News of the Time: East End Murders

The East-End Murders and suicide … directly illustrated the close connection between intemperance and crime … The fruitful source of immorality, the support of prostitution, the destroyer of home ties, and the most general incentive to murder, intemperance is the greatest curse of the kingdom … Not a week goes by without our having to chronicle some such domestic calamity … It was in a class of house occupied by artisans in Joseph-Street, Bow-Common, that John Blair murdered his wife and four children and then cut his own throat … As already quoted by us from The Times, ‘The murderer and suicide was John Blair, a bricklayer … aged forty-nine, while his wife was thirty-four. The eldest child was Elizabeth, aged about thirteen, the next being Amelia, aged seven; the others were boys named William and Samuel, aged five years the one and four months the other; and the evidence disclosed that the father, who was probably mad from the effects of excess alcoholic drink, had mutilated  mutilated the bodies of his little family in the most dreadful manner.’ It came out at the inquest that … his brother-in-law said [that Blair] drank heavily at home … Elizabeth Cressy, a sharp little girl, living near the house in Joseph-street, Bow, said she used occasionally to fetch beer for the deceased man, and did so on the Friday afternoon before the tragedy took place.

O’Neill, Gilda. The Good Old Days: Poverty, Crime and Terror in Victorian London (p. 66). Endeavour Press. Kindle Edition.