballad, which must have been employed to give an air of authenticity to text.16.  Much print was expended on a detailed description of Lorina Gooderham's injuries - in all the sort of detail that must have come from sources such as newspaper reports; and to underline this, according to the Abbott piece, evidence in the Gooderham case was taken from witnesses and a reward of fifty pounds offered for information, a clear enough suggestion, got either directly or through a third party - a reporter or 'hack' employed by the printer.  This possibility runs right through the Millenium stock of ballads.

But despite the close connection between Abbott's prose account and newspaper reports and trial proceedings, his omission of the fact that a Samuel Kerry was first accused of Lorina Gooderham's murder and then released (as this was reported in the Norwich Mercury, for instance) might well indicate a printer content to take what he wanted from various sources and not to be entirely accountable to one such; how the exigencies of printing - and, maybe a printer's whim - could have confused or bypassed other reports and, perhaps, one more indication that some ballad material was put out before the full 'facts' were known.

At any rate, there follows 'The Murdered Woman's Lamentation' beginning in, conventional ballad 'Come-all-ye' style:

Come all ye thoughtless, gay and fair, a warning take by me,
And in the paths of virtue tread, for quickly you shall you see,
That in a dreary dismal lane, my fate was soon to come,
For to be murdered by someone, was my poor wretched doom.
A stanza appears describing the day and the circumstances of discovery by a young woman who then, in a third stanza, went to a neighbour; after which the news spread 'and many people ran'
For to find out the worse than brute, who call'd himself a man.
This, we remind ourselves, is the dead woman speaking:
'Twas over night when dress'd so neat, and walking up and down,
He did betray me from my seat, my cottage in the town;
Then to the sorrow of my friends, leave me as many more,
With stabs and cuts he gain'd his cuds, and left me in my gore.
The murderer plundered her cash and then disappeared 'to some silent spot' - 'What are his feelings now to hear'; people came to church to see her 'lasting home'; they being 'Plung'd in sorrow and in grief' and hoping that 'he' would be brought to justice.  Again, the moments of death are recounted and then a warning given:
Be careful when you meet a friend, that he don't prove to be a foe
To you, to gain his brutal end, and leave you for to rue
The unlucky hour you ever spent, with such a monster kind,
And all your friends in sorrow bent, will have upon their mind.
This stanza, in particular, though familiar in its tone and implication, is yet unusual in that its first two lines lack the regular end-stopping of the majority of murder balladry (indeed, in a great part of balladry in general), indication, perhaps, that the printer or printer's 'hack' probably composed the piece.  We will see below how another printer, Upcroft, exercised a prerogative in this matter.

The piece is extended by another farewell to 'ye thoughtless gay and fair' who should think on Lorina Gooderham and pray for her - she, too, was once 'fresh and fair and gay'; and, finally, almost as addendum, it is noted that 'My husband left me in this town, bereft of all my friends' which same, we note, she has just called on; and then she prays to God that he might bless them all.

No other Abbott piece has yet been encountered although he was listed as printer in Diss in both White's and Craven's 1856 directories, these entries, together with the date of the Gooderham murder, confirming an active life as printer for at least twenty years.  No name for Lorina Gooderham's murderer has yet been uncovered.  As we know from press reports the coroner referred to 'wilful murder by some person or persons unknown' so no further development has been recorded.17

The next few cases also leave certain aspects of verification in the air.  Our first piece is from J Broadhurst (almost certainly James Broadhurst) and a location of St Benedict's is given on the piece entitled The Trial Confession And Lamentation Of Thomas A, (sic) Sturley … , concerning the shooting by Sturley of his uncle, Samuel Page.  In this case, no death occurred from the shooting but Sturley was confined to Norwich Castle to await execution.  Copy includes a prose introduction setting out some details of the occurrence and the subsequent trial and ending with the 'Learned Judge' putting on the black cap and saying that 'The sentence of the law is, that you be hanged by the neck till you be dead'.  There is an accompanying engraving of Sturley and such engraving is not at all common in Norfolk printings as will be seen in discussion here and in the case of Robert Walker.

There follow four-line stanzas, with a small picture of a prisoner in a cell, beginning:

Let all persons both young and old,
    Attend unto my cry,
'Tis from a blood-stained guilty wretch,
    That is condemned to die.
This immediately connects with ballads surveyed in previous articles in the invitation to attend and the description of the particular 'guilty wretch'.  The viewpoint, if not at first absolutely clear, turns out to be that of the murderer who, 'for worldly sordid wealth' (we recall the four most-used reasons that incited murder according to ballads previously surveyed) attempted the murder of his uncle.
But justice did me soon o'ertake,
    And now young people see,
My sentence pass'd, I am condemned,
    To suffer on the Tree.
The familiar appeal particularly to young people (more or less a warning - a characteristic feature of execution balladry as can be seen throughout discussion in this piece and in previous articles) and the image of the tree again help to set the piece in a known context of execution ballad phraseology (again, further below).  And we learn of a 'dark and dismal cell', of 'horrid feelings' and how the man wept, sighed and groaned over the 'horrors of my mind'.  The turnkey arrives, the prisoner thinks of 'my former joys' and of his 'kindred dear'.  He earnestly reads the word of God 'But cannot find relief …':
Oh!  may all atoning blood;
    Cleanse every sin away
Lead me to Jesus crucified,
    And rise in endless day.
The pattern of the piece is very much in line with ballad convention, as has already been illustrated above and in the execution pieces put out on this site in 2005.  The details in prose seem to have come from a newspaper or direct from trial proceedings (we remember the Pycraft process above).

In actuality we do know that Samuel Page was, indeed, a farmer in Cawston in 1845 since he appears in a directory and the 1851 census also lists him as a farmer.  Other details indicate that Thomas Aldrich Sturley was aged 39 at the time of the incident which would put it as having occurred in 1847.  This is confirmed in newspaper reports but, importantly, the fate of Sturley is not recorded.18

A second James Broadhurst piece concerns the Commital of S, (sic) Yarham For The Wilful Murder Of Mrs.  Candler A Widower at Yarmouth, an event that took place in 1844 and much exercised the mind of the printer Robert Walker as will be seen in a further article.  In fact, Broadhurst copy is a prose account drawn from a 'report' - we can only assume that this refers to a newspaper - that detailed the last movements of Mrs.  Harriett Candler, a shopkeeper, who, after going out for some porter, evidently sat in the 'Keeping room' at the back of her shop and, so copy says, went into the shop to answer a call and was stabbed in the throat and beat about the head with a hammer (Walker's pieces refer to a set of 'pincers').  Four suspects were apprehended, but three, named Royal, Hall and Mapes, were acquitted and Yarham, at first seen as an 'accessory after the fact', was committed for trial.  That is it.  There is no follow-up from Broadhurst that might take the trial and any execution into account (at least as far as can be ascertained - and Yarham was hanged - much later) but the piece could have suffered, as it were, from the competition offered by Robert Walker who printed no less than five pieces on the case: Broadhurst may not even have thought it worth his while to pursue the fate of Yarham.  The particular case is certainly suggestive once again of the method by which printers sometimes acquired their information, like Abbott's Lorina Gooderham piece … and as was probably so in many other murder ballads.19

One should reiterate that Yarham was not hanged until 1846, another possible reason why Broadhurst offers no follow-up through a certain lack of newsworthy events.  Further still, the Broadhurst piece gives no indication of the full extent of deliberations at trial or the fact that Yarham had initially absconded.  The forthcoming Robert Walker article will give further details.  Once more, though, the often incomplete nature of ballad propositions and descriptions becomes apparent.

