Image of Groves Terrace, looking up the front path to the door.

Midnight Alarm


A Midnight Alarm at Grove Terrace, July 1842.

Reported in the Yorkshire Herald and the Yorkshire Gazette on 2 July 1842.

Mrs Stead, in bed, at Number 5, awoke.

A noise? Burglars next door at Number 4?

It’s dark and nearly 2(am), what should I do?

Who to call? Ah, Mr Hall

Put on her robe and knocked at Six.

Out comes Hall with gun and sticks.

Young Reverend Payton, Number Seven,

Awoken from his dreams of heaven                  

Knocked the wall of Number Eight.

The Reverend tried to shout, and Mr Harvey hurried out

So Numbers 5, 6, 7 and 8, all went along and through the gate,

At Number 4, up the path to knock the door.

Found Tommy Barker in the privy, who the gun espied

“ Oh, innocence, innocence” he cried

“We really are not burglaring,

It’s just a sort of sweet-hearting”.

Servant Martha then confessed

It was her beau, called Johnny Dunn

Who’d climbed right up,

And through the garret window come.

Her sister Sarah, sleeping there,

Found him and brought him down the stair.

But Hall & Harvey said “a likely tale.”

“Off to the police and into jail”

Away they marched up Lowther Street

Said Harvey, “Run and I will shoot”,

Johnny Dunn did run, and by heck,

Harvey shot him in the neck.

Next day the lads in court, quite frantic

Confessed their stupid late-night antic.

Those present were amazed to hear

The dour old magistrates declare

There’s been no crime, there’ll be no fine

“Eeh, it were only a bit of sweet-hearting!”

So, that was a tale of neighbourhood watch at Grove Terrace in July 1842. Mr Harvey was also charged with shooting at the defendant but was let off. The families at 1, 2, 3 and 9 to 12 were probably quite cross to know they’d slept right through all the drama at No 4. The householder at No 4, Mrs Grace Hutchinson, was perhaps away from home.

Composed by Ros Batchelor for a Groves Story-telling Walk, September 2021


Mrs Ellen Stead born 1793 was 48 in 1841. She died in December 1868, aged 75. On 2 July 1842, Mrs Stead had probably only recently moved in at No 5. The previous occupants, editor of The Yorkshireman, Robert Pierce and family, had moved to London in March that year.  An auction at the house of their furniture and other goods had been advertised in the Gazette.

Mrs Stead was in the news again in late August 1842 when a servant “only appointed a month previously” was found guilty of stealing from her.Rev Peyton died in 1844 aged only 31. Charles Hall died in April 1850, aged only 42.

Yorkshire Gazette 02 July 1842

Image of page from Yorkshire Gazette 02 July 1842
Image of page from Yorkshire Gazette 02 July 1842.

York Herald 27 August 1842

Image of page from York Herald 27 August 1842.

Yorkshire Gazette 22 October 1842

Image of page from Yorkshire Gazette 22 October 1842

After Ellen Stead died in December 1868, there was an auction at the house of all her effects, which gives a wonderful picture of a Victorian household.

York Herald 16 January 1869

Image of page from York Herald 16 January 1869.
Image of page from York Herald 16 January 1869.

Be the first to leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *