Lordship Road, London, N16. Photo ©RogerDean 2016
The Times – 18 June, 1897:
At CLERKENWELL, JOHN GOODEY, aged 17, a beer bottler, MICHAEL REED, 16, a capsule-maker WILLIAM SPIERS, 16, a bookbinder, and GEORGE ROBERT ROBSON, 17, a van-guard, were brought up and charged on remand before Mr. Horace Smith at Clerkenwell with riotous conduct and with disturbing the public peace at Margaret-street, Clerkenwell. Goodey and Robson were further charged with causing the death of Margaret Jane Smith, aged 12, by shooting her in the head of the 3rd inst. ELIZA WALTERS, aged 15, a factory girl, and JAMES BEAUMONT, 15, a machine boy, who were arrested and brought before the magistrate after the other prisoners were charged, were also charged on remand with riotous conduct and with being concerned in causing the death of the girl. Mr. Ricketts, solicitor, defended Spiers. Mr. Byron prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury, and said that the facts of the case disclosed a most extraordinary state of affairs in Clerkenwell, especially in the neighbourhood of Margaret-street. For some months past the streets in this part of London had been infested by two opposing gangs of young roughs, known as the “Chapel-street gang” and the “Lion gang.” Since last Christmas there had been three pitched battles between these gangs, the lads fighting with sticks, belts, &c. Sometimes there would be girls in the gangs. Some of the boys in the Chapel-street faction were known to have possessed pistols and revolvers, which they fired at doors and other objects after the fights were over. On June 3, after the third fight, Robson, who was known as “Baker,” fired a revolver in the direction of some of the lads in the “Lion gang.” The unfortunate girl Smith, the daughter of a cabdriver, who was crossing Margaret-street at the moment, was shot in the head and died soon afterwards. The prisoner Eliza Walters, who was standing near Robson, cried out, “Fire, Baker,” just before the shot was fired. The lad Spiers, when arrested, had a document in his possession, written in pencil, which was apparently a form of challenge to his gang from the “Lion gang.” Fights had taken place between the girls of the opposing factions as well as between the boys. Alfred Smith, a van-guard of Wilmington-street, Clerkenwell, said he knew the deceased girl Smith, but was no relation of hers. He saw the shot fired, and heard Walters say, “Fire, Baker.” Some of the lads in Robson’s gang also cried out “Fire” before the girl was shot. He say a boy named Steadman, a member of the other gang, some distance down Margaret-street at the time. The “Lion gang” were in the habit of congregating outside the Lion and Lamb publichouse, in Margaret-street. Beaumont was a spy who used to bring intelligence to his comrades of the movements of the other gang. Cross-examined, the witness said he was a member of the “Lion gang,” but had never taken any part in the fights. Further questioned, he said he only fought with his fists – “any one who interfered with him, he had a whack at ’em back.” He did not see Spiers in Margaret-street when the girl Smith was shot. The prisoners were again remanded.