A third James Broadhurst piece covers The Trial Execution & Confession, Of Catherine Foster … who poisoned her husband in 1847.  The piece has a crude woodcut of the execution scene - the outline of a skirt indicates that it is definitely a woman who is being hanged … barred windows appear at the right-hand edge; and a back view of a crowd below, headgear hardly distinguished.  The piece continues with 'The Confession' (in fact, a very brief summary) just before which it is noted that 'Her examination is announced for Saturday April 17th, 1847'.20

Immediately, and in a sense through sleight of hand there follows an account of the execution scene suggesting, then, an assemblage of different materials perhaps even first printed at different times although this is also a feature of some newspaper reports.  Catherine Foster is described as a 'wretched prisoner'; a 'miserable culprit' and an 'unhappy woman'; the preparations for her execution as 'awful'.  At length she was 'launched into eternity' and the crowd, first 'horror-struck' into silence and solemnity, dispersed, suitably 'impressed with dreadful scene (sic) they had just witnessed'.  We suspect a pious hope here which is certainly not borne out by subsequent interest in public hanging until it ceased in 1868.

It is only after the reference to the crowd's experience that, in Broadhurst copy, there is a brief recounting of the details of the murder and a brief reference to the trial itself.

Finally, there is a set of stanzas:

If e'er a deed of blood was told.
    Oh list what I impart,
Twill melt I'm sure when I unfold
    The deepest hardened heart.
There follows a description of how Catherine Foster prepared her husband's supper:
Some dumplings mixed with arsenic,
    To take away his life!
(arsenic poisoning would appear to have been a favourite method of disposal of an unwanted character - for instance, in connection with the Stratford case above and elsewhere in the Dazley and Tawell cases).21  There is speculation as to 'what could her possess'; a line on the husband's return; a declaration that 'she must a forfeit pay'; a change of viewpoint indicating her distress and her 'last adieu my parents dear' … 'I poor John Foster murdered' … and, finally,
Oh!  what a dreadful sight to see,
    A female in her prime
Suspended to the fatal tree
    For slaying a husband kind,

Young women all a warning take,
    By her untimely fate,
And consider their latter end,
    Before it is too late.
Although there is no conventional opening of the 'Come-all-ye' kind the piece is otherwise well within broadside convention with the reference to the 'fatal tree' - probably the most used single image in the whole of murder and execution literature - together with some entry into the murderer's mind and a warning to the young (as in the first James Broadhurst piece surveyed here).22

Where the Broadhurst stanzas on Catherine Foster are concerned, what is also implicit is that in their form and content they would seem to have been meant to be taken almost as a separate item to the prose account of events and this is borne out in several other cases that mix prose and verse accounts but not, as has been pointed out, in the earlier examples from Lane … we may be seeing a sort of development of presentation leading to the fully-fledged ballad alone as found in so many examples from elsewhere.  Robert Walker may have followed this course, two 'late' ballads in his stock being unsupported by prose accounts - the only ones, it should be said.  The stanzas in this case will stand on their own.23

We can pursue the Catherine Foster story a little further through a printing of a set of stanzas from Harkness in Preston, Verses On The Execution Of Catherine Foster For Poisoning Her Husband.24  These begin as follows:

The solemn knell does most awful sound
Oh God in pity on me look down,
Forgive my sins and compassion take,
And grant me fortitude to meet my fate.
The tone is unmistakeable and we immediately encounter a favourite image in murder balladry …
Oh what numbers approach to see
A wretched female upon the tree …
Catherine Foster's marriage to John Foster is recounted through the first person and includes motive in two stanzas:
Though I married him I did not him like.
That was the reason I took his life,
That was the reason I did him kill,
Maidens never marry against your will …
It was cursed Satan led me astray,
It was Satan tempted me one day,
It was Satan prompted my guilty mind,
To slay a husband both good and kind.
A warning is then given to 'Young men and maidens' who are abjured to 'Trust in your Saviour'.  There are further lamentations.  Then, almost offhand, a line records that 'Petitions have in my favour been' although 'alas' no mercy was shown.
Three weeks I have lain in a gloomy cell
Where my dreadful sufferings no one can tell,
To gain me pardon my friends have tried,
But oh, alas, it has been denied.
Although itself unremarkable, this printing does enable us to set the Broadhurst piece in context which can be expanded by reference to yet another Catherine Foster piece, without imprint - Lines On The Awful Execution Of Catherine Foster Aged 18 Years …25  Here there is a prose account of the occurrence which includes a note to the effect that there had been 'a most forcible appeal' to the jury by her counsel that was rejected and that 'Her case excited great sympathy'.  Nevertheless, the execution is described.  Underneath there is a letter 'Written The Day Before Execution', a sustained lament on Catherine Foster's circumstances.  Letters, we know, were a regularly expected feature of murder and execution cases just as were confessions and Catherine Foster's will be compared with those in the Samuel Yarham case to be discussed more fully when Robert Walker's stock including his five Yarham pieces is considered.  Alongside is a set of stanzas which are substantially those found in the Harkness printing, lacking only lines prolonging Catherine Foster's lament and repositioning some of the stanzas.

Four William Broadhurst printings concerned with murder have been found.  William Broadhurst is known through street directories to have been operating in 1839 and in 1841.  Further, the 1841 census lists a William Broadhurst living in Oak Street with his family which included a son named James - we can, as yet, offer no further comment on the latter connection.  In the 1851 census William Broadhurst is listed, aged 54, living with his wife Mary (57) and daughter Ann (25) - the names and ages of wife and daughter are the same as found in 1841 - at Upper Westwick Street, St Benedict's, Norwich, working as a printer employing one man, a certain William Gifford who may well have been a relative of the Henry Gifford whose name is attached to one murder ballad (below).  The son, James, has gone but the St Benedict's reference given above in connection with James Broadhurst, printer, may be telling … it is impossible to tie up details at present but there are other ballads printed by James Broadhurst - son or not - that obviously offer conclusive proof of his activity (hopefully, to be considered at a later stage).  William Broadhurst is not found in the 1861 census; but a solid enough presence in mid-century is established in the fore-going details.26

The first of William Broadhurst's pieces as found is A True And Correct Account Of A Most Barbarous Murder Committed In The Town Of Great Yarmouth, On Tuesday 23rd Of March, 1841 (with the word 'Murder' printed large).27  It begins with of a brief prose account of the case, the murder of Mary Ann Karrington by Charlotte Yaxley, Mary Ann being an illegitimate daughter.  There is the usual indication that Yarmouth was in 'a state of great excitement' (a 'state' as found on the James Broadhurst piece concerning John Stratford).  'It appears that the Murder was committed by Drowning in a duck-pond'.  This account takes us up to the apprehension of Charlotte Yaxley and her commitment to trial at the 'next Norwich Assizes'.  There follow a set of four-line stanzas, beginning:

Good people all pray give attention,
    Unto this woeful Tragedy,
A cruel Mother I will mention
    Who used her daughter cruely (sic).
Charlotte Yaxley - 'the wretch' - apparently 'did starve and much ill use' Mary Ann and:
Poor little soul she never dreaded
    Her Cruel Mother would her Drown.
It happened when the father, John, was away at Aylsham fair and the ballad describes, very briefly, the figure of the child as she evidently stood together with her mother:
While by her side as she was standing,
    Her little eyes with tears did flow,
The savage witch she then did seize her
    Into the pond her limbs she threw.
The child was 'not two years old'.

Charlotte Yaxley, according to the ballad, then went to a neighbour and confessed over a glass of gin; and was subsequently taken up and committed:

And then no doubt she'll be requited
    For the cruel deed she's done.
Again the viewpoint switches in a final stanza:
For murder is a dreadful crime,
    But I my doom must wait,
May God his pardoning mercy send,
    Before it is too late.
Charlotte Yaxley was hanged on March 23rd 1841.  The case also featured in a prose account from Robert Walker in Norwich - in exactly the same terms as the prose account found on the Broadhurst printing.  The two printers certainly operated contemporaneously so who borrowed or filched from whom?  The shared detail parallels that phenomenon described above in connection with Lane and Stewardson.

However, one should note that there were aspects of the case that Broadhurst did not take account of at all, the sort of omission already encountered.  For a start, the name of the victim given in one newspaper report was Lavinia Kerrison.  Then, Charlotte Yaxley had an alias - Middleton.  Then, she lived with the child's mother, Mary, 'before I married'.28  Not for the first or last time there are complications in Norfolk printing that tease our perception of events.  Was it simply that Broadhurst rushed his piece out without great thought?

A second William Broadhurst ballad was entitled A True And Correct Account Of A Most Barbarous And Inhuman Murder Committed In A Field In The Boundary Of Wymondham On Saturday 17th Of July 1841 and concerned Benjamin Self's murder of Rhoda Timson (aged 'about 15') as a short prose account tells us.  Rhoda Timson was, like Mary Ann Karrington, drowned although her throat had previously been cut.  Self was taken up and committed 'to take his trial 'at the next Norwich Assizes'.  It should be noted that his name is also given as John in a ballad on the same case printed by Robert Walker which piece will be discussed in a future article; and that the name 'John' is the one used in newspaper accounts and in lists of executions, thus suggesting that Broadhurst got it wrong initially.29

The four-line stanzas, given the change in detail of personnel, are very much like those in the Karrington ballad.  They begin as follows:

Good people all pray give attention,
    Unto this woeful Tragedy,
A cruel villain I will mention,
    Who used a female cruely (sic).
And, much as in as in the Karrington ballad (note the spelling of 'cruely' in both ballads),
Most cruely this wretch did use her,
    No peace nor comfort he has now …
… the Karrington ballad has 'No peace nor comfort she could find'.  It also contained the lines:
In Yarmouth town in Norfolk County,
    This murder it was done …
and the Timson piece has the same pattern:
In Wymondham in Norfolk County,
    This murder it was done,
Poor little soul she never dreaded
    A cruel monster would her kill.
The ballad recounts how Rhoda Timson was at work in 'a great field' when Self, 'The savage wretch', 'with lustful eyes' 'prov'd her overthrow'.  The throat-cutting and drowning are included and then, in yet another parallel with the Karrington ballad a stanza tells us that:
To Norwich Castle he was brought,
    And will be brought to trial soon,
And then no doubt he'll be requitted
    For the cruel deed he's done.
Then the same final stanza as in the Karrington ballad appears.

What is more, the same header block was used in each case, a head and shoulders portrait of a woman in a gown; and the same title to the stanzas given: 'Copy Of Affectionate Verses'.  If ever proof was needed that printers used and re-used material, these two ballads offer it.  Although we should not automatically assume that this always happened, at risk of using a sledgehammer to make a point, cases already described in this article indicate various ways in which Norfolk printers seem to have 'shared' and re-used their material and others to be considered below do the same.  Both ballads cited here are, too, within ballad convention in connection with murders since they include invitations to a public to listen (the Come-all-ye' style) and appeals to God; and they have a range of well-worn vocabulary.

There is one other aspect to consider.  The very same header block described above appears on printings of The Farmer's Daughter and the Gay Ploughboy and The Pirate's Bride from Talbot in Cambridge … possibly, then, evidence for yet another complex of printers as characterised by Catnach's collection of agents noted in passing in discussion above.30

All told, the way that these two ballads were conceived, their shared aspects, their patterns of broadside convention, may indicate how Broadhurst was economical if not careless in his methods of production and how he seems to have relied on an audience familiar with broadside procedure.

This is confirmed in the third and fourth William Broadhurst printings that concern the shooting of J Ayton (as Broadhurst had the name in a first piece: but see below) by George Groom in 1851.  The one piece entitled Full Particulars of the Horrid deed on Friday night July 4th, ON the Body of Mr, (sic) Heighton by G.  Groom near Wells, Norfolk ('Murder' is writ large above the actual account), is in prose and might well have been issued first; it is brief and does not venture as far in proceedings as Groom's commitment to trial.  The spelling of 'Ayton' as 'Heighton' invites suspicion of the printer's incomplete grasp of detail at this point.  Newspaper accounts give the name 'Ayton'.  Another piece, Full Account Of The Horrid Murder …, the two last words being set vertically at either side of an engraving depicting the event - the same header block, in fact, that is found on the 'first' piece, is a prose account which looks very much as if it came from newspaper reports ('we learn', for instance) that ends when Groom was taken up 'fully committed for trial at the ensuing assizes'.  The nature of the pieces together with the brevity of the Groom account on the first sheet suggest breaking news, certainly enough to furnish independent ballads but, as yet, without such issue having emerged.

Wherever William Broadhurst got his details from the murder turns out to have been committed in 1851 by Henry Groom (not George - my italics) 'on the body' - as the Broadhurst pieces have it - of John Ayton, steward to the Earl of Leicester, at Holkham; and was certainly reported in the local press.31  We should note that Robert Walker also produced a piece on this murder, to be described in the next piece in this series.  So much, though, so far, for William Broadhurst except to reiterate that he was, perhaps, a little careless in the way he worked.

We now turn to Henry Gifford of Norwich who issued a piece entitled The Trial, Sentence, Confession, And Execution Of William Thompson in 1854 for the murder of a Lorenz Beha at Tittleshall, Norfolk.  There is a header block that looks to be a representation of the front of Norwich Castle with a gallows erected between two towers or gateways.  A crowd, with backs towards the viewer, is drawn in some detail, with distinguishing headgear - an advance on our Pycraft piece above; and is practically the same representation as found in several Robert Walker pieces although here the castle itself as background is absent.  The Thompson text consists, firstly, of a prose account which appears to use verbatim trial evidence and a description of the execution of 'the wretched prisoner' who, as his time approached, was 'deeply absorbed in prayer' before he was 'launched into eternity' - be it noted that 'William Thompson made a full Confession while lying under sentence of Death'

Secondly, a 'Copy of Verses' begins thus:

Oh, how they flock from far and near
This wretched sight to see
A youth scarce twenty years of age
Suspended on a Tree …
The viewpoint switches to the prisoner who laments that he sees 'grim Death' approaching.  There is a two-line chorus -
What a dismal sight to see
Exposed on Norwich fatal tree.
The prisoner tells how he killed Beha with a hatchet and how he robbed him.  Then he laments that 'No one does pity me' and he sees the hangman approach.  There are very brief details of his life and a farewell to friends followed by an appeal to God to 'receive my wretched soul' and a sort of excuse, familiar to us from much execution balladry:
Cursed Satan tempted me
Upon that fatal day
To meet my innocent victim
And barbarously him slay …
God's forgiveness is asked for - but there is no warning to others in this piece.  Otherwise it is entirely within the conventions already found in execution balladry: the 'Cursed Satan' reference underlines this.

