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ELLERTON, Edward

b.1871 – d.1910 – Hoxton Crew Gang Member –

The story of Edward hit an obstacle very early on. The Find a Grave index assumes a birth in Ireland with no solid evidence whatsoever; I believe this to be untrue.

Tracing the lunacy documents backwards, I found that Edward entered to lunacy system via prison, and from here I tracked the tale of an abandoned child, who became a petty teenage member of The Hoxton Gang of watch snatchers and grew into a hardened criminal eventually threatening a police officer with a pistol after a dramatic chase on London Bridge. A number of aliases were used making the traceability even more difficult, but thankfully the police kept good records.

1870s

Edward Ellerton was born in 1871, to father Edward (a Shoemaker b.1848) and mother Fanny Auvaline (b.1851) in the Shoreditch area of London.

The 1871 Census, taken on 2nd April 1871, shows Fanny ELLERTON living with parents Charles and Amelia ROOM in Bethnal Green.

Fanny ELLERTON, 14 Caroline Street, Father: Charles ROOM, Oven Builder

Also on 2nd April 1871, a marriage record was found on which Fanny and her father Charles use a false surname, probably to hide family embarrassment of Fanny being pregnant out of wedlock; Fanny Auvaline NICHOLSON, her father stated as Charles Nicholson (Oven Builder) married Edward Ellerton. The marriage was witnessed by Edward’s sister Eliza and Eliza’s husband George Starr confirming the family link. The unusual middle name, the correct address given and known relatives ensure this is the right marriage.

Fanny Auvaline NICHOLSON, 14 Caroline Street, Father: Charles NICHOLSON, Oven Builder

Now on to Edward, 1st son of Fanny and Edward; our Edward’s start in life was tough. we can’t be sure what happened after the marriage above, but records show that by aged 3, he was admitted to the poor house by his aunt (names of mother, father, aunt and grandfather link this record), the notes state his mother is ‘deserted’. Similar records of Edward aged 4 and 5 show both parents are ‘absent from child, in the workhouse’.

It is very possible that following Fanny’s pregnancy, she was estranged. Fanny’s parents may have been ashamed (hiding the family name at marriage). The marriage may have been rushed to avoid the embarrassment of a bastard child. Edward and Fanny’s only option may have been the poor house.

1880s

The 1881 census shows Edward, a pauper at the Bethnal Green Workhouse school, aged 9. He still appears to have been abandoned by both parents.

There are few records online ‘at time of writing’ for his mother. It is possible that she died at around this time.

There is a Fanny Room who entered the asylum system in 1864, but was a patient at Worcestershire (Powick) Asylum from 1866 till death in 1901. She is on the census for Powick Asylum in 1871-1891, she is the daughter of a Jane and Herbert Room, so she is discounted.

On 4th September 1881, Edward Snr. has started a new life, he remarries to Charlotte M Perkins in Bethnal Green.

Meanwhile, his first born has left the workhouse environment and appears to have joined a gang in Hoxton. Arrested at least twice in 1888, as part of a notorious Hoxton Gang of watch snatchers, Edward (17) is arrested and described as “the only one who had never been sentenced, but the most dexterous”. This is the first recorded criminal act where he received 6 months hard labour in September 1888.

Edward (18) was again arrested in 1889, for stealing a watch (as William SMITH). We have the statement from the victim, which paints a quite violent picture. He was arrested and sentenced on 14th May 1889 to 6 months. Edward had also started using aliases, often combinations of the same names. He was also convicted of a petty crime of purse stealing in Southend on Sea, a common holiday trip for East End Londoners.

1890s

After serving his hard labour, at aged 20-21, it seems that he may have tried to start a new respectable life.

By 1891, Edward Snr was living with new wife Charlotte, and a multitude of children have appeared. Our Edward is living with his father’s new family and taken on his father’s trade of shoemaking. Maybe his father is trying to rescue him from a life of crime.

The 1891 census shows the family living at 26 Cavendish Square, both Edward Snr and Charlotte have a child from a previous relationship living here. Our Edward (21) is listed as a shoemaker, and is living with his half-siblings Edward Stanton (9), George(7), and sisters Clara(8), Florence(4), Dorothy(1) and stepsister Elizabeth E. Williams(14). Charlotte’s daughter Elizabeth was also from a previous relationship.

In 1892, things look to be turning around. Edward marries Sarah Harriet Wilson in February. This new life was short lived, just a month later Edward was convicted, along with Thomas O’Neil and Henry Andrews, and sentenced to 6 months for burglary in the dwelling house of Charlotte PULLEN and stealing therein a dress and other articles, value £15.

