Pulling A Policeman’s Nose

On Saturday the 20th September, 1890, The Illustrated Police News, published an article which demonstrates some of the dangers that the Victorian Police encountered on the streets of the 19th-century metropolis:-


A stylishly woman, named Nelly Harrison, described as a manageress, residing in Rupert Street, Soho, was charged at Marlborough Street, Police Court, on Wednesday, with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting the police.

Constable  Lewenden, 24 CR, said that at about half-past one on that morning, he was near the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square, and he saw the accused, who was accompanied by other females and two men, leave a restaurant that was close by. They were all drunk.

There were three gentlemen who were waiting outside, each of whom had a cab waiting for him, and some altercation took place between the parties.


He was looking on, when the prisoner proceeded to come up to him up and demanded with an oath what he meant by watching her house. He denied that he was watching the house, but she continued to rave and abuse him, and, finally, she seized him by the nose, saying she would pull it off his face.

He thereupon tried to arrest her, and, as she was very violent, Constable Lewis, 7 CR, came to his an assistance, and each took hold of an arm.

After a short while, she promised to walk to the station quietly, and so they released her arms, whereupon she seized Lewis by the whiskers and proceeded to tug at them.


A third constable then arrived and tried to make her let go, but she would not, and, eventually, she tore out a handful of hair.

She shouted, screamed, yelled, howled, and kicked, nearly throwing herself down, and behaving generally like a mad woman.

In cross-examination by Mr. Leslie, who defended the prisoner, the constable said that he knew the woman as being engaged in the bar at the restaurant in question, but he did not know her position there. He had not spoken to her previous to the assault, but he had looked into the house, as something peculiar appeared to be going on, and it was after closing time.

His nose was not injured in any way.

Illustrations showing the woman assaulting the police.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, September 20th, 1890. Copyright, the British Library Board.


Police Constable Lewis corroborated the evidence given by his colleague, and said that that morning the woman had told him outside the court that she would have the remainder of his whiskers, even if it cost £100.

The Magistrate:- “You are, fortunately, well furnished with them.”

The Witness:-  “Yes, sir, but after this, I think I shall have to shave them off.” (Laughter.)

The prisoner, on the way to the station, shouted, “I am mad, I am mad!”


Mr. Leslie, in defence, said that, owing to domestic trouble, his client was labouring under great excitement and, after coming out of her house, she had walked up and down the pavement, talking to her friends.

She was not drunk; but, as she told the policeman, she was nearly mad, and he ventured to think that she had received ample punishment by the bruises she had on her arms, owing to her resistance to the police.

She was the wife of a member of the legal profession, and, her husband having molested her, she was taking the advice of friends at the time that the dispute with the police occurred.

Mr. Hannay remarked that that was no answer to the charge of being violently drunk., She must pay a fine of forty shillings.”