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UCSB LIBRARY 



SURVIVORS' TALES OF FAMOUS 
GRIMES 



SURVIVORS' TALES 
OF FAMOUS GRIMES 



EDITED BY 

WALTER WOOD 

Author of "Survivors' Tales of Great Events," "Soldiers' 
Stories of the War," " Men of the North Sea," etc. 



With Eight Plates 




First published 1916. 



INTRODUCTION 

MANY volumes are in existence which deal 
entirely with records of crime, but I believe 
that none amongst them is composed solely of 
narratives related by persons who were actually 
associated with famous criminal cases. 

Personal records have a peculiar fascination 
and interest, because they bring us into intimate 
touch with the subject dealt with ; and such 
stories have an added attraction when they relate 
to murder mysteries, for they involve the most 
violent passions of human nature love, hatred, 
lust, and greed of gold. 

These narratives illustrate the working and 
effects of such emotions. They are concrete, and 
may be fully relied upon as accurate accounts of 
the cases dealt with, because I made myself 
responsible, when necessary, for verifying state- 
ments which were made on the strength of time- 
dimmed memories. The occasional uncertainties 
which were met with related mostly to dates; as 
for general facts and impressions, I discovered 
that each case was indelibly stamped upon the 



vi Introduction 

mind of the particular informant interrogated. 
Nevertheless, to assure accuracy in detail, each 
completed story was submitted to the teller for 
approval. In several instances a tale was told to 
me either on the scene of the crime or in some 
room which was closely connected with the 
event, so that one became linked as intimately 
as it was possible to be with the atmosphere of 
the case. 

I have had no wish to dwell on horrors, or 
to pander to any morbid taste. I desired to 
give a collection of stories which should be very 
human documents and also remind us that grim 
and stealthy deeds are inseparable from our daily 
life. I believe that I have been able to secure 
many interesting little sidelights on the character 
and acts of notorious evildoers which have not 
been previously published. 

Much patient and willing help has been 
given to me by my informants, and I gladly 
acknowledge it; while I am under very special 
obligations to Dr. George Fletcher, J.P., for 
putting at my disposal much of his unique and 
unrivalled material relating to the Palmer and 
Tichborne cases. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER 1'AGE 

1. THE MOAT FARM MURDER .... 1 

2. HENRY WAINWRIGHT'S CRIME ... 22 

3. THE SHAM BARONET ..... 43 

4. THE PENGE MYSTERY .... 66 

5. KATE WEBSTER'S REVENGE ... 83 

6. THE MASTER CRIMINAL .- . . .102 

7. THE BRIGHTON RAILWAY MURDER . . 118 

8. PALMER'S POISONINGS v . .. . 135 

9. THE SOUTHEND MURDER . . . . 160 

10. THE READING BABY-FARMER . , . 174 

11. THE MYSTERY OF YARMOUTH BEACH . .191 

12. THE ARDLAMONT RIDDLE .... 208 

13. THE NEWCASTLE TRAIN MURDER . .226 

14. THE LAMSON CASE ..... 246 

15. CRIPPEN'S CALLOUS CRIME .... 262 

16. SEDDON'S GREED OF GOLD. . . . 283 

17. THE HOODED MAN ..... 303 

18. THE VAUXHALL TRAIN TRAGEDY . . 322 

19. THE TOTTENHAM OUTRAGE . . 337 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

WAIN WRIGHT RELICS IN THE BLACK MUSEUM . 40 
THE INQUEST ON HARRIET STAUNTON . . 80 

THE SHREWSBURY ARMS HOTEL, SHREWSBURY, 

WHERE COOK DIED ..... 152 

THE MOAT FARM MURDER : TRENCH WHERE THE 

BODY WAS FOUND . . . . . 172 

PLAN OF THE GROUNDS OF ARDLAMONT : WHERE 

THE BODY WAS FOUND , . . . 212 

THE NEWCASTLE MURDER : THE COLLIERY SHAFT 

WHERE THE STOLEN BAG WAS FOUND . 240 

ONE OF LAMSON'S PRESCRIPTIONS . . . 248 
"DR." HAWLEY CRIPPEN : ETHEL " LE NEVE " 276 



SURVIVORS' TALES OF 
FAMOUS CRIMES 

CHAPTER I 

THE MOAT FARM MURDER 

[A FORGER who was dramatically arrested at the 
Bank of England was found to be a murderer 
also. This felon was Samuel Herbert Dougal, a 
man of undoubted ability, who had served in the 
Army for twenty years and had reached the 
rank of sergeant. He lost his position through 
forgery, and was sent to prison. Afterwards he 
lived by his wits, and proved to be a callous 
libertine and an unscrupulous villain. A well- 
to-do lady named Miss Camille Cecile Holland 
became infatuated with him, and as Mr. and 
Mrs. Dougal they went to live at the lonely 
Moat Farm in the heart of Essex. Miss Holland 
vanished, and not until four years later were her 
remains found in a ditch at the farm. It was 
proved that Dougal had murdered Miss Holland, 



Famous Crimes 

and he was hanged at Chelmsford Prison on 
July 23, 1903. Before going to live at Moat 
Farm, Dougal and Miss Holland resided with 
Mrs. Wisken, a widow and well-known inhabit- 
ant at Saffron Walden. Mrs. Wisken became 
the principal witness for the Crown, and this is 
her story of the famous crime.] 

It was in this very room where we are talk- 
ing that Dougal and Miss Holland, as man and 
wife, spent a good deal of their time when they 
were living with me. 

At this very place where I am sitting I put 
a fur cape, which I will show you, on Miss 
Holland, and here, with tears in her eyes, she 
said " Good-bye " for what proved to be the last 
time. She was driven away in a trap by a man 
we called " Old Pilgrim " to the Moat Farm 
with Dougal, and I never saw her again till four 
years later, when I was taken to do my share in 
identifying her and to send to the gallows one 
of the biggest scoundrels that ever lived. Ah ! 
If I had but known then what he really was and 
what he must have had in his mind to do, 
Miss Holland, one of the sweetest, kindest, and 
gentlest of women, would not have gone ; I 
should not have let her leave me, and she might 
have been alive to-day. But I had not the 

2 



The Moat Farm Murder 

slightest suspicion that there was anything amiss 
all the time three months they were with me 
and, of course, I had not the remotest idea that 
they were not married. To me they came as 
Mr. and Mrs. Dougal, and as such they drove 
away to live at the Moat Farm, seven miles 
from here. 

The Moat Farm is a very quaint old place, 
dating from the time of Elizabeth, and as lonely 
a building as you will come across in a day's 
walk. It was an extraordinary place great 
changes have been made since the murder was 
done and the house was full of all sorts of odd 
corners and nooks and queer rooms and recesses. 
I have known it well all my life, and my dear 
father and grandfather knew it well, too, for 
they had often done work at it. You could 
weave many mysteries and romances around the 
farm, where plenty of strange things were lying 
about, amongst them a grinning skull, which was 
used as a candlestick. 

The house and garden were on a perfect little 
island. They occupied about half an acre, and 
were completely surrounded by a wide moat, 
which was about five feet deep. This moat 
was supplied with water from springs, and 
was crossed by a bridge leading to the house. 
Sometimes the water, in which there was fish, 

3 



Famous Crimes 

flowed very quickly when the discharges from the 
springs were heavy. 

In addition to the moat there was a ditch in 
front of the house, or, rather, a drain, because 
all the drainage of the farm went into it. At 
the time I am speaking of the ditch was being 
filled up, and " Old Pilgrim " and one or two 
more men were doing the work. We shall come 
to that dreadful ditch again by and by. 

Dougal had been negotiating for the purchase 
of the farm, and had made inquiries about 
rooms. Miss Parnell, a relative of the lady from 
whom Dougal bought the farm, knew me and 
recommended me, and he came and arranged 
that "Mrs. " Dougal and himself should live 
here until the farm was ready. 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon of 
January 26th, 1899, just as darkness was setting 
in, that they came to my house. Miss Holland, 
as I shall call her, had travelled a great deal, 
and she brought a lot of luggage and clothing 
with her. Dougal and she used this room as a 
dining- and sitting-room. They had a bedroom 
upstairs. 

Dougal was a big, fine man, five feet ten 
and a half inches high and weighing sixteen 
stone but he had shrunk to twelve when they 
hanged him. He was remarkably pleasant 

4 



The Moat Farm Murder 

spoken, and often enough he would come down 
in the cold winter mornings and warm his hands 
at the fire there and chat away as I did my 
duties ; and often enough, too, he would go to 
the window and talk to a canary which I had in 
a cage at the time. Yes, as pleasant as you 
like. Sometimes he would take Miss Holland's 
breakfast upstairs, and she would have it in bed, 
and then take her bath and dress and come 
down. She had been used to a good deal of 
society, and I loved to listen to her talk. She 
had had a love affair earlier in her life, and she 
told me all about it. The lover had been 
drowned, but an engraved amethyst ring of his 
had been washed ashore and picked up, and this 
she constantly wore next to her wedding ring. 
She once allowed me to put the lover's ring on 
my own finger. It was a splendid ring of very 
thick gold. I think she was pleased to let me 
have it on, because, you see, I saw a great deal 
of her, and she used to call me " Mother, dear," 
and say that when she was settled at the Moat 
Farm she would want me to go and live there 
and take charge of the place for her. But that 
was never to be. 

The name of Miss Holland was mentioned 
very soon after the pair came to live with me. 
Dougal said that if a letter addressed to Miss 

5 



Famous Grimes 

Holland came to the house, he wanted me to 
take it in, saying to me that it would be all 
right. The following day a letter did come, and 
I put it under the door of the bedroom, never 
supposing that anything was wrong. Several 
other letters came addressed to Miss Holland, 
and I always let the lady have them, as they had 
to do with her money. I naturally thought she 
was keeping the money in her maiden name, as 
other letters were addressed to Mrs. Dougal. 

The days went slowly by, Dougal often 
going to London and the Moat Farm to con- 
clude arrangements for living there, Indoors, 
he was a temperate enough man, seldom taking 
more than a little whisky, and that chiefly with 
the late dinner which was provided for them. 
They say that he was a regular churchgoer, but 
I don't remember that he ever went to church 
while he was living with me. When the real 
truth was learned about him we knew that he 
spent a good deal of his time in the hotels and 
public-houses and in bad company. A villain, 
indeed, and a hypocrite he proved to me, and it 
seems that he must have murdered two or three 
women he had married before he met Miss 
Holland, 

Miss Holland had with her when she came to 
me a beautiful little spaniel called Jacko there 

6 



The Moat Farm Murder 

he is in the case behind you. She was devoted 
to the faithful animal, which, in his dumb way, 
gave some sort of inkling of what had happened 
at the Moat Farm, if we could only have under- 
stood things better at the time. But I will 
come to Jacko again by and by. 

All sorts of things crowd into my memory 
as I speak. I well remember Dougal coming 
home one night from London bringing with him 
two great eggs, which he took out of his overcoat 
pocket. 

"How do you like them, Mrs. Wisken?" 
he asked. " Do you think they were dear at 
five shillings each? They are goose eggs, prize 
ones, and when we get to the farm we shall 
have some very fine geese." 

I told him I thought the eggs seemed very 
dear. " But," I added, " I hope your five 
shillings will very soon be five pounds." 

Well, the day came w r hen the farm was ready 
for them, and they went to live in it. That 
was on April 27th, 1899. " Old Pilgrim " came 
for them with a pony and trap. Here is the 
fur cape I put on Miss Holland when she was 
leaving the house. She flung her arms round 
my neck and kissed me as she said : " Good- 
bye, Mrs. Wisken. I shall see you again in a 
fortnight or three weeks. Keep that material 

7 



Famous Grimes 

till I come ; then you shall change me a cheque 
and make me another dress." 

She was speaking of some stuff I had to 
make up I was trained as a dressmaker but I 
did not carry out her wish, for I never saw her 
again. I had, however, made certain things for 
her, and these largely helped me in identifying 
her long afterwards and bringing home his guilt 
to Dougal. 

Talking of cheques, I ought to say that it 
was Miss Holland's money which paid for every- 
thing she was worth, I think, about seven 
thousand pounds. Dougal seemed to have 
nothing. But there were no people here who 
would cash the cheques, naturally enough, not 
knowing the parties ; but it was all right when 
the cheques were made payable to me. 

More than 1,500 of Miss Holland's money 
had gone in buying the Moat Farm, where she 
and Dougal took up their residence after leaving 
me. Dougal still came into Walden and went 
to London, and Miss Holland busied herself in 
attending to the furnishing of the house and 
carrying out alterations. She meant, amongst 
other things, to have a bath put in, and the 
bath was sent to the farm, where I saw it long 
afterwards. Dougal himself did all sorts of 
things at the farm : paperhanging, painting, 

8 



The Moat Farm Murder 

whitewashing, and making beehives and a green- 
house. He was very handy in this way, having 
been so long in the Royal Engineers. 

One day, about sixteen months after Dougal 
and Miss Holland left me, Jacko suddenly 
turned up here, and, naturally enough, I and 
my daughters were delighted, because we thought 
we should see his dear mistress again. No 
mistress came, however, and I noticed that 
Jacko would not leave us. So we put our things 
on and went to the Common, quite expecting 
to see Miss Holland and Dougal ; but there were 
no signs of them, and Jacko insisted on going 
back home with us. I had him with me for 
three weeks ; then I wrote to the Moat Farm, 
to Miss Holland, explaining that I had the little 
dog with me, and asking what I should do with 
him. 

In answer to that letter Dougal wrote say- 
ing that I could turn Jacko out one dark night, 
and he would find his way home. Knowing how 
much his mistress valued him, and fearing he 
would get lost, I kept him on. A few days 
later Dougal came here to the side door, where 
not many people could see him, and not to the 
front door, which is more public. I was sur- 
prised at this, and asked him if he would not go 
to the front door; but he said that he would 

9 



Famous Grimes 

rather not, and that he was quite all right where 
he was. 

"Have you little Jacko still?" he asked. 

"Yes," I told him, 

"Will you let me have him?' ? 

Of course, I replied that I would, and 
Dougal entered the house and said to the 
spaniel : " Come along, Jacko. You have no 
business to run away from your mistress like 
this ! How much do I owe you, Mrs. 
Wisken?" 

I told him that he owed nothing at all ; 
but he put a shilling down and took Jacko 
away. After Dougal left I found that he 
had dropped a glove, and he came back for 
it, though I fancied that he was very unwilling 
to do so. 

I had done my best to learn something about 
Miss Holland what she was doing, how she 
liked the Moat Farm, and when I should 
be likely to see her again; but not a word 
could I get out of Dougal. He evaded 
every question, 

I never saw him again for nearly four years, 
and then he was driven past here in a fly, 
handcuffed, and in charge of police, who had 
brought him from Cambridge Prison, for by 
that time Dougal had been arrested on the 

10 



The Moat Farm Murder 

charge of forging Miss Holland's name a 
charge which before long was to be followed by 
that of the wilful murder of her. 

Then I knew that when Dougal came 
stealthily to the side door for Jacko, and refused 
to answer any question of mine about Miss 
Holland, he was a deliberate and cold-blooded 
assassin. 

Little by little, during a period of many 
weeks, the dreadful truth came out, and the 
story was this : For a week or so after leaving 
me Dougal and Miss Holland were at the Moat 
Farm, passing, of course, as man and \vife, as 
they were supposed to be. Then a servant went, 
and Dougal's conduct was such that the girl 
complained to her mistress, who was very angry 
with him and slept in the spare bedroom with 
her for protection. This was the night before 
the murder. Miss Holland was finding out how 
Dougal had deceived her. 

On May 19th, 1899, in the evening, Dougal 
drove Miss Holland away from the farm, and 
what happened was told by the servant. Miss 
Holland spoke to her in the kitchen, saying : 
"Good-bye, Florrie; I shan't be long." That 
was about half -past six. 

Dougal had put the horse in the trap, and 
Miss Holland drove away with him. She had 

ii 



Famous Crimes 

no luggage with her, and it was quite clear 
that she did not mean to be absent for long. 

In two hours Dougal returned alone. 

The servant was astonished and frightened ; 
and well she might be afraid, knowing that she 
was unprotected, in such a lonely house, at 
night, in the company of a man whose real 
character had been revealed to her. She asked 
where her mistress was, and Dougal, who was 
never at a loss for a reply to any question, told 
her that Miss Holland had gone to London, and 
that he was going to meet her when she came 
back. Several times he went out and remained 
for a while, then returned to the house and 
told the terrified girl that the mistress had not 
yet come. 

At last, just before one o'clock, he said 
the servant had better go to bed ; and upstairs 
she went, but not to bed or to rest. Who 
could, in such a house, with such a man? She 
went to her room, but neither undressed nor 
slept, and thankful she must have been that the 
darkness was so short and that day broke so 
soon. Never did it break on a more cruel, 
wicked crime ! 

At about six o'clock the servant heard a 
knock at her bedroom door. It was Dougal 
calling her. She went downstairs, and found 

12 



The Moat Farm Murder 

that he had got the breakfast ready in the 
kitchen. He said he had received a letter from 
Miss Holland, who told him that she was taking 
a short holiday, and would send a lady friend 
down to the farm to look after things. That 
day the servant left the farm, her mother, owing 
to complaints, having gone to fetch her. 

Gone to London for a holiday ! How coolly 
and deliberately the man lied ! What amazing 
calmness he showed, knowing what he did know 
for he had shot Miss Holland dead, and buried 
her in the ditch. The exact method of the 
murder and the precise time will never be 
known, but it is believed that on returning 
from the drive Dougal took the trap back into 
the shed, Miss Holland being with him, that he 
fired a revolver which was a silent one close 
to the back of her head, and killed her on the 
spot. He certainly carried her, fully dressed, 
and buried her in the ditch. 

From the night of that ghastly crime Dougal 
continued to live at the Moat Farm and to 
carry on the work exactly as if nothing had 
happened. Yet all the time he knew that the 
body of the woman who had given everything 
to him was lying in the foul ditch in front of 
his very windows. To show how callous and 
cunning he was, he actually planted some shrubs 

13 



Famous Crimes 

over the very grave some months after the 
murder. When he had done this he must have 
felt pretty secure ; at any rate, he was always 
ready with excuses and explanations, for, of 
course, questions were very soon asked about 
Miss Holland. 

Dougal was ready with his story. Miss 
Holland "Mrs." Dougal, of course had gone 
to London, and had left her clothing and 
jewellery at the farm. 

And who was the lady who went to the 
Moat Farm just after Miss Holland's disappear- 
ance? 

Oh ! The lady was his widowed daughter, 
who had gone to keep house for him during 
his wife's absence ; but, as a matter of fact, the 
"widowed daughter" was the real Mrs. Dougal 
herself. 

Month after month went by, year followed 
year, and four years passed without news of any 
sort being heard of Miss Holland. During all 
that time this amazing man conducted the 
business of the Moat Farm just as if Miss 
Holland lived. He opened and dealt with all 
letters addressed to her, and carried out trans- 
actions with banks and stockbrokers just as he 
would have done if she had given him the 
necessary authority and all this, of course, 

14 



The Moat Farm Murder 

because of the clever way in which he forged 
her name. All the time he was going about 
drinking and amusing himself at hotels and inns, 
and in other ways acting like the thorough 
villain he was. 

To all appearances Dougal was leading a 
happy life, and it may be that he had begun to 
feel that he was perfectly safe, and that his sin 
would never find him out; but for a long time 
people had been talking, they had been putting 
two and two together, and were wanting some 
explanation of the extraordinary mystery of the 
disappearance of the poor lady who had first 
gone to the Moat Farm with him as his 
wife. 

But the day was coming, and was very near, 
when Dougal must have known that he stood 
in peril of his life. 

Rumours went so far that a police superin- 
tendent went to the Moat Farm, and made 
inquiries about the missing lady, who was said 
to be concealed in a cupboard. The superin- 
tendent said he would like to make a search, 
and to this Dougal readily assented, and 
satisfied the visitor with his bogus tales. 

It was in October, 1902, when a gentleman 
from the bank came to me and inquired about 
Miss Holland. I told him what I knew, and it 

15 



Famous Crimes 

was in this same month that another gentleman 
came to see me, as Dougal was trying to get a 
divorce from his wife, who was living with him 
at the farm, and she was also trying to get one 
from him. 

Things were working slowly round, and in 
the early part of 1903 detectives were set to 
watch Dougal, who knew that at last the 
police were on his track. His conduct showed 
that he was thoroughly alarmed and realised that 
his desperate game was up. 

He did not waste an hour. He drew money 
from a bank at Bishop's Stortford, and got 
some from another bank ; then he hurriedly 
packed some baggage at the Moat Farm and 
bolted. 

Dougal went to London, and set to work 
to get as much of Miss Holland's money as he 
could lay hands on and he had already secured 
a good deal. 

On March 18th Dougal went to the Bank 
of England to change some notes. Now, it 
happened that these notes had been stopped, 
and the cashier had Dougal detained till a 
police inspector came. The inspector arrested 
him. While on his way to the police station 
Dougal ran off, hoping to escape, but he 
dashed down a street with a dead end to it, 

16 



The Moat Farm Murder 

so that there was not much trouble in recap- 
turing him. From that time the police never 
let him go. Each time he appeared in 
public he was handcuffed, and bail was always 
refused. 

It was as a forger that Dougal first 
appeared in custody, and a long case was slowly 
built up against him. Time after time he was 
brought to Walden and remanded, but it was 
not the forgery charge that interested people 
so much as the systematic search which was 
now being made at the Moat Farm with the 
object of finding out what had happened to 
Miss Holland. 

The police took possession of the place, and 
for weeks they worked in bitter weather in 
the most astonishing manner, draining the moat, 
going into every nook and crevice of the house 
and farm buildings, and doing all that was 
humanly possible. Sometimes the men worked 
up to their waists in black slime, and several 
times there were narrow escapes from drown- 
ing in the perishingly cold spring water of the 
moat. 

Discouraging to a degree was the work, but 
there was success at last, and that was on 
April 27th, when a policeman who was digging 
in the ditch came across what proved to be 

c 17 



Famous Crimes 

human remains all that was left of Miss 
Holland. 

Then it was that the charge of murder was 
brought against Dougal. 

I cannot possibly make you realise what a 
state of excitement the whole countryside was 
thrown into by the terrible discovery, for 
Dougal by that time had become a very well- 
known man, and there had been so much talk 
about the strange affair and so many explana- 
tions of the mystery. Swarms of people flocked 
to the Moat Farm, full of curiosity to see a 
place of which so much had been heard, and 
was in itself so very interesting . People drove 
and rode and walked, and the roads were alive 
with motors, traps, cycles, and pedestrians, 
coming from everywhere and making for just 
one place the Moat Farm. 

Whenever Dougal was brought to Walden 
it was a signal for practically putting up the 
shutters, for there was an entire stoppage of 
business, so intense was the interest which was 
taken in him. Often enough he was driven 
past this very house, handcuffed, and I was 
mostly at the window to see him go by on 
his way to the police court. I had to pay 
many visits, too, to the Moat Farm while the 
inquest was being held. Once when I was at 

18 



The Moat Farm Murder 

the farm I had to pass through the conserva- 
tory, a place of which Miss Holland often spoke 
when she was living with me, because she was 
very fond of flowers and plants, and meant to 
get some of my own plants to take to the 
farm. 

As I passed through the conservatory I saw 
Dougal sitting in a chair, handcuffed, and 
guarded by gaolers. He saw me and bent 
forward and gave quite a polite bow and that 
was his usual performance whenever we met 
face to face. 

I remember so well the last bow he ever 
gave me. That was when the judge had put 
on the black cap and was passing sentence 
of death. 

I was looking straight at Dougal, and I saw 
that the tears were streaming down his cheeks. 
He was trembling terribly and gripping the rail 
in front of the dock; yet, in spite of it all, 
he smiled at me and bowed very politely for 
the last time. I do not know what was pass- 
ing through his mind, but he could see then he 
was done. 

But I am getting on a little too fast. I 
must go back to the Moat Farm, where I was 
taken to identify what was left of Miss 
Holland. The remains had been placed in the 

19 



Famous Crimes 

conservatory, and, terrible though the ordeal 
was, I passed through it successfully, for some- 
thing seemed to say within me : " Go on, go 
on." By means of clothing which I had made 
for her and a pair of boots which I readily 
identified they had been repaired in Walden, 
and Miss Holland had uncommonly small feet 
and in other ways, I had no difficulty in doing 
my share in establishing identity. I saw the 
bullet-hole in the skull, at the base, so 
that perhaps Miss Holland never knew what 
happened. 

There were many tedious days at the inquest, 
and the magistrates had Dougal before them 
about a dozen times ; then he appeared at the 
Shire Hall, Chelmsford, to be tried for his life 
by Mr. Justice Wright and a jury. The trial 
lasted two days, and at the end of it Dougal 
was found guilty and was sentenced to death. 
A great deal depended on what I had to say, 
and there had been many efforts to trip me 
up ; but I never wavered, because I had nothing 
but the truth to tell. 

I shall never forget Dougal 's looks when he 
was in the dock. He smiled at me now and 
again, as if I was going to say something to 
his benefit; but I did not. I was in a rage, 
and could not help it. 

20 



The Moat Farm Murder 

When he was sentenced Dougal said he was 
not guilty, but he confessed his guilt just before 
the hangman drew the bolt. He is buried in 
Chelmsford Prison yard. Miss Holland is buried 
in the cemetery here. 

I brought little Jacko to live with me, and 
when he died a natural death I had him 
properly stuffed, and there he is in the glass 
case. 

Here is one of the dresses Miss Holland 
used to wear, and here is a black cashmere 
shawl she used to put over her shoulders when 
she went upstairs. These her nephew gave me, 
as well as her fur cape ; and here it is the 
cape I put on her that day when she kissed 
me good-bye at the door, and I never again 
saw her alive. 



21 



CHAPTER II 

HENRY WAIN WRIGHT'S CRIME 

[FORTY years ago a crime was committed which 
aroused almost as much interest and excitement 
throughout the country as the poisonings by 
Palmer, the Rugeley doctor. This was the 
murder of a young milliner by Henry Wain- 
wright, a man of considerable standing in 
Whitechapel Road, London, E. For twelve 
months Wainwright's crime was not discovered ; 
then it was sensationally revealed through the 
medium of one of his former employees and his 
own folly. Wainwright was convicted at the 
Central Criminal Court on December 1st, 1875, 
after a nine days' trial before Lord Chief 
Justice Coleridge. His brother Thomas was 
found guilty of being accessory after the fact, 
and was sentenced to seven years' penal servi- 
tude. Henry Wainwright was hanged at New- 
gate on December 21st. Mr. J. M. Steel, whose 
story is here retold, was one of the witnesses at 
the trial, and was called to prove the pawning 
and redemption of a wedding ring and keeper 

22 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

which belonged to the murdered woman and was 
found on her mutilated remains.] 

I became acquainted with Henry Wainwright 
before I saw him in the dock at the Old Bailey 
being tried for wilful murder. 

Wainwright was a brush manufacturer in a 
good way of business, and had two shops in 
Whitechapel Road, numbered 215 and 84. He 
was in partnership with his elder brother, 
Thomas, who was afterwards in the dock with 
him for nine long days. 

Henry was a fine-looking man on the right 
side of forty. He weighed about fourteen or 
fifteen stone, and was well built and jovial, 
fond of life, and more than usually attractive 
to women. He was the last man in the world 
you would suspect of being a murderer. He 
was a married man with five children his wife 
was a most respectable, deserving woman but 
that did not prevent him from carrying on with 
other women, a weakness which in the end 
sent him to the gallows. 

Henry's conduct made him very hard up 
threw him, indeed, into bankruptcy ; and one 
day there was a fire at No. 84. A relative of 
mine hurried to the rescue, got a ladder, ran 
up into the upper rooms, and saved some books 

23 



Famous Grimes 

the very things that Henry did not want 
to be preserved, for they gave clear evidence 
of his position and showed that he meditated 
arson, a crime of which he would, no doubt, 
have been found guilty if he had not been 
convicted for murder. 

That is how I first got to know Henry 
Wain wright. We became on speaking terms, 
and occasionally spent a little time together; and 
very good company he was too, full of cheerful 
conversation and always ready with a laugh and 
a joke. Little did I imagine then that he 
had committed a murder so dreadful that the 
revelation of it filled the country with horror. 
Nobody suspected him of the conduct of which 
he was undoubtedly guilty. He was highly 
esteemed in his own circle, and was, I believe, 
a great chapel-goer. 

In those days Whitechapel Road, in the 
neighbourhood of the London Hospital, where 
Henry lived and did his business, was very 
different from what it is now, though many of 
the old houses are standing, and the premises 
on which the murder was committed are in 
existence, but altered and renumbered. Life 
went more easily then, and there was not the 
rush that reigns to-day. A man like Henry 
Wainwright could have made a great deal of 

24 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

money comfortably if he had stuck to his 
business and gone straight. 

At that time I was twenty-seven years old, 
and manager to a pawnbroker in a large way 
of business in Commercial Road, Mr. W. 
Dicker. Those were the days when sailing ships 
with famous names came home from long 
voyages, and men would hurry ashore with 
large sums of money, hard earned, which they 
would recklessly squander. I have known a 
sailor come ashore with sixty pounds, and not 
have a halfpenny left next day the girls and 
the harpies had got it all. Many were the 
strange things that were brought to me to 
pawn evidences of folly on the part of men 
who so easily fell victims to those who battened 
on them when they were ashore. 

Few things are particularly noticed when they 
are pawned or redeemed, and certainly a busy 
man does not pay attention to such common- 
place objects as rings, so I cannot say that I 
showed undue interest in a wedding ring and 
a keeper which were pledged on May 20th, 
1874, in the name of Anne King, of 3, Sidney 
Square ; yet that transaction became very 
material later on, when Henry Wainwright, 
who had called himself Percy King, was 
being tried for the murder of Harriet Lane, 

25 



Famous Crimes 

who was known as Anne King, his supposed 
wife. 

I had good reason to make myself well 
acquainted with that pawning episode and all 
the details of the crime, because from first to 
last of it I had to spend seventeen days, and 
very weary most of them were, in and about 
the courts. 

We observed at that time a custom, which 
was duly followed in this case, to the effect 
that when a man or woman wished to pledge 
anything and refused to give a Christian name, 
we provided one. In this instance the rings 
were offered in the name of King, no Christian 
name being given, and we accordingly recorded 
the transaction in the name of " Anne." It 
was always " Anne" for a woman and " John " 
for a man. 

This wedding ring and keeper were pawned, 
then, in the name of Anne King. 

The transaction in itself was too small and 
commonplace to be remembered by me, and 
I gave no thought to it until September, 1875, 
when a horrible discovery was made in the 
most extraordinary fashion a woman's mutilated 
remains were found in the possession of Henry 
Wain wright. A very brief examination showed 
that the remains had been recently severed 

26 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

with some such weapon as a chopper, and that 
the woman had been murdered and dead a long 
time. 

Wainwright and a girl named Alice Day were 
arrested, and later on Thomas Wainwright, a 
married man, was taken into custody. 

Bit by bit, through the inquest, the magis- 
trate's inquiry, and the trial at the Central 
Criminal Court, the whole terrible story was 
told, and as I was associated with the affair 
from start to finish, I will tell you what it all 
amounted to and how the mystery developed. 

Harriet Louisa Lane was a young milliner 
who had served her apprenticeship at Waltham 
Cross and gone to Whitechapel about the end 
of 1870. She fell in with Henry Wainwright, 
with the result that a child was born. Henry 
was at that time in business with Thomas, 
and matters were far from flourishing. The 
association with the girl was kept up, and again 
she expected to become a mother. She and 
Henry were passing as man and wife Mr. 
and Mrs. Percy King and there is no doubt 
that as she did not make any attempt to work 
at her ordinary business, and threw herself 
entirely on Wainwright, she was a very great 
and growing burden. 

Henry had to find new lodgings for Harriet, 

27 



Famous Grimes 

and he got them at Mrs. Foster's, 3, Sidney 
Square, very near the spot where there was such 
a tremendous commotion with anarchists a few 
years ago. He took Harriet, the two children, 
and a woman who, he said, was a nurse, and 
arranged for them all to live in the house. 
He explained that, as he was a traveller, he 
would be away a good deal and would not see 
much of his family. As a matter of fact, 
he was then conducting his business a few 
hundred yards away, and was living in Trede- 
gar Square, quite near, with his real wife 
and children. The so-called nurse was a Miss 
Wilmore, who had been a fellow apprentice 
with Harriet, and had gone to live at Sidney 
Square and help to look after the children on 
agreed terms. 

Henry never visited Sidney Square after 
leaving Harriet and the children there. He was 
getting deeper and deeper into the mire. He 
became a bankrupt, his liabilities being more 
than 3,000, apart from a considerable sum 
which he owed another brother named William. 
He was being harassed all round, and as he 
was not able to clear off a mortgage he got 
into heavy difficulties regarding No. 215, White- 
chapel Road. 

Meanwhile Harriet needed money very 

28 



Henry Wainwright's Grime 

badly, and she was determined to have it from 
the man who had ruined her; but he could 
not always find money to give her, and she 
was reduced to such desperate straits that she 
pawned almost everything she possessed, even 
to her linen. The first thing she seems to 
have pawned was the wedding ring, which she 
brought to me. 

The fact that Henry was far from being 
niggardly is shown by his contributions to 
Harriet's maintenance, for while he could afford 
to do so he allowed her 5 a week, though 
he had the heavy expenses connected with his 
own wife and five children to meet. 

But the time was rapidly approaching when 
Henry could not give Harriet money at all, 
and accordingly she made her way to one 
of his shops and was very violent and dis- 
agreeable. Wainwright tried to pacify her by 
sending money by his manager, but she was 
not easily satisfied ; and once, when two pounds 
had been offered, she scornfully threw it on 
the floor, saying that it was only enough to 
pay the rent which was owing. Altogether 
Harriet went to the shop about twenty 
times, and on one occasion at least Henry got 
so desperate that he threatened to murder 
her. 

29 



Famous Grimes 

The squalid climax came one night when 
Harriet went back to Sidney Square the worse 
for drink, and created a disturbance in the 
street which so badly upset her that Miss 
Wilmore had to sit up all night with her. 

The landlady gave Harriet notice to quit, 
but as the poor girl had nothing with which 
to pay the rent she was allowed to remain two 
days longer. 

By that time Henry had managed I do 
not know how, but it must have been a 
desperate business to scrape together fifteen 
pounds, and this he gave to Harriet, who at 
once paid her rent and debts, and for whom 
Miss Wilmore got things out of pawn. Harriet 
made herself smart and attractive. 

Things seemed better now. Sidney Square 
was to be left, and a new start made at 
Stratford, where Miss Wilmore was to live with 
the children. On a Friday afternoon it was 
September 10th Harriet Lane left Sidney 
Square, carrying only a nightdress in a parcel. 
She was in good health and spirits, and there 
was not the slightest reason for supposing that 
she meant to do mischief to herself; but from 
that time she was never again seen alive, 
except by Wainwright. He lured her into 
No. 215, shot her and cut her throat, and 

30 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

buried her in a grave in the floor which he had 
already dug for her. 

For a whole year an exact year to the 
day, I believe the body remained in its awful 
resting-place, and Wainwright went about his 
daily duties more or less as if nothing had 
happened. 

Miss Wilmore became alarmed and troubled 
because of the absence of her friend, and she 
went to No. 84 and asked Wainwright what 
had become of Harriet. Henry was quite 
prepared with an explanation, and said that 
Harriet had gone to Brighton. 

But, said Miss Wilmore, how could Mrs. 
King possibly have gone to Brighton when her 
sole luggage was only a nightdress? 

Oh, Wainwright told her, Harriet was all 
right, because he had given her money with 
which to buy clothes. 

With that explanation Miss Wilmore had to 
be satisfied. Following it came in due course 
a letter from a man who called himself Frieake, 
who had more than once visited Harriet in 
Sidney Square. The letter said that Frieake 
and Harriet were going to the Continent 
together, that she was making a fresh start in 
life, and was severing her connection with all her 
old friends. 

31 



Famous Grimes 

It turned out that " Frieake " was none 
other than Thomas Wainwright, who was 
already trying to shield his brother from the 
consequences of the terrible crime which he had 
committed. 

Things were swiftly going from bad to worse 
with Henry. He was forced to give up 
possession of No. 215 and take a position as 
manager with a Mr. Martin. This meant that 
No. 215 was put in the possession of care- 
takers, and consequently there was the ever- 
present risk of the awful secret being 
revealed. 

Henry must have known, despite all his 
care and cunning, that his crime would be dis- 
covered when the decomposing body in the 
grave made its presence known. 

People were in possession of the premises, 
and it seemed as if he would never have the 
chance to try and take away and destroy the 
evidence of his guilt. But it happened that 
No. 215 became temporarily uncared for, and 
instantly Henry took steps to carry out a 
purpose which he must have had in mind for 
a long time. With the help of Thomas he 
bought a spade, a chopper, and some American 
cloth, and set to work to remove from the 
grave the body he had concealed a year before. 

32 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

The body, as it happened, had been buried in 
chloride of lime instead of quicklime, and this 
had brought about the very result that the 
murderer desired to avoid, for, instead of 
destroying the body, it had preserved it. 

So far Wainwright had acted cunningly and 
cautiously that is shown by his successful con- 
cealment of his crime for a whole year; but 
now he did a thing which a moment's thought 
would have shown him was equal to put- 
ting the rope round his neck. He actually 
asked a man named Stokes, his former fore- 
man, to go with him to No. 215 and help to 
carry two parcels to the Borough parcels 
which were made up of the remains of the 
murdered woman ! 

On Saturday afternoon, September 12th, 
Wainwright and Stokes went to the back of 
No. 215, through the yard, which is still there, 
and entered the warehouse, which was about 
eighty feet long. At Wainwright's request 
Stokes went upstairs for the parcels ; then 
Wainwright called out and said : " Oh, they're 
here, under some straw, where I put them a 
fortnight ago." This was said, doubtless, to 
prepare Stokes for anything unpleasant which he 
might notice. 

Stokes returned to the warehouse, and 

D 33 



Famous Grimes 

noticed a chopper which had some very dis- 
agreeable matter on it. Wainwright readily 
gave an explanation of the state of the imple- 
ment, which he wrapped up in paper and put 
aside; then he asked Stokes to take up the 
parcels. Stokes began to lift them, but said 
they were very heavy and very disagreeable. 

By that time Wainwright must have seen 
that the game was up, but he never faltered 
in his determination to see the dreadful business 
through. He told Stokes that he would help 
him, and, taking up the lighter of the two 
parcels, they left the warehouse and walked 
as far as Whitechapel Church. Then Stokes 
declared that he must rest, and he put his 
parcel down ; so did Wainwright, saying that 
he would fetch a cab, and telling Stokes to wait 
till he returned. 

As soon as Wainwright had gone Stokes, 
full of suspicion and a terrible curiosity, hastily 
unfastened the American cloth, and to his 
horror found a decomposed human head and a 
severed hand. He instantly retied the parcel, 
and with astonishing presence of mind gave no 
sign, when Wainwright came back with a cab 
five minutes later, of having made such a ghastly 
discovery. 

The two parcels were put into the cab, a 

34 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

four-wheeler; then Wainwright told Stokes to 
go home, and he would see him at seven 
o'clock. But Stokes had learnt far too much 
to be able to leave the matter, and he resolved 
to carry it through to the very end. There 
is little doubt that his action sent the murderer 
to the scaffold. 

Wainwright drove off, and instantly Stokes 
started in pursuit, beginning one of the most 
amazing chases that ever took place in London 
streets. Wainwright's intention was to go into 
the Borough, but he ordered the cabman to 
drive in the opposite direction, and after travel- 
ling some distance, \vith Stokes in pursuit, he 
stopped and took up a girl named Alice 
Day, a ballet dancer; then the cab turned 
round and began to go towards London Bridge. 
Wainwright told the driver to go over the 
bridge and continue till he was told to 
stop. 

From beyond the London Hospital to the 
other side of London Bridge is a long distance 
for a man to run, and the roads and pave- 
ments were much more difficult to cover forty 
years ago than they are to-day. 

Stokes hurried after the cab, fearful of 
losing sight of it, and he soon began to feel 
exhausted. He pantingly begged two police- 

35 



Famous Grimes 

men to stop the cab, telling them that there 
was something badly wrong; but, incredible as 
it seems, they laughed at him and told him he 
was mad. 

Away the cab went, Stokes gamely follow- 
ing until he was over London Bridge. Then, 
not far from the end of the bridge, in the 
High Street, he saw the cab stop and 
Wainwright get out with one of the awful 
parcels. 

Wainwright was making towards an empty 
place of business called the : ' Hen and 
Chickens," which his brother Thomas had 
occupied, and in the cellar of which there was 
a great mound of earth in which, doubtless, 
Henry meant to bury the remains once for 
all. 

Two policemen were near, and again Stokes 
called for help. He told them that something 
was wrong and begged them to take action. 
This time Stokes did not appeal in vain. 

Wainwright had got one parcel into the 
" Hen and Chickens," and was carrying the 
other from the cab when one of the policemen 
went up and said : " What have you got 
in that parcel?" 

How Wainwright's soul must have sunk ! 
How his heart must almost have stopped beat- 

38 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

ing ! What terrible emotions must have surged 
through his guilty mind ! Yet he was bold 
enough to answer : ' ' What business is it of 
yours? Why do you interfere with me?" 

It was no good. The other policeman had 
now come up, and they entered the " Hen 
and Chickens " and began to open the first 
parcel. 

Then Wainwright's fortitude forsook him. 
He begged the constables for God's sake 
not to tamper with the parcel he offered 
them 20 if they would let him go, then said 
he would make it 200 ; but the men had 
opened the parcel and had seen the dreadful 
nature of the contents. 

The policemen told Wainwright that he 
must go with them, and, with Alice Day and 
the parcels, the cab went to the nearest police 
station. 

An examination showed that the parcels 
contained the remains, in ten portions, of the 
body of a woman. 

No time was lost in going to the White- 
chapel warehouse and examining the place. 
Then it was seen that part of the floor at the 
back was raised and that the boards and joists 
had been sawn away, making a shallow grave 
about five feet long and three feet wide. There 

37 



Famous Crimes 

was abundant trace of chloride of lime, and a 
chopper and spade were found, as well as 
fragments of human remains. 

Wain wright had taken the body out of its 
resting-place on the previous day, and with the 
chopper had rudely hacked it to pieces; he had 
then tied up the portions in the American 
cloth. 

When asked to explain how the remains 
came into his possession, Wain wright told a 
clumsy lie. He said that they had been given 
to him to take to the " Hen and Chickens " 
by a Mr. Martin, who had promised him five 
pounds for the job. That tale was easily proved 
to be false, and it was very soon seen that 
the girl Alice Day knew nothing of the crime, 
and she was discharged after being brought 
before the magistrate. She declared in court 
that though she had been on friendly terms 
with Wainwright, there had been nothing 
further between them. 

The next development, when Henry had 
appeared in the police court, was the arrest of 
Thomas Wainwright at his address at Fulham ; 
and finally the two brothers, who had had such 
splendid chances of making a good thing out 
of their business, stood in the dock at the 
Old Bailey, financially ruined, to take their trial 

38 



Henry Wainwright's Crime 

for a crime that was to send one of them to 
a shameful death. 

Day after day that horrible court was packed 
by people who ranged in rank from a duchess 
downward, for the case had aroused intense and 
universal interest. 

In those days I was very much like Stokes 
in appearance, and often enough, when we left 
the court, we were followed by great crowds 
of people. More than once we made them 
laugh by such simple tricks as exchanging hats. 
We were pretty cheerful, and passed a good 
deal of our time while waiting to be called in 
playing cards and draughts and dominoes. In 
going to the police-court trial the witnesses used 
to pass through rows of policemen, so great was 
the pressure of the people who were eager to get 
a glimpse of anybody connected with the case. 

Henry did not strike me as being very 
much upset at the prospect of a verdict of 
guilty, and, if I may put it so, he looked quite 
at home in the dock. I well remember how 
he laughed when I was recalled after giving my 
evidence. 

I had told about the pawning of the wed- 
ding ring and keeper, and Henry's counsel tried 
to discredit my evidence because of the use of 
the Christian name of Anne. 

39 



Famous Grimes 

The Lord Chief Justice wished to see the 
original pawn tickets, and so I fetched them 
from Commercial Road. They were on a long 
file, about five feet in length, and when I got 
back into the witness-box I began quickly to 
pull the tickets about to find what I wanted. 

"Good gracious!" exclaimed the Lord Chief 
Justice. "I thought it was a snake!" 

Everybody in court laughed, and Henry and 
Thomas laughed as loudly as anybody, particu- 
larly Henry. 

Pretty nearly everything came out in 
evidence ; but not the real details of the 
murder, for only Henry could give those. But 
it was clear that what had happened was this : 
Henry decoyed Harriet into the lonely ware- 
house, shot her in the head from behind with 
a revolver, fired two more shots, and then cut 
her throat, stripped her, and buried her in the 
grave which he had made in the floor. He 
burned the clothing in a neighbouring grate, 
but left the rings on the fingers ! 

Three shots were heard by some men who 
were working near, and one of them ran out, 
but it was thought that the sounds came from 
firing by a man w r ho was known to practise 
with a double-barrelled gun, and no further 
heed was paid to the matter. 

40 






s 

D 
w 

CD 



* I 

2 - 

1 *l 

CQ j - 



'3 

33 j 



C/3 

U 



* 

s ^ 
o 



Henry Wainwright's Grime 

How perilously near was Henry to being 
caught as a red-handed murderer ! What would 
have happened if the men had actually burst 
into the warehouse? Would he have shot them 
also, or turned the weapon on himself? Who 
can tell? 

There was no difficulty in proving the 
possession of the revolver, because Henry had 
kept one in his desk at No. 84, and had tried 
to pawn it; but he had taken it away because 
he could not get the advance he asked for fifty 
shillings. 

There was one fact which was never made 
public, and it was this : that the night before 
the murder Harriet told her landlady that 
Henry had threatened to shoot her. But no 
circumstance of that sort was needed to satisfy 
the jury about the prisoners' guilt. They were 
absent for less than an hour, then they went 
back into court and Henry was sentenced to 
death and Thomas to penal servitude for seven 
years. 

Henry was hanged four days before Christ- 
mas, and it is told of him that the night before 
his execution he smoked a cigar and boasted 
of his victories over women. Certainly, in the 
dock, though he denied the murder, he confessed 
that he had been wickedly immoral. 

41 



Famous Crimes 

A great deal of sympathy was shown, and 
rightly, for Henry's poor suffering wife and 
the helpless, innocent children, and a. fund of 
more than twelve hundred pounds was raised 
to help them. 

I do not know what happened to Thomas 
when he came out of penal servitude, but I 
believe that he had something to do with a 
public-house. Neither do I know what has 
happened to the other witnesses who were 
called at the trial. Stokes, I believe, went into 
business on his own account, helped to some 
extent by a special grant of thirty pounds 
which the Lord Chief Justice made to him for 
his uncommon effort in making the murder 
known to the police and sending Henry Wain- 
wright to the gallows. 



