Robert Boyle, the Biggleswade Bigamist

With dark eyes, broad shoulders and a black suit with a gold-embroidered waistcoat, former soldier Robert Boyle cut a dashing figure. He used his confidence and charm to win the hearts of young ladies wherever he went – and then ruined them. Bigamist Five days into her marriage, Susannah Boyle was confronted with the reality …

Pirates!

Ahoy there readers! No, this is not a post about digital piracy or illegal file sharing, but the sea-faring pirates of old, to mark that most frivolous of parody holidays, International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Originally started in America as an in-joke between friends, it has become an annual charity fundraising day, where participants …

Mr William Saville’s Crime

William Saville (1815-1844) is not a resident that Nottingham, or any other city, would boast about. The child of a violent drunkard who grew up to become a murderer would have been little more than a footnote in Nottingham’s history had it not been for the terrible events at his execution. The whole story is …

Watching Lady Chatterley

It’s either surprisingly chaste or shockingly racy, but fifty-five years after being the subject of an obscenity court case, the sexual content of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is once again making the news. The BBC has commissioned a one-off 90 minute version of DH Lawrence’s 1928 novel, which will air on 6th September. The sexual relationship …

Ruling with an Iron Fist

You wouldn’t expect to receive threatening letters from the Ku Klux Klan or to be hounded by the press in the street for doing voluntary work, but that was the experience of Eric Irons, the first black magistrate in England. His is one of several biographies featured in the pamphlet “Sitting on the Bench: experiences …

All Orders Promptly Executed

Fifty years ago today, 13 August 1964, the last two people to be executed in the United Kingdom were hanged. The victim was a 53 year old van driver named John West, who was killed during a robbery in his home that went wrong four months earlier. A neighbour had been awoken in the middle of …

The Black Sheep

Whilst helping a visitor with an enquiry recently, I came across a slim pamphlet entitled “Young Delinquents in Nottingham” (Ref: Not 3. H40 NOT). The eye-catching cover features a series of caricatures of juvenile delinquents in a style more often associated with cartoons or parody. If criminals were as distinctive looking as some of these …