Posted by: Christine | March 20, 2013

Speeding at the Great Exhibition

In my last post I said I would write more about Robert Madder. 

In 1851 he was working as a groom. In the census he was in the household of Eliza Tyrwitt at Heath Lodge, Englefield Green (now the Savill Court Hotel) in Windsor Great Park. (This makes sense as Robert’s family lived in New Windsor.) Eliza was the widow of Sir Thomas John Tyrwhitt-Jones, 2nd Baronet Tyrwhitt-Jones, of Stanley Hall, Shropshire. Living with her was her daughter, Leila and son-in-law, Hylton Jolliffe. Hylton was a Captain in the Coldstream Guards. Robert was perhaps Captain Jolliffe’s groom, as only a few weeks later he was working for another Guards Captain, who appeared in the newspapers.

1851 was the year of the Great Exhibition, held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park London. In early May, Captain Paulet Henry Somerset, of the Coldstream Guards was arrested and charged:
 “with having horsewhipped Police Constable Griffin, one of the constables stationed at the Great Exhibition”.

Trial of Captain Somerset in Reynolds Newspaper 18 May 1851

Trial of Captain Somerset in Reynolds Newspaper 18 May 1851

Identical reports appear in many newspapers. This report  is from Reynolds Newspaper, found on the British Newspaper Archive website, although it can also be found in the Times Digital Archive (free in most libraries).

According to the reports Captain Somerset was driving his carriage along a road that had been closed. The constable tried to stop him and was hit with the whip. Robert Madder gave evidence that:
“His master’s horses were trotting not galloping, when the policeman laid hold of the reins. Before that his master had called out he was not going to the Exhibition”

Somerset was found guilty and sentenced to 10 days in the House of Correction. Obviously thinking they would not send a gentleman to prison, he offered to pay a fine, but it was refused. “Captain Somerset was then removed to the lock-up cells, evidently in a state of most uncomfortable bewilderment”.

This case caused much interest around the world. By November 1st, there was a report in the Otago Witness  in New Zealand, which gives more on the aftermath of the court case. 

Captain Somerset in prison - reported in the Otago Witness 1 Nov 1851

Captain Somerset in prison – reported in the Otago Witness 1 Nov 1851

American journalist George Wilkes commented on the case
(from Passionate Pilgrims: The American Traveler in Great Britain, 1800-1914 By Allison Lockwood – found on Google Books)

American reaction to the case

American reaction to the case

Did Robert Madder keep his job? Nothing more is known about him until 1855.

Captain Somerset was not obliged to leave his Regiment and went on to serve as an aide-de-camp to his uncle, Lord Raglan, during the Crimean War. Captain Jolliffe also served there but died on 4 October 1854 at age 28, from cholera.


  1. […] who I think he is, was Samuel’s grandson! Yes, I’m back researching that same family. Robert, the groom/gentleman’s servant who died of TB and Amelia, the gentleman’s mistress, […]

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