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).