For much of the 19th century, Spitalfields was a magnet to a large transient population, members of which came from far and wide.
Although many of the people who drifted into the area were, to a large extent, law-abiding, it cannot be denied that there was a large percentage of the criminally inclined amongst them.
Drunkenness and violence were commonplace, and, for the police officers whose job it was to enforce law and order in the enclave, numerous dangers lay in wait.
On Saturday the 1st of November, 1856, a constable intervened in a street fight with dreadful consequences:-
A SERIOUS AFFRAY IN SPITALFIELDS
On Saturday night, at a late hour, there was a quarrel and fight in Commercial-street, Spitalfields, among some of the disbanded soldiers of the Anglo-German Legion.
An Englishman, named Henry Mole, of No. 2, Crown Court, Spitalfields interfered, with the intention of preventing mischief, when one of the Germans, who was intoxicated, cut him with a knife, inflicting a terrible gash, extending from the the bottom of the face.
POLICE CONSTABLE WARENER STABBED
Mole fell weltering in his blood, and directly afterwards a young police constable, named Josiah Warner, No. 33 H, who has only been the force a few weeks, came and made an attempt to arrest the assailant.
The German immediately stabbed the constable on the left side of the breast, and then inflicted another wound on his thigh. The policeman exclaimed that he was murdered, and fell.
A RUSH AT THE SOLDIER
Several bystanders and three or four police constables made a rush at the German soldier, and after a severe struggle he was secured, and conveyed to the Chapel Yard station in Spitalfields.
The wounded men were conveyed to the London Hospital, where their wounds were dressed.
IN A WEAK STATE
Inspector Weakford, of the H division, went to the hospital the next morning to inquire after the patients, and upon going to the bedside of Warner found him in a very weak condition.
The inspector put a question to the constable, which he answered in a faint tone, when the house surgeon forbade all further conversation, and pronounced the constable to be in a most precarious condition.
The weapon with which the wounds were inflicted was a long dagger knife, opening and shutting with a spring.
The name of the German who inflicted the wound is Lewis Theiss. He is little man, and would have been no match for either of his suffering victims if he had not been armed with a knife.
AN UPDATE FROM THE HOSPITAL
Later in the evening, on making inquiries at the hospital it was ascertained that both men were in a very dangerous state, and very little hopes are entertained of the constable recovering.
He lost an immense quantity of blood. His boots were full, and there was a large pool of blood in the street where he fell.
DISBANDED SOLDIERS A PROBLEM
There are great numbers of the Anglo-German Legion, lately disbanded, moving about Whitechapel and Spitalfields.
They have given the police a good deal of trouble, and their conduct is anything but what it ought to be.
OUTSIDE THE POLICE STATION
At eleven o’clock on the 7th of November, 1856, there were nearly 1,000 persons collected in front or the police station of the H division, Spital Square, waiting to catch a glimpse of the prisoner as he left that place for Worship-street Police Court.
When he was brought out he was strongly handcuffed.