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the house where the explosion occurred, and the following evidence was given :
Mrs. Elizabeth Richardson, the wife of James Richardson, a carman, said she lived as housekeeper in West Street, Ewell, with Mrs. Spooner, who had been ill since July of the present year. On the morning of the 22nd, witness got up about twenty minutes to four o'clock and lighted the fire, Mr. and Mrs. Spooner were then in bed. The other occupants of the house were William Smith, George Mason, and Mr. Spooner's two children. On going outside the house to a shed for the purpose of getting fuel witness saw a man sitting on the coals with a bag between his knees. She recognized him as Thomas Huggett, a sack and bag maker, who worked at Mr. Lee's factory at Rotherhithe. She had known him twelve years; and while she was looking at him he passed his hand over his chest three times. As he had threatened to take her life on several occasions she became alarmed, and at once ran into the house screaming. At the top of the staircase she saw Mr. Spooner, and she then ran into her bedroom. In about two minutes afterwards she heard the explosion, and was so much alarmed that she did not leave her room until every one in the house had gone away, When she got down stairs she saw Huggett, whose face was blackened by the explosion. Huggett had threatened to kill her because she refused to live with him, which she had previously done, as man and wife, for some months. She left him because her husband persuaded her to do so, and she went back to her home. Huggett last saw her in August. He did not speak to her, but he tore the clothes off her back. He said he would kill her by cutting her throat or shooting her. If it should be shown that he blew up the house with gunpowder, she would believe that he did so for the purpose of killing her. She found some grains of powder after the explosion. She never went through any form of marriage with Huggett. The reason why she left her husband was because he was unkind to her, and Huggett persuaded her to leave him.
James Hill, a shoemaker, said that on the morning in question he heard a noise of scuffling between men on the floor of the house where the explosion occurred in West-street. This witness lived next door. He ran out of his house, and then found that part of the wall of the next house bad been blown down. He saw the deceased lying on the floor, and spoke to him, but the deceased did not reply. The brick and wood partition between witness's house and Mr. Spooner's was blown down. The witness was so much alarmed that he could not recollect much.
Edwin Grantham, carpenter, living in West-street, said he heard the explosion while he was in the house adjoining Spooner's. He went into Hill's house, and on the floor in the parlour he saw the deceased. Near the left side of the man was an open clasp-knife. On the left side of the breast, near his heart, was a wound, from which a large quantity of blood flowed. There was a slight cut across his throat. He was carried to the Hop Pole, and was there
asked where he obtained the powder from. He replied, " I stole it.
. I had about llb. of it in my pocket.” Upon being asked why he did it, he replied, “ Jealousy ; I want to see her now." His request was not granted. He was then asked what he had in the little bottle that was found upon him, and he replied, "rum.” The pocketknife was stained with blood.
Dr. Barnes said he had made a post mortem examination of the body of deceased, and found the pericardium had been entered by a sharp instrument, which had also cut completely through the substance of the heart to the depth of from 2 to 24 inches. The wound was quite sufficient to cause death, and looking at the nature of it, he should think it was inflicted after the explosion. The wound was the exact counterpart of the blade of the knife which was found near the deceased.
Other witnesses spoke to Huggett's mind having been affected as regards the woman Richardson with whom he had lived.
The Coroner, after hearing this evidence, put it to the jury whether there was any doubt in their minds as to the wound being inflicted by the deceased's own hands.
The Foreman, acting as the spokesman of the jury, said they were quite satisfied that deceased had taken his own life after the explosion.
The evidence of a man in the employ of Messrs. Sharpe, powder manufacturers at Ewell, was then taken. He stated that the quantity stolen was about 25lbs., and the deceased must have broken into the outside house of the mills to get it. No one worked at the mills at night, and no watch was kept, but all the doors were securely locked. The outside house referred to, where the powder was stolen, adjoined a public way.
The Coroner then summed up, and the jury returned a verdict that the deceased stabbed himself while in a state of insanity, and died from the injuries.
24. Royal CHRISTENING.—The infant Princess, fifth child of their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, was christened at Marlborough House.
