Back by unpopular demand! This week, in response to calls from absolutely no one, I present the long-awaited sequel to Insults from Ipswich: Nuggets from Norfolk.
Like the Ipswich Journal, the Norfolk Chronicle covered daily life in eastern England, beginning in the late 18th century. And as in Ipswich, the city of Norwich had plenty of curious happenings to report on. The Chronicle’s editions from 1780 were full of cures for everything from scurvy to the “king’s evil” (less colorfully known today as scrofula), the hottest literary offerings of the day and of course, reports of strange people doing strange things.
Once again, many thanks to the Foxearth and District Local History Society for digitizing these tantalizing tidbits of a bygone era.
At least they remembered their manners:
On Thursday night last, about eight o’clock, as Mr James Brown, surgeon, of Long Stratton, was returning home from Norwich, he was stopped by two footpads, going down Dunston-hill, who each presented a pistol to his breast, and with dreadful imprecations demanded his money, or his life; on his giving them the former (amounting to about a guinea and a half) they demanded his watch, but upon his assuring them he had not one about him, they gave him a shilling to defray travelling expences, wish’d him a good night, and then made off.– November 11, 1780
Before The New York Times’ Best Seller list, there was the Norfolk Chronicle:
A New Little Work, necessary to be perused by every young Man and Woman in the Kingdom. . . The Lover’s New Guide, or a Complete Library of Love, Courtship, and Marriage; Whereby every part of those laudable, and really important Concerns, is rendered perfectly easy to all capacities: Under the following heads;– April 22, 1780
I. Love letters in a great variety of Forms, calculated for the Use of Persons of all Ranks and Conditions of Life.
II. Conversations on the Subjects of Love and Marriage, equally interesting to Parents and Children.
III. Cards of Compliment proper to be used in courtship by Lovers of either sex; and suited to all the Emergencies in Life.
IV. Love letters in verse; and a Variety of other Poems and necessary Particulars on the important subject of Love and Courtship.
The whole tending to direct and guide the youthful Mind in one of the noblest and most engaging of its Pursuits; and to lead to Happiness through the Paths of Virtue.
This New little Book, which is appropriated solely to the above laudable purpose, is by far the completest Work on the Subject ever published, and will be found of the utmost service, in removing those disagreeable embarrassments under which many persons labour in making proposals of an honourable nature.
If you’re going to file a missing person’s report, you’re going to need to be a bit more specific than “very subject to blush when spoken to:”
Ran away from his Wife, out of the Parish of Old Buckenham, in Norfolk, John Gibbs, alias Canham, Shoemaker, about 5 Feet 3 Inches high, with a large Nose, Hazel Eyes, light Brown Hair, which he wore clubbed a light Complexion, and very subject to blush when spoken to. . . any Person knowing where he is, and who will give Information to Elizabeth Gibbs, his Wife, shall receive Half a Guinea Reward.– November 11, 1780
Forget high deductibles and costly copays. All the medical care you’ll ever need is available for a few shillings:
Mr T. Greenough’s Tinctures, for the Teeth, Scurvy in the Gums, and Tooth Ach . . . have been for more than thirty years past in the most universal esteem, on account of their approved efficacy, elegance and safety. The particular effects, they may be depended on to produce, are as follows, viz.– December 23, 1780
The Tincture for the Teeth and Gums will take off all foulness from the teeth, and make them beautifully white, without, in the least, injuring the enamel. Will perfectly fasten such as are loose, prevent their decaying, and entirely cure the scurvy and other disorders in the Gums, rendering the breath, at the same time, deliciously sweet.
The Tincture for the Tooth Ach will never fail giving immediate ease in the greatest agony of pain, and in a little time perfectly cure it, however violent.
Samuel Gouldsmith, near the Wounded Hart, in St Peter’s, Norwich; and Joseph Gouldsmith, Damgate-street, Lynn, make and sell a Liquid which cures Wenns, and Cancers, without Cutting; they likewise make a Liquid which cures the King’s-Evil, if ever so bad, by taking it inwardly, it will cure the Scurvy of ever so long standing, and is an excellent Remedy for the Scurvy in the Gums, sets fast the Teeth, and cures the Tooth-Ach. . . They likewise Cure all sore Legs, of ever so long standing.– October 28, 1780
The True Eau Fleurs de Venice, or the Venetian Bloom Water. This curious Water extracted from the most fragrant Flowers, is beyond any Beauty Wash ever yet discovered, giving the Skin the greatest Whiteness and Softness imaginable. It takes away Pimples, Freckles and Spots of every Kind, with all disagreeable Redness, Tans and Sunburns. It destroys those minute Worms (Maggots) which lodge under and deform the skin. It preserves from Wrinkles even to an advanced Age, and gives to the whole Complexion, in a very short Time, that healthful and blooming Appearance which it ought to have when free from Disorders. It is not in the least of the use of Paint, being as clear and transparent as Chrystal. It is also excellent for the Eyes, strengthening and preserving the Sight. Price 3 shillings and 6 pence the Bottle, and 3 pence to be returned for every empty Bottle.– December 23, 1780
Is this a birth announcement or the beginning of a fairy tale? All we’re missing is a few fairies, a curse and a knight in shining armor:
On Sunday last Mrs Head, widow of Francis Head, Esq., late of St Andrew’s Hall, Old Buckenham, Norfolk, who died on the 26th of July last, was safely delivered of a daughter and heiress in this city.–The infamous and malicious treatment that this injured lady has received from the wicked schemes of a barbarous and unnatural brother-in-law has happily been fruitless and rendered void by the that innate superiority of soul she possesses, and it is to be hoped that that grief which was before inconsolable for so dear a loss, will be in some measure alleviated, and made more tolerable, by a child who may inherit the virtues of its lamented parent, and who, if reared and brought up under the care and tutelage of its mother, will be no less a pleasure to her, than an honour to this kingdom.– December 30, 1780
Be sure to read this one in your best wrestling commentator voice:
Last week John Cunningham, of Ipswich, butcher, was committed to that gaol, for stabbing Thomas Gusterson, of the same place, labourer. Gusterson went into Cunningham’s shop, who was then eating turnip-tops, and they being acquainted with each other, Gusterson took some to eat, and removing the plate, it, by accident, fell to the ground; upon which Cunningham, said to him, d–n your blood, I’ll run my spado into you, and instantly stabbed him with great violence in the breast, with a knife. When Gusterson was wounded, he said, you have stabbed me, to which Cunningham replied, I am glad of it. The poor man is in a fair way of recovery.– May 13, 1780
Disclaimer: The modern era is far from the first to grapple with rampant “fake news.” As I am neither a historian nor journalist, I make no claims about the accuracy or lack thereof of the above historical articles. I assert only that they make for a good story.
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