Onions are a serious business

Think we’re joking? Read on, dear friend…

After a good chuckle at our latest additions to ‘Onions’ (the Tumblr page for GBO&D), this will either sober you up or have you self-combusting in astonishment à la Krook (Bleak House. If you haven’t read it yet, DO, otherwise a good deal of our jabberings on here will make no sense to you…).

On 7th April 1874, one John Walker appeared before Bedford Magistrates Court, charged with stealing onions from his previous employer, a Robert Cooper, who had sacked him the day before.

Cooper testified that he had observed Walker surreptitiously assembling two bushels’ worth* of that noble vegetable from his fields. Following the thief as he headed for home, Cooper tackled him to the ground, repossessed the onions, and made a report to PC Newton at the local police station.

PC took to the witness box and explained that upon executing a raid of the accused’s home, watched by poor Mrs Walker, he uncovered a further bushel’s worth of onions, which appeared to be of the same variety as Cooper’s crops.

Keen to make an example of Walker, whose punishments for 13 previous crimes did not appear to have reformed him from his veggie-nabbing ways (shock! horror!), the judge sentenced him to 7 YEARS IN PRISON!!!

(Does this ring any bells? Can anyone think of a Frenchman condemned to 19 years’ hard labour (5 years for what he did, the rest because he tried to run) ‘just for stealing a mouthful of breeead’?)

Following a photo shoot at Queen Victoria’s studios, Walker was escorted to Pentonville Prison on 19th May 1974.

Here endeth this sad tale. Let it be a lesson to us all.

* ‘bushel’ – er, what? Fear not, the wise ladies and gentlemen over at Wikipedia helpfully clarify that a bushel is equal to 4 pecks (umm, pardon?!), 8 gallons, or approx. 36 LITRES OF ONIONS. Here at Gin & Onions base camp we don’t go in for buying our onions by the litre, but suffice to say… that sounds like A LOT OF ONIONS TO NICK. Tut tut tut…

John Walker onion stealer