200 Years Ago in Norwich : Robbery at White Lion in Drayton and a Knife Attack in Norwich

And the latest in my series of posts relating to things that happened in the news 200 years ago. I’m constantly surprised at just how much crime there was in Norfolk at this time, the newspapers have some quite violent crimes reported and there were no shortage of robberies. I’m intrigued at this one as there doesn’t seem to be much about the White Lion in Drayton on-line (the authoritative resource at has limited information on the pub).

The article reads:

“On Monday night last, between the hours of 12 and one o’clock, an attempt was made to enter the White Lion public house, at Drayton, by breaking through a brick wall in the back part of the premises 18 inches in thickness, ten inches in depth & two feet & an inch in breadth, which the thieves had nearly effected, when they were overheard by Mr. Howard, the landlord, who saw three men run away from the place.”

Can I just mention the detail of the journalism where the width of the wall was given to quite a high degree of accuracy. I also referred to violent crime and the article above in the newspaper was this one:

“Yesterday se’nnight, soon after eight o’clock, some evil disposed person threw with great violence, a large case knife through the shop window of No. 16 Dove Lane, without doubt to inflict some deadly wound upon some one, the wretched miscreant immediately fled and mixed with a crowd in the market-place and so evaded pursuit. The knife feel very near one of the ladies of the shop.”

Firstly, I’ve never heard of the word ‘sennight’ before, but it apparently is an archaic word for ‘a week’. Secondly, this is an horrendous crime and would make the national news if it happened today. There’s this temptation to believe that crime is somehow a recent innovation, but I can’t help thinking that it must have been a lawless and frightening time to live in Norwich.