The ceremony was performed by the Right Rev. the Bishop of London, assisted by the Very Rev. the Dean of Westminster and the Rev. the Sul-Dean of the Chapels Royal.
The infant Princess received the names of Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria.
The sponsors were :-His Majesty the King of Sweden, represented by his Excellency the Swedish and Norwegian Minister (Baron Hochschild); her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Cesarevna, represented by the Baroness de Brunnow; her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Denmark, represented by Madame de Bülow ; his Royal Highness Prince Leopold, represented by his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge ; her Highness the Duchess of Nassau, represented by her Royal Highness the Princess of Teck; his Serene Highness the Landgrave Frederick William of Hesse,
represented by his Serene Highness the Prince of Teck; her Serene Highness the Princess of Leiningen, represented by her Serene Highness Princess Claudine of Teck; the Duchess of Inverness, and Count Gleichen.
25. CalamitOUS FIRE.—On the evening of Christmas-day a fire occurred at a house in Sandwich-street, Burton-crescent, in the course of which six persons were burnt to death: a young woman, the wife of a policeman, who had been but a few days delivered of a child, four of her children, and the daughter of a neighbour, who had been spending the evening with them. The house was of ten rooms, at 42, Sandwich-street, and consisted of four floors, with a basement, chiefly let out in tenements, the landlord (J. Winnett) occupying the ground floor. The first floor was unoccupied; the second, in which the fire was supposed to have originated, was in the occupation of a person named Sugg, who had gone out to spend the evening, and the third was let to a policeman of the E division, named Beetleston, whose little household consisted of Mary Ann, his wife, thirty years of age; Frances, ten years; Alice, five years; Frank, two years and a half; another child, who was away at the time, and an infant seven days old. All the family, except the father, who was out on duty at the time, and the child who happened to be staying with a relative, perished in the flames, as did also the little girl named Rosina Brown, who was spending the evening with them.
The fire appeared to have been first observed about half-past eight o'clock by the Winnetts, who occupied the ground floor, and who, without sending for assistance, began to remove their furniture into the street. A police-constable named Rawlins, 186 E, who was on duty in the neighbourhood, had his attention called to it, but by that time flames were issuing from a front window on the third floor. He acted with commendable promptitude, though without avail in saving life. He sent a messenger by a cab to the Fire Brigade station in Holborn, who on his way thither gave the alarm to a fireman in charge of the fire-escape at the Foundling Hospital. At the Holborn station, where the intelligence was received at 8.46, the telegraphic instrument happened to be temporarily out of order, and the messenger drove to the Brigade station in Farringdon-street for additional assistance. Meanwhile, John Howard, the sub-engineer at the Holborn station, proceeded with a steam fire-engine properly manned to the scene of the fire, which was soon followed by one from the Farringdon-street station, in charge of sub-engineer Hutchings. There was an abundant supply of water, but by the time the first engine arrived the fire was blazing through the roof and from the windows of the two upper floors. The firemen set to work to subdue it, but before they could do so the roof had been consumed and the two upper floors burnt out. At first they had no idea that any of the inmates were in the upper floors, and they complained that nearly three-quarters of an hour elapsed after the arrival of the first engine before they were told that any one was there, and when all hope of saving life was out of the question. The moment the firemen Hutchings and Howard became aware that there were people there they made a vigorous search, accompanied by other members of the Brigade, at the imminent risk of their lives, among the burning floors in the upper part of the house. There they at length found the remains of the ill-fated woman Beetleston and the five children--a touching spectacle. The body of the mother lay with one arm round the baby, and clasping another of her children by the hand, below the sill of a window on the third floor, as if she had rushed there in the vain effort of saving their lives. The remains of another child (a boy) were found under an iron bedstead, which; as the floor had been burnt under it, had sunk down upon the joists. The body of the eldest girl, Frances, was in a sitting position below another of the window sills, and that of the fifth child was close by. The removal of the remains was attended with the greatest danger, from the treacherous condition of the burning joists; but it was at length accomplished, and the bodies were carefully and tenderly removed to the adjoining deadhouse of St. Pancras. The next morning Mr. Bridges, the district superintendent of the Farringdon-street fire station, accompanied by sub-engineer Hutchings, made a further search among the ruins, and, finding some more of the remains, had them removed to the deadhouse. They had no doubt that the fire began in the second floor back room, in the occupation of the Suggs; and they thought that Mrs. Beetleston, on the floor above, on being alarmed had rushed to the door of her room communicating with the stairs, and had been driven back by the smoke from below, which would ascend with all the greater force from the fact of the street door being open, leaving her and the children the appalling alternative of being suffocated and burnt to death, or being killed by leaping from a window.
