WTF Fun Fact 13343 – Saverland v Newton

In 1837, a British man named Thomas Saverland took Miss Caroline Newton to court after she bit off part of his nose after he forcibly kissed her at a party. While Saverland v Newton went to a jury, the magistrate told them in advance that he would not punish the woman.

Saverland v Newton – No means no

Newspapers reported that Saverland showed up in court with the left part of his nose visibly damaged. But the injuries did not sway the magistrate. It appears he considered it an act of self-defense.

He told the jury that whatever verdict they returned, he would not punish the defendant. His reasoning was “if a man attempts to kiss a woman against her will, she has a right to bite his nose off if she has a fancy for so doing.”

It’s important to note that the fact-checking website Snopes looked into the ordeal and found it to be true. However, the note:

“…modern knowledge of Saverland v Newton comes to us not through a transcript of the court proceedings, or from the hearing’s having been included in a legal casebook of the time, but from an account published in a London newspaper (Bell’s New Weekly Messenger) on 30 April 1837. Early 19th-century newspaper reports being what they were (and sometimes still too often are), we can’t vouch for how much this account might have accurately reflected any genuine court proceeding.”

Reporting on the assault case

We’ll likely never know precisely what happened in the court (unless someone uncovers legal records). But the press reported that the injury was severe.

It all occurred in a tap room on the day after Christmas. Newton and her sister were apparently joking around about how the latter was there without her partner and had promised him not to let anyone kiss her in his absence. Saverland overheard this and apparently saw it as a challenge.

He kissed the sister, who reportedly took it as a joke. But Caroline Newton did not. After Saverland took the liberty of forcibly kissing her as well, they scuffled over his assault on the two women.

Saverland eventually went to another part of the room, and Newton followed him and struck him again. He tried to forcibly kiss her once again. But he got quite a surprise when she bit off part of his nose in self defense.

The man cried out and was reportedly covered in blood. Newton was seen spitting out the small piece of his nose she bit off.

Insults and injuries

According to the newspaper report:

“The defendant, a fat, middle-aged woman, treated the matter with great levity, and said he had no business to kiss her sister, or attempt to kiss her, in a public house; they were not such kind of people. If she wanted to be kissed, she had a husband to kiss her, and he was a much handsomer man than [complainant] ever was, even before he lost his nose.”

The jury’s acquittal of Newton may come as no surprise. The magistrate overseeing the trial potentially influenced it with his statement that if the jury found her guilty, “the court would not fine her more than 1s., as the prosecutor had brought the punishment on himself.”

Reportedly, “The Chairman told the prosecutor he was sorry for the loss of his nose, but if he would play with cats, he must expect to get scratched.”

The courtroom also had a good laugh at the complainant’s expense.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “The Curious Case of the Bitten-Off Nose Kiss” — Snopes

WTF Fun Fact 12773 – Lord Hailey’s Vampire Hunting Kit

Does the buyer of an auctioned “vampire hunting kit” know something we don’t?

According to British auction house Hansons: “A mysterious vampire-slaying kit containing objects reputed to ward off the blood-thirsty monsters sparked an international bidding battle – and smashed its auction estimate to smithereens.”

Ok, we’ll, it didn’t sell for millions, which is probably the kind of money we would want to find a way to scrape together if we thought vampires were real.

How much should a vampire hunting kit cost?

On June 30, 2022, the kit was estimated to sell for £2,000-£3,000 ($2,400 – $2,600). But it quickly saw a five-figure price tag after the bidding began. When the hammer dropped, the final bid price was £13,000 ($15,638 and some change by the July 10th exchange rate).

It’s pretty impressive for something to sell for six times its estimated worth. You really have to want to own that particular vampire hunting kit to pay that kind of money.

But, why?

Why this vampire hunting kit?

Charles Hanson, the owner of Hansons Auctioneers, explained that the odd item inspired headlines around the world and that attention likely pushed up the price. But he was still shocked at the final value.

According to the Hansons website, part of its mystery and allure is the kit’s original owner: “It originally belonged to Lord Hailey, a British peer and former administrator of British India. Whether through fear or fascination, it’s interesting to know a member of the highest aristocratic social order, a man with a place in the House of Lords, acquired this item. It reminds us that the vampire myth affects people from all walks of life. I think the aristocratic connection made this object even more desirable and, perhaps, helped it on its way to a particularly strong result.”

Charles Hanson also added “William Malcolm Hailey, 1st Baron Hailey (1872-1969) was recognised for his intellect. He was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was Governor of the Punjab from 1924 to 1928 and Governor of the United Provinces from 1928 to 1934. And yet, amid his illustrious career, he was drawn to this vampire-slaying kit. That’s understandable. These objects are both curious and intriguing.”

So, what’s in a vampire hunting kit?

The 19th-century kit comes in a lockable box with Lord Hailey’s initials and address. The tools inside include “holy objects to ward off vampires,” including “two brass crucifixes on the lid which act as a sliding secret locking device. Inside are more crucifixes, a matching pair of pistols, brass powder flask, holy water, Gothic Bible, wooden mallet, stake, brass candlesticks, rosary beads and Metropolitan police paperwork from the period.”

Very comprehensive!

Vampires have long been a character in European folklore and two books only made them seem more real – John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).

“The task of killing a vampire was extremely serious and historical accounts suggested the need for particular methods and tools. Items of religious significance, such as crucifixes and Bibles, were said to repel these monsters, hence their presence in the kit,” Hanson said.

So, who bought it?

Sadly, we only know the new owner of the kit is from Derbyshire and they did not wish to be named.

The owner said: “I was stunned and delighted by the result. It’s a fascinating item, a conversation piece. I came across it in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, fairly recently. I liked it for its novelty and historical value. Interestingly, Lord Hailey has a memorial tablet in London’s Westminster Abbey which pays warm tribute to him.”

Maybe you will run across them if you walk around at night in Derbyshire – but you probably don’t want to run across someone so well-armed in the forest at night.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Mysterious vampire-slaying kit – owned by peer of the realm – stuns at auction” — Hansons