Newport First Stop - 100 Years of News Stories

Newspaper Reports 1850 - 1859

Researched by Derrick Cyril Vaughan

Merlin. 28th February, 1850
Charge Of Highway Robbery

Thomas Lightfoot was committed to the next Quarter Sessions on a charge of highway robbery. The particulars of the case are brief, as Ann Davies was walking along the Cardiff Road about 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, her pocket was exposed in consequence of her gown being held up. The prisoner suddenly approached and frightened her with a loud shout in her ear, snatched her pocket and made off with thirteen shillings.

Merlin. 23rd November, 1850
Dancing Academy - Miss Price

Respectfully begs leave to announce to the gentry of Newport and its vicinity that she proposes opening her Academy on Thursday next the 14th inst. at the residence of her brother 139 Commercial Street. She had been recently and for some time in London where she has had the opportunity of instruction by the most eminent professors in the National or Quadrille Polka now universally danced in the highest circles and which is now divested of some of the foreign peculiarities which were deemed objectionable. She is fully qualified to give instruction in that fashionable dance. Terms 1 guinea per quarter or 1 guinea and a half for the Winter Season.


Merlin 25th January, 1851
Police Court

Michael Welsh, a pugnacious Hibernian, who is in the habit of trailing his coat along the ground when drunk, and crying out "who dares tread on the tail of me coat?" was today charged with being drunk and disorderly and was ordered to pay three shillings and six pence and costs.

Merlin. 6th June, 1851
Taken In and Done For

A Welsh tailor, from North Wales, last Saturday morning walked up into commercial Street from Friar's Fields stripped of all his clothes, and talking as stupidly and strangely, as if he had been drugged. He said he had "been taken in and done for" at some house in Friar's Fields, but his head was too bewildered apparently, to lead the police officer to the particular den, and so his plunderers escaped detection.

Merlin. 13th June, 1851
Not to be Killed

Last Saturday just after Wooke's Grand Equestrian Show proceeded through Commercial Street, a young man named Parsons, fell off a scaffold in front of the Westgate Hotel, and although those who ran to the spot expected to find him a corpse, they were agreeably surprised to find that with the exception of a slight cut on the temple, and a little bruising, he was scarcely injured.

Merlin. 20th June. 1851
Fine Oxen

Mr. Booth, the extensive butcher of Newport, was the purchaser of two fine St Albans oxen, which topped the late fair. One met its fate this week, and the other will close its career next for the delectation of the lovers of roast beef.

Merlin. 20th June, 1851
Sir Charles Morgan's Statue

Mr. Job Evans, ironmonger, of Commercial Street, has completed a very neat railing around the statue of Sir Charles Morgan in Victoria Square.

Merlin. 11th July, 1851

Mr. Bernardo Eagle and his witching daughter, the clairvoyant, have been creating quite a sensation in the town during the present week. So powerfully have the public been excited by facts and rumour that crowded audiences have nightly assembled at the Town Hall, and there testified by their expressions of wonder and delight how deeply interested they were in what they saw. Miss Glorianna Eagle a young lady of superior personal attraction and grace is the clairvoyant; and really the more difficult the problem she may be called upon to solve, while in a state of coma, the more readily and correctly does she reply.

A gentleman in the audience, one on whom the strictest reliance might be placed, desired on Wednesday evening to know what he was at that moment thinking upon; and the answer was "the Mersey Stakes at the Liverpool Races this afternoon." At this the astonished querist declared and allowed it to be true to the very letter. The desire for further public exhibitions and private seances appears to be daily increasing.

Merlin. 18th July, 1851
A Backward Movement

Last Monday while the truck of Mr. Bateson, the celebrated ginger-beer manufacturer, was standing near the canal at the Screw Packet Wharf, "Old Tom" the sagacious horse, finding the weather oppressively warm, or being desirous of filling the empty bottles behind him with canal water, made a retrograde movement, tilted the cart and contents over, and of course followed them also into the water. "Old Tom" scarcely knew what to make of his venturous plunge at first, but hearing his master's voice shouting in loud alarm, was recalled to active consciousness and in a short time was got safely ashore again.

Merlin. 18th July, 1851
A Clairvoyant Lady

Last Friday afternoon a select party of ladies and gentlemen assembled at the King's Head Hotel at a private seance to hear the extraordinary revelation of the clairvoyant Miss Eagle and to investigate as far as possible, the truthfulness of the young lady's pretentions, as put forth by her father Bernardo Eagle, the celebrated conjuror.
Among the company present we noticed Mr. And Mrs. Prothero of Malpas Court; the Rev. T. and Mrs. Prothero and children of Osborne, Isle of Wight; Mr. and Mrs. Cordes, Mr. T. Cordes, and Mr. L. Cordes, Woodlands; Mr. Birch; Mr. H.J. Davis; etc..

Merlin. 22nd August, 1851
Treasure Trove

Some few days since, as the gravedigger of the Ebenezer chapel was preparing the resting place of a female inhabitant of this town, who had gone the dreary road marked out for all, he found on removing the covering stone of the tomb, a bundle tied up. The honest delver became nervous, and hobbled away to communicate the discovery to some friends, who, on investigation found that the parcel contained a pair of boots, which although apparently never worn, were quite rotten, together with a leather purse containing some coins some of Louis XVI, a five shilling piece of George III, a pair of ear drops, and three silk handkerchiefs quite fresh and new. After much investigation it was learned beyond doubt, that the goods so mysteriously found, belonged to a Mrs. Ford who carried on a baking business in Hill Street, from whose house the property was stolen some time since. The thief in fear of the police, had no doubt planted the articles in a place not likely to be searched, and made his escape.

