The Project Gutenberg EBook of Celebrated Claimants from Perkin Warbeck to
Arthur Orton, by Anonymous

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Title: Celebrated Claimants from Perkin Warbeck to Arthur Orton

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: August 8, 2005 [EBook #16486]

Language: English

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This book is intended much less to gratify a temporary curiosity than to fill an empty page in our literature. In our own and in other countries Claimants have been by no means rare. Wandering heirs to great possessions have not unfrequently concealed themselves for many years until their friends have forgotten them, and have suddenly and inopportunely reappeared to demand restitution of their rights; and unscrupulous rogues have very often advanced pretensions to titles and estates which did not appertain to them, in the hope that they would be able to deceive the rightful possessors and the legal tribunals. When such cases have occurred they have created more or less excitement in proportion to the magnitude of the claim, the audacity of the imposture, or the romance which has surrounded them. But the [IV] interest which they have aroused has been evanescent, and the only records which remain of the vast majority are buried in ponderous legal tomes, which are rarely seen, and are still more rarely read, by non-professional men. The compiler of the present collection has endeavoured to disinter the most noteworthy claims which have been made either to honours or property, at home or abroad, and, while he has passed over those which present few remarkable features, has spared no research to render his work as perfect as possible, and to supply a reliable history of those which are entitled to rank as causes célèbres. The book must speak for itself. It is put forward in the hope that, while it may serve to amuse the hasty reader in a leisure hour, it may also be deemed worthy of a modest resting-place in the libraries of those who like to watch the march of events, and who have the prudent habit, when information is found, of preserving a note of it.






Henry VI. was one of the most unpopular of our English monarchs. During his reign the nobles were awed by his austerity towards some members of their own high estate, and divided between the claims of Lancaster and York; and the peasantry, who cared little for the claims of the rival Roses, were maddened by the extortions and indignities to which they were subjected. The feebleness and corruption of the Government, and the disasters in France, combined with the murder of the Duke of Suffolk, added to the general discontent; and the result was, that in the year 1450 the country was ripe for revolution. In June of that year, and immediately after the death of Suffolk, a body of 20,000 of the men of Kent; assembled on Blackheath, under the leadership of a reputed Irishman, calling himself John Cade, but who is said in reality to have been an English physician named Aylmere. This person, whatever his real cognomen, assumed the name of Mortimer (with manifest allusion to the claims of the House of Mortimer to the succession), and forwarded two papers to the king, entitled "The Complaint of the Commons of Kent," and "The Requests of the Captain of the Great Assembly in Kent." Henry replied by despatching a small force against the rioters. Cade unhesitatingly gave battle to [10] the royal troops, and having defeated them and killed their leader, Sir Humphrey Stafford, at Seven Oaks, advanced towards London. Still preserving an appearance of moderation, he forwarded to the court a plausible list of grievances, asserting that when these were redressed, and Lord Say, the treasurer, and Cromer, the sheriff of Kent, had been punished for their malversations, he and his men would lay down their arms. These demands were so reasonable that the king's troops, who were far from loyal, refused to fight against the insurgents; and Henry, finding his cause desperate, retired for safety to Kenilworth, Lord Scales with a thousand men remaining to defend the Tower. Hearing of the flight of his majesty, Cade advanced to Southwark, which he reached on the 1st of July, and, the citizens offering no resistance, he entered London two days afterwards. Strict orders had been given to his men to refrain from pillage, and on the same evening they were led back to Southwark. On the following day he returned, and having compelled the Lord Mayor and the people to sit at Guildhall, brought Say and Cromer before them, and these victims of the popular spite were condemned, after a sham trial, and were beheaded in Cheapside. This exhibition of personal ill-will on the part of their chief seemed the signal for the commencement of outrages by his followers. On the next day the unruly mob began to plunder, and the citizens, repenting of their disloyalty, joined with Lord Scales in resisting their re-entry. After a sturdy fight, the Londoners held the position, and the Kentishmen, discouraged by their reverse, began to scatter. Cade, not slow to perceive the danger which threatened him, fled towards Lewis, but was overtaken by Iden, the sheriff of Kent, who killed him in a garden in which he had taken shelter. A reward of 1000 marks followed this deed of bravery. Some of the insurgents were afterwards executed as traitors; but the majority even of the ringleaders escaped unpunished, for Henry's seat upon the throne was so unstable, that it was deemed better to win the people by a manifestation of clemency, rather than to provoke them by an exhibition of severity.



