To mark Bonfire Night in a somewhat macabre way, here’s a cheery tale from the Western Mail of 5 November 1895 (accessed via the wonderful Welsh Newspapers Online site).

Man throws baby onto fire


You can understand why Mrs Vaughan may have wanted to divorce her husband, can’t you?

Wilhemina's divorce petition, from Ancestry

Wilhemina’s divorce petition, from Ancestry

William Thomas Vaughan married  Johanna Friedricke Wilhemina Lehmann in Usk in 1884. He was 27 at the time, and she was 23. Wilhelmina, as she was known, had been born in Germany but settled down to life in the Old Port area of Brecon, where she took on new work as a dressmaker, now that, as a married woman, she could not continue working as a lady’s maid.

Their two children were Otto William, born in 1885, and Friedricke Maria, born in 1886. Whether it was Otto or Frederika who ended up on the fire is not recorded, but at least the unfortunate baby survived.

And there was a happy ending for poor Wilhelmina after her divorce. Although in 1901 she was living in the same street in Brecon where she had been ten years earlier, she was now married to Frederick Harrison, an American four years her junior (they married in Brecon in 1896). She was working as a costumier, and had her daughter Friedricke still living at home – son Otto was now living in Maesteg where he was a grocer’s apprentice.

William Vaughan’s fortunes remain unknown; he is harder to track than his former wife. One hopes, though, that he never tried to throw a baby onto the fire again…