42 



CHAPTER III 

THE SHAM BARONET 

[THE late Lord Brampton, who when he was 
Mr. Henry Hawkins appeared as counsel in both 
the Tichborne trials, paid a compliment to Dr. 
George Fletcher, J.P., in referring to him as 
a great authority on this famous case. There 
is no living person who has a deeper know- 
ledge of the Tichborne case than Dr. Fletcher. 
He came into close association with the Claim- 
ant ; for many days he attended the first trial, 
which lasted 103 days, and he was occasionally 
present during the second trial, which lasted 
188 days, and finally he examined the mortal 
remains of the man who, having passed out of 
public notoriety, died, almost starved, in a 
miserable attic off the Edgware Road, in 
London. Dr. Fletcher tells the story of the 
greatest impostor who has been known in 
modern England.] 

The Tichborne case is such an enormous 
subject that it is uncommonly difficult to know 
where to start and what to say ; but I can 

43 



Famous Crimes 

begin by explaining briefly that a fine young 
officer in the 6th Dragoon Guards (The 
Carabiniers), Roger Tichborne, was drowned 
in 1854 off the coast of South America, at 
the age of twenty-five, and eleven years later 
a coarse butcher from the Australian bush 
turned up, and, saying that he was the long- 
lost Roger, claimed the Tichborne estates, 
which were worth 30,000 a year. It took 
seven years and two lengthy trials in our law 
courts to prove that this man was a marvellous 
impostor, and it cost the country half a 
million sterling to stamp him as a liar and 
that was quite irrespective of the enormous 
sums which were subscribed, and lost, by 
deluded people who pinned their faith to the 
creed that the butcher from the bush was the 
missing heir to a baronetcy. 

Throughout the whole of the exciting times 
of the trials, when the Tichborne case occupied 
the attention of the country almost to the 
exclusion of every other subject, and when 
people most vehemently took one side or the 
other, my father-in-law was rector of Ovington, 
a village adjoining the Tichborne Estate in 
Hampshire. 

I first met the Claimant during the autumn 
of 1867, when I was spending part of the long 

44 



The Sham Baronet 

vacation at Ovington, and I saw him several 
times during the next few years when he was 
collecting evidence in the neighbourhood in 
favour of his claim. I had, therefore, many 
opportunities of forming an opinion of him and 
seeing what he was really like ; and a more 
unpromising impostor, in the circumstances, it 
is almost impossible to imagine. 

I always did marvel, and I marvel now, 
that anyone could have been deceived for a 
moment as to the real character of the Claim- 
ant. Roger Tichborne was a gentleman, and, 
no matter what his vicissitudes in his early 
years might have been, he would have retained 
sufficient characteristics to show his breeding 
and origin ; but there was no redeeming feature 
about the Claimant. He was a thoroughly low- 
born, vulgar, illiterate fellow, plebeian to a 
degree, and I never saw a sign in him of any- 
thing approaching education and refinement. 
His pronunciation of English was terrible ; his 
accent was pure Cockney, and very far removed 
from the speech of an officer in the Carabiniers ; 
in fact, in all general characteristics he was 
hopeless. It is easy for some men, however 
insignificant their position in life may be, to 
hold their own in good and decent company 
they are adaptable and impressionable to 

45 



Famous Crimes 

superior surroundings; but the Claimant was 
nothing of the sort. He was inherently and 
incorrigibly common, vulgar and ignorant, and 
he remained so from first to last. 

One of the most amazing things in this 
astounding case was the dissimilarity between 
the real Roger and the impostor from the bush. 
The lost heir was a tall, slim officer of ten 
and a half stone, and a gentleman ; the Claim- 
ant was a hill of flesh, a twenty-five stone 
monster, and a vulgar atrocity. Yet it took 
seven years to persuade quite a multitude of 
people that he was what the Attorney-General 
called him : a conspirator, a perjurer, a forger, 
and a lying impostor in short, as great a 
criminal as could be found in the annals of our 
law courts. 

Let me briefly review the essential pre- 
liminary facts of this unexampled case. They 
are these : Sir Henry Tichborne died in 1821, 
leaving four sons. The eldest, Sir Henry, died 
in 1845 ; the second, Edward, took the name 
of Doughty, and was known as Sir Edward 
Doughty he had one daughter, Kate, who was 
to figure prominently in the great drama. The 
third son, James, had two sons Roger, born 
in 1829, and Alfred, born in 1838. As Sir 
Edward Doughty had no sons, Roger who 

46 



The Sham Baronet 

was to achieve so much posthumous fame 
became the prospective heir. He was born in 
Paris, and was brought up entirely in that city 
until he was sixteen years old. 

Roger's mother was a bad-tempered, weak- 
minded woman, and hated all the Tichbornes 
so much that she spared no effort to keep 
Roger away from them, and did all she could 
to bring him up as a Frenchman, the result 
of her conduct being that young Roger lived 
in an utterly wretched home. When Sir Henry 
died (in 1845), Roger's father, James, insisted 
upon taking his son over to the funeral and 
introducing him, as the prospective heir, to the 
relatives. Roger was sent to school at Stony- 
hurst, and there he remained for three years. 
So ignorant was he of English, speaking 
only a few words of our language, that the 
boys ridiculed him, calling him " Frenchy." 
Roger, however, progressed, and passed from 
Stonyhurst into the Carabiniers. Fortunately, 
as it happened, his Army examination papers 
were preserved. In three years at the end of 
1852 Roger sold out from the Carabiniers, 
those being the days of purchasing and selling 
commissions in the Army. 

Roger now saw a good deal of his cousin 
Kate, and, naturally enough, he fell in love 

47 



Famous Grimes 

with her; but the match was opposed and 
finally was broken off, and there was a sad 
farewell interview at Tichborne Park, of which 
we shall hear later. 

Deeply grieved by his enforced separation 
from Kate, Roger determined to go away on 
a long voyage, and in March, 1853, he started 
on a three years' trip round the world. On 
April 24th, 1854, having travelled over a great 
part of South America, he set sail from Rio 
de Janeiro for New York in a ship called the 
Bella. She was overtaken by a terrible storm 
on the second day, and though wreckage and 
boats were picked up, not a soul was ever 
heard of, and the law presumed that Roger 
was drowned. His will was proved, his brother 
Alfred became the heir to the estates, and 
on the death of their father, in 1862, Alfred 
succeeded to the property. Alfred died in 1866, 
and three months later his widow gave birth 
to a son, who succeeded to the estates. This 
baby, represented by his trustees, became the 
defendant at the first trial, when the Claimant 
tried to secure the estates; and the baby 
became Sir Henry Tichborne, who died in 
1910, and was succeeded by his son, Sir Joseph 
Tichborne, who, now twenty-six years old, lives 
at Tichborne Park. 

48 



The Sham Baronet 

These details will, I think, clearly explain 
the state of things which arose from the loss 
of the Bella and the disappearance of Roger ; 
but there was an unexpected development, for 
Roger's mother, on hearing of the loss of the 
ship, was distracted, and, always somewhat 
feeble-minded, her reason gave way, and she 
positively refused to believe that he had 
perished. She declared that he would soon 
return, and she always kept a light burning in 
the hall at Tichborne Park, which is on the 
high road from Portsmouth to London. 

But the Dowager Lady Tichborne did more 
than just wait and mourn. She advertised per- 
sistently and extensively for news of her missing 
son, and in 1865, when the gold fever was at 
its height in Australia, she wrote freely to 
agents who had offices open for inquiries con- 
cerning missing friends. Her advertisements 
were seen in Sydney, and a lawyer named 
Cubitt replied saying that he could probably 
find her son. He asked her if she was prepared 
to go to the expense of sending someone to 
New Zealand. Of course, the overjoyed lady 
would pay almost anything, and she actually 
sent 400 though no son was ever found for 
her in New Zealand. But the lawyer had got 
a good nibble, and he was not going to let such 

E 49 



Famous Crimes 

a valuable catch go. He had a sort of partner 
named Gibbes at Wagga Wagga, a little bush 
town three hundred miles from Sydney, and 
this man happened to see copies of The 
Illustrated London News and The Times con- 
taining the advertisement, in four languages, of 
the missing Roger. 

Now, there was at Wagga Wagga an 
enormously fat man named, according to the 
sign over his door, Castro, and he was a 
butcher. He had come to financial grief, and 
found it necessary to go to Gibbes to be taken 
through the bankruptcy court. It became his 
duty to make certain revelations, and amongst 
them was the fact that his real name was not 
Castro. He had been convicted for horse- 
stealing, and had taken the name of Castro on 
coming out of prison. He had not disclosed 
to Gibbes what his real name was, and Mrs. 
Gibbes suggested to her husband that this might 
be the baronet who was advertised for. 

At this time there returned to Wagga 
Wagga a man named Slade, who had been a 
gardener for some years to the Tichbornes, and 
he had not only the newspapers with the 
advertisements in them, but also pictures of 
the Tichborne estate, and the butcher Castro, 
meeting him, began his amazing career of fraud. 

50 



The Sham Baronet 

Pause for a few moments to get a clear 
idea of the person who foisted himself off as 
an English gentleman and heir to an old 
baronetcy and a rent-roll of 30,000 a year. 

Arthur Orton was born at Wapping, in the 
East End of London, in 1834, and was the 
son of a butcher. As a child he had St. 
Vitus's dance, and for that reason, and because 
there was no School Board in those days, he 
received practically no education. As a boy he 
helped to cut up meat, and became an expert 
slaughterman. The St. Vitus's dance did not 
improve, and the boy went to sea ; but he 
deserted his ship at Valparaiso, and went inland 
seventy miles to a place called Melipilla. For 
two years he remained there, the only English- 
man, and stayed with a storekeeper named 
Thomas Castro. In 1851 Orton returned to 
England in the ship Jessie Miller, spent a year 
at Wapping, and kept company with a young 
woman named Mary Ann Loder. They were 
both tattooed at Greenwich Fair. 

How fatal to Orton was that tattoo mark 
to become! Mary had " A.O." tattooed on 
her arm, and long afterwards, when the impostor 
was posing as the heir to the estates, she met 
him and said: "Come now, Arthur, we're 
pals, you know. Here's your initials on my 

51 



Famous Crimes 

arm, and there, you know" pointing to his 
own arm "you'll find 'A.O.' also." But the 
scoundrel was too cunning to show his arm, and 
he resolutely refused to bare it. 

Now, that tattoo mark " A.O." was on 
Orton's arm. I saw the scar when he was 
alive, and after his death, in a miserable 
poverty-stricken attic in a by-street off the 
Edgware Road, I saw it again. When the spot 
was first seen in public there was a deep recent 
scar found, and on being questioned the Claim- 
ant calmly said : " That was where I was 
vaccinated in France." On the opposite arm, 
however, I saw the ordinary scars of vaccina- 
tion, and Dr. Guy, a prison surgeon, told a 
friend of mine that he saw on Orton's arm, 
when the Claimant was in prison, the remains 
of "A.O." deep below the scar. 

Orton left England in December, 1852, in 
charge of some Shetland ponies, and went to 
Hobart Town, where he started in business as 
a butcher. In March, 1854, he wrote to Mary 
Ann Loder and his sister, a Mrs. Jury. Then 
he was not heard of again by his relations, 
except as the Claimant. 

After many adventures Orton settled at 
Wagga Wagga as Castro. He married a 
servant girl who could neither read nor write 

52 



The Sham Baronet 

and who had to make her mark in the marriage 
register. 

Now began a series of posings and deceptions 
which are so amazing and ludicrous as to be 
incredible to a generation that knew not Orton. 
The huge butcher of Wagga Wagga began to 
shake his head and mutter mysteriously about 
his family and property in England. In books, 
whenever he got the chance to do so, he wrote 
the name, "Roger Tichborne," and carved on 
trees the missing man's initials, " R.C.T." 
One day, when he was in his veranda, smoking 
a pipe with the large initials "R.C.T." carved 
on the bowl, the agent Gibbes went up and 
said : " Come now, it's no use disguising who 
you are any longer. I know it full well and 
there are your real initials." 

Orton clapped his hand over the initials as 
he exclaimed : " Hush ! For God's sake, don't 
utter a sound. But did you see did you 
really?" 

" See !" answered Gibbes. " See ! Of course 
I saw and if you don't write to your mother 
at once I shall." 

And so the monstrous claim began, and it 
prospered enormously because of the blind 
faith that the feeble-minded Dowager Lady 
Tichborne had in him. She advanced large 

53 



Famous Crimes 

sums of money and unconsciously did everything 
she could to play into the hands of the 
Claimant and the gang which came together to 
support the fraud a small band of unscrupulous 
men who must not be confounded with the 
supporters who honestly but foolishly believed 
in the Claimant. For one thing, the Dowager 
wrote to tell the Claimant to go to the Metro- 
politan Hotel in Sydney, where he would find 
Bogle, a nigger "who was your dear father's 
servant for thirty-two years, and he will tell you 
all about yourself." 

Tell the Claimant all about himself ! What 
a wondrous piece of luck, when he knew so 
little of his real antecedents as a gentleman and 
heir to a baronetcy ! The Wagga Wagga 
butcher packed up, took his wife and a new- 
born babe, and in the company of Gibbes 
drove in state into the yard of the Metro- 
politan Hotel, and, seeing a black man in 
the yard, he exclaimed : " Hallo, Bogle, is 
that you?" 

The old negro was so greatly puzzled that 
he saluted the wrong man, who, curiously 
enough, was about the build of the missing 
Roger. But the Claimant was equal to the 
occasion, as he proved equal to many more. 
He prevented any further mistake by throwing 

54 



The Sham Baronet 

an arm round Bogle and saying : " Come, now, 
'aven't I just altered?" 

"Why, yes," answered Bogle slowly, for 
even then he must have resolved to be the 
hoary-headed sinner he proved to be; "yes, 
you have. I should hardly have known you." 
And no wonder, for Roger, when he last saw 
him, was an officer and a gentleman, five feet 
ten inches high and weighing only a little over 
ten stone ; and here he was greeted by a butcher 
of twenty -three stone ! 

From that hour, until the conviction of the 
Claimant, Bogle never left his newly-found long- 
lost master. Bogle, I should explain, had been 
picked up in Jamaica forty years before by 
Roger's uncle, Sir Edward Doughty, and had 
lived at Tichborne Park with Sir Edward and 
afterwards with Roger's father, so that he knew 
as much as anybody of the details of the 
domestic life at Tichborne. He had been pen- 
sioned, and had gone to live at Sydney, where 
the Claimant met him. The old nigger threw 
himself heart and soul and body into the fraud, 
playing, like the rest of the conspirators, for 
very high stakes. 

After spending a week in Sydney the 
Claimant and Bogle and others started for 
England, and in due course there began the 

55 



Famous Grimes 

great attempt to get possession of the Tichborne 
estates. 

In May, 1871, the trial began, and for 
twenty-two days the Claimant was in the 
witness-box. His side closed on December 21st, 

1871, and the trial was resumed in the follow- 
ing month, when the Attorney-General, for the 
defendants, spoke for twenty-six days. On the 
103rd day of the trial, which was March 6th, 

1872, the jury expressed the conviction that the 
Claimant was not Roger Tichborne, and he 
was nonsuited. By that time it was calculated 
that the law proceedings had cost the estate 
92,000. 

As soon as the civil trial was over the 
Claimant was arrested and taken to Newgate. 
Finally, on February 28th, 1874, after a trial 
lasting 188 days, the Claimant was found guilty 
of perjury and forgery, and was sentenced to 
the severest punishment which the law allowed 
fourteen years' penal servitude. 

On October 20th, 1884, the Claimant was 
released on ticket-of -leave. 

When you remember that the Attorney- 
General's opening speech at the second trial 
extended over a period of five weeks, and that 
the judge took six weeks to sum up, you will 
realise that it is impossible to do more than 

56 



The Sham" Baronet 

give a very few of the incidents from the 
thousands that arose in the course of the trial, 
and I will mention only a small number which 
particularly impressed themselves upon me as I 
listened to the trial. 

Of outstanding interest and importance was 
the association with the case of Kate Doughty, 
Roger's cousin and fiancee. When Roger left 
Stony hurst he saw a good deal of Kate, who 
lived with her parents at Tichborne Park. 
When the time for parting came, Roger, who 
was a Catholic, vowed that if he returned safely 
from his wanderings and married Kate, he would 
build a chapel to the Virgin Mary. He gave 
a copy of this vow to Gosford, the steward of 
the estate, and it became very famous as the 
"sealed packet" a crucial test in the case 
and another copy he gave to Kate. 

A year after Roger was drowned, and all 
hope of his being alive had been abandoned, 
Kate married Sir Joseph Radcliffe, a Yorkshire 
baronet, and was a proud and happy mother 
when, twelve years later, the sealed packet came 
up in an awful and unexpected manner. Kate 
had kept her own copy, but Gosford, after 
Roger's death, had destroyed his. It was of 
vital importance to the Claimant that he should 
know the contents of the packet, but when first 

57 



Famous Crimes 

questioned he, naturally enough, did not even 
know of its existence. He was then living in a 
small house at Croydon, with his family and 
Bogle, and Kate, who for ten years had been 
Lady Radcliffe, had an interview with him. Can 
you wonder that she utterly failed to recognise 
her old lover in the butcher from Wagga 
Wagga? But at the trial, when pressed by the 
Attorney-General respecting this sealed packet 
thinking Gosford had destroyed the only copy 
he said it contained instructions for Gosford 
to make arrangements for his cousin's confine- 
ment; and then the scoundrel declared in open 
court that he had seduced the lady in a planta- 
tion in Tichborne Park. But this vile, infamous 
accusation was completely refuted, and it was 
shown that Roger Tichborne was not in the 
country at the time the Claimant said this 
thing happened, and there was not, of course, 
the slightest speck on the fair name of the 
lady. She lived to be seventy-four years old, 
was the mother of ten happy, healthy children, 
and was beloved and honoured for miles around 
her home in Yorkshire. 

Let us look for a moment at the Claimant's 
version of his experiences at a public school 
this illiterate lad from the East End who did 
not know even the benefits of a Board School 

58 



The Sham Baronet 

education. When in the box he was shown 
Roger's own "Caesar" and asked what language 
it was in. 

" Greek," was the prompt and astounding 
answer. 

" Yes, Greek to you," was the Attorney- 
General's quick comment. 

Roger's Euclid papers were shown to the 
Claimant, and the Attorney-General asked him 
what Euclid w r as about. 

"Fortifications!" ans\vered the Claimant. 

Then he was asked if he ever reached the 
Pons asinorum. But it was clear that the 
Claimant had never heard of it, any more than 
he had heard of Euclid, so the Attorney-General 
helped him by translating and saying that it 
meant the Ass's Bridge. 

" Did you ever cross it?" asked the Attorney- 
General. 

The Claimant appealed to the judge and 
asked if he was to be insulted. 

The judge assured him that there was no 
insult. 

Then the Claimant was asked : ' ' Where is 
this Ass's Bridge?" 

"A mile an' a 'alf from Stony'urst!" was 
his prompt reply. 

As to Stony hurst, I remember that the very 
59 



Famous Crimes 

first time I spoke to the Claimant I said : 
" Well, one thing must go terribly against 
you, and that is if you ever have a jury 
who went to a public school and they find that 
out of, say, three hundred boys you don't 
know the name of a single lad in the whole 
school." 

When I said that I scarcely expected to 
sit day after day in court, as I did, and listen 
to the amazing lies and evasions of the Claim- 
ant. He literally writhed in the box, and the 
perspiration streamed from him. One of his 
choicest answers was to the question : ' ' Were 
you ever in the seminary?'* 

"I wish you were there now!" replied the 
badgered Claimant, who had mistaken the word 
seminary for cemetery. 

The Claimant was asked about his study at 
Stony hurst was it in the quad.? He looked 
confused, and Coleridge suddenly said: "What 
is a quad.?" 

"A place where you ought to be!" almost 
groaned the unhappy victim of the ruthless but 
perfectly just cross-examination. 

Finally, the Claimant was forced into the 
explanation that a quadrangle is " a thing that 
goes round a sort of staircase!" 

Can you wonder that long before entering 

60 



The Sham Baronet 

the box the Claimant had realised that the 
desperate game was up? 

While on the way to England Sir Alfred 
Tichborne, Roger's brother, died, and a baby 
was born three months later the baby already 
referred to. Writing to the Dowager Lady 
Tichborne on hearing of the birth, the Claimant 
said : " Ah, my poor sister-in-law, with her 
husband so recently bereft a corpse, I will 
be generous. Let her give me one year's 
income, and I will go back gladly to the 
Bush, and the babe and she may have the 
rest." 

Yes, indeed, by that time he would thank- 
fully have settled the matter for ever by the 
payment to him of "one year's income" 
80,000 but he had gone too far, and he knew 
that if he did not try to face the monstrous 
imposition through he would be prosecuted. He 
had borrowed heavily on the strength of his 
claim, and people had subscribed large sums of 
money to help him. One man alone, Mr. 
Guildford Onslow, who died in 1882, spent 
about 15,000 in supporting the Claimant. 

Without dealing with events strictly in order, 
I will mention one outstanding circumstance to 
show that there was some excuse for people 
supporting the impostor, especially if they had 

61 



Famous Crimes 

never seen him, and that was the recognition 
of him as her son by the Dowager. 

Despite his brazen audacity, the Claimant 
dreaded and put off this interview ; but at last 
he was forced to meet the Dowager, who was 
living in Paris. The inevitable meeting came 
about but by that time the Claimant had 
shammed illness, and, instead of going to the 
Dowager, she went to him at his hotel and 
found him there in bed, groaning, with his 
face to the wall, in a darkened room. She 
tried to embrace him, but he kept his face 
averted and gave her no chance of really seeing 
him. Finally, addressing two men who had gone 
with him, she said : " Here in your presence I 
recognise this man as my long-lost Roger!" 

It was impossible after that to disillusion 
the poor lady, and she was not even influenced 
by the French tutor of Roger, who, on seeing 
the Claimant, declared instantly and emphatically 
that it was not and could not possibly be the 
missing heir, and that the man was an impostor. 
Roger spoke French like a native, but when 
the tutor addressed the Claimant in that 
language the illiterate fellow could not, of 
course, understand a word he said, while his 
own British dialect was pure Cockney of a low 
type. 

62 



The Sham Baronet 

On the point of his education the Claimant 
frequently found himself in trouble. On the 
way to England the captain of the ship and 
the passengers marvelled that a prospective 
baronet and an English gentleman should show 
such an utter lack of education, and his defects 
were commented upon ; so he told them that 
his education had been neglected because of 
St. Vitus's dance, which was the result of a 
fire "in the servants' 'all" at Tichborne Park 
when he was nine years old a fatal slip of 
the tongue, for Arthur Orton did have St. 
Vitus's dance at the age of nine, caused by a 
big fire next door to his home at Wapping, 
and I have shown that the real Roger was 
never in England until he was sixteen years 
of age. 

Though it is impossible to do more than 
refer to some of the leading incidents in this 
unparalleled case, yet I must not omit to men- 
tion one or two of the outstanding people 
who were connected with it. One witness 
who was called for the Claimant was a man 
named Baigent, described in Hawkins's reminis- 
cences as " the historian of the Tichborne 
family," who knew more of the Tichbornes 
than they knew of themselves a man whose 
cross-examination by Hawkins, which occupied 

63 



Famous Crimes 

ten days, did more than anything else to destroy 
the Claimant's case. 

Another dramatic witness in the case was a 
foreigner named Jean Louie, who swore that 
he picked up the Claimant at sea when the 
Bella was lost. He was quickly proved to be 
an unconscionable and very clumsy liar, for his 
portrait was seen in a London shop window by 
two gentlemen who identified him as a man 
they had employed, and were able to prove that 
in the year in which he said he had picked up 
the shipwrecked Roger he was at that very 
time undergoing penal servitude. As a per- 
jurer he was sent back to penal servitude for 
five years more. 

I will make only one more remark about 
the trials, or rather the second of them. It 
was noted for the ruin of the very promising 
career of Dr. Kenealy, the Claimant's counsel, 
who conducted the defence in such an outrageous 
manner, slandering the judges and witnesses and 
insulting the jury, that he was disbarred and 
his professional career ended. Hawkins says of 
him that at last he was compelled, in order to 
stop his insults, to declare openly that he would 
never speak to him again on this side of the 
grave "and I never did." 

After serving his sentence Orton made a 

64 



The Sham Baronet 

tour of the country, lecturing ; but he had had 
his day. The bubble was pierced, and the 
man sank lower and lower. For twelve years 
he eked out a living as a potman at low public- 
houses, marrying for his second wife the daughter 
of a poor washerwoman in Hull. Finally, 
after twelve months' extreme poverty and ill- 
ness, he died in a squalid garret; and there, 
directly after his death, I saw him. 

There is one opinion which I held about the 
Claimant at the time of his death, and I hold 
it now. It is this that those who believed in 
him and stood by him to the extent of furnish- 
ing him with large sums of money for the 
purpose of sustaining his preposterous and mon- 
strous claim should at least have helped him 
in his utter destitution and fatal illness. Instead 
of doing that, they absolutely ignored him. 

The Claimant was buried in Paddington 
Cemetery. No stone marks his grave, which is, 
however, readily pointed out by the attendants. 

It is a strange circumstance that the man 
who had befooled half the people of Great 
Britain should have died on All Fools' Day 
the First of April, 1898. 



65 



CHAPTER IV 

THE PENCE MYSTERY 

[Two brothers and two sisters were sentenced 
to death at the Old Bailey on September 26th, 
1877, by Mr. Justice Hawkins, who thence- 
forward became known undeservedly as " the 
hanging judge." The prisoners, all young 
people, were Patrick Llewellyn Staunton, artist; 
Elizabeth Ann, his wife; Louis Adolphus Ed- 
mund Staunton, auctioneer's clerk ; and Alice 
Rhodes, a young woman, mistress of Louis and 
sister of Mrs. Patrick Staunton. After a trial 
lasting seven long days, the quartet were found 
guilty of the murder, by starvation, of a weak- 
minded woman named Harriet Staunton, the 
wife of Louis, and were condemned. In passing 
sentence the judge referred to the murder as 
"a crime so black and hideous that I believe 
in all the records of crime it would be difficult 
to find its parallel." The death sentences, 
however, were not carried out. Alice Rhodes was 
speedily released, and the other sentences were 
commuted to penal servitude for life. Patrick 

66 



The Penge Mystery 

Staunton died in prison ; his wife was released 
after a few years, and, under another name, 
prospered in business ; in 1897 Louis Staunton 
was released, married, had a family, and, under 
a new name, did well. One of the witnesses 
called at the trial was Mr. J. T. Hilder, station- 
master at Penge, now retired, and it is his story 
which is told.] 

On April 12th, 1877, I was on duty at 
Penge Station, where I was stationmaster. A 
train which was due at 8.36 P.M. came in, and 
two young men and a woman alighted. I 
particularly noticed these three, because the men 
began to drag the woman along the platform, 
each holding an arm. It was quite clear that 
for some reason the woman could not walk, 
and I went up and made an examination. The 
woman did not speak, and she was in a terrible 
condition. 

I said to the men : ' ' This lady is not in a 
fit state to be dragged along the platform. 
Don't drag her ; I'll send for a chair, so that 
she can be carried." 

My ticket-collector, Marsh, was near, and I 
told him to get a chair. He fetched one from 
the waiting-room, and the woman was put on 
to it. She was shaking violently, but did not 

67 



Famous Grimes 

make any remark. It was an ordinary chair, 
such as you saw in waiting-rooms at railway 
stations nearly forty years ago we had no invalid 
chairs in those days. 

While the lady was seated on the platform 
a cab was sent for. This took some time, 
because we had to send up to the village for 
one. Penge was then a good class suburb, 
a quiet, pleasant place, very different from the 
Penge of to-day. 

When the cab came I advised the two men 
to carry the lady to it on the chair, and they 
did so. They took the chair from the platform 
and put it as close as possible to the door of the 
cab. The lady was lifted from the seat into the 
vehicle, which then drove away. 

A stationmaster has a very busy life and 
busy it was indeed in those days, though I 
loved the work and I had no time to dwell on 
the subject of the two men and the helpless 
lady. 

The incident did not make any great impres- 
sion on my mind, but I remember that the 
men did not say anything, except to thank me. 
I heard nothing more about the matter until the 
next day, when our family doctor, Dr. Long- 
rigg, told me that a lady had died at No. 34 
Forbes Road, and that she had been in the 

68 



The Penge Mystery 

house only a very short time a few hours. 
From what he said I could not doubt that this 
was the lady who had been dragged along the 
platform at the station by the two men ; but 
I did not suspect that anything was seriously 
wrong until a police sergeant came and told 
me that I should be wanted to give evidence at 
an inquiry into the circumstances attending the 
death of the lady at No. 34. 

Time has dulled my memory, of course, 
regarding many details, but I remember say- 
ing : "Oh, bother it! All my arrangements 
will be upset. Can't you get someone else?" 

The sergeant did get someone else, but he 
got me also, and for more than three months I 
was closely connected with what became known 
as the Penge Mystery, a murder case which 
absorbed the attention of the whole country 
and one concerning which there was an amazing 
divergence of opinion. Later on I will tell you 
what my own opinion was and still is. Mean- 
while, I want to say that I had what I think 
is an unusual experience I was to have been 
called as a juryman at the inquest ; but I got 
out of that duty, and, instead, I was compelled 
to appear as a witness at the inquest, the 
police-court proceedings, and the trial, which 
ended in the two men I had seen on the plat- 

69 



Famous Crimes 

form at Penge, and two women, being sentenced 
to deatli for the murder of the lady who had 
been taken in the cab to No. 84. 

The case in itself was so horrible and extra- 
ordinary that at the time little else was talked 
about. It proved an amazing sensation, and 
I am going to say something which I believe 
has not been said by anyone so far and it is 
this : that the bringing to trial and judgment 
of these four people was very greatly due to 
the persistent enterprise of a penny-a-liner, a 
man of the real old school of newspaper corre- 
spondents. I do not remember his name he 
is pretty certain to be dead now, for he was 
older than I but I can quite clearly recall his 
appearance. He was a little, short man, and 
had a lot of whiskers. A persistent little 
fellow he was, who gave me and others no rest, 
and who did everything he could to force the 
matter on to the attention of the public and 
the police. I am sure that it was largely due 
to his efforts that the Penge mystery became 
so famous. 

Bit by bit the case was built up, and it was 
an awful story that was unfolded when, at the 
Old Bailey, the Stauntons and Alice Rhodes 
were tried for the murder of Harriet, the wife 
of Louis. It was a terrible thing to see two 

70 



The Penge Mystery 

brothers, young men, and two sisters, young 
women, in the dock together. The case of Alice 
Rhodes was particularly sad, for while in prison 
awaiting trial she had given birth to a child 
and she w r as herself only a girl, just out of her 
'teens. The father of the child was Louis Staun- 
ton, with whom she had been living while Harriet 
was being slowly done to death. 

The old court at the Old Bailey w r hat 
a horrible place it was ! where Mr. Justice 
Hawkins presided, was packed day after day, 
many of the persons present being ladies, who 
had gone to the court just as they would have 
gone to a theatre, having plenty of spare time 
on their hands and finding amusement necessary. 
For my own part I greatly disliked being con- 
cerned in the business, and was always glad to 
get away and back to my \vork. 

There were some famous men connected with 
the case. The Attorney-General, Sir John 
Holker, and the Solicitor-General, Sir Hardinge 
Giffard, as well as Mr. Poland, Q.C. Louis 
Staunton was defended by Mr. Montagu Wil- 
liams and Mr. Charles Mathew T s ; Patrick Staun- 
ton was defended by Mr., now Sir, Edward 
Clarke ; and Patrick's wife and Alice Rhodes 
were ably represented by other counsel. I have 
been reading Mr. Montagu Williams 's reminis- 

71 



Famous Crimes 

cences lately and Sir Edward Clarke's speeches, 
and they have in many ways brought back this 
famous trial vividly to my memory. I remember 
Mr. Montagu Williams quite well. He was at 
that time at the height of his fame. I was 
particularly struck by the extraordinary way in 
which his face worked when he was addressing 
the jury or cross-examining the witnesses. 

This was the case which made the reputa- 
tion of Sir Edward Clarke. I have read in 
one of his speeches that as a result of it his 
income, which had steadily increased to 3,000 
a year, suddenly rose to 5,000. 

The story which was unfolded in that crowded, 
foul court during those seven long-drawn-out 
days was one of the most terrible and dramatic 
ever known, even in a criminal court. Harriet 
Staunton was the daughter of a Mrs. Richard- 
son, who became Mrs. Butterfield by her second 
marriage with a clergyman of that name. Mother 
and daughter did not get on well together, and 
in 1874 Harriet Richardson, as she then was, 
went to live with an aunt at Wai worth. There 
she became acquainted with the mother of Mrs. 
Patrick Staunton and Alice Rhodes, and, fatal 
thing for her as it proved, with Louis Staun- 
ton, who visited the aunt's house. Louis was 
a young fellow of twenty-four, not well off by 

72 



The Penge Mystery 

any means, and there is no doubt that he 
learned that Harriet had money of her own as 
well as expectations, and determined to marry 
her, though she was ten years older than him- 
self, feeble-minded, and certainly not person- 
ally attractive. In all she was worth about 
3,000. 

It was not long after their first meeting that 
Louis and Harriet became engaged, despite the 
opposition of Mrs. Butterfield, who unsuccess- 
fully tried to get her daughter officially certified 
as a lunatic. A bitter feeling sprang up 
between Harriet's mother and Louis, especially 
when the young man had married Harriet at 
Clapham. And there was reason for Mrs. 
Butterfield's dislike, for Louis behaved insolently 
to her, and she knew that he had lost no time 
in laying hands on Harriet's ready money and 
getting her to make over to him all that she 
was entitled to receive. In this respect matters 
reached such a state that Mrs. Butterfield was 
forbidden to call and see her daughter, and her 
requests for information concerning Harriet 
were ignored. Later on Mrs. Butterfield's 
resolute action undoubtedly did much to put the 
police on the track of the Stauntons and bring 
them to the fearful position in which they 
found themselves at the Central Criminal Court. 

73 



Famous Crimes 

I ought to explain that the trial, in the 
ordinary course of things, should have taken 
place at the assizes at Maidstone, but owing to 
the strong local feeling against the prisoners it 
was transferred to the Old Bailey. 

Very soon after the marriage Louis and his 
wife and Patrick and his wife were living in 
the same street at Brixton, where Harriet gave 
birth to a boy. By that time Alice Rhodes 
was living in the house, and guilty relationship 
existed between her and Louis. Well might Mr. 
Montagu Williams describe the Penge mystery 
as a " terrible story of crime and debauchery." 

One of the saddest parts of the whole 
dreadful business is that Harriet knew what was 
going on, but was not mentally capable of 
getting redress. She seems to have been really 
attached to her worthless husband and the poor 
little child, which was to come to a sorry end. 

From Brixton Louis and Harriet went to 
live at Gipsy Hill, Norwood. Then it came 
about that all the Stauntons, and a girl called 
Clara Brown, were, at the end of 1875, living 
at Cudham, a lonely little village in Kent. 
Patrick and his wife occupied a five-roomed 
house called " The Woodlands, 5 ' and about a 
mile away Louis lived in a small farm which 
was known as "Little Grays.'* 

74 



The Penge Mystery 

It was at this stage that the measures were 
taken which ended in Harriet's pitiful death. 
Louis Staunton declared that Harriet was in- 
temperate, and that he would leave her the 
post-mortem examination showed no trace of such 
indulgence and accordingly he arranged that 
Harriet and their child should live with his 
brother at "The Woodlands," and that he 
should pay l a week for their maintenance. 
As soon as he had got rid of his wife and 
child in this way, Louis was living with Alice 
Rhodes as his wife, and the pair were known 
as Mr. and Mrs. Staunton. 

During all this time Mrs. Butterfield, 
Harriet's mother, had not let matters rest. 
She heard rumours of ill-treatment, and, meet- 
ing Alice Rhodes at London Bridge Station, she 
demanded to know what was happening. It 
should be borne in mind that she had seen 
Louis and Harriet, and both had forbidden her 
to go near the house nt Cudham, Harriet 
doubtless acting under her husband's influence. 

Alice declared that she did not know any- 
thing, but Mrs. Butterfield noticed that she 
was wearing Harriet's favourite brooch. 

Patrick Staunton was as bad as his brother 
Louis, for he threatened Mrs. Butterfield, warn- 
ing her not to go near Cudham, as he had a 

75 



Famous Crimes 

gun. The evidence given at the trial showed 
that Patrick was a man with a violent temper, 
which caused him frequently to resort to physical 
force. 

When, for the last time, Mrs. Butterfield 
went to "Little Grays" and inquired about 
Harriet, she was told that her daughter was well, 
but that she should not see her. 

Louis Staunton, who was present, took up a 
knife and threatened his mother-in-law, but Mrs. 
Patrick interfered and pushed Mrs. Butterfield 
out of the door. 

As a result of her experience at " Little 
Grays," Mrs. Butterfield communicated with the 
police, but nothing definite was done in the 
matter for the time being. 

By this time Louis had secured everything 
that had been his wife's. He had got Harriet 
out of the way, and he set to work to get rid 
of the helpless little child. The poor mite was 
already in a very bad way. 

The two brothers and Mrs. Patrick took it to 
Guy's Hospital, and there a lying story was told 
and a false name was given. On the day follow- 
ing its admission to the hospital the child died ; 
but no notice was taken of the affair, though, 
later on, Mr. Justice Hawkins said he was 
satisfied that they brought about its death. 

76 



The Penge Mystery 

The child had been his mother's companion 
at " The Woodlands," where Harriet was kept 
a prisoner in one small and filthy room, and 
where she was being slowly starved to death. 
She grew weaker and weaker, got dirtier and 
dirtier, until at last she was in a state that can 
hardly be described. At first she had her meals 
with the family ; then the servant girl, Clara 
Brown, took to the squalid room such oddments 
of food as the Stauntons felt disposed to give 
the wretched prisoner, who was brutally beaten 
at times by Patrick Staunton. Harriet's out- 
door clothing was taken from her, so that she 
could not leave the house, and the two or 
three garments that were left to her got 
into a hopelessly verminous and unclean con- 
dition. 

The purpose which Louis Staunton had in 
mind was being surely carried out that purpose 
was to get rid of Harriet and marry the girl 
Alice Rhodes, and in carrying it out Louis had 
the very great help of his brother and his 
sister-in-law ; to a lesser extent, that of the 
betrayed girl also. 

The time came when it was seen that 
Harriet was dying, and then it was that steps 
were taken to get the poor soul into another 
district, so that when the end came a certificate 

77 



Famous Crimes 

could be obtained without awkward questions 
being asked. 

The Stauntons resolved to take Harriet into 
lodgings at Penge, and in doing that they made 
one of those amazing blunders which have so 
often sent the most cunning murderers to the 
gallows. They thought that by going to Penge 
they would be in the county of Surrey, and 
that the death would be registered at Croydon; 
but they discovered, as a matter of fact, that 
the lodgings they had taken were not in Surrey, 
but in Kent, though only a few yards from the 
boundary, so that in this respect they had been 
completely baffled. 

The brothers and Patrick's wife had taken 
the lodgings at Penge, saying that they were 
wanted for an invalid lady who could eat, but 
would not, and giving the impression that she 
was a relative. Nothing was said as to Harriet 
being Louis's wife. 

Having engaged the rooms, the three 
returned to Cudham and made preparations for 
the last journey of the dying woman. They 
dressed her, and in the evening carried her dow r n 
and put her into a wagonette which Louis 
had, and in this they drove to Bromley Station, 
where they took the train to Penge, from which 
I saw them alight. 

78 



The Penge Mystery 

When they reached the lodgings the brothers 
left, Mrs. Patrick and Alice Rhodes remaining in 
charge of the victim. 

Throughout that unspeakable night these 
three women, one surely dying and the two 
watching her, were in the room. Doubtless 
Harriet was past all consciousness, but what 
must have been the feelings of the watchers, 
knowing what they did know? 

It was about nine o'clock at night when 
Harriet Staunton was carried into the lodgings. 
That was on a Thursday. Shortly before two 
o'clock on the following afternoon she died. 

Immediately steps were taken to register the 
death ; and now it was that justice began to 
overtake the Stauntons. Louis Staunton had 
obtained a certificate from Dr. Longrigg that 
death was due to cerebral disease and apoplexy ; 
but the doctor soon withdrew that certificate 
and communicated with the coroner. His sus- 
picions had been aroused in an astonishing way. 
Louis Staunton, not knowing where the death 
should be registered, went into a shop which 
was a sub-post office to inquire. 

It happened that there was in the shop a 
man named Casabianca, who heard Louis ask 
questions and mention that the deceased woman 
came from Cudham. Casabianca was at once 

79 



Famous Grimes 

deeply interested and amazed and well he 
might be, for he was the dead woman's brother- 
in-law ! 

Louis went away, and Harriet's death was 
ultimately registered at Bromley by a nurse who 
had been called in at the lodgings. 

Casabianca promptly gave information to Dr. 
Longrigg and to the police. Mrs. Butterfield 
heard of the death, and hurried to the lodgings 
and saw her dead daughter in her coffin. 

On the coroner's warrant a post-mortem 
examination of the body of Harriet Staunton 
was made, and it was found that the unfortun- 
ate woman was literally a skeleton, weighing 
only a little over five stone. It was clear 
that the woman had been slowly starved to 
death. 

An inquest was held the jury met several 
times and as the result of it the Stauntons and 
Alice Rhodes were arrested on a charge of 
wilful murder; on that charge also they were 
committed for trial by the Bromley magistrates. 

The long and terrible trial at the Old Bailey 
was ended by the judge's summing-up, which 
became famous. Powerful speeches had been 
made for the defence, which took the line that 
death was due to tubercular meningitis. 

The summing-up was one of the most 
80 




Z 

O 

H 
en 
W 
D 
O 
Z 



The Penge Mystery 

remarkable things of its kind on record. It 
began at half -past ten in the morning, and the 
judge spoke until twenty minutes to ten at 
night, with only short intervals for refresh- 
ments. 

I was . not present in court at the very end 
of the trial. I had gone away as soon as I 
knew that I should not be wanted again, and 
it was not until next morning that I heard 
that all the prisoners had been sentenced to 
death. I knew, however, that the last scene 
had been a terrible one as dreadful, surely, as 
any that was ever witnessed even at the Old 
Bailey, for two brothers and two sisters had been 
sentenced to the gallows. 

It was not far short of midnight when the 
judge pronounced the words of doom. After 
an absence of about an hour and a half the 
jury returned into court, and in tones that could 
be scarcely heard, because of his deep emotion, 
the foreman, in answer to each of the four 
questions put by the Clerk of Arraigns, said 
" Guilty." 

It happened that the streets outside the Old 
Bailey were packed with people, for this trial 
had gripped the popular imagination in a most 
remarkable manner. By some means the verdict 
became known to the crowd almost as soon as 

G 81 



Famous Crimes 

it had been given, and there entered into the 
densely packed, foul, gas-lit court a roar of 
exultation and execration, even as the judge's 
wig was covered by the black cap. 

When the verdict was given Alice Rhodes 
fainted in the dock, the doomed brothers clasped 
hands it was said of them that in spite of all 
their faults they were devoted to each other 
and the miserable mother of a gaol-born babe 
moaned, "Oh, give me a chair!" as the judge 
uttered the words which consigned her to the 
hangman. 

According to the sentence the execution was 
to take place at Maidstone Gaol, and the con- 
demned prisoners were taken there. But though 
the verdict was received with almost unanimous 
approval, yet there soon began a movement for 
the alteration of the punishment, largely on the 
ground that the judge had ignored the evidence 
for the defence, the object of which was to 
show that Harriet's death was due to natural 
causes. 

Alice Rhodes was speedily released, and at 
last, though there seemed every probability of 
the brothers being hanged, they were reprieved, 
with Mrs. Patrick one of them to spend 
twenty long years in penal servitude, and one 
to die in gaol. 

82 



CHAPTER V 
KATE WEBSTER'S REVENGE 

[EARLY in 1879 a murder was committed at 
Richmond which for callousness and savagery has 
few parallels. The affair became known as "the 
Barnes Mystery," because of the discovery at 
Barnes of a box containing human remains. 
These proved to be portions of the body of a 
lady named Mrs. Julia Martha Thomas. The 
story which follows tells how the mystery was 
solved. Mr. George Henry Rudd, whose 
narrative it is, was one of the professional 
witnesses called in this celebrated case.] 

I knew nothing whatever about Kate Webster 
until I was concerned in the case through the 
action of the police. 

I had treated as a patient Mrs. Julia Martha 
Thomas, a lady who lived at Vine Cottages, 
Richmond. She came to me in the ordinary 
way, and I saw her in my surgery. It was 
necessary that I should make a cast of her 
mouth, and this I did. At that time, 

83 



Famous Crimes 

February 22nd, 1879, Mrs. Thomas was a total 
stranger to me ; but she saw me again four 
days later, and for the last time on March 1st. 

I never saw her again. 

In the ordinary course of things a bill was 
forwarded, and this brought me into com- 
munication with the police, from whom I 
learned that Mrs. Thomas had been murdered 
in exceptionally atrocious circumstances. 

Soon afterwards a woman named Kate 
Webster, who had been Mrs. Thomas's servant 
for a few weeks, was arrested and charged with 
the murder of her mistress, and as I had to 
appear as a witness at the preliminary investi- 
gation by the magistrates, I became as well 
acquainted with the appearance of the accused 
individual as I was with that of my patient. 
This circumstance is interesting, because it hap- 
pened that the servant passed herself off as the 
mistress, though it would be impossible to 
imagine two persons who were more unlike each 
other than these. 

Mrs. Thomas was a small, well-dressed lady, 
while Webster was an uncommonly tall, power- 
ful and ill-favoured woman, looking as if she 
belonged to the tramp class. Mrs. Thomas was 
about fifty-four years of age at the time of her 
death, and Webster was something under thirty. 

84 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

This attempt of the servant to pass herself off 
as her mistress proved to be one of those deadly 
errors which are so often committed by mur- 
derers who in other respects have carried out 
their intentions with great cunning. 

The story which was gradually unfolded 
showed that a crime of almost unparalleled 
ferocity had been committed. The public at 
the time became well acquainted with the 
ghastly details of the affair; but it is not 
necessary to recall or dwell on them now. The 
chief interest of the crime centres in the method 
of its execution, the strong probability there was 
at the outset that it would never be discovered, 
and the subsequent slow building of the evidence 
which at last sent the tall, gaunt woman to the 
scaffold. 

There was a good deal of delay in preparing 
the case for the Crown, but this was inevitable 
in view of the circumstantial nature of the 
testimony and the large number of witnesses 
who were called there were more than fifty of 
them. 

It might easily have happened that on the 
mere casual visit to my surgery of a patient, 
and the making of a model in the usual way, 
would have depended the positive identification of 
the deceased lady ; but the identity was proved 

85 



Famous Crimes 

completely in other and many ways, and the 
guilt of the accused woman was thoroughly 
established. 

I had last seen Mrs. Thomas on March 1st, 
which was a Saturday. On the following day, 
in the evening, she was seen alive for the last 
time. 

She vanished. After her disappearance began 
the sensational case which became known, first 
as the Barnes Mystery, and then as the Rich- 
mond Murder. It attracted an amount of 
attention which will be readily recalled and 
understood by a very great number of persons 
who are still living, and are not very old at 
that. 

