1896: Wealthy bachelor Ed Sheeran found gassed


In 1896 New York papers reported that Edward Sheeran had been found dead, suffocated by gas. Sheeran, a wealthy bachelor, owned a house in Brooklyn, which he shared with his sister, Sarah, and her husband, Michael Sheehan. Late on the morning of October 4th, Sheeran’s sister went to his bedroom to rouse him. She found the door locked and noticed a distinctive smell of gas. Another relative was summoned to force Sheeran’s bedroom window:

“On the floor was the body of Edward, while the gas was pouring from the burner, which was turned on. The body was lying face downward, and in the dead man’s hand was his trousers.”

The coroner arrived to inspect the scene and speak to witnesses. Believing he may have turned the gas on intentionally, the coroner ordered that Sheeran’s brother-in-law be taken into custody. There is no record of Michael Sheehan ever being charged or tried, however, so it seems that Ed Sheeran’s sad demise – gassed to death while clutching his trousers – was a tragic accident.

Source: New York Tribune, October 5th 1896. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

1862: Paul Keating jailed for voting as Ronald McDonald


In August 1861 a Ballarat man, who shared his name with a future Australian prime minister, was charged and remanded in custody for voter fraud. During a general election for the Victorian parliament, witnesses saw Paul Keating attempt to cast two votes using false names – including another famous name from the future:

keatingmcdonald

Problems with identification and record-keeping made personation (the criminal act of voting illegally under someone else’s name) an occasional problem in 19th century elections. When discovered it was dealt with harshly by the courts. After a lengthy investigation by the police and the Victorian colonial government, Keating was convicted in April 1862 and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. On release from prison he went into gold mining in Ballarat, though his subsequent fate is unknown. The 20th century Paul Keating was elected to the Australian parliament in 1969, later serving as treasurer (1983-91) and prime minister (1991-96).

Source: The Star (Ballarat), August 14th 1861; April 16th 1862. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.