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Man saves elderly woman after she is flung from horse carriage into the Thames

Year 1829, J.A. Clarke

Read by Matilda Okuyiga – Ambassador, Royal Humane Society

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November 17, 1829

Copy of a Letter addressed by J.Clarke, Esq. to Benjamin Hawes, Treasurer of the Royal humane Society.

Battersea Rise.

Dear Sir,

I beg to hand you, as Treasurer of the Humane Society, a statement of a most wonderful escape from a watery grave of one dear to me. An honorary reward to Mr. George Keen, of Fore Street, Lambeth, will accord with my wishes, in gratitude to him for his very great exertions, at the risk of his own life.

Your sincere Friend, And obedient humble Servant.


Extract from the Times Newspaper, 16th October, 1829.

Yesterday afternoon, as the groom of J.A.Clarke, Esq. Banker, residing at Battersea, was driving the wife of that gentleman, and a female attendant, in a low phaeton (carriage), the animal took fright near the Ship public-house, Lambeth- stairs, in consequence of the groom attempting to turn him round, it being impossible to pass along, owing to the over-flowing of the tide; and after plunging violently, ran down Brenan’s drawing-dock into the Thames, to the indescribable consternation of all present, the destruction of Mrs. Clarke, an elderly lady, appearing inevitable. The groom was thrown from his seat into the water, and the phaeton passed over him. He with much difficulty saved himself from drowning, but was not much hurt by the vehicle. The female attendant, as the horse was making his way into the river, caught hold of the boat-house of Mr. Moore, and disengaged herself from the carriage. She, however, could not maintain her position; and on dropping into the water a young man of the name of Read, who had only a few seconds previously been knocked down in his attempts to stop the animal, took her in his arms, and conveyed her into the Ship. All exertions to prevent the horse going into deep water, with Mrs. Clarke in the vehicle, proved unavailing; and the scene at this period was truly distressing; the phaeton being almost entirely under water, and only the head of the unfortunate lady to be seen. At this critical moment, Mr. Keen jumped into the dock, and caught the lady round the waist. They were up to their necks in water for a short time; but by the assistance of a man of the name Wood, they got ashore.

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