Merlin. 29th August, 1851
Driven to the Canal

A decent and well conducted mechanic, residing on the canal side, one day this week rushed out of his house followed by his four screaming and terrified children and flung himself into the water. A French Captain, who was passing at the moment, leaped in after him and rescued the foolish would-be suicide from a watery grave. The poor fellow intimated that a turbulent and provoking wife drove him to think he had better be out of the world than suffer a continuance of his domestic unhappiness.

Merlin. 10th October, 1851
Suspension of Business by Banks

On Monday last the Monmouth & Glamorgan Bank suspended business followed by Messrs Williams Old Bank. The news was received in Newport when the Times newspaper reached the Commercial Reading Room in the evening. Several mercantile and other gentlemen were startled and excited by the announcement that the bills of the Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire Banking Company had been returned that morning by their London agents unpaid.

This alarming intelligence immediately spread like wildfire throughout Newport and neighbourhood. On Tuesday morning, long before the usual bank hour, crowds of anxious depositors were assembled around the Bank's premises in the fond hope of having their cheques cashed on the opening. But before ten o'clock a notice was placed on the door stating that in consequence of the long and continued depression of the iron trade, the Bank was forced to suspend payments until the situation was clarified.

This announcement was greedily read and the expressions of disappointment on the faces of every class will long be remembered. Not many minutes had elapsed after this heavy blow when Messrs Williams & Sons of the Old Bank deemed it expedient to close their establishment also. The general gloom thickened and gave greater intensity to the panic. We must admit that these events are of the most grave character, casting a dismal cloud over the Port and neighbourhood.


Merlin. 2nd January, 1852
An Unpleasant Christmas Trip

On "Christmas-day in the morning" last week, Captain Dando piloted his handsome craft, the Dart Steamer, from Bristol, with a happy party of visitors to their friends on the Newport side, who, however, shortly after found themselves on the mud at the mouth of the river Usk, near the lighthouse, where they remained until the evening tide, to the great disappointment, not only of those aboard, but also of their waiting friends ashore.

Merlin. 2nd January, 1852
The Newport Band

The corps of musicians, under the skilful leadership of Mr. Thomas Gillman, have gained considerable fame during the Christmas festivities by their excellent performances at the mansions of the neighbouring gentry in this locality.

Merlin. 6th February 1852
Malicious Act

Some vile scoundrel actuated by the basest of malicious motives, broke into the stable of Mr. Thomas Richards, Dock Street, on Tuesday night and drugged three of his valuable horses in a peculiar manner, which seriously affected the animals and prevented them from working for a day or two. The police are actively engaged in tracing the offender.

Merlin. 27th February, 1852
Mr. Crawshay Bailey

The supporters of this gentleman have announced his intention to comply with the requisition presented to him soliciting him to become a candidate for the representation of the United Boroughs.

Merlin. 9th April, 1852
Election Rioting at Newport

During the week public meetings were held by the supporters of Mr. Bailey, the Conservative candidate, and Mr. Lindsay, the Liberal, and an active canvass of the electors was instituted by the friends of each gentleman. Owing to the depressed state of trade generally, a large number of the working classes were unemployed at the time, and it is not difficult to imagine that those misguided men were readily converted into willing instruments, not only for keeping up a most unhealthy state of excitement and intimidation, but also as powerful agents in the destruction of property.

Organised bands of working men were seen perambulating the town in a most disgusting state of intoxication, affording unmistakable evidence from their demoniacal appearance, that had it not been for the efficient and temperate exercise of the powers confided to the police authorities of the town, even human life would have been sacrificed to the despotism of mere brute power.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings those bands of ruffians decorated with the red colours, distinguishing the partisans of Mr. Lindsay, made most savage onslaughts on the houses where Mr. Bailey's committees were sitting - breaking every window and destroying other property to a most fearful extent; nor could these savages be successfully suppressed by the local police force, therefore the Magistrates were forced to apply to the Bristol Magistrates for extra assistance which was accordingly given. Requests were also made to the Magistrates of Glamorganshire when 25 of their police and 10 of the Borough of Cardiff force were immediately placed at the disposal of the Newport authorities.

The nomination of the respective candidates took place on Thursday last. The adherents of both candidates mustered in strong force; and although attempts had been made by the partisans of Mr. Lindsay to pack the court with their own force, nevertheless a show of hands resulted in favour of Mr. Bailey, who was proposed by Samual Homfray, Esq., of Bedwellty House, Tredegar, and seconded by Alexander Rolls, Esq., of Monmouth. The day of the election broke with even more than the ordinary excitement resulting in a contested election. From an early hour it was evident the excitement had extended itself to the workmen from Nantyglo, Ebbw Vale, and the adjoining coal and iron districts, who came pouring into the town, armed with bludgeons, sticks and stones. This inundation of strangers is mainly attributed to the fearful destruction of property inflicted on the supporters of Mr. Bailey during the three preceding days, and a general impression that the voters favourable to his election, were to be prevented from recording their votes by brute force. The workmen from Nantyglo - (blue) took up their quarters at the Parrott Inn, and the Ebbw Vale men (red) at the London Porter House. An irresistible attack was made upon the Parrott Inn, demolishing every window-frame and shutter in the house and otherwise inflicting serious injury. This was the signal for the blues to come to the rescue, when a riot of the most tumultuous character ensued.

