Cricket & Crime

Life in Mornington Road 1855 – 1900

1861 Cricket

At this time cricket was played in Mornington Road, presumably on the east side where there were, originally, no houses.  It was called The Blackwall Railway’s Field, and the address was Mornington Road.

On 25 June, Wandsworth United played Bow-common Amateurs (Morning Post, 24 June 1861). On August 10th there was a return match, Bow v. Blackwall Railway. (The Sporting Life, 18 May 1861)  Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 21 July 1861, reports on a match, Blackwall Railway v. Clarendon.  “This match was played at the Railway Club ground, Mornington-road, Bow, on Saturday July 6.  Score: Blackwall Railway 214, Clarendon 74.  For Railway, Mr Maun scored 80, and Mr Johnson 56.” [All newspaper reports originate from British Newspaper Archive]


1865  The London Evening Standard, August 31 (from British Newspaper Archive)

“George Vale, aged 26, a wheelwright, and George Jones, 28, an assistant coiner at the Royal Mint, Tower-hill, both lately residing at No. 11 Crown-place, Mile-end-road, were brought up on remand before Mr. Paget charged with burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering the residence of Mr Cuthbert Vaux, shipowner and captain, of No. 16 Mornington-place, Bow-road, and stealing therefrom a large quantity of silver plate and plated articles, four dozen of shirts, wearing apparel, and other property, valued at 50/.

Mr Charles Young, solicitor conducted the prosecution; Mr Stoddhart and Mr. Joseph Smith, solicitors, defended the prisoners.

It appeared from the evidence that Mr Vaux was at Bremen in the course of last month, and that Mrs. Vaux also left England some time afterwards to pay him a visit, leaving her house and property in charge of her servant, Mary Buckingham, who was permitted to have another female named Anna Honeybell, her cousin, to keep her company.  The two young women, who had been a short time acquainted with the prisoners, and believe them to be single young men, invited them to the house in the absence of Mr. and Mrs. Vaux, entertained them well, and played “High Life Below Stairs.”  A visit to the theatre was proposed, and on the evening of Tuesday, the 1st of August, they went to the play.  On the termination of the performances, and while on the way home, Vale asked Buckingham for the key of her master’s street door.  She gave it to him, and he had it in his possession five or ten minutes.  He held it up and exhibited it to Jones.  On their arrival in Mornington-road the prisoners were invited by the young women into the dining-room, which was lighted up for their reception.  The prisoner asked “Mary” where her master kept the plate, and she told them in the chiffonier, and showed it to them. The females entertained their sweethearts very liberally at their master’s expense, and before leaving another visit to the theatre on the following Thursday night was agreed upon. Vale kept the appointment, but Jones did not.  The two women and Vale went to the play again, and the females went home to Mornington-road alone.

Next morning they discovered that the house had been entered and plundered, and all the plate taken from the chiffonier, four-dozen shirts, wearing apparel, and other property had also been abstracted.  The theory propounded by Mr. Charles Young [for the prosecution] was that both prisoners having seen the latch-door key and ascertained where the plate was deposited, Vale took the young women to the play, while Jones, either with or without the connivance of others, entered the house by opening the street door with another latch key, and plundered it without being disturbed. Mr Dunstand, a gentleman living at No. 15, Mornington-road, saw his neighbour’s house lighted up with gas on the night of the 3rd August, and all the Venetian blinds down. On another night he had seen two young men resembling the prisoners, the servant and her cousin, “scuffling, laughing and larking” in the street close to Mr. Vaux’s house, which the party entered together. Vale called on “Mary” on the evening of the 4th August, and when she told him the plate was stolen, Vale said, “It’s a robbery; give information to the police; and for God’s sake do not mention my name.”  He called upon her again on the following Monday, and he said he could not rest and implored of her again not to mention  his name. She did not see him again until he was in custody.

Numerous circumstances of suspicion tending to criminate the prisoners were detailed.  They had represented themselves as single men to the females. Both are married men, and Jones has four and his companion two children.  It was elicited in cross examination by Mr Smith that another young man, whose name was Brown, visited the females one night when Vale was there, and he was invited to join the party at the theatre, which he declined on the ground that he was detained too late in the City, but he promised to take the “ladies” (so it was stated) to the play on another night.  Brown called on the females on the Tuesday after the robbery, and when he was told what had happened, he said, “I am very sorry for it; you should have taken my advice, and stopped at home, and not gone to the play with the young men.”  Brown had not been seen or heard of since.  It was urged by Mr Smith and Mr Stoddart, that Brown was the most likely person to have committed the robbery, and that the prisoners were respectable hard-working men of good connections, who at the solicitation of the females had visited them and taken them to the play.  Jones had been employed in the Royal Mint for 16 years. An alibi was set up for him.

