Cattle Plagues, Eclipses and Free Emigration – all reported in the Kentish Express on March 3 1877

At first glance this tatty piece of newspaper may not look that interesting but it’s one of my most treasured possessions.

Combined copy of Kentish Express dated 3 March 1877 - Rachael Hale 2013
Combined copy of Kentish Express dated 3 March 1877 – Rachael Hale 2013

Dated Saturday 3 March 1877, it’s a combined copy of the Kentish Express, Ashford News: Folkestone Observer, Rye Telegram, and Weekly Journal and it was found during the restoration of my childhood home.

The brittle pages are covered in small black print extolling the virtues of tonics guaranteed to cure all ills, traders proclaiming their superior wares and men and women seeking new positions. News is reported from all over the county whilst special columns from Paris and London deliver the international news.

Sold for one penny, it’s printed on one large piece of paper measuring 128cm x 88cm, which makes it a little hard to read.

Twenty tons of Mangold Wurtzels are advertised alongside commentary on the state of the wool and cattle markets, first hand accounts of the loss of ‘The James’ near Beachy Head and details of ‘Dream’ lectures shortly to be given. But it’s the Court reports that offer up gems such as the ‘Drunken Waggoner’, ‘Dishonest Shoemaker’, and the young man accused of ‘Spending Money Foolishly’ and I thought you may like to see some of them: 

A Juvenile Thief - ©Rachael Hale 2013
A Juvenile Thief – ©Rachael Hale 2013

‘A Juvenile Thief:

At the St. Augustine’s Petty Sessions, on Saturday, Ellen Divers 13 years of age, was charged with stealing a purse containing 6s. 6d., the property of John Knight, and other money’s amounting to 6s, belonging to George Russell.  A girl, 12 years old, daughter of Knight, said hat in February she was going to get some things for her mother and for Mrs. Russell, and on her way to Pett Bottom she met the accused, who walked along the road with her and her brother for a time, when the prisoner took the purse from her and ran off with it. A police-constable went to Westwood farm, where Diver’s father worked, and she took him to the wood in which she had been at work, and produced the purse containing the money from the stump of a tree.  Committed to goal for three weeks and afterwards to a reformatory for five years.’

The Begging Nuisance - ©Rachael Hale 2013
The Begging Nuisance – ©Rachael Hale 2013

‘THE BEGGING NUISANCE – At the police court, on Monday, Thomas Lane, aged 32, a vagrant, all rags and tatters and without a shirt to his back, was brought before J.S Burra, Esq., charged with begging.  P.C.Fisher watched him in the High-street, from ten minutes to 9 o’clock until  a quarter past, and observed that as soon as he got money from passers by he went into a public-house.  When brought to the police station he was found to be drunk. – Seven days’ hard labour. ‘

Crime and drink is a common thread amongst the entries and cases range from petty theft to setting fire to hay ricks and burning down property.  There’s also an entry for stolen cheese:

‘At the police court, on Monday, George Axmoor, private in the Royal Horse Artillery, was charged with stealing two Dutch cheeses, belonging to Mr. Crump, grocer, Northgate-street, on Saturday night.- Mr. Crump’s manager said the prisoner went into the shop for something, and as he left he heard a dutch cheese fall, and on going round the counter discovered that the prisoner had taken one or two of the cheeses.  Axmoor said he remembered stealing them, but did not know what he had done with them: he was drunk at the time. – Three months’ imprisonment.’

And finally it seems that it’s ok for ‘nice girls’ in Margate to swear if they do it on their own doorstep!

Nice Ladies! -©Rachael Hale 2013
Nice Ladies! -©Rachael Hale 2013

‘NICE LADIES – On the same day, Jane Whitehead and Kate Miller were charged with using obscene language in Ventor-lane. The charge was fully proved; but as they were standing on their own door steps they were dismissed with a caution.’

I have to admit I find it fascinating but it makes me wonder what would be picked out from a local newspaper in 130 years from now.

Do you have any local highlights or events you would like to see recognised and remembered?

See you soon, Rachael.

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Published by

Rachael Hale (Homes and History Magpie)

Freelance home interiors and Kent history writer. Member of the Society of Authors. Find me via Twitter - @rachaelhale1 Read my home interiors and history blog -

9 thoughts on “Cattle Plagues, Eclipses and Free Emigration – all reported in the Kentish Express on March 3 1877

  1. I can fully understand why it’s a treasured possession – wonderful reading! I particularly like the conversational tone – ‘all rags and tatters and without a shirt to his back’ – real character in the writing rather than just bland copy. Undoubtedly judgemental and biased, but far less so than much of the content appearing in today’s newspapers whether local or national.

    It looks very fragile in its current format – have you thought about getting it copied and laminated or something so you can share it without having to touch the original?


  2. You have started me thinking, I’m sure I have something similar from an old house, will have to have a look. But you did remind me when you said what will people read about in years to come, many years ago we lived in a Victorian House and had to make a false wall. It was at the time of the Falklands War so we nailed up newspapers nearly every week on the wall before we finished the wall off. Lovely interesting post 🙂


  3. I love reading old newspapers – I once found the fashion pages of a newspaper from 1917 folded into the dust jacket of an old book that my Grandpa gave me. I felt like I had discovered hidden treasure.


  4. Hi Rachael,
    I love your blog and in particular this posting. I think it’s great that you discovered this in your childhood home. Your own bit of history. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve got one of the few remaining paper copies of the issues of the newspapers you found. I was at Colindale newspaper library and checked. They do have a volume of the Kentish Express for 1877, but it’s marked “unfit for use”, and so it’s only available to read on microfilm copy. I would be surprised if anywhere else has it on paper or microfilm format, so you may have an all but unique treasure. It’s nice that you’ve made digital copies available for people to read. I wonder if it’s worth talking to Colindale, asking them if they would be interested in digital copies (I only checked the Kentish Express, I don’t know if they have copies of the other newspapers).

    Seriously though, these pages are rare, and I’m sure there are historians who would be interested. Micro history and the history of everyday life are very popular, and historians love such nuggets. I read each of the photo extracts you posted. The case of “the Drunken Waggoner” and “the Dishonest Shoemaker.” Nice nuggets of history from the past. Do you have any more you can share on your blog?

    Kind Regards


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