Sticks and stones were flourished and thrown in all directions, the blues driving the reds towards the Westgate Inn. In the midst of this most fearful contest the most daring and intrepid courage was exhibited by the superintendent of the local police, Mr. Stephen English, who, despite the stones, many of them it was later discovered weighing upwards of a pound each, sailed into the midst of the crowd alone and unprotected, and as it were by the very magic of undaunted courage effectually suppressed the riot and in all probability prevented a fearful effusion of blood. The moment Mr. English rushed into the midst of the combatants, a powerful and huge ruffian made an attempt to hew him down with a large ash stick; but the superintendent escaped too-evident destruction by closing with the ruffian and wresting from his powerful grasp the bludgeon which fell upon the ground and was broken by the sheer force of its fall.

On several occasions during the day severe conflicts were suppressed by a similar exhibition of undaunted courage on Mr. English's part, and we regard it as mainly attributable to his exertions that the absolute loss of life did not ensue.

Merlin. 3rd July, 1852
The Newport to Pontypool Railway

An Act was obtained dated July 31st 1845, for making a Railway from Newport to Pontypool. During the construction of this line of eight miles, Mr. Noah Bowen, of Pillgwenlly Foundry, obtained the contract for making the iron bridge of 52 feet span, which strides the canal at Pontymoile. After seven years, the time occupied in making the line, the Newport and Pontypool Railway is now completed, inspected by Captain Simmonds, and opened on Wednesday June 30th, with every demonstration of hopefulness and pleasure on the part of the public at so important an event. From an early hour large numbers of people gathered in the neighbourhood of the temporary station on the embankment at the foot of Barrack Hill, which is reached by a long flight of steps, and there was a fine display of bunting. The train containing the Directors, Railway Officials and visitors started at 2.15 amidst the salvos of artillery from the Barracks, and the swell of martial music of the 48th Regiment. At Cwmbran, Pontnewydd, and Pontrhydrun stations, "Prosperity to the Newport and Pontypool Railway" appeared on many a rude banner. On approaching Pontypool triumphal arches, mottoes, and wreaths appeared in profusion. At the Clarence Hotel luncheon was served, Crawshay Bailey, Esq., M.P., presided, and speeches were delivered with bumper toasts.

Merlin. 2nd August, 1852
The Water Carts


Can you inform, readers why the inhabitants of Pillgwenlly are suffering all the annoyance of the dust at this season of the year, whilst the streets of the old Borough are quite drenched with water? For what purpose do we pay Board of Health rates? I have observed the street as far down as the Cattle Market, including the road to the Market Gate, and a bye road to a field behind Mr. Turner's garden, quite saturated, but lower than that point no cart appears after 8 o'clock in the morning and then the supply of water is so extremely scanty, as to be perfectly useless - in fact, a good garden watering pot would do nearly as much service. As a ratepayer and shopkeeper, I have just reason to complain, and I hope burgesses of the west end will be alive to their own interests on the 1st November next.

Your obedient servant.

A lover of Justice.

Merlin. 10th December, 1852
The Fire in Skinner Street

On Thursday last at a late hour the premises of Mr. Lazarus Roberts, coachbuilder in Skinner Street, were found to be ablaze; caused it is supposed, from someone throwing the snuff of a candle among some loose shavings which smouldered for some time previously to bursting forth. The officer on duty at the station house on receipt of the information, immediately wheeled down the light carriage with the apparatus etc. to the fire, the hose being attached to the plug at a distance of 200 yards. Superintendent Huxtable took command of the delivery pipe, and a large volume of water was poured upon the blazing building.

The fire was got under in about three quarters of an hour. Damage to the amount of £100 was occasioned; but it was fortunate for Mr. Roberts that the property was insured. Valuable assistance was rendered by Mr. Bruton and his "corps dramatique" who forsook their Thespian occupations in their booth hard by, to quench the fire that was consuming their neighbour's premises.


Merlin. 22nd April, 1853

On Monday evening Mr. Gingell the celebrated pyrotechnist gave the most brilliant display of fireworks ever witnessed in Newport. Three balloons also ascended beyond "earthly ken", during the evening. The Newport band performed very creditably throughout the performances. At the close Mr. Gingell announced that next time he would give a still better display at a price which would be cheerfully paid, we should think, by thousands of those who can appreciate the wonders of the pyrotechnic art.

Mr. Gingell made another display of his art at the Cattle Market on Wednesday evening, but as the crowds of spectators assembled outside and not within the confines of the premises, the extent of the pyrotechnic wonders was curtailed. The "house" was unremunerative.

Merlin. 29th April, 1853
The Late Thomas Prothero, Esq.

Although the state of this gentleman's health for a considerable time scarcely warranted a hope of his recovery - the unexpected announcement of his death (which was sudden) by means of the electric telegraph on Monday last, caused considerable sensation in the town and neighbourhood with the political and commercial associations with which he has been influentially connected for so great a number of years. The shipping in the dock immediately hoisted their colours half-mast high. The corpse was brought from London on Thursday (yesterday), and will be interred at Malpas on Saturday next. We regret to learn that the state of Mrs. Prothero's health is such as to cause some uneasiness among her family and friends.

