255 : Some trials at the Old Bailey, 1868-1897

The Old Bailey court rooms saw many trials, and the website http://www.oldbaileyonline.org has the texts of them from 1674 to 1913. Five late Victorian cases which involved black people have been examined. They were located by placing ‘negro’ in the search box.

t18680127-197 of 27 January 1868 details the trial of 26 year old Johann Morelli accused of killing 19 year old John Henville, a sailor from St Kitts. Found guilty of manslaughter, Morelli was sent to prison for 18 months.

t18860308-369 of 8 March 1886 saw Edward Curtain sentenced to six months’ hard labour for the theft of a walking stick.

t18900113-162 of 13 January 1890 saw Charles Higgins found not guilty of shooting a pistol at Alfred Campbell. There was no evidence of intention. Higgins was then re-tried (t18900113-163) and the jury said he had been greatly provoked. Found guilty, he was discharged having made promises to the court.

t18940108-169 of 18 January 1894 was a Limehouse (docklands) incident when John Davis shot a pistol at the police. He was sent to prison for six months with hard labour on the charge of shooting; the charge of grievous bodily harm was put to one side. Davis had fired two pistols!

t18970628-452 of 28 January 1897 details Jack de Valentine, a ship’s steward, who was charged with theft in south London’s Borough. He was found not guilty.

If the alleged crimes are traced in the local London newspapers, other details will fill out the stories. Sometimes, as with the murder trial of Annie Gross in January 1913, newspaper reports have somewhat startling findings (t19130107-50 and this website page 102).