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Showing posts from July, 2024

Judge Jeffries and his Formidable Wife.

George Jeffries, known as the ‘Hanging Judge’ gained a fearsome reputation as one of the English judicial system’s most cruel, unjust and heavy drinking judges. Yet despite this, he was terrified of his wife Anne who had a formidable temper. It was said that while St George may have killed a dragon saving a damsel in distress, George Jeffries missed the maiden and married the dragon by mistake. It was on 3rd September 1685 that Judge Jeffries opened in Dorchester what became known as his ‘Bloody Assize’. It was held to try all those who were suspected of being involved in an uprising against the King. Dorset born author, Frederick Treves wrote of Jeffries: ‘ (Jeffries) remains notorious in history as a corrupt judge, a foul-mouthed, malevolent bully and a fiend who delighted in cruelty. He was a drunkard, a man of the coarsest mind with a ready command of blasphemous expressions.’ During his life he suffered from a painful kidney complaint which may have contributed towards his behavio

Bridport’s ‘Wildcat Strikers.’

More than 100 years ago, women workers in Gundry’s rope factory in Bridport ‘downed tools’ and went on strike. In February 1912, this dispute broke out when the employer wanted to change pay rates which would have resulted in some women being paid less. After marching around the town singing songs, they assembled outside the factory gates to dissuade others from entering the works. Factory manager Mr Macdonald suggested that West Dorset’s Conservative MP Colonel Robert Williams should be appointed as an arbitrator to resolve the dispute. The women turned this proposal down believing this appointment would favour the employer too much. The strike continued and nine pounds thirteen shillings and eight pence (£9.68) was donated by the public and distributed among the strikers. (This sum would be worth around £1,300 today.) Ada Newton, an officer in the National Federation of Women Workers, arrived in Bridport from London and convened a meeting of strikers in the Hope & Anchor pub in B

‘Mad King George’ & a Wooden Leg.

King George III’s favourite holiday destination was Weymouth. Recovering from an ‘attack of madness’, he was advised that ‘taking the water’ was good for the health. During one of his worst moments, it is said, he shook hands with an oak tree believing it was the King of Prussia. Sea bathing was reckoned to be a cure for melancholy, gout and for ‘bad attacks of the worms.’ His first visit to the town in 1789 caused quite a stir but also a problem of etiquette for the Mayor of Weymouth. Advancing to kiss the Queen’s hand, Colonel Gwynn, a member of the King’s court, whispered: ‘You must kneel sir!’  Unfortunately, the Mayor took no notice of this advice and standing upright kissed the Queen’s hand.  The Colonel commented, ‘You should have knelt, sir!’                                                   ‘Sir’, answered the poor Mayor. ‘I cannot…for I have a wooden leg!’ The King bathed  in the sea emerging every day naked from his octagonal bathing machine. Specially created for the Monarc