Merlin. 6th May, 1853
Letter to the Town Council

7 Victoria Place,
25th April, 1853


I deem it right to inform you that some time last night (Sunday) numerous panes of glass were smashed in my house and stable; many large stones were found on the lawn, and about the area; and one which was thrown through the nursery window was so large it must have seriously, if not fatally, injured any unfortunate head that it might have met.

This is the third outrage of the same character to which my house has been subjected within the last eighteen months and I certainly think, considering the heavy rates we have to pay that a more efficient police surveillance should be established in this part of the town.

It often occurs that the doors of the houses during the night get chalked over with obscene words; and no policeman has ever been found here to interfere with or prevent such nuisances.

I have generally to complain of the absence of any policeman in this neighbourhood; and to the want of this watchfulness, I, in a great measure, ascribe the cause of these annoyances. I therefore feel it my duty, as well as from regard to the comfort of my own, family as also for the safety and interests of the public, to call the attention of the council to the above occurrences, with a view to their adopting steps for the amelioration of matters in the future.

I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,
Your most obedient servant,

Charles Lyne.

Merlin. 11th June, 1853
The Dos Works

These works are now in full and vigorous operation. Fully 80 tons of nails are now manufactured weekly and sent to all parts of the world.

Merlin. 11th June, 1853
Newport Band

This musical association promenaded the streets on Tuesday evening, discoursing excellent music, to the entertainment especially of a large number of their lieges who followed them. A Committee is forming for the purpose of raising subscriptions to enable the band to get several new instruments.

Merlin. 25th June, 1853
Town Council Meeting

Mr. Townsend said "Mr. Mayor, I wish to call the attention of the Board and the Surveyor to a nuisance. I happened to go down by Cross Street the other day and my nose was offended by the most dreadful stench, the like of which I have never experienced. On enquiry, I found that a person there, was in the habit of gathering or buying bones and bringing them to the premises in Cross Street, when after cleansing them with lime etc. they lay exposed to the air until they were properly dried, I presume from that the smell arises. But I can assure you, it is a dangerous nuisance. I never smelt such a stench in my life."

The Superintendent said, "It does not now exist - it was removed the same day."

Merlin. 12th October, 1853
Letter to the Editor


I have frequently travelled on the Western Valley Railway and I cannot but observe how differently things are managed compared with other lines. I would draw your attention to the injustice to passengers on the Western Valleys, by cramming into the carriages a greater number than they can conveniently accommodate. On my last journey to Newport there were in the carriage no less than 13 adults and 2 children, and among them one or two who were not perfectly sober. The attention of the guard was called to the fact but he only replied by shutting the door in our faces and of course, left us no alternative but to endure the inconvenience and the unhealthy atmosphere in which we were placed.

Suffering Passenger.

Merlin. 2nd September, 1853
Newport Policemen's Clothes

The new suit of clothes sits very awkwardly on our policemen. Is it not a pity that such fine formed fellows should be transformed into, if not hunchbacks at least hunch shoulders and bandy legs for want of a tailor's scissors? Last year the fault of the clothes was, as the Superintendent at the Board of Health a few weeks ago said, that "it shrunk" - this year there is a similar fault. Already some of the men's trousers are up to their ankles.

Merlin. 2nd September, 1853
Letter to the Editor


The Metropolis Bill, thanks to Lord Palmerston, having become the law of the land, allows me to direct your serious attention to its efficiency, in order to assist the community of this large and increasing town to have its benefits immediately adopted by the proper authorities. I would refresh your memory of the Report of the Public Health Inspector in 1849 on the condition of the burial grounds of this town, which showed there was an imperative necessity for several of the burial grounds being closed. If the necessity existed then, what must it be now? The Report showed that in the old burial ground of St. Woolos alone, the average number of interments annually exceed 300! Multiply that number by the four years since the Report was published gives an addition to this "overcrowded burial ground" of 1200!! This crying evil must be remedied without delay. Apprehension of the visitation of that dreadful scourge the cholera is again before us; this ought to arouse the inhabitants to do all in their power to improve the sanitary condition of the town.

Yours faithfully,


Star of Gwent. 16th September, 1853
Restoration of the Parish Church of St. Woolos

At a meeting of the Parishioners of St. Woolos, held at the Vestry Room on Tuesday, 13th September, 1853, the Rev. Edward Hawkins in the Chair; the following Resolution was moved by Sir Thomas Philips K.T. and seconded by Thomas Powell Esq. "That a thorough repair of the roof, tower, windows, and general repairs to the exterior of St. Woolos is absolutely required; and that if sufficient funds can be raised, it is most desirable to complete all necessary improvements in the interior of the Church." The Resolution was passed unanimously.


Merlin. 3rd February, 1854
Recruiting for the Navy

We understand there is a warm spirit evinced by parties now recruiting for able seamen for Her Majesty's Service in this port, and that a corresponding success in securing "heroes to fight the Russians" has been experienced.

Merlin. 3rd February, 1854
The Streets

This week attention has been called to the exceedingly dirty state of the pavements, crossings and streets in Newport; and suggestions have been made that brooms be furnished to poor fellows who beg for assistance, so that they may pick up a few pence in these cold times of dear bread.

Merlin. 3rd February, 1854
Rat Catching

Tom Edwards, alias "Bounce, the Rat-Catcher" destroyed 200 rats at the warehouse of Mr. Rudge, flour and corn factor, near Screw Wharf yesterday morning in less than an hour.

Merlin. 14th April, 1854
John Frost

Before going to press, we made every inquiry respecting the result of the memorial to be presented by our respected Mayor and the members for the Boroughs to Her Most Gracious Majesty, praying that Mr. Frost might be permitted to return to Newport; but we are sorry to state that no intelligence has yet been received on the subject.

Merlin. 5th May, 1854
A Dock Nuisance

Mary Ann Walsh was charged with being a drunk and disorderly character at the Newport Dock. Sergeant Long, of the Dock Police Force, said prisoner had been "up" once before for similar conduct. On this occasion she was drunk, and stript to fight another woman on the dock. The Mayor said Mary Ann would require half the time of a policeman to look after her. She said the officer had spite against her. The Superintendent gave the prisoner a bad character. Fined five shillings or one month. She went down "saucing" Sergeant Long at a smart rate.

Merlin. 9th June, 1854
New Omnibus

The enterprising "Prince of Whips" Mr Charles Phillips, always desirous of pleasing the public, has just launched a new omnibus which runs to and from the railway stations to the King's Head, the Westgate and his own comfortable quarters - the William the Fourth. The new vehicle is tasteful and commodious. When drawn by the two showy horses just added to the menage, and these "tooled" along by their master "Charley", a desire to be on the box, or snugly seated within, is the prevailing wish among pedestrian spectators.

D.V. (Res.) July, 1854

A sailor named Cooper was the first person to be buried in St. Woolos Cemetery on the first of July, 1854.

Merlin. 18th August, 1854
Truck Dogs

An Act of Parliament under which dogs are not to draw trucks, carts, etc., has received the Royal Assent and is now the law. This statute will be hailed with pleasure in Newport, where unfortunate dogs are often observed dragging vehicles.

Merlin. 22nd September, 1854
Wife of Two Husbands

The public in the neighbourhood of George Street and Dock Street were much disturbed two or three evenings this week, by a mob of persons who had assembled to burn an effigy of Mrs. Hutchings, who, after her husband had gone to Australia, married a man named Weedon, with whom she found her living. On Mr. Hutchings' return recently from the gold-diggings, a rich man, she had at first agreed to return to him, but was "over-persuaded", and chose Weedon as the husband with whom she was inclined to spend the remainder of her days. The mob, of course, was much incensed, and loud noises and continuous uproar characterised their assembly on the occasion.

Merlin. 22nd September, 1854

On Tuesday evening a large and respectable meeting was held at the Town Hall, Newport, for the advocacy of the Principles of Temperance. Twenty eight persons signed the pledge.

Merlin. 17th November, 1854
Public Accommodation

Mr. Charles the "Prince of Whips" and landlord of the King William the Fourth, has just put on another new and elegant omnibus for public accommodation.


Merlin. 19th January, 1855

Yesterday a sergeant of the 46th, which regiment is now in the Crimea, attended before the Magistrates at the Police Court a strong and healthy young recruit who was sworn in to serve Her Majesty. There are at present the representatives of six different regiments recruiting in Newport.

Merlin. 16th February, 1855
Oxen Skating

On Thursday two large oxen got upon the frozen Millpond near the Marshes and created a great diversion by their antics upon the ice, previously to their being persuaded to "come ashore."

Merlin. 2nd March, 1855
Chess Club

A Chess Club has been formed at the Newport Commercial Reading Rooms, which from the large number of gentlemen who are partial to the noble game, bids fair to prove a source of gratification and amusement during the winter hours. Mr. Lyne was elected president, Mr. Salter and Mr. May vice-presidents and Mr. Wills, Secretary and Treasurer.
Merlin 2nd March, 1655

Merlin. 2nd March, 1855
A Benevolence

Large quantities of soup have been supplied to the poor, by Mr. Southall, of the Hare and Greyhound, Commercial Street, according to his usual custom in the winter. This year, in consequence of the extreme severity of the weather, and the necessities of the unemployed, Mr. Southall's liberality was considerably extended.

Merlin. 2nd March, 1855
Magistrates Court

The notorious Johanna M'Grath was again charged as a disorderly prostitute and with using obscene language on Sunday afternoon in Commercial Street. The defendant has been repeatedly sent to prison and on many occasions liberated without punishment on promising to leave the town. She was now sent to her old quarters with three months hard labour as incorrigible.

Merlin. 16th March, 1855
St. Paul's Church

On Sunday morning the Rev. J.T. Wrenford, late of Cardiff, who has succeeded the Rev. H. Wybrow in the incumbency, preached his introductory sermon to a crowded congregation. The discourse was of a very impressive character, and the minister obviously felt the weight of the responsible trust which he has accepted.

Merlin. 6th June, 1855
Keep to the Right

All pedestrians in Newport are to be requested by official notices, publically given, to "Keep to the right" on the pavements that they may avoid the frequent jostling and inconvenience which is experienced when such a course is not followed.

