Sheffield Crimes

This volume collects together the most shocking criminal cases from Sheffield’s Victorian newspapers. These grisly cases will transport the horrified reader back to a time when horse drawn carriages clattered through the streets of the city, and the towns gin palaces and music halls teemed with thieves, drunkards and fallen woman. In an age where the gap between rich and poor was enormous, crime was understandably rife – and the penalties for it dreadful. Filled with infamous historical cases – including grave robbing, murder, poisoning, infanticide, bigamy and daring jewel and garrote robberies – and richly illustrated with photographs from private collections and from local archives, Sheffield Crimes will fascinate residents, visitors and historians alike.

Chapter List

Chapter One:               Bodysnatching at Hillsborough

Chapter Two:              A Poisonous Nurse

Chapter Three:            The Curious Case of Mrs Glossop

Chapter Four:              Death at The Mail Coach Inn

Chapter Six:                Crimes of Bigamy

Chapter Seven             Incest and Infanticide

Chapter Seven             ‘Only Fools and Horses Work’

Chapter Eight:             Garrotting Robberies

Chapter Nine:              The Father-in-Laws Revenge

Chapter Ten:               The Jewel Robbery of Hayes and Hawley

Chapter Eleven:          Ned the Kaffir

Chapter Twelve:         A Disgusting Case

Chapter Thirteen:        An Audacious Thief

Extract from the book

Bodysnatching at Hillsborough


The fear that any person could be the subject of dissection was felt so deeply in Sheffield that the medical school built in 1826, was burned down by a mob in1835. In Sheffield, all paupers whose bodies lay unclaimed could be offered to the medical school for dissection; therefore there was no need to ‘burke’ anyone as the supply of badies from the workhouse paupers was said to be ‘ample’. But still the fear did not go away. Thirty six years later, when rumours began to circulate that a Sheffield sexton had been selling bodies to the new medical school, it was enough to excite the mob to violence.


The sextons name was Isaac Howard, and he lived in a house built by himself at the burial ground of St Phillip’s Church at Hillsborough. He was very proud of his house, which was built of stone, two storeys tall and had five or six rooms. It was described as ‘a very comfortable working-class residence. In March of 1862 he invited gravedigger Robert Dixon and his wife to become lodgers, and they moved in on the 24th of the month. It didn’t bother the Dixon’s that they lived so close to the cemetery, as that was where Mr Dixon made his living. They were happy with the bedroom that was over the stable. The only problem was the smell. When Dixon mentioned it to Howard he brushed it off saying that ‘it often happens’ but not to worry as ‘it will go away’. The smell did not go away; in fact it got worse. Dixon, investigating the source of the smell, went to the door of the stable, but found that it was locked. He made a hole in the floor of his bedroom and looked through into the stable below.

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