It is worth recording one aspect of the events of the day of Thompson's execution.  The Norwich Mercury contained the following comments:

… In the course of the afternoon, a man appeared in London Street; carrying a banner, on which was a painting of the criminal; and selling what purported to be an account of the culprit, &c … With this he paraded the street; as we conceive “contra bonas mores,” and certainly disgusting every decently minded person.  The police could take no cognizance (sic) of this violation of propriety, if he did not cause an obstruction …
One might argue the spectacle of a pot calling a kettle black.  Nonetheless, the incident is given piquancy in a footnote which reads:
We apprehend that all vendors of these, and similar bills, as well as of songs, could be proceeded against under the Hawkers' Licence Act, as selling goods not of their own manufacture, &c, without a licence.32
It is almost unnecessary to add that printers presumably skirted the very fringes of the law.  There also could ensue some interesting debate about whose wares, exactly, were being sold - the printer's or a hack's?  Finally, there is evidence in this anecdote that printed material was paraded and probably sold on the day of execution which supports the notions expressed in three pieces on this site during 2004 specifically concerned with ballad singers and sellers and in the murder and execution pieces from 2005.33

Two aspects of the Gifford piece offer intrigue.  The by now familiar header block, for instance, is worth returning to for a moment.  There is a piece without imprint, The Life, Trial And Execution Of William Flack … for the murder of Maria Steggles in Bacton, Suffolk34 that employs the very same block save that the details of the crowd are a little changed.  More pertinently, the Flack piece, quoting from trial evidence at length in a prose account, also describes the execution in very similar terms to the Beha case which might tempt one to see a straight copy, one printer from the other.  However, the language of the stanzas that follow differs: the puzzle remains - to add to a growing pile.

The stanzas on the Flack piece, straight from the prisoner's mouth, as it were, are extensive.  They begin as follows:

All you that see my awful and a warning take
    by me, (sic)                                 (ly see;
Scarcely arrived at manhood as you may plain-
Yet my young life I id y spent (sic) as you soon shall
Religion I did scoff at, and God I did not fear.
The prisoner tells how 'The holy Sabbath I did break' and how he 'led a wretched life', how he kept company with 'vagabonds' and how they fought and how his 'wicked race' was run and 'full of guilt and sin', he committed a 'foul and dreadful murder'.  He describes how he killed 'an aged dame' who had known him all his life and had often dried and tried to persuade him to give up his 'wicked course'.  One Sunday morning, however, they met and she again talked to him as a mother might:
I viewed her aged features, her kind and loving
    eye;                                         (did cry;
I am come for blood or money; top her I then
    O spare my aged life she said, but I no pity had
But furiously struck her upon her aged head.
Thereupon, she raised he 'aged hands' before she fell to the floor with such a look 'no mortal tongue can tell' before he struck her again and again and took a knife to her throat.  He wonders then how he can show his 'bloody hands' to his 'Maker' unless the blood of Jesus intercedes for him and asks:
Then pray for me good people all, oh!  pray for
    my poor soul,                       (blood run cold;
Yet pray for me to Jesus Christ, a sinner great
    I am                                       (of the Lamb.
For nothing now can save my soul but the blood
The religiosity is singular in its intensity and contrasts vividly with the known Gifford piece described above, leaving us at this point to continue to wonder at who issued it.

There is one further aspect.  A date of execution (at Ipswich, by the way) is given as 13th August 1853 but, in fact, as noted in the Norfolk Chronicle, the execution was postponed and took place on the 17th August.  This, in the manner of other details given above, illustrates the way in which printers sometimes anticipated events - sometimes, indeed, like William Broadhurst, got it wrong in places.  The very salutary reminder of the fate of Edmund Pook is worth recalling who, in a ballad, is executed for murder when, as it turned out, he was found not guilty.35

The point about the header block, the similarity between the Gifford piece and the piece without imprint on Flack as just described is that, as noted above, they mirror the same header block in Robert Walker printings except where certain details were changed - the gallows sometimes suspends two figures, for instance; and headgear is differently delineated; a sometimes vague and sometimes clearer outline of buildings behind the towers (gateway) can be discerned in Walker printings.  Since Walker seems to have predated Gifford in terms of production this adds to a growing conviction that it was Walker who first propagated the particular header.

Further still, the same header block appeared on one of William Upcroft's printings, The Life Trial, Confession, & Execution Of Charles Daines (1839): yet another example, then, of a persistent, 'shared' Norfolk style of presentation.36  In this case, Daines poisoned his wife, Elizabeth, his daughter and a neighbour, Elizabeth Mills (arsenic again).  The piece has a verbatim account of trial proceedings (we really cannot now doubt the source of much of ballad-printers' material) and ends with the jury returning a verdict of guilty, 'The Learned Judge in a most impressive manner' passing the 'awful sentence of the law', the prisoner making a confession and an acknowledgement of the 'justice of his sentence' and then preparing himself 'for the awful change'.  The execution is described very briefly - 'mournful procession', 'wretched man' and the adjustment of the rope before Daines was 'launched into eternity'.

There follow 'Original Pathetic Verses':

Hark!  'tis a doleful sound to hear,
    Fly from that passing bell;
A guilty wretch condemn'd to die
    Lies now in yonder cell.
It was 'Satan's sinful lustful ways that 'led him to the snare' - and it is added that he wished to be separated from his wife, intending, in fact, to kill her.  However:
The hellish deeds of darkness then,
    Were quickly brought to light!
And justice sternly frown'd on him,
    Who thus the law did slight.
There is an appeal that his murdered 'innocent' might intercede for him and that mercy will be bestowed from on high.  The viewpoint switches: 'Now view him on the fatal drop' … In one minute 'His guilty soul must flee'.  He is described as a 'Poor sinner' for whom, it is hoped, the Saviour's blood might offer salvation:
O may thy last repentant sigh,
    Fly to the throne of God.
The piece is unexceptional in its employment of familiar phraseology, underlining ballad convention, but, as in one or two other Norfolk printings, carrying a heavy religiose content.37

We should mention copy from Walker on the same case.  The piece will be examined more fully in the forthcoming article on Walker but suffice to say here that it includes a very brief prose introduction and a set of stanzas quite different to those quoted above.  So much, it might be thought, for 'shared' experience and material.  Finally, though, there is a very similar header block.  In this the scene is Norwich Castle but the twin gateways and the hanging figure are reversed and some crowd details differ in comparison to the Upcroft printing.  This suggests that whoever invented the header, different printers had different blocks so as to alter at least portions of the printing as opposed to there being but one block in circulation, a feature to be discussed more fully, hopefully, in a future article.