After the downfall of the Plantagenet dynasty, and the accession of Henry VII. to the English throne, the evident favour shown by the king to the Lancastrian party greatly provoked the adherents of the House of York, and led some of the malcontents to devise one of the most extraordinary impostures recorded in history.

An ambitious Oxford priest, named Richard Simon, had among his pupils a handsome youth, fifteen years of age, named Lambert Simnel. This lad, who was the son of a baker, and, according to Lord Bacon, was possessed of "very pregnant parts," was selected to disturb the usurper's government, by appearing as a pretender to his crown. At first it was the intention of the conspirators that he should personate Richard, duke of York, the second son of Edward IV., who was supposed to have escaped from the assassins of the Tower, and to be concealed somewhere in England. Accordingly, the monk Simon, who was the tool of higher persons, carefully instructed young Simnel in the rôle which he was to play, and in a short time had rendered him thoroughly proficient in his part. But just as the plot was ripe for execution a rumour spread abroad that Edward Plantagenet, earl of Warwick, and only male heir of the House of York, had effected his escape from the Tower, and the plan of the imposture was changed. Simnel was set to learn another lesson, and in a very brief time had acquired a vast amount of information respecting the private life of the royal family, and the adventures of the Earl of Warwick. When he was accounted thoroughly proficient, he was despatched to Ireland in the company of Simon—the expectation of the plotters being that the imposition would be less likely to be detected on the other side of the channel, and that the English settlers in Ireland, who were known to be attached to the Yorkist cause, would support his pretensions.


These anticipations were amply fulfilled. On his arrival in the island, Simnel at once presented himself to the Earl of Kildare, then viceroy, and claimed his protection as the unfortunate Warwick. The credulous nobleman listened to his story, and repeated it to others of the nobility, who in time diffused it throughout all ranks of society. Everywhere the escape of the Plantagenet was received with satisfaction, and at last the people of Dublin unanimously tendered their allegiance to the pretender, as the rightful heir to the throne. Their homage was of course accepted, and Simnel was solemnly crowned (May 24, 1487), with a crown taken from an effigy of the Virgin Mary, in Christ Church Cathedral. After the coronation, he was publicly proclaimed king, and, as Speed tells us, "was carried to the castle on tall men's shoulders, that he might be seen and known." With the exception of the Butlers of Ormond, a few of the prelates, and the inhabitants of Waterford, the whole island followed the example of the capital, and not a voice was raised in protest, or a sword drawn in favour of King Henry. Ireland was in revolt.

When news of these proceedings reached London, Henry summoned the peers and bishops, and devised measures for the punishment of his secret enemies and the maintenance of his authority. His first act was to proclaim a free pardon to all his former opponents; his next, to lead the real Earl of Warwick in procession from the Tower to St. Paul's, and thence to the palace of Shene, where the nobility and gentry had daily opportunities of meeting him and conversing with him. Suspecting, not without cause, that the Queen-Dowager was implicated in the conspiracy, Henry seized her lands and revenues, and shut her up in the Convent of Bermondsey. But he failed to reach the active agents; and although the English people were satisfied that the Earl of Warwick was still a prisoner, the Irish persisted in their revolt, and declared that the person who had been shown to the public at St. Paul's was a counterfeit. By the orders of the Government a strict watch was kept at the English ports, that fugitives, malcontents, or suspected persons [13] might not pass over into Ireland or Flanders; and a thousand pounds reward was offered to any one who would present the State with the body of the sham Plantagenet.

Meanwhile John, earl of Lincoln, whom Richard had declared heir to the throne, and whom Henry had treated with favour, took the side of the pretender, and having established a correspondence with Sir Thomas Broughton of Lancashire, proceeded to the court of Margaret, dowager-duchess of Burgundy—a woman described by Lord Bacon as "possessing the spirit of a man and the malice of a woman," and whose great aim it was to see the sovereignty of England once more held by the house of which she was a member. She readily consented to abet the sham Earl of Warwick, and furnished Lincoln and Lord Lovel with a body of 2000 German veterans, commanded by an able officer named Martin Schwartz. The countenance given to the movement by persons of such high rank, and the accession of this military force, greatly raised the courage of Simnel's Irish adherents, and led them to conceive the project of invading England, where they believed the spirit of disaffection to be as general as it was in their own island.

The news of the intended invasion came early to the ears of King Henry, who promptly prepared to resist it. Having always felt or affected great devotion, after mustering his army, he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, famous for miracles, and there offered up prayers for success and for the overthrow of his enemies. Being informed that Simnel and his gathering had landed at Foudrey, in Lancashire, the king advanced to Coventry to meet them. The rebels had anticipated that the disaffected provinces of the north would rise and join them, but in this they were disappointed; for the cautious northerners were not only convinced of Simnel's imposture, but were afraid of the king's strength, and were averse to league themselves with a horde of Irishmen and Germans. The Earl of Lincoln, therefore, who commanded the invading force, finding no hopes but in victory, determined to bring the [14] matter to a speedy decision. The hostile armies met at Stoke, in Nottinghamshire, and after a hardly-contested day, the victory remained with the king. Lincoln, Broughton, and Schwartz perished on the field of battle, with four thousand of their followers. As Lord Lovel was never more heard of, it was supposed that he shared the same fate. Lambert Simnel, with his tutor the monk Simon, were taken prisoners. The latter, as an ecclesiastic, escaped the doom he merited, and, not being tried at law, was only committed to close custody for the rest of his life. As for Simnel, when he was questioned, he revealed his real parentage; and being deemed too contemptible to be an object either of apprehension or resentment, Henry pardoned him, and made him first a scullion in the royal kitchen, and afterwards promoted him to the lofty position of a falconer.


Although Lambert Simnel's enterprise had miscarried, Margaret, dowager-duchess of Burgundy, did not despair of seeing the crown of England wrested from the House of Lancaster, and determined at least to disturb King Henry's government if she could not subvert it. To this end she sedulously spread abroad a report that Richard, duke of York, the second son of Edward IV., had escaped the cruelty of his uncle Richard III., and had been set at liberty by the assassins who had been sent to despatch him. This rumour, although improbable, was eagerly received by the people, and they were consequently prepared to welcome the new pretender whenever he made his appearance.

After some search, the duchess found a stripling whom she thought had all the qualities requisite to personate the unfortunate prince. This youth is described as being "of visage beautiful, of countenance majestical, [15] of wit subtile and crafty; in education pregnant, in languages skilful; a lad, in short, of a fine shape, bewitching behaviour, and very audacious." The name of this admirable prodigy was Peterkin, or Perkin Warbeck, and he was the son of John Warbeck, a renegade Jew of Tournay. Some writers, and among others Lord Bacon, suggest that he had certain grounds for his pretensions to royal descent, and hint that King Edward, in the course of his amorous adventures, had been intimate with Catherine de Faro, Warbeck's wife; and Bacon says "it was pretty extraordinary, or at least very suspicious, that so wanton a prince should become gossip in so mean a house." But be this as it may, the lad was both handsome and crafty, and was well suited for the part which he was destined to play.

Some years after his birth, the elder Warbeck returned to Tournay, carrying the child with him; but Perkin did not long remain in the paternal domicile, but by different accidents was carried from place to place, until his birth and fortunes became difficult to trace by the most diligent inquiry. No better tool could have been found for the ambitious Duchess of Burgundy; and when he was brought to her palace, she at once set herself to instruct him thoroughly with respect to the person whom he was to represent. She so often described to him the features, figures, and peculiarities of his deceased—or presumedly deceased—parents, Edward IV. and his queen, and informed him so minutely of all circumstances relating to the family history, that in a short time he was able to talk as familiarly of the court of his pretended father as the real Duke of York could have done. She took especial care to warn him against certain leading questions which might be put to him, and to render him perfect in his narration of the occurrences which took place while he was in sanctuary with the queen, and particularly to be consistent in repeating the story of his escape from his executioners. After he had learnt his lesson thoroughly, he was despatched under the care of Lady Brampton to Portugal, there to wait till the fitting time arrived for his presentation to the English people.


