25 February 2015

Attempted Suicide of a Maniac - Update


"Police [Court,] Marylebone" The Standard No. 2912 [London], Thursday 08 September 1836, p. 4 col. 1-3; digital images, British Newspaper Archive (http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000183/18360908/025/0004?browse=false : accessed 14 Feb 2015)


POLICE. [. . .]
MARYLEBONE -- Yesterday [. . .]
A maniac, who gave his name "Joseph Hume,"[1] was
brought before the magistrate, having been found wander-
ing about on Hampstead-heath in a state of distraction by
police-constable 218 S, whom he seized by the throat,
and would have strangled, had not assistance promptly
He was ordered to be delivered to his friends, who are
said to live on Saffron-hill.

Close Reading (information clarifying the transcript and enlarging upon the information provided)

[1] In the previous article about this individual "Attempted Suicide of a Maniac" he was only named as a person called Hume with a brother and sister living on Saffron Hill.


In the absence of this second article, which was found by my 'half 4th cousin once removed', my reading of the case was that Archibald Hume was the person arrested. On that presumption, I assumed that the brother and sister would be Hugh Hume and Elisabeth Hume nee Naylor. Whilst the article did say brother and sister I considered it would be referring to brother and sister-in-law. The only inconsistency in that assumption is that it states the person was a master plumber living on Saffron Hill. Hugh was living on Saffron Hill whilst Archibald was close by in Clerkenwell.

The addition of my cousin's article adds a name for the individual, Joseph Hume, and states he was delivered to his friends who live on Saffron Hill.

At this date (September 1836) Hugh and Elizabeth Hume were living at 69 Saffron Hill, St Andrews, Holborn, Middlesex. Archibald and Mary Hume were living at 32 St Helena Place, St James, Clerkenwell, Middlesex. At this point, both Hugh and Archibald are employed as plumbers.

I tried to trace a Joseph Hume in the wider family and drew a blank. In addition, I reviewed the 1841 and 1851 censuses for both Saffron Hill and Clerkenwell and cannot find another Hume who was a plumber. In addition, I have looked at the trade directories for the area at this time and also drawn a blank for other Hume plumbers. I’ve found Scottish bookselling and paper staining Humes but not plumbers.

I have also drawn a blank on any reference to a Martha as a member of the Hume families. I do wonder however if this ‘maniac’ was referring to the biblical Mary and Martha sisters of Lazarus in relation to taking them out of their graves?

So where I am with this at present is that in the absence of other evidence we cannot be certain about who this individual is. The name reported in the newspaper may not be correct - either misreported or the individual did not provide his correct first name. It seems from both articles that he was a Hume with links to Saffron Hill which seems to link quite strongly with our family. In addition, the occupation as a plumber is also a strong circumstantial linkage.

Sadly there aren’t any surviving records from the Marylebone Police Courts from these dates and there aren’t any records for the Peckham House Insane Asylum where Archibald eventually died so I suspect we will not get to the bottom of this mystery.

I will be looking into whether Holborn or Clerkenwell Parish records exist which include any information about Archibald's transfer to Peckham House Lunatic Asylum but I would be happy to receive any other suggestions for where to look for information.

Have you had difficulty tracking down an ancestor in the newspapers of the day? If so we would be delighted to hear from you in the comments below.