Friday, 14 October 2011

Hammersmith ghost is shot by drunk man

Francis Smith, of Hammersmith, has pleaded guilty to being in posession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol ... it's just that it was a little while ago. Now read on, in this fascinating little account from the Uncanny UK blog, which gives a glimpse of what our neck of the woods was like at the turn of the 19th century!

In 1804 the then village of Hammersmith, London, was in a state of terror and indignation thanks to a white-sheeted ‘ghost’ that hassled young women and panicked the stage coach horses after dark. Some people thought the ghost was real, others that it was a hoax – the latter were correct. One night a resident, Francis Smith, after more than a few drinks, decided to take the law into his own hands and seek out the culprit. He took a gun with him. Down Black-lion Lane he encountered a white figure approaching. When the figure failed to answer him, Smith fired a shot at it – and killed Thomas Millwood, a plasterer, who was on his way home in his white jacket and trousers covered in plaster. This contemporary illustration shows the moment Smith fires his gun at the unfortunate Millwood. I love these 19th century engravings, they are so full of character (look at that wonderful old pub, for example, and the bizarre outfit worn by the plasterer).

Happy Friday!


  1. Wonderful story! Although not so wonderful for Thomas Millwood obviously...

    That old pub in the engraving still exists doesn't it?

  2. So policing in this patch hasn't changed much over the years, then...

    Drunk man shoots and kills someone, and then only gets charged with being drunk-in-possession. The 19th Century Crown Prosecution Service clearly as lame as the 21st Century version...