Edward was frequently turning up in the criminal records, and often with the same crew, and building up a list of aliases; Edward ELLERTON known aliases:

  • William Smith
  • William Cook
  • George Cook
  • George Brown
  • Henry Brown
  • George Anderson

Criminal Convictions:

  • 6 months, Guildhall, 14th May, 1889 (stealing watch), as William SMITH [OldBailey 1889].
  • 21 days, Southend Petty Sessions, 5th August 1891 (stealing purse), as William COOK.
  • 12 Months, Central Criminal Court, 7th March, 1892 (burglary, &c.), as Edward ELLERTON [OldBailey 1892].
    • Sentenced: 12 Calendar Months Pentonville Prison.
    • SERVED: 07-03-1892 – 06-03-1893 Wormwood Scrubs.
  • 3 Years Penal Servitude, Central Criminal Court, 10th April, 1893 (warehouse-breaking, &c.), as George COOK [OldBailey 189304100010].
    • Sentenced: 3 Years Penal Servitude.
    • SERVED: Parkhurst (Convict) 10-4-1893 – 30-11-1895.
  • 3 Months and Licence Revoked, Clerkenwell Police Court, 16th December, 1895 (stealing chain), as George BROWN.
  • 4 Years Penal Servitude and 12 Months hard labour (concurrent sentences), and Licence Revoked, and 3 Years Police Supervision, North London Sessions, 6th July, 1896 (stealing watch, &c., and assault), as George COOK.
  • 5 Years Penal Servitude and Licence Revoked, Central Criminal Court, 11th December, 1899 (stealing watch, &c., and attempt to discharge loaded arms, &c.), as Henry BROWN [OldBailey 189912110016].
Old Bailey 189912110016

HENRY BROWN was again indicted for unlawfully attempting to discharge a pistol with intent to resist his lawful apprehension. GEORGE PENFOLD (672, City). On November 23rd, about 5.40, I was on duty at the South end of London Bridge – I heard shouts of “Police!” and saw the prisoner running; I followed him through the traffic – he ran from one side of the bridge to the other, and I caught him at the same place where he stood when he took the watch and chain; he said “Not in”- Mr Jones, who is 75 years old, came up and said, “That man has just stolen my watch and chain” – a gentleman in the crowd said, “He has just dropped it<” and handed me a watch, chain, and seal – I told him he would have to go to the station – he put his hand in his pocket and said “If you don’t let me go I will blow your brains out,” pointing a revolver at my head – I snatched it away from him, and at the north end of the station got assistance and took him to the station – there were five cartridges in the revolver, and I found four more in his pocket – he was charged at the station, and made no reply. Cross-examined by the Prisoner. The pin was out of the revolver – you could not fire it with the pin in; it would not go off, but the pin was in the position for it to go off – it was out. Prisoner’s Defence : My statement is that pin was in the revolver, and that it could not be pulled ; I only did it to frighten him.

GUILTY. He then PLEADED GUILTY to a conviction at Clerkenwell on July 6th, 1896, at North London Sessions. Several other convictions were proved against him, and he had still 330 days of his last sentence to serve. – Five Years’ Penal Servitude in each case, to run concurrently.

  • 18 Months and Licence Revoked, Central Criminal Court, 13th September, 1904 (stealing handkerchiefs), as George ANDERSON [Wormwood Scrubs Prison CCC 050-00187].
    • Sentenced: 18 Months (hard labour) Wormwood Scrubs Prison.
  • 3 Years Penal Servitude, Central Criminal Court, 31st July, 1907 (stealing locket), as Edward ELLERTON [Wormwood Scrubs Prison CCC 258-00755].

Declared Insane

Edward ELLERTON’s final 3-year prison sentence wasn’t meant to be up until 29th July 1910, however during his sentence he was declared INSANE and arrangements were planned to send him to Long Grove in 24-Nov 1909.

He was admitted to Parkhurst Asylum (where he had been a convict previously) before he was moved ‘Not Improved’ to Long Grove Asylum on 01 Dec 1909, slightly later than planned.

Admission 05-May-1908 / Discharged ‘Not Improved’ 01-Dec-1909- Parkhurst
Admission 01-Dec-1909 / Discharged ‘DEAD’ 04-May-1910

Edward died on 4th May 1910, and was buried 5 days later on 9th May 1910 in grave reference 749a.


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