Thursday March 13, 1873

An invigorating springtime ramble along the cliffs took a tragic turn for a party of visitors to Penzance. 

Cambridge undergraduate David Watson, his sisters and other female relatives had been enjoying an extended stay at the Beachfield Hotel, benefitting from the sea air. While the women contented themselves with drawing, the more active Mr Watson enjoyed botanising – clambering up to and into inaccessible and perhaps ill-advised corners in search of rare plants. 

He was last seen collecting ferns at Carn Barges (then known as Cairn-a-Bargis) on Rosemodress Cliff: a picturesque and steep descent, since favoured by artists and photographers. 

When Watson did not return, his companions went to look for him – and found his stick on the edge of the steep cliff and 60 foot below, being washed about in the rocks, was his inert body. 

A gash to the head indicated that he had missed his footing, or that the granite and earth had given way beneath him; the inquest confirmed that the fall, rather than drowning, had caused his death. Not until low tide that evening could the body be recovered, hauled out of a crevice by ropes under the moonlight. 

Monday March 17, 1873

The owner of a Camborne beer-house found an unexpected item in one of his outhouses: a new-born baby. 

The infant had been wrapped in straw before being abandoned in a pigsty attached to the Trelowarren Street premises, and the mother was quickly identified as a 24 year-old live-in servant. Her pregnancy had been suspected, but whenever the possibility had been mentioned she had denied it. 

After a brief pause to give birth, she had simply gone back to work as if nothing had happened. She continued to deny having anything to do with the baby, until medical examination proved otherwise. 

The story had a happy ending of sorts – both mother and baby received the care they needed, and survived to make their way in the world as best they could.  

Monday, March 24, 1873

A Penzance man was fined 10 shillings for being drunk in charge of a bus. William Trewhella, who covered the route between Penzance and Land’s End, admitted that he might have had just a drop too much. 

Although his horses, vehicle and passengers had all reached their destinations safely, and he had been driving with a unblemished record for 19 years, he was warned that any repetition of the offence would land him in jail.

In court with him were two women: one with six convictions for indecency, who was sentenced to three months after being found in Chancery Lane under what were termed ‘disgraceful circumstances’, and the other seeking money from the father of her child. The man was ordered to pay 2/6d a week, but her chances of receiving this were slim: her former sweetheart had been last seen heading for America.