History is replete with shocking scandals, especially those that rocked the royalty and artists of the time. We bring you some shocking scandals that rocked the 19th century society.
- The telegraph boys scandal
When a 15-year old telegraph boy was questioned as to how he came to have 18 shillings in his pocket by a policeman, a huge scandal broke out that shook the nobility, rich and famous of UK. The boy hadn’t stolen the money, he was paid for spending the night with the gentleman at a house, and other telegraph boys were involved in the scam. Some notable names that arose were Prince Victor Albert and Lord Arthur Somerset. Both fled the country eventually to avoid prosecution for paedophilia.
- Dante’s love for his poetry
Dante Gabriel Rosetti was a renowned painter and poet and married his muse Elizabeth Siddal after a decade-long torrent affair. The marriage was delayed largely due to Dante’s fickleness and after just two years of marriage the bride died of an overdose of laudanum. Dante felt guilty about his wife’s death and decided to bury his latest book of poems with her body. However, seven years later, he had the coffin dug up to retrieve his poetry.
- The amoral mining women of UK
A major scandal broke out in UK when an article on the female miners and their working topless alongside naked men was published in the leading newspapers. It all started with Lord Ashley petitioning with Queen Victoria to commission an inquiry on child abuse in the mining industry. Although, the claim of nudity and amoral behaviour claimed by investigator Jelinger Symons was never proven, it highlighted the issue of women being employed in a profession not suited to their strength and their plight.
- Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings
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This is 19th Century’s most controversial affair with America’s 3rdPresident, Thomas Jefferson as the central figure. It was an open secret of the time that the president had intimate relations with his slave, Sally Hemings. Whispers of striking resemblance between Ms. Hemings numerous children and President Jefferson could be heard across the USA and created quite a scandal.
- The Lambeg Church Grave Thieves
This controversy was unearthed from a well-worn bible bound in old newspaper cuttings. It revealed the case of a series of body internment from the burial grounds of the Lambeg Church. The sexton James Dixon was eventually removed from his position after being caught by numerous relatives on repeated offence when bodies of their loved ones went missing. The dead bodies were sold to hospitals for dissection.
Some scandals changed the future course of history, while others were affairs that occurred way ahead of its times. Media, of course, had a big role to play in sensationalising the affairs.