On that first Sunday in March Mrs. Thomas 
was seen at the Presbyterian service which was 
held in the Lecture Hall at Richmond. 
Certainly, between seven and eight in the even- 
ing she was known to be alive. 

Towards the close of that Sunday Mrs. 
Thomas went home, and about nine o'clock a 
sound was heard by someone in the adjoining 
house such a sound as that which would be 
made by a heavy chair falling but no particu- 
lar attention was paid to it at the time. Vine 
Cottages were, and are, a pair of semi-detached, 
small villas, and are so built, a wall only dividing 

86 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

them, that sounds are readily heard between 
one and the other. At that time the adjoin- 
ing house was occupied by Mrs. Thomas's 
landlady, an independent lady named Miss 
Ives. 

Early on the following morning, Monday, 
while it was still dark, a light was noticed in 
one of the bedrooms at the back of Mrs. 
Thomas's house, and from the back premises 
there came the sound of boiling in the copper. 
These sounds were familiar, and were associated 
with the washing, \vhich so often begins early 
on Monday morning in many households. 

A very unusual and unpleasant smell was 
also noticed by the neighbours ; but none of 
the incidents I have mentioned caused suspicion 
that anything was wrong or that anything 
unusual had happened to Mrs. Thomas. 

There was no sign of Mrs. Thomas through- 
out that Monday, but Kate Webster was seen 
by several people who called for orders. Webster 
was apparently going about her duties in the 
ordinary way as servant. She seemed to be 
busy washing, for the copper had been in use 
and she was hanging things out to dry. 
To tradespeople she gave orders calmly, and 
to one caller who saw her at the door she 
explained that she was very busy getting the 

87 



Famous Crimes 

house ready for visitors who were expected. At 
that time her sleeves were rolled up, and there 
was every appearance of her statement being 
correct. During the whole of that Monday, 
from before six o'clock in the morning, when 
the boiling of the copper was plainly heard in 
the adjoining house, Webster was busily engaged 
indoors, and there was nothing to show that she 
was not performing her ordinary duties. 

On the Tuesday Webster, much more 
smartly dressed than it was her custom to be, 
and wearing jewellery, went to Hammersmith 
and called on some people there named Porter. 
She told them that she was now a widow, that 
her name was Mrs. Thomas, and that she had 
come into some property at Richmond. 

This was one of the many mistakes com- 
mitted by Webster in her attempts to conceal 
the guilt which was finally established against 
her; for she was in every way utterly unlike 
the woman she was personating, and, in view 
of what she had done, it is amazing that she 
made such an extraordinary statement. 

After spending some time at the house at 
Hammersmith, Webster went out with Porter 
and his son, a lad of about sixteen years, who 
afterwards proved a most important witness for 
the Crown. She was then carrying a common 

88 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

black bag, which she had taken to Hammer- 
smith with her a heavy bag for its size, the 
weight being estimated at about twenty-five 
pounds. 

It was arranged that Webster and the man 
and his son should go out together, and the 
three went towards Barnes, where the Porters 
entered a public-house. While they were inside 
Webster temporarily vanished, and when she 
rejoined the Porters she no longer carried the 
black bag. No particular attention was paid to 
the fact that the bag was missing, for it is the 
sort of article that can be disposed of without 
exciting comment or notice. 

After some talk Webster said she would 
like the lad to go back to Richmond with her, 
as she wanted his help in carrying a box from 
Vine Cottages to the station, and it was 
arranged that young Porter should assist; but 
it was stipulated that he should get home in 
time to go to bed, so that he should not be 
late for work on the following morning. 

Webster and the lad proceeded together to 
Vine Cottages, and while he remained below 
she went upstairs and brought down a corded 
wooden box, about a foot square the kind of 
thing which is used by carpenters for holding 
tools. As a matter of fact, this particular box 

89 



Famous Crimes 

was used by Mrs. Thomas to hold a couple of 
bonnets which she wore. 

It was, for its size, a very heavy box, and 
this was the thing which she needed help to 
carry to the station to which she said she was 
going. Here again, as it proved, Webster com- 
mitted a fatal error, for it became an easy 
matter to prove that the box was the property 
of Mrs. Thomas and to associate its contents 
with the crime that had been so deliberately 
carried out. 

Webster at this time seems to have been 
quite cheerful and self-possessed. Before leaving 
the house she ran her fingers over the piano 
belonging to Mrs. Thomas, who was, I believe, 
a good musician, and remarked that it was a 
fine instrument. 

The corded box was lifted up, and Webster 
and the lad left the house ; but instead of going 
to the railway station they proceeded to Richmond 
Bridge and crossed it. 

At the other side of the bridge the box was 
placed in the farthest recess, the woman telling 
the lad to put it down and go away, and that 
she would join him. She told him to go towards 
the station, and accordingly he began to recross 
the bridge. 

The lad was walking towards the Richmond 

90 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

end when he heard a slight splash. When he 
reached the end of the bridge Webster rejoined 
him, but she had no box with her. The lad, 
however, does not seem to have been suspicious, 
and he afterwards said that Webster's conduct 
did not strike him as being peculiar. She gave 
a satisfactory excuse and said that they would 
now get home. As he had missed his last train 
to Hammersmith, he went to Vine Cottages 
and spent the night there. 

On the Wednesday morning, on the lower 
side of Barnes railway bridge, a box was found 
just as the tide was ebbing. This was at a 
quarter to seven o'clock, and the man who saw 
it, being suspicious, communicated with the 
police, with the result that the box was examined 
and found to contain human remains. It was 
taken to Barnes mortuary. 

At about the same time other human remains 
were discovered on a refuse heap at Twickenham 
a foot and ankle and it was soon obvious 
that these and the contents of the box had 
belonged to the same person. There was not, 
however, anything to connect these discoveries 
with the disappearance of Mrs. Thomas ; but 
that mystery was soon to be cleared up to a 
very great extent. 

Meanwhile Webster had been very busy. 
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Famous Grimes 

Through her friends the Porters she had got 
into touch with a publican named Church, on 
the representation that she had furniture at 
Vine Cottages which she wished to sell. Unsus- 
pecting, Church entered into negotiations, with 
the result that he agreed to buy the things, 
and got as far as having a van at Vine Cottages 
to take them away. 

Now came the beginning of the developments 
that explained the non-appearance of Mrs. 
Thomas and the singular sounds which had been 
heard in her house. 

The landlady, Miss Ives, seeing the van and 
the preparations for removal, naturally became 
curious to know what was being done by her 
tenant. She asked Webster where Mrs. Thomas 
was, and how it happened that she had not 
said anything of her intention to leave the 
house. 

Webster became confused and made unsatis- 
factory answers, the result being that the vanmen 
were paid a certain sum and went away, taking 
a few small articles with them, and Webster 
hurried to Hammersmith, borrowed a sovereign, 
took her child, a boy, who had been staying 
there, and fled to Enniscorthy, in Ireland, her 
native place. 

There was now every reason for the inter- 

92 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

vention of the police, and accordingly they 
took charge of the matter and set to work 
methodically to find out what had taken 
place. 

Very soon it was established that an excep- 
tionally dreadful murder had been committed, 
and that there was a close connection between 
the disappearance of Mrs. Thomas and the dis- 
covery of the human remains at Barnes Bridge 
and Twickenham. 

Examination of the house showed that there 
were bloodstains on various parts of the walls 
and the floors, that there were calcined human 
bones in the kitchen fireplace and under the 
copper, and that the outside of the copper had 
been newly whitewashed. There were other 
signs of atrocity which it is not necessary to 
mention; but the main inference was clear, and 
it was this that a terrible murder had been 
committed, and that uncommon pains had 
been taken to remove all evidence of the 
crime. 

The next stage in the dreadful drama was 
the sending of police officers to Enniscorthy and 
the arrest of Kate Webster on the charge of 
murdering Mrs. Thomas. 

Webster was taken into custody and was 
brought back to Richmond by way of Holy- 

93 



Famous Crimes 

head. On the journey, having been charged and 
cautioned, she made a statement which amounted 
to this that she knew that her mistress had 
been murdered, and she endeavoured to make 
out that the crime had been committed by 
other people. 

On the strength of what she said, Church, 
an entirely innocent man, was arrested and 
placed in a position of terrible peril; but it was 
soon obvious that there was not a shadow of 
ground for the accusation against him, and 
he became an important witness for the 
Crown. 

Little by little the dreadful nature of the 
crime was revealed, and by the time Webster 
appeared before the judge and jury at the 
Central Criminal Court the murder had been 
pretty well reconstructed. 

And this was the story : Mrs. Thomas had 
been slain, and the body had been then cut 
up and partly burned and partly boiled, the 
kitchen fire and the copper having been used 
for these purposes. In order to get rid of some 
portions of the remains the wooden box had 
been thrown into the river at Richmond Bridge 
and had been discovered at Barnes railway 
bridge. Other parts of the body, doubtless 
including the head, had been put in the black 

94 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

bag and disposed of; but no trace of the 
was ever found after it was seen in Webster's 
possession. 

It will be seen how nearly Webster entirely 
escaped. She had succeeded so well in the 
earlier stages of her crime that it is surprising 
she did not continue the success to the very 
end. 

But murder will out, and certainly it came 
to light in this case. Apart from the fact that 
important parts of the remains were never 
found, there were sufficient left to leave no 
question as to the identity of the murdered 
individual. 

It might, of course, have happened that the 
chief point in the identification would have 
depended upon proving that the model which I 
had taken exactly corresponded with the mouth 
of the deceased ; but, fortunately for justice, 
there were other ways of establishing the identity 
of Mrs. Thomas, and when Webster was finally 
committed for trial there was a strong case 
against her. There were the signs at the house, 
the corded box was known to have been used 
by Mrs. Thomas as a bonnet-box, and the 
furniture removal men had taken a few things 
away dresses in the pockets of which were 
compromising letters. In her hasty flight, too, 

95 



Famous Crimes 

the prisoner had left her watch behind, and this 
was found, though quite apart from that there 
was abundant evidence of her association with 
the house and being in it when the murder 
must have been committed. 

There was another thing proved which was 
of great importance. 

A gold plate was produced which I examined 
and compared with the cast I had taken of the 
lower jaw of Mrs. Thomas. I found that this 
plate corresponded with the cast, and left no 
doubt that it had belonged to the deceased 
lady, though she was not wearing it when she 
came to see me, explaining that it hurt her. 
This plate was given by Webster to a man 
to sell, and he disposed of it for six shillings, 
Webster giving him a shilling for his trouble. 

The murder was so uncommonly atrocious 
that it aroused an enormous amount of interest 
throughout the country, and the interest was 
fully maintained in spite of the postponement 
of the trial from one sessions to another, so that 
the prisoner might have time to prepare her 
defence. 

Webster had been arrested towards the end 
of March, but it was not until July that she 
was put on her trial at the Central Criminal 
Court before the Hon. Mr. Justice Denman. 

96 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

The trial was a protracted business, occupy- 
ing six long days, and it was conducted by the 
Crown in the fairest possible manner. 

The prisoner had every chance of proving 
her innocence, but she was not in a position 
to do so, and she must have known that there 
was practically no hope of an acquittal ; yet to 
the very end she was under the impression 
that she would be found not guilty certainly 
after her condemnation she believed to the last 
that she would be reprieved though why she 
should have encouraged any such hope it is hard 
to understand. 

Day after day the court was packed with 
men and women, and every point in the case 
was followed with acute interest. And through 
it all the tall, gaunt, ill-favoured woman who 
was in peril of her life remained apparently 
unmoved, even when the most ghastly of the 
details were gone into, as they are of necessity 
gone into on such occasions as this. 

At the end of that long, and to me, very 
wearisome trial, the prisoner, who had not 
made any defence and had not called any 
witnesses, was found guilty, the jury being 
absent from court about an hour and a 
quarter. 

There was some delay in passing sentence 
H 97 



Famous Grimes 

of death, as Webster wished to consult her 
solicitor. He went into the dock and had 
some earnest private talk with her, but no 
one knew what the conversation was about. 

The court was crowded, and there was an 
intense and awful silence, broken at last by the 
judge gently but firmly intimating that quite 
sufficient time had been given for any necessary 
question to be asked and answered. Then the 
solicitor left the dock, and the convicted woman 
was asked if she had anything to say 
why sentence of death should not be passed 
upon her. 

Webster seemed to be quite calm and 
collected, and she answered in clear, firm tones 
that she was not guilty, and made a short 
speech protesting her innocence ; but her very 
protest served only to confirm the justice of 
the verdict, for she said : " And another thing, 
I was led to this." 

In uttering this she removed any possible 
doubt that might have lingered in one's 
mind. 

I was in the crowded court when all this 
was taking place, and I supposed that when 
the judge had assumed the black cap and 
passed sentence the dreadful proceedings were 
ended ; but there was still another sensation 

93 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

in a case which had offered many great 
surprises. 

The condemned woman had been actually 
removed from the dock and people were begin- 
ning to leave the court when she was brought 
back, and it was privately intimated to the court 
that she declared herself as about to become a 
mother. 

All who were in court were utterly taken 
aback by this fresh development, and as far as 
I recollect the judge himself said that in all 
his experience he had never known an instance 
like it. His lordship did not hesitate to fall 
back on the wide criminal knowledge of the 
Clerk of Assize, Mr. Avory, and a jury of 
women was sworn to try this unexpected issue. 
When such a plea is put forward by a con- 
demned woman a jury of matrons has to be 
empanelled, and upon their verdict it rests 
whether or no there shall be a stay of 
execution. 

There were then, as there had been through- 
out the trial, a good many women in court, 
and very soon a dozen had been sworn and 
were in the box which had been occupied by 
the men who had found the prisoner guilty. 

A celebrated surgeon, Mr. Bond, was present, 
and he and the jury of females and a few other 

99 



Famous Grimes 

persons in court, including myself, withdrew to 
the jury room, to which the prisoner, in the 
care of two women warders, was taken. It was 
soon found that she had lied in her statement, 
and the jury of matrons returned to the court, 
where, after some legal argument, the judge 
again summed up, very briefly, to the occupants 
of the box, addressing them as " Ladies of the 
jury." 

The matrons were only two or three minutes 
before giving their verdict. 

As soon as their finding had been delivered 
Webster was removed from the dock. She was 
taken straight to Wands worth Prison, where she 
had been previously confined for lesser offences, 
and there she was hanged. 

Before being executed this strange and for- 
bidding woman confessed that she alone did the 
murder, that her mistress reproved her for 
being under the influence of drink, and that 
she knocked her down the stairs and then 
strangled her. There is very good reason 
to believe, however, that the crime was 
premeditated. 

It was stated at the time that Webster, 
while in prison for the last time, was very 
submissive and docile, and was thankful to be 
in a gaol which was familiar to her, and where 

100 



Kate Webster's Revenge 

she was undoubtedly treated with the utmost 
kindness to the very end. 

The house where the murder was committed 
is still standing we will go and see it but the 
name of the spot has been changed. When 
we have looked at it we will go a little 
farther, and I will point out to you a much 
more interesting place, and that is the one 
which is associated with the Lass of Richmond 
Hill. 



101 



CHAPTER VI 

THE MASTER CRIMINAL 

[!F the question were asked : Who is the most 
notorious criminal of modern times? the almost 
universal answer would be Charles Peace. And 
the reply would be correct, for Peace has a 
record which is unparalleled in recent genera- 
tions. He was a crafty hypocrite, a skilful 
burglar, and a murderer. He was so merciless 
and callous that he actually saw an innocent 
man sentenced to death for a murder which he 
himself committed. Peace was eventually caught 
while burgling, and his chief crimes having been 
brought home to him, he was hanged at Armley 
Gaol, Leeds. The teller of this story, Mr. Alfred 
Tate, is an old sergeant of the Metropolitan 
Police, and he it was who, in company with a 
comrade, arrested Peace while he was committing 
a burglary at Blackheath.] 

I joined the Metropolitan Police force when 
I was twenty-five years old. I was in the force 
some twenty-five years, and I have been out 

102 



The Master Criminal 

of it as long, so that makes me about seventy- 
five, doesn't it? Well, that's my age, and yet, 
in God's mercy, I keep fit and well, and in my 
little quiet way I enjoy life and all it offers. 

I have been spared from many dangers 
cholera, attempted murder, and riot amongst 
them. I survived the great cholera visitation 
of 1849 ; in the course of doing my duty as a 
policeman I was shot at twice by burglars, one 
of whom got ten years' penal servitude and the 
other five years'. I have had other narrow 
shaves too many of them but I suppose that 
really the narrowest of all was when I bore a 
hand in the arrest of Charles Peace, though at 
the time of the capture I had no more idea 
than the man in the moon who he was. I often 
think that the real reason of my salvation was 
the carrying out of the lesson that was taught 
to the old London policeman : Get the first 
hit in that is, of course, when desperate 
characters have to be dealt with. 

You want to hear about Charles Peace? 
Very well, then, I will tell you what I remember 
and my memory is very good, despite my 
growing years. 

At the end of 1878 I was a policeman at 
Blackheath, and was on duty with a comrade 
named Robinson. At that period we were work- 

103 



Famous Grimes 

ing in pairs, because a good many burglaries 
had been committed and there was no clue to 
the burglar, and one of the two men was armed 
with a loaded revolver. On this particular night 
it was Robinson who had the revolver. I had 
my truncheon. 

We were on Blackheath, and it was getting 
very late. Midnight came and went, and at 
about twelve-fifteen we came across a respect- 
able-looking man who was sitting on one of 
the seats. 

Recent events had made us very suspicious, 
and I eyed the man carefully. Then I said : 
* ' Hallo ! What are you doing here ? ' ' 

Quite coolly the man replied : "I don't 
know what business it is of yours, governor; 
but if you want to know, I'm looking at the 
lights o' London !" 

I got rather angry partly because of the 
tone of the man, and partly because I thought 
it was such a poor excuse to offer, so I 
answered : " Don't talk rubbish about the lights 
of London. Get up and go away." 

The man rose, muttering, and walked off, 
and Robinson and I resumed our beats, care- 
fully examining the houses, especially those 
which were empty and were in charge of 
the police. 

104 



The Master Criminal 

It was OUT custom to take particular measures 
to give us warning if any burglary had been 
committed, and in one case, that of a semi- 
detached house, we had fastened cotton across 
the doors and windows a thin line which could 
not be seen in the darkness and would be easily 
broken. When that line was not to be seen 
or felt we knew that someone was up to 
mischief. 

It was pretty well after midnight when we 
examined the house and saw at once that the line 
was missing, showing that something was wrong. 

I felt excited all at once, and the two of 
us stalked the house as carefully as we could, 
for we never knew what might be in store. We 
looked around the front of the house, but there 
was nothing to be seen. Most fortunately we 
did not make a noise or show a lantern, or 
neither of us would have been living I am sure 
of that. 

We crept round to the back of the house, 
where there was a long garden, and I whispered 
to Robinson: "Look! There's a shadow on 
the blind ! And I do believe it's the man 
who said he was looking at the lights of 
London." 

We held a short council of war to decide 
what should be done and who should do it. The 

105 



Famous Grimes 

door was open, and it was easy to enter the 
house, but there was obviously a heavy risk to 
be run. 

4 'Who's going in first?" asked Robinson. 
' I don't care which of us it is," I answered; 
" but you'd better go first, as you've got the 
shooter." 

"All right," he replied; and we made our 
way noiselessly upstairs to the door of the bed- 
room on the blind of which we had seen the 
shadow. 

We stood in the open doorway for a few 
seconds, and I took in a queer scene. 

There was the burglar carefully and quietly 
examining jewellery and other articles by the 
light of his bull's-eye lantern, acting just as a 
respectable business man would act who was 
valuing articles he meant to buy. That was 
the look of the man and he was calculating, 
too ; but he did not mean to pay anything for 
what he was getting. There he was, a littlish 
man, absorbed in his task, which was a merciful 
thing for us, because on a dressing-table near 
him and within easy reach was an ugly brute 
of a revolver. 

Robinson had his revolver out, and, holding 
this in his right hand, he rushed into the room, 
calling on the burglar to surrender. 

106 



The Master Criminal 

Like a flash the man was on his guard, and 
his hand made a snatch at the revolver on the 
dressing-table. 

I don't quite know how it all happened, but 
I rushed past Robinson and flew at the burglar 
like a bird, and struck him a blow with my 
truncheon, telling him that it would be useless 
to resist, as we had plenty of help outside. 

"How many more of you are there?" he 
asked ; and I told him to mind his own business 
and come out. 

As he seemed likely to be troublesome, I 
gave him another tap with the truncheon ; then 
we got the handcuffs on him and took him, 
without any trouble, to Blackheath Road Police 
Station, which is, I believe, still standing. 

When we got our burglar to the station we 
carefully searched him, and though we did not 
just then know who he was, we knew that we 
had caught a very uncommon criminal, for he 
had a belt round his body which was filled with 
cartridges, and another belt which was entirely 
lined with skeleton keys, so that he could open 
any door, and he had the revolver which we 
saw lying on the dressing-table, and which we 
took very good care to secure. It was fully 
loaded, so that the man was thoroughly well 
equipped for the risky game he was playing. 

107 



Famous Crimes 

All the prisoner's belongings were taken from 
him and put aside, and a list was made of them 
in the usual manner, so that, in case nothing 
was proved against him, he would get them 
back. But the articles were never returned to 
him, and they are now, I believe, in the 
museum at Scotland Yard, with many more 
criminal trophies relating to notorious men 
and women. 

When the prisoner had been charged in the 
usual way he was asked for his name, and he 
promptly answered that it was Reynolds. 

I said : " You're the man I saw on a 
seat at twelve-fifteen this morning, and you 
told us you were looking at the lights of 
London." 

"Oh no, you didn't," he answered quite 
quietly. He had an amazingly assured way 
with him, and looked so eminently respectable 
that you might easily have believed him ; but I 
knew that I was not mistaken, so I said 
positively : 

" Yes, I did." 

Then the inspector turned to me and asked : 
"Did you see him?" And I assured him that 
I had seen the man. 

Then the prisoner owned up and said that I 
was right. He added: "My name is Peace" 

108 



The Master Criminal 

and that made me think we had caught big 
game. 

"What's your proper address?" the inspector 
asked ; and Peace gave it Queen's Road, Peck- 
ham. It seems odd, talking about the matter 
now, that he was so open ; but I am certain 
that he never imagined that he would be trapped 
for the hangman. I am not pretending to feel 
any sympathy for him he was an unmitigated 
monster, and deserved far more than the death 
he got on the gallows. It is no good wasting 
kindness on criminals like him. 

When these preliminaries had been carried out 
Peace was put in a cell, and, a search warrant 
having been issued, the house in Queen's Road 
was forcibly entered, and there was seen an 
astonishing collection of goods and articles, all 
or most of which were proved to be the pro- 
ceeds of clever and mysterious burglaries. 

Peace had kept dark for a long time, but 
now there was a very brilliant light thrown on 
him and on his past. 

A description of him was circulated in the 
ordinary way and by telegraph, with the result 
that a large number of detectives and other 
police officers came and identified him as a man 
who was wanted for burglaries. The net was 
closing in around him and was beginning to 

109 



Famous Crimes 

hold him very tight, but Peace did not seem 
much concerned when, on the morning of his 
arrest, he was brought up at Greenwich Police 
Court and charged with the burglary at the 
house where we had caught him. Formal 
evidence having been given, he was remanded 
for a fortnight. 

What was this man like when we arrested 
him? Well, he was most respectable, and he 
had an extraordinary knack of making a lie seem 
to be a truth. He was thoroughly plausible, 
and as deceitful in his speech as he was in his 
dress and he had quite a genius for disguising 
himself. That was the reason why it was so 
hard to identify him in many cases as the per- 
petrator of crimes. He was, as I have said, a 
littlish man, wearing a light overcoat, a black 
suit, and a bowler hat. In those days we called 
the bowler " Miiller's cut-down," because of 
the way in which the hat of Mr. Briggs, who 
was murdered by a German named Miiller in a 
North London train, had been cut down by 
the murderer. 

Peace had such an oily way with him that 
he could have talked a good many people into 
believing anything, and he was as cunning as 
Old Nick himself. He was, in a way, fond 
of music and art, and there was found at his 

110 



The Master Criminal 

house a violin on which he frequently played. 
Those who heard him, and thought him a most 
respectable citizen, little suspected that he was 
the actual murderer of a policeman for whose 
death another man had been condemned to the 
gallows, and that this seemingly good and 
upright person was actually in the assize court 
when the innocent man was convicted ! I will 
speak of that case later. 

I never had the slightest pity for the ruffian, 
and I never knew anybody who had. I don't 
think there was as much cheap sentiment about 
then as there is now. 

While Peace was under remand he was seen 
repeatedly and the inquiries about him were 
conducted ceaselessly. When he was in the 
police court again there was no hesitation in 
sending him to take his trial on the charge of 
burglary, and he was committed to the Old 
Bailey. 

Meanwhile it was being realised that he was 
guilty of more than one cold-blooded murder 
as well as of many crafty burglaries. In par- 
ticular it became obvious that he was concerned 
in the death of Mr. Dyson, at Bannercross, 
near Sheffield, who, in 1877, was shot by a 
burglar. A charge of murdering Mr. Dyson 
was preferred against him, and this meant that 

ill 



Famous Crimes 

Peace had to be taken from London to York- 
shire, to be tried at the assizes at Leeds. 

The man did not want to die he was too 
big a coward for that; but he must have known 
that his fate was by this time pretty well 
sealed and that he could not escape conviction 
by a jury. Little as he wished to die, he 
desired still less to be hanged, and so, when he 
was being taken into Yorkshire by two warders, 
he made a most desperate attempt to escape 
from the train by which he was travelling. 

Watching for his chance, Peace suddenly 
sprang at the open window with such force and 
so skilfully that he actually went out head first, 
and would most likely have been killed on the 
spot if one of the warders had not grabbed 
him by the ankle and held on to him with all 
his might. 

Peace struggled furiously to get free, head 
downward and hanging from the window of the 
compartment in that flying express. But the 
warder did not let go for some time ; and that 
is all the more astonishing, because he had to 
hold on alone, the whole of the window space 
being taken up by himself, so that his comrade 
could not get near to help. 

To hold on for any length of time to such 
a desperate character under such conditions 

112 



The Master Criminal 

was too much even for an experienced prison 
warder, and as the train could not be stopped 
there was nothing for it but to let the prisoner 
go, and so he crashed to the line, and the 
train tore on some distance before it could be 
stopped. Then a rush was made for the spot 
at which Peace had escaped, and there he was 
found not dead, as was fully expected, but too 
badly hurt to get away. He was taken on to 
his journey's end, where he recovered and 
found that his desperate attempt to cheat the 
hangman had failed. I do not know what he 
supposed would be the result of such a mad 
leap, but he may have fancied that by chance 
he would escape uninjured, and that his cunning 
would enable him to be at large once more to 
carry on his scoundrel's work. 

It was on January 22nd, 1879, that this 
notorious criminal sprang from the train and 
nearly cheated the gallows ; it was on February 
4th following that he appeared in the Crow r n 
Court at the assizes held at Leeds by Mr. 
Justice Lopes. The indictment charged him 
with the murder of Mr. Dyson. I was very 
glad to think that the end of the business was 
near at hand, because I had been in Leeds 
waiting for several days, and I can't say that 
I cared for the place. 

i 113 



Famous Grimes 

The trial began and ended on the same day, 
and the evidence left no doubt that Peace had 
murdered Dyson very deliberately. In the dock 
the monster did not appear to be very 
much concerned, and it is said that he actually 
had some hope of an acquittal. His counsel 
did his best for him he was defended by 
Mr. Frank Lock wood, who afterwards became 
Solicitor-General but no impression was made 
on the jury, who, when the judge had 
summed up, were only a few minutes in finding 
the prisoner guilty. 

The judge wasted no words while passing 
sentence of death, and then the warders closed 
round and the criminal was taken away, going 
down the dock stairs with perhaps as little 
sympathy as any man ever got who descended 
them. 

Peace was taken to Armley Gaol, about two 
miles distant, to await his execution in three 
weeks. There seemed to be a positive wave of 
relief in the country when it was realised that 
this dangerous villain, who had made himself 
a terror to the police as well as to the general 
public, was put beyond the power of doing 
further mischief. 

Any lingering doubt that might have existed 
as to the justice of his punishment was dashed 

114 



The Master Criminal 

by the confession Peace made of the murder 
which I have mentioned that of the policeman 
Cocks. 

On November 27th, 1876, an absolutely 
innocent lad named William Habron was con- 
demned to death at the Old Bailey for the 
murder of Cocks. The real murderer, Peace, 
was in court, and he heard the sentence passed ; 
he knew later that the hangman was actually 
in the prison, arranging for the execution, yet 
he did not give a hint that there had been a 
terrible miscarriage of justice. Habron, at the 
eleventh hour, was reprieved and sent to penal 
servitude for life. Finally the lad, whose father 
had died of a broken heart, got a " free 
pardon,'' but only because of what Peace con- 
fessed when he knew that there was no hope for 
him in this world. 

Peace was hanged in a semi-public way 
that is to say, representatives of the Press 
witnessed his end. He was a hypocrite and a 
coward to the end, for on the scaffold he made 
a whining speech and told the hangman that 
the rope hurt him. He was executed on 
gallows that were erected in the prison yard, 
and he was buried in the yard, not far away. 
I believe the identical scaffold is in the Chamber 
of Horrors at Madame Tussaud's, and on it is 

115 



Famous Grimes 

a figure representing Peace in the convict dress 
he wore when he was hanged. Another figure 
is that of Mar wood, the executioner. 

The extraordinary public interest which was 
aroused in the case of Peace was shown by the 
eagerness of people to get mementoes of 
him. 

I was present at the house at Peckham when 
the things in it that had been got together by 
this cunning burglar were sold by auction. 
There were all sorts of musical instruments, 
and there was a good deal of competition for 
the fiddle on which the man used to play. 
There were also a pony and cart, which Peace 
used when he was going about and which helped 
him to keep up the impression that he was a 
person of the utmost respectability. The pony 
and cart were bought by a Walworth coster- 
monger, who promptly christened the animal 
Charles Peace, which I think was rather hard 
on it. The sale lasted two days, and very good 
prices were realised. I imagine that some of 
the money raised went to pay for Peace's 
trial. The whole of the household arrangements 
showed that Peace was a man of great taste 
in some directions. He had an astonishingly 
clever way of deceiving a lot of people into 
the belief that he was a gentleman, and I have 

116 



The Master Criminal 

often thought that he might have won great 
success if he had turned his talents to honest 
efforts. 

The capture of such a notorious scoundrel 
attracted enormous public attention, and Robin- 
son came in for a great deal of it. He was 
made much of and feted and dined and per- 
suaded to go on the music-hall stage. In the 
end he was called upon to resign from the 
police force, and he had to make a living by 
selling newspapers outside " The Angel." Finally 
he died in a workhouse. 

I got nothing out of the business, nor did 
I expect anything ; and what I never had I 
shan't miss. 

Have I the truncheon that I used on Peace? 
No ; I had to give it up when I left the force. 
And the bull's-eye lantern you see here is not 
the one I had that night on Blackheath when 
we caught him. It's a lamp I use at night 
in winter to show me where I'm going, because, 
you see, we have no gas or electric light in a 
little place like this, which is more than two 
miles from a railway station. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE BRIGHTON RAILWAY MURDER 

[!N 1881 a profound sensation was caused 
throughout the country by the murder of Mr. 
Frederick Isaac Gold in a first-class compart- 
ment of an express train from London Bridge 
Station to Brighton. The murderer, Percy 
Lefroy, alias Mapleton, escaped from custody in 
the most astonishing manner, and remained in 
hiding for more than a week. His arrest was 
a matter of such intense interest that it 
was made known at the Lord Mayor's banquet 
and in the House of Commons. An important 
witness in the case was Mr. Thomas Picknell, 
and this is his story of the crime.] 

Just on this spot where we are standing 
in the six-foot way I picked up a collar on 
the afternoon of June 27th, 1881. It was an 
ordinary turn-down collar of the type very 
common in those days, but there was an extra- 
ordinary thing about it, and it was this : the 
collar was covered with blood. I examined the 

118 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

collar, and so did my mate, who was with me. 
Having done so, I let it drop back into the 
six-foot way. 

I was a ganger at that time, and it was my 
duty to examine a certain section of the line 
twice every weekday and once every Sunday. 
I was carrying out that task when I found the 
collar. 

In spite of the stains I did not think much 
of the discovery, for I supposed that a pas- 
senger had scratched his neck and had taken 
the collar off and thrown it out of the window 
of a passing train. All sorts of odd things are 
disposed of in this manner. 

After throwing the collar back into the six- 
foot way we walked on to Balcombe Station, 
about three-quarters of a mile away, and there 
I was startled to hear that another mate of 
mine, named Thomas Jennings, had found the 
dead body of a man in Balcombe Tunnel. 
Balcombe, as you see, is a quiet little country 
place, with not much going on, but it suddenly 
became very busy and famous, for a crime had 
been committed which rilled the country with 
horror and was the thing that was mostly talked 
about for many a long day. 

I soon learned what had happened. Jennings 
had walked through the tunnel to do some 

119 



Famous Crimes 

haymaking, and, having finished, he was walk- 
ing back towards the station, carrying a naphtha 
lamp with him. He had got almost exactly in 
the middle of the tunnel when he found the 
body lying in the six-foot way that is, of 
course, the space between the two sets of 
metals. At that time the cause of death was 
not known, and I don't suppose that any time 
was lost in trying to find out. The main thing 
was to report the affair at the station and get 
the body out of the tunnel. 

There was great excitement all at once. An 
engine and a brake were got a brake such as 
a guard uses on a goods train and the engine 
took a number of us into the tunnel to get 
the body up and bring it on to Balcombe. It 
was a gloomy business, and a strange scene 
it was as we gathered round the body in the 
six-foot way, working by the lights of our 
naphtha lamps just the sort of lamps you see 
at fairs and lighting costers' carts at night. 
The task was very difficult, too, because of the 
constant traffic through the tunnel, which caused 
us time after time to get into the manholes 
for shelter. 

We were in the tunnel about an hour, 
because we had to wait for a policeman. At 
the end of that time we had got the body into 

120 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

the brake, and it was drawn by the engine to 
the station and carried to the ''Railway Inn," 
where it was put in the coach-house. 

When we first saw the body it was lying 
on its back, with the head towards Brighton. 
Even in the gloomy light of the tunnel it was 
evident that terrible injuries had been caused, 
for the face was covered with blood, and on 
this the black dust from passing engines and 
the ballast had settled thickly, making the 
features look as dark as a negro's. It was clear 
enough that murder had been done, and that 
there had been a long and fierce struggle before 
Mr. Gold was lying in the middle of Balcombe 
tunnel. 

I first picked the collar up it was soon 
secured, of course, in view of the discovery of 
the body at about a quarter to five. By that 
time an extraordinary thing had happened at 
Preston Park Station, just outside Brighton. 

A ticket-collector, on opening the door of 
a first-class compartment, found a young man 
in it who had neither hat nor collar, who was 
covered with blood, and who was looking as if 
he had been badly knocked about. Blood was 
spattered all over the compartment, and the 
young man, Percy Lefroy, asked for a police- 
man to be sent for. When one came he 

121 



Famous Crimes 

declared that when he left London Bridge two 
men were in the compartment with him, one 
of them an elderly person, and the other looking 
like a countryman. 

Lefroy said that on entering a tunnel he 
was murderously assaulted by one of the men 
and became insensible, and that he knew 
nothing more until he reached Preston Park. 
While he was telling his tale it was noticed 
that a watch-chain was hanging from his shoe, 
and on his attention being called to this circum- 
stance he explained that he had put his watch 
.there for safety. 

Lefroy was allowed to keep the watch and 
chain and to go on to Brighton, the policeman 
being with him. He was taken to the Town 
Hall, where he made a statement, and he was 
then removed to the hospital, where his injuries 
were attended to. He showed a keen wish to 
get away, saying he wished to return to his 
home at Wallington, near Croydon, where he 
lived with a second cousin. He was given 
permission to go back, but the case looked very 
suspicious, and two railway policemen accom- 
panied him. On the journey, at one of the 
stopping-places, the party learned that Mr. 
Gold's body had been found. This was stated 
by an official of the company, and Lefroy 

122 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

heard it; but it does not seem that he was 
greatly upset by the tidings. He reached 
Wellington and the cousin's house ; then he 
told the police that he was going out to see 
a doctor. Amazing as it seems, he was allowed 
to go, and from that moment, for more than 
a week, all trace of him was lost. 

An inquest was held a tremendous affair 
it was for a little place like Balcombe, special 
wires being fitted so that long telegrams could 
be sent off to the newspapers and a verdict 
of wilful murder was returned against Lefroy. 
A reward, too, was offered for his arrest, and 
the whole country was thrown into a state of 
the most intense excitement and a lot of people 
were quite unnerved when it came to a question 
of travelling by train. 

I spent many weary days at the inquest, at 
the police court proceedings, and at the trial 
at the assizes, so that every detail of the case 
became familiar to me, and I remember them 
pretty well even now. So I will just outline 
the actual story of what happened on that 
famous summer clay in 1881. 

Mr. Gold was a retired London business 
man, about sixty -four years old, and lived at 
Brighton. He was still interested in a business 
in London, and every Monday morning he went 

123 



Famous Crimes 

to town to get his share of the profits. This 
money he sometimes took home with him, and 
at other times he paid it into the bank. On 
this particular Monday morning he received 38 
odd, and with the exception of the shillings 
and pence he put the money into the bank and 
then went to London Bridge Station, which he 
reached just before two o'clock. 

The train, an express, left London Bridge 
at two o'clock, the only stopping-places being 
Croydon and Preston Park. Mr. Gold, who 
was a season ticket holder, was well known on 
the line. He occupied a seat in a first-class 
smoking compartment, and just before the train 
started Lefroy, who had been walking up and 
down the platform looking into the carriages, 
jumped in and seated himself in the compart- 
ment. At Croydon the guard noticed that Mr. 
Gold was apparently taking a nap, for he had 
a handkerchief over his head. 

When the express reached Merstham Tunnel 
a passenger heard four reports, which he thought 
were fog-signals, but which proved to be revolver 
shots. 

Lefroy had begun his murderous w r ork by 
firing with a revolver which he had got out of 
pawn. Then began a long and terrible struggle, 
for Mr. Gold, though elderly, was a big, power- 

124 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

ful man, and he defended himself in the most 
resolute manner. 

Mile after mile the fight went on it was 
calculated afterwards that the struggle was 
continued over a distance of fourteen miles. It 
began when the train was about seventeen miles 
from London, and ended only in the middle 
of Balcombe Tunnel, about thirty-one miles from 
London Bridge, with the flinging out of the 
compartment of a man who by that time had 
one bullet in the head and about fourteen knife 
wounds on various parts of the body. The 
medical evidence showed that the actual cause 
of death was a fracture at the base of the 
skull, which was, no doubt, the result of the 
fall from the train into the six-foot way. 

That there was a fierce struggle was shown 
by the statements of a woman who lived in 
a cottage at Horley, about eight miles from 
Merstham Tunnel. She was outside the cottage, 
and as the train dashed by she saw two men 
struggling in a compartment. They were stand- 
ing up, and at first she did not know \vhether 
or not they might be engaged in the sort 
of horseplay which so often takes place in 
trains. 

The train roared through Balcombe Tunnel 
and out into the open air and passed me on 

125 



Famous Crimes 

the line, but I took no more notice of it than 
I took of any of the scores of trains that went 
up and down in the course of a day. 

By that time Lefroy had shut the door of 
the compartment and was speeding on to 
Preston Park, no doubt concocting the wonder- 
ful tale which he told when the train stopped 
for the collection of tickets. He had thrown 
his collar away, and his silk hat as well ; doubt- 
less also the revolver and the knife, for we 
found a knife in the tunnel near the body. 

At Brighton he went to a shop to buy a 
collar, which proved to be the same size as 
the one I found; and he got a hat, also the 
same size as the one which was found on the 
line and an uncommon size, because Lefroy 
was an uncommon-looking person. He had a 
receding forehead and a very receding chin, and 
his teeth and gums showed prominently when 
he smiled. I had many opportunities of study- 
ing him, and he seemed to be the last person 
in the world to commit a murder, least of 
all the murder of a man like Mr. Gold. I 
should think that Mr. Gold was almost twice 
the size, taking all round, of Lefroy, but I 
dare say that the awful peril of his position and 
his determination to see his business through 
gave Lefroy the strength of a madman while 

126 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

he was doing his work. He was only about 
twenty-two years old, and was about five feet 
eight inches in height, but weedy looking and 
not very fit. 

The murder had been done and the whole 
country was more or less panic-stricken because 
Lefroy had escaped. There was a tremendous 
outcry, and all sorts of theories were set afoot 
to account for his disappearance. He had com- 
mitted suicide, gone abroad, had been seen in 
many towns in England, and so forth ; but, 
as a matter of fact, he had made his way to 
London and taken lodgings in a small house 
in a little mean street in Stepney, giving out 
that he was an engineer from Liverpool. 

It was afterwards known that Lefroy hid 
in the house for nearly eight days, never leaving 
it, and almost starving, certainly looking so 
miserable and wretched that he was enough to 
arouse pity in the heart of anyone who saw 
him. There was never a suspicion that he was 
a murderer. 

In those days there were not the wonderful 
means that exist now of publishing photographs 
and particulars of people who were wanted by 
the police. It was a rare thing for a news- 
paper to give a portrait, but the Daily 
Telegraph had a picture of Lefroy which 

127 



Famous Crimes 

aroused enormous interest and was remarkably 
like him. He was so uncommon looking that 
if he had been at large I think it is pretty 
certain he would have been taken much sooner 
than was actually the case. 

Lefroy had neither money nor luggage, and 
it became urgently necessary to secure the 
means to pay his bill. He managed to send 
a telegram off in the name of Clarke to an 
office in Gresham Street asking for money to 
be sent to him that night without fail. That 
was on Friday, July 8th, eleven days after the 
murder. By that time the published portrait 
had been seen and studied by great numbers 
of persons, and when the telegram was handed 
in at the post office information was given that 
a man strongly resembling the picture was 
lodging at the house in Stepney. 

The police were communicated with, and, 
instead of the money reaching Lefroy, when 
the door opened he saw two police officers. He 
knew why they wanted him, and made no 
resistance, nor did he say much, except that he 
was not guilty of the crime. 

Lefroy was taken to Stepney Police Station, 
then to Scotland Yard, and having spent the 
night at King Street Police Station, Westmin- 
ster, he was hurried off to Victoria Station 

128 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

early next morning and taken to East Grin- 
stead. The bloodstained clothes which he was 
wearing when he reached Brighton, and which 
he had exchanged for another suit while in the 
charge of the police, were carried down at the 
same time. 

At that preliminary hearing the magistrates 
at Cuckfield, in which district the body had 
been found, sat in the Talbot Hotel, Lefroy 
being kept in Lewes Gaol, sixteen miles away. 
The magistrates' inquiry lasted four days, and 
each morning Lefroy was driven in a two-horse 
fly from the prison to the court, and each 
afternoon he was driven back. I do not think 
he was ever seen in public without being 
hooted. Lefroy was committed for trial at the 
Maidstone Assizes, and had to wait four months 
in prison before he appeared in the dock before 
the Lord Chief Justice. The hearing occupied 
four days. 

Enormous interest was taken in one of the 
most striking things in connection with the 
crime, and that was the railway carriage in 
which the terrible struggle took place. This 
carriage was seen time after time by jurymen 
and others concerned in the case, and I became 
familiar with it. In the actual compartment 
there were abundant signs of the fight, and 

j 129 



Famous Crimes 

even on the footboard were marks of blood, 
which showed that to the very end Mr. Gold 
had fought for his life. He had apparently 
made a last frantic clutch as he was hurled out 
of the train. 

The state of the carriage and the condition 
of the body showed at a glance how long and 
fierce the fight had been. As for the appear- 
ance of Lefroy at Preston Park and Brighton 
I cannot say anything, as I did not see him 
then, but when I did see him, soon after his 
arrest, there were not many signs that he had 
gone through such a desperate struggle. He 
seemed to have had matters pretty much his 
own way, but having a loaded revolver and a 
knife against an unarmed man gave him 
tremendous odds. 

It was on Gunpowder Plot Day that the 
trial before the Lord Chief Justice began. By 
that time Lefroy had improved very much in 
looks and had had time to pull himself together. 
Considering the nature of the evidence against 
him and the almost utter hopelessness of an 
acquittal, he was amazingly cool ; in fact, he 
seemed to be about the most unaffected person 
in court. There was no doubt that he had a 
mania for attracting public attention, and he 
made the extraordinary request that he should 

130 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

be allowed to get a dress suit out of pawn and 
wear it in the dock. This fancy was not 
gratified, but the young man made the best 
of his chances and was particularly attentive to 
a silk hat which he wore. Each morning 
when he was brought up into the dock from 
the cells below he bowed ceremoniously to the 
judge and the court generally. It seemed as 
if the prisoner's great object was to attract 
attention, and I was astonished that a man who 
stood in such peril of his life could find time 
or inclination for such trifles. But the fact was 
that to the very last moment Lefroy believed 
that he would be acquitted, and there were 
other people who actually persuaded themselves 
that he would be found not guilty. It may 
have been that they credited the story of the 
third man in the compartment, the person who 
looked like a countryman. All I can say on 
that point is that if there really was a third 
party in the compartment it was the Devil 
himself. 

I got weary of the whole business long 
before it was finished though \ve had a day off 
in the course of the trial. That was on Lord 
Mayor's Day, when the judge had to go to 
London to take part in the ceremonies. 

On the afternoon of the fourth day of the 
131 



Famous Crimes 

trial the judge had finished his long summing- 
up, and the jury retired to consider their 
verdict. That took them only a few minutes ; 
they found Lefroy guilty, and he was sentenced 
to death. When he had been condemned he 
told the jury that some day they would learn 
that they had murdered an innocent man. 

It was an odd circumstance that, after being 
so closely connected with the case for so long, 
I was not present in court when Lefroy was 
found guilty and sentenced. I had got tired 
of the oft-told story and the stuffy atmosphere, 
and when the summing up was going on I 
was wandering round the prison walls examining 
them. When I got back to the court all was 
over. Lefroy had been removed, and soon 
afterwards he was taken, handcuffed and under a 
strong police escort, to Lewes Gaol. 

Even in the condemned cell Lefroy did not 
abandon hope, and he wrote a letter in which 
he asked for a file and a small saw to be sent 
to him concealed in the crust of a meat pie, 
his object evidently being to try and break out 
of prison, though how he expected to do that, 
when he was constantly guarded, is a mystery. 
He also tried to get poison sent in to him, 
but these attempts were fruitless. 

A petition for a reprieve was signed, but 
132 



The Brighton Railway Murder 

no notice was taken of it. When, at the very 
last, Lefroy knew that his doom was certain 
he confessed to the murder. He said that he 
was so desperately in need of money that he 
was determined to go to any length to get it, 
even to the extent of murder. He walked up 
and down on the platform at London Bridge 
in the hope of finding a woman alone in a 
compartment. In that case he would have got 
in and demanded money from her, hoping that 
he would be able to escape and that it would 
not be necessary to do more than stun her. 
There was not, mercifully, any such solitary 
woman, and seeing Mr. Gold alone, and 
noticing that he looked prosperous, Lefroy 
jumped into the compartment just before the 
train started. The watch which he had in his 
shoe at Preston Park was Mr. Gold's. Before 
being arrested Lefroy threw the watch over 
Blackfriars Bridge. 