Mr Paget commented on the imprudent conduct of the females in entertaining young men in the prosecutor’s house and exhibiting the plate.  He also said that girl Buckingham had given her evidence in a reprehensible manner.  He committed the prisoners for trial. On the application of their solicitors he admitted each prisoner to bail, himself in 200/., and two sureties of 200/. each, making 1200/. surety in all.

Bail was tendered and received, and the prisoners were liberated.”

The Era.  1 October 1865 (from British Newspaper Archive)


“A smartly dressed young woman, named Mary Buckingham, late servant to Mr and Mrs Vaux of Mornington-road, Bow-road, complained to Mr Paget, at the Thames Police-court, that her mistress discharged her on Wednesday last, directly after the termination of a trial at the Central Criminal Court, where she gave evidence.  Her mistress was dissatisfied with the result of the trial, and discharged her without any notice whatever.  Mr Paget said he had neither the power nor inclination to interfere in the case.  He was of the opinion the applicant was very properly dismissed by Mrs. Vaux, and he was very surprised at her coming before him for redress. …  The robbery was entirely owing to the neglect and imprudent conduct of applicant, Mary Buckingham, who formed an acquaintance with strange men, who turned out to be married, violated the trust reposed in her, and left the residence of her master and mistress prey to burglars.  The applicant said her mistress would not pay her any wages.  Mr Paget thought Mr. and Mrs. Vaux were quite justified in what they had done. The applicant, as a servant, ought to have been watchful of their interests in their absence, and not entertained young men in the house, and divulged where the plate was deposited.  Her conduct had been characterised by gross levity and want of faithfulness, and he would not have her as a servant on any account.  Miss Buckingham left the witness-box highly chagrined and in a very ill-humour.  Mr Joseph Smith, solicitor, said the two men, Jones and Vale, the “sweethearts” of the girl, escaped at the Sessions. Mr. Paget – The Grand Jury returned a true bill.  Mr. Smith – Yes, sir, on the trial they were acquitted.”

Singular Mode of Asserting a Claim to a House

In London Street Directories of 1865 and 1867, a Mr Vospor was recorded as living at No. 3 Mornington-road. He had, apparently, a sulphuric acid factory attached to the house – but it seems that his presence there did not go undisputed.

“At the Middlesex assizes, on Wednesday (2 May 1866) Henry Holmes, sen., Henry Holmes jnr., Samuel Holmes, Alfred Holmes, and Joseph Ashford were indicted for maliciously damaging a house.  It appeared that a Mr. Alfred Samuel Moon Vospor, in 1863, purchased some premises for a term of years in Mornington-road, Bow, where he carried on the business of manufacturer of suphuric acid.  In 1863 he let a house attached to the factory to Herny Martin Radloff, as tenant from year to year.  In 1864 Radloff got into pecuniary difficulties, and the business was carried on by two persons named Terry and Watts, inspectors under the authority of the Court of Bankruptcy.  In March, 1865, during the absence of Mr. Vospor, two of the Holmes family and another man went to the premises, representing that they had come from the Excise authorities, and not only took possession of the premises, but locked themselves in.  They put themselves in a state of defence, and barricaded the house against all comers.  They defied all who might come to dislodge them.  They did not stop there, for they went to the Perseverence Oilworks, belonging to Mr. Vospor, and took possession of them. While these persons had got possession of the premises, and continued to occupy the house, they used the water that Mr. Vospor had to pay for; they used his gas, and they broke up doors and even the furniture of the house, which they burnt as fuel.  Some time after this, on Mr. Vospor going to the premises on the 5th of March, he found Henry and Samuel Holmes on the roof of the dwelling-house, taking the bricks from the parapets, throwing bricks into the chimneys, unroofing the house, smashing the windows, breaking up the window sills and the brickwork underneath.  Henry Brown, foreman, also proved that he saw Herny Holmes jnr., chopping the timber off the roof, and Samuel Holmes was stripping off the lead, which was lowered into a van.  The van was driven off, and on being asked by a bystander what they were going to do with it, Samuel Holmes said they were going to take it to sell; but a policeman coming up, the van and lead were taken to the Poplar police-station. The house was completely demolished, and injury had been done to the amount of between £200 and £300.

