Sunday, February 18, 2024

A tantalizing paragraph from the London Chronicle

On January the 4th, 1811 The London Chronicle printed the following news item:


This newspaper clipping raises more questions than it answers:

If she is in the boxes, isn’t she a lady of some status, not just a ‘female’?

In 1811, a thirty pound bank note is worth a substantial amount of money  (over $100); where did she get it?

How well did the lady know the 'dashing buck' and what was he doing at the lady’s lodgings the preceding evening?

Where were her 'lodgings' and did she live alone?

With whom was she in attendance at the theatre; what did her companions do when she raised the alarm?

How dramatic was the scene that the alarm caused  and who took the supposed thief into custody?

Could this have been a revenge type of entrapment? Did she have a grudge against the 'buck'?

If it was a false accusation, why did he run?

This short newspaper paragraph is a gold mine for a writer. It offers a story line that could be taken in several different directions.

Perhaps 'the female' is a lady of easy virtue, in the box of a lover who has given her her congée. Perhaps she was followed home or became acquainted with the 'dashing buck' the evening before, and she invited him in because she liked his looks. Perhaps the thirty pounds had been a parting gift from the lover.

Perhaps she was a partner of the thief and the thirty pound note was ill-gotten gains. The dashing buck might have been double-crossing her, or, visiting her lodgings with romance on his mind, he took the note without her knowledge when he left after being rejected.

I am trying to think of a scenario where she is a lady of the ton, and not having much success. She wouldn’t be in ‘lodgings’ without staff or protectors if she is a lady of status. She wouldn’t have opened the door to the ‘dashing buck’ or invited him in. She wouldn’t leave thirty pound notes lying around. And she wouldn’t risk making a scene at the theatre where questions would be asked that she might not want to answer.

I am not certain where I would go with this story, but you can see why I like to read historical newspapers!

 'Til next time,



The London Chronicle is available on Google Books

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