At the inquest the landlord Winnett was examined as to whether he had given notice to the firemen of the Beetleston's being in his house, and the jury returned a verdict that the deaths had been caused by suffocation, and that they arose from accidental causes, and that the conduct of John Winnett, the landlord, in not calling he attention of the neighbours and the firemen to the condition of the inmates of the house, demanded their severest censure. They added that they had no fault to find with the conduct of either the firemen or the escape-men, and that their services had been performed in every way that could be desired.
27. DREADFUL CATASTROPHE AT THE BRISTOL THEATRE.—A fearful accident, resulting in the loss of eighteen lives, occurred on Boxing. night, at the New Theatre Royal, Park-row, Bristol. This theatre stands upon a piece of steep ground between Park-row and Park, street. The approaches to it are in Park-row, and the principal entrance is level with the footway. A short distance from this is the approach to the entrances to the pit and gallery. It consists of a passage about nineteen or twenty feet wide, which opens out of Park-row at right angles, and pursues a straight course down a steep descent for about fifty feet, the gradient being nearly one in five. Immediately before reaching the bottom of the descent the passage is somewhat narrowed by projecting masonry on the right hand, and just below this, on the left hand, are two large doors which open into a passage in the building itself, that leads to the pit-stalls and pit. Below these doors the outer passage itself turns sharply to the left, and pursues a straight and level course of five or six yards to the gallery entrance. The upper part of the passage is covered in by some of the first-floor rooms of an adjoining house, the lower parts and all below the pit entrance are open to the air. The surface seems to have been roughly strewn with broken mortar, now pounded into dust by wear, and here and there kicked into holes, from which larger pieces have been turned up. The inner passage leading to the pit and pit-stalls is sixteen feet in length; and the stands of the money-takers are at its farther end. Near these, and within the passage, two police-constables were stationed to regulate the course of those who entered.
The pantomime advertised for performance was Robinson Crusoe, and as early as five in the afternoon the part of the outer passage leading to the gallery was already crowded ; and before the doors were opened, at half-past six, not only was the whole passage closely packed with people, but a dense crowd, many times larger than could be contained in the theatre, blocked up the thoroughfare of Park-row itself, and extended for a considerable distance. The crowd, both in Park-row and in the passage, contained a large proportion of women and mere children, and also a large proportion of men, who were rendered excited and reckless by drink. It is probable that many women and children went early, by reason of their comparative helplessness and as the only course by which they could hope to obtain good places ; and that for this reason they contributed so much to swell the number of the victims. During the long time of waiting the crowd became very disorderly, and various loud outeries proceeded from them; but these were only regarded as part of the natural course of events. At last, and probably when the first forward movement was made in response to the opening of the door leading to the pit, some unfortunate woman is said to have fallen. It is probable she was pressed upon by the crowd on the hill behind, and that the support previously afforded to her by some one in front was suddenly withdrawn. At all events, she fell, nearly in the middle of the passage, and just above the pit entrance. At this point the course of the entering crowd tended in two directions. Those going to the pit wished to turn sharply to the left, and, if they were already on the right-hand side, wished to push across the course of those who were going straight on a little farther before the outer passage made its turn towards the gallery. With this conflict between the two bodies aiding the effect of the general crush, the poor woman was no sooner down than others were pushed over her. The heap of fallen momentarily increased,