An Incendiary Fire at Wivenhoe 1848

The Ipswich Journal, Saturday May 30th, 1848

Added by Pat Marsden

An artists impression of the Wivenhoe Mill in the mid nineteenth century
Reproduced by courtesy of Essex Record Office

During divine service on Sunday afternoon last, a barn, at Wivenhoe, containing a quantity of straw, a dressing machine, and about a ton of hay, was discovered to be on fire, and in a short time the whole was totally consumed. It was the property of John Smith, miller, maltster, and merchant, of that place. Suspicion fell upon the servant girl named Mary Ann Mead, about thirteen years of age, who, when taken into custody by the police, confessed that, while reading her bible, when the family were at church, a thought came into her head that she would go and set fire to the barn, which stood a considerable distance from the house. She accordingly took some lucifer matches and set fire to the straw in the barn, and then ran to church to inform her master that the barn was on fire. She stated that she could give no other reason why she had committed the diabolical act, as her master had always behaved very kindly to her. She was taken before the county magistrates for examination.

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