"by my word this is surprising news"

The city of Westerminster (UK) is serializing the diary of a nineteenth-century wharf clerk, Nathaniel Bryceson, online with the appropriate daily entries for the year 1846. His entries for the 4th and 5th of January, for example, read:

Morning, went to Tillman’s Coffee House, Tottenham Court Road, to read newspaper. From there to the Old Bailey to see preparations for the execution of Martha Browning tomorrow. After dinner took walk with Ann Fox across Westminster Bridge to Horsemonger Lane County Gaol, to see if any preparations were being made for the execution of Samuel Quennell tomorrow, but such was not the case. Returned back over Westminster Bridge, through St James’s Park, and continued walk through the Green and Hyde Parks. There rested ourselves on an old seat opposite one of the gates. Returned home through Oxford Street. Granny Shepard bought me a pair of worsted stockings for 1s 2d. Ann gave me a shilling off what she owes Granny, leaving only 8d unpaid.

followed the next day by Bryceson's descriptions of the executions,

This morning at 8 o’clock the woman Martha Browning expiated her crime on the scaffold in the Old Bailey, for the murder of Elizabeth Mundell on the 1st of December last. The culprit showed great presence of mind on the occasion and ascended the gallows with a firm and steady step, and without any assistance. The body was cut down at 9 o’clock and Calcraft, the executioner, took his departure from Newgate to Horsemonger Lane County Gaol to offer his services for a similar occasion, namely to put in force the sentence of the law against Samuel Quennell for the murder of a shipmate, by shooting him in Kennington Lane. The execution took place on the top of the Prison over the front gates precisely at 10 o’clock. The culprit behaved himself becomingly on so solemn an occasion and ascended the scaffold without assistance. Remarks: this is the first execution of a female that I ever recollect in my time, also the first at Horsemonger Lane, and likewise the first time that two executions took place in the one day, to my recollection.

The transcribed diary entries are augmented by visual images from the period and places described in the entries, as well as occasional editor's notes.

Information about Nathaniel's life, the diary as a physical object, and the digital project, can be found at the City of Westminster Archives Centre website.

via Londonist.

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