There are further William Upcroft printings in the Millenium library cache.  The first concerns the murder of Hannah Manfield at Denver, near Downham in Norfolk.  Her murderers, John Smith - or Day - and George Timms, were hanged on 29th April 1837 at Norwich Castle.38  A third man, one Varnham, also accused, did not hang.  He was described in a newspaper report as having been too busy burgling to kill.  It was evidently Smith (Day) who put the knife in and he asserted that Varnham had had nothing to do with the murder.  It was, indeed, reported that 'On Thursday' before the execution a reprieve for Varnham had arrived.

The Norwich Mercurysummed up events, describing:

John Smith, alias Day, aged 26, George Timms, aged 33, and John Varnham, aged 24, charged with having on the night of the 2nd, or the morning of the 3rd of January, broken and entered the house of Hannah Manfield alias Saddler, and stolen there from a quantity of plate, monies, and other articles, and murdered the said Hannah Manfield alias Saddler.
There is on the Upcroft printing a rather dense woodcut header depicting the event and showing three men attacking the unfortunate woman, thus falsely implicating Varnham.  Then there is a prose account of the finding of the body, its state and that of the house in which it had lain ('for some hours').  Evidently 'three bankers' had been seen close to the house 'on the preceding evening' and on the following morning and were pursued to Doncaster:
Five pounds of beefsteak were cooking for them at eleven o'clock in the morning, and one of them was playing a match at “puff and dart” …
Officers, 'with firmness and promptitude', apprehended the men, they were taken to the local gaol, searched, 'strongly ironed' and removed to Lynn, then 'committed to Swaffham Gaol' until the next Assizes.  There are no accompanying stanzas.  The piece itself is somewhat inconsequential and may be viewed as breaking news, not the first time that we have encountered this feature.  One example of how newspaper reporters castigated crowd behaviour may also be found (pot and kettle again).  The Norwich Mercury report cited here included the following comments:
Thousands - tens of thousands - and amongst them an extraordinary proportion of females - viewed [the] miserable and disgraceful end …
- and there is an injunction to readers to learn the appropriate lesson!  Other material concerning executions as noted in previous articles emphasises the presence of females - and boys.

Finally, the Norwich Mercury added that:

John Varnham whose real name is William Maskell, was brought up at Pitcham, near Brighton.  His Father appears to be a respectable poor man, a shepherd to Mr.  Tanner, and to have taken pains to bring up his children properly.39
Robert Walker also put out a piece on this murder and it will be considered in the next article in this series.

Another William Upcroft piece concerns the actions of one James Flood, who murdered Jane Field in Norwich in 1851.40  Again, as in the Manfield piece just described, there is a sensationally styled woodcut showing a man with a bleeding woman at his feet; and again a prose account.  Since this latter, first off, indicates that 'William Skelt, watchman, deposed that he was on duty … ' and observed events, it must confirm detail taken from proceedings (my italics), thus underlining the probability that Norfolk printers often but, as we have seen, not always, drew substantially on such reports for material.  The account goes on to describe how Jane Smith and James Flood lived together, often quarrelling (one recalls the life and death of Susan Owen in Banbury as mentioned in the articles from 2005 cited above) before Flood, 'very tipsy', dragged Jane Smith into the street, she meanwhile crying 'Murder'.  Flood was then apprehended by the watchman and Jane Smith died of her wounds at 'about ten minutes past seven on Thursday night'.

There follow some twelve stanzas, with a length of line allowing some elaborate sentence-making, beginning:

Alas!  alas!  What woeful tale to you we now relate,
Of a poor unhappy young girl that last week met her fate …
Again we are reminded of Susan Owen, the 'poor' girl who nevertheless led a dissolute life in the company of her lover before he murdered her.  Jane Smith apparently lived in an area of Norwich described as 'that sink of sin' and, to be fair, the quarrels and fights are registered in the piece.  And (on a Tuesday):
The man came home that fatal night but found her not at home,
And swore that he would murder her whenever she did come;
And in a raging passion as he went out of the door,
With murder in his furious looks, he stamped on the floor.
Flood knocked the girl down and kicked her and 'the blood did flow amain'.  'Your life I'll have this night says he' … and the girl's torment is described, neighbours too scared to intervene.  The watchmen came 'and pinioned him straitway' (sic).  The neighbours then 'try'd her life to save', she lingering until the Thursday night.  There follow phrases that would seem to attempt to extract maximum effect - 'She as at once her parents' joy when innocent and young' and 'with what anguish the hearts of those dear souls be wrung'.  The girl had been led into the paths of vice by 'this most cruel man' and a warning is given to other young girls: 'Let not vicious company bring you to this most awful state'.  Further, young girls were to 'shun drunkenness above all things for it is the root of evil', a temptation 'from the Devil'.  And Jane Smith had in her 'prime' been 'given over to drink'.

As for the murderer, with typical rhetoric the piece asks 'what must be his feelings now in his lonely cell'.  For 'The anguish of his troubled mind no mortal tongue can tell'.  Finally, in a general appeal: 'never give way to passion, 'tis sure to lead to guilt'.

It is a fulsome piece in its way, evasive and titillating by turns, with several elements from known balladry but, as in other Norfolk material, with just that touch of individuality that marks out a printer's notions of presentation.  Thus, despite the inclusion of a typical broadside warning, there is no 'fatal tree' image.

It has not yet been possible to 'complete' this particular story since although a verdict of 'Wilful Murder' was brought in against Flood there does not seem to be a record of his hanging.  The date given, April 22nd 1851, in our one available record is the date of the murder.41

To underline Upcroft's particular styles - that is, considering the variety of Upcroft ballads so far considered - we can turn to his piece on Hubbard Lingley, hanged in 1867 for the murder of his uncle.42  Here there is cleanly-worked header showing a man in a cell with his head in his hands and a striking light issuing down across him from a window left … Two elaborate decorations are set to each side with the significant words of the title, 'Lamentation' (above) and 'Hubbard Lingley' (up and down the page) alongside.  Unlike most other Norfolk pieces, this one consists of stanzas only and one may perhaps see this as a development (as mooted earlier in this article) even if the religiose tone of other ballads already noticed here emerges immediately:

Sinner attend and hear the prayer
    Of one condemned to die;
The sorrow of a guilty wretch,
    Who loud for mercy cry …
The 'wretch' epithet is familiar enough.  A motive is given as 'envy's venom'd canker' that 'caused me for to sin'.  The plea for mercy is expanded:
Oh!  may the all atoning Lamb,
    Plead for my guilty soul;
And cleanse me with the purple stream
    Which makes the wounded whole …
The uncle, when confronted by Lingley, is described, in a somewhat unlikely manner, as a 'Tiger in his lair' whose blood Lingley 'did spill'.

Throughout, one returns to the attempt to plead for mercy - Christ on the cross offering 'The Sinner's road to Heaven', Christ's blood that would 'Wash all my sins away', an appeal to the Lord who would grant salvation, asking that 'The cloud I so much dread' be 'big with mercy', holy angels to 'waft my soul to Paradise' … ; and, in this context, there is a final plea and, should mercy be offered, 'Oh!  Death where is thy sting'.

More everyday in reference, the protagonist asks his 'loving wife' and his friends and neighbours to pray for him and complains about his 'bursting heart'.  And there is fear of approaching fate in several general gestures:

Whilst I … agitated wait,
    The awful moment near …
Yet there is hardly anything in these stanzas that refer to the actual deed.  We have absolutely no idea what transpired save that Lingley killed his uncle.  The piece ends, unusually in this collection of Norfolk ballads, with the inclusion of initials, 'W U Norwich' obviously suggesting that the printer himself composed the stanzas.

We can frame this particular Upcroft ballad by reference to others on the same case, for instance, in another example from the Millenium library cache, this time from W Parfrement, printing in West Winch, his only contribution to balladry as far as has been ascertained.  The piece has three short lines at its head separated from the full, extensive text:

Thou shalt not kill!
Lingley was hung.
Thou shalt do no murder.
A tone is immediately set - it carries echoes of the passage from Judges found on the ballad from Abbott in Diss on the Gooderham murder discussed above; and the verses follow suit - without, exactly, the oft-repeated invitation for 'good people' or whosomever, to draw near and pay attention but with an unmistakeable admonition in keeping with ballad tradition:
How many are they yield to sin?
    And by transgression fall;
You men these lines a warning give,
    Now they upon you call.

Let not temper in you rise,
    Nor angry threats retain;
My uncle, he in Barton Leys,
    Who by Me thus was slain.
The first-person viewpoint is maintained until halfway through the ballad, indicating how Lingley, in company, encountered his uncle, a keeper, in Barton Leys Wood and, it seems, in response to the keeper's challenge - the circumstances are obscured by rather clumsily-patched lines - 'caused me then on him to fire' whereupon he fell dead.  The gun, it appears, sounded 'for miles'.  Its sound and circumstance may then have been instrumental in Lingley being taken.  Subsequently, it had been 'hidden up' and covered with leaves.

The ballad refers to lies told at trial but then follows with what must have been a prior development:

I a prisoner thus were taken,
    To Norwich Castle sent,
Waiting the August assizes,
    For circumstantial evidence.
The viewpoint, continuing with somewhat stumbling lines, switches:
We've found the murderer that have been,
    This day you have been tried,
And guilty thus you're found of death,
    For truths you have denied.
A warning is given (by the culprit) to 'My kindred friends' who exhorts 'Young men and maidens' to shun 'evil company'; and the ballad says that the result of the trial will 'cause thy parents agony'.  Lingley asks forgiveness from his 'Dear Aunt' and that, rather than mourning for him, his Barton friends should 'soothe the orphan's cry'.  His hour is drawing near and he asks forgiveness of the Lord:
Bad company I again repeat,
And warn you such to shun,
Before twelve thousands, which I stand
For I've the murder done.
Lingley's bed is now 'a box of lime' and, perhaps slightly obscurely, 'My body in castle, 'twill consume'.

We see how certain ballad conventions of warnings and appeals to God are upheld.  On the other hand, no mention is made of a confession - and we know that one was made - and Lingley's own fears are not portrayed extensively.  All told, in its uneven nature, it is a piece that illustrates both the overall pattern of balladry as discussed and the small individual touch.  To remind us: no other example from Parfrement has yet been located.43

On the other hand, we can compare Parfrement's effort with at least one other on the same case.  This comes from Disley in single ballad form (no additional material)44, well known for his murder ballad output, and begins

Within a dungeon in Norwich gaol,
One Hubbard Lingley in grief bewails,
His own kind uncle he did kill and slay;
On a Friday morning in the month of May.
For that cruel murder he's doomed to die On Norwich's fatal sad gallows high.
There is a familiar touch of bathos here in the last line of the stanza; and we can assume that the final two lines act as chorus, a familiar device in murder balladry.  It is noted that Lingley will 'suffer' on 'the very tree where Rush met his fate' (see below for Rush).  There is much emphasis on specific dates and times, the usual touch of authenticity - 'early at four o'clock', 'Friday the seventeenth of May', and again 'Early in the morning, at four o'clock' and yet again 'the seventeenth day of May'.  Lingley's shooting of his uncle is recounted and although he made 'Many excuses' the jury condemned him 'to suffer on the gallows high'.  Whilst the ballad implies that the execution has already taken place, Disley also included a bet-hedger -
At Norwich castle he was tried and cast
And his last moments approaching fast;
The hangman anxious does now await
To terminate Hubbard Lingley's fate.
A warning is given to 'all young men' and the piece ends thus:
How could he dare lift his murderous hand,
Base, vile, ungrateful, and cruel man.
The final Upcroft piece concerns Frederick Baker, who murdered Fanny Adams in 1867: a venture outside Norfolk not common amongst Norfolk printers.45  The extended title is The Hampshire Tragedy: Being a full and true account of the Cruel Murder!  Of Fanny Adams, On Saturday, August 24th, 1867 … .  Oddly, perhaps, apart from a printing in Hindley's Curiosities … no others on this notorious case have been unearthed anywhere: a situation mirrored in the general absence amongst Norfolk printers of pieces on the Corder, Mannings and Rush cases (apart from two efforts on Rush from Norfolk described below), each particularly prominent in the public mind and each having been given expression in several ballads from across the country.

Upcroft offers a prose account and then a set of stanzas.  The prose account is detailed, tracing the progress of 'One of the most barbarous and revolting Murders that we have ever had to record … '.  The 'awful crime' took place in a 'hop ground' and, crossing it, a labourer, Thomas Gates, discovered the severed head of a young girl.  He ran to neighbours and they, in turn, found other dismembered pieces of a girl's body.  In ghoulish fashion, the account records that 'Two human eyes were found in the river Wey, but the right breast was missing'.  Frederick Baker, known to have associated with children in the area, was taken into custody, 'trowsers' (sic) 'marked with blood!' The prose account finishes thus:

After other corroborative and satisfactory evidence, a verdict of Wilful Murder was returned against the Prisoner, for whose committal a warrant was at once made out.
'Lines Composed On the Horrible Tragedy!' follow and, as in the Flood piece, Upcroft treats us to some quite elaborate construction:
Kind friends attend whilst unto you these mou-
                                            rnful lines I read
This tale of horror and of blood will make your
                                            heart to bleed:
To think that such a monster on this wide earth
                                            should move,
A guilty wretch with heart of stone who scorn'd
                                            the Saviour's love.
'Monster' and 'wretch' can be found twice more in the piece.  Fanny Adams is described first as 'A lovely Girl not eight years old' who, with her sister and a friend 'In the meadow green so merrily they all did bend their way'.  Baker evidently offered them 'some halfpence' so that he might 'lay his snare' and then 'The lovely cherub' he 'destroyed to feast his eyes on blood', to the extent of taking her head and placing it 'on some hop poles on the ground'.

The dismemberment is described although:

My pen it cannot half describe the horrid awful
That was witnessed by the neighbours where the
                                                      murder he had been …
The piece refers to the 'horror' that Fanny Adams' mother felt:
No mortal never heard of such a cruel horrid
As this committed by that wretch not in
                                                      his prime.
Nonetheless vengeance 'will him soon o'ertake' and justice will 'prove his guilt'.

