The Real Mudlark Story: Part One

Many years ago I went to the cinema and watched a film called 'The Mudlark'.
It was a black and white British film, with an excellent cast - Alec Guinness, Irene Dunne and the young Andrew Ray played important parts.
The story was not true, but it had elements of truth in it.
In the film, a mudlark walks all the way to Windsor Castle because he wants to see Queen Victoria; he manages to get into the castle,and sits on the throne,but is discovered.
Because of him the old Queen, who had shut herself away after the death of her beloved Albert,is persuaded to return to public duties.

The real story is different in many ways.
The boy was not a mudlark, he was an errand boy; he did not break into Windsor Castle, it was Buckingham Palace; and the Queen was not at the end of her reign, she was a young woman.
However, the story is an interesting one....

Here it is.

The information comes from three main sources:
              'Queen Victoria's Stalker', by Jan Bondeson (well worth a read),
               'The Royal Bedside Book', by Helen Cathcart,
         and 'Young Offenders:Juvenile Delinquency 1700 - 2000',by Pamela Horn.

The Boy lived in London, within half a mile of the Palace, behind the shops of Jermyn Street,up a staircase at 16 Bell Yard.
His father was a tailor, working all day from dawn till dusk; his mother took in ironing to help support the large family.
Their surname was Jones, and after several successful attempts to get into the palace the Press nicknamed him 'In-I-go-Jones'.

As a child, Edward had often said that he would one day walk up the grand staircase in Buckingham Palace, but his parents did not take him seriously.
However, on 12th December,1839, the thirteen-year-old errand boy failed to return home from his employer's shop in Coventry Street.
His anxious mother could not have dreamed that he was fast asleep,covered in soot and grease, in the bed of the Master of the Household, Sir Charles Murray, who was absent at the time.
To this day his method of entry into the palace is not clear.
Edward lied confidently when questioned, and there was much speculation.
What is certain is that security was not of the best, and the young Queen was not well protected.

The Boy arrived at the suite of ground-floor bedrooms reserved for higher officials.
Since the Court was at Windsor he was able to wander in and out of the rooms for some time without being discovered.
He was disturbed by approaching candlelight and tried to climb into a chimney, covering himself in soot in the process.
When it was quiet again, he came out of his hiding-place, and spent time fingering the silken curtains and spreading Sir Charles's scented pomade on his sooty hair.
Then he climbed into the bed, and felt so comfortable that he fell fast asleep.

At 5 o'clock the next morning,the Porter, Mr. Will Cox, was dozing in his room at the entrance when a boy "having the appearance of a sweep" pushed open his door.
He asked,"Which chimney have you come to sweep?"at which the Boy bolted.
Police and footmen were soon in hot pursuit,following the trail of soot to Sir Charles's bedroom.
There they found everything in sooty confusion, and a sword, a seal and some books on the floor, made up into a bundle "as if for speedy removal."

Edward went before a magistrate and was confident under interrogation,giving a false name and saying he had been let in to the Palace and had been there before.
He described hearing Prince Albert and Queen Victoria conversing.
The magistrate, a Mr. White, noted that he was tolerably well educated, with a vivid imagination, and was perhaps 'not to be believed.'
He directed the police to make further inquiries,and remanded the Boy.
The newspapers were full of the story.
Henry Bell rushed to the police station to identify his son,and the grocer spoke for his missing errand-boy.
Edward Jones,aged fourteen, was committed for trial at Westminster Assizes.

The Jury laughed the case out of court.
The bundle of articles did not belong to the Queen,but to Sir Charles Murray, and had not been taken from the premises, so there was no case to answer but 'mere folly.'

On the eve of the young Queen's marriage it was felt that the incident should be recorded and shelved.
Edward was acquitted, and we would maybe not have heard of him if it was not for one thing;
                             HE DID IT AGAIN!
It was 1840,and once again Christmas was coming.
Two weeks earlier the Queen had given birth to her first child,and the Royal Family were in the news.

On Wednesday, 2nd December one of the two larder cooks at the palace noticed finger-marks in the jelly of a cold jar of stock kept for soup.
He told one of the 8 master cooks, who reported to the Royal Chef, who set up an enquiry among the 12 kitchen-maids and apprentices.
Nobody thought of the Boy.
In fact, he was hidden under the bed of one of the cooks, just along the corridor.
This time Edward seems to have told the truth, at least in part, to the police.
On the Monday he had climbed the wall & entered the Palace by a French window, but "there were so many people moving about I thought I had better go home."
The next evening he tried again, and was able to feast unobserved in the kitchens and sleep under a bed.

He spent Wednesday in hiding, and in the evening, when all was quiet,reached the State Apartments and the Throne Room.

This was a dream come true!
He climbed the dais and sank into the rich crimson cushions.
He seems to have sat there for some time.
Finally he pushed open the pass-door into the State Apartments.
A familiar sound reached his ears: the wail of a newborn baby.
The Queen's nurse was asleep in a room next to the Queen's dressing-room when she heard a door creak and called out ,"Who's there?."
The door shut suddenly,and she pulled the bellrope.
The sofa was pushed aside & revealed the Boy.
The police arrested him. He was unarmed and without any souvenirs, and he was quite composed.
He told them how he had got in ( there was a cracked window as evidence) and said he had " heard the Princess Royal squall", and listened to the Queen & Prince Albert talking together.
He was in the Palace because he intended to write a book about it.
When the news got out there was pandemonium!
To break into the Palace ONCE was noteworthy, but to do so TWICE was internationally newsworthy.

The Times commented," The subject engrosses public opinion. Nothing else is talked of."

Mr. Jones had to open a new workshop in Derby Street, Westminster, to cope with the rush of curious customers.
To all the reporters,policemen & would-be clients he would say,"I am requested by a high authority not to answer questions."
The entire country awaited the result of the private Privy Council inquiry.

More later........

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