Lefroy was hanged at Lewes by Marwood 
on November 29th, almost exactly five months 
after he murdered Mr. Gold. 

I don't know what became of the collar. 
I saw it at the inquest and at the trial, but 
not afterwards ; and I didn't wish to see it, 
for I had had enough of it. 

As to the revolver, the police made a long 
133 



Famous Grimes 

and tiring search on the line and elsewhere, but 
they were not successful. After Lefroy was 
hanged a ganger found a revolver in a little 
hole at Earlswood, and that was supposed to 
be the weapon which was used. I dare say 
there are many relics of the terrible affair; but 
most of the people who were connected with 
the trial have died. Of all the local people, I 
think I am the only one left, though Jennings 
is, I believe, still alive somewhere in America. 

Well, that's the story of the famous 
Brighton train murder. Here we are on the 
very spot where I found the collar. Now we 
can go on picking primroses on the embank- 
ment. They're beautiful, aren't they? Balcombe 
primroses are said to be the finest in England, 
and, being a Balcombe man for fifty years, I 
honestly believe it. 



134 



CHAPTER VIII 

PALMER'S POISONINGS 

[!N the whole of modern British criminology 
there is no more appalling character than Dr. 
William Palmer, the Rugeley poisoner. He was 
a notorious evil liver, an extensive forger, and 
a wholesale murderer. The late Mr. Justice 
Stephen said of him: "No more horrible villain 
than Palmer ever stood in a dock." Palmer 
was convicted of the murder of a man named 
Cook, and was hanged outside Stafford Gaol on 
June 14th, 1856 ; but he was indicted for two 
other murders, and it is known that he had 
committed at least eleven of these terrible 
crimes, his victims including his wife and four 
children, all the infants dying within a few 
weeks of birth, and suddenly. Practically a 
life study has been made of the Palmer case 
by Dr. George Fletcher, J.P., whose story is 
narrated.] 

I paid my first visit to Rugeley when I 
was a schoolboy fourteen years old, and walk- 

135 



Famous Grimes 

ing from the station I passed a fine house with 
a garden fronting on the road. A number of 
trippers had come into Rugeley from the 
adjacent Black Country, and they stared hard 
at this particular building, for it was the house 
in which Dr. Palmer had been born. 

As we looked at the house a woman, 
evidently the mistress, came out and walked to 
the garden gate near us, and, speaking with 
an extraordinary sort of pride, she said to us : 
" Well, I'm Mrs. Palmer, the mother of Dr. 
Palmer and I'm not ashamed of it ! The 
judges hanged my saintly Bill, and he was the 
best of my whole lot ! " 

It was a dramatic incident, and I have never 
forgotten it, nor have I forgotten seeing John 
Parsons Cook, for whose murder Palmer was 
hanged. Cook came to Bromsgrove, where I 
lived, shortly before he was murdered, and I 
remember him playing cricket for the town 
club. From those early and distant days I have 
maintained a constant interest in the case, 
which has no parallel in medical jurisprudence. 
My former partner, Dr. Forshall, soon after he 
qualified, went to Rugeley as assistant to old 
Dr. Bamford, who was so closely associated 
with the Palmer case. Palmer was then in 
practice at Rugeley, and my partner often saw 

136 



Palmer's Poisonings 

him and said that he was clever at his work, 
but was an idle, loose character. 

It is difficult to avoid exaggeration in 
speaking of Palmer; but Mr. Justice Stephen 
did not overstate his character. Palmer was a 
cool, callous, calculating poisoner of the most 
inhuman type, and his name will be handed 
down to posterity in legal and medical circles 
as the greatest and most cruel murderer that 
England has ever known, a man for whose 
blood all Britons clamoured and whose awful 
guilt not a soul doubted. His trial and con- 
demnation caused an upheaval in the world of 
medical jurisprudence, and though more than 
half a century has passed since he was hanged, 
yet the small town of Rugeley in Staffordshire 
is still associated with the name of Palmer, who 
was born there, was educated at the grammar 
school there, and for eight years was in full 
practice in the town as a doctor. Owing to 
his profession he was able to carry on his 
murderous work free from suspicion until his 
victims numbered about eleven then he over- 
reached himself, and finally was led to his doom 
on the gallows outside Stafford Gaol, where a 
friend of mine saw him hanged. 

Palmer was a marvellous man, and in order 
to estimate his character something must be said 

137 



Famous Crimes 

of his antecedents. His father, Joseph, was an 
entirely self-made man, first a woodcutter, then 
a sawyer. When earning a pound a week on 
the estate of the Marquis of Anglesey he came 
across Sarah Bentley, a young woman from 
a very low slum in Derby, where her drunken 
mother lived an idle life. The Marquis's agent 
was paying his addresses to Sarah, and she 
might have made an excellent match; but the 
coarse, low sawyer took her off to a local fair 
and married her before they returned home. 
The steward continued to pay attentions to 
Sarah notwithstanding her marriage, and while 
he was carrying on this intrigue Joseph set to 
work and robbed the estate very heavily of its 
best trees plunder at which the steward con- 
nived. There was little cause for wonder, then, 
that when Joseph died suddenly in 1836 he left 
the large fortune of 80,000, a widow with a 
terrible character the woman I saw at the gate 
of the fine house at Rugeley and two daughters 
and five sons, of whom one, William, then not 
quite twelve years old, was to achieve lasting 
notoriety. 

Coming from such a stock, Palmer was 
heavily handicapped at the very start, and an 
old schoolfellow of his, whom I saw not long 
before his death, told me that the lad was 

138 



Palmer's Poisonings 

thoroughly bad. He had unlimited pocket- 
money, but squandered it all, and when he 
wanted more he got it by the simple process 
of rifling his sisters' dresses and purses at 
home. 

From school Palmer was apprenticed to a 
Dr. Tylecote, of Hay wood, where he met 
Annie Brooks Thornton, a loyal woman who 
was to endure many agonising experiences 
before she herself fell a victim to the poisoner. 
It was not long before Palmer was compelled 
to leave Hay wood in deep disgrace. He was 
then only twenty years of age, but it is believed 
that already he had murdered his first victim, 
a man named Abley, whom he was treating to 
liquor. Abley died half an hour after drinking 
his last glass of brandy and at the inquest it 
was shown that Palmer had evinced far too 
much admiration for Mrs. Abley. 

After walking Stafford County Hospital for 
a few months Palmer went to London, and 
entered St. Bartholomew's Hospital as a student, 
taking his M.R.C.S. in 1846. In October, 
1847, he married Annie Brooks Thornton, and 
in October, 1848, their first boy was born. 

After qualifying Palmer returned to Ruge- 
ley, and there he practised for a few years, 
and could have done well, but his innate 

139 



Famous Crimes 

depravity made it impossible for him to go 
straight in any way, and his love for the turf 
drove him to the utmost extremity for want 
of money. By 1853 he owned sixteen race- 
horses, and had a regular stud two miles from 
home, on the edge of Cannock Chase. 

The almost inevitable thing happened. Palmer 
got into serious financial difficulties, and very 
soon disposed of 8,000 drawn from his mother, 
left to him by his father to become due to him 
at her death, and nearly 2,000 more which he 
had obtained from her. He was so badly 
cornered by bills and acceptances that he was 
forced to go to the money-lenders. In 1853 
he raised 2,000 on a bill which bore the 
acceptance of his mother. This acceptance was 
forged, and the unwilling instrument employed 
was the gentle wife, who was forced to sign 
the mother's name at Palmer's bidding. By 
means of forging his mother's name Palmer 
continued to raise money. In 1854 he owed 
one Birmingham money-lender 8,000 ; then he 
fell into the clutches of a notorious bill-discount- 
ing bloodsucker named Pratt, a London lawyer, 
and from that time began the downfall which 
ended with the ignominy of the gallows. 

In due course Pratt gave evidence, and I 
was told by one who was in court that it 

140 



Palmer's Poisonings 

was terrible to hear his testimony, given in a 
mercilessly cold voice, and to see how each 
letter read in court had driven Palmer to more 
and more awful steps to avoid utter ruin and 
detection of his forgeries and robberies, the latter 
now totalling the great sum of 20,000. Pratt 
admitted discounting the bills at sixty per cent, 
and insisted on interest being paid monthly. 

This, then, was the state of things : A man 
of terribly vile character, with bills in the hands 
of discounters to the extent of 20,000 to all 
of which his mother's name was forged drift- 
ing more and more into loose company and 
entirely neglecting his practice. Money, and 
plenty of it, was absolutely essential, and so 
Palmer proceeded to get it by the most 
infamous of all methods the deliberate murder 
of his own family, relatives, and friends. 

His first victim was his mother-in-law, Mary 
Thornton, a woman who had never married, 
but had been housekeeper for thirty years to 
Colonel Brooks, a member of one of the 
Staffordshire families. "Gentle" Annie, as 
Palmer's wife was called, was Mary Thornton's 
illegitimate daughter. The old colonel had left 
his housekeeper several good houses in Stafford 
and 3,000 in cash, all of which Palmer under- 
stood came to Annie on her mother's death. 

141 



Famous Grimes 

Annie, on her wedding day, received 500 
from her mother, who, a year after, gave her 
1,000. Palmer was then hard up, and he soon 
borrowed 500 more from his mother-in-law. 
Despite her strong objections, he persuaded her 
to come and live with them. The woman must 
have known something of the real nature of 
the monster, for she declared to friends in 
Stafford : "I know I shall not live a month." 
Nor did she, for Palmer poisoned her. A mys- 
terious illness, with unaccountable symptoms, 
set in, and old Dr. Bamford was called in. 
The woman died, and was buried in Rugeley 
churchyard, where I copied from the tomb- 
stone : "Sacred to the memory of Mary Thorn- 
ton, late of Stafford, who died 18th January, 
1849, aged 50 years." She was the first known 
victim of Palmer to find a sepulchre there. 

The next victim was a bookmaker named 
Bladen, who was with Palmer at Epsom. 
Bladen won 500 in bets, and Palmer lost 
heavily to him 400 or 500. At Palmer's 
urgent invitation Bladen returned to Rugeley 
with him, and the doctor promised to drive 
Bladen to see a brother of the bookmaker at 
Ashley, twenty miles away. Writing to his 
wife, Bladen said that he had over 600 in his 
money-belt, and was going to Rugeley with 

142 



Palmer's Poisonings 

Palmer, who must pay him over 400. " So 
expect me home in three or four days," wrote 
Bladen, "with 1,000 in hand." 

The day after Bladen reached Rugeley 
Palmer's hateful evil genius, a disreputable 
lawyer named Jeremiah Smith, drove him over 
to Ashley and back. That was on a Wednes- 
day, and on the evening of that day Bladen 
was taken ill a circumstance which was attri- 
buted to the long drive. On the Friday Dr. 
Bamford was called in, and told Bladen his 
illness was due to too much port, this being 
the explanation given to him by Palmer and 
Smith. On the Saturday a friend, Mr. Merritt, 
on his way home from Chester races, found 
Bladen so ill that he summoned Mrs. Bladen. 
She hurried down on the Saturday, but only just 
in time to see him alive and unconscious. He 
died very soon after her arrival, and was screwed 
down without his wife having seen him again. 
The funeral was hurried, and Bladen was buried 
in Rugeley churchyard, where I copied from a 
slate tombstone on the right main path leading 
to the south door the inscription : "In memory 
of Leonard Bladen, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, who 
died May 10th, 1850. Aged 49 years." Palmer 
offered to pay the funeral expenses, which the 
widow thought at the time was most generous 

143 



Famous Crimes 

of him. But she said she was anxious to have 
her husband's papers, and asked for the money- 
belt. This could not be found, nor could 
Bladen's betting book. Mrs. Bladen grew sus- 
picious and she was actually about to sign an 
acknowledgment that her husband owed Palmer 
70 when by chance, reflected in a mirror, she 
saw an extraordinary expression on Palmer's face. 

" No," said Palmer, chatting pleasantly, " I 
never owed poor Bladen a penny!" 

"What! Never?" she exclaimed. "Why, 
I saw a letter of yours last summer in which 
you asked for more time to repay 200 you 
had borrowed ! ' ' 

She refused to sign and left the house. 

Palmer had now started on that career of 
deliberate poisoning which is almost inconceiv- 
able and is certainly without parallel in modern 
times. According to the marriage settlement, 
if his wife should have a son the child was 
provided for. A boy was born. If there should 
be more children at the time of Mrs. Palmer's 
death they were to inherit the bulk of what 
she possessed. Others were born, and, of 
course, they must not live, for if they survived 
the wife Palmer would get so little. 

And so it happened that a little girl and 
three little boys all died somewhat suddenly 

144 



Palmer's Poisonings 

vvithin a few weeks of birth, and I have copied 
their names and ages and dates of death from 
the register of burials at Rugeley Church. 
Later on the manner of the death of these 
children was fully known and it was known 
also that three of Palmer's illegitimate children, 
by his servants, were poisoned by him. 

Even then there were ugly rumours afloat, 
but for the gentle wife's sake no one stirred 
to take serious action. Soon this devoted, long- 
suffering soul, who was only twenty-seven years 
old, was to die a lingering death. Palmer 
insured her for the large sum of 15,000. He 
paid only one premium of 450, and then she 
died; yet the insurance company paid the 
15,000 without question. 

So successful was Palmer in this case that 
he tried to insure his brother Walter, a disso- 
lute drunkard, for 85,000, the yearly premium 
to be 3,500. He did not succeed in this, but 
he did manage to carry through a policy for 
15,000, and paid one premium. He gave his 
brother 100 to buy drink with, and hired a 
servant in those days called a bottle-holder 
to ply him with liquor, so that in a very few 
weeks Walter was a besotted imbecile. But 
even this was not quick enough, and Palmer 
poisoned his brother with prussic acid. 

K 145 



Famous Grimes 

But the doom which he so rightly merited 
was near at hand, and there was being built 
up against him a mass of evidence from which 
there was to be no earthly escape. The in- 
surance offices became suspicious, a man dressed 
like a farmer, but in reality an astute detective, 
reached Rugeley, and as the result of his and 
other inquiries the insurance office declined to 
pay the policy on Walter Palmer's death. 

About this time Palmer met Cook, for 
whose murder he was subsequently hanged. 
Cook was intended for the law, but just as 
he was qualified he took to the turf, for at the 
age of twenty-one he had come into a fortune 
of 15,000. Cook was a splendid cricketer, a 
first-rate oar, and a good all-round man. When 
at Worcester races he stayed several times at 
Bromsgrove, where I was born and lived till I 
was nineteen years old. Many friends, my 
mother amongst them, begged Cook to give up 
the turf, and in his genial way he promised 
that he would. But he came across Palmer, 
who began at once to drag him down. 

Palmer and Cook attended races together, 
and Cook had backed bills for the doctor. On 
November 13th the two went to Shrewsbury 
races, where Cook's horse, " Polestar," won 
the handicap, and Cook came into possession 

146 



Palmer's Poisonings 

of a considerable sum of money. That sealed 
his doom, for Palmer, utterly cornered by the 
bloodsuckers into whose clutches he had fallen, 
was determined to have it. 

When he got back home he found final 
threats from the money-lenders threats which, 
if carried out, meant exposure of his forgeries 
of his mother's name for over 20,000. This 
exposure was kept off only so long as Palmer 
paid the monthly interest of sixty per cent. 
Failing in that, a long term of imprisonment 
stared him in the face. 

There also awaited him a letter from a 
woman he had ruined one of many threaten- 
ing to expose him if he did not send her 100, 
of which she was in the greatest need. 

So we see that a few hundred pounds in 
ready money were wanted at once to keep off 
ruin a little longer and Cook, by winning the 
Shrewsbury Handicap that day, had come into 
1,100 in ready cash, while at TattersalPs, on 
the following Monday, he would receive 2,000 
more. 

Palmer's mind was now thoroughly made up 
as to what he would do, and that was, take 
Cook's life and get his money. Returning to 
Shrewsbury on the Wednesday, he rejoined 
Cook, and with others they were making merry 

147 



Famous Crimes 

in a sitting-room at "The Raven." On a 
pretext of ordering more brandy, Palmer left 
the room and went to a sort of pantry, lit by 
gas. This was about half-past ten o'clock at 
night. 

A Mrs. Brooks, described as a lady who 
attended races and employed several jockeys, 
went to see Palmer about the morrow's races, 
and she saw him in the pantry, which was 
separated from the passage by a glass partition. 
He was holding up a tumbler to the gas, and 
was dropping something into it, then shaking 
the tumbler to see the something dissolve, and 
dropping a little more. 

When Mrs. Brooks spoke Palmer must have 
been taken aback ; but he kept his presence of 
mind and said: "I will be with you directly." 
He put the tumbler down and joined her, and 
after remaining in the passage a few minutes, 
talking, he returned to his boon companions. 

Presently tumblers and more brandy were 
brought in, and Cook was persuaded to have 
more liquor. He took some and exclaimed : 
"Why, it's burning my throat!" He left the 
room, accompanied by a bookmaker named 
Fisher and George Herring, who became a 
famous millionaire philanthropist and died not 
long ago. 

148 



Palmer's Poisonings 

Going to his bedroom, Cook said : !< I 
believe Palmer has drugged me!" A doctor 
was sent for and prescribed, but Cook was so 
much alarmed that he took off his money-belt 
and gave his cash 800 in notes and gold 
to Herring. Next day Cook was on the course, 
looking very ill. Herring returned the money, 
and Palmer and Cook went back to Rugeley, 
Cook going to " The Talbot Arms," exactly 
opposite Palmer's house. Next day he dined 
with Palmer, and returned to his hotel very sick 
and ill. 

No good purpose would be served by enter- 
ing minutely into details of the few terrible 
days which followed, days during which Palmer, 
while being assiduous in his attentions to Cook, 
and apparently doing his utmost to preserve 
his life, was callously encompassing his death. 
Nearly everything that Cook took contained 
antimony, a mineral poison which was found in 
every tissue of the body when the post-mortem 
was made, showing that it had been administered 
over a long period. 

As usual, poor old Dr. Bamford was called 
in a practitioner now eighty-two years of age. 
He listened to all that Palmer had to say, and 
shook his head and prescribed ; but there must 
by this time have come into his mind some 

149 



Famous Crimes 

suspicion of the dreadful truth. He must have 
gone back in his memory to many of the cases 
of death with which Palmer had been concerned, 
and surely there must have grown within him 
a strong suspicion that all was not well with 
the poor young fellow who was suffering so 
acutely in his bedroom at " The Talbot Arms." 

On the following Monday Palmer went to 
London, and in some rooms which he frequented 
off the Strand he saw George Herring. He 
undoubtedly meant that Herring also should 
become a victim, and he asked him to take 
some wine; but Herring bluntly refused, and 
said afterwards that he suspected the man and 
never could tolerate him. Herring left, and 
there was no hope whatever of Palmer escaping 
arrest for forgery unless he got rid of Cook 
and obtained his money with which to pay the 
overdue and monstrous interest. By means of 
a forged letter he received through Herring all 
Cook's bets and stakes at Tattersall's ; he had 
also stolen Cook's betting-book, and before 
leaving Rugeley for London he had managed to 
steal the 800 from Cook's money-belt. 

Palmer hurried back to Rugeley, bought 
three grains of strychnine from Newton, a 
chemist in the place, and went home. The 
prosecution urged that Palmer made up two 

150 



Palmer's Poisonings 

pills containing the strychnine, and hastened 
to " The Talbot Arms," where he met the 
villainous Jeremiah Smith in the hall, and went 
upstairs to see Cook, who was much better 
as well he might be, his murderer having been 
away. Palmer gave him the pills which he said 
Dr. Bamford had sent ; but, as a matter of 
fact, he had made up these strychnine pills and 
had substituted them for some pills which Bamford 
had actually prepared. 

Palmer and Smith wished the doomed man 
good-night, and at about midnight Cook was 
left alone. Very soon he rang the bell, and 
the chambermaid, answering it, found him in 
agony, racked with pain and writhing and twist- 
ing his body about. He begged that Palmer 
should be sent for and Palmer came. At four 
o'clock the house, which had been roused, 
settled down somewhat, for the patient was 
quieter. Palmer had given him some brown 
stuff, and was left in charge, sleeping in a chair 
near the fire. 

Early next morning, as Cook had survived 
the strychnine, Palmer went to the other 
chemist in Rugeley, Roberts, and asked for 
three different poisons strong laudanum, prussic 
acid, and six grains of strychnine. Whilst 
Roberts was putting these up, Newton came 

151 



Famous Grimes 

in, greatly to Palmer's consternation, and as 
soon as Palmer had gone he asked Roberts what 
he had bought ; and though Newton did not 
then disclose the fact of the previous night's 
purchase, yet this became an important link in 
the chain of evidence. 

At noon a great friend of Cook's, Dr. 
Jones, from Lutterworth, arrived, Palmer having 
asked him to come, saying that Cook had had 
a bilious attack. The three doctors, including 
Bamford, had a consultation, and Cook said : 
" Now, mind, Bamford, no more of those 

d d pills to-night. They racked me with the 

pains of hell last night. No more pills for 
me!" 

On going out on to the landing Palmer 
said : " Those pills are best for him," and it 
was agreed that Bamford should make up a 
couple of morphine pills. Palmer accompanied 
the old man and watched him make the pills 
up. At his urgent request Bamford wrote 
directions on the outside, so that when Cook 
refused to take any more pills Jones was able 
to say that the three doctors had agreed that 
the patient should have them Jones, of course, 
never suspecting that Palmer substituted two 
strychnine pills for the morphine preparations. 

"Very well! I'll swallow them," said Cook 

152 



Palmer's Poisonings 

resignedly, and, having done so, Palmer walked 
across the street to his house and Jones went 
to supper in the coffee-room. In half an hour 
he went back to the bedroom, having arranged 
to sleep in a second bed. Not more than a 
few minutes had passed when Jones was 
awakened by piercing shrieks and cries that 
Palmer should be summoned. 

Palmer was sent for and he answered the 
frantically pulled bell by appearing at the 
window of his bedroom. " I never dressed so 
quickly in my life,'' he told the maid who 
fetched him, and he repeated the remark to 
Jones who thought he must have slept in his 
clothes. The truth was that Palmer had neither 
undressed nor gone to bed ; he was simply wait- 
ing for the summons, which he knew must 
swiftly come, to attend the death of Cook. 

In less than a quarter of an hour all was 
over, and the contorted features and terribly 
twisted frame of the victim showed what a cruel 
death he had died. 

With monstrous but understandable haste 
Palmer sent for a charwoman to lay the body 
out, and told Dr. Jones to go down and get 
a meal. 

The housekeeper, unexpectedly entering the 
room of death, saw Palmer searching the 

153 



Famous Crimes 

pockets of Cook's coat, and when Dr. Jones 
went upstairs he saw Palmer hunting under 
the pillow where the dead man's head was 
resting. 

"Ah, Jones!" said Palmer calmly; "I'm 
looking for his watch and purse here they are ; 
you'd better take possession." He handed over 
a sum of about 4 10s., but said nothing of 
the 800 which he had stolen from Cook's 
belt. 

Later Jones went to London and told Cook's 
relatives what had happened, and the stepfather, 
Mr. Stevens, grief -stricken, for he dearly loved 
the young fellow, went to Rugeley. That love 
aroused suspicion in Stevens, a suspicion which 
refused to be satisfied with the lying explana- 
tions of Palmer, and a post-mortem examination 
was insisted on, and was made in the assembly 
room of the hotel. 

And a strange examination it was, attended 
by, amongst others, Dr. Bamford, the landlord 
of the hotel, a solicitor named Savage Landor, 
a distant relation of mine, and about half a 
dozen townsmen. When the organs seemed 
healthy Palmer exclaimed : "I say, Bamford, 
they won't hang us yet!" But he was intensely 
anxious to destroy all evidence of his villainy. 

The examination was made by a Dr. Devon- 
154 



Palmer's Poisonings 

shire, who had only carried out two before, 
helped by Newton, the chemist who had sold 
Palmer some of the strychnine, and knew 
nothing whatever about post-mortem work. 
When the stomach was being examined Palmer 
deliberately pushed Devonshire's knife through 
it, so that nearly all the contents escaped, and 
later he cut a slit through the covering of the 
jar containing the organs to be sent to London 
for analysis, having managed to take the jar 
out of the room before the examination was 
finished. He offered the post-boy who was to 
take the jar to the station 10 to smash it, 
and persuaded the postmaster, an old school- 
fellow, to open the letter from Professor Taylor, 
the Government analyst, containing the result 
of the analysis. This the foolish postmaster did, 
and later received two years' imprisonment for 
his outrageous offence. Palmer also sent the 
coroner, when the inquest was opened, generous 
presents of game and fish and a ten-pound note. 
But all was in vain ; the jury returned a verdict 
of wilful murder against him, and at last the 
noose, so well deserved, was round his neck. 

It was fitting enough that this amazing case 
should culminate in an amazing trial. From 
first to last Palmer never had the opportunity 
to open his mouth, as he would have to-day, 

155 



Famous Crimes 

and give his own version of what had happened. 
He was committed for trial on the coroner's 
warrant, after repeated sittings by the jury at 
the inquest. 

The police went to his bedroom, where he 
was ill, to arrest him, but it was three days 
before he could be removed ; then, in the dead 
of a December night, he was hurried off to 
Stafford Gaol, just escaping the fury of a shout- 
ing crowd which had waited twenty-four hours 
under his window for his removal. 

Later on, when Palmer had been taken to 
London for trial, a strong body of mounted 
troops was employed to escort him, such being 
the intensity of public feeling that ordinary 
police protection was considered insufficient. 

Palmer was never taken before any bench 
of magistrates a strange circumstance which 
brought upon me a polite contradiction when 
I was in Stafford working up details of the case. 

I was told that this was most improbable, 
almost impossible; yet when we adjourned to 
the County Hall, where the old papers and 
documents are kept, I was proved correct, for 
the indictment had had the words, " committing 
magistrate " erased and the name of the coroner 
substituted. 

So strong and hostile was the local feeling 
156 



Palmer's Poisonings 

against Palmer that there could be no hope of 
an impartial trial in Stafford. He had been a 
genial boon companion and he was a hypocriti- 
cal church-goer; but piece by piece his appalling 
crimes were revealed, and it is not too much 
to say that the whole country clamoured for his 
death even before he had been tried. 

A special Act of Parliament was passed, 
known as the Palmer Act, to enable the trial 
to take place in London, and that Act has 
been used in other famous cases when it has 
been considered that local prejudice would bring 
about an unfair trial. 

Palmer was accordingly tried at the Old 
Bailey by three judges Lord Chief Justice 
Campbell, Baron Alderson, and Mr. Justice 
Cresswell and after a trial extending over a 
fortnight, a trial during which other High Court 
judges actually went on to the Old Bailey to 
listen to the proceedings, so great was the 
universal interest in the case, the prisoner was 
found guilty and was sentenced to be hanged 
outside Stafford Gaol. 

There is no doubt that the conviction was 
largely due to the skill and cleverness of the 
leading counsel for the Crown, Sir Alexander 
Cockburn, who afterwards became Lord Chief 
Justice ; and Palmer himself realised this, for 

157 



Famous Crimes 

when he was being removed from the dock, 
after his conviction, he observed to a bystander, 
using a sporting phrase : " It's the riding that's 
done it!" 

Palmer was taken to Euston Station, through 
the portals that still stand. He was handcuffed 
during the journey to Stafford, which was made 
in a first-class compartment ; and, still further 
to lessen his chances of escape, one of his legs 
was manacled to the leg of one of the men 
who had charge of him. 

An enormous crowd assembled on that fine 
June morning to see the man meet his doom. 
He was buried in the yard of the gaol, and, 
in accordance with a custom then prevailing at 
that particular prison, he was put into his grave 
naked and uncoffined. 

I possess a letter written by Palmer while 
under sentence of death, and I have one 
of many letters sent to him after his con- 
demnation, especially by ladies, urging him to 
repent and make his peace with God. 

Pratt, the unspeakable scoundrel, died a 
raving madman not long after the execution, 
and the equally villainous lawyer, Jeremiah 
Smith, got his deserts pretty well, especially 
when he was under the ruthless cross-examina- 
tion of Cockburn. 

158 



Palmer's Poisonings 

That is a mere outline of the career of the 
most callous and notorious of modern English 
murderers. 

Even a summary of such a life leaves the 
impression that the criminal, so old in vice and 
iniquity, must have been a man of mature age ; 
yet when he met his shameful but most justly 
deserved death Palmer was only thirty-one years 
old. 



159 



CHAPTER IX 

THE SOUTHEND MURDER 

[Jusr before Christmas, 1894, James Canham 
Read was hanged at Chelmsford Gaol for the 
murder of a young woman named Florence 
Dennis at Southend. Read was a married man 
with a large family, and occupied a respectable 
position in life, and these circumstances, amongst 
others, gave special interest to the crime. Read 
was a striking example of the dangerous men 
who lead a double life and lure so many women 
to destruction. He had become entangled with 
a married woman, and through her had made 
the acquaintance of her sister, Florence Dennis. 
This girl, very shortly expecting to become a 
mother, was taken by Read to a lonely spot 
and murdered. He fled, but was subsequently 
arrested, tried, and condemned. The case being 
one of circumstantial evidence, great importance 
was attached to the identification of Read as 
the murderer, and vital testimony on this point 
was given by Mr. Robert Dowthwaite, who was 
at that time carrying on his business as an 

160 



The Southend Murder 

umbrella manufacturer at Prittlewell. Mr. 
Dowthwaite's story of the mystery is told 
herewith.] 

A midsummer Sunday evening, and a few 
minutes after ten o'clock. The day is over, and 
I have been down to the shore and have walked 
back towards my home at Prittlewell. I am 
now going back in memory for more than 
twenty years, and that means many and inevit- 
able changes. We are on the spot where I first 
saw Read and his victim, not knowing or 
suspecting in the least who they were or what 
was so soon to happen when I observed them 
approaching me on the country highway. 
Twenty-one years ago this locality was quaint 
and rural. There were hedges and meadows 
and cornfields where terraces of houses are 
standing now, but I can still point out the 
places where I saw the pair walk briskly on 
towards me, arm in arm, and where, a few hours 
later, the body of a murdered expectant mother 
was discovered in a ditch or little brook. 

Are they a courting couple? Not exactly. 
Married? Evidently not. Talking politics? 
Well no. Something serious on hand? Yes 
it looks like that. 

They pass me exactly here, so far as I can 

L 161 



Famous Crimes 

remember, though at that time this neighbour- 
hood was quite countrified. The man's face is 
lowered and invisible, but there is something 
about him and his companion which makes me 
turn observingly. I look round and watch them 
as they continue their walk for a distance of 
about forty yards. I can see them quite clearly, 
and I notice that the man wheels the woman 
round to the right and that they go through 
some railings into a field. I do not quite know 
what it is that impels me to keep a sort of 
watch upon them ; but I do so, and stroll to 
an adjacent gate to continue observation until 
the couple disappear down a slope that leads 
to a small brook in the hollow. 

That is all for the present. I go home and 
to bed, and for the time being the matter is 
forgotten. 

On the afternoon of the next day, from my 
shop, I saw a few of my neighbours intently 
watching something lower down the street. I 
stepped across to them to inquire as to the 
object of their curiosity, and soon heard that 
it was the dead body of a young woman on 
a stretcher. I went over to the " Spread 
Eagle " inn, where the body had been taken, 
and asked where it had been found. The 
information I received shocked me and 

162 



The Southend Murder 

strengthened a suspicion which had come into 
my mind. My feelings must have betrayed 
me, for within half an hour a policeman came 
into my shop to see me. 

As the result of that visit I gave to the 
police, at their request, a description of the 
clothing of the young woman I had seen walk- 
ing with the man, and this description proved 
to be so accurate that when I saw the actual 
clothing I had no difficulty whatever in 
identifying it as having been worn by the girl 
I had seen on the previous evening. 

An inquest was held at the " Spread 
Eagle," and the fact was soon established that 
the girl had been murdered by the firing of 
a shot at her head, and that death must have 
been instantaneous. A glove had been found on 
the bank of the brook by a local minister, Mr, 
Chandler, and the body itself had been dis- 
covered by a boy named Rush. At an early 
stage the name of Read became associated with 
the mystery, and when I was called at the inquest 
a photograph of him was produced; but I 
declined to identify any photograph, and on 
that account the coroner declared that my 
evidence was valueless. At the suggestion of 
the police inspector, however, he allowed me to 
give evidence, and I stated that although I did 

163 



Famous Grimes 

not see the man's face I thought I could 
identify him in person. Subsequently, when 
Read had been arrested, I was able to carry out 
my identification in a remarkable manner. We 
can deal with the general facts later; mean- 
while I may say that Read had been taken 
into custody at Mitcham, on suspicion, by 
Detective Marden, and brought to Southend, 
where I was called upon to identify him. I 
felt the responsibility of the task, which was 
not an easy one. Here was the life of a young 
man at stake, for Read was only in the early 
thirties, and I had met him at ten o'clock on 
a midsummer night without seeing his face ; 
but I had no misgiving as to the result of my 
test. 

We selected a room in the police station 
yard, and there I waited with a police officer. 
I was told that a number of men would be 
brought along past the room, and was asked to 
have a notebook and a pencil ready for use, 
and to number the men 1, 2, 3 and so on 
as they passed down the yard, my instruction 
being that if I identified any one man I was 
to put a * to the number. 

Six men passed the room and went down 
the yard, all duly numbered in my notebook. 
After they had passed the door of the room 

164 



The Southend Murder 

the police officer and I stepped to the doorway 
and had a back view only of each man. 

I heard the footfall on the hard floor of 
No. 7 approaching me, and at once recognised 
it, for to my own surprise the tramp of 
No. 7's feet had been registered on my brain; 
but this peculiar fact was not brought out in 
evidence. I had accomplished what I had 
undertaken to do, which was that, while I 
would not swear that the man in custody was 
the one I had seen w r ith the woman, I would 
pick him out, without seeing his face, from a 
thousand men arranged in any way they thought 
fit. This statement became fairly common 
knowledge at the time, and a w r riter in the 
now dead London Echo, who signed himself 
an ex-detective of twenty-five years' standing, 
characterised my confidence as ridiculous. But 
I knew better than he did, and I forgave him. 

After the investigations by the coroner's 
jury and before the magistrates Read was sent 
for trial, which took place at Chelmsford, and 
lasted four days. A terrible story was unfolded 
by the Crown, represented by the Solicitor- 
General (Sir Frank Lockwood, Q.C.), Mr. Gill, 
and Mr. Guy Stephenson ; the prisoner being 
defended by Mr. Cock, Q.C., and Mr. War- 
burton. 

165 



Famous Grimes 

There were two charges against Read, the 
first that of stealing 160 from his employers 
(the London and India Joint Docks Commit- 
tee), and the second that of the wilful murder 
of Florence Dennis. To the charge of theft 
Read at once pleaded guilty ; but that, though 
it concerned the main charge, was a mere trifle 
compared with the trial for his life, which began 
as soon as he had pleaded guilty to the lesser 
offence. 

It is not easy to compress such a long 
story into short compass, yet it is not hard 
to give an outline of the main facts, \vhich 
were these : The girl with whom I saw 
Read walking was Florence Dennis, and she 
was only twenty-three years old. In a few 
weeks she would have become a mother, owing 
to Read's conduct. 

At the very moment when I saw them the 
man, as the evidence showed, had murder in 
his heart ; it was all planned, and apparently 
had been carefully rehearsed. He had in his 
pocket a loaded revolver; he must have had 
previous knowledge of the scene of the crime 
and of this secluded bush-covered brook. He 
had taken, as he supposed, all possible pre- 
cautions against discovery and identification, yet 
I myself, a mere casual Sunday evening stroller 

166 



The Southend Murder 

and a total stranger, was to become a strong 
link in the evidence that condemned him. 

After I so carefully noticed them the pair 
walked down to the hedge and through the 
meadow ; then it was that the murderer 
stealthily withdrew his weapon from its hiding- 
place, quickly put the muzzle to the poor girl's 
temple, and pulled the trigger, killing her 
instantly. Dreadful is the picture that comes 
into the imagination the desecration of the 
glorious and peaceful Sunday evening, the 
deliberate ferocity of the man, his mad deter- 
mination to try and hide the traces of his crime 
by forcing the corpse through the hedge and 
into the deep ditch. He carried out his 
principal purpose, but there fell upon the path 
the tell-tale glove which led to the discovery 
of the body, doubled up, showing the frenzied 
force with which it had been pushed or thrown 
through the hedge. 

The body of the murdered girl was brought 
away, and it seemed as if the mystery of the 
crime might never be unravelled. But Florence 
Dennis had a married sister named Mrs. Ayriss, 
and with this woman Read had been for a long 
time conducting an illicit intercourse. It was 
through Mrs. Ayriss that he got to know the 
younger sister, with whom for a long time also 

167 



Famous Crimes 

he kept up a clandestine and immoral acquaint- 
ance. Florence Dennis had been living at 
Shoeburyness and in the Southend district, and 
Read had been corresponding with and visiting 
her. This Mrs. Ayriss knew, so that when 
Florence disappeared from her temporary home 
at Leigh she telegraphed to Read, who by that 
time had resumed his work at the Royal Albert 
Dock, though he had arrived late at the office. 
Read replied that he did not know the mean- 
ing of the extraordinary message, and that he 
had not seen and did not know anything of 
Florence; but he evidently realised that the 
hunt for the murderer had begun and that his 
life was in peril. To the credit of Mrs. Ayriss 
it should be stated that, however much she had 
gone astray, she sank everything in her determina- 
tion to bring her sister's murderer to justice. 

The police were communicated with, but it 
was not until July 7th that Read was arrested 
in a little house at Mitcham. The murder had 
been committed on June 25th. His arrest 
brought to light another of his amours, for he 
was maintaining at Mitcham a young woman 
named Kempton, whom he had casually met at 
Gloucester Road Station, and afterwards asso- 
ciated with her while still conducting his 
intrigues with Mrs. Ayriss and her sister. 

168 



The Southend Murder 

When the detective reached the Mitcham 
cottage Miss Kempton herself came to the 
door ; but there was Read in the background, 
though he had done his best to disguise him- 
self. The detective asked him if he was Read, 
and he denied the identity ; but he was told 
that he would be arrested on the charge of 
murder, and he was taken into custody. A 
considerable sum of money was found hidden in 
the house, part of the proceeds of the 160 
which he had stolen from the office when he 
knew that the hue and cry had started. In 
addition to the money there was found in 
Read's possession a report of the inquest on 
the murdered woman, giving the jury's 
verdict of "murder by some person or persons 
unknown." 

It is a significant fact that this Mitcham 
address was not known to Mrs. Ayriss, and 
doubtless when Read fled to it for hiding he 
thought that he was pretty safe. In addition 
to this he had shaved and done his best to alter 
his appearance ; amongst other things, changing 
his suit. 

When I first saw him he was wearing a 
dark suit, but when he was arrested he was 
wearing a grey one. He was given the chance 
of donning the dark suit, but declined, for 

169 



Famous Crimes 

reasons well known to himself. In spite of this 
I had no difficulty in identifying him when 
that point arose, because he had a gait and 
bearing that were unmistakable. 

The trial itself, which took place in Novem- 
ber, had many painful elements, because it 
involved the calling as witnesses against him, 
among others, of the prisoner's brother and 
young daughter. The brother's testimony was 
important, because it related to the revolver 
with which undoubtedly the murder was com- 
mitted. This unhappy man he afterwards 
committed suicide had been in a situation, but 
had been discharged for misconduct, and he had 
bought a revolver with the object, apparently, 
of taking his life and so putting an end to 
his troubles; but he had not carried out his 
purpose, and his brother, the prisoner, had got 
possession of the weapon and kept it at his 
house in Jamaica Road. One of the points 
in the daughter's evidence was that this revolver 
was kept in the house by her father, w r ho had 
taken it from his brother with the object, 
doubtless, of preventing him from using it against 
himself. 

This brother figured largely in the case, and, 
indeed, he seems to have been considerably 
involved, for he was a party to deep duplicity 

170 



The Southend Murder 

so far as one or two of the unhappy women 
were concerned. There was in the case a good 
deal of secret correspondence into which one 
cannot go, and in this the brother was involved. 
He allowed himself to figure under a false 
name to further the accused man's evil 
ends. 

During four long days the sordid story of 
a man's debauchery and woman's frailty was 
unfolded in the assize court, and bit by bit the 
link of evidence was forged against the man in 
the dock, who seemed as calm and unconcerned 
as anyone in court. 

At last the forging was complete ; the 
Crown had done its work. 

What would the prisoner's counsel do? 
What did they do? Nothing. No witnesses 
were called for the prisoner, so that the whole 
decision depended on what had been stated on 
behalf of the prosecution. 

When I was called upon at the assizes to 
give evidence I was playing a game of draughts 
with Read's brother, whom I had close oppor- 
tunities of observing. I was able also to get some 
knowledge of the accused man from his sister, 
a very pleasant and clever woman, who told 
me how greatly during the previous three years 
he had fallen off in his conduct. I gathered 

171 



Famous Crimes 

then that he was becoming something of the 
moral degenerate that he proved to be when 
standing his trial at the assizes. 

After a long and most patient hearing the 
jury were only thirty minutes in finding their 
verdict. They retired, and came back into 
court with a verdict of guilty. 

How well I remember that last scene ! Just 
in front of me there was standing the husband 
of the woman who, like himself, had been so 
cruelly wronged, and it is not too much to 
say that he exulted in the verdict. On the 
other hand, one had to consider the wife and 
family of the doomed man in the dock, and try 
to realise what it all meant to them and their 
future. 

Read was asked, in the usual manner, if he 
had anything to say why sentence of death 
should not be passed upon him. Quite calmly, 
confronting the judge and speaking deliberately, 
he declared that he was innocent. He said 
that he had not seen the murdered girl for two 
years, and that he had never handled a revolver 
in his life, and that at the time of the murder 
he w r as fifty miles from Southend an amazing 
declaration in view of the evidence given. But 
no protest availed him, no word of his was 
credited, and the judge, in cold, calm tones, 

172 



The Southend Murder 

sentenced him to be hanged, and the judgment 
of the law was carried out at Springfield 
Prison, Chelmsford, on December 5th, 1894. 
Read seems to have died as he had lived 
cool, collected, calm, and lying to the last 
for to the very end he declared that he knew 
nothing of the murder. 

In conclusion I should like to say that at 
the time of this thing happening I had not, 
nor have I had since, any fixed opinions about 
the crime. My duty as a citizen, though not 
pleasant, was easy and simple. I very carefully 
identified the prisoner, giving him every fair 
chance to save himself. That was my duty to 
the State, and I performed it. 

My experience in this case was that the 
people who consider that they have the only 
right to express opinions, and, of course, know 
all about the matter, are those who have not 
heard a word of the evidence, legally given, 
and do not hesitate to put fancy before fact. 
The realisation of this state of things has been 
a lifelong lesson to me. 



173 



CHAPTER X 

THE READING BABY-FARMER 

[Ox' May 21st and 22nd, 1896, at the Central 
Criminal Court, before Mr. Justice Hawkins, 
a_ woman aged fifty-seven years, described as a 
nurse, was tried for the wilful murder of two 
infants named Doris Marmon and Henry Sim- 
mons. This woman was the notorious Amelia 
Elizabeth Dyer, the baby-farmer, who carried 
on her dreadful trade at Reading and else- 
where. She was condemned, and was hanged 
in Newgate Prison on June 10th, 1896. Her 
conviction was largely due to the efforts of 
ex-Detective Inspector J. B. Anderson, who 
was at that time a member of the detective 
branch of the Reading Borough Police. Inspec- 
tor Anderson retired from the force in 1914, 
after more than thirty-three years' service a 
fine record. In recognition of his very able 
work in connection with the Dyer case Mr. 
Anderson was specially thanked by the Watch 
Committee of the Reading Corporation, and he 
and Sergeant James, who was associated with 

174 



The Reading Baby-Farmer 

him, received cheques, while later other presents 
were made to the inspector, whose story of the 
famous crime is told herewith.] 

Early in the spring of 1896 a barge was 
coming up the river between Rennet's mouth 
and the Caversham lock, about four hundred 
yards from the Great Western Railway Station 
at Reading. As the craft proceeded slowly the 
bargeman saw a brown-paper parcel on the 
side, just above the water. At that particular 
place the greater part of the river bank is a 
public recreation ground, and there is also 
Messrs. Huntley and Palmer's cricket club 
ground and a field belonging to the same firm, 
so that the parcel was on a quite open area. 
At the side of the river is the towing-path, 
which is very much used by pedestrians. Just 
at this point also there was a shallow space, 
about four feet wide, between the towing-path 
and the deep water, and it was on this shallow 
space that the parcel, which had apparently 
been thrown by someone from the towing-path, 
was lying. 

The bargeman put his punt-hook out and 
caught hold of the parcel. As he did so the 
wet paper tore, and he saw that a tiny baby's 
leg was sticking out. The parcel was at once 

175 



Famous Grimes 

drawn to the bank, and the police were promptly 
acquainted with its discovery. 

Police-constable Barnett he retired in 1915 
was on duty in the district at the time, and 
the parcel was given to him. He took it to 
the police station on his back in a sack. I had 
entered the station just before Barnett arrived, 
and I accompanied him to the mortuary with 
the dead body of the baby. 

The parcel was unpacked with great care, 
and it was seen that the contents had been 
wrapped up in many sheets of paper, napkins, 
and other things. It seemed as if the parcel 
would give no clue to lead to anyone's identity, 
but the very last sheet of paper, that nearest 
to the body, bore the name and address of 
" Mrs. Harding, 20 Wigott's Road, Caver- 
sham," and a Midland Railway label with the 
address, " Temple Mead Station, Bristol." 

When the last sheet of paper had been 
removed there was revealed the corpse of a 
little child, a girl, with a piece of tape tied 
tightly round its neck, with the knot under 
the left ear, showing the case at once to be 
one of murder. I still have the tape, with 
other pieces like it used for the same purpose, 
and I keep as a relic, too, the addressed paper 
and label which did so much in solving the 

176 



The Reading Baby-Farmer 

mystery and bringing the murderess to justice. 
I may say here that the parcel had been 
undoubtedly thrown from the towing-path in 
the expectation that it would fall into the deep 
channel, but it had dropped on the shallow 
patch, and, being in the water, it had not been 
easy or possible to reach it so as to cast it 
farther out. 

I set to work at once to make inquiries, 
and on the evening of the day on which the 
parcel was found I learned that a Mrs. Harding 
had lived at 20 Pigott's Road for there was 
no Wigott's Road at Caversham but that she 
had removed to some address in the neighbour- 
hood of Oxford Road, Reading. I discovered 
that there had been a Mrs. Harding in that 
locality, where she had lived with her daughter 
and son-in-law, a young man named Arthur 
Ernest Palmer, but that they had left, and 
were supposed to have gone to London. These 
somewhat fruitless inquiries, as they might seem 
to be, are only part of the day's work of a 
detective, and I was by no means discouraged. 

