Victorian London - Crime - Violence and assault - vitriol attacks

    Anne Baker, a respectable looking young woman, was charged with having thrown a quantity of vitriol upon the dresses of two young females.
    Ellen Seaton, a well-dressed girl, said that she was returning home through St. James's-park on the previous evening, with another female, when hearing a footstep behind them, they turned round and saw the defendant with a bottle in her hand, from which she was throwing something on her shawl and silk dress. On examining the shawl, which was fourfold thick on her shoulders, she found it was eaten quite into holes some by liquid, which she afterwards discovered to be vitriol; her silk dress was similarly damaged. The value of the shawl and dress  was 4l.
    In answer to an inquiry from the magistrate, complainant assigned as a reason for the act, that she had given evidence some time against a friend of the defendant's.
    Complainant's friend proved that some vitriol had also gone upon her dress, and that the amount of damage was 10s.
    Defendant denied the charge, and called a witness who swore she was not guilty of the offence.
    Mr. GREGORIE said, he had no doubt the offence had been committed as described by complainant and her friend. He then ordered defendant to pay 4l 10s., the amount of wilful damage, or in default to be imprisoned two months.

The Times, August 20, 1842

    Sir - Will you do me the favour, for the future protection of ladies in the neighbourhood of Bedford-square, to state in your excellent and widely circulated journal, that as a lady was crossing Bedford-square on Monday afternoon, some person threw over her dress (which was of black satin), but fortunately not injuring her person.
    One would hardly think that, with so efficient a police, such an occurrence could take place without detection in the open day; but in this instance and others which have recently occurred in this particular neighbourhood, the miscreants have hitherto escaped their vigilance.
    I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
        June 14.     H.B.C.M

The Times,  June 15, 1843


Sir, - May I venture to seek the aid of your columns to warn the public against attempts of the above kind to which they may be exposed?
    Between 8 and 9 o'clock last night my wife while walking (in company with another lady, my son and another gentleman preceding them a short way) from Regent-square to Gower-street, had a large quantity of vitriol thrown upon her back by some person or persons unknown. She did not discover the fact until after she had entered the house and was proceeding to take off her cloak. On reaching her hands behind to pull off the sleeves, her hands came in contact with the burning acid. It was then discovered that a large quantity of vitriol had been thrown upon her dress, and in a few seconds the velvet cloak (worth nine guineas) and a satin dress (worth six guineas) were destroyed in a manner that only made us thankful that her person had escaped, and that the outrage had been discovered before the acid had penetrated further through the apparel. As it was, it had gone through the satin dress to the petticoat below, and had burnt the heel of one of the boots. So far as one can judge, there must have been half a pint at least of acid thrown upon the dress, reaching from a little below the collar downwards and all over the back.
    Not long ago another lady was the object of a similar outrage while passing through Gordon-square about 6 o'clock in the evening - a large quantity of vitriol was thrown upon her back, and was not so soon discovered as in the instance of last night. In that instance a valuable shawl was destroyed and the clothing, almost to the skin, burnt through. They stays came in shreds, as did the whole of the underclothing of the back.
    I immediately gave information of last night's offence to the police at Hunter-street station, where several instances (including the one I have just recited) of the like outrage appear to be known. The superintendent said they had as yet failed to discover the perpetrators in any instance, although the police had made every endeavour in their power. He thinks the acid is discharged by means of a glass squirt.
    Trusting that this warning may be useful to the public, and that the police may yet discover the miscreants who perpetrate such outrages,
I am, Sir, yours obediently,
Nov.1                    J.M.

The Times, November 2, 1867