Author Archives: rebelhand

About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.

Celestina in Newgate Prison: a Christmas tale pt 15

In the last episode of the Celestina Sommer story, we left Celestina in the police van being carried off to Newgate Prison to await trial for wilful murder. Today I’m going to look more closely at what that notorious place … Continue reading

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New evidence against Celestina: a Christmas tale pt 14

On Tuesday, 26 February, 1856, ‘the avenues of Clerkenwell police court were [once again] crowded to excess by persons anxious to obtain a sight of the murderess’, Celestina Sommer. She was there to be re-examined for killing her daughter, Celestina … Continue reading

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The mob chases the witnesses: a Christmas tale pt 13

In the last post in this series, we looked at the inquest into the murder of Celestina Christmas by her mother, held at the North Pole tavern on New North Rd. This time I’ll focus on what happened immediately afterwards: … Continue reading

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The inquest in the pub: a Christmas tale pt 12

Where’s the obvious place for a Victorian coroner to hold an inquest into the cause of death of a murdered child? The pub, of course. No, really. It’s not as daft as it may seem. Some inquests into ‘suspicious’ deaths … Continue reading

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A Christmas bonus

In my last post about the murder of Celestina Christmas and the story behind it, we visited Murray Street (now Grove) where Mary McNeil killed her children. And over on the Worldwide Genealogy blog, I posted about how I tracked … Continue reading

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Another murder: a Christmas tale pt 11

Could Celestina Sommer have been inspired to cut her daughter’s throat by another child murder? I believe that it’s at least possible. In the last episode of this story, I mentioned that the two policemen, Inspector Hatton and Sergeant Edward … Continue reading

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Julia Harrington’s evidence: a Christmas tale pt 10

Julia Harrington, wife of Thomas and mother of Catharine, Hannah and of my 2x great-grandmother Rebecca Harrington, was about to have a terrible shock. It was Monday, 18 February, 1856, the day Charles and Celestina Sommer were charged at Clerkenwell … Continue reading

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Who killed Celestina? A Christmas tale pt 9

So far, at the lengthy procedures at Clerkenwell Police Court, the evidence against Charles and Celestina Sommer given on Monday, 18 February, 1856, has covered the arrest of the couple for the murder of little Celestina Christmas and the witness … Continue reading

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Posted in London, Trial | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

The murder of Celestina Christmas: a Christmas tale pt 8

A little girl’s body, her throat cut, found in a cellar in respectable Linton Street, Finsbury. Readers of the Standard on 19 February, 1856, would already have an idea of who might have murdered her, as I wrote about in … Continue reading

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Posted in London, Trial | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

The body in the cellar: a Christmas tale pt 7

Clerkenwell Police Court was crowded on Monday, 18 February, 1856, when two prisoners were charged with the murder of a young girl – the Islington Murder, as it came to be called. Some of the spectators were neighbours of the … Continue reading

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Posted in Genealogy, London | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

A horrible and mysterious murder: a Christmas tale pt 6

Londoners reading their local newspaper, the Standard, on Monday, 18 February, 1856, would have been brought up short by this headline, tucked away at the bottom of page three under the ship news: Some would have been shocked, perhaps afraid … Continue reading

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Posted in Genealogy, London | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Christmas turns to Sommer: A Christmas tale pt 5

In the last episode, Celestina Elizabeth Christmas’s sisters got married. Celestina was still living with her parents and younger brother Alfred at their house in King Square in Finsbury, north London. In 1852, at 24, she was still marriageable, but … Continue reading

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Posted in Genealogy, London | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Findmypast freebies this weekend

Good news from Findmypast UK and Findmypast Ireland for this weekend, 6-9 March. Not only is FMP Ireland free on Saturday and Sunday, but there’s a UK records bonanza lasting from Friday to Monday. Their press release says: … between … Continue reading

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FMP UK half-price (be quick!), Google Earth Pro free

It’s the weekend! Time to catch up with blogging. Let’s see what the Shoestring Genealogist has for you… Findmypast UK has a great offer on – a year’s subscription half-price. But be quick – it closes at midnight GMT on … Continue reading

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A Christmas tale pt 4 – what next for Celestina Elizabeth?

Welcome back to the Celestina Christmas story. In the previous episode, we left little Celestina (born 1846) living with my ancestors, Thomas and Julia Harrington and their daughters, Hannah and Rebecca (my 2x great-grandmother). Her mother, Celestina Elizabeth Christmas, was … Continue reading

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Posted in Genealogy, London, Nicholas Delaney | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments