Sort file:- Brompton, July, 2021.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 20 July, 2021.


Earliest 1818-

Duke of York

Latest 1911

9 (55) Westcourt Street

Old Brompton

Brompton map

Above map, date unknown, showing the following pub locations:-

1:- "King’s Arms"

2:- "Army and Navy"

3:- "Royal Marine"

4:- "King’s Head"

5:- "Grasshopper"

6:- "Dockyard Arms"

7:- "Dolphin"

8:- "Two Sawyers"

9:- "Bricklayer's Arms"

A:- "Golden Lion"

B:- "Navy Arms"

C:- "Prince of Wales"

D:- "Good Intent"

E:- "Duke of York"

F:- "Shipwright's Arms"


Freemans Journal 27 October 1818, kindly submitted by Louise.

For a week past the water in the well of the "Duke of York" public house at Brompton, Kent has been affected with so nauseous smell and taste that it became unfit to use.

The servant, when drawing, found something hindered the bucket from filling; the impediment was supposed to be the lid of the well which had fallen in, and which was also thought to have communicated the offensive qualities to the water.

The girl, however, lately thought that she perceived something like a body and on moving the rope backwards and forwards to fill the bucket, she found pieces of skin and animal substance adhering to it when it was drawn up; and within the last few days the smell at the mouth of the well had become so exceedingly offensive that no one would go near it.

On Saturday morning the circumstance having become a matter of conversation among some soldiers who were drinking at the "Duke of York," one of them offered for a trifling reward, to go down the well, which is of great depth, and clear it of its impurity. He was accordingly lowered down, but before he arrived at the bottom he was almost overpowered by the foetid effluvia and called out to the men who were lowering him to stop. Having waited a few seconds and recovered himself he proceeded until the bucket touched the water, when leaning over its side he, with infinite horror and dismay, discovered a naked human body floating on its back. To be certain, he took hold of the hair, and when the body rolled over, and the hair and scalp became detached from the skull and remained in his hand. Terrified in the extreme, and almost reduced to insensibility at the horrid sight, he called to the men on the brink of the well to draw him up.

One of his comrades then went down with a sheet, and having folded it round the dead body, it was drawn up; the soldier, however, nearly fell a sacrifice to his exertions, he was so affected by the foul air, that he lost his senses just as he came within reach of his bystanders, who caught hold of him, and prevented him falling headlong into the well. The body proved to be that of a woman about 37 years old, named Donnelly, the wife of a soldier lately discharged from the 98th regiment. She was far advanced in pregnancy, and being completely naked, it was immediately suspected that she had been murdered.


A coroner's jury was summonsed and an inquisition taken at 12 o'clock on Saturday last which continued investigating this mysterious affair until 7 at night, when the evidence taken was read by the Coroner, and the jury not agreeing unanimously in their verdict, an adjournment took place till 1 o'clock on Monday; fresh evidence having been obtained, they continued their investigation until 5 o'clock in the evening.

The following particulars came out:-

In the early part of September the 98th to which the husband of the deceased belonged arrived from Halifax. Donnelly was then quartered at the "Duke of York" at Brompton accompanied by his wife and two children, and was lodged in a room at the back of the house, the window of which is about 5 feet from the well in which the deceased person was found. The unfortunate woman was about 12 years older than Donnelly; she was very much attached to him; but was extremely jealous, and frequently evinced that passion when he casually spoke to another female; their quarrels consequently were frequent, and at times particularly violent.

On the night of 17th September, they quarrelled, and from violent words proceeded to blows, their conduct became desperate; Donnelly forced his wife towards the well and threatened to throw her into it; her screams brought persons to her assistance, and she was released from his violent efforts to force her towards the wells mouth.

The whole of that night however, she lay in the open air, with her head resting on the stone steps leading into the public house, where she was found next morning, with her clothes wet through with dew and rain. She was advised to go to her apartment and change her apparel, which she did after some time, and in the course of the day she became reconciled to her husband. On the following Saturday night she was in the clubroom at the "Duke of York" in apparent health and spirits, after that time she was not seen by anyone in the house.

On Sunday morning 20th September, Donnelly came down from his apartment and sat in the tap room with his two children, but without his wife; inquiries were made after her, and he said that she had on the preceding night on a visit to her friends; he did not know when she would return; that she had taken 3 with her to defray her expenses. To other inquiries he said that she was gone off with another man.

A female who went into his apartment on the day after Donnellys wife disappeared stated that she found everything in the room in the greatest disorder; the clothes of the deceased were scattered about in all directions and she observed marks of blood on the bed linen. Yet with all these strong evidences of guilt together with his violent conduct towards the deceased on the Thursday preceding, no suspicion appears to have been of the murder until Saturday last, after the body had been lying in the well for more than a month.

Donnelly remained at the "Duke of York" after the deceased was missing for more than a fortnight and frequently conversed about his absent wife without betraying the least emotion or confusion at the time. He said she was gone off with a fellow and would not trouble him again, and since that period he has cohabited with another woman.

The coroner summed up the evidence to the jury; he was glad they adjourned, because more evidence of great importance had been adduced and from that, and the evidence taken on the first day they assembled, he had no doubt that they would be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion upon the subject.

The jury, without hesitation, returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against William Donnelly, the husband of the deceased, and a warrant has since been issued for his apprehension and committal to the County Gaol.


Chatham News, Saturday 16 July 1870.

Conviction of beer housekeepers.

William Benster, landlord of the "Duke of York" public House, Westcourt Street, Old Brompton, was summoned for having his house opened during unlawful hours on Sunday, 12th June.

Mr. H. Stevenson appeared for the defendant.

There was not sufficient evidence, and the case was dismissed.


Local knowledge, further pictures, and licensee information would be appreciated.

I will be adding the historical information when I find or are sent it, but this project is a very big one, and I do not know when or where the information will come from.

All emails are answered.



GARDNER John 1828-32+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34


WHITE George 1858+ Melville's 1858

WHITE Mrs Ann 1862+ Post Office Directory 1862

BENSTER William 1870+ Chatham News

SMITH Nathan 1881+ (age 32 in 1881Census)

WADDLE Alfred 1891+ (age 25 in 1891Census)

SEMMENCE Aroldo Silvo 1903+ Kelly's 1903

ELKINGTON George 1911+ (age 41 in 1911Census)


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Melville's 1858From Melville's Directory 1858

Post Office Directory 1862From the Post Office Directory 1862


Chatham NewsChatham News

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-