A bargeman loses his ear in a tussle over a fishy snack

Thomas Williams, a Thames lighterman,  was enjoying a drink in Buckmaster’s beershop in Lower Thames Street when Lawrence Lawrenson entered the premises, carrying some sticks under his arm. Lawrenson immediately began to ‘flourish them as if about to conjure’. He was probably going to try and raise some funds for a drink or two but then he noticed Williams.

Thomas was holding a small parcel of cooked fish wrapped in his handkerchief and the would-be entertainer made a grab for it. When the lighterman resisted and pushed him away Lawrenson fell on him, and they both tumbled on the floor of the shop. As he tried to escape his attacker Williams felt Lawrenson’s teeth on his ear, biting him.

The assault resulted in a piece of Williams’ ear being bitten off. The offending item was then produced in court (‘preserved in spirits of wine’, the reporter noted). Poor Williams testified that he had bled badly from the wound and the justice in the Mansion House court remanded Lawrenson in custody while a medical opinion was sought.

[From The Illustrated Police News etc, Saturday, July 21, 1877]

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