Sunday 6th December 1846

“Went to the church of St Mary Rotherhithe. Arrived there half past 10 o’clock; copied into scrapbook a curious inscription on church wall, Came through the Thames Tunnel homeward. At home in afternoon looking over Latin dictionary. Mother came down to tea (the first of her getting down stairs for two months), a poor emaciated creature looketh she, almost double, and obliged to support herself on a great stick. At tea she looked like more like her mother’s mother than her daughter, Granny looking a fresh coloured dame of 70 while mother looks extremely aged as approaching 90. — Had Ann up in evening. She hath hurt herself in the week lifting things above her strength. — “

Saturday 21st November 1846

“Westminster Bridge – workmen were employed in levelling the parapets on either side of the bridge with the footway, preparatory to wooden palings being erected in lieu of the former balustrades. Soon as the work is finished, the bridge will be open again for the use of vehicles, and in that condition will remain until the new bridge is completed. Received intelligence from Granny Shepard of the death of Mrs Wilcocks, aged about 40, wife of Mr Thomas Wilcocks, pork butcher, Tottenham Court Road, corner of Chapel …, who died this morning early after about two months illness, and whose body yet remaineth uninterred. The Princess Royal, first daughter of the present Queen Victoria, completeth her 6th year.”


[Editor’s note: The Princess Royal was Victoria (1840-1901), later wife of Friedrich III of Prussia and mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II.]

Monday 16th November 1846

“As soon as I arrived at Wharf, I found a horse dead in the stable, which had been bad some time and has had its throat open this past week and been attended by veterinary surgeons. It died last night late and was opened this morning by the knackers to find the cause of its death, and which was found to be a diseased windpipe, thereby suffocating, accelerated by the breaking of the skin dividing the guts from the ribs caused by inward straining (it is the first horse I ever saw opened and a most wonderful sight it is). It knocked up a terrible stink in the stable, but it was a rare day for the black cat, who feasted on the flesh till it could eat no more. In the evening the knackers fetched him away. They gave 35s for him. Cut initials and date ‘N B 1846’ in the privy between stairs. A curious circumstance happened today: Granny Shepard, whilst out in the Buildings, was stopped by a young woman who asked her who was buried from No 9 yesterday, and on being told a young man, “What?” says she, “that young man that lived in the garret that was out of his mind” and, on being told such was not the case, she looked amazed and said “Oh, but he was a little out of his mind, I am sure”. Whom she means is none other than myself, who till last May lived in the garret and certainly the only one in the house who shows any symptoms of insanity. Thus the neighbours suppose me to be dead and buried, whereas here I am well and hearty. Mr John McAuliffe, coal dealer, of 18 St James Street, Oxford Street, died aged 28 years, accelerated by catching cold on a previous weakened constitution, by a moving job to Cheltenham.”


[Editor’s note: No entries on 17, 18, 19 or 20 November]

Thursday 5th November 1846

“Dame Granny Shepard paid a visit to Eccleston Wharf, Pimlico, to see old Mrs Lea. She stopped nearly the whole day from 11 o’clock till 8 o’clock and was by them treated very nobly. Came from thence home with me. I had tea at coffee shop, Compton Street, Soho, side of St Anne’s churchyard.”

Sunday 25th October 1846

“Chillblains getting very troublesome obliged to use onion and salt to them. Wore worsted stockings for first time this season. Went through the Temple and round the church and through the churchyard. Copied into scrapbook Latin inscriptions over door in Farrars Buildings as also one within the railings surrounding the church. Went inside and saw Knights Templars brass effigies. This I believe is the first time I was ever inside the Temple Church. From thence to St Mary Aldermanbury, Bow Lane. Rained very heavy all the way home, at times so violent that I was obliged to put up at different times. Beef sausages for dinner. A duel of an afternoon. Stopped at home translating Latin and taking to paper some particulars of Granny Shepard’s family from her own words, of which she tired and waxed wrath with me for bothering her so. — Had Ann up in evening as usual. — Afterwards took walk — with ditto — through the City by Fleet Street to St Paul’s churchyard and then returned home whence I arrived half past 9 o’clock. White puppy fell overboard in the canal and was drowned. Mr Richard Latham completes his 43rd year (a fellow clerk at Eccleston Wharf).”


[Editor’s note: No entries on 26 or 27 October]

Sunday 11th October 1846

“Morning went first of all to St Paul’s Cathedral and took down in scrap book the inscription on the statue of John Howard, the celebrated prison visitor. From thence went to church of St Mary Aldermanbury. A prayer offered up for the suppression of the approaching famine or otherwise sarcity of food which at present threatens this country – also a sermon for the aid of the suffers by the late disastrous fire at St John’s Newfoundland. No collection was made today but it was given out that a visit would be paid to all the parishioners in the ensuing week. 200 houses are reported to have been destroyed by the devouring element, the inmates of which are houseless and the climate there very severe; destruction of property is computed at a million sterling. Wet afternoon stopped at home looking into Latin Dictionary, progressing but slowly. — Had Ann up in the evening. Got to our old tricks. I spent a little seed up her petticoat. Very narrow escape of being caught by Old Granny Shepard as they must have met on the staircase. — Practised a little Latin till quarter before 10 and went then to rest.”


[Editor’s note: No entries on 12 or 13  October]

Sunday 20th September 1846

“Started half past 7 o’clock for Edgware, where I arrived at half past ten. First place went to – Whitchurch – strolled about the burial ground an hour, taking down sundry inscriptions from tombstones into scrapbook. Went in the church during sermon, and afterwards was shown over the church by the clerk.  It is most beautifully decorated with painted walls and ceiling, all scriptural pieces. Then he showed me the Duke of Chandos’s family vault, over which is the marble monument of the Duke and his two wives, with sundry other branches of the family, and underneath is the coffins (48 in number) of the Brydges Chandos family (upwards 90 years) which is now extinct. The vault has been built 130 years and is sound as when first built. The most curious of all is a coffin with two bodies in it – a mother and daughter as I was told – the size whereof was tremendous, in appearance more resembling a coal barge than a coffin. It is elm, covered with black velvet, and finished with brass furniture; inscription on lozenge brass plate was dated 1761. The oldest date I saw was that of a child died 1704. This job cost me 6d, but I was highly gratified.  Dined at ‘The Old Boot’, Edgware (bread and beef). Afterwards went in burial ground of Edgware Church and then in the church, took down inscriptions from two brasses, 1599 and 1632, then back again to Whitchurch and viewed the same over as I did in the morning, more lengthened, and with this addition – I saw the public vault which was piled with coffins thickly and irregularly. Picked a few blackberries and afterwards made for home sharply, where I arrived shortly before 8 o’clock, having walked about 25 miles. Left Edgware just before 5 o’clock. ‘Remark’: Poor old Granny Shepherd this day is the same age as Dr Samuel Johnson was when he died, viz 75 years 3 months 6 days.  Had cup of tea at coffee shop, Dean Street, opposite Little Dean Street, to read Dispatch.”


[Editor’s note: No entries on 21 or 22 September]