There is a warning to parents to watch their children carefully so that no villains light 'trepan, and innocence beguile'.  And a further warning is given to 'all young people':

To shun the paths of vice and join all good so-
For if that you commit a crime, there is no kind
                                                      of doubt,
You cannot keep it secret long, your sin will find
                                                      you out.
It might even be thought that these young people were being cajoled somewhat unfairly.

The piece, like the Upcroft Lingley ballad, has the initials 'W.  U.  Norwich'.  It seems that Mr Upcroft fancied himself as a writer although, whatever his individual attributes, he can be seen to have used familiar enough epithets, proof that he was conversant with ballad convention.

To remind ourselves, Hindley's piece, prefaced with a short prose account of the event and beginning with the familiar 'Come-all-ye' phraseology:

You tender mothers pray give attention,
    To these few lines which I will relate …
describes Baker as a 'monster' and a 'malefactor'; and the ballad declares that 'In that heart of stone ' there was not 'a spark of pity'.  Yet only the word 'mutilated' offers any idea of the nature of the crime.  The parents are described as being heart-broken, just as the mother in the Upcroft piece is horrified.  Baker will be hanged and many thousands will see him on the scaffold.

There is a chorus, directed at the murderer:

Prepare for death, wicked Frederick Baker,
    For on the scaffold you will shortly die,
Your victim waits for you to meet your Maker, -
    She dwells with Angels and her God on high.
Baker 'must' be haunted by visions:
She points at him, and cries, oh tremble, murderer!
    'Tis I, your victim here - that little child!
before 'The hangman comes', 'the drop is falling' and Baker 'fills a murderer's grave'.46

A piece put out by Henry Watts47 on Franz Muller's murder of Thomas Briggs, in a railway carriage, in 1864, contains a prose account and looks to have taken material from inquest proceedings … Muller, for instance, was 'brought up from the House of Detention … and was allowed a seat near the Coroner's table … '.  The evidence was then read over … after which 'the Jury retired to consider their Verdict'.  Muller was committed to Newgate for trial.  After a few more details 'A Copy Of Verses' follows:

Good people all I pray attend to me both young and old,
And a dreadful tragedy to you I will unfold,
How an aged gentleman most cruelly was slain,
When travelling a passenger in the Great North London train …
We are used, from a modern viewpoint, to encountering bathos.  Thus, 'The gent's name was Thomas Briggs … ', a banker's clerk, who:
… on the ninth of July O dreadful to relate,
By a base assassin he met a most horrid fate.
The bathos continues as Muller tried to get hold of a leather bag in Briggs' possession and, ironically, used a 'life preserver' to deal several blows to his victim:
When he'd done the dreadful deed he ope'd the carriage door,
And threw his victim on the rails covered with human gore.
Briggs was found, conveyed to a nearby public house, and there died.  Unfortunately for Muller,
… in his hurry to escape before the deed was known,
He the hat of Mr.  Briggs put on, in the carriage left his own.
Muller boarded the ship Victoria thinking that America might offer a refuge, 'But two detective officers were quickly on his track' and he was greeted in New York 'and to prison borne away'.  He protested innocence, 'in vain', and:
The officers who arrested him when carefully looking round,
The hat and watch of the murdered man on him they found …
So Muller was brought back to England 'And very soon he must appear at the Central Criminal Court' and 'a judge and Jury … will pronounce his fate'.

Clearly, the narrative is the most important feature of the piece and, like much other relevant balladry, the piece ends before execution - and, indeed, before sentencing.  It offers opportunity for comparison with other pieces on the same case, one from Disley without any prose preliminaries.48  Disley's Lamentation, Confession, and Execution Of Muller has the distinction of being issued at a later stage in proceedings and begins as follows:

The awful moments are drawing nigh,
My fate is sealed, I am doomed to die …
There is still an element of bathos in a two-line chorus:
Alas!  Franz Muller is my name,
Doomed to die for murder in the Railway Train.
Disley indicates that 'It was on a Saturday that's long gone by' when Muller 'Briggs did kill'.  Muller's birth in Germany is recorded as is his age - 'just twenty-four'.  Muller robbed 'poor Briggs', taking his hat, watch and chain and there is the briefest acknowledgement of a sea voyage 'The winds did blow, seas ran mountains high' before an interesting interpolation:
The passengers all felt assured,
Some cruel murder must be on board;
And in their berths, as they lay below,
Thought they'd every moment, to the bottom go
though whether this was pure accident or some vestige of older superstition is a matter unlikely to be resolved.  Other Disley murder ballads do not exhibit any trace of previous apprehension in this manner.

The piece recounts Muller's arrest in New York and the finding of Briggs' hat, watch and chain and how he was brought back again to England:

And by a Jury I was tried and cast,
My days on earth are now fleeting fast.
He bids farewell, notes that 'By Calcraft's hand I must quickly fall' and asks for God's mercy, confessing - as a 'wretch' - the murder to his friends, bids 'Adieu' again and waits to meet his 'Maker on the Judgement Day':
Yes, I'm the murderer, the deed I did,
I spilled the blood of poor Thomas Briggs.
Given the apparent point in the case at which the piece was issued, it is altogether different from that of Watts and, although the narrative is upheld, it spends more time probing the murderer's mind, and that in a consistent first-person viewpoint.

Another piece on the same case, Horrid Murder Of A Gentleman, In A Railway Carriage49, is yet again different:

Another base and dreadful murder,
    Now again, alas, has been,
One of the most atrocious murders
    It is, as ever yet was seen;
Poor Thomas Briggs, how sad to mention,
    Was in a first-class railway carriage slain,
Between Old Ford and Hackney Wick,
    Which cause excitement, care and pain.
This piece, just as is apparent in the piece exemplified above, made great usage of journalistic detail … rather confusingly, a hat was found 'Made in Crawford-street, Marylebone', a hat, apparently, that Briggs wore, thus contradicting the 'evidence' in the two previous ballads discussed.  Here, too, we are told of 'villains' and that 'they' did rob him (my italics).

Briggs, we learn, was 'a faithful servant' 'To Roberts, Lubbock and Company'; and 'Three hundred pounds rewards is offered'.  The piece hopes that the murderer will be taken soon and in pursuance:

… glad we are there is before us,
A clue to the wicked murderer …
- a watch-chain:
They have traced his watch-chain in the city,
The very key, as we are told …
- the italics here are meant to draw attention to similar acknowledgements found in much balladry including that pertaining to murder and execution (referred to in the articles listed at the head of this piece).  Thus, in a ballad about John Pointon, who was apprehended for the murder of Eliza Bloor (1878), we find the following lines (my italics again):
A dreadful murder near to Burslem,
    In the County of Staffordshire,
Has filled each feeling heart with sorrow,
    For the victim so we hear …
The latter phrase is echoed elsewhere although, sometimes, in slightly different guise: 'as we may see' in Murder of Mr O'Connor (the Mannings case again, 1849); 'as we hear' in Lamentation of John Jones - who killed seven people (1870); 'as we may hear' in Shocking Murder Of A Policeman, At Snodsland, near Rochester (1873).  There is a fuller manifestation in Murder in Park Lane (1872):
What horrid crimes to us are mentioned,
    In the papers from time to time,

So list awhile and pay attention,
    While I relate a dreadful crime;
A fearful one there was committed,
    At No.13, in Park Lane,
The murderess now has her guilt admitted,
    Margaret Dixblanc is her sad name … 50
To return to the Muller ballad - Briggs' watch-chain is described as 'Albert curb, with swivel and in gold', detail that must have come from reportage in newspapers if not directly from the police.  A goggling crowd is then described before there is a prolonged appeal for the 'stern justice' of God to pursue a single villain 'or them' who must have 'on the brow the mark of Cain'.