There were many witnesses ready to be examined, but as Mr. Kemp, who appeared for the prisoners, said he did not dispute the facts, Mr Williams said that was the case for the prosecution.

Mr. Kemp then addressed the jury for the prisoners and said this was a case of disputed possession and ought to have been tried at civil law. The Holmes family lived in the neighbourhood for 200 years, and whether rightly or wrongly, they believed they had legal right to this property. – The jury acquitted Henry Holmes, senr., and found all the other prisoners guilty.  The assistant judge deferred passing sentence until next session.”

This report was in Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Friday 04 May 1866 and Shrewsbury Free Press, and Advertiser for Salop – May 12 1866, both from British Newspaper Archive


On January 11th, 1879, the East London Observer, in their ‘Police Intelligence’ section, reported from court an incident of little intelligence on either side.

“William Carr, 35, who had given a false address, was charged with loitering for the supposed purpose of committing a felony. – Police-constable George Penny 56KR, said that at about 11.45 the previous night he was on duty in the Mornington-road, Bow, when he saw the defendant and another man walking down the road in a manner which attracted his attention. He went up to them, and asked where they were going. Defendant replied they were going home.  Witness pointed out they could not get home that way unless they lived in the road, as there was no thoroughfare.  They turned and went back again.  About an hour afterwards witness again saw them, this time in the Wellington-road.  Whey they caught sight of him they ran away as fast as they could.  Witness at once gave chase, and succeeded in capturing the defendant.  The other man managed to get away.  When at the station the defendant gave an address at Lincoln-street, Bow, but this, when enquired into, was found to be incorrect.  The witness added that in consequence of the numerous complaints of burglaries and robberies about the metropolis, the police were keeping a strict look-out for any suspicious characters that might be loitering about the streets late at night. – Mr Saunders [the Judge] said he thought the constable had been too quick in apprehending the prisoner, for some allowance must be made for what was termed the liberty of the subject.  As defendant did not appear to have been guilty of any overt act, he would be discharged.”

From the East London Observer, 11 January 1879 (British Newspaper Archive)

“As far as the unfortunate people who were compelled to live there, we can only say, Heaven help them…”

From the Evening Standard, 30th June 1879: “We should strongly advise respectable men and women who have not the misfortune to reside in that district of London under the jurisdiction of Mr Chance of the Thames Police-court, to abstain from making any incursion into that region, however great may be the inducement to do so.  If they have friends resident there, let them invite their friends to visit them, explaining that circumstances will prevent an acceptance of any hospitality in return; if their presence is called for upon a matter of business, let them give it up; life is better than the goods thereof; better to lose money that to lose health and limbs.  These reflections are suggested by the perusal of a case which was heard before Mr Chance on Saturday and a consideration of the able manner in which that magistrate encouraged the ruffians of his district to attack all and sundry of her Majesty’s subjects, to maim, ill-treat, and otherwise injure them.  At half-past twelve o’clock on Saturday morning Mr Benton of Lisson-grove, Bow, was returning home with his wife. When they were close to Mornington-road, Thomas Cresswell, who was what se suppose we must call the prisoner in the case, accosted them, and seized hold of Benton’s coast. Benton’s wife begged the prisoner to loose his hold of her husband, whereupon he turned upon her and struck her a violent blow in the mouth, knocking one of her teeth out.  The husband attempted to seize the ruffian – we beg Mr Chance’s pardon, we ought not to apply such a term to the poor fellow who was playfully amusing himself – but was thrown down by some of Cresswell’s friends. Cresswell, however, was seized by a police-constable, and when charged with assaulting Mrs Benton, said, “I did it, and I will do it again.”  Mr Chance was evidently unwilling that as high-spirited a fellow as this should be deprived of the opportunity of keeping his word, and he accordingly let him off with a fine of fifty shillings, or a month’s imprisonment. We think, after perusal of this case, persons living outside the jurisdiction of Mr Chance will agree with us as to the madness of entering that region, except on a matter of life and death.  As far as the unfortunate people who were compelled to live there, we can only say, Heaven help them.”