Saturday, 7 January 2017

Trial of Uriah Moses (part 3)

 London hospitals in the eighteenth century

The website, London Lives 1690 - 1800, contains an article on hospitals in the eighteenth century.

There is also a detailed article on Guys Hospital in British History Online.

Guy's Hospital was founded by Thomas Guy who in 1721 purchased land for the building in St Thomas Street opposite St Thomas' Hospital. The hospital opened in 1726 with 100 beds and 51 staff. In 1735 one staff member received an annual salary of £20 for killing bed bugs. In 1738-9 an east wing was added to the building. Many alterations occurred over the years, some necessitated after bombing during World War II. In 1993 Guy's Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital amalgamated. (The London Encyclopaedia, 3rd ed. 2008 p366)
Engraving from British Library collection
Reading the description of eighteenth century London hospitals in the twenty-first century they generally sound like places to avoid.

Uriah's accident
On 8 December 1797 Uriah Moses, who was seventeen or eighteen, was involved in robbing the premises of a linen draper and mercer in Whitechapel. It was approximately 6 o'clock on a Friday evening in winter so not only would it be dark there would not be many people around in this predominantly Jewish area. The trial notes from the Old Bailey Proceedings suggest that Uriah may have been one of three boys taking part in the robbery.

The robbery did not go to plan. As a lad Uriah had worked for three years for Henry Jacobs, the owner of a glass business in Petticoat Lane, so he was able to cut glass using a diamond. To gain access to the merchandise in the shop Uriah cut an opening in the glass. Unfortunately when he reached through the glass to retrieve some of the merchandise he cut the back of his hand resulting in considerable loss of blood.

During the trial William Holmes, the owner of the shop stated that a piece of diamond was left by the window frame and 'some of the glass remained in the inside of the window, and some out'. Mr Homes said that he did not hear the window being broken.

Items stolen according to William Holmes included 'four or five cards of black lace, some is what is called British lace, two pieces of silk handkerchiefs, and two pieces of calimanco, one was brown, the other drab colour; the whole of them were worth, I suppose, seven or eight pounds'.

Uriah raced to the nearby lodging house of Ann Benjamin and her husband where he hid most of the items, except for one card of lace, under a mattress in an upstairs room. He then looked for Ann Benjamin. She was out of the house during the robbery but returned shortly after to discover Uriah and his badly cut hand. She wrapped a shawl around the hand and told him to go to Guy's Hospital which was not far away.

Uriah had been in bed in the hospital for only a short time when he was arrested. According to the man arresting Uriah, the back part of Uriah's was cut in several places and the shawl which he found in the bed was 'very, very bloody'. There were a great number of other people in the room when Uriah was arrested. I hope that he had received some treatment for the cut hand. After Uriah was taken from the hospital a nurse found a card of lace in his bed.

The rest of the items retrieved from Ann Benjamin's house had blood on them.

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