A fourth Muller ballad is available, this time from Fortey - Verses On The Condemnation Of Franz Muller:

What great excitement has been caused,
    The nation all around,
It mattered not where'er you went,
    In country or in town.
But now the case is ended,
    And Muller's doomed to die
For the murder of poor Thomas Briggs,
    On Newgate tree so high.
He slew him in the railway train,
Then flew across the raging main.
The by now familiar narrative follows, citing Briggs' watch and chain but there is one addition:
Thousands of pounds were betted,
    While Muller lay in jail,
That he would be acquitted …
a quite ghoulish prospect.  Then there are lines describing Muller's flight to America and his arrest.
By Muller's end we see, my friends,
    That murder will come out, -
That Muller was a guilty man,
    Alas!  There is no doubt …
And there is one more mention of watch and chain together with Briggs' hat before a final stanza repeating sentiments already offered.51

We see in the case of Muller and Briggs, then, how within an overall narrative line some printers apparently strove to alter a detail here and there.  Nonetheless, the phraseology and the sentiments are well within murder ballad convention and Watts' piece conforms easily enough although it has its own particular extended insistence and tone (bathos, admittedly, being an opinion out of hindsight).  All four ballads discussed here end before the details of execution might be offered (and the execution certainly took place - as Disley indicated on copy, on November 14th 1864).  If there are differences in printers' approach to subject-matter they are relatively small in an overall pattern.

Finally, one should take brief account of two pieces on the execution of James Rush in 1849.  As noted previously, the Rush case may be considered with that of the Mannings during the same year and in conjunction with the 1827 Corder case as being so much celebrated or notorious that it is somewhat surprising that so few ballads have been found in the Norfolk caches (Corder was not actually hanged until August 11th 1828).  There seems to be no obvious reason why not unless there was an intentional emphasis on relatively local cases or, simply, that ballads are still waiting to be discovered.  The first Norfolk piece on Rush in question, a prose account, put out by Josiah Fletcher in Norwich, recounts the court scene and has quotations from Rush himself (so it is supposed) that examine his sin and his conscience.  There is nothing about actuality - this is much more a tirade - and reminds us of the Lane pieces discussed at the head of this piece.  The tone of religiosity has been maintained, the piece ending thus:

It is worth noting that Josiah Fletcher's presence in Norwich was a strong one through the century and it is a little surprising that, as far as can be ascertained, this is the only piece of his to have emerged in connection with murder; suggesting that he had little to do with the production of balladry or even any other sort of examination of murders and executions through prose accounts.  There is as yet not much information relating to his other presumed printing activities but one piece can be found in the Millenium library entitled To The Dissenters Of Norwich.52

There is also a piece from Upcroft - not from the Norfolk cache but from the Bodleian collection - that, in appearance, fits exactly into the format described in previous articles on murders and executions, having a header block and a set of stanzas but no prose account, a comparative rarity in Norfolk through which the date of issue counters much calculation as to the general progress of Norfolk output towards the ballad printed as a single text.  There is, simply, no accounting except to refer once again to the individualistic nature of printers!  The header itself is the same as that found in Upcroft's printing on the case of Hubbard Lingley discussed above - a view of a cell containing a figure, seated, with head in hands, and a strong light coming from a barred window top left.  The title is set above and below the header - The Sorrowful Lamentation On James Bloomfield Rush …53 'Now lying under sentence of Death in Norwich Castle':

Kind Christians hear this doleful tale,
    While I for mercy cry,
And plead unto my Lord for me,
    A wretch condemned to die …
The stanzas described how the father (Jermy) was 'shot dead by me' and then Jermy's son; and how Rush wounded the 'Maid and Mistress'.  The trial lasted 'six long days', Rush was sentenced to death and then:
What agony my mind is in,
    All in this dismal cell;
The horrors of my dreadful thoughts,
    No mortal tongue can tell.
Two stanzas prolong please for mercy and then:
Now I do clasp my murd'ring hands,
With horror weep aloud;
I think I see each murdered form,
Wrap't in their deathly shroud.
He feels remorse but soon will come 'ignominious death'; and there is a final plea for mercy.

The passage of the lines fulfils all expectations garnered from other such ballads.  The one surprise, perhaps, is that there is no fatal tree image.

As summary: we see, consistently, how some features of ballad presentation are maintained throughout the century and how printers leaned heavily one on another to the probable extent of filching but, at the same time, did occasionally display an independent treatment of cases even if still relying on the known conventions of balladry - expressed, for instance, through recurring imagery and themes - that find parallel in other execution ballads as discussed on this site previously.  It is certainly worth remembering the use of the header block in so many cases, evidence of Norfolk printers' borrowing to go with the regular employment of a prose account of events that, whatever the differences in wording, nonetheless offers something of a glimpse of an overall approach to their task amongst Norfolk printers; a style of presentation (header block, prose introduction and a set of stanzas) that can be found in several other execution ballads from printers outside Norfolk - such as those on the Mannings (1849), Francis Warne (1864) and F E Kohl (1865) but, to emphasise the point, is one of the strongest elements in Norfolk production.  In Norfolk, the ballad alone is a rare sight and this contrasts quite vividly with execution material frequently found from elsewhere - but one should not forget the Upcroft Rush piece nor, of course, Walker's single ballad issues (to be considered).

Certain aspects of style and tone are, then, evident amongst Norfolk printers; and, to an extent, we learn - perhaps, more properly, we surmise - how and where Norfolk printers found their material.  There is no absolute consistency evident even if the bulk of suggestion is that they took unashamedly and unsurprisingly from newspaper reports and trial proceedings - in this latter case maybe even themselves or through someone employed to do the job.

We then see how sometimes they anticipated events in the rush to offer a scoop of sorts but the 'they' must be qualified by individual names and not used as a blanket term.  The same qualification needs to be borne in mind when considering the detailed employment of language with a discernible trend of quite extensive religious sentiments.  The latter is no real surprise even if its extent may seem unusual.  Hangings were always accompanied by or preceded by extensive sermons.  This went along with prolonged attention to each prisoner during confinement by chaplains who attempted to persuade their charges to admit guilt and seek salvation.  By this means, sometimes, confessions were obtained.  Chaplains, of course, accompanied each prisoner to the scaffold itself.

Ultimately, together with the Walker texts and those from the Rural Life Museum to be discussed in future articles, those surveyed above represent a high level of interest amongst Norfolk printers in the execution trade over a long period of time, extending up to and beyond the cessation of public hanging in 1868.  And, whilst some ballads discussed above are represented in the stock of printers from elsewhere (and some are found in the stock of Robert Walker as will be seen in the next article) the majority as described above appear to be the only extant ones across the country concerned with the particular cases.

Roly Brown - 18.2.07
Oradour sur Vayres, France


A full list of the printings in the Millenium library, Norwich of murders as discussed above, all verified from a variety of reports and listings except where it is stated otherwise; and given in date order.


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