"It is not like the good sense which, according to my experience, prevails in Aberdeen. It is a silly noise, and the people of this town are not a silly people".
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Robert Paterson - "An Extraordinary Theft of Groceries"
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Peter Anderson - "It was drink that killed the woman and not the man"
"He tendered a plea of culpable homicide, which the Court accepted. The Advocate Depute thought it right that he should state to the Court the reasons for accepting this plea. The prisoner committed this offence in the month of October , and only married the deceased in the month of January last year. He was 33 years of age and the deceased was at her death 44. She had a croft at Ladymoss, Cluny, and the prisoner married her and moved into the croft along with her. On the day of the murder, the accused left home at nine o'clock in the morning, and went to a feeing market. He returned at nine o'clock in the evening and, undoubtedly, he was the worse for drink. His wife found fault with him and he seems to have struck her. Her son, a boy of twelve, interfered to protect his mother, and the accused struck him and pursued him through a field. He came back no doubt very much excited and plunged the knife into his wife's abdomen...Medical aid was procured, but in the unfortunate circumstances in which the woman was placed it was not possible to render such assistance as might otherwise have been available".
According to the newspaper report, the doctor who attended to Ann Anderson was "a man of great standing and experience". Nonetheless, his botched attempt to replace her intestines in the gloomy croft at four o'clock in the morning with only a paraffin lamp for illumination resulted in her death from obstruction of the bowels some three or four days later. The court went on to hear that the prisoner was given "the benefit of the doubt" because Ann Anderson would almost certainly have died from peritonitis, even if the procedure carried out by the doctor had been successful.
In support of his good character, a number of positive references were read out in court from previous employers of Peter Anderson who had evidently spent a number of years in Dublin, probably between the late 1870s and mid-1880s. One of these testimonials read as follows:
"A commercial firm in Dublin certified that Anderson was employed by them for three or four years. They were pleased with his energy and honesty. He always conducted himself well and had a good deal of property under his charge. They trusted the judge would take into consideration that it was drink that killed the woman and not the man".
The counsel for the defence sought to apportion a hefty chunk of blame at the door of Ann Anderson herself, stating that:
"On the day of this unfortunate occurrence, [Peter] Anderson had been at a feeing market, and returned home the worse for drink. His wife lectured him. He had nothing to say as to the terms she used, but taking what one knew of the habits of people in that class of life one could imagine that she probably used terms likely to irritate a man who was not in his sober senses. It appeared that he was cutting tobacco at the time, and in a moment of ungovernable passion, he struck her with the knife".
The use of the words "imagine", "probably" and "likely" convey just how much speculation surrounded the precise circumstances of Ann Anderson's death and the extent to which she was perceived to have been, at least in part, guilty of provoking her husband.
In his summing-up of the case, the presiding judge, Lord Kinnear, emphasised the lack of premeditation as a key factor, together with the difficult conditions in which the subsequent medical treatment had been performed in determining that Peter Anderson was guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide rather than murder. He was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude.
He served just over five years of this sentence at Peterhead Prison. He appears as an inmate there on the 1891 census, in which he is described as a widower and originally from the parish of Marnoch in what was then Banffshire. His mugshot (above) was taken inside the prison on the 29th March 1894. He was released on licence in May of that year, at which point his details would have been logged in the 'Register of Returned Convicts for Aberdeen' (below).
Between June 1894 and December 1895, Peter Anderson lived at various addresses in the city including Gerrard Street, Holburn Street and Nellfield Place. After a short spell living near Cove, he returned to Aberdeen, staying at 7 Rose Place, 4 Mannofield, 78 King Street, 5 Granton Place and 10 Mitchell Place.
Peter was to return to his roots in Banffshire: on the 1901 census he is to be found living with his brother and sister at 91 North Street, Aberchirder, in the parish of Marnoch.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Elizabeth Waugh - Selling Sex to Exist in Victorian Aberdeen
"...I don't think it right to swear. I am forbidden by Scripture to make use of oaths...I am commanded, "Swear not at all"".
As a consequence of his short stroll up to the moral high ground, Farquharson was committed for contempt of court.
In December of 1851, Elizabeth is again in court, this time on a charge of assaulting two soldiers. Under the ironic headline of "A Heroine", the Aberdeen Press & Journal of the 17th December reported the trial as follows:
"Elizabeth Waugh, a young lady who has had extensive experience in criminal business, was brought before Baillie Henderson, in the Police Court, on two several charges of assault, aggravated by their being to the effusion of blood. The heroism of the affair, consisted in the accused having drawn the blood of two sons of Mars. It appeared that the picquet or guard of the 42nd had visited a house in Frederick Street, in search of stragglers, when Waugh struck one of the soldiers, "several severe blows on the head, face, and other parts of his person, and did lacerate his face with her nails". The second assault was perpetrated on the sergeant, while also on duty, by striking him several severe blows on the head, etc., with an iron poker. Waugh plead guilty; and being an old offender, was sent to prison for 30 days, the first ten of which to be devoted to hard labour".
The ten days of hard labour would almost certainly have consisted of being subjected to the dreaded "crank", a piece of machinery comprising a handle which forced large ladles through sand contained inside a central drum. The load on the handle could be varied by the adjustment of screws, from which the slang term for a prison warden is thought to derive. The energy expended in turning the crank was utterly pointless, serving no useful purpose other than to exhaust the prisoner.
However pointless it may have been, a newspaper report of one of her trials in the Montrose Standard of the 12th January 1866 suggests that Elizabeth preferred hard labour and hints at her volatile personality:
"...Seventeen previous convictions were recorded against the prisoner. The Bailie said, - As you have been so often previously convicted, I shall send you to prison for sixty days, the half of that period with hard labour, and further - Prisoner: You'll give me all my time hard labour, if you please; it'll pass sooner awa'. Bailie - Oh, I have no objections; then your sentence is sixty days, with hard labour; and I further bind you over to keep the peace for six months, under a penalty of £5, or suffer thirty days' additional imprisonment. The prisoner, on receiving sentence, commenced swearing at the pitch of her voice, kicked open the door of the dock, and otherwise conducted herself in a most outrageous manner in the Court, and such was her strength that it took three constables to take her through to the prison, where she continued shouting and yelling for a considerable time".
From the entries relating to Elizabeth's many incarcerations in Aberdeen's East Prison during the 1850s and 60s she evidently lived at a number of different addresses in the city centre including Shuttle Lane, Broad Street, Peacock's Close, East North Street and Gallowgate.
"...The woman pleaded not guilty and was defended by Mr Smith. From the evidence it seems John Simpson, farmer, left home to attend a sale at Bellhelvie on Tuesday 2nd November, and on returning at night he met the prisoner and went with her to the premises of James Buie [a spirit dealer, Gallowgate] and treated her to a drink in a ‘box’ there for about half an hour. When he entered the premises of James Buie he had a £20 note and 10 £1 notes in a leather case which was placed in a pocket inside his vest. Having parted with the prisoner at the door of Buie’s shop the farmer proceeded to the premises of John Watt, spirit dealer, West North St, where he called for a drink but on opening the leather case he discovered that the money was gone".
The crucial piece of evidence in the case turned out to be the £20 note which was subsequently located after passing through several hands. As the Press and Journal report recounted the note in question was,
"...traced to the possession of Alexander Mennie, junior, carter, then of West North St. This man on being examined stated, amid much laughter, that two days after her first liberation Elizabeth Waugh had met him and while in Donald’s public house in Crooked Lane, she offered him a bargain of the £20 note. She said that she would sell it for £6, whereupon he offered her £5 and got the note, paying for it in silver. Being shown the £20 note that Simpson had previously identified as that stolen from him, Mennie declared it to be the note that he had received from the prisoner".
Elizabeth was found guilty and sentenced to eight years' penal servitude which she served at the General Prison in Perth, appearing there as an inmate on the 1881 census. She is discharged on licence once again in December of 1883, when another entry in the "Register of Returned Convicts for Aberdeen" records that she lived on Chapel Lane, Exchequer Row and Chapel Row for the next eighteen months, until April of 1885.
Using entries in the Aberdeen prison registers, where her name appears many times, it is possible to follow Elizabeth's criminal career, which consisted mainly of multiple breaches of the peace, through to at least 1894 and probably beyond, although later registers have yet to be checked! In 1886 her occupation is still listed as prostitution, although thereafter she is frequently noted as a hawker or pedlar, sometimes with no fixed abode, but otherwise recorded as living at various addresses in central Aberdeen including Longacre, Chapel Lane, Chapel Court, Exchequer Row and Exchequer Court.
I am extremely grateful to Dr. Dee Hoole, University of Aberdeen, for a number of additional details regarding Elizabeth Waugh that have been used in the writing of this blog.
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