I continued my investigations and found that 
Mrs. Harding had been living at 45 Kensing- 
ton Road, Reading. And now I made what 
proved to be an important discovery, for I 
ascertained that the woman had been seen 

M 177 



Famous Crimes 

leaving Kensington Road carrying a carpet bag 
on the morning of the day after that on which 
the little body was found in the parcel by the 
bargeman. 

I was able to learn a good deal about the 
movements of Mrs. Harding at Caversham, 
and to find out that she had been in the habit 
of adopting children. It was necessary to pro- 
ceed with great care and caution and to take 
special steps to learn what had been done, and 
with this end in view I took into my con- 
fidence a young woman, whom I instructed to 
call at the house of Mrs. Harding with the 
purpose of getting acquainted with her move- 
ments. I posted up the young woman with 
the bogey excuse that she had been recom- 
mended to Mrs. Harding by a friend in 
London, whose name she was not allowed to 
mention, with the object of arranging that Mrs. 
Harding should adopt a baby and that the 
necessary arrangements should be made for the 
infant's removal. 

The young woman went to the house, and 
was told that Mrs. Harding had not returned; 
but in her stead she saw an old lady of about 
seventy who was known as " Granny Smith." 
I shall have something to say about "Granny' 1 
later on. 

178 



The Reading Baby-Farmer 

"Granny Smith" was told that the young 
woman had come from London to see Mrs. 
Harding, and that she was disappointed because 
she had not met her. 

" If you'll arrange to see Mrs. Harding," 
said "Granny," "I'll have her sent for," and 
an appointment was made for two days after- 
wards, because Mrs. Harding would be absent 
for that period of time. 

So far so good. At the time agreed upon 
the young woman returned to Kensington Road 
and met Mrs. Harding, who was at once 
anxious to know w r ho had recommended her. 
This inquiry was satisfactorily answered, and 
after some discussion it was agreed that Mrs. 
Harding should adopt a baby and receive with 
it the sum of 100. It was made clear to Mrs. 
Harding that the mother of the infant would not 
wish her name and address to be given. 

* What time shall it be brought ? ' ' the young 
woman asked. 

"You had better come to-morrow evening 
after dark," was Mrs. Harding's answer. 

At the appointed time Sergeant James, who 
is now a retired inspector, and myself were 
waiting in the "New Inn," Oxford Road, for 
developments, and in due course we were at 
the door of Mrs. Harding's house. 

179 



Famous Crimes 

Now it was that Mrs. Harding revealed her 
real identity, for when we called and made our- 
selves known, and began to inquire as to the 
parcel which had been found on the towing- 
path bearing the name and address of Mrs. 
Harding, she said that her name was Mrs. 
Dyer, and not Harding. 

With regard to the parcel, she could offer 
no explanation, except that no doubt she had 
put it into the dustbin in the usual way with 
other rubbish. 

We began to make a close examination of 
the place, and in a cupboard under the stairs 
we found a very important clue a quantity of 
baby's clothing, and we noticed a most un- 
pleasant odour, as if some decomposing substance 
had been kept there. Doubtless, as subsequent 
events showed, the body of a little child had 
been concealed in this cupboard for some days 
before being taken out and disposed of. 

As the result of these inquiries Mrs. Dyer 
was arrested and taken to the Reading Police 
Station, where, as soon as she got the oppor- 
tunity to do so, she tried to strangle herself 
with her bootlaces ; but the attempt did not 
succeed. After being brought before the 
magistrates Mrs. Dyer was remanded. 

Meanwhile I went to London and traced the 
180 



The Reading Baby-Farmer 

daughter and son-in-law to 76 Mayo Road, 
Willesden, while Sergeant James returned to 
Mrs. Dyer's house and interviewed "Granny 
Smith " again. He noticed that there was in 
the house a little lad named Thornton and a 
girl about twelve years old children who had 
been taken charge of by Mrs. Dyer in the 
course of her business. Further search by him 
brought to light the vaccination papers of a 
child which had been born at Hammersmith ; 
but it was clear that the child had not been 
vaccinated, because the papers had not been 
sent in. The child referred to was a little girl, 
and the body which had been taken from the 
parcel was that of a little girl ; but as the ages 
of the children were not the same it was 
reasonable to suppose that there had been more 
than one case of murder. 

The Palmers had become seriously involved, 
and the Chief Constable sent me and Sergeant 
James to London on the following day to arrest 
them; but I decided before doing so to trace 
the origin of the child which had been born 
at Hammersmith. Inquiry at the registrar's 
showed that the birth had taken place at a 
midwife's house, where the mother had been 
received for the accouchement. We discovered 
that the mother, who was a single woman, had 

181 



Famous Crimes 

handed the child over to Mrs. Harding in reply 
to an advertisement which Mrs. Harding had 
inserted in a newspaper. When the child was 
fetched by Mrs. Harding she was accompanied 
by a young man with auburn hair and mous- 
tache, who carried the baby's clothing and 
feeding-bottle. The description given of the 
young man corresponded with that which had 
been furnished of Palmer. 

In the company of a London officer, 
Sergeant Bartley, we went to Mayo Road 
again, and there saw Mr. and Mrs. Palmer. 
The man denied all knowledge of the affair; 
but we had the mother of the child with us, 
and she immediately identified him as the man 
who had come with Mrs. Harding to take it 
away. For the purposes of our case we treated 
the child which had been found at Reading as 
the child in question, and I accordingly arrested 
Palmer and charged him with being an accom- 
plice of Mrs. Harding, or, as she was now, and 
properly, known, Mrs. Dyer. 

On the way to the police station Mrs. 
Palmer, who was a young woman in the early 
twenties, walked with me, and I pointed out 
to her the seriousness of her position. She 
then volunteered the statement that on the 
evening of the day after the body of the child 

182 



The Reading Baby-Farmer 

was found at Reading her mother came to her 
house, bringing with her a baby. The Palmers 
were occupying only two rooms in Mayo Road, 
a sitting-room and a bedroom, and the sitting- 
room was given over to Mrs. Dyer. Mrs. 
Palmer put her own child to bed, and on 
returning to the sitting-room she found that 
the child which her mother had brought with 
her had been placed on the floor, under the 
couch, and that Mrs. Dyer was sleeping on 
the couch. On the following day they went 
together to Paddington Station, where, by 
appointment, they met a woman under the 
clock, and received from her another baby, 
which they took to Mayo Road. On that night 
she, Mrs. Palmer, was putting her own child 
to bed, her mother being again left in the 
sitting-room, with the baby that had been 
received at Paddington. Mrs. Palmer further 
said that again Mrs. Dyer slept on the couch, 
and the baby was placed under it, on the floor. 
The next evening the Palmers accompanied 
Mrs. Dyer to Paddington Station, the man 
helping his mother-in-law to carry a carpet 
bag, and they saw Mrs. Dyer safely into the 
9.15 train for Reading, having the bag with 
her. 

That bag, which was subsequently found in 
183 



Famous Crimes 

the river, contained the murdered bodies of the 
two infants who on two successive nights had 
been placed on the floor of the sitting-room 
under the couch on which Mrs. Dyer slept. 
Each had been murdered in the same way 
by tying a piece of tape round the neck, and 
so producing strangulation. 

Mrs. Palmer was taken to Westbourne Park 
Police Station, and Palmer was conveyed to 
Reading, where he was charged as an accom- 
plice, and remanded. Further search at Mrs. 
Dyer's house brought to light numerous letters 
from mothers who had entrusted their little 
children to her, and these inquiries concerned, 
amongst others, a little boy named Henry 
Simmons and a little girl of the name of Doris 
Marmon. We were enabled to trace the parents 
of these two infants. 

No trace of the carpet bag having been 
found on the railway, it was assumed that the 
bag had been thrown into the river. Dragging 
operations were undertaken, and resulted in the 
finding of the bag with the bodies in it, and 
these were afterwards the subject of the charge 
which ended in Mrs. Dyer's execution. 

Little by little the case was completed. 
Palmer himself was discharged because there was 
not enough evidence to establish his complicity 

184 



The Reading Baby-Farmer 

in the matter, and his wife, though committed 
for trial, on the coroner's inquisition, on the 
charge of murder in respect of another child, 
was acquitted at the Berkshire Assizes, the 
grand jury, on the judge's direction, having 
returned no true bill against her. This narrowed 
down the case to Mrs. Dyer, who was com- 
mitted for trial at the Central Criminal Court 
for the murder of Doris Marmon and Henry 
Simmons. 

By that time, of course, the whole of the 
case was completed. It had been a long and 
laborious matter, but little by little the 
woman's movements had been traced and her 
guilt established. One of the most important 
points that had been proved was that Mrs. 
Dyer was seen by a warder at Reading Prison 
coming from the direction of the River Thames 
about ten minutes to eleven o'clock on the 
night when she had been seen off by the 9.15 
train from Paddington ; and as this train was 
due at Reading soon after ten o'clock it was 
very suggestive to us that she had come off 
that train and had gone straight down to the 
river and thrown the bag in, after which she 
went home, and was returning from her errand 
when the warder saw her. 

To get back to "Granny Smith." We 
185 



Famous Crimes 

discovered that Mrs. Dyer had lived at Bristol, 
where she had adopted a number of children. 
The Bristol police had had a considerable 
amount of correspondence in relation to her, 
and it was found that amongst the children 
who had been adopted was the illegitimate 
child of a woman who afterwards married the 
father. 

After the wedding the parents became 
anxious about their child and wanted possession 
of it. But the child had disappeared, and Mrs. 
Dyer became so harassed because of the urgent 
nature of the inquiries that she feigned mad- 
ness, and went into an asylum, and afterwards 
to the workhouse. It was while she was in 
the latter institution that she met " Granny 
Smith," and subsequently, when she left, she 
got " Granny " out of the workhouse and took 
her to Reading, where the two women lived 
together. 

This was one of the many important 
circumstances which showed the deliberate 
nature of the dreadful trade that Mrs. Dyer 
had carried on for a long time. She had lived 
at several addresses, never staying long at any 
one of them, because people were constantly 
writing and making inquiries about children ; 
and, to avoid discovery, Mrs. Dyer disappeared 

186 



The Reading Baby- Farmer 

and, as a rule, was lost sight of. Eventually 
she reached Reading, the last of her scenes of 
operations. 

During the progress of the inquiries we had 
received an enormous number of letters from 
persons all over the country who had entrusted 
children to the woman's care they were mostly 
servants who wrote but in many instances no 
trace of the children could be found. 

No fewer than seven little bodies were 
found in the river at Reading, but only two 
could be properly identified, and it was for 
the murder of these that Mrs. Dyer was 
found guilty and paid the penalty. The jury 
were only five minutes in arriving at their 
verdict. 

Mrs. Dyer's trial began just after the 
Muswell Hill murderers Fowler and Milsom 
had been condemned. I had been in court, 
and had gone out. In my absence the two 
men were found guilty, and there occurred 
that famous fight in the dock between them ; 
but when I got back into the court the whole 
of the exciting scene was over. The Muswell 
Hill murderers and another man named Seaman 
were hanged together on the 9th of June, 
and on the following morning Mrs. Dyer was 
executed. 

187 



Famous Crimes 

About four years after Mrs. Dyer's execu- 
tion digging operations were carried on in the 
garden of a house in which she had lived at 
Bristol, and human remains were found. 
Further excavations were made, and these 
resulted in the discovery of the remains of 
about four children's bodies. Inquests were 
held, but nothing definite could be estab- 
lished, though there was no doubt as to 
what had taken place, and the inquests were 
adjourned. 

I do not know the exact number of 
murders which this woman had committed on 
the helpless infants who had been given into 
her care in every case with cash payment in 
a lump sum, because she refused to take 
weekly or monthly amounts but it was very 
large, and there was proof enough to show 
that she had carried on her dreadful trade in 
a wholesale fashion. 

All the seven bodies which were found had 
tape tied round the neck in the same manner, 
with a knot under the left ear, and all seemed 
to be the work of the same person. It was 
significant, too, that when in Reading Prison 
Mrs. Dyer made the attempt to strangle her- 
self with her bootlaces, they were tied in 
exactly the same manner as the tape had been 

188 



The Reading Baby-Farmer 

fastened with which the murdered children had 
been strangled. 

The extent of the baby-farming operations 
was indicated by the immense number of 
children's garments which were found. A 
great quantity of these had been pledged with 
various pawnbrokers at Reading, and many 
were identified by persons who had entrusted 
their children to Mrs. Dyer's care, but no 
trace of the children was ever found. 

There was a significant sequel to the trial 
and execution of Mrs. Dyer. More than two 
years afterwards Palmer and his wife, who 
were living at an address in Oxfordshire, were 
charged at the Devon Quarter Sessions at 
Exeter with abandoning an infant girl, three 
weeks old, in a railway carriage at Newton 
Abbot. 

It was proved that an advertisement 
had appeared in a Plymouth newspaper offer- 
ing to adopt a child, and that, in answer to 
it, a woman who lived at Devonport arranged 
for her baby to be adopted by the two 
prisoners, who were paid 14. When Mrs. 
Palmer got the baby and the money she left 
Plymouth by train, and changed carriages at 
Newton Abbot. She put the baby under the 
seat of the carriage, which was shunted, and 

189 



Famous Crimes 

there the poor little mite, suffering greatly, 
remained until next morning, when its wails were 
heard by some shunters, and it was rescued. 
The child had been stripped of all its clothing, 
and was wrapped up in brown paper. The 
prisoners were found guilty, and, most de- 
servedly, each of them was sent to two years' 
hard labour. 



190 



CHAPTER XI 

THE MYSTERY OF YARMOUTH BEACH 

[MR. JUSTICE WILLS, in writing of the Yar- 
mouth beach murder case, described it as 
remarkable as showing how a small clue may 
lead not only to the identification of the 
culprit, but also to the detection of his motive 
and to the complete circumstantial proof of 
his crime. The body of a woman was dis- 
covered on the beach at Yarmouth. There 
was not the slightest doubt that she had been 
brutally murdered, for a mohair bootlace was 
tied tightly round the neck and had caused 
strangulation. The woman was a stranger to 
Yarmouth, and the only clue to her identity 
was a laundry mark, the number 599, on some 
of her linen. Eventually the murderer was 
arrested, tried, found guilty, and hanged. 
Photographic evidence was a very important 
feature of the trial, and Mr. Frank H. Sayers, 
artist and photographer, of Yarmouth, was one 
of the principal witnesses in this respect. This 
is Mr. Sayers's story.] 

191 



Famous Crimes 

Early on Sunday morning, September 28rd, 
1900, I had been bathing in the sea, and had 
returned to my studio, when I was told that 
it was being watched by detectives, both in 
front and behind. 

I had not the slightest idea that anything 
had happened, and it was not until the detec- 
tives saw me and asked me if I would go to 
the mortuary to photograph a corpse that I 
learned that the body of a woman had been 
found on the beach, and that there was not 
the slightest doubt that she had been murdered. 

It is strange that I had not heard of the 
murder, for the body had been found at six 
o'clock, and in returning from the sea I had 
passed very near the place where it was 
discovered. 

Intense excitement had been created, but 
that was only the beginning of an excitement 
which spread throughout the country, and was 
scarcely equalled by any other crime committed 
during a very long period. 

The murder was so mysterious, the method 
of it was so exceptional, and there seemed so 
little possibility of ever capturing the murderer, 
that every necessary element was provided for 
an absorbing mystery. 

I had been often called upon to do strange 
192 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

photographic work, but I had never undertaken 
anything of this sort, and I may say now that 
the whole affair completely knocked the nerve 
out of me and haunted me like a nightmare 
for many months. 

I told the police that I would do as they 
wished me to do, and accordingly I went to 
the mortuary and took photographs of the 
body. It was perfectly clear that murder had 
been done. The face was disfigured, as if a 
heavy blow had been struck, and there was 
sand in the mouth and on the body. 

But, most important of all, a mohair boot- 
lace was tied round the neck, so tightly that 
it was almost buried in the flesh. The merest 
examination showed that the woman herself 
could not possibly have tied the lace, and that 
it must have been done by someone else. 
Another significant circumstance was that the 
knot was a reef knot, which will not slip, and 
which is made, as a rule, only by those who 
have some knowledge of the sea and ships. 

What the tying of the lace really meant 
will be understood when I say that the 
woman's neck measured nearly ten inches 
round, while the lace was only a little more 
than eight inches. Very great force and skill 
must have been used to get such a small 

N 193 



Famous Crimes 

length of lace into such a position. Once the 
reef knot was tied, there was no possibility of 
it slipping or becoming loose. 

The body was that of a young and not 
unattractive woman, well dressed, and with 
four or five rings on the fingers. I learned 
that when she \vas found she was lying on 
her back on the South Beach, not actually on 
the .sand, but on the coarse marram grass which 
grows near the sea. Her hair was loose and 
disordered, and her hands, with the fingers 
tightly clenched, were by her side. Such 
struggling as there was must have been short 
and fierce. 

The mystery of the woman was as deep as 
the mystery of the crime. No one knew who 
she really was or where she came from. All 
that was known of her was that she called 
herself a widow, that her name was Mrs. 
Hood, that she was a visitor to Yarmouth, 
and that she had with her a little girl about 
two years old. She gave her own age as 
twenty-seven years. She had been lodging with 
some people named Rudrum in one of the 
"rows" for which Yarmouth is famous. No 
one came forward to claim or identify the body, 
which in due course was buried at Yarmouth as 
that of a practically unknown woman. 

194 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

The only thing which seemed likely to 
afford a clue to her identity was a laundry 
mark the number 599 ; but for a long time 
nothing definite came to light, and at the 
end of about six weeks the coroner's jury were 
forced to return a verdict of murder by some 
person unknown. 

Meanwhile I had become acquainted with 
pretty nearly all there was to know about the 
woman, and that was just enough to make one 
long to know more. She had come to Yar- 
mouth with her baby on September 15th, and 
gone to her lodgings. A few days after her 
arrival a letter addressed to Mrs. Hood was 
received by her. It was written on bluish- 
grey note-paper, and the envelope bore the 
Woolwich postmark. You will see how that 
letter, which seemed an unimportant trifle, 
helped to prove the identity of the murderer; 
but for the time being nothing could be made 
of it. 

Another trifle which became important was 
a photograph of the woman and her baby, 
taken on the beach one of the familiar cheap 
type which is so common at some seaside 
places, but of its kind a very good thing. 
This photograph was discovered in the woman's 
room, and showed that she was w r earing a 

195 



Famous Crimes 

long, old-fashioned chain. She was wearing this 
chain and a silver watch when she left her 
lodgings for the last time, but they were not 
on the body, and not a trace of them could 
be discovered. Mrs. Rudrum saw the woman 
near the Town Hall, after she had left her 
lodgings, and she spoke to her. At that time 
the woman appeared to be waiting for someone. 

I necessarily became very closely acquainted 
with the circumstances of the case, and I saw 
that, so far as identifying the dead woman 
went, nearly everything would depend on the 
laundry mark. 

The police took up this clue with great 
thoroughness, and after exhaustive inquiries 
they found that such a mark came from a 
laundry at Bexley Heath, and that the number 
had been used for the linen of a woman 
named Bennett, who lived at Bexley Heath a 
woman who had a baby. 

This customer of the name of Bennett 
proved to be the woman in the photograph 
which had been taken on the beach, and the 
woman whose body I had photographed at 
the mortuary. 

Matters now began to move briskly, and 
the case became more absorbing than ever, 
owing to the arrest of a young man named 

196 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

Herbert John Bennett, who was employed at 
Woolwich Arsenal. He was arrested on the 
charge of murdering the woman, who was his 
wife. In answer to the charge he said that 
he had never been to Yarmouth; but that 
assertion proved to be only one of a long series 
of reckless lies. 

Bennett was living in lodgings, and these 
were carefully searched. A great step towards 
the solution of the beach mystery was the 
finding of a long chain and a watch in a 
portmanteau. These were identified as the 
chain and watch which were worn by Mrs. 
Bennett on the night of the murder. I had the 1 
chain in my possession for some time, and took 
a photograph of it on a black background. In 
addition to this discovery it was found that 
Bennett had previously written to Yarmouth, 
and had used the same sort of bluish-grey 
note-paper which he employed when writing to 
Mrs. Hood, for he was the writer of the letter 
bearing the Woolwich postmark. 

There was at last, after many weeks' patient 
investigation, following up one clue after 
another often enough a clue of the slightest 
something tangible to work on, and there 
was gradually unfolded a most remarkable and 
cruel case of murder. 

197 



Famous Crimes 

Bit by bit the links in the chain of evidence 
against the prisoner were forged, until at last 
something like forty witnesses had been got 
together to attend the trial at the Central 
Criminal Court. 

In the ordinary way the trial should have 
taken place at the Norwich Assizes, but local 
feeling in the matter was so strong that it 
was considered desirable to hear the case in 
London, and there the trial began towards the 
end of February, 1901, before the Lord Chief 
Justice, Lord Alverstone. 

The trial lasted for six days. Day after 
day that awful business went on, and the 
dreadful court, the atmosphere of which seemed 
positively poisonous, especially to a man living 
at the seaside, was packed by people who 
seemed to go just as they would have gone 
to a theatre. Queues were formed outside, so 
that when anyone left the court the vacant 
place was taken instantly. I was sick and 
tired of the thing long before the end came ; 
and, as I have told you, the whole sorry 
business possessed me like a nightmare. 

The story which was gradually unfolded 
showed that Bennett married the w r oman when 
he was only seventeen years old, she being 
about two years his senior. He had been taking 

198 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

music lessons from her. The marriage took 
place at a London registry office, and was, I 
believe, a secret one. Bennett began badly, 
and went on badly. He was soon ill-treating 
and threatening his wife, and began to lead a 
double life. In position he was nothing at all 
important, his occupation ranging from grocer's 
assistant to labourer he was, I believe, a 
labourer at the Arsenal when he was arrested. 
Yet he had considerable ability in some direc- 
tions, and managed to get hold of money by 
selling such things as sewing machines on com- 
mission. He cashed a cheque at Westgate once 
for more than 200, but how he got the cheque 
I cannot say. 

For some time after the marriage the two 
lived with Mrs. Bennett's grandmother, and on 
the old lady's death the chain and watch passed 
to the prisoner's wife. 

After the child was born Bennett and his 
wife, in the name of Hood why they assumed 
a false name I don't know went to South 
Africa ; but after being there only a few days 
they returned to England, where he continued 
to ill-use and threaten the woman. They 
parted, and she went to live at Bexley Heath, 
while he had lodgings at Woolwich, where he 
was working, and where he passed as a single 

199 



Famous Grimes 

man, though he sometimes visited his wife at 
Bexley Heath. 

Posing as a single man, Bennett became 
acquainted with a young woman named Alice 
Meadows, who was one of the witnesses, and 
whose evidence showed how deliberately he had 
lied in many ways. He arranged to go to 
Yarmouth with her, and wrote to Mrs. Rudrum 
asking for rooms for the August Bank Holiday, 
but she replied that she had no accommoda- 
tion vacant. Bennett and the girl, however, 
went to Yarmouth, travelling first-class, and 
staying at an hotel, where they occupied 
separate rooms. Proof of this visit showed 
that he was acquainted with Yarmouth, despite 
his assertion that he had never been to the 
place. Afterwards he and the girl went to 
Ireland, where they stayed a fortnight, during 
which time Bennett spent money freely. 

The girl had not the least idea that Bennett 
was married this fact she did not learn till he 
was arrested and she became engaged to him. 
He gave her a ring, and on the understanding 
that the wedding was to come off at an early 
date she left her situation as a parlourmaid. 
She was then employed in Bayswater. 

There was now a very strong motive for 
Bennett to get rid of his wife, and he deliber- 

200 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

ately set to work to carry out his purpose. 
He planned and plotted with cool cunning, but 
with it all he made one or two of those fatal 
mistakes which have sent to the gallows so 
many murderers who might not otherwise have 
been discovered. 

The deadliest piece of evidence against him, 
in my opinion, was the chain, and a great deal 
of the case for the Crown depended upon 
proving that the chain found in Bennett's 
portmanteau and that which the photograph 
showed the woman to be wearing were one 
and the same. 

The main facts of this extraordinary crime 
were proved beyond all doubt. 

The prisoner, having sent his wife to 
Yarmouth, went there himself on Saturday, 
September 22nd, and doubtless when his wife 
was seen outside the Town Hall she was wait- 
ing for him, that building being very near the 
station at which he would arrive. Bennett 
joined her, for they were seen in a public-house 
on the quay. 

Afterwards, at about eleven o'clock, a man 
and a woman who were seated in a hollow on 
the South Beach observed another man and 
woman seat or lay themselves on the ground. 
Shortly afterwards the couple in the hollow 

201 



Famous Crimes 

heard cries of "Mercy! Mercy!" and groans, 
after which there was silence. 

There is not the slightest doubt that these 
cries were uttered when the murder was being 
committed, and that it was Bennett who was 
strangling the woman. The actual circumstances 
attending the crime were evidenced by the 
appearance of the body when found circum- 
stances which cannot be detailed, but which 
went to prove the brutal character of the man 
who did the deed. 

Having maltreated and strangled the woman, 
he hurried off, and at about midnight reached 
the hotel where he had previously stayed. He 
was out of breath and greatly excited, and said 
that he must catch the first train to London 
next morning. He spent the night at the 
hotel, and left Yarmouth on the Sunday 
morning by a train which started at about 
seven o'clock, so the murderer was still actually 
in the town when the terrible discovery had 
been made on the beach. 

Almost as soon as Bennett got back to 
London he met Alice Meadows in Hyde Park, 
and later on he gave her things which had 
belonged to his wife. He urged the girl to 
marry him, and was doing this when he knew 
that all England was horrified and disturbed by 

202 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

the brutal and mysterious crime on Yarmouth 
beach ; indeed, the very day before he was 
arrested Alice Meadows 's sister said, in his and 
her presence, that it was strange that the Yar- 
mouth murderer had never been heard of. 
This incident serves to show what a source of 
general conversation the beach murder mystery 
had become. Little did the two women realise 
that they were actually in the presence of the 
perpetrator of the crime ! 

But to return to the trial. 

I was one of the earliest witnesses to be 
called. Before I entered the box I was not, 
of course, allowed in court, but after I had 
given my evidence I was at liberty to remain ; 
and I did, following the case point by point 
and watching the prisoner carefully. He knew 
perfectly well how much depended on the testi- 
mony regarding the chain, and when I was in 
the box he looked at me malignantly. But 
my mind was quite at rest, and I steadily 
returned his gaze. 

Great difficulty attended the explanation of 
certain technical points to those who knew 
nothing of photography. I had not the slightest 
doubt in my own mind that the chain shown 
in the photograph and that which was found 
in Bennett's possession were the same, yet I 

203 



Famous Crimes 

was so greatly upset by the warning that a 
human life might depend on what I was say- 
ing that I might almost have wavered. A 
great deal was made of the fact that some 
parts of the chain were blurred, and it was 
difficult to explain to the non-technical mind 
that the blurring was due to the movement 
caused by the breathing of the sitter during 
the exposure, which in this case was about 
three seconds. There was, however, part of the 
chain in the lap, and this, being still, was 
provable as being the chain found in the 
prisoner's bag, apart from the fact that the 
chain had been broken, and fastened with a 
piece of cotton. 

Nothing had been left to chance, and in 
order that I might be better able to illustrate 
my meaning and prove my point I had to take 
the chain and photograph it while it was 
placed round girls' necks and was hanging 
down, so that it would show how the blurring 
occurred; and, by way of more fully indicating 
the effect of movement, electric light was 
used. 

The prisoner was most ably defended by Mr. 
Marshall Hall and two other clever barristers, 
and in spite of the deadly case which the 
Crown presented against him there were some 

204 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

people who believed that the jury would return 
a verdict of not guilty. 

On one occasion when I left the court I 
heard a man say: ''He'll get off!" 

"It's a million to one against it!' I 
answered impulsively. 

I noticed that what I said was overheard 
by a man and a woman who were near me, 
and seemed to be terribly distressed and well 
they might be, for they were the prisoner's 
parents. I was, of course, in absolute ignor- 
ance of this fact, but I have often deeply 
regretted that any involuntary remark of mine 
should have caused them pain. 

I never had the slightest doubt as to the 
result of the trial, and I do not see how 
Bennett could have had any hope of an 
acquittal. But nothing could be told from his 
demeanour. 

From first to last he never flinched and 
never showed any emotion, which was quite in 
keeping with his character as revealed at the 
trial. He was thoroughly bad from start to 
finish, and I do not suppose there was any 
disinterested outside person who was not 
relieved and thankful when the jury, after 
consulting for about thirty-five minutes, found 
him guilty. 

205 



Famous Crimes 

Bennett was apparently unmoved even at 
this dreadful stage, and when he was asked if 
he had anything to say why he should not be 
sentenced to death, he replied in that calm, 
grave voice of his, and quite firmly : "I say 
that I am not guilty, sir." 

The Lord Chief Justice did not say much 
after he had assumed the black cap, but he 
made it clear to the condemned man that he 
could not hope for mercy. 

I remember the Lord Chief Justice saying : 
"I will only say that after a career for which 
not much could be said, you deliberately 
planned the death of this poor woman." 

In sending the murderer to the gallows his 
lordship had to order that the execution should 
be carried out at Norwich Prison, as the 
murder had been committed in Norfolk. 

So Bennett was taken to the old cathedral 
city, travelling along the line which he had 
used as a man with a planned murder in his 
mind and as a murderer hurrying away from 
.the scene of his brutal crime. He had not 
shown mercy, and he did not get it, for he 
was duly hanged. He was buried, of course, 
in the prison yard, so he is lying not many 
miles away from the cemetery where his wife 
was buried as a practically unknown woman. 

206 



The Mystery of Yarmouth Beach 

I do not know that Bennett made any con- 
fession, but that was not necessary, in view 
of the strength of the circumstantial evidence 
against him; and there were other things, not 
generally known, which removed any trace of 
doubt that might have lingered in the minds 
of anyone who was concerned in the case. 

The scene of the murder is more than a 
mile away from the railway station where 
Bennett took train after committing the crime ; 
but the actual spot has been altered so much 
that you could not recognise it. There is no 
longer the rough marram grass in the sandy 
ground, for that particular part of the South 
Beach has been turned into a delightful public 
garden. 

What of the reef knot and the baby? 

Well, as to the reef knot, I believe Bennett 
had served in the marines, in which case he 
would doubtless know how to tie one. 

As for the baby, she was adopted by the 
good and real friends who always come forward 
in the time of trouble. 



207 



CHAPTER XII 

AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY : THE ARDLAMONT 
RIDDLE 

[FoR ten days the Lord Justice-Clerk and a 
jury were occupied at Edinburgh in trying to 
unravel what was known as the Ardlamont 
Mystery, but their efforts failed, and the 
mystery remains unsolved and as impenetrable 
as ever. An army tutor named Alfred John 
Monson was tried on the double charge of 
attempting to murder and of murdering a 
young Militia officer named Windsor Dudley 
Cecil Hambrough at Ardlamont, Argyllshire, 
where Hambrough had taken a mansion for 
the shooting season. The trial began on 
December 12th, 1893, and finished on Decem- 
ber 22nd, when the jury returned the Scottish 
verdict of "Not proven." A remarkable and 
mysterious figure in the case was a man named 
Scott, an alleged accomplice of Monson. Scott 
disappeared, and when the trial began he was 
called upon to present himself; failing to do 
so, the judge passed upon him the sentence of 

208 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

outlawry. This story of the trial is particularly 
interesting, because it is told from the narrative 
of Mrs. W. H. Keen, with whom, in Pimlico, 
Scott or Davis, as he called himself lived for 
two years.] 

More than twenty years ago my husband and I 
occupied a house in Sutherland Street, Pimlico, 
part of which we let. The drawing-room floor 
was occupied by a family who called themselves 
Davis father, mother, and son. The son was 
about thirty years of age, thin, and five feet 
eight or nine inches in height. He had a long, 
clean-shaven face, with a sallow complexion, 
dark blue eyes and dark hair. Altogether he 
was one of the nicest men you could meet. 
He lived with me for about two years, and' I 
understood that he and his father were engaged 
in bookmaking, though it was given out that 
their actual occupation was picture-dealing. I 
say that the name was Davis, but apparently 
business was done in the name of Sweeney, 
because often enough letters and telegrams 
came to the house addressed to Sweeney, and 
these were, by arrangement and instructions, 
delivered to the Davises. There was a daughter, 
but she does not come into the story, and there 
was another brother named George, who went 

o 209 



Famous Crimes 

by the name of Sweeney and was a hall porter 
at the Westminster Palace Hotel. 

The Davises had been with me for the long 
time I have named, and I had never any reason 
to suspect that anything was wrong certainly 
not with Ted, as young Davis was called ; but 
on the morning of September 5th, 1893, Mrs. 
Davis came down to me crying bitterly. 

I said: "What's the matter, Mrs. Davis?" 

"Oh, Mrs. Keen," she answered, "Ted's 

gone away, and we shall have to give up the 



rooms.' 



"Don't worry," I said; "he'll soon come 
back again." But I soon found that there was 
cause indeed for tears and trouble, and that 
Ted Davis had completely vanished. I learned 
that Mr. Wiggins, who had my top rooms, 
had carried Ted's boxes downstairs and put 
them in a little spring cart early in the 
morning. 

I was upset and puzzled, but never sus- 
pected that anything was seriously wrong until 
one night about a fortnight after Ted Davis 
had disappeared. 

A mysterious man came to see me and 
asked if I could tell him where Davis had gone. 

I said "No," for I had not the least idea 
in the w r orld. 

210 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

Then the visitor asked if he could see me 
privately, and when he had entered the house he 
began to talk about a matter that was then 
arousing intense public interest the Ardlamont 
Mystery. To my amazement he told me that 
Ted Davis was wanted in connection with 
that strange affair. 

Then I knew that my mysterious visitor was 
a detective from Scotland Yard. 

He asked me what I thought about the 
case and if I considered it likely that Davis 
was mixed up in it. 

"Never!" I declared. "He has been in 
my house for two years, and has always behaved 
as a perfect gentleman." 

Then the detective told me the extra- 
ordinary story of Ardlamont. The newspapers 
had been full of it, but I am afraid I w r as too 
busy to read the newspapers, and therefore did 
not know the circumstances until the detective 
acquainted me with them. I was to become 
familiar enough with them later on. The detec- 
tive told me that Mr. Monson and Mr. Ham- 
brough had gone out in a boat in Ardlamont 
Bay to fish, Davis, who was known as Scott, 
staying ashore, and that Monson had tried to 
drown Mr. Hambrough by drawing a plug and 
letting the boat fill with water. He told me, 

211 



Famous Crimes 

too, that next day August 10th, it was the 
three men left Ardlamont House to shoot, two 
of them, Mr. Monson and Mr. Hambrough, 
each carrying a gun. The detective said that 
Mr. Hambrough had been shot dead in a wood 
near the house, and it was supposed that he 
had been murdered by Monson and Davis. 
Monson had been arrested, and Davis as I 
shall call him was wanted, but he had disap- 
peared, and not a trace of him could be 
found. 

That was the story which was told me by 
the detective from Scotland Yard. I was quite 
frightened, I can assure you, especially when 
the detective told me that my house had been 
watched for some time ; but nothing had been 
seen of either the going of Ted Davis or his 
parents, for by this time the father and mother 
also had left. They must have known that the 
police were on the watch and that their son 
was wanted, and I saw then that there was 
good reason for the terrible distress which Mrs. 
Davis showed when she came and told me 
that they would have to give up the drawing- 
room floor. 

I soon learned that my husband and myself 
would have to be associated with the case, 
much as we disliked being concerned with it; 

212 



Shace 




PLAN OF THE GROUNDS OF ARDLAMONT 







WHERE THE BODY WAS FOUND 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

but the police explained that our evidence was 
necessary, and that we had no option in the 
matter. So in due course a party of witnesses 
set out from London for Edinburgh, where 
Mr. Monson was to be tried; and I, for one, 
sat in court for ten full days and listened to 
the wonderful and patient attempts to unravel 
this terrible mystery, which remains a mystery 
still. They were very long and trying days, 
so that we were always thankful when we 
could get away to look round Edinburgh or 
rest quietly at the temperance hotel where we 
were staying. 

It was not until the sixth day of the trial 
that my husband and I were called. By that 
time more than fifty witnesses had given 
evidence for the prosecution. 

The story which was slowly told was very 
remarkable, and, naturally enough, I was deeply 
interested in it, as I knew so well one of the 
men who had become so singularly associated 
with it and had completely disappeared. The 
police searched for him, friend and foe alike 
did their best to get at him, and advertisements 
were put in the principal newspapers but Ted 
Davis never turned up. He had vanished that 
was all that was known. 

I knew nothing about Mr. Monson person- 
213 



Famous Crimes 

ally, but once I had seen Mr. Hambrough. 
He was then talking with Davis in the street, 
near my house. I did not know who he was, 
but my husband explained his identity. 

I will tell you the story as it was built 
up in court. No speeches were made in the 
beginning the tale was told gradually by the 
witnesses ; and when everything had been put 
before the jury counsel delivered their addresses 
and the Lord Justice-Clerk summed up. The 
trial was remarkable because of the appearance 
of a large number of witnesses of a class who 
are not as a rule associated with murder trials, 
and because of the revelations of many sordid 
details relating to a number of good-class 
people. 

Mr. Cecil Hambrough was little more than 
a boy. He was the son of Major Hambrough, 
a retired military officer, and it was intended 
that he also should go into the Army, his 
mother hoping that he would join the Guards. 
It was through an ex-Army officer Mr. 
Beresford L. Tottenham, who had been a 
lieutenant in the 10th Hussars that Mr. 
Hambrough met Mr. Monson. That was in 
1900, when Mr. Hambrough was only seven- 
teen years old. Mr. Tottenham was a financial 
agent, and he had had dealings with the Major. 

214 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

Mr. Monson also became acquainted with the 
Major, and the result was that it was arranged 
that Mr. Monson should have charge of young 
Mr. Hambrough as tutor and train him until 
he passed into the Army. It was arranged 
that Mr. Monson was to be paid 300 a year 
for his services. The Major was in serious 
financial straits, and Mr. Monson made efforts 
to get him out of them ; but trouble arose 
between the two men, and in consequence of 
the unpleasantness the Major did all he couW 
to get his son away from Mr. Monson 's care. 

Mr. Monson at that time was living at 
Riseley Hall, near Ripley, Yorkshire. But 
these efforts were failures, and Mr. Hambrough 
continued to live at Riseley Hall with his tutor. 
There is no doubt that he was thoroughly 
enjoying life, that he had plenty of money, 
and that he had no wish to go and live with 
his father, who was in rooms and in constant 
financial embarrassment. The Major had got 
through a good deal of money, but there was 
a large sum which could not be touched, and 
to which Mr. Hambrough was entitled when he 
came of age. 

Mr. Monson himself was undoubtedly in a 
very bad financial state, and, as a matter of 
fact, in 1892 he was declared a bankrupt. He 

215 



Famous Crimes 

seems to have set to work steadily to try and 
raise money on Mr. Hambrough's expectations, 
but he failed. 

A great deal was said one way and another 
during the trial about financial matters, and 
some curious things were revealed. It was 
largely the object of the prosecution to prove, 
of course, that the prisoner would benefit 
greatly by Mr. Hambrough's death; but, so 
far as the prisoner was concerned, his counsel 
did his best to show that, so far from Mr. 
Monson benefiting by Mr. Hambrough's death, 
such a thing would be a real calamity to him, 
because it would stop his source of income. 

Having failed in the direction named, Mr. 
Monson made successful efforts to lease the 
shooting at Ardlamont for Mr. Hambrough. A 
lease was prepared and entered into by which 
Mr. Hambrough became the temporary tenant 
of Ardlamont House, and there the young 
man went, with Mr. and Mrs. Monson and 
their children. By that time Mr. Hambrough 
had become a lieutenant in the West Yorkshire 
Militia, and it was expected that he would 
enter the regular Army. 

As soon as Mr. Hambrough was comfortably 
in possession of Ardlamont House steps were 
taken to insure him, and two policies for 

216 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

10,000 each were taken out on his life, and 
Mr. Hambrough promptly took steps for the 
payment of these large sums of money to 
Mrs. Monson in case anything happened to 
himself. 

It was at about this time, entirely unknown 
to myself, of course, that Davis appeared at 
Ardlamont. He was taken to the house by 
Mr. Monson, who introduced him as Scott, 
explaining that he was an engineer who was 
going to inspect the boilers of a yacht which 
had been bought by Mr. Monson for Mr. 
Hambrough. Davis, as Scott, immediately 
became a member of the family party. He 
arrived at Ardlamont on August 8th, and from 
that time events moved swiftly towards their 
tragic close. 

On the following night the three men 
started out on a fishing expedition in Ardla- 
mont Bay. They had secured the use of a 
small ordinary fishing vessel, with a net, and 
Mr. Monson and Mr. Hambrough went out in 
her, but Davis remained ashore. 

What actually happened in the boat will 
not, I suppose, ever be known, but it was 
declared that Monson deliberately tried to bring 
about the loss of the boat by drawing a plug 
and letting her fill with water, and in that way 

217 



Famous Grimes 

drown Mr. Hambrough, who could not swim, 
though he himself could. At any rate, the two 
men returned to Ardlamont House at mid- 
night, and it was then seen that they were 
drenched. The story told was that the boat 
had upset, but that, luckily, both the occupants 
had escaped. 

It was as a result of that sail in Ardlamont 
Bay that Mr. Monson was charged with 
attempted murder. But a heavier and far more 
serious charge w r as to be made, that of murder 
itself, arising from the strange happenings of 
the following day. 

Soon after six o'clock on the morning of 
the 10th the party at Ardlamont House had 
begun what would in any case have been a long 
day. Mrs. Monson and the governess and the 
children went off to Glasgow for the day, and 
soon afterwards the three men went out to 
shoot, guns being carried by Mr. Monson and 
Mr. Hambrough, but not by Davis. They were 
seen walking away from the house, and passed 
out of sight and went into the wood, to all 
appearances carrying out a little shooting 
expedition in just the ordinary way. 

Some time passed, and then the household 
was thrown into a state of terrible commotion, 
for Mr. Monson and Davis returned, and Mr. 

218 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

Monson told the butler that Mr. Hambrough 
had been killed. 

The butler hurried away and tried to find 
the body, but he could not do so ; then Mr. 
Monson went with him, and they came across 
poor Mr. Hambrough, lying on the top of a 
dyke, to which he had been lifted from a 
ditch. A rug was got, help was summoned, 
and the dead man was carried to the house, 
and a doctor sent for. 

Mr. Monson was badly upset, and was cry- 
ing, but he did not seem to trouble much 
about the body. The story he told was that 
Mr. Hambrough had shot himself. A doctor 
was summoned he had to come some distance, 
for Ardlamont is a lonely place and as the 
result of the information that was given to him 
he concluded that the affair was an accident. 
But a few days later he was satisfied that the 
death was not brought about in the manner 
he had been led to suppose. 

Judging from the stories that were told in 
court by witnesses, it seems to have been a 
terrible and distressing time at Ardlamont 
House after Mr. Hambrough 's body had been 
found and taken in. Davis was not long 
present, and soon after the doctor appeared he 
left the district. 

219 



Famous Grimes 

The dead lad's parents were telegraphed for, 
and they went to Ardlamont; and not long 
afterwards the body was taken all the way to 
Ventnor, in the Isle of Wight, for burial, 
Monson going with it and attending the 
funeral, after which he returned to Ardlamont. 

It seemed as if the matter was now at an 
end, and that it would soon be forgotten; but 
inspectors came from the insurance company 
and I suppose that very large sums are not 
paid without inquiry when only a single 
premium has been paid and when death is of 
a very suspicious nature. 

Well, inquiries were made, and they were 
continued in many quarters, with the result 
that Mr. Monson was taken into custody on 
a charge of having murdered Mr. Hambrough. 
Mr. Hambrough's body was exhumed, and 
photographs were taken of the wound at the 
back of the head, and the doctors prepared 
minute details of the fatal injury. 

There was a great hue and cry for Davis, 
and extraordinary efforts were made to find 
him ; but not a trace of him could be dis- 
covered, and so the charge against Monson 
only could be proceeded with. 

These trials are wonderful affairs to the 
ordinary mind, and it would be hard to find 

220 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

one more wonderful than this Ardlamont case, 
because of the efforts on the one side to show 
that death was caused by murder, and on the 
other side to prove that it was due to accident 
or suicide. There was not a circumstance, 
however small, connected with the affair which 
was not noted and made use of, and some 
astonishing details were given of the marks 
made by pellets at the spot where the body 
was found and of the condition of the ground 
in the neighbourhood. And every detail was 
given, too, of the condition of the skull and 
the injuries that had been received ghastly 
evidence that one would much rather not have 
listened to ; but in these cases justice alone has 
to be considered, and so everything must be 
gone into and nothing shirked. 

I remember that evidence was given of 
experiments that had been carried out with 
guns on corpses, with the object of learning 
the effects of gunshot wounds on the head. 
There were also many experiments on newly 
killed horses, animals' skins, and models of 
men's heads ; and, so far as I remember, some 
of these experiments were conducted with the 
guns that were in the possession of Mr. 
Monson and Mr. Hambrough when the tragedy 
occurred. 

221 



Famous Crimes 

When all the witnesses had been called I 
remember that one of the last things stated 
was that a firm had been retained for the 
defence by the prisoner's mother, the Hon. 
Mrs. Monson the Solicitor-General made a 
long speech which lasted nearly the whole of 
the ninth day. I do not remember most of 
it; all I know is that it seemed to cover every 
possible point in the case and, naturally, to 
be dead against the accused man. I was most 
interested in what the Solicitor-General had to 
say about Davis. He told the jury that from 
Ardlamont Davis had been traced to London, 
and that on August 15th or 16th he vanished; 
and he also said that Monson had deliberately 
misled people as to the real character and 
whereabouts of Davis. 

Then there was another long speech, for 
the prisoner, by Mr. Comrie Thomson, who 
made a great point of the fact that if Mr. 
Monson had killed Mr. Hambrough he would 
have done away with the only fixed income he 
had, because the bounty of Mr. Tottenham, 
on which they were living, was dependent on 
the young officer's life. Mr. Thomson pointed 
out that Mr. Monson, Davis, and Mr. Ham- 
brough were the only three persons who knew 
what happened in the wood at Ardlamont. 

222 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

He told the jury that Davis was a sick man, 
a dying man ; a bookmaker yes, but one of 
the quietest, most amiable and gentlest of 
men. He certainly was, judging from my long 
knowledge of him. Mr. Thomson scoffed at 
the idea that Mr. Monson should have lured 
on such a man as Davis to be a witness either 
to an attempt at murder or murder itself, and 
he declared that it was the greatest calamity 
in the world that Davis was not able to enter 
the witness-box. So there was nothing for it 
one man being dead, one unable to speak 
because he was a prisoner, and the third 
having vanished but to rely on circumstantial 
evidence. 

The Lord Justice-Clerk also told the jury 
that the evidence was purely circumstantial, 
but he made it clear that he did not see any 
good ground for supposing that Davis had gone 
to Ardlamont as a party to a murder plot, 
and he told the jury that it had not been 
made out that Davis had disappeared at the 
instance of the prisoner. The case had to be 
considered quite apart from the disappearance 
of Davis. 

The most terrible time of all came when 
the jury retired. It was bad enough for those 
who were waiting in court after all those 

223 



Famous Crimes 

wearisome days. How much more dreadful 
must it have been for the man whose very life 
was at stake and whose fate depended on the 
utterance of a single word ! 

The jury were absent for about an hour and 
a quarter; then they slowly returned into court, 
and the awful suspense was ended. 

They returned a verdict of "Not proven" 
on both charges. 

Monson was a free man again, and lie 
briskly left the dock, in which he had been so 
long a prisoner and so closely guarded, and 
disappeared. 

Some months after the trial a curious thing 
happened in Edinburgh, for Davis himself, 
who had been proclaimed an outlaw, appeared 
in a music-hall, as an assistant, I believe, to 
a conjurer. He had evidently taken to that 
sort of business as a means of making a living. 
I do not pretend to know what legal formali- 
ties had to be gone through by him to set 
himself entirely free, so to speak; but, as a 
matter of fact, he took steps to clear himself 
from the sentence which had been passed upon 
him, with the result that the punishment of 
outlawry was "recalled," as they put it, which 
means, I suppose, that the sentence was 
quashed. No steps were taken to bring him 

224 



The Ardlamont Riddle 

to trial for the offence which had been pre- 
ferred against him when the famous mystery 
became public property, and I take it that 
this meant that, so far as he was concerned, 
the affair was at an end. 

That is the story of the Ardlamont Mystery, 
so far as the general public know it and 
pretty nearly all there was to learn came out 
in that long trial at Edinburgh ; but there is 
one very interesting fact which the general 
public does not know and with which very few 
people have become acquainted. It is this 
that during all the time the hue and cry was 
raised after Davis, w r hen frantic efforts were 
being made to discover his whereabouts, and 
when not a trace of him could be discovered, 
he was hiding in the East End of London. 
He told my husband that he was in the East 
End all the time, and never left it. If Davis 
had come out of hiding and left London, I 
do not think he could have escaped capture. 
He never came back to our house again, and 
I do not know what happened to him. I 
liked him very much, and it grieved me when 
I knew that he was mixed up in this awful 
mystery. 






CHAPTER XIII 

THE NEWCASTLE TRAIN MURDER 

[MURDERS in English railway trains have been, 
and are, exceptional occurrences, so that when 
one is committed it arouses extraordinary 
interest, especially if the murderer remains 
undiscovered, or is found only after consider- 
able trouble and delay. Six years ago an 
uncommonly deliberate murder was committed 
in a train on the North-Eastern Railway. The 
story is here retold from the narrative of Mr. 
J. Jamieson, who was professionally associated 
with the trial from start to finish.] 

There is a train which leaves Newcastle every 
morning at 10.27 for Alnmouth, just under 
thirty-five miles away to the north. It is a 
slow train, and stops at all the stations until 
Alnmouth is reached at three minutes past 
noon. 

That train has been running for a long time, 
and it left the Central Station as usual on the 
morning of Friday, March 18th, 1910. It went 

226 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

off in the ordinary way, and there was nothing 
whatever to distinguish its departure from the 
going of the train at any other time ; yet the 
10.27 of March 18th was to be the scene of a 
singularly deliberate and callous murder a crime 
which was brought home to the perpetrator by 
the forging of a number of links of evidence 
which separately might seem slight and unsub- 
stantial, but which, when put together, formed 
a chain of unbreakable strength. 

The Newcastle train murder is an outstand- 
ing instance of the deadly nature of circum- 
stantial evidence, and we shall see how, step 
by step, an unknown murderer was traced, 
brought to trial, convicted, and hanged. 

The train reached Alnmouth Station up to 
time, and was being examined in the customary 
manner when the foreman porter, Charlton, 
made a terrible discovery, for on opening the 
door of the third compartment of the first 
coach behind the engine he saw three streams 
of blood oozing across the floor, and that under 
the seat facing the engine was the body of 
a man, lying face downward. The body was 
lying under the seat from end to end, and 
had been pushed right under it. Charlton did 
not move the body, but called the station- 
master, the guard, and a porter. The local 

227 



Famous Crimes 

policeman was sent for, and the body was 
removed to a waiting-room and the carriage 
taken to a siding. 

I was on the platform at the time, and 
saw the body discovered and removed, and I 
was from that time connected with the case 
until the end. 

It was soon seen that murder had been 
committed, for the dead man had been shot in 
five places in the head. Two bullets were still 
embedded in the head, and it was found that 
one of these was nickel-capped and the other 
lead, and that they were of different calibre, 
leading to the conclusion that two revolvers 
had been used ; but no traces of the weapons 
themselves were found, though there were signs 
of a struggle. A pair of broken spectacles was 
found, and a soft felt hat was picked up from 
the carriage floor. 

The murdered man was found to be John 
Innes Nisbet, a colliery cashier, living in New- 
castle, and there had been stolen from him a 
black leather bag containing 370 9s. 6d. in 
money, mostly gold and silver. Nisbet was 
employed by the owners of the Stobswood 
Colliery, near Widdrington, about twenty-four 
miles from Newcastle. He was a married man, 
forty-four years of age, of slight build, and of 

228 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

an inoffensive disposition ; not the sort of man 
to make enemies who would be likely to murder 
him. It was his custom to travel on alternate 
Fridays by the 10.27 to Widdrington, carrying 
money from a Newcastle bank for the payment 
of the miners' wages. Sometimes he carried as 
much as a thousand pounds, but owing to a 
coal strike he had with him at the time of 
the murder only the sum mentioned, yet it was 
a very considerable amount of money. 

Nisbet \vas a trusted and old servant of the 
colliery company, which promptly offered a 
reward of 100 for the discovery of the mur- 
derer. That discovery seemed likely to be an 
uncommonly difficult and baffling undertaking, 
because the murderer had completely escaped 
without leaving anything to identify him. 

The announcement of the crime, its deliber- 
ate nature, its deep mystery, and the fact that 
it was committed in a railway train, aroused 
amazing interest throughout the country as 
well as locally, and instant steps were taken to 
try and trace the murder to its source. In 
little more than an hour the news had been 
received by the Newcastle police, and inquiries 
were being made. The public interest was 
extraordinarily keen, as it was bound to be, in 
view of the fact that there was so closely 

229 



Famous Crimes 

involved the question of the safety of the 
travelling public. 

Let us see for the moment what Nisbet had 
been doing, and what had happened to him 
on that last fatal journey on a line which he 
knew so well and on which he was so well 
known. It was his duty on that day to go 
to Lloyds Bank at Newcastle to get a cheque 
cashed for the wages. He went to the bank, 
taking with him a black leather bag with a 
lock attached. At the bank he received gold 
in three canvas bags, silver in paper bags, and 
copper in brown paper parcels. One of these 
bags was marked " Lambton No. 1," Lamb- 
ton's Bank having been amalgamated with 
Lloyds. It is important to bear this point in 
mind. 

With the miners' wages in the bag Nisbet 
went to the Central Station, where he was 
seen by a commercial traveller in the company 
of another man. The two were going towards 
No. 5 platform, from which the train started. 
The traveller knew both men quite well and 
saw them clearly. It happened also that a 
local artist, Mr. Wilson Hepple, saw a man, 
whom he did not know, but who was Nisbet, 
go with a man whom he knew quite well and 
walk towards a third-class compartment close 

230 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

to the engine. Mr. Hepple saw the pair at 
the door of the compartment, and noticed that 
one of them put his hand on the door. Mr. 
Hepple then walked away, and when he turned 
round he found that the men had disappeared, 
and had evidently entered the train. 

There was other evidence of Nisbet having 
been seen in the company of a man at the 
station, and it was clear that when the train 
started these two passengers were alone in the 
compartment near the engine. 

A particularly remarkable thing happened at 
Heaton Station, which is two stations from 
Newcastle. Nisbet lived quite close to Heaton 
Station, and it was his wife's custom to meet 
him at the station every fortnight as he passed 
through to Widdrington for the purpose of 
having a little talk with him. Nisbet usually 
travelled in the rear of the train, but on this 
occasion she found that he was near the engine, 
and he put his head out of the window to 
attract her notice. The compartment was quite 
close to a tunnel, and a shadow fell on the 
seat of the carriage ; but in spite of the shadow 
Mrs. Nisbet saw that another man was in the 
compartment a man who never moved and had 
his coat collar turned up. He was at the far 
end of the compartment, facing the engine, and 

231 



Famous Grimes 

the profile was all that Mrs. Nisbet saw of the 
immovable figure. That brief sight became an 
incident of dramatic importance at a later 
stage. 

Widdrington was the station at which Nisbet 
should have alighted, but he did not do so, 
and it was not until Alnmouth was reached 
that his murdered body was found. The body 
was alone, and the murderer had completely 
vanished. It was soon quite clear that the 
murder had been committed on the run between 
Stannington and Morpeth, a journey which 
occupies about six minutes, and is the longest 
that the 10.27 makes. Nisbet had been seen at 
Stannington by two colliery clerks who knew 
him. They spoke to him, and noticed that in 
the compartment was another man. 

That was the last time Nisbet was seen alive 
by anyone except the murderer. 

When the train reached Morpeth the com- 
partment was empty, or seemed to be, for a 
man opened the door and saw that there was 
no one inside; but for some reason he did 
not enter that compartment, but travelled 
in another. 

Further inquiries showed that when the train 
reached Morpeth a man left it and tendered 
2jd. to the ticket collector, that amount being 

232 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

the fare between Stannington and Morpeth. 
Such description as the collector could give of 
the appearance of the man who had paid the 
2^d. and left the train corresponded with the 
description of the man who had been seen by 
several persons in the company of Nisbet when 
he was on the platform and in the train. 

All these descriptions pointed to the con- 
clusion that the man in whose company Nisbet 
had been last seen was John Alexander Dick- 
man, who lived at 1 Lily Avenue, Jesmond. 
Dickman was a married man with two children, 
and had lived in Newcastle all his life. He 
had occupied various posts and had undoubted 
ability, but for some time he had made his 
living on the turf. 

It became the duty of an inspector of police 
to call on Dickman, and accordingly, on the 
Monday afternoon following the Friday of the 
murder, the officer went to his house and rang 
the bell. 

Dickman himself answered the ring and 
came to the door. He was wearing slippers, 
and looked comfortable and perfectly calm. 

" Are you Mr. Dickman?" said the inspector. 

"Yes," replied Dickman quietly. 

"John Alexander Dickman?" the inspector 
asked; and he again said "Yes." 

233 



Famous Grimes 

" Were you at one time employed as a 
book-keeper with a firm of shipbrokers in this 
city?" 

" Yes," said Dickman. 

Then the officer told him his name and 
rank, and that the Northumberland County 
Police had been informed that he was in 
Nisbet's company on the Friday morning, and 
that he had learned that he was an acquaint- 
ance of the murdered man. He said that the 
matter had been communicated by the county 
police to the city police, and that they were 
getting statements about the murder. The 
officer remarked that it was a terrible crime, 
and Dickman agreed, and they continued quite 
an ordinary general conversation for some little 
time, just like two disinterested persons dis- 
cussing the affair that was claiming the attention 
of everybody. 

"The county police," said the inspector, 
" would like to know if you can throw any 
light on the affair." Then Dickman made a 
statement which was of the greatest possible 
importance. He said he had known Nisbet for 
many years, and that he saw him on the 
Friday morning, and added : "I booked at the 
ticket window with him, and went by the same 
train, but I did not see him after the train 

234 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

left. I would have told the police if I had 
thought it would do any good." 

" Will you come to the detective office and 
see Superintendent Weddell, and make a state- 
ment?" said the officer. And Dickman promptly 
answered "Certainly!" 

They then went back into the room in 
which he had been sitting, and he took off 
his slippers and put on his boots, and they 
were talking together still in just an ordinary 
manner. 

When he was ready they returned to the door, 
and just as they were about to leave the house 
his wife came. 

"I shan't be long; I shall be back to tea," 
said Dickman to his wife. And they went 
away together. Dickman was quite free, not 
handcuffed or secured in any way. They 
walked along the streets chatting freely together 
about anything that came up. Dickman had 
been in the coal trade, and one of the things 
talked about was coal. 

When they reached the detective office 
Dickman, after a few minutes, was introduced 
to Superintendent Weddell by the inspector, 
saying : " This is Mr. Dickman, and he will 
give you a statement respecting what he knows 
about the train murder on Friday." 

235 



Famous Crimes 

Dickman quite readily said that he would 
do so, and he voluntarily made a statement. 

The inspector did not know Dickman per- 
sonally, but had made inquiries in consequence 
of information which had been telephoned by 
the county police, and it was not until he 
revealed the fact that he had travelled by the 
same train as Nisbet at the time of the murder 
that he felt sure that he was talking with the 
man who had been described. 

Dickman 's statement was to the effect that 
he took a return ticket for Stannington, and 
that Nisbet, whom he knew, was in the book- 
ing-hall at the same time. Dickman bought a 
sporting newspaper at the bookstall, then went 
to the refreshment-room, and afterwards took 
a seat in a third-class compartment near the 
end of the train. He believed that people 
entered and left the compartment at different 
stations on the journey, but he had no clear 
recollection of this happening. He did not 
notice the train passing Stannington, and so 
he went on to Morpeth, got out, and handed 
his ticket, with the excess fare, 2jd., to the 
collector. He left Morpeth Station, and 
walked to Stannington by the main road. 
Being taken ill on the way, he had to return 
to Morpeth to catch the 1.12 p.m. train, but 

236 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

missed it. He then left the station, and spoke 
with a man, after which he returned to the 
station, and went back to Newcastle by the 
1.40 p.m. slow train. He said the journey to 
Stannington was made to see a Mr. Hogg, at 
Dovecot, in connection with a new sinking 
operation there ; and added that he had been 
unwell since the Friday, but was out on 
Saturday afternoon and evening. 

That was the statement which was made 
voluntarily by Dickman in the presence of 
the superintendent and others. It was written 
down and handed to Dickman, who read it 
carefully and said that it was quite correct. 

In consequence of that statement Dickman 
was detained and put up for identification, and 
his identity having been established to the 
satisfaction of the police, he was arrested by 
the superintendent and, after being cautioned, 
he was charged with the murder of Nisbet. 
Dickman quite collectedly said : "I don't 
understand the proceedings. It's absurd for 
me to deny the charge, because it is absurd 
to make it. I only say I absolutely deny 
it." 

Dickman had said that he would be home 
to tea, but he never went home again. 

After being charged Dickman was taken 
237 



Famous Crimes 

away by the county police, and next morning 
Tuesday he was brought up at Gosforth 
Police Court, just outside the city, and re- 
manded. Subsequently he was brought up at 
the Moot Hall, in Newcastle, where, more 
than three months later, he was indicted on 
the capital charge. 

During that long interval many links were 
forged in the chain of evidence. The identifi- 
cation had been established, and in the search 
that was made of Dickman immediately after 
he was formally charged by the superintendent 
there was found upon him the sum of 
17 9s. lid. in money, fifteen sovereigns being 
in gold in one of Lamb ton's small bank-bags 
and the murdered man had carried some of his 
money in one of these bags. The discovery of 
such a sum in Dickman 's possession was sig- 
nificant, because inquiries had shown that 
though he lived in a pretty good house in a 
good district, yet he was very hard up. 

In a search which was made of Dickman's 
house there were found a life-preserver, some 
pawn tickets, and two pass-books relating to 
accounts which Dickman had had at two banks. 
A thorough search was made, but no trace of 
a revolver was seen, nor has the weapon with 
which the murder was committed ever been 

238 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

found. I say weapon, because I may remark 
here that there is reason to believe that only 
one revolver was used, and that paper was 
wrapped round the smaller bullets to make 
them fit. 

The profile view which Mrs. Nisbet had 
seen of the man who was in the compartment 
with her husband at Heaton Station enabled 
her to recognise Dickman in a very remarkable 
manner. 

Just after she had given her evidence 
before the magistrate she fainted, and had to 
be taken from the witness-box fainted because, 
on looking at Dickman in the dock, she had 
got a profile view of him which enabled her 
to swear that he was the man who was in her 
husband's company just before the murder, 
when the compartment was standing in the 
shadow of the tunnel. That was a most 
important help in proving the identification on 
which conviction must rest. 

Another important discovery was that of 
the missing money-bag, which was found on 
June 9th at the Isabella Pit. That pit lies 
between Stannington and Morpeth, and it had 
got into disuse because of the accumulation of 
water. On June 9th the colliery manager went 
down early in the morning to examine the air- 

239 



Famous Crimes 

shaft, and in doing so he found a leather bag 
with some coppers in it. There were also a 
considerable number of coppers lying around 
the spot at which the bag was found. On the 
following day other coppers were found, making 
a total of 19s. 3d. 

This bag was proved to be the one in which 
Nisbet was carrying the money at the time of 
the murder. A large hole had been cut in 
one side of it, leaving the lock still secure. 
The colliery manager was able to say that 
Dickman knew of the existence of the Isabella 
Pit and of the collection of water in it, and 
that he knew Dickman personally, as nine 
years previously they had been fellow- workmen. 
Dickman at one time had been secretary of a 
small "land sale" colliery at Morpeth Moor, 
"land sale" collieries being so called because 
they sell the coal at the pit-head ; so that he 
knew the district and its collieries well. 

All these and other facts were proved when, 
at the Newcastle Summer Assizes, before Lord 
Coleridge, Dickman was tried for the murder 
of Nisbet. 

The trial began on Monday, July 4th, and 
lasted for three days. The case for the Crown 
was presented by Mr. E. Tindal Atkinson, 
K.C., and Mr. C. F. Lowenthal, while Mr. 

240 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

Mitchell-Innes, K.C., and Lord William Percy 
were counsel for the defence. 

For the prosecution it was shown that 
Dickman was in want of money, and it 
was suggested that robbery was the motive 
of his crime. It was also suggested that 
when he left Morpeth Station and tendered 
the 2jd. excess fare he had the stolen bag of 
money hidden under his overcoat, and that he 
cut the bag open, took from it the gold and 
silver, and threw the bag and the coppers down 
the Isabella Pit, which had an iron grating 
over the mouth; but the grating could be 
raised, and the bars were wide enough to admit 
the passage of a fair-sized article. It was shown 
that Dickman 's story that he had gone to 
Dovecot on March 18th to keep an appoint- 
ment with Mr. Hogg was false ; Mr. Hogg 
had no appointment with him and did not 
know that he was coming. It was shown, too, 
that a fortnight before the murder was com- 
mitted Dickman made the journey which he 
undertook on the 18th, and it was suggested that 
he did so with the object of rehearsing his crime. 

As soon as the case for the prosecution was 
closed evidence for the defence was given 
given by Dickman himself, who stepped from 
the dock and entered the witness-box. He had 

Q 241 



Famous Crimes 

been calm and collected from the start, and he 
was apparently unmoved even now, when more 
than ever he was in peril of his life. He 
answered the questions of Lord William Percy 
quietly. One thing he said was that he had 
had an account at Lambton's Bank, and that 
"possibly" the bag which was found upon him 
was got from that bank. 

The cross-examination was, of course, the 
deadly part of the period in the witness-box ; 
but still Dickman never flinched. He particu- 
larly sought to discredit the evidence of Mr. 
Hepple, which was so fatal to him, by suggest- 
ing that Mr. Hepple's faculties had failed and 
that he had made a complete mistake, though 
the fact was that the two men had known each 
other for many years, and that on the 18th 
Mr. Hepple was only about eighteen feet away 
when he saw Dickman at the Central Station. 
Mr. Hepple received the greater part of the 
100 reward. 

Dickman was the only witness called on his 
own behalf. He had stood the terrible test 
amazingly well, and so calm was he at the 
finish that when his counsel said, " That is all 
I ask you," he said, alluding to two overcoats 
which had been produced, " Shall I take these 
coats or leave them?" 

242 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

"Leave them," answered counsel quietly. 
"That is my case." 

Then Dickman returned to the dock. 

Mr. Tindal Atkinson addressed the jury for 
the Crown, and Mr. Mitchell-Innes made an 
earnest appeal for the prisoner, suggesting that 
two murderers killed Nisbet, and that, there- 
fore, the whole of the case for the Crown 
failed. 

After that address the court adjourned, and 
on the third day Lord Coleridge summed up 
in a wonderfully clear manner. 

Just before one o'clock the jury retired to 
consider their verdict, and after an absence of 
rather more than two and a half hours they 
re-entered the court \vith a verdict of guilty, 
delivered in a tense and dreadful silence. 

Even then Dickman protested that he was 
entirely innocent, and that he had had nothing 
to do with the crime. 

A man who was just behind Dickman when 
the judge passed sentence of death stated that 
he well remembered that the veins behind the 
prisoner's ears seemed to swell and stand out 
in an extraordinary manner, showing that, 
though outwardly calm, he was deeply affected 
by the appalling position in which he found 
himself. He remembered, too, the judge say- 

243 



Famous Crimes 

ing, "In your hungry lust for gold you had 
no pity upon the victim whom you slew," 
and that when sentence had been passed Dick- 
man once more declared in a firm voice, audible 
throughout the court, that he was innocent. 

The condemned man unsuccessfully appealed, 
and on the morning of August 10th he was 
hanged in Newcastle Gaol. 

On the night before he was executed the 
chaplain of the prison sat up late with him, 
and on the morning of the execution it is 
stated that he said : " Dickman, will you die 
with a lie on your lips?" 

"I will say nothing," replied Dickman. 

No trace of the revolver with which the 
murder was committed has been found, nor 
has most of the stolen money, but there are 
few who doubt that after the murder Dickman 
made his way to some woods near Morpeth, 
cut the bag open, and took out the gold and 
silver, and that he hid part, at least, of the 
plunder. 

At the time of the trial and after Dick- 
man's conviction there was a strong feeling in 
some quarters that he had been condemned on 
insufficient evidence; but, as a matter of fact, 
the evidence, though circumstantial, was such 
as to leave no shadow of doubt as to the 

244 



The Newcastle Train Murder 

accused man's guilt in the minds of his judges, 
either in Newcastle or London. 

Then, as to any suggestion of harsh treat- 
ment or unfairness in any way by the police, 
let it be remembered that when Dickman was 
called upon at his house he was scarcely in the 
position of being even suspected ; but the 
matter became different indeed when he con- 
fessed that he had seen the murdered man at 
the station and travelled by the same train. 
That voluntary revelation was of the greatest 
importance and formed one of the strongest 
links in the chain of evidence which sent John 
Alexander Dickman to the sallows. 



245 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE LAMSON CASE 

[THIRTY-FIVE years ago Wimbledon was the 
scene of an exceptionally cruel and deliberate 
murder. At Blenheim House School one of the 
students, Percy Malcolm John, died suddenly 
on December 3rd, 1881. It was suspected that 
his decease was due to the administration of 
aconitine, a very swift and deadly poison, and 
this suspicion proved correct. It was shown 
that John, a cripple, had been poisoned for 
the sake of his money by his brother-in-law, 
Dr. George Henry Lamson, who was found 
guilty, ultimately confessed, and was hanged. 
This crime aroused intense interest at the time, 
largely because the doctor afforded a remarkable 
psychological study. This is the narrative of 
Mr. Charles A. Smith, of the Medical Hall, 
Ventnor, Isle of Wight, who was an important 
witness for the Crown.] 

I knew Dr. Lamson well, for I had had 
many interviews with him in the way of 

246 



The Lamson Case 

business. My personal knowledge of him 
extended over a period of eighteen months, 
because he spent much of his time in this part 
of the Isle of Wight, where his father was 
living. 

The doctor was a slim young fellow, a little 
under thirty years of age, with a very pleasant 
manner, and he had the knack of making you 
feel at home with him directly. He was one 
of the last men in the world you would suspect 
of committing such a cruel and premeditated 
murder as that for which he was hanged. 

Dr. Lamson was a mystery. There is not 
the slightest doubt that he was possessed of 
great capacity for good as an army surgeon in 
Serbia and Roumania he had done fine and 
humane work, and there were not a few who 
spoke from personal experience of him as a 
kind and gentle person. 

It is not easy in these cases to form a 
correct judgment; but such a consideration 
need not weigh, because all that one desires 
to do is to deal with questions of fact. One 
thing is certain, and it is that the doctor was 
condemned only after a scrupulously fair trial, 
when his guilt had been fully proved by the 
prosecution, and he had had every opportunity 
to establish his innocence. 

247 



Famous Grimes 

In the late summer and the beginning of 
the autumn of 1881 I made up various pre- 
scriptions for the doctor, and some of these I 
have preserved as curiosities. Here is one, just 
as I received it more than thirty years ago. 
Many are on odd pieces of note-paper, and this 
one is written on an envelope. 

A date I particularly remember is August 
28th, 1881. Between eight and nine o'clock on 
the evening of that day Lamson, who was 
alone, came to my shop. I was then in business 
at 76 High Street, Ventnor, a little distance 
from the Medical Hall, where I am now 
established. The door was shut, and the 
doctor opened it and entered the shop in 
just the ordinary way, precisely as he had 
come in on many previous occasions, either for 
a chat or to do business. He was quite normal 
I did not notice the slightest difference in 
him yet events showed that he was then 
obtaining a particularly deadly poison with 
which he meant to take the life of his young 
and helpless brother-in-law. 

If I remember rightly, Lamson picked up 
a cake of Pears' soap and something else, and, 
having bought these, he said that he wanted 
three grains of sulphate of atropine and one 
grain of aconitine. Knowing him as a medical 

248 




^ i . 



uJL dU> i 

"^ ^./^MX4- v. 








r\ i 



- ^ <yf/v>i.;^.m 

' 



ONE OF LAMSON'S PRESCRIPTIONS 



The Lamson Case 

man, he was served without question and with- 
out suspicion, and the poisons were not entered 
in the poisons book. But I made an entry of 
the sales in what I called my waste-book, a 
sort of rough day-book, and this proceeding 
absolutely fixed the date of the purchase, and 
by doing so helped largely, I believe, in the 
conviction of the doctor. The small bottle from 
which the aconitine was taken that day is still 
preserved, but it is no longer used. There is 
still in it some of the identical poison from 
which the grain was sold. 

Aconitine is one of the swiftest and most 
deadly poisons known. An infinitesimal dose 
will cause agonising suffering, and death in a 
few hours. To show the powerful action of 
aconitine, I may say that the " British 
Pharmacopoeia" gives no dose, while "Martin- 
dale's Pharmacopoeia" gives F J- to 200 ^ a 
grain. To get the dose properly distributed 
it is necessary to triturate it well with a gritty 
powder, such as sugar of milk. The doctor had 
got an entire grain, and three grains of atro- 
pine, another intensely poisonous substance, of 
which the usual dose is a hundredth part of a 
grain. 

I had supplied these things in the usual 
way, without so much as the remotest suspicion 

249 



Famous Crimes 

of anything being wrong entering my mind; 
nor had I any misgiving whatsoever until a 
well-known local practitioner came into my 
shop and said: "You know the name of 
Lamson?" 

Of course I replied that I did. 

"Well," he continued, "do you know that 
the police are after him? It is said that he 
has poisoned his brother-in-law at Wimbledon, 
and that the poison used was aconitine." 

I was utterly taken aback, and exclaimed : 
" Why, I supplied him with some aconitine a 
few weeks ago!" 

I instantly hunted up my waste-book, and 
there the entry was. The doctor advised me 
to communicate with the Treasury, and I did 
so, stating that I had supplied aconitine to 
Lamson. The result was that without the 
slightest delay Inspector Butcher, of Scotland 
Yard, came to see me; and that began an 
unwilling association with the case, which ended 
only with the truly dreadful day when I saw 
Lamson condemned to the death from which 
no effort succeeded in saving him. 

Naturally enough, I became acquainted with 
every detail of this famous case, from the open- 
ing of the inquest at Wimbledon to the time 
when Mr. Justice Hawkins sentenced Lamson 

250 



The Lamson Case 

to death. They talk of his lordship as the 
"hanging judge," but my own impression, 
gained from two famous trials with which I 
have been connected one relating to a member 
of the Bonaparte family is that he was a very 
kind and amiable gentleman. 

The facts of the case, as they were slowly 
ascertained, showed that the day after Lamson 
obtained the aconitine from me he administered 
some of it to his brother-in-law, Percy Malcolm 
John, who was then staying with his sister and 
her husband at Shanklin. The lad was taken 
violently ill, but the illness passed off. On 
that occasion no doctor was summoned, and in 
due course the lad was taken back to the school 
at Wimbledon. There is little doubt that after 
obtaining the aconitine from me Lamson went 
to another chemist in Ventnor, Mr. Littlefield, 
and bought from him some quinine powders, 
into several of which, and into some quinine 
pills, he introduced the poison. Mr. Littlefield, 
who was called as a witness, was able to swear 
that he did not keep aconitine and had never 
had any in his shop. 

Though paralysed in the lower limbs and 
suffering from curvature of the spine, yet Percy 
Malcolm John was free from actual disease, and 
was able to wheel himself about in specially 

251 



Famous Crimes 

made chairs. He had, however, to be carried 
both up and down stairs, a task which was 
frequently and, we may be sure, kindly per- 
formed by his fellow-students. 

Two or three days after visiting me on 
August 28th Lamson crossed to America, and 
from that country he sent to his brother-in-law 
at Wimbledon a box of pills, of which the lad 
took one, and, having done so, declared that 
he felt ill, just as he had felt at Shanklin after 
taking a quinine pill which Lamson had pre- 
pared for him. These pills, it was proved, 
contained poison. 

After staying a few weeks in America, 
Lamson returned to Ventnor, and it was soon 
obvious that he was reduced to the last 
extremity to obtain money. On the voyage 
home on the City of Berlin he borrowed five 
pounds from the ship's surgeon. Executions 
and writs were out against him, his household 
furniture had been sold, he had pawned per- 
sonal belongings, and had cashed worthless 
cheques, drawn on banks where he had no 
accounts. It was quite clear that he meant to 
spare no effort to get his brother-in-law out 
of the way, and so become possessed of a sum 
of about 1,500 which would revert to him on 
the lad's death. 

252 



The Lamson Case 

Towards the end of November Lamson 
bought two grains of aconitine from a firm of 
London chemists, having without success tried 
to get a quantity of the poison from another 
firm. He also bought a Dundee cake, which 
figured prominently in the development of the 
case. 

On the evening of Saturday, December 3rd, 
Lamson went to Blenheim House. 

Percy Malcolm John was expecting him, for 
Lamson had sent a letter saying that he meant 
to call and see him before leaving for Paris and 
Florence. 

When Lamson called, just after seven 
o'clock, he was shown into the dining-room, 
and the crippled lad was carried up from the 
basement by a fellow-pupil and placed in a 
chair. 

The pupil left the room, and Lamson, the 
lad, and Mr. Bedbrook, the proprietor of the 
school, were together. 

At Mr. Bedbrook 's invitation Lamson took 
a glass of sherry, into which he put some 
caster sugar, to counteract, he said, the effects 
of the alcohol. He had asked for the sugar, 
and the housekeeper had brought it into the 
room. 

From a bag which he carried Lamson took 
253 



Famous Grimes 

some cake and sweetmeats. He also produced 
a box of capsules, saying that he had brought 
them from America, and that they would be 
found very useful for the purpose of giving 
medicine to the boys. A capsule, of course, 
is a gummy envelope for a nauseous drug. 
He gave one to Mr. Bedbrook to try, and 
Mr. Bedbrook took it, noticing meanwhile that 
Lamson was putting some of the caster sugar 
into another capsule. 

Shaking this capsule, Lamson told the lad 
that he was a swell pill-taker, and asked him 
to swallow it, which Percy, unsuspecting, 
immediately did. 

Meanwhile Lamson had been eating the 
cake, and Mr. Bedbrook and Percy also took 
some, as well as some sweets which Lamson 
had produced. 

Almost as soon as the lad had swallowed 
the capsule Lamson hurried away from the 
house, saying that he had to catch a train for 
the Continent. It is interesting to remember 
that when he had tried to poison his brother- 
in-law at Shanklin Lamson lost no time in 
escaping to America. It is reasonable to sup- 
pose that he calculated that by the time he 
returned the death of his brother-in-law, if it 
had taken place, would have been completely 

254 



The Lamson Case 

forgotten, and the burial having taken place, 
there would be little or no probability of 
suspicion falling on the doctor. 

About four hours after Lamson hastily 
departed from the house at Wimbledon Percy 
Malcolm John was dead. Within a few minutes 
of taking the cake and capsule the lad was in 
agony, and despite the prompt attention of 
two doctors, one of whom was in the house 
at the time, nothing could be done to save 
him. 

Next day, Sunday, Mr. Bedbrook reported 
the matter to the police, and grave suspicion 
instantly attached to Lamson. 

The crippled student had died on Decem- 
ber 3rd, and so early as the morning of 
December 8th Scotland Yard had sent a police 
sergeant to Paris to make inquiries concerning 
the whereabouts of Lamson ; but on that very 
morning a haggard and distressed man, accom- 
panied by a woman, presented himself at the 
Yard and said to Inspector Butcher, who saw 
him in a room there : "I am Dr. Lamson, 
whose name has been mentioned in connection 
with the death at Wimbledon." He said that 
he had come from Paris by way of Havre and 
Southampton, though he was unfit to travel, 
being unwell and much upset by this affair. 

255 



Famous Crimes 

Lamson evidently expected to be allowed to 
go after reporting himself; but he was detained 
at Scotland Yard, and after being formally 
charged with causing the death of Percy 
Malcolm John, he was taken to Wands worth 
Police Court in a cab. 

Bail was applied for and refused, and from 
the moment Lamson surrendered himself at Scot- 
land Yard, though there was no actual warrant 
or charge against him, he was a prisoner and in 
his heart of hearts he must have known that 
he was doomed. 

There were the preliminaries of the inquest 
and magisterial inquiry to be gone through 
before the trial came on at the Old Bailey 
which meant life or death to the unhappy 
prisoner. 

On March 8th, 1882, just three months 
after Lamson surrendered at Scotland Yard, his 
trial began, and ended after five long days. 
His leading counsel was Mr. Montagu Williams, 
and if mortal man could have secured an 
acquittal I am certain that that famous barrister 
would have done it, for he made a powerful 
and almost irresistible speech on behalf of the 
accused man, whose interests he had watched 
throughout since the preliminary inquiry. 

Extraordinary public interest was shown in 
256 



The Lamson Case 

the case, especially in relation to the effect of 
such a deadly poison as aconitine and the tests 
that were made to establish the cause of the 
death of the crippled lad as being due to 
the administration of this particular alkaloid. 
Aconitine which had been taken from the body 
of the murdered lad was administered to mice, 
which died very quickly. That was one experi- 
ment which was carefully carried out to prove 
the deadly nature of the poison; but the 
principal test was that of taste that is to say, 
the expert witnesses had to place a minute 
quantity of the aconitine on the tongue, and 
in that dangerous and unpleasant manner ascer- 
tain its real character. That the poison 
extracted from the lad was aconitine was 
established beyond any possible doubt. 

The case for the prosecution rested on the 
assumption that the prisoner had given the 
poison through the medium of the capsule, 
which he had prepared either before going to 
see his brother-in-law or while actually in the 
lad's presence and that of Mr. Bedbrook. 

There was, I believe, another theory that 
the aconitine had been introduced into a piece 
of the cake, and that the prisoner saw to it 
that this particular piece was eaten by his 
brother-in-law. 

E 257 



Famous Crimes 

Mr. Williams, in his speech for the defence, 
did his best to destroy the theory of the 
prosecution and discredit the case for the 
Crown, but he did not succeed. Nor was any 
evidence offered on the prisoner's behalf, in 
itself a significant proceeding. 

The closing hours of the trial were extremely 
painful, largely owing to the impression created 
by the speech for the defence, and more so 
because of the presence in court of the 
prisoner's wife the "thin, spare figure," as 
Mr. Williams called her who had gone up to 
the dock and taken her husband by the hand 
to encourage him and show that she at least 
believed him to be innocent, however guilty he 
might be reckoned by the world. 

It was six o'clock at night when the judge 
finished his summing-up and the jury retired 
to consider their verdict. They were absent for 
only half an hour, then they returned a verdict 
of guilty. 

What followed was not, mercifully, witnessed 
by the "thin, spare figure," for she had been 
gently taken away by friends from the crowded 
court. 

Few words were spoken by Mr. Justice 
Hawkins in passing sentence of death he 
merely alluded to the crime as being cruel, 

258 



The Lamson Case 

base and treacherous, and as soon as the final 
words of doom had been uttered and the 
chaplain had exclaimed " Amen," Lamson was 
removed from the dock. 

He had been, it seems, confident of an 
acquittal, and was terribly dejected at the 
finding of the verdict of guilty. 

My own recollection of the doctor's appear- 
ance at the finish of the trial is that he would 
have collapsed in the dock while being sentenced 
if the warders had not stood very close to him 
and supported him. Before being removed, 
Lamson said nothing except to declare solemnly 
that he was innocent. 

In the ordinary course of things he would 
have been hanged on April 2nd, but the execu- 
tion was twice postponed and the prisoner was 
respited to give every opportunity of affidavits 
coming from the United States to prove his 
insanity and for testimony to be obtained in 
England that he was not capable of knowing 
what he was doing because of his habit of 
taking drugs. 

Numerous affidavits were sworn that the 
condemned man was an opium-taker, and that, 
owing to the influence of this drug, he was 
not responsible for his actions. 

Lamson had been taken to Wandsworth 
259 



Famous Crimes 

Prison, and there, on April 28th, he was 
hanged, all efforts to save him having failed. 
There were those who believed in his innocence 
and were very sorry for him, and I believe that 
sympathetic women actually took flowers to the 
prison and left them for him. The vast 
majority of people, however, were satisfied that 
he suffered very justly for an uncommonly 
cruel and premeditated crime, even before he 
confessed that he had committed the murder. 
He did not, however, explain how he had 
done it. 

Most of us have read Mr. Montagu 
Williams 's " Leaves of a Life." 

In that book the famous counsel dealt, of 
course, with the Lamson case, and made some 
remarks which must have set finally at rest any 
lingering doubts as to the murderer's guilt. 

From the circumstances which came to his 
knowledge after the trial, Mr. Williams said 
that Mrs. Lamson full well knew her husband 
to be guilty, and knew more than was proved 
before the legal tribunal. This meant that she 
was probably aware that her other brother, by 
whose death Lamson came into a considerable 
sum of money, was also murdered by him. 

What happened to Mrs. Lamson? 

I cannot say what her ultimate fortune was, 
260 



The Lamson Case 

but I believe that, after the dreadful tragedy 
with which she had been so closely and 
unhappily associated, she started a boarding- 
house. 

That was the last I heard of her. 



261 



CHAPTER XV 

CRIPPEN'S CALLOUS CRIME 

[WITH the possible exception of the Palmer 
case, no crime that has been committed within 
living memory has aroused such excitement and 
interest as the murder of Mrs. Crippen by her 
husband, "Doctor" Hawley Harvey Crippen. 
Mrs. Crippen was a well-known music-hall 
artiste, whose professional name was Miss Belle 
Elmore, and she was poisoned, cut up, and 
buried in the house in which she had been 
living with her husband. In that house he 
continued to live with his wife's supplanter, 
his typist, with whom he had for a long time 
conducted a liaison. Miss Elmore was closely 
associated with the Music Hall Ladies' Guild, 
and it was through the exertions of that society 
that suspicion of Crippen was aroused a 
suspicion which ended in his thoroughly well- 
deserved death on the gallows. At the time 
of the crime Miss Melinda May was secretary 
of the guild. She was a witness at the trial 
of Crippen, and also of Ethel Le Neve, and it 
is her story which is told.] 

262 



Crippen's Callous Crime 

I was one of a small party of visitors at 
Crippen's house on New Year's Eve, 1909. I 
had been invited to go to see the Old Year 
out and the New Year in, but I had excused 
myself on the ground that I was untidy. The 
doctor and his wife Belle Elmore however, 
must have telephoned to Miss Hawthorne and 
her husband, Mr. Nash, to call for me, for 
they came round in Miss Hawthorne's car and 
took me to 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Holloway. 
We reached the house at about eleven o'clock, 
and Miss Elmore went downstairs and made an 
American cocktail. Time passed quickly, and 
midnight was soon with us the Old Year 
was nearly dead and the New Year almost 
born. 

At midnight the street door was opened, and 
there, at the top of the flight of steps which 
led up to the entrance from the garden path, 
we stood the doctor, his wife, Miss Haw- 
thorne and her husband, and myself to listen 
to the hooting of sirens, the ringing of church 
bells, the hammering of trays, and the rest of 
the strangely moving noises that are made by 
the watchers who hail the New Year. 

Miss Elmore had handed round the cocktail, 
and we had taken it and had expressed the 
usual good wishes for the New Year. 

263 



Famous Crimes 

"I'm so glad you're here, Miss May," Miss 
Elmore said, turning to me. "I'm so glad that 
we're together now, and I do hope that we 
shall all be together again this time next year." 

Poor soul ! She uttered those kind and 
friendly words while she was standing over the 
very spot where her mutilated remains were 
buried a month later by the cold-blooded 
murderer, her husband. 

Belle Elmore was at all times kindness and 
generosity itself; she was a large-hearted 
woman, and she showed her kindness while we 
were standing on the top of the steps, for she 
called up the chauffeur and a constable, who 
happened to be outside, and invited them to 
take some refreshment, which they did, joining 
in the good wishes for the year 1910. 

After letting in the New Year we went 
downstairs to supper; then, at about half -past 
one in the morning, we left the house, Miss 
Hawthorne taking me in the car to my residence 
and afterwards going home. 

So the New Year was ushered in, and we 
settled down to continue and extend our Music 
Hall Ladies' Guild work, in which Miss Elmore 
was greatly interested. The guild had been 
founded in the autumn of 1906, and for 
eighteen months she had acted as honorary 

264 



Crippen's Callous Grime 

treasurer, and had regularly attended our com- 
mittee meetings here in this book are the 
pages on which she signed her name for the 
last time as a worker with us. 

The head-quarters of the guild at that time 
were at Albion House, New Oxford Street, 
London, where also Crip pen had his place of 
business. The guild has one very special object, 
and that is to help the poorer women and 
children of the music-hall profession, so that 
it is particularly a work for women. 

Miss Elmore was devoted to the work, and 
on that first day of the New Year she came 
to the office at Albion House. I remember 
that visit so well, because it threw such a clear 
light on one phase of her character. We had 
a little talk about a man who had just been 
to see me, and whom I had sent on to the 
Variety Artists' Benevolent Fund, because we 
do not deal with the cases of men only those 
of women and children. 

After we had discussed this matter Miss 
Elmore said : "I have just been round to the 
little church in Soho Square." That was the 
Catholic church, for she was a Roman Catholic. 
"Have you been?" 

I smiled and said: "No; I haven't had 
time. Besides, you know, I'm not a Catholic." 

265 



Famous Crimes 

" What does the church matter," she 
answered quickly, " so long as it is the House 
of God?" 

I often think of that remark, which indi- 
cates the religious side of Belle Elmore, just 
as her interest in the guild showed her kind- 
ness of disposition. It is important to bear 
that kindness in mind, and to remember that 
Miss Elmore was in the prime of life, and an 
attractive woman. She was always well dressed 
and wore very good jewellery, and with it all 
had an exceedingly pleasant manner. It is 
strange indeed that such a woman should have 
been usurped in any man's mind by such a 
person as Ethel Neave, to give her her real 
name. 

About a fortnight after that visit to Albion 
House Miss Elmore came again. That was 
about twelve o'clock noon, and I noticed that 
she looked very unwell. Almost before there 
was a chance of saying anything she exclaimed : 
"I am so ill! I do feel so bad!" 

"I am very sorry," I replied. " Is there 
anything I can get you? What's the 
matter?" 

"No, thanks," she said. "I daren't touch 
anything. I awoke in the night and roused 
Peter" as she always called Crippen '' and 

266 



Crippen's Callous Crime 

said : * Get up and fetch the priest. I'm going 
to die!'" 

Nothing, however, was done ; but as to the 
cause of that illness and the excruciating pain 
she felt, there is no doubt that it was the result 
of an attempt which Crippen had then made 
to murder her by administering poison. How 
the truly deadly poison which did soon after- 
wards cause Belle Elmore's death was given no 
one knows, and Crippen took that awful secret 
to the scaffold with him. 

On the last day of that month of January 
Crippen ceased to have any association with 
the business at Albion House a patent medi- 
cine business it was but he continued to have 
an interest in a dental concern. And on the 
day that he finished with the patent medicine 
business his wife disappeared, and was never 
again seen alive. The last persons to see her 
were Mr. Paul Martinetti and Mrs. Martinetti, 
the latter a member of the committee of the 
guild. They were invited to dine with the 
Crippens, and they went to the house, and 
were there till half-past one in the morning. 
There was no one else present just the Crip- 
pens and the Martinettis. The party attended 
to their own wants, and then quietly played 
whist. 

267 



Famous Crimes 

During the evening Mr. Martinetti, who 
had not been well, was taken ill, and Crippen 
went out to get a cab; but he was absent an 
unnecessarily long time, and there seems to be 
little doubt that he was hoping to return and 
find his wife dead from the effects of the 
poison which must have been then given 
to her, and that, finding her dead, he would 
be able either to avert suspicion from him- 
self or to attach it to someone else. Certain 
it is that he was capable of any diabolical act 
that would conceal his guilt, just as he proved 
to be a deliberate and cunning liar when the 
police had got him and he knew that day by 
day his doom was being surely sealed. 

A meeting of the guild was held on 
February 2nd, and it was expected that Miss 
Elmore would attend; but she did not appear. 

Just before one o'clock Ethel Neave came 
to the office and gave me a pass-book and a 
paying-in book which Miss Elmore had charge 
of as treasurer, saying : " I think these are 
yours." 

Ethel Neave also gave me two letters, one 
for myself and one for the guild. In the letter 
to myself, which was signed, " Hastily yours, 
Belle Elmore, p.p. H.H.C.," it was stated 
that Belle Elmore had been called to America 

268 



Crippen's Callous Crime 

at a few hours' notice owing to the death of 
a near relative. She asked that her resignation 
should be brought before the committee, so 
that the new treasurer could be elected without 
delay. 

" You will appreciate my haste," the letter 
added, " when I tell you that I have not been 
to bed all night, packing and getting ready 
to go. I shall hope to see you again in a 
few months later, but cannot spare a moment 
to come to you before I go." 

The letter to the committee was to the 
same effect, and stated that the cheque-book 
and the deposit-book were enclosed for the use 
of the writer's successor. A suggestion was 
made that a new treasurer should be elected 
at once. 

That letter bore the signature, "Belle 
Elmore," but neither it nor the letter to myself 
was in her handwriting, which I knew quite 
well. 

The two communications were, as a matter 
of fact, forgeries by Crippen, and were foisted 
off upon us for the time being with the help 
of Ethel Neave. 

The matter was puzzling and terribly sus- 
picious, because Miss Elmore had not given a 
hint of going to America, and she would 

269 



Famous Crimes 

hardly have left in such a hurry and with 
practically no clothes for she had a very large 
wardrobe. But there was the explanation of her 
absence, and for the time being we had to be 
content with it. 

I saw Crippen practically every day, and 
time after time I asked him for news of his 
wife. At first he told me she was in California, 
in the hills, then he said she was very ill, and 
warned me that we must expect worse news of 
her. 

Terrible indeed was all this lying and 
hypocrisy, in view of what had actually hap- 
pened and what he really knew. 

"Do let us know all you can," I said. "It 
is an awful suspense for us." 

"Yes," he answered; "and, being that to 
you, you can understand what it is to me." 

Then the time came when, in answer to a 
question, Crippen said : " Cora is dead she 
died in my son's arms" meaning his son by 
his first wife. 

I had already asked Crippen what had 
become of two beautiful cats which Belle 
Elmore had, and of which she was very fond ; 
and he replied that it was strange, but that 
they had disappeared at about the same time 
as their mistress left for America. So they 

270 



Crippen's Callous Crime 

had, for the brute had done away with 
them. 

We were now determined to see what had 
really happened, to solve, if we could, the 
mystery of Belle Elmore's disappearance ; and, 
amongst other things, we wrote to the son of 
the first wife in America, and to our amaze- 
ment he answered and said that he had neither 
seen nor heard of Mrs. Crippen. 

Meanwhile the committee were not letting 
the matter rest. At that time the president of 
the guild was Mrs. G. H. Smythson, and on 
March 81st she went to the Scotland Yard 
authorities and asked them to help in tracing 
Miss Elmore and have Crippen watched ; but 
Scotland Yard said that they could do nothing 
unless a charge was made against Crippen. 
There was not then, however, any conclusive 
evidence, and all the committee could do was 
to go on observing and making inquiries. 

By this time Ethel Neave had taken up her 
residence at Hilldrop Crescent, and she was 
working with Crippen. Once I asked at the 
office if she was there, and he promptly 
answered "No," though I actually saw that 
she was; but that was a trivial lie for him to 
tell. 

Almost daily I saw Crippen, and he feigned 
271 



Famous Crimes 

grief at the loss of his wife and constantly wore 
a black hat-hand and a black armlet. He still 
had the quiet, studious manner that always 
characterised him ; he was never taken off his 
guard, and was always ready with satisfactory 
answers. 

Though he well knew what had been done 
to Belle Elmore, and knew that there was a 
strong and growing suspicion against him, yet 
he never faltered, and went about as if nothing 
had happened except in the ordinary way. 
His wife had gone to America, and had died 
there that was the tale he told, and people 
must accept it. He discharged ordinary obliga- 
tions in the ordinary way, and I well remember 
that he paid me an amount which was owing 
with a ten-pound note, taking the change quite 
placidly. 

At that time summer had come Crippen 
was wearing a white linen suit. He remained 
just the same as ever, quiet, studious and 
calm, and never gave one the impression of 
being the cold-blooded murderer he really was. 

Occasionally I went to the house to make 
inquiries, and saw Ethel Neave there; but 
whenever Crippen was present he always re- 
mained downstairs until I had gone. He never 
joined us. 

272 



Crippen's Callous Crime 

It must be remembered that even now there 
was no suspicion of the real, terrible truth, for 
Crippen, to all outward appearances, had been 
at all times particularly kind to his wife. 

By the end of June matters had gone 
further, and the story that was now told by 
Crippen was that his wife had died at Los 
Angeles, that she had been cremated, and that 
her ashes had been brought over that was the 
story he told to Mrs. Martinetti and Mrs. 
Smythson ; but when they wanted details he 
could not give them, not even the name of 
the ship in which his wife had sailed for 
America. 

By the last day of June so strong had the 
suspicion grown that Mr. Nash went to Scot- 
land Yard, with the result that on July 8th 
Inspector Dew went to Hilldrop Crescent, 
where the door was opened by Ethel Neave, 
who was actually wearing a brooch, in the form 
of a rising sun, which had belonged to Belle 
Elmore. 

The inspector persuaded the girl to go with 
him to Albion House, and there they saw 
Crippen and who can tell what his feelings 
were when he knew that at last the police were 
after him, and that the house at Hilldrop 
Crescent was to reveal its ghastly secret? 

a 273 



Famous Crimes 

Calm, consummate liar that he was, Crippen 
now boldly admitted that he had given a false 
account of his wife's disappearance. She was 
not dead, he said. " So far as I know, she 
is alive." Then he told a long story which 
was at variance with all that he had previously 
said. According to this new account, his wife 
had gone to join an old friend of hers in 
America, Mr. Bruce Miller. But this state- 
ment, with many more, proved a deliberate lie. 
The main feature of the story was that Belle 
Elmore had disappeared in consequence of 
quarrels, and her husband had tried to hush up 
the matter so as to avoid a scandal. 

With that long explanation the police for 
the moment had to be satisfied ; but now 
things moved with amazing and dramatic 
swiftness. 

The very day after that memorable visit to 
Albion House the police circulated a description 
of the missing woman, and two days later they 
went again to Hilldrop Crescent, but neither 
there nor at Albion House was there a 
sign of Crippen and his typist both had 
fled. 

The moment the police appeared Crippen 
saw that his desperate game was up, and that 
only by prompt and uncommon action could he 

274 



Crippen's Callous Grime 

escape. He was equal to the terrible emergency 
he must have prepared for it long in advance 
to be able to carry it out as he did. When 
the police had left he sent his clerk to buy a 
suit of boy's clothes and other things; his 
typist put the suit on, and, disguised as a boy, 
she left Albion House, going down more than 
eighty steps and getting away without exciting 
suspicion, though how she managed to do so 
passes my comprehension. Crippen left a letter 
telling his clerk to settle up the household 
affairs, and he wrote another letter to his 
partner saying that he found it necessary to 
disappear for a time. 

Then there came upon me one of the most 
severe shocks I have ever known the revelation 
that not only was Belle Elmore dead, but that 
she had been murdered in the most monstrous 
fashion. 

I happened to be travelling by a tramcar, 
making a journey in connection with a change 
of rooms, and a stoppage was made in Ken- 
nington Road. The conductor bought an early 
edition of an evening paper. He eagerly 
glanced at the main contents, which briefly 
told of an awful discovery in the cellar of a 
house at Hilldrop Crescent. 

I got a paper myself, and as soon as I 
275 



Famous Crimes 

realised what the dreadful news implied I 
fainted in the car. That was the effect of 
the shock upon me, the realisation of the tragic 
end of one we knew and loved so well. When 
I recovered I had just to explain to the con- 
ductor why I had been so overcome ; then I 
hurried to Albion House, to find it completely 
packed with an excited crowd of newspaper 
representatives and other people a crowd so 
dense, indeed, that the building had to be 
cleared. The excitement over the discovery was 
indescribable, and it never died down, either 
here or in America, because of the dramatic 
developments in the case and the possibility 
that the guilt of Crippen might never be 
brought home to him ; for there was such a 
possibility, and the mere thought of it to some 
of us was unendurable. 

I cannot, and will not, dwell on the dis- 
covery at Hilldrop Crescent. It is too dreadful 
a subject. All I will say is that, buried in the 
cellar of the house were found the mutilated 
remains of Belle Elmore, who had been mur- 
dered by the administration of hyoscine, a rare 
and deadly poison. 

There is no doubt that after the visit of 
the Martinettis on January 81st she died in 
great agony, that she was cut to pieces in the 

276 



Grippen's Callous Grime 

bath-room, and buried in the cellar a horrible 
night's work ; after which the monster who had 
done it went about his business and lived with 
his typist as if nothing had happened, and she 
had taken the murdered woman's place and was 
wearing her clothes and jewellery ! 

Time after time I and my friends had the 
truly painful task of trying to identify some 
pitiful relic of the murdered woman ; but let 
that be forgotten. The very sight of those bits 
of clothing and personal fragments made me 
positively ill ; my nerves were shattered, and I 
have never been the same since. 

What happened after the flight was made 
known in various ways at later stages, and 
Ethel Neave herself told the story of her asso- 
ciation with Crippen. The change at Albion 
House from her own clothing to the complete 
boy's outfit shirt, braces, waistcoat, trousers, 
jacket, collar and tie, boots, and bowler hat 
seemed a " merry joke " to Crippen, and the 
joke was crowned when Crippen said : " Now 
for the hair," and with one or two snips 
of the scissors the typist's " mop," as she 
called it, fell to the floor. She herself con- 
fessed that it was extraordinary that she went 
down all those steps at Albion House, where 
she had been known for years, without being 

277 



Famous Grimes 

recognised, and that she should pass along the 
streets without a soul suspecting that she was 
a girl in disguise. They went separately to 
Chancery Lane Tube Station, where Crippen 
joined her, and she then noticed that he had 
shaved off his moustache. From Chancery Lane 
they went to the Bank, and then to Liverpool 
Street Station, where they meant to take train 
via Harwich for the Hook of Holland; but 
they had three hours to spare, and this was 
spent in a bus ride, apparently to and from 
Hackney. The two went to the Hook, then 
to Rotterdam, and on to Brussels, where they 
thoroughly enjoyed themselves; then, from 
Antwerp, they sailed in the liner Montr ose for 
Canada. 

The description of Crippen and his typist 
had been sent all over the world; the discovery 
at Hilldrop Crescent was the topic of the day ; 
and so it happened that Captain Kendall, of 
the Montrose, knew of the crime, suspected 
Crippen, and got the wireless to work. That 
resulted in Inspector Dew, armed with 
warrants, hurrying across the Atlantic in a 
faster steamer than the Montrose, and being 
able, on July 31st, to board that steamer, 
disguised as a pilot. 

It was a Sunday, and the murderer and his 
278 



Crippen's Callous Grime 

companion were expecting to land and seek 
safety in the New World, which had been 
reached with the proceeds of the sale of Belle 
Elmore's jewellery and clothing, and the money 
she had had in the bank. 

Crippen, as he told in his evidence at the 
trial, saw through the inspector's disguise at 
once, and he was amazed to find that he had 
been discovered by the police. 

What must his feelings have been when he 
felt the handcuffs on him and knew that both 
he and his companion were to go back to 
England to be tried? 

After some delay the two were brought 
back, and then began the long and awful 
association with the trial the preliminary hear- 
ing at Bow Street, then the trial at the 
Central Criminal Court before the Lord Chief 
Justice. 

Crippen fought desperately for his life ; he 
and Ethel Neave had been in the dock together 
at the police court, but now he was tried alone, 
and his solicitor and counsel did their best. 
The solicitor, Newton, did all he could before 
the trial to damage the evidence of members 
of the guild ; but we knew exactly what we 
were saying we had nothing to tell but the 
truth and Newton failed. 

279 



Famous Grimes 

One of the most tense periods of the trial 
was the cross-examination of Crippen. 

He had dared everything in going into the 
box, though he knew that it must have been 
a forlorn hope indeed; but throughout that 
terrible ordeal, when the slip of a word might 
have put the rope round his neck, he never 
flinched; he was as cool and as calculating as 
ever. 

He told lie after lie in the hope of nullify- 
ing other lies that he had told, but the very 
untruth only served to make his position 
more fatal. 

A deadly bit of evidence against Crippen 
was the finding, with the mutilated remains, 
of some pieces of pyjamas, which it was proved 
belonged to him. Strangely enough, Belle 
Elmore, who had bought these garments for 
her husband, asked me to go with her when 
she made the purchase; but, as it happened, 
I was not able, owing to other engagements, 
to accompany her. 

I was not present in court during the whole 
of the hearing, and I was thankful to be out 
of it; but I was there when Crippen was found 
guilty, and I heard him sentenced to death. 
So far as I could tell, even then he was as 
callous as ever; but in his heart of hearts he 

280 



Crippen's Callous Grime 

must have felt the unutterable horror of his 
position he must have known, from the Lord 
Chief Justice's solemn, measured tones, that 
for him in this world there was no more hope, 
and that when he stepped down from the dock 
he had almost done with life. 

Crippen appealed, and was present at the 
Law Courts when the judges refused to inter- 
fere with the sentence; then, on the morning 
of November 22nd, he was hanged at Penton- 
ville Prison. That was ten months after the 
murder. He made no confession, and was a 
liar to the last, for in a " farewell letter to 
the world " he solemnly stated that he knew 
nothing whatever of the remains until he was 
told of their discovery by his solicitor on the 
day after his arrival at Bow Street. 

Two days after Crippen was condemned 
Ethel Neave was tried at the Old Bailey, 
before the Lord Chief Justice, with being 
accessory after the fact in the murder of Belle 
Elmore. I was again called as a witness, 
repeating what I had said at Crippen's trial. 
The prisoner was found not guilty, and was 
discharged. 

It was very widely stated at the time that 
she had left the country and was making a 
fresh start far away ; but I believe that, as a 

281 



Famous Grimes 

matter of fact, she remained in London and 
was engaged in a dressmaking business. This 
I do know, however that I saw her myself 
on Easter Monday, 1918. And I saw her in 
an extraordinary manner. 

I had been staying at Eastbourne, and had 
entered a compartment in a train for London 
Bridge. A young woman was sitting opposite 
to me, and to my amazement I recognised her 
as Ethel Neave. She saw me, too, and knew 
who I was, and she hung her head. I could 
not take my eyes off her all the time we were 
on the journey. 



282 



CHAPTER XVI 

SEDDON 's GREED OF GOLD 

[THE most sinister, deliberate, and cruel of all 
murders are those which are due to the 
administration of poison. In many cases the 
motive for such crimes is avarice, and what the 
judge called "greed of gold" sent Frederick 
Henry Seddon to the scaffold for the murder 
of Miss Eliza M. Barrow. Seddon's wife was 
tried with him, but she was found not guilty, 
and was acquitted. Miss Barrow, with a com- 
fortable and assured private income, went to 
lodge with the Seddons. Seddon, an insurance 
superintendent of a grasping and bombastic 
nature, did not rest until he had had the whole 
of Miss Barrow's fortune made over to him, 
by his own craft and cunning, in return for 
an annuity ; then, having secured her money, he 
took prompt and successful steps to poison 
her. The trial, which took place before Mr. 
Justice Bucknill, lasted ten days, and aroused 
deep and widespread interest. One of the most 
important witnesses was Mr. Frank Ernest 

283 



Famous Crimes 

Vonderahe, Miss Barrow's cousin, who was 
largely instrumental in bringing the murderer 
to justice, and whose story is here retold.] 

Miss E. M. Barrow, who was murdered by 
Frederick Henry Seddon, was my cousin, and 
was nearly fifty years old at the time of her 
death. She was very comfortably circumstanced, 
as she always had been, for she had never in 
her life found it necessary tQ work. She had 
a great regard for money, and in the ordinary 
course of things would not give four farthings 
for a penny. She lived with us at one period, 
but left us to take up her residence with 
Seddon and his wife, who had a large house 
at 63 Tollington Park, and had advertised the 
upper part to let. There was a little boy 
named Ernie Grant who lived with Miss Barrow 
when she was with us, and he went and lived 
with her at the Seddons'. My cousin was very 
much attached to the little fellow, and his 
association with the case became of much 
importance when it was a matter of finding a 
motive for what had been done. 

Miss Barrow had a public-house called "The 
Buck's Head " which brought her in 105 a 
year, she had a barber's shop adjoining "The 
Buck's Head " which gave her another 50 

284 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

yearly, and she always had plenty of ready 
cash and money in the bank. It is, perhaps, 
a singular coincidence that both my cousin and 
Seddon had a very great regard for money, 
and I have no doubt that she was impressed 
by seeing him handle considerable sums of gold 
in the ordinary way of his business as an 
insurance superintendent. 

I never knew a meaner or more avaricious 
man than Seddon. Money was his god, and it 
was his greed of gold which sent him to the 
gallows. If he had not been so hungry for 
money, if he had not been determined at all 
costs to get every penny that Miss Barrow had, 
it is possible in fact, probable that his crime 
would never have been found out. 

If he had had the worldly wisdom to 
remember the poor little lad, and put aside for 
him even two or three hundred pounds out of 
the money that he got from the murdered 
woman, I think it is likely that no suspicion 
of foul play would have been aroused, and that 
Miss Barrow's relatives would have been con- 
tent to assume that, for reasons of her own, 
she had parted with everything she possessed 
to Seddon. As it was, the case from the out- 
set was one of the gravest possible suspicion, 
and once we had begun to move in the matter 

285 



Famous Crimes 

it was obvious that we could not rest until the 
very strictest inquiry had been made. 

We had been in the habit of seeing my 
cousin about three times a week, but for some 
days we had not seen either her or Ernie 
Grant, and my wife said : " Why don't you 
go round and find out how they are getting 
on?" So I went down to 63 Tollington Park, 
which was only a few minutes' walk from 
where I lived. I knocked at the door, and it 
was opened by a young woman named Mary 
Chater, who was general servant at the house. 

I asked if Miss Barrow was in, and to my 
amazement the girl replied : " Miss Barrow is 
dead and buried! Didn't you know?" 

"No," I told her. "When was she 
buried?" 

" Last Saturday," Mary Chater answered 
and it was now Wednesday. I asked her : 
"When did she die?" and she said: "Last 
Thursday." I was, of course, completely taken 
aback, and I asked to see Seddon; but the 
girl said he was out, and would not be back 
for about an hour. 

I came home and saw my wife and told her 
what I had heard, and an hour later we both 
went on to No. 63, arriving there about nine 
o'clock. This time we saw Maggie Seddon, the 

286 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

daughter, who told us that her father had not 
returned, and that he had gone to the 
Finsbury Park Empire, and would not be back 
till late. 

We came away, and I went and communi- 
cated with my brother who is now here with 
us as we talk and we discussed the matter 
and decided that our wives should go to 
Tollington Park and see Seddon, and try and 
learn something from him. 

Next morning they went, and Maggie 
Seddon opened the door to them, and they 
were shown into a sitting-room, where they 
were kept waiting for some time. Then Seddon 
and his wife entered the room, and Seddon at 
once announced that he had not much time 
to spare. He took out a watch and looked at 
it a watch which was subsequently proved to 
have belonged to Miss Barrow. 

At that interview Seddon was cool and 
calculating, but his wife was on the point of 
breaking down. He took care to do all the 
talking, and said to her : *' Sit still, my dear. 
Don't upset yourself. I can say all there is 
to say." She would have given everything 
away. After demanding to know who the 
visitors were, and being told, he handed to 
them a copy of a letter addressed to me, but 

287 



Famous Crimes 

which I had never received. This letter 
to the effect that Miss Barrow had died, and 
that the funeral would take place on the 
following Saturday ; it gave invitations to the 
funeral, and added that Miss Barrow had made 
a will three days before her death leaving 
"what she died possessed of ' : to Hilda and 
Ernest Grant, and appointing Seddon sole 
executor. 

That letter, I may say now, was never 
really sent to me, but was written by Seddon 
with the object of helping to conceal his crime 
and make everything appear to be in order. 
It was a black-edged letter, and in addition to 
it Seddon gave to the wives a letter addressed 
" To the relatives," a copy of the will, and 
a memorial card. In quite a businesslike way 
he put these letters into a large envelope and 
handed them to my sister-in-law. 

At the end of the interview they asked him 
if he would see me, but he answered : " Oh, 
I've wasted enough time on you. I'm a 
business man, and can't be troubled by people 
asking questions." 

My wife and sister-in-law had expected to 
take possession of Miss Barrow's effects, but 
nothing of this kind happened, and when they 
came away from Tollington Park they were so 

288 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

satisfied that Seddon's manner was suspicious 
that, after carefully considering the matter 
together, we decided that it was necessary to 
go farther with it. Very grave doubts had 
entered our minds. 

It was not until October 9th that I saw 
Seddon for the first time. He had gone to 
Southend for a holiday, as he said he felt run 
down. Before calling again at his house I had 
various inquiries to make concerning the 
property and investments which Miss Barrow 
had possessed. While these were being made 
Ernie Grant called round to see us about a 
week after the visit of my wife and sister-in- 
law at Tollington Park ; but I saw at once 
that precautions had been taken to prevent the 
boy from being questioned, because he was 
accompanied by one of Seddon's sons. 

I did not ask any questions, but said to 
the boy Seddon : " Tell your father that I will 
call and see him in about a week's time." 
When, on October 9th, I went round to 63 
I was accompanied by a friend of mine named 
Mr. Thomas Walker. We were admitted to 
the house, and kept waiting for about twenty 
minutes. At the end of that time Seddon and 
his wife came into the room, and with all the 
assurance in the world Seddon came up to me 

T 289 



Famous Crimes 

and said questioningly : " Mr. Frank Ernest 
Vonderahe?" I answered "Yes," and he 
turned to my friend and said : " Mr. Albert 
Edward Vonderahe?" but I explained that it 
was not my brother, who was not well enough 
to accompany me, but a friend. 

Seddon was in what I might call fine 
fighting form. He was smoking a cigar, and 
I am sure that while we were kept waiting 
he was taking a drink or two to get himself 
up to the mark. At any rate, he at once 
asked : " What do you want?" and began to 
ride the high horse. 

I let him run on a bit. Then he said : "I 
see you've been making inquiries." And, of 
course, I had. I told him that I wished to 
see my cousin's will, and he replied that he 
did not see why he should give me any 
information. He began to talk glibly about 
my going to see a solicitor and swearing an 
affidavit, and when I asked who was the owner 
of " The Buck's Head " now, he promptly said : 
" I am and I own the shop next door. I'm 
always open to buy property. This house I 
live in it has fourteen rooms is my own, and 
I have seventeen other properties. I'm always 
open to buy property at a price." 

As he stood there smoking his cigar he 
290 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

looked thoroughly prosperous and well pleased 
with himself, and did not show a sign of 
suspecting what a hideous fate was soon to over- 
take him. His manner and speech indicated 
perfect self-confidence and assurance, and I 
could quite well believe the stories I had heard 
of him, which showed him to be a man of 
great resource, very ready in speech, and 
plausible to a degree. His business as an 
insurance superintendent gave him that con- 
fidence to a large extent. I understood that 
he was excellent company, and, amongst other 
things, he was, or had been, a local preacher. 
This fluency of speech and readiness to explain 
things away might easily have put one off the 
track, but I had learned too much from my 
inquiries to be readily disposed of, and I 
persisted in my questions. 

I felt very much concerned that my cousin 
should have been buried in a common grave 
at Finchley, as she had been, when there was 
a family vault available at Highgate, and I 
asked for enlightenment on this point. Seddon 
was ready with his answer, which was : " I 
thought the vault was full up." 

As for the property, he declared that he 
had bought it in the open market, and when 
I got to the matter of the annuity and asked 

291 



Famous Crimes 

what Miss Barrow paid for it, Seddon at once 
replied : " That is for the proper authorities to 
find out. I am perfectly willing to meet any 
solicitor. I'm prepared to spend a thousand 
pounds to prove that all I have done in regard 
to Miss Barrow is perfectly in order." 

That was about as far as I could get with 
Seddon at that time; but matters were advanc- 
ing, for, amongst other things, I knew quite 
well that "The Buck's Head" had not been 
bought in the open market, and that my cousin 
would never have parted with the property in 
that way. 

Again we talked the matter over amongst 

ourselves, and decided that it was best to com- 



municate with the police. Accordingly, we 
wrote to the Public Prosecutor, Sir Charles 
Mathew r s, and the next development in the 
case was the exhumation of my cousin's body. 
This took place in the middle of November, 
and I and my brother had the very unwelcome 
and painful task of attending the mortuary at 
the cemetery for the purpose of identifying the 
remains. 

I will not dwell on that dreadful experience 
beyond saying that we identified the body, 
which had been taken out of the coffin and 
placed on a slab ; and we had an opportunity 

292 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

of seeing how shamefully the burial had been 
carried out, owing to Seddon's greed, for he 
had provided only the cheapest possible funeral, 
and had actually got a commission from the 
undertaker on even this mean expenditure. 

The post-mortem examination, which was 
carried out by Doctors Spilsbury and Willcox, 
showed that death was due to acute arsenical 
poisoning, and was not caused, as the certifi- 
cate stated and Seddon declared, by epidemic 
diarrhoea. 

Of this grim and terrible examination and 
discovery Seddon knew nothing, and no doubt 
he thought that he was perfectly safe. After 
Miss Barrow's death he seemed to enter upon 
a period of fresh prosperity, and was con- 
stantly seen in the neighbourhood tearing 
about in a yellow motor-car. He must have 
thoroughly enjoyed this experience, for he 
loved display, but it was not to last long. 

One night, pretty late, the coroner's officer 
appeared at the door of the house in Tolling- 
ton Park and served upon Seddon a summons 
to attend an inquest on the body of Miss 
Barrow. That was the first intimation he had 
received of the exhumation, and the document 
must have been taken by him in the light of a 

death-warrant. Next morning it was noticed 

293 



Famous Crimes 

that he seemed to be twenty years older. He 
had been sitting up all night making notes and 
getting ready for replies to any questions that 
might be put. 

It is singular that the inquest opened on 
Miss Barrow's birthday, which was Novem- 
ber 23rd. The inquest itself was likely to 
prove deadly enough, but even before it was 
concluded, after being adjourned, Seddon was 
arrested on a charge of wilfully murdering Miss 
Barrow. That was on December 4th, 1911. 
Ten days later the adjourned inquest was held, 
and a verdict of murder by some person or 
persons unknown given by the coroner's jury. 
On January 15th, 1912, Mrs. Seddon was 
arrested on a charge of being concerned with 
Seddon in the murder, and on February 12th 
both the prisoners were committed for trial. 

The extraordinary confidence which I had 
noticed in Seddon was maintained, and out- 
wardly he gave the impression of feeling certain 
that in the end he would regain his freedom. 
Even when in custody he willingly posed for 
the newspaper photographers, and carefully 
arranged himself at a window for their con- 
venience. I saw him doing this, and noticed 
his appearance. He looked smiling and full of 
health and spirits a contrast indeed with the 

294 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

picture he presented at the trial, when he 
seemed literally to have shrunk and suddenly 
grown years older. It was almost impossible 
to recognise him as the bombastic person who 
had been so ready with his answers to my 
questions about the death of Miss Barrow and 
the disposal of her property. 

During the preliminary hearing he was 
continually taking notes and leaning over to 
consult his solicitor. He laughed and smiled a 
good deal, but there was no heartiness in the 
laughter, and I feel sure that all this cheerful- 
ness was put on. 

It was not until Monday, March 4th, that 
the trial began at the Central Criminal Court, 
and then a wonderfully detailed and constructed 
story of the crime was told by the Attorney- 
General, Sir Rufus Isaacs, who is now the Lord 
Chief Justice. 

By this time I knew almost every circum- 
stance of the case, and I was particularly 
struck by the astonishing fairness of the 
prosecution. The prisoners had every human 
chance of being acquitted, because of this 
fairness and the care and skill of Mr. Marshall 
Hall, who defended Seddon, Mrs. Seddon being 
defended by Mr. Rentoul. For ten days that 
calm and patient trial went on, for a great 

2Q5 



Famous Grimes 

number of witnesses were called, there were 
some very long and exhaustive speeches, and 
Seddon himself was in the witness-box a whole 
day and part of two days. 

Of course the chief interest of the trial 
centred in the efforts to prove the poisoning 
of Miss Barrow, though there was a good deal 
of time spent in showing that Seddon had a 
powerful motive in getting rid of her, so that 
he could fully enjoy the benefit of the money 
which he had secured. 

It was shown that Miss Barrow lived with 
the Seddons for fourteen months, and in that 
period she made over to Seddon 1,600 of 
India stock, for which he arranged to give her 
an annuity of 103 4s. 9d. just under 2 a 
week and she also made over " The Buck's 
Head " and the barber's shop for a further 
annuity of 52, so that for what he had got 
out of Miss Barrow Seddon was paying 3 
weekly. This in any case represented a first- 
rate investment for him, whereas if anything 
went wrong with him Miss Barrow was utterly 
ruined. She had given up Government stock 
and sound leasehold property, and put her 
trust in a man of no great standing, for 
Seddon had a wife and five children dependent 
on him and supported an old father. An 

296 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

important feature of the case was that no 
fewer than thirty-three five-pound notes, which 
Miss Barrow had had, were proved to have 
been in the possession of the Seddons. 

The theory of the prosecution was that 
Miss Barrow had been poisoned by arsenic, 
which had been extracted from fly-papers, and 
Mrs. Seddon admitted that she had bought 
such papers and put them in Miss Barrow's 
room. When, too, Seddon was arrested, and 
told that he would be charged with poisoning 
Miss Barrow by administering arsenic, he said : 
"Absurd! What a terrible charge wilful 
murder. It is the first of our family that has 
ever been charged with such a crime. Are 
you going to arrest my wife as well? If not, 
I would like you to give her a message from 
me. Have they found arsenic in her body? 
She has not done this herself. It was not 
carbolic acid, was it? as there was some in 
her room. And Sanitas is not poison, is it?" 
Perhaps those were not the exact words he 
uttered, but it is significant that Seddon even 
at that time should have said anything about 
arsenic. 

It is strange, too, that two days after he 
was arrested he suggested that his daughter 
Maggie should be sent to buy some fly-papers, 

297 



Famous Grimes 

because he remembered that there had been 
fly-papers in the sick-room, and it had struck 
him that some such papers might be bought 
and analysed, so that the quantity of poison 
in them could be discovered. 

It was clearly established in the course of 
the evidence that as Miss Barrow's meals were 
prepared for her in a kitchen adjoining her 
bedroom, there was every opportunity for the 
Seddons to administer arsenic in her food ; and 
it was proved that death was due to this 
poison, which must have been taken forty- 
eight hours before death. It was also shown 
that Miss Barrow did not take any medicine 
which contained arsenic. 

Day by day the trial went on, wearily 
enough at times ; but there were breaks in the 
monotony when Seddon went into the witness- 
box and also when his wife gave evidence. 
The Attorney-General was wonderful in his 
calmness, but I think he w r as well matched in 
Seddon, who, with judge and counsel, as he 
had been with me, was instantly ready with a 
pat reply. There seemed to be no chance of 
tripping him up or trapping him, yet it seems 
to be the fact that if he had not given 
evidence on his own behalf he might well have 
been found not guilty and escaped the scaffold. 

298 



Seddon's Greed of Gold 

In her own evidence Mrs. Seddon positively 
swore that she had never given arsenic to Miss 
Barrow in any shape or form, and her husband 
became indignant at the suggestions of greed 
and inhumanity made against him. Once or 
twice, when he was under cross-examination, 
he showed his anger at being taken for what 
he called a "degenerate," but on the whole 
he kept amazingly cool, and it was hard to 
realise that either he or his wife was being 
tried for life. I think, generally speaking, 
that most people who heard the trial from 
start to finish imagined that, whatever hap- 
pened to the man, the woman would be 
set free. 

On the tenth day of the trial, which was 
Thursday, March 12th, the judge summed up, 
and finished just before four o'clock in the 
afternoon. I had been specially struck by the 
final scene : the huge dock, with about eight 
people in it the Seddons, two warders, two 
wardresses, and, I think, two doctors and the 
two prisoners looking almost as if they might 
have been spectators instead of the most im- 
portant persons present. There had been a 
long and intense strain on everybody. 

The jury were absent for an hour; then 
they came back, and, after due formalities, were 

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Famous Crimes 

asked for their verdict. First of all, in a 
terrible silence, they said they found Seddon 
guilty. Instantly the warders were standing by 
him like soldiers, and it seemed somehow as if 
even then he had become the special property 
of the law. Within a few seconds the jury 
had announced that they found Mrs. Seddon 
not guilty, and I think that most people in 
court breathed the easier for the statement. 

Instantly Seddon turned and passionately 
kissed his wife, who, being a free woman, was 
allowed to leave the dock immediately. She 
was in a state of collapse, though I believe 
that while she was in her cell during the 
police-court proceedings she was quite cheerful 
and sang audibly, to the astonishment even of 
the gaolers, accustomed though they are to 
amazing things. 

Now came the most astounding and dramatic 
feature of the trial. Seddon was asked, accord- 
ing to form, if he had anything to say why 
sentence of death should not be passed upon 
him. 

Anything to say? Indeed he had! Plenty. 
And he began at once to say it. Already he 
had made unmistakable signs to the jury, to 
try and influence such of them as might be 
Freemasons; now, with a coolness and assurance 

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Seddon's Greed of Gold 

which were nothing short of marvellous, he 
arranged himself in front of the dock, put 
some papers down, placed his hands on the 
rail, and, just as Lloyd George or anybody 
else might begin to address a meeting, he 
started a speech to the judge. 

It was perfectly wonderful to listen to him, 
and it seemed as if he would never stop. He 
went on declaring his innocence, but in the 
same breath admitting that he did not think 
that anyone believed it. He spoke of the crime 
as being diabolical which it was and said : 
" I declare before the Great Architect of the 
Universe I am not guilty, my lord." 

It was truly distressing to see the end of 
the dreadful drama, for the judge was one of 
the kindest of men and himself a Freemason, 
so that he must have felt the position acutely. 

Three times Seddon interrupted the judge 
while sentence was being passed, protesting 
perfectly calmly that he had a clear conscience, 
that he was at peace, and that his wife had 
done nothing wrong ; and when he had been 
condemned he turned quietly round and went 
below from the dock where he had spent so 
many dreadful hours, to know the world no 
more. 

He appealed, of course, but his appeal 
301 



Famous Crimes 

failed, and on April 18th, 1912, Seddon was 
hanged at Pentonville Prison, an enormous 
crowd having assembled outside the gaol, though 
nothing was to be seen. 

That there was a vast number of people 
who believed either in his innocence or that 
his guilt had not been proved was shown by 
the fact that more than 300,000 persons signed 
a petition for a reprieve. I myself, speaking, 
I hope, calmly and fairly, have no doubt what- 
ever that he was most justly and properly 
condemned and hanged. 



302 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE HOODED MAN 

[ON the night of Wednesday, October 9th, 1912, 
Inspector Arthur Walls, an old and well-known 
member of the Eastbourne Borough Police, was 
shot dead by a man who was known as John 
Williams, and also, because of the steps that 
were taken to prevent mistaken identity, as " The 
Hooded Man." The murder was of a very cruel 
and deliberate nature, but in spite of this fact 
a great deal of sympathy for the prisoner was 
aroused. Before he was hanged, however, it was 
realised that this sympathy was entirely mis- 
placed, and that a hardened criminal had been 
most justly condemned. The crime, this story 
of which is told by Chief Detective-Inspector 
Leonard Parker, of the Eastbourne Borough 
Police, who was associated with the case from 
start to finish, forcibly illustrates the peril to 
which the police are constantly exposed in dealing 
with dangerous characters.] 

If, first of all, we go to South Cliff Avenue 
we can see the house which, in October, 1912, was 

303 



Famous Crimes 

occupied by a Hungarian lady named the Countess 
Sztary, and from the doorway canopy of which 
the young man who had assumed the name of 
John Williams fired two revolver shots at 
Inspector Walls, one of which killed him almost 
instantly. Walls was an uncommonly fine man 
physically, and he was a universal favourite. We 
all felt his loss deeply, myself particularly, for 
we had been colleagues many years, having been 
in the East Sussex Constabulary, stationed at 
Eastbourne, and being transferred to the East- 
bourne Borough Police Force on the formation 
of that body in 1891. Walls was known as Parade 
Inspector, and much of his duty was done on 
the front and in the beautiful and extensive 
gardens which are such a famous feature of East- 
bourne. South Cliff Avenue is steep and short, 
and leads to the sea front, from which the house 
can be reached in a few moments. 

On the day of the murder I had seen Walls 
at the Town Hall, at my office. He had left 
me laughingly, and was his own fine cheerful self. 
When next I saw him he was lying dead on a 
stretcher, and all that was then known as to the 
manner of his death was that it had been caused 
by a revolver fired by a man who had vanished 
in the darkness, and of whom the only description 
was that he was hatless, and the only clue to his 

304 



The Hooded Man 

identity was a Trilby hat which he was supposed 
to have left behind him in his flight. 

Here is the house. Later we will go and look 
at other places which are connected with the 
crime, which, without much difficulty, we shall 
be able to reconstruct. Over the doorway is a 
wooden canopy or coping it is covered over now 
with sloping glass which is just long and wide 
enough to allow a man to lie down or crouch 
upon it, and which at that time could be reached 
by an active man clambering up the spout at the 
side of the doorway. 

On this October night Williams, who for 
reasons of his own wanted to get into the house, 
had climbed on to the canopy, and he w r as hiding 
there in the darkness, at about seven o'clock. 
The Countess was dining out, and probably he 
knew of this and had laid his plans accordingly. 
From his hiding-place it would have been an easy 
matter for him to enter the Countess's dressing- 
room and carry out whatever purpose he had in 
mind. 

A brougham drove up to the house, and into 
this the Countess and a lady friend got, and were 
driven off towards an hotel ; but it had happened 
that the coachman, Daniel Potter, had seen the 
crouching figure on the canopy. He made no 
sign of his discovery, but after driving away a 

u 305 



Famous Crimes 

short distance he stopped and told the Countess 
what he had seen. She directed him to return 
to the house, which she entered, and at once 
telephoned to the police station, urgently asking 
for help, as a man, who was supposed to be a 
burglar, was crouching on the canopy. The 
message was repeated, with a request that a 
constable should be dispatched on a bicycle. 

The Town Hall is some distance from the 
avenue, and as Inspector Walls was on duty on 
the parade, and near at hand, he was rung up and 
told of the Countess's appeal for help. Walls 
instantly hurried to South Cliff Avenue, and ten 
minutes after the first message was received he 
was standing only a few feet away from the man 
who was lying on the canopy. There is a little 
garden at the front of the house, with a short 
pathway, and Walls had entered the gate, so 
that he should be ready to receive the man when 
he came down, as he was expected to do. 

Walls looked up in the darkness, and, being 
so close to the burglar, he must have seen him 
pretty clearly, and undoubtedly the burglar had 
a very clear view of the fine figure which was 
just below him. 

" Now then, my man," said Walls, "just 
you come down." 

That was all. There was no threat or any- 
306 



The Hooded Man 

thing of that sort about it ; there was just a plain 
request from a police inspector to a man who was 
found in a very suspicious situation to give him- 
self up. 

The man on the canopy said nothing he 
settled himself deliberately on his little flat plat- 
form, rested a loaded revolver, which he carried, 
so that he could take careful aim, and then fired 
at the big figure which was only a few feet away. 
There was a flash and a sharp report, and poor 
Walls was shot. Whether it was the first bullet 
or a second which was fired that killed the 
inspector is not known ; but, at any rate, he 
managed to reach the doorway, and even then 
he tried to warn the terrified women inside to 
close the door and so protect themselves. Then 
he left the doorway, and was again a defenceless 
target for the crouching murderer. 

A second shot was fired and struck the 
inspector. The whole of the firing took place 
in a few seconds, so that even if the first bullet 
was fatal there was, according to the medical 
opinion, just time for Walls to stagger to the 
doorway and w r arn the women, for he was a 
man of uncommonly fine physique and perfectly 
healthy. Walls fell dead in the roadway, and 
instantly the murderer got down from the canopy 
and fled. 

307 



Famous Crimes 

At that time the avenue was very quiet. The 
first shot had made the horse restive, and the 
coachman had been forced to drive him off up 
the avenue ; but a parlourmaid on the opposite 
side of the avenue had been alarmed, and she and 
a man who was passing hurried up, and the two 
attended to the fallen inspector. 

The alarm spread swiftly. The Chief Con- 
stable, Major E. J. J. Teale, who was at dinner 
not far from the avenue, hurried to the house, 
and at once took every possible step to trace the 
vanished murderer. 

There is now in force an arrangement by 
which in case help is needed from Scotland Yard 
it can be had, if asked for, in such cases as this; 
and, after many preliminary inquiries had been 
made and a good deal of information secured, I 
telephoned, in the presence of the Chief Constable, 
to the Yard. 

I said : " One of our inspectors has been shot 
dead by a burglar, but the only description we 
can give is that he was a man without a hat." 
The help of an experienced officer was requested, 
and next morning, by the first train, Chief 
Detective-Inspector Bower and Detective-Ser- 
geant Hayman arrived at Eastbourne from the 
Yard, and I met them. After a short conference 
we started off without delay to the house, secur- 

308 



The Hooded Man 

ing statements from the Countess and her lady 
friend, and making many other inquiries which 
proved of very great value. 

I may say here that in the end no fewer than 
forty -nine witnesses were called for the Crown, 
their evidence involving an enormous amount of 
patient preliminary inquiry and hard work. 

Amongst the first of the important facts to 
be discovered was that on the afternoon of the 
day of the murder a man and a young woman 
had been seen in South Cliff Avenue. The 
woman remained at the top, while the man 
apparently was making himself familiar with the 
avenue and the arrangement of the houses. 
Undoubtedly this man was Williams, and the 
woman was Florence Seymour her name, like 
his, being an assumed one. At that time, as 
developments proved, Williams was prepared in 
every way for the burglarious entry of the 
Countess's house. 

Events now moved rapidly. There came upon 
the scene a young man named Edgar Power, 
who had been a medical student, and lived at 
Harringay. He had known Williams for two or 
three months, and was also acquainted with 
Florence Seymour and Williams's brother. To 
this brother, from Eastbourne, Williams, after 
the murder, sent a letter-card, saying : 

309 



Famous Crimes 

;< If you would save my life, come here at 
once. Come to 4 Tideswell Road. Bring some 
money with you. Urgent! Urgent!" 

In consequence of what he learned, Power 
came to Eastbourne and called on Major Teale, 
and said his name was well known in the medical 
profession, and he felt that whatever he said 
would be treated with discretion ; and he told 
Major Teale that the brother and Florence 
Seymour were going to London by the 7.45 
train that night. Chief-Inspector Bower, I, and 
Sergeant Hayman decided to go by the same 
train, taking Power with us, so that we could 
keep the brother and the young woman under 
observation. We travelled in a compartment by 
ourselves, having seen that the pair had entered 
another part of the train. It was reasonable to 
assume that they would join Williams, and our 
plan was to see him and invite him to give an 
explanation of his movements at the time of 
the murder; but subsequently, on the strength 
of information which was in our possession, we 
resolved to arrest him and charge him with the 
murder. 

It was a densely foggy night, and when we 
reached Victoria Station we had the greatest 
difficulty in making anything out with certainty ; 
but we saw the brother and the young woman, 

310 



The Hooded Man 

and saw that they took the only taxi that was 
available and drove off. They quickly disap- 
peared in the fog, leaving us quite helpless for 
that night, at any rate. But Williams 's haunts 
were known to Power, and it was arranged that 
next morning we should visit some of them in 
the hope of meeting the man we wanted to 
get. Accordingly we went to various places, but 
had no luck until lunch-time, when we entered 
the buffet at Moorgate Street Metropolitan Rail- 
way Station. It was about a quarter-past one 
o'clock, and there were a good many people in 
the place, amongst them Williams, who was at 
the bar drinking. Power joined him and engaged 
him in talk. 

Inspector Bower and I did not hesitate a 
moment we just rushed up and collared 
Williams, put a word or two in his ear, and 
at the same time made a pretence of arresting 
Power. 

There was a tremendous commotion, of 
course, but we got Williams into a taxi and 
took him to Cannon Row Police Station. On 
the way Williams said : "I'm perfectly innocent 
of this. I wouldn't do such a thing." Bower 
asked him if he would care to say anything about 
his movements on the Wednesday evening, but 
Williams replied : " I say nothing." Soon after- 

311 



Famous Grimes 

wards he said : " Whoever did that did it to get 
the Countess's papers for political purposes 
that's what I think, anyway. No doubt she's 
mixed up in some political business." At the 
police station Power was released, and I form- 
ally charged Williams with the murder of 
Inspector Walls. His only answer then was : 
" Very well," and he was locked up for the time 
being. 

On the following day, Saturday, when we 
were driving to Victoria Station, Williams said : 
" If you inquire at Eastbourne Station you'll find 
that I went there to catch a train just after 
five o'clock on Thursday. I just missed it, and 
got one twenty minutes afterwards. I paid 
excess fare on a third-class ticket. It was a 
big chap, the collector he must remember." 
On other occasions Williams made statements 
which left no doubt whatever that he was at 
Eastbourne at the time of the murder, and it 
became less and less difficult to establish his 
direct association with the crime. 

At the time of the arrest none of us had 
any idea who this man was that we had in 
custody, and we knew nothing whatever about 
his past all we had to go upon was the word 
of Power ; but very soon we began to learn 
something of Williams's antecedents, for in 

312 



The Hooded Man 

reply to a message sent to Scotland Yard an 
officer from the Finger-Print Department visited 
Cannon Row and took the prisoner's finger- 
prints. A very short time after that had been 
done this officer, who had gone back to the 
Yard to make inquiries, returned with two or 
three photographs which showed the sort of 
man we had got, and showed that he was a 
very well-known, skilful and dangerous burglar. 
This revelation strengthened our arm a great deal, 
as it was pretty certain that the object of the 
man who was hiding on the canopy was burglary. 
Having been kept at Cannon Row for the 
night, we took Williams to Eastbourne on the 
following day. He was securely handcuffed, and 
when we got to the end of our journey Inspector 
Bower made a suggestion which caused the 
prisoner to be known as "The Hooded Man," 
and doubtless increased the enormous public 
interest which was shown in the case. In affairs 
like this the question of identification is, of 
course, of the most vital importance, and there 
are always excitable people who are wanting to 
come forward and make statements. The police 
were particularly anxious that there should be no 
unfairness done to the prisoner, and so it was 
that Inspector Bower suggested that his face and 
head should be completely covered. This was 

313 



Famous Crimes 

done by putting over him a blue apron with 
spots, and when we reached Eastbourne Station 
it was impossible for anyone to see his face, nor 
was it publicly seen until he was brought up in 
due course at the police court. 

There was an enormous crowd of people in 
the neighbourhood of the station, and a great 
many photographers ; but no photograph was 
taken of Williams's face, and the Chief Con- 
stable issued strict orders against any photograph- 
ing in court. By means of these precautions, 
which were adopted time after time, there was 
no possibility of unfair identification. 

From the very beginning this case excited 
uncommon public interest, and very large numbers 
of people were unable to get into the police court 
to hear the preliminary proceedings. Amongst 
the visitors were many ladies, some of whom 
brought lunch with them, so that they should not 
have to lose time in getting refreshment outside. 

I must go back a little, to the time just after 
the arrest, to tell of what happened then. When 
Williams was in custody Hayman went to Victoria 
Station to get the luggage, and Bower and I 
went to Scotland Yard, where we decided to go 
to Victoria and see if we could find out anything 
of the movements of Florence Seymour. We 
got a taxi, and on the journey, while we were 

314 



The Hooded Man 

looking out of the window, I spotted her. We 
stopped the taxi, jumped out, and followed her 
as she was going into a tea-shop. Just as she 
was entering the doorway Bower spoke to her, 
and, though she was quite taken aback, she stared 
steadily and tried to bluff it through; but he 
persuaded her to accompany us to the Yard. 
She there made a statement, which proved to be 
quite untrue. For one thing, she declared that 
she had not been in the neighbourhood of the 
crime, though very soon after his arrest Williams 
had declared that at the time of the murder she 
and he were at a picture-palace performance in 
Eastbourne. Subsequently she made other state- 
ments which varied a great deal, and several of 
which she withdrew, alleging that they had been 
obtained under pressure, which was not the case. 
From time to time Williams volunteered 
statements as to his doings, and some of these 
were very significant. On the way to East- 
bourne he asked us if we thought, supposing 
that he had done such a thing as the murder, 
he would have left Eastbourne quite openly, 
knowing full well that the station would be closely 
watched. He declared that he was wearing a 
frock coat and silk hat at Eastbourne, and asked 
if he would "have had the cheek to lie on that 
small piece of board " while the Countess was 

315 



Famous Grimes 

dressing for dinner. " Wouldn't it have been 
easier," he went on, " to watch the lights go 
down and the lady leave, and then go in?" As 
a matter of fact, Williams had been wearing a 
frock coat and silk hat at Eastbourne on the day 
of the murder, but he had changed these for a 
lounge suit and a Trilby hat before leaving his 
lodgings in Tideswell Road to go to South Cliff 
Avenue. During the journey he also declared 
that he went to a picture palace with his " wife," 
and saw " Dante," and that a man sang at the 
performance, but he did not remember his name. 
On the very morning after the murder an 
important discovery was made on the parade, not 
far from the scene of the murder, by a Corpora- 
tion employee. While walking along he saw, 
lying on the sea-wall, a long, new rope, and on 
picking it up and examining it he found that 
there was a strong hook at one end. He took 
his find to the police station, and there was little 
difficulty in assuming that this was just the sort 
of thing a burglar would use in helping him to 
climb to such a height as the canopy he would 
throw the hooked end up, and when it caught 
something and became secure he would climb up 
it. Before very long we knew that Williams was 
an expert climber, that he had been to sea for a 
time, and that his special ability in this respect 

316 



The Hooded Man 

had earned for him the nickname of the " Monkey 
Man." 

Well, that rope was found in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the murder, and it became one 
of the many important links which were forged 
from time to time during the long period in which 
Williams was brought on various occasions before 
the magistrates and finally committed for trial on 
the capital charge. The evidence, it is true, was 
circumstantial, but it was of the strongest possible 
nature. 

Very soon after the discovery of the rope there 
was found a revolver which was proved to be 
Williams 's, and with which undoubtedly the 
murder was committed. Power and Florence 
Seymour had returned to Eastbourne, and he 
had heard from her about the revolver. In the 
course of a walk she showed him where the 
weapon was it was buried in the shingle on the 
beach, just by the Redoubt Gardens. Two 
young officers from Scotland Yard had the pair 
under observation, and they made a careful note 
of the spot where the revolver had been buried. 
To that place, late at night, we went in a taxi, 
and, having stopped it some distance away, we 
went to the Redoubt Gardens, and after hard 
digging in the shingle with a shovel we came 
across the revolver, which was in two pieces. It 

317 



Famous Crimes 

had been buried about a mile from South Cliff 
Avenue. 

Careful tests by experts showed that the 
bullets which had been fired at Walls were just 
such as could be discharged from the revolver, 
and there was not a vestige of doubt that the 
weapon belonged to Williams. 

A significant circumstance which came out 
was that when Williams and Power met, Power 
chaffed him about his inability to shoot. " Well, 
that was a good shot, anyway," said Williams. 
On Power asking him which shot he meant, 
Williams answered : " The shot that all this dis- 
turbance is about." This statement, when he 
was in the witness-box at the assizes, Williams 
denied ; but at the same time he readily admitted 
that he had told " a fair lot of fairy tales to the 
police." He certainly had. As to the rope, 
which he had so carelessly disposed of, and the 
revolver, which, after breaking into two pieces, 
he had buried in the shingle just by the parade, 
where so many people passed, one can hardly pre- 
tend to understand Williams's conduct, especially 
when he could, by going down the beach to the 
edge of the water, have thrown the things into 
the sea, and at least have had a much better 
chance of their non-discovery. 

Little by little it was shown that Williams 
318 



The Hooded Man 

had come to Eastbourne from London with 
Florence Seymour ; but he had been previously 
at Bournemouth, where he had bought a soft 
Trilby hat. In his haste to escape he had left 
this hat in South Cliff Avenue ; but it was 
characteristic of his record that he was prepared 
for such an emergency as this, and, having lost 
his ordinary headdress, he had in his pocket a cap, 
so that he could put it on his head and thus 
throw off the scent any person who might have 
been prepared to say that he or she had seen a 
hatless man. The ownership by Williams of this 
particular hat was proved beyond all possible 
doubt, and it became, therefore, a valuable link 
in the chain of evidence. 

Williams and Florence Seymour passed as 
man and wife, and the young woman was expect- 
ing to become a mother. Williams, who was 
constantly needing money, got it by systematic 
theft and burglary, and it was in carrying out 
this object that he came to Eastbourne and 
planned the visit to South Cliff Avenue which 
ended in the murder of Inspector Walls. 

When the luggage w r hich Florence Seymour 
deposited at Victoria Station was examined, it 
was found to contain a leather belt with a holster 
attached, a false moustache, and photographs of 
Williams and Florence Seymour, as well as a 

319 



Famous Crimes 

large number of tools such as a skilful burglar 
would use. In Williams's luggage were found a 
number of pawntickets which clearly connected 
him with big jewel robberies. 

The trial took place at the Assizes at Lewes, 
before Mr. Justice Channell, on December 12th, 
13th, and 14th, 1912. On the 14th, which was 
Saturday, Williams, who had given evidence on 
his own behalf, and was in the witness-box for 
three hours, was found guilty, the jury being 
only a few minutes in arriving at their verdict, 
and he was sentenced to death. Williams had 
tried hard to put the murder on to a Continental 
thief who was known as Mike, but in this and 
other directions he quite failed to convince the 
jury. He immediately lodged an appeal, and 
this was heard in London, before the Lord Chief 
Justice (Lord Alverstone), Mr. Justice Ridley, 
and Mr. Justice Phillimore, with the result that 
the sentence was confirmed and carried out. 
Williams, who was wearing a frock coat, walked 
firmly to the scaffold. Great efforts had been 
made to obtain a reprieve and to get permission 
for him to marry Florence Seymour, who had 
given birth to a child, and the question was 
raised in Parliament; but these attempts failed. 
Amongst those who thought that there was 
ground for a reprieve was a well-known London 

320 



The Hooded Man 

clergyman, but subsequently this gentleman 
wrote a letter to the Press in which he said : 
" Being now in full possession of the facts, I 
wish to bear witness to the justice and humane- 
ness of the Home Secretary and of the police 
throughout the whole matter." 

Williams had a consistently bad record. He 
began stealing at the age of nine years, and 
committed offence after offence, finally becoming 
a confirmed burglar and serving various terms of 
imprisonment. He fought in the South African 
War, but was afterwards deported as an un- 
desirable. His real name was made public at the 
time of his execution, and it was widely stated 
that he was the son of a Scottish minister of 
religion ; but, as a matter of fact, his father was 
a lay preacher, a respectable man of, I think, 
the gardening class. Williams himself, who had 
crowded so much wrong-doing into his career, 
was only twenty-nine years of age when he was 
hanged for the murder of Inspector Walls. 



321 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE VAUXHALL TRAIN TRAGEDY 

[WHAT was described at the time as one of the 
most cold-blooded murders in the history of 
railway travelling was committed on Thursday, 
January 17th, 1901, on the London and South 
Western Railway, in the London district. A 
gentleman farmer named Mr. William Pearson, 
of Winchester, was shot dead in a third-class com- 
partment by a man named George H. Parker, 
twenty-three years of age, who had been in the 
Royal Marine Artillery. At the same time Parker 
tried to murder another passenger in the com- 
partment, Mrs. Rhoda King, of Southampton. 
The crime was remarkable because of the cool- 
ness and deliberation of the murderer and the 
practical impossibility of his escape from detection 
and capture. Parker, after trial and conviction, 
was hanged at Wands worth Prison on March 19th, 
1901. This is the narrative of the crime by Head 
Ticket Collector S. Rose.] 

I was on duty at Vauxhall Station when the 
Southampton train came in at one-twenty, and 

322 



The Vauxhall Train Tragedy 

was collecting tickets from the train when I was 
startled by hearing a lot of shouting and seeing 
a man running at a great speed towards the exit 
gate, where he dashed past the ticket collector 
who was stationed there and rushed down the 
staircase leading to the street, Vauxhall being an 
elevated station. Alterations have been made at 
the station since then, and it would not be so easy 
now to get away as this man did, for the time 
being. 

I saw the man dash to the barrier and jump 
down the stairs, a porter tearing after him, and 
I heard the shouting and commotion ; but for some 
moments I did not know the cause of all the 
trouble. Then I noticed a terribly excited lady 
who was on the platform, with blood running 
down her face. She had left a third-class com- 
partment, the door of which was open, and was 
pointing towards the barrier. At first she could 
not speak, but soon she managed to cry out : 
" That man has shot a man in the train!" 

I joined the lady and went to the open door 
of the compartment it was a third-class lavatory 
compartment and looked in, and there, in a 
corner, I saw a gentleman sitting who seemed to 
be asleep. I entered the compartment and looked 
closely at him, and saw that blood was running 
down his cheek. That was all, and it did not seem 

323 



Famous Crimes 

very terrible; but when I caught hold of him I 
found that he was dead. 

Other railway officials came up, and I assisted 
in removing the dead man out of the carriage and 
into a waiting-room, where a doctor who had been 
hurriedly summoned examined him and found that 
he had been killed by being shot through the head, 
the bullet having entered the eye. 

The lady, who had joined us, was still labour- 
ing under intense excitement, and she told us in 
broken sentences that the man \vho had run away 
had shot the gentleman in the corner just before 
Nine Elms was reached. " He threatened to 
shoot me also," she added, "but I begged him, 
for the sake of my husband and children, to spare 
my life. The man said : * Give me a shilling, 
then, and don't say a word till I've got away.' : 
This, the poor woman said, she promised to do; 
but, of course, as soon as she saw the murderer 
bolting she made a great effort to pull herself 
together and raise the alarm. I thought then, and 
I think still, that this lady, who proved to be Mrs. 
King, of Southampton, showed great presence of 
mind and courage, for we soon learned that the 
murderer had fired at her also and tried to kill 
her. The bullet had entered her face, and she had 
narrow r ly escaped a fatal injury. She was removed 
as quickly as possible to St. Thomas's Hospital. 

324 



The Vauxhall Train Tragedy 

This was all that happened on the platform, 
from which, after considerable delay, the train 
proceeded to Waterloo. Information was at once 
sent to headquarters, and a principal official came 
to Vauxhall, and the railway police took charge 
of the affair. 

There was now an opportunity to learn what 
had happened to the runaway. 

We soon found that after dashing down the 
staircase, taking three steps at a time, and reach- 
ing the bottom, he rushed into the road and made 
towards old Vauxhall Bridge. He was closely 
followed by a porter named Brewer, who was a 
champion runner he is now in Canada but the 
murderer went so swiftly that even Brewer could 
not get up with him. Other railway officials and 
people outside the station, amongst them a police- 
man who was on point duty at Vauxhall Cross, 
joined in the chase, and there was a tremendous 
hue and cry. 

The murderer tore along towards the old bridge, 
and I believe that he would have escaped altogether 
for the time had it not happened that the road 
was up and the bridge was under repair. The 
collector at the barrier had not had a chance of 
doing anything the murderer had just thrust a 
ticket into his hand and bolted ; he was too flabber- 
gasted to try and stop him, and, as for myself, I 

325 



Famous Crimes 

could do nothing, because I was about eighty yards 
away. I did the best I could with the things that 
came under my own particular notice just then, 
especially so far as the look of the compartment 
went, and, of course, I paid special attention to 
the tickets which had been used for the journey. 
It was in connection with these that my evidence 
was chiefly of value at the preliminary inquiries 
and the subsequent trial at the Central Criminal 
Court. 

When the murderer found that there was no 
chance of escape by way of the old Vauxhall 
Bridge, and that if he held on in that direction 
he was sure to be overtaken and caught, he 
doubled and made a dash for the Vauxhall Gas- 
works. He rushed into them at such a breakneck 
rate that he almost knocked the doorkeeper down. 
He ran into the yard, and crossed a small bridge 
which ran over a little creek, a large and excited 
crowd being now at his heels. When he got into 
the yard he must have seen that he was fairly 
trapped, and he made for anything that was likely 
to give him shelter and a chance of escape. After 
dodging about the yard, the man suddenly dived 
into a tunnel which led to one of the retort-houses, 
and as soon as he had got into it policemen and 
other pursuers were at the mouth of the tunnel 
and were calling upon him to come out and give 

326 



The Vauxhall Train Tragedy 

himself up. He refused to do anything of the 
sort, and steps were taken to make his capture 
certain. 

It was seen that the murderer had hidden him- 
self in a coke truck which was in the tunnel, and, 
while a watch was kept on all points so as to be 
ready to seize him if he showed himself, the 
engineer who was in charge of the gasworks 
ordered the gates which led into Wandsworth 
Road to be closed. This was done, and as both 
entrances to the gasworks were now shut there 
was no chance of the murderer getting away. 

This part of the chase proved uncommonly 
exciting, because it was known that the runaway 
was a fine, powerful fellow, and there was every 
reason to suppose that he would offer a desperate 
resistance, though Mrs. King had explained that 
the revolver with which the murder had been com- 
mitted had been thrown out of the train, and she 
believed it had fallen on the line. 

The tunnel was a dark place, and while a watch 
was kept on it lanterns were obtained and prepara- 
tions made to enter the tunnel, and either seize 
the man or drive him out. Several policemen by 
this time were engaged in the operations, and, 
having posted themselves at the tunnel mouth, 
they called on the murderer to come out. It was 
not necessary to call for long, because the tunnel 

327 



Famous Crimes 

was very hot and the man could not remain in it, 
so he left his hiding-place in the coke truck and 
came to the tunnel entrance, where he was in- 
stantly seized. But he made no attempt to 
struggle he practically gave himself up to a con- 
stable, saying : " It's all right; I'll come quietly." 
He was handcuffed and taken to Larkhall Police 
Station, and kept there. He was never taken 
back to Vauxhall Station. 

It was very soon proved that the captured 
man's name was Parker, and that he had been in 
the Royal Marine Artillery, but had been dis- 
charged for theft at the very time of his arrest 
for murder he was wanted by the police for a theft 
at the Lyceum Theatre in London. He was quite 
a young man, and one of the finest-looking 
fellows you could meet in a day's walk. He was 
certainly, so far as looks went, the last man in the 
world you would expect to turn murderer, though 
you could see at once that he did not know the 
meaning of fear. Throughout the long proceed- 
ings at the inquest and the police court he never 
turned a hair; he was quite cheerful and cool, 
although he must have known that he had not the 
slightest chance of escaping the capital penalty. 

At a very early stage Parker confessed that he 
had committed the murder, though he did not 
quite know why he had done it, as the victim was 

328 



The Vauxhall Train Tragedy 

a complete stranger to him and he had never before 
set eyes on him. But, as a matter of fact, Parker 
was desperately hard up and wanted money very 
badly, and there is no doubt that he suddenly 
resolved to buy a revolver and try his luck with 
some passenger, perhaps expecting to frighten 
someone into giving him what he wanted. 

The case was as clear as possible right through, 
but, so that it should be easily understood, a fine 
large model was made of the carriage in which 
the murder had been committed, and this proved 
very helpful in showing just what had occurred. 
The model, which is now, I fancy, in the com- 
pany's museum, was for some time at the Lambeth 
Mortuary, where there was also a model of the 
carriage in which Miss Camp was found murdered. 

It was about a fortnight before Mrs. King was 
able to leave the hospital and give evidence ; then 
an experience was related such as few women have 
had to undergo. 

Mrs. King got into the train at Southampton, 
on her way to Battersea to see a relative. She 
was the only occupant of the compartment until 
Eastleigh was reached ; then Parker got in, and 
the two were alone as far as Winchester. At that 
station Mr. Pearson entered the compartment, 
and seated himself opposite to Mrs. King, facing 
the engine, on the right-hand side of the carriage. 

329 



Famous Grimes 

As soon as he had settled down, Mr. Pearson 
began to read a newspaper, and having read for 
some time, he put the paper down on the seat and 
went to sleep a sleep from which he never woke. 

The train travelled on, and matters went as 
usual until Surbiton was reached; then Parker 
entered the lavatory, and there is no doubt that 
while there he made his preparations for the 
terrible crime which he soon afterwards committed. 
He re-entered the compartment where the other 
two passengers were, entirely unsuspicious, for 
there does not seem to have been anything in the 
conduct of Parker to create alarm. 

Surbiton Station was left behind, and the train 
was speeding towards Vauxhall a short run. 
Mrs. King was looking out of the window, with 
her back to Parker, having previously moved her 
seat to face the engine. While looking out of the 
window she heard a bang, which she likened to a 
pop-gun. Then there was another report, and 
she felt blood running down her face. Startled 
and terrified, she turned to Parker and cried : 
"My God! What have you done? What did 
you do it for?" At that time she had not looked 
at Mr. Pearson, and did not know that he also 
had been shot. 

"I did it for money," answered Parker. " I 
want some money. Have you got any?" 

330 



The Vauxhall Train Tragedy 

Mrs. King replied that she had a little, and 
she produced her purse and took out a shilling, 
which she gave to Parker. Then, for the first 
time, she looked at Mr. Pearson, and saw that he 
was still in his seat, as if sleeping, but that blood 
was running down his face from the eye, and that 
he never moved. 

Parker now lost no time in completing his 
task. He straightway began to rifle the dead 
man's pockets, and, having done that, he seated 
himself and counted out some gold. Offering a 
sovereign to Mrs. King, he said : "Is that any 
use to you?" 

Stretching out her hands, which were covered 
with blood, Mrs. King told the man that she did 
not want the money. Then it was that she 
implored him to spare her life for the sake of her 
family. 

"Don't touch me!" Parker exclaimed, when 
he saw the reddened hands ; then he told her that 
he was sorry for what he had done. But he saw 
how terribly desperate his situation was and how 
speedily he must act if he meant to have the 
slightest chance of saving himself by escape. 

"What shall I do with the - - thing?" he 
exclaimed, meaning the revolver with which he 
had shot his fellow-passengers. '* I've a good 

mind to put it in his hand ; then they'll think he 

331 



Famous Crimes 

shot himself!" Some rapid talk then followed 
between the murderer and the passenger who was 
in such dreadful peril still, and no one can wonder 
that she suggested that he should throw the 
revolver out of the window. 

Parker quickly acted on this suggestion. He 
hurled the revolver out of the window. But even 
at a time like that Mrs. King was calm and brave 
enough to notice approximately the spot where 
it fell, and it was found at Nine Elms, near a shed 
which has now been removed. 

This having been done, Mrs. King suggested 
that the dead man's face should be covered, and 
Parker put a handkerchief or newspaper over it. 

Every second was now precious, as the train 
was slowing down for the stop at Vauxhall. 
Parker made careful preparations for a bolt he 
got the door of the compartment partly open 
and stood on the footboard, and as soon as No. 2 
platform was reached he sprang off the footboard 
and ran down towards the barrier with a doubled- 
up ticket in his hand. He reckoned on getting 
clear of the station before an alarm could be 
raised, and no doubt he calculated, reasonably 
enough, that Mrs. King would be too much 
terrified and exhausted to be able to give warn- 
ing ; but she managed by the most tremendous 
effort to pull herself together and to act as I have 

332 



The Vauxhall Train Tragedy 

described, with the result that Parker was chased 
at once and run down. No wonder he declared 
that he was sorry he had not killed her as well as 
Mr. Pearson, as then he would have had a far 
better chance of escaping. 

When the case came on for trial at the Central 
Criminal Court there was not a shadow of doubt 
as to w r hat the result would be, the only question 
being whether the prisoner was responsible or 
not for his actions. A plea of temporary insanity 
was put in on his behalf ; but this did not influence 
the jury, who, after a short consultation, found 
Parker guilty, and Mr. Justice Phillimore, who 
was the judge, sentenced him to death, remark- 
ing that he seemed to have wasted his life, and 
warning him not to entertain the slightest hope 
that the sentence would not be carried out. Even 
then Parker was just as cool and careless as he 
had been from the very start, and left the dock 
quite cheerfully and buoyantly. I do not think 
that this was mere bravado ; I believe that he was 
a young man of great natural courage, and took 
his inevitable fate bravely. It was certainly to 
his credit that soon after the murder he wrote 
to the widow and did his best to comfort her by 
expressing his sorrow for his act. 

It was shown at the trial that Parker was one 
of a family of eight, that at an early age he had 

333 



Famous Crimes 

been sent to a reformatory, that he had been 
dismissed the Royal Marine Artillery as a bad 
character, and that he had stolen considerable 
sums of money and squandered them in fast 
living. Parker himself declared that he bought 
the revolver with the intention of shooting him- 
self and a young woman, the wife of a soldier, 
with whom he was associated. She was living at 
Portsmouth, and on the day before the murder 
the two went to Southampton, where they spent 
the night. At Southampton, while she was in a 
public-house bar, Parker bought the revolver. 
Then they travelled to Eastleigh. At that place 
they separated, Parker saying that he was going 
to Birmingham. He entered the train from 
Southampton, and, when Winchester had been 
left, one of the things that may have prompted 
him to commit the crime was that he had not 
money enough to pay the excess fare which would 
have been demanded on his ticket. As a matter 
of fact, he had helped himself to Mr. Pearson's 
ticket, and it was this, doubled up, which he had 
thrust into the hand of the collector at the barrier 
as he dashed down the staircase at Vauxhall 
Station. 

The revolver, which was found and proved to 
be the one that Parker used, was very small. It 
was six-chambered, and four of the chambers 

334 



The Vauxhall Train Tragedy 

were still loaded. Two of the cartridges had been 
fired, one of them killing Mr. Pearson by enter- 
ing his brain through the eye, and the other 
entering Mrs. King's face. In addition to being 
charged with the murder, Parker was charged with 
the attempted murder of Mrs. King, but, of 
course, it was not necessary to proceed with that 
part of the case. 

I was greatly interested all through the trial 
in the demeanour of the prisoner. When he was 
sentenced to death he simply shrugged his left 
shoulder and looked round defiantly, and he 
actually smiled at the warders who escorted him 
away. I watched him at the time of the inquest, 
and also at the trial, and never saw a sign of fear 
in him. I think that from the moment he was 
caught at the gasworks and handcuffed he took 
everything as a matter of course. He was quite 
alone throughout the whole trial ; no one seemed 
to trouble about him, and Ee certainly did not 
appear to bother his head about anybody. The 
young woman whose name was associated with 
his in the awful tragedy had, of course, to give 
evidence ; and very miserable she xseemed to be, 
hiding in corners and crying, lonely and neglected, 
and I never saw Parker look her way or take the 
slightest notice of her. 

An interesting feature of the affair was that 
335 



Famous Crimes 

the trial took place at the same time as the trial 
of the young man Bennett for the Yarmouth 
Beach murder, the Lord Chief Justice presiding 
over that case in another court. 

I am a Hampshire man, and afterwards dis- 
covered that my father, who lived only about 
eight miles from Mr. Pearson, had known him 
quite well ; but I myself had never met the 
murdered man. 

Railway murders are so very rare that when 
one is committed it arouses intense interest; and 
this was so with the death of Mr. Pearson. There 
was the usual commotion, too, in some quarters, 
about the danger of railway travelling, nervous 
people forgetting that almost unnumbered millions 
of passengers are carried without mishap. The 
crime took place fifteen years ago, and even 
during that period a great deal has been done 
to add to the safety of the public for example, 
corridor coaches are now used for anything like a 
long journey. As for the murder itself, it could 
easily have happened anywhere, the only strange 
thing being that Parker stopped where he did, 
and did not kill Mrs. King as well as Mr. Pearson. 



336 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE TOTTENHAM OUTRAGE 

[WE have to go back to the most lurid episodes 
of life in the Wild West to find a parallel to the 
Anarchist outrage at Tottenham on Saturday, 
January 23rd, 1909. Two Russian desperadoes, 
armed with revolvers, attacked and robbed a clerk 
and chauffeur who had received a bag of money 
at a bank for wages ; they fled, pursued by police 
and public, seeking safety in Epping Forest. For 
two hours, over a distance of six miles, a running 
fight was maintained between the robbers and the 
crowd. In the end the two scoundrels died from 
bullet wounds, but not before they had killed a 
boy and a policeman and wounded more than a 
score of persons. Very great resource and courage 
were shown by the police in the pursuit, and 
subsequently, in recognition of their conduct, 
Detective-Sergeant Charles Dixon and Police- 
Sergeants W. Cater and Charles Eagles were 
decorated by the King with the King's Police 
Medal, which is the reward of conspicuous 
bravery. This story of the amazing outrage is 
w 337 



Famous Grimes 

told by Sergeant Dixon, who, on retiring from 
the Metropolitan Police Force after twenty-nine 
years' service, had a high tribute to his skill and 
courage paid by the magistrate at the Tottenham 
Police Court.] 

Just on the other side of Chestnut Road, at 
Tottenham, opposite the police station, is Schnur- 
mann's Rubber Factory, where, in 1909, a number 
of aliens were employed at a very low wage. 
Amongst them was a Russian named Paul Hefeld, 
who was about twenty-six years old, and who soon 
learned that it was the habit of the firm to send 
one of their clerks to the bank in a motor-car 
every Saturday morning at about eleven o'clock 
to fetch money to pay the weekly wages. There 
was another Russian, called Jacob Meyer, who 
worked in Tottenham. Both had lived in the town 
for some time and knew their way about quite 
well. At the time of the outrage both men were 
out of employment. 

On this particular Saturday morning I had 
seen both Jacob and Hefeld. They were standing 
just outside the police station ; in fact, I passed 
them, little suspecting what they were about to 
do. Jacob actually nodded to me as I passed. 
There was nothing unusual in the presence of 
these men, and often a number of aliens were to be 

338 



The Tottenham Outrage 

seen loitering about the rubber works, where some 
of them had been employed. 

I was well known to a great number of these 
foreigners by being brought into contact with 
them through wounding each other. These fights 
mostly happened on a Saturday night, after the 
men had received their wages and they had had a 
lot of drink. 

What happened just at the beginning I did 
not see ; but it was this. The car had been to 
the bank, where a clerk named Key worth had got 
eighty pounds for wages. He had stepped out of 
the car, and was about to enter the works when 
the two robbers snatched the money-bag and tried 
to make off with it. Instantly the chauffeur, 
Wilson, sprang at one of them, on which the other 
peppered him with shots from his revolver. One 
bullet pierced his cap, and others made holes in 
his coat ; but, luckily, the chauffeur escaped 
injury. Keyworth, too, had gallantly thrown 
himself on his assailant, who did his best to kill 
him with his revolver, and failed, though he fired 
several shots. 

After a short, furious struggle, in which all 
the advantage was with the robbers, who had 
taken the other two completely by surprise, Jacob 
and Hefeld bolted, and then the chase began. 

A big burly chap named George Smith, who 
339 



Famous Crimes 

was passing, seized Hefeld, and they both fell to 
the ground. Instantly Jacob fired at Smith, and 
a bullet went through his cap, cutting his head 
and causing blood to flow. Hefeld managed to 
wriggle clear and get on his feet, and off he went 
with Jacob. 

The thieves still had the bag of money, and they 
bolted with it down Chestnut Road, pursued by 
the chauffeur and the clerk, as well as others. 
Wilson was still driving, and in the car was also 
Mr. Powell, the works manager at the rubber 
factory. 

The police heard the alarm at once, and in- 
stantly P.C. Tyler and P.C. Newman rushed out 
and jumped into the car. Tyler was not fully 
dressed, and was without his helmet, and New- 
man, who was on reserve duty, was also without 
a helmet. They did not lose a second in driving 
after the runaways, w r ho had already settled down 
to a defence which must have been well thought 
out and carefully planned, for Hefeld deliberately 
stopped to fire on his pursuers, using his left arm 
as a rest and firing with his right hand after taking 
aim, Jacob doing the loading for him. 

This deliberation enabled the robbers to do 

immense mischief even at the start, and very soon 

the car was made useless through bullets striking it. 

The firing and commotion made people turn 

340 



The Tottenham Outrage 

out of their houses in swarms and caused a growing 
crowd to join in the chase. As soon as the car 
was out of action Tyler and Newman jumped out, 
and dashed on foot after the runaways, who were 
making for Tottenham Marshes. After leaving 
Chestnut Road, Jacob and Hefeld had turned into 
Stonely Road, and dashed on to the corner of 
Mitchley Road, where a little chap named Ralph 
Jocelyn, about ten years old, was playing. 

This child, out of sheer curiosity, stopped his 
play and looked at the t\vo villains who were tear- 
ing madly towards him, only a few yards away. 
The next thing that happened was that the poor 
innocent little chap was fired on and shot dead in 
the street where he had been playing. 

By this time the runaways had gone fairly 
amok, and were firing at anything and anybody, 
and doing a lot of harm. They tore on till they 
reached Downs Lane, which is near the marshes, 
the pursuers including Tyler, Newman, and the 
chauffeur. 

Tyler was a splendid officer, plucky and 
resourceful, and just now he found his previous 
experience in the army very useful ; but, unfor- 
tunately, he was at a hopeless disadvantage. 
Dashing round the buildings, he succeeded so far 
that he was only about sixty yards away from 
the two men, and he shouted : 

341 



Famous Crimes 

" Give it up the game's over!" 

Hefeld did not hesitate a second. He stopped 
for a moment, rested his revolver on his arm and 
fired, and poor Tyler, mortally wounded in the 
head, fell to the ground. Newman, who was 
standing at Tyler's side, got a second shot for 
himself, and had a most narrow escape, for the 
bullet grazed his cheek and took a small piece off 
his ear. The effect of these two shots will show 
how close the constables were to their men and 
the coolness and deliberation of the murderers' 
aim, for the pair of villains had now become 
murderers. 

By this time a large number of private indi- 
viduals had taken up the chase, as well as the 
police, amongst the latter being Inspector Gold 
and Sergeant Hale. The telephone and telegraph 
had been at work, and from all the surrounding 
stations officers had been sent on cycle and on foot 
to cut off the retreat of the runaways and capture 
them if possible. 

Having killed Tyler and shot down other 
pursuers, the murderers managed to cross Totten- 
ham Marshes and reach a footpath that goes to 
Higham's Hill, where they came across a number 
of men who were pulling down some disused 
rifle butts. Without a moment's hesitation the 
fugitives fired on these men, who promptly 

342 



The Tottenham Outrage 

dropped their tools and ran away to seek cover. 
The two men then crossed a footbridge over the 
River Lea. 

This was the stage at which I came on the 
scene. 

After I had seen the two men standing near 
the police station, I rode away on my bicycle, and 
I was in the High Road, talking to my colleague, 
Sergeant Backhurst, when I received a communi- 
cation from Sub-Divisional Inspector Large, who 
had sent out P.C. Squires he is now dead on a 
bicycle to inform every policeman within reach to 
hurry to the marshes to cut off the retreat of two 
men who were firing at everyone they could get. 

We both obtained some refreshment to buck 
us up, and then rode as hard as we could towards 
the marshes, and the first sign I saw of the affair 
was the men running away from the rifle butts. 

Some revolvers and ammunition had been 
served out from the police armoury, and several 
of us were lucky enough to be armed. When I 
joined in the chase, however, I had no firearm, 
and so I was at a great disadvantage, and I felt 
this particularly when, in trying to cut off their 
escape, I saw the two men approaching me. 

I am not a very nervous person, but when the 
murderers actually began firing at me I beat a 
hasty retreat, and was lucky enough to be able to 

343 



Famous Crimes 

hide myself to some extent behind a haystack ; 
then, as they were making for me, I had to rush 
for the Chingford Road. I had to get across a 
field, and as the murderers were following me, and 
their firing was in full swing, it was as exciting a 
dash across the open as any man could wish to 
have. 

At this time the murderers had fairly settled 
into their work, and were getting over the ground 
partly at a trot and partly at a sharp walk, with 
a big mixed crowd after them. They were utterly 
desperate, and they had a great deal of staying 
power too. Nothing could have been more deliber- 
ate than their plan of campaign, for Hefeld did 
most of the firing, and Jacob did the loading for 
him. Hefeld kept halting and using his left arm 
as a rest for the revolver, which he deliberately 
fired after taking aim. It was this coolness which 
enabled them to do so much execution, for they 
killed two persons and in all wounded more than 
twenty, some seriously. 

The excitement was now intense, and it grew 
as the chase went on. In crossing the field the 
two men came to some caravans, a little gipsy 
encampment. One of the gipsies, a man named 
Bird, hearing the commotion, looked out to see 
what was happening. By that time the pair were 
just upon him. 

344 



The Tottenham Outrage 

* ' You have some too ! ' ' shouted Hef eld ; and 
as he spoke he fired several shots at Bird, who had 
a marvellous escape, and promptly hid himself in 
his van. 

The ruffians hurried on, and eventually got 
into the Chingford Road. They must have seen 
that they were being headed off, and that in time 
they would be run to earth ; but they were making 
a desperate bid for liberty, and they stuck at 
nothing. 

It happened that an electric tramcar was pass- 
ing, carrying only a few passengers. Instantly 
the pair fired at the driver and ordered him to 
stop, which he did. Then he made a dash for the 
top, which he reached, and lay down. The run- 
aways, who had sent several bullets through the 
windows of the car, boarded it. Hefeld seized 
the conductor, dragged him through the car to 
the front, held the revolver at his head, and 
ordered him to drive away as hard as he could go, 
Jacob meanwhile standing on the rear platform 
and firing at the pursuers. 

By this time the crowd had grown very much, 
and it had been very unexpectedly strengthened, 
for some sportsmen, who were shooting at the New 
River Reservoirs, near Lock Bridge, saw the run- 
aways, and they joined in the chase, as also 
did other gentlemen in motor-cars; while P.C. 

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Famous Crimes 

Hawkins, who had got a gun at the " Crooked 
Billet " public-house, and had commandeered a 
horse and cart, was in hot chase too. But Hawkins 
had ill-luck, for his horse was shot, and so he had 
to take up the chase on foot. Inspector Gold 
and Sergeant Hale and others were following. 

Holding the muzzle of the revolver to the 
conductor's head, Hefeld forced him to get the 
car along; and this the conductor managed to do, 
though he was not used to driving. The car went 
at a great pace until it came to a passing-loop, 
where it was forced to stop to let another car pass. 
While the car was tearing along a woman and a 
child who were inside were screaming, and an old 
man, who was also a passenger, made a gallant 
attempt to grapple with Jacob. He sprang at the 
ruffian, who, however, was too quick for him, 
and shot him in the neck, and so put him out 
of action. 

At this moment, when it really seemed as if 
the murderers had no chance of escaping further, 
especially as a police station would soon be passed, 
Hefeld saw a greengrocer's cart at the side of the 
road, and he shouted to Jacob to jump down and 
rush for the cart. This the two men did. Spring- 
ing into the cart, one of the men took the reins 
and lashed the horse into a gallop, the other man 
standing at the back of the cart and firing at the 

346 



The Tottenham Outrage 

crowd of pursuers, who were on foot, on bicycles, 
in motors, and other conveyances. They got into 
Forest Road, making for Epping Forest. Several 
shots were fired at them as they bolted, but no 
harm \vas done. 

At this point the two men were only about 
two hundred yards from the forest, and they would 
probably have evaded their pursuers, but, as luck 
would have it, a constable was standing in Forest 
Road on point duty, and this caused them to turn 
up Fulbourne Road, which runs parallel with the 
Great Eastern Railway. 

It should be borne in mind that the party of 
sportsmen were totally ignorant of the fact that a 
boy and a policeman had been killed, and did not 
deliberately fire at the heads and faces of the run- 
aways. If they had done this, the pellets from 
their fowling-pieces would doubtless have damaged 
the murderers just enough to enable them to be 
captured, for it was found afterwards that, though 
their clothing had been peppered by the pellets, 
their flesh had not been injured. 

So far the murderers had done amazingly well, 
but the luck was turning against them, and the 
first ugly fact they discovered was that the chain- 
brake was on the cart, so that one of the wheels 
was running dead, and this meant that the horse, 
in spite of the savage lashing, was soon spent and 

347 



Famous Grimes 

unable to get along quickly, especially as the road 
just there was steep. 

When they saw that the cart was of no further 
use, the men stopped the horse and sprang out, 
and made a dash for the fields near Higham's 
Park and Hale End Station on the Great Eastern 
Railway. 

By this time I had become possessed of a 
revolver, one of a pair which P.C. Cater had been 
dispatched with from Tottenham Police Station, 
with a number of rounds of ammunition, and I 
was so close to the men that I could easily have 
shot at least one of them, but, unfortunately, my 
revolver was not loaded. 

The men, who were now exhausted, were 
making towards the railway bridge which crosses 
Ching Brook. The bank at that place was enclosed 
with barbed wire, and there is a big fence, so that 
there were serious obstacles to overcome; besides, 
the pursuers were now very close on the heels of 
the fugitives, who must have seen that the game 
was pretty nearly up. 

Hefeld made a desperate attempt to climb the 
fence, but the sportsmen with the fowling-pieces 
had him under fire from their motor-car, and he 
failed and fell to the ground, which was the bank 
of the brook. Jacob had been luckier, for he had 
scaled the fence and was still on the run. 

348 



The Tottenham Outrage 

Hefeld saw at once that his murderous game 
was up. He had only one cartridge left, and this 
he turned on himself, holding the muzzle of the 
pistol to his head and firing. His obvious inten- 
tion to kill himself on the spot did not succeed, 
for the bullet went round the skull, though it 
inflicted a dangerous wound. 

Sergeant McKay, who had kept up the pur- 
suit on his bicycle, rushed up to Hefeld and 
made him a prisoner, steps being taken instantly 
to have him conveyed to a doctor. This was done, 
and it seemed as if the man would live, but he 
did not survive a second operation which became 
necessary at the Prince of Wales's Hospital, 
Tottenham. 

While Hefeld was lying mortally wounded, 
Jacob was trying desperately to reach the shelter 
of the forest, where he might well have hoped to 
hide for a long time, if not escape altogether. The 
care and cunning with which the two men had 
mapped out the whole of their performance was 
shown by the fact that in all their running away, 
from the moment of the robbery, they had kept 
to the valleys, and had not takfen to the hilly roads 
and tracks, and they had gone over rough and 
enclosed ground, which made it hard for motors 
and cycles to follow. For this reason I, on my 
cycle, in keeping up the pursuit of Jacob, lost 

349 



Famous Crimes 

some hundreds of yards of ground before I was 
well up with him again, for I was forced to keep 
to the roads, while he was able to take a short 
cut across country. 

Jacob was making towards an unfinished build- 
ing where some men were at work, and one of 
these, a plasterer, pretty well understanding what 
was happening, shouted " Stop him ! Stop him !" 
In his excitement, and hoping to bring the run- 
away down, he aimed two bricks at him, but they 
did not hurt him. On the other hand, Jacob was 
luckier, for he turned round and fired two shots at 
the plasterer, both of which took effect. I do not 
know how he got on. 

Jacob was now fairly at the end of his tether. 
He must have known that his companion was 
probably dead or captured, and that his own 
hope of escape was of the slightest ; but no 
doubt he had absolutely made up his mind not 
to be taken alive and to sell his life as dearly as 
possible. 

There was in the line of his retreat a little 
old-fashioned detached cottage, a quaint-looking 
building on the roadside, with a bit of garden in 
front, fenced in by wooden palisadings. Before 
he could get to the road and the cottage, Jacob 
had to crawl through a fence along a ditch, but 
he managed to do this, pretty well ahead of his 

350 



The Tottenham Outrage 

nearest pursuers, including myself, and he ran 
round to the back door of the cottage and burst 
into the place. 

The occupant of the house appears to have 
been out at the time, talking to a neighbour, 
having left her two little boys in the cottage. 

Jacob was undoubtedly very much exhausted 
by his long run and the excitement of the chase, 
and, having locked the kitchen door behind him, 
he seized a mug or tin and took a long draught 
of water from the tap. 

The little boys, terrified at the sight of this 
wild, dusty, blood-stained ruffian, started scream- 
ing, whereupon he turned on them savagely and 
threatened to kill them if they made a noise. They 
were soon able to get out by the front door, for 
the cottage was quickly surrounded by people who 
had come up, including armed policemen and the 
sportsmen with the fowling-pieces. 

At last the second murderer was trapped ; but 
the thing to do now was to get at him. By this 
time Sergeant Bunn and Sergeant Hart had arrived 
from Edmonton. 

Acting very warily, Cater and myself managed 
to enter the cottage through a lower window, and 
the first thing we learned was that Jacob had bolted 
upstairs, for he had shown his face at the front 
bedroom window, and instantly several volleys 

351 



Famous Grimes 

were fired, one result being that all the glass was 
knocked out of the frames. 

Previously to this a very courageous attempt 
had been made to enter the cottage by P.C. 
Eagles, who was in plain clothes, but I did not 
at the time know that he was a member of the 
force. He had heard the alarm, and rushed up 
and got a ladder, by means of which he had tried 
to enter the house through the back bedroom 
window. Failing in this, he got in through the 
back door, which Cater and myself had managed 
to open. 

As soon as we had got inside the cottage we 
saw a number of sooty handmarks on the furni- 
ture and walls. These led us to think that the 
murderer had tried to get up the chimney, so I 
directed Cater to fire up the chimney with his 
revolver. This he did, but nothing seemed to 
be struck except soot and bricks. 

Finding that Jacob was not in the lower part 
of the house, I opened the door which led to the 
little old-fashioned staircase. From this staircase 
a small landing, such as you often see in old cot- 
tages, led to the front bedroom. I got to this 
landing and opened the bedroom door not too 
quickly and not too widely and the first thing I 
knew was that Jacob was standing on the stairs 
with his pistol pointed at me. He instantly fired, 

352 



The Tottenham Outrage 

but I had sprung back before he could get at me. 
I swiftly closed the door again, and called on him 
to surrender. 

" If you surrender," I shouted through the 
doorway, " throw down the revolver. We won't 
hurt you." 

Jacob muttered something which I did not 
understand he did not speak good English; but 
I saw that he did not mean to surrender, so I 
suggested to Sergeant Bunn and others that, as 
there was a mongrel dog tied up near the back 
door, it should be released and taken inside and 
told to go upstairs, to see if it could drive Jacob 
out of the bedroom, or, at least, take his attention 
off us and give us a better chance of getting him. 
I pointed out that its life was not of such value as 
our own, and that it would be better for the dog 
to draw the murderer's fire than for us to take the 
further risk at present. So it was agreed that the 
dog should have a chance, and accordingly it was 
untied I believe by Sergeant Bunn and it went 
into the cottage. It was not an easy matter to 
deal with the animal, which appeared to be very 
ferocious. 

The dog sprang up the staircase, and promptly 
did what we had not been quite able to do ; it 
frightened Jacob so much that he bolted away 
from the door, after shutting it. 

x 353 



Famous Grimes 

At this stage someone entered the cottage with 
a double-barrelled fowling-piece, and, taking this 
weapon, I fired one of the barrels at the closed 
door with it ; but the pellets had little or no effect, 
and only slightly damaged the wood. I pulled the 
other trigger, but that barrel would not go off, so 
the fowling-piece was a failure. 

In the meantime Cater and I had got our 
revolvers loaded, and we set to work. The door 
was very thin deal, so that our bullets went through 
with ease, making holes which enabled us to see 
into the room. It was a dangerous thing to peep 
through the holes, but we did so, and saw that 
Jacob was tearing about the room in a terribly 
excited state, and was literally at bay. 

Eagles, who did not seem to value his life as 
much as I valued mine, pushed up and said : 

" Let me have a pop at him !" 

I said: "No; I want the revolver to defend 
myself with." But he begged again, and after a 
lot of persuasion I allowed him to take it. 

Then Eagles, without the slightest hesitation, 
hurled himself against the door, burst it open, 
thrust his arm round until it was well inside the 
room, and fired two shots. What the result of 
them was I cannot say, for it was never ascertained 
whether one or both struck Jacob or whether he 
killed himself at last with his own revolver. 

354 



The Tottenham Outrage 

When Eagles could see into the room he saw 
that Jacob was leaping about and laughing wildly. 
He shouted to us: "Come on, now!" Where- 
upon the man sprang on to a child's bed which 
was in the room, and instantly tried to pull the 
clothes over his head. He still had the revolver in 
one hand. 

As soon as the cry, " Come on, now!" went 
up, Eagles rushed into the room and up to the 
bed, and I went after him. 

Like a flash Eagles snatched the pistol from 
Jacob's hand, and I seized him by the throat and 
dragged him on to the floor and down the stair- 
case, pulling him backward. The blood was oozing 
from his forehead, and it was clear that he was 
dangerously wounded by one or more bullets. 

I dragged him down the stairs into the yard, 
where he was left lying on his back. A crowd 
came round him instantly. Jacob was between life 
and death, and there was a horrible grin on his 
face. He never stopped grinning, and that awful 
look was on his face when he died, which was soon, 
with the crowd round him and his eyes staring. 

The crowd was terribly wrought up, and so 
intense was the feeling against the man that if it 
had not been for the police I believe they would 
have poured paraffin on him and burnt him where 
he lay. He was a dreadful sight, covered with 

355 



Famous Crimes 

blood and smothered with soot, showing that, as 
we had suspected, he had tried to escape by climb- 
ing up the chimney. The inside of the cottage, 
especially the bedroom where we had got Jacob, 
presented a sight that was horrible to see. The 
pictures were all broken, the wall-paper torn and 
spattered with blood, and every particle of furni- 
ture damaged. The bed was the worst sight of all. 

I had done my share, and I stood by and 
looked on at what was happening. Sergeant 
Bunn searched the body, and found five pounds' 
worth of silver upon him in one of the bags which 
had contained the eighty pounds the clerk had got 
at the bank, and which these robbers had snatched 
from him. The rest of the money was never found, 
but it was thought that they had thrown it into 
the River Lea and other places. 

A most thorough search was made for days and 
days, the cottage was almost pulled to pieces, 
because it was thought that Jacob might have 
hidden the money up the chimney ; but, as I say, 
the balance was never found. It is my impression 
that the two men had an accomplice, who during 
the chase received the bulk of the cash, leaving five 
pounds with Jacob to carry them on for the time 
being. Eighty pounds, in silver and copper, was 
too heavy and bulky to run off with for a long 
distance. 

356 



The Tottenham Outrage 

These two men must have had at least two 
hundred rounds of ammunition with them before 
starting their desperate game. Most of the firing 
was done by Hefeld. 

Undoubtedly the capture of the pair was 
greatly due to the smartness and resourcefulness 
of Sub-Divisional Inspector Large, who was in 
charge of the Tottenham Division. He had been 
in the army, and took prompt measures to round 
up the police from all the surrounding districts to 
spoil the runaways' plan and prevent them from 
reaching Epping Forest. So it happened that as 
the murderers ran away they were intercepted in 
every direction by police who had received the 
emergency call, and it was in this way that Eagles 
came on. Inspector Large was a mounted officer, 
and he was present at the cottage within a few 
seconds of Jacob being pulled out of the bedroom. 

Poor Tyler's loss was a great grief to us, for 
he was a fine, smart young fellow, and we were 
very sorry because of the death of the little boy 
and the wounding of Newman and so many other 
people. 

It was, of course, a matter of very great pride 
to me when I received from His Majesty, at 
Marlborough House, the King's Police Medal I 
had been previously presented with the Carnegie 
Medal. I well remember that when I and my 

357 



Famous Crimes 

comrades were honoured by the King the medal 
was also bestowed on a fine young detective, 
named Alfred Young, for his courage in arresting 
two armed burglars who tried to shoot him. Not 
long ago he was shot dead while doing his duty in 
arresting an ex-army officer, who was tried for 
murder, but was found guilty of manslaughter, 
and sentenced to twelve years' penal servitude. 



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