Merlin. 22nd June, 1855

A Commission of Lunacy was held before Mr. Commissioner Winslow at the King's Read Hotel on Thursday, to enquire into the state of mind of Mrs. Elizabeth Trigg of Maindee. This is the unfortunate lady who was introduced by her son Mr. Philip Trigg; when after the examination of several witnesses, she was declared to be of unsound mind and incapable of managing her affairs.

Merlin 11th July, 1855

Lady Morgan, Mr. and Mrs. Style and Lady Walker, were proceeding from Ruperra Castle to Newport on Thursday last. In coming down a steep road the driver (a post-boy from Newport) carelessly drove the vehicle against an empty cart standing at the roadside, which upset the carriage and the whole party was thrown upon the road with considerable force, but fortunately without the occurrence of serious injury.

Star of Gwent. 14th July, 1855
Ferry Across the Usk

It is in contemplation to place a ferry-boat upon the Usk, to convey parties from Pill and the neighbourhood of the Dock across the river to the new town, which is springing up on the east side and Maindee.

Merlin. 15th July, 1855
Assault On Wife

Thomas Harrington was summoned for assaulting his wife. She did not appear, and the case was dismissed. Defendant was described as a perfect brute in his treatment of her. He has been to prison three times for beating her into a coma; on one occasion for six months. (sic)


Merlin. 3rd March, 1856

A man named Benjamin Joyce of Cardiff fell over the high paving on Stow Mill on Wednesday night while the worse for liquor. Re was bruised on the shoulder and cut over the eye. Mr Woollet to whom he was taken attended to his injuries.

Merlin. 3rd March, 1856
The Stow Hill Gate

A memorial signed by the Mayor, Corporation and inhabitants generally has been forwarded to the Trustees of the Newport Roads praying for the removal of the Turnpike-Gate at Stow Hill to the finger-post on the Bassaleg Road and close to the Borough boundary. The present gate is a grievance much complained of by the ratepayers resident outside the gate in question and we hope soon to see it removed.

Star of Gwent. 20th June, 1856
The Ragged School

The ragged School, Newport first originated with Mr. James Jones who, being actuated by a noble feeling of rescuing much-to-be-pitied children from destruction, with self-devotion and self-sacrifice, has opened a "ragged school" in the neighbourhood of Friars Fields. The school in question is carried on in the long clubroom at the back of the "Sunderland Inn," 31 Llanarth Street. Mr. Jones has as many as 450 children from the locality under his care and tuition at any one time.


D.V. (Res.) December, 1857
Pious Fraud

A few evenings since, three persons called at a house in the locality of Newport Cattle Market, and one of them requested lodgings for the night. He was accommodated and the other, two gentlemen, seeing their friend in comfortable quarters took their leave. The lodger retired to bed, but not making his appearance downstairs by ten o'clock next morning the landlady supposed he might be ill and gently tapped at his room door but received no reply. A couple of hours more elapsed and the good woman again went up but this time peeped through the keyhole, when to her great alarm she saw her lodger stretched upon the bed apparently lifeless. She called up her husband who went into the bedroom and without hesitation pronounced their lodger to be a corpse. At this critical moment there came a loud knocking at the street door; on opening it the woman saw the same two men who had brought their lodger the night before. As soon as they saw her they said "You have a dead man in the house!" The woman said it was so, but asked how they knew it? "Oh it hath been revealed to us by the Angel of the Lord", said the prophets. The husband who appears to have been more wide awake than his wife said "Oh I see, I see!" and fetching a moderate sized walking stick, he ran up to the corpse to which he applied the stick so effectually that the corpse sprang out of bed with one bound huddled on his clothes with as little deliberation and darting down the stairs joined his brother prophets and the three decamped with the least possible delay. A similar 'dodge' to this has been reported to the police in other parts of the country.


Star of Gwent. 6th March, 1858
Opening of the New Dock

On Tuesday the 2nd March, the town was in its most celebratory mood, the event being the opening of the 'Extension Dock' which has been two years in completion. Thomas Woollet, Esq., Town Clerk, on behalf of the Mayor and Corporation, presented an address to the Dock Directors to which Capt. Foote. R.N., the Secretary replied on behalf of the Directors. The "Great Britain", gaily decked with flags was towed to the upper dock by the tugboat "Neptune," the latter having on board the Mayor (William Williams, Esq.); the Corporation and Samuel Homfray, Esq., Chairman of the Dock Company.

Amidst salvoes of cannon and discharges of musketry, to the cheers of the thousands of onlookers, the bands played "Rule Britannia". One of the crew of the "Great Britain" climbed to the top of the foremast, laid himself out on the fore-royal truck, and initiated the actions of a swimmer. A public dinner was held at the King's Head and illuminations, fireworks and a Grand Ball at the Town Hall, brought to a close the festivities.

Merlin. 21st April. 1858
Exciting Scene

On Friday afternoon when a vast Concourse of persons was assembled on the Racecourse at Abergavenny an incident occurred which created a most painful interest. The grandstand is close to the banks of the Usk, the waters of which are at this time swollen and rapid from the recent storms. The Joint Counties Lunatic Asylum, in which there are about 800 patients, is very near to the opposite bank of the river; and on this afternoon a large body of female lunatics was brought out to walk by the side of the river opposite to the racecourse, and from which they would see something of the sport. Suddenly one of the patients, a fine middle aged woman saw among the crowd on the other bank her husband, who is a confectioner at Newport, hawking his wares among the people. With a scream she ran down the bank and threw herself into the foaming torrent. Attention was drawn to her just as the horses were about to start for the Club Stakes. Terror ensued; patients on the bank clung to each other and filled the air with their shrieks. The poor woman was carried rapidly down the stream and yelled for aid. A man threw off his clothing and dived into the Flood; he managed to reach the woman. He held on to her and swam with her towards the shore where the usual restoratives were applied and the woman was found to he alive. The racegoers collected nearly £15 for the heroic rescuer and Lord Tredegar's party promised a further 5 guineas.


Merlin. 5th March, 1859
Brothel Robbery

A man named Hoyland, who describes himself as a travelling cutler from Sheffield, has given information to the police that he was robbed in a brothel in Friar's Fields on Thursday night of about £3.

Merlin. 9th April, 1859
Refusal to Work

William Roberts an inmate of the Union Workhouse was charged with refusing to work when required by the master, and also with inciting others to follow his example. He had been previously convicted for disorderly conduct and vagrancy, and was sentenced to 28 days hard labour at Usk.

Merlin. 21st May, 1859
Elevation by Her Majesty

Lord Tredegar was presented to Her Majesty at the Drawing Room on 11th inst., upon his elevation to the peerage, by the Duke of Beaufort.

Merlin. 2nd July, 1859
Alleged Surgical Neglect

An inquest was held at the Handpost Inn, Stow Hill, on Thursday, on the body of Hannah Jenkins, a married woman. Ann Rees deposed that she was a neighbour of the deceased. On the night of the 27th ult., hearing she was ill, she went to her and found her in bed. She sent deceased's son for a surgeon, Mr. Hawkins, but the boy came back and said Mr. Hawkins could not come. The witness then sent for Mr. Woollett but that gentleman said he would not come unless he got a "note". Witness then went to Mr. Woollett herself but he confirmed he would not come without a note. Witness said no note was required as the sick person could well afford to pay. When witness returned she found the woman was dead of a haemorrhage.

The following verdict was returned - "That the deceased died from internal haemorrhage, but the jury blamed Mr. Hawkins for not attending when called upon."

Merlin. 30th July, 1859


I would respectfully suggest that through the medium of your paper to those persons who are in the habit of keeping dogs that by frequently washing them it has a tendency to prevent madness as the following illustration will show.

Some few years since a friend of mine had a valuable dog which was bitten by another dog in a rabid state. The dog so bitten was immediately muzzled and quickly conveyed to the water side whereby frequent washings the dog was completely cured; no symptoms of hydrophobia appearing and the dog survived for some years afterwards.

I am sirs your obedient servant.


N.G. 9th August, 1859
The Newport Murder

The Court opened at nine o'clock and was densely crowded in every part by spectators anxious to hear the trial of the murderer and to get a sight of him. A great number of ladies occupied the gallery and the benches, and on either side of the Judge there was also a sprinkling of the softer sex.

Matthew Francis 26, tailor and haulier, was placed at the bar charged with the wilful murder of his wife Sarah Francis at Newport on the 12th March, last. A long statement was made by the prisoner in which he admitted cutting his wife's throat with a razor before witnesses. The defence turned on the fact that the accused was very much in love with his wife, and that he had no intention of taking her life, but was provoked by the lashing of her tongue, and that therefore there was no malice aforethought. The Learned Counsel then proceeded to lay down the law relating to murder, when His Lordship interposed and said that no provocation could justify the use of such a weapon as a razor, unless the provocation was by blows, or some personal violence used by the person upon whom the murder was perpetrated.

The jury retired, and shortly after returned to find the prisoner guilty of Wilful Murder. The Judge put on the black cap and after admonishing the prisoner, and charging him to look to the saving of his soul during the short time he had left in this world, pronounced the sentence of death by hanging. The prisoner ejaculated something on being removed which we understood to be, "I deserve it; I killed her."

N.G. 13th August, 1859
Matthew Francis

The friends of the condemned man had an interview with him on Monday last in the presence of the officers of the gaol. The unhappy man has made several attempts to destroy himself, and thus deprive the Law of its victim - once by suffocation. He now acknowledges his sentence to be just, and is considered to be now in a proper frame of mind to meet his doom."

N.G. 27th August, 1859
The Execution of Francis

In front of Monmouth Gaol at nine o'clock on Tuesday morning, the fog was so dense that the gallows could not be seen except at a very near distance. The roadway to the Gaol was thronged with a crowd on the whole consisting of young men from the collieries in the Forest of Dean. There was also a large number of women present, with infants in their arms. The frivolous behaviour, the jests of the men, and thoughtless noise of the children, were exceedingly at variance with the appearance of the unfortunate man, dangling before them in the convulsive agonies of death, as a puppet to amuse their morbid fancies.

The prison bell having tolled for a short time Francis appeared on the scaffold dressed in a round jacket and light coloured trousers, supported between turnkeys, Carter and Williams. He appeared utterly exhausted, mentally and bodily. The executioner, Coalcraft, having put a white cap on the criminal's head, and adjusted the rope, Francis clenched his hands as if in prayer, the bolt was withdrawn, and at the same moment his hands fell to his side, he shuddered convulsively about for five minutes, and all was over. The sun broke out, but the poor man was ever blind to its rays. The body after hanging for about three quarters of an hour, was then cut down by the executioner and was buried within the Gaol at two o'clock.

N.G. 28th August, 1859
Cricket Match

Newport Commercial Cricket Club played their first match on Friday last, between twelve married and twelve single gentlemen. The married were victorious, having at the conclusion seven wickets to go down. Considering that this is their first season, we think they have made good progress and the unmarried were singularly unfortunate in their batting, but their fielding was admirable. The bowling on both sides was very effective, thirteen wickets having been taken by the married bowlers, and ten by the single bowlers.

N.G. 10th September, 1859
Death of Mr. Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel is no more. He died in London last week and we have only recently heard of his decease. Newport has indeed to be grateful to this outstanding engineer who did so much for the railways in our area. We consider the Clifton Suspension Bridge to be one of his greatest achievements and which is shortly to be completed.

N.G. 10th September, 1859
Deception at Newport

On Monday evening last, the inhabitants of Newport were stirred, in consequence of an announcement having been extensively placarded about the town for some days previously, that a monster "balloon ascent" would take place by Professor Laurent.

This was the great object which drew together the thousands of persons who assembled at the Cattle Market. The placards further announced that there would be a grant fete and gala; that the celebrated company would enter the town in procession at one o'clock, with Professor Laurent in the car of his balloon, headed by their famous brass band.

We may at once state that the whole affair was a gross delusion. Instead of the procession entering the town at one o'clock the company made no appearance until nearly four, when a wretched turn-out drove through the streets to the Cattle Market. After their arrival, the preparations for their performance had to be made, and the people who had been admitted had to patiently wait before the entertainments began. Two hideous looking men and a juvenile, with blackened faces, then ascended the platform, and it was at once apparent that the men were far gone in liquor, being incapable of performing any part of the programme which had been allotted to them. Their attempt at singing was odious, and their language obscene and disgusting. Singing by other parties followed, and a foot race for a tinsel pencil case took place, and about half a dozen rockets were discharged. The Royal Wizard was not seen, nor were the effects of his prescience visible, and the Professor's balloon had deflated to the size of a pumpkin.

The crowd became visibly angry and commenced sacking of the scenery and the property. The "bobbing and dipping" was of a different kind promised in the bills, and the performance was limited to the members of the company in endeavouring to escape the hustling of the enraged spectators, when on the second appearance of the celebrated "Buffo Troupe", they were unceremoniously driven from the stage by a party of "roughs", who perhaps were more keenly alive to the value of the sixpences which they had paid for admission than their neighbours in broadcloth and muslin, who wandered about, unable to conceal their disgust at the whole exhibition. Gaining possession of the stage, the chairs were overturned, the canvas awning and scenery torn down, ~and the lamps extinguished. An attack was made on the man who had taken the money, by a party who demanded the return of their sixpences; after being well shook, he was rescued by his confreres who made their escape and took shelter in the White Hart near the Market. They were followed by a crowd into the back room, and the fear of violence returned. The Police here intervened and afforded protection.

N.G. 5th November, 1859 Letter to the Editor
The Russian Gun


On reading your journal of 29th ult, the principal subject of discussion of the St. Woolos Burial Board was the placing of this war trophy in the cemetery. Those members of the Board who so strenuously oppose such a proceeding, as well as the Chairman's remarks, fully coincided with the sentiments of the numerous body of ratepayers, who have relatives or friends interred therein, and who are at a loss to form the least idea how such a thought could float across the minds of any member of the Town Council to make such a proposition.

Was the Cemetery private property the case would be otherwise; the gun alluded to they might place among the graves of their relatives or friends, indicating destruction to resurrectionists.

I remain yours etc., P.S.

N.G. 12th November, 1859
The Fifth of November

The annual celebration of the discovery of the 'Popish Plot', took place on Saturday night. The affair has now come to be discovered as an annual nuisance, and it is a reproach to the authorities that the thickly-peopled streets of a town like Newport, should be given up to the unrestrained proceedings of a rabble. We believe no one would regret it if the "strong arm of the law" was exerted for the prevention of its recurrence.

Merlin. 3rd December, 1859
The Mysterious Telescope

The Proprietress of the "Mysterious Telescope", Mary Allart, was fined five shillings, having been found drunk and incapable at midnight in Commercial Street. The defendant, who terms herself "Madame", occupies a room in that street. She has, she says, just arrived from Paris for a short time only, with the Mysterious Telescope by which persons may see the likeness of their future partners in life. The Magistrates cautioned her that the continued practice of such deception would render her liable to three months imprisonment, and that they would certainly convict her as a vagabond.

N.G. 24th December, 1859
No Work in the Frost

'I've got no work to do' has been the cry of many unfortunate labourers at the docks and wharves. The prevalence of easterly winds prevented many ships from entering the port, and on Tuesday last a few were left in the harbour. However, with the break-up of the frost, a large fleet came up river and consequently has given a slight impetus to trade. Many of the working men will thus, by a few days work, be able, we trust, to provide a few of the good things so temptingly offered to their notice at this season of the year.

N.G. 24th December, 1859
Distribution of Soup

The recent inclement weather has rendered all the more seasonable and welcome, the laudable efforts of H. Phillips Esq., to provide a supply of excellent soup for gratuitous distribution among the poor.

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