At length, when war between France and England was imminent, a proper opportunity seemed to present itself, and he was ordered to repair to Ireland, which still retained its old attachment to the House of York. He landed at Cork, and at once assuming the name of Richard Plantagenet, succeeded in attracting many partizans. The news of his presence in Ireland reached France; and Charles VIII., prompted by the Burgundian duchess, sent him an invitation to repair to Paris. The chance of recognition by the French king was too good to be idly cast away. He went, and was received with every possible mark of honour. Magnificent lodgings were provided for his reception; a handsome pension was settled upon him; and a strong guard was appointed to secure him against the emissaries of the English king. The French courtiers readily imitated their master, and paid the respect to Perkin which was due to the real Duke of York; and he, in turn, both by his deportment and personal qualities, well supported his claims to a royal pedigree. For a time nothing was talked of but the accomplishments, the misfortunes, and the adventures of the young Plantagenet; and the curiosity and credulity of England became thoroughly aroused by the strange tidings which continued to arrive from France. Sir George Nevill, Sir John Taylor, and many English gentlemen who entertained no love for the king, repaired to the French capital to satisfy themselves as to the pretensions of this young man; and so well had Warbeck's lesson been acquired, that he succeeded in convincing them of his identity, and in inducing them to pledge themselves to aid him in his attempt to recover his inheritance.

About this time, however, the breach between France and England was lessened, and when friendly relations were restored, Henry applied to have the impostor put into his hands. Charles, refusing to break faith with a youth who had come to Paris by his own solicitation, refused to give him up, and contented himself with ordering him to quit the kingdom. Warbeck thereupon in all haste repaired to the court of Margaret of Burgundy; [17] but she at first astutely pretended ignorance of his person and ridiculed his claims, saying that she had been deceived by Simnel, and was resolved never again to be cajoled by another impostor. Perkin, who admitted that she had reason to be suspicious, nevertheless persisted that he was her nephew, the Duke of York. The duchess, feigning a desire to convict him of imposture before the whole of her attendants, put several questions to him which she knew he could readily answer, affected astonishment at his replies, and, at last, no longer able to control her feelings, "threw herself on his neck, and embraced him as her nephew, the true image of Edward, the sole heir of the Plantagenets, and the legitimate successor to the English throne." She immediately assigned to him an equipage suited to his supposed rank, appointed a guard of thirty halberdiers to wait upon him, and gave him the title of "The White Rose of England"—the symbol of the House of York.

When the news reached England, in the beginning of 1493, that the Duke of York was alive in Flanders, and had been acknowledged by the Duchess of Burgundy, many people credited the story; and men of the highest rank began to turn their eyes towards the new claimant. Lord Fitzwater, Sir Simon Mountfort, and Sir Thomas Thwaites, made little secret of their inclination towards him; Sir William Stanley, King Henry's chamberlain, who had been active in raising the usurper to the throne, was ready to adopt his cause whenever he set foot on English soil, and Sir Robert Clifford and William Barley openly gave their adhesion to the pretender, and went over to Flanders to concert measures with the duchess and the sham duke. After his arrival, Clifford wrote to his friends in England, that knowing the person of Richard, duke of York, perfectly well, he had no doubt that this young man was the prince himself, and that his story was compatible with the truth. Such positive intelligence from a person of Clifford's rank greatly strengthened the popular belief, and the whole English nation was seriously discomposed and gravely disaffected towards the king.


When Henry was informed of this new plot, he set himself cautiously but steadily and resolutely to foil it. His first object was to ascertain the reality of the death of the young prince, and to confirm the opinion which had always prevailed with regard to that event. Richard had engaged five persons to murder his nephews—viz., Sir James Tirrel, whom he made custodian of the Tower while his nefarious scheme was in course of execution, and who had seen the bodies of the princes after their assassination; Forrest, Dighton, and Slater, who perpetrated the crime; and the priest who buried the bodies. Tirrel and Dighton were still alive; but although their stories agreed, as the priest was dead, and as the bodies were supposed to have been removed by Richard's orders, and could not be found, it was impossible to prove conclusively that the young princes really had been put to death.

By means of his spies, Henry, after a time, succeeded in tracing the true pedigree of Warbeck, and immediately published it for the satisfaction of the nation. At the same time he remonstrated with the Archduke Philip on account of the protection which was afforded to the impostor, and demanded that "the theatrical king formed by the Duchess of Burgundy" should be given up to him. The ambassadors were received with all outward respect, but their request was refused, and they were sent home with the answer, that "the Duchess of Burgundy being absolute sovereign in the lands of her dowry, the archduke could not meddle with her affairs, or hinder her from doing what she thought fit." Henry in resentment cut off all intercourse with the Low Countries, banished the Flemings, and recalled his own subjects from these provinces. At the same time, Sir Robert Clifford having proved traitorous to Warbeck's cause, and having revealed the names of its supporters in England, the king pounced upon the leading conspirators. Almost at the same instant he arrested Fitzwater, Mountfort, and Thwaites, together with William D'Aubeney, Thomas Cressener, Robert Ratcliff, and Thomas Astwood. Lord Fitzwater was sent as a prisoner to Calais with some hopes of [19] pardon; but being detected in an attempt to bribe his gaolers, he was beheaded. Sir Simon Mountfort, Robert Ratcliff, and William D'Aubeney were tried, condemned, and executed, and the others were pardoned.

Stanley, the chamberlain, was reserved for a more impressive fate. His domestic connection with the king and his former services seemed to render him safe against any punishment; but Henry, thoroughly aroused by his perfidy, determined to bring the full weight of his vengeance upon him. Clifford was directed to come privately to England, and cast himself at the foot of the throne, imploring pardon for his past offences, and offering to condone his folly by any services which should be required of him. Henry, accepting his penitence, informed him that the only reparation he could now make was by disclosing the names of his abettors; and the turncoat at once denounced Stanley, then present, as, his chief colleague. The chamberlain indignantly repudiated the accusation; and Henry, with well-feigned disbelief, begged Clifford to be careful in making his charges, for it was absolutely incredible "that a man, to whom he was in a great measure beholden for his crown, and even for his life; a man to whom, by every honour and favour, he had endeavoured to express his gratitude; whose brother, the Earl of Derby, was his own father-in-law; to whom he had even committed the trust of his person by creating him lord chamberlain; that this man, enjoying his full confidence and affection, not actuated by any motive of discontent or apprehension, should engage in a conspiracy against him." But Clifford persisted in his charges and statements. Stanley was placed under arrest, and was subsequently tried, condemned, and beheaded.

The fate of the unfortunate chamberlain, and the defection of Clifford, created the greatest consternation in the camp of Perkin Warbeck. The king's authority was greatly strengthened by the promptness and severity of his measures, and the pretender soon discovered that unless he were content to sink into obscurity, he must speedily make a bold move. Accordingly, having collected [20] a band of outlaws, criminals, and adventurers, he set sail for England. Having received intelligence that Henry was at that time in the north, he cast anchor off the coast of Kent, and despatched some of his principal adherents to invite the gentlemen of Kent to join his standard. The southern landowners, who were staunchly loyal, invited him to come on shore and place himself at their head. But the wary impostor was not to be entrapped so easily. He declined to trust himself in the hands of the well-disciplined bands which expressed so much readiness to follow him to death or victory; and the Kentish troops, despairing of success in their stratagem, fell upon such of his retainers as had already landed, and took 150 of them prisoners. These were tried, sentenced, and executed by order of the king, who was determined to show no lenity to the rebels. Perkin being an eye-witness of the capture of his people, immediately weighed anchor, and returned to Flanders.

Hampered, however, by his horde of desperadoes, he could not again settle quietly down under the protecting wing of the Duchess Margaret. Work and food had to be found for his lawless followers; and in 1495 an attempt was made upon Ireland, which still retained its preference for the House of York. But the people of Ireland had learnt a salutary lesson at the battle of Stoke, and Perkin, meeting with little success, withdrew to Scotland. At this time there was a coolness between the Scottish and English courts, and King James gave him a favourable reception, being so completely deceived by his specious story, that he bestowed upon him in marriage the beautiful and virtuous Lady Catherine Gordon, the daughter of the Earl of Huntly, and his own kinswