Tag Archives: Christmas

Celestina’s life in Millbank Prison: a Christmas tale pt 22

In the last post in this series, Celestina Sommer arrived at Millbank Prison on 6 September, 1856, to begin her sentence for murdering her daughter, Celestina Christmas. Her hair was cut off, she was given prison clothes and put in … Continue reading

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Finding my past in Ireland free: Julia Harrington

I’m spending today using the free access to Irish records offered by FindMyPast Ireland this weekend (until 1200 on Monday 25 January, in case you haven’t seen the special offer – UK records are free, too, but I’ve already got … Continue reading

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A sad Christmas story

Merry Christmas, and I hope it’s a happy season for you and those you love. That’s a much older (and slightly sinister) version of Father Christmas from 1855, before he turned into jolly red-faced, red-hooded Santa. Old Father Christmas His … Continue reading

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Celestina arrives at Millbank Prison: a Christmas tale pt 21

Celestina Sommer’s death sentence was commuted to transportation for life on 22 April 1856. Because she was still waiting for her sentence to be carried out, she was taken back to Newgate Prison (which was a ‘detentional’ prison, only used … Continue reading

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Will Celestina hang? A Christmas tale pt 20

Celestina Sommer had been sentenced to death for the murder of her daughter, Celestina Christmas. On Thursday, 10 April, 1856, she was taken back to Newgate Prison, which was used only for prisoners awaiting trial, execution or transportation. At the … Continue reading

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Celestina’s trial – verdict and sentence: a Christmas tale pt 18

It was on Thursday, 10 April, 1856 that Celestina Sommer’s fate was to be decided: death by hanging or incarceration in an asylum. The evidence against her, and her own confession, made her guilt plain. But what would the verdict … Continue reading

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Celestina Sommer’s trial for murder: a Christmas tale pt 17

Celestina Sommer was eventually tried for the murder of her daughter, Celestina Christmas, at the Old Bailey on Thursday, 10 April, 1856, over a month after her first appearance in the Central Criminal Court. The newspapers reported the trial with … Continue reading

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Celestina at the Old Bailey: a Christmas tale pt 16

In the last episode of this true story, Celestina Sommer was in Newgate Prison awaiting her trial at another iconic bastion of London’s penal system – the Old Bailey. The Central Criminal Court, as it was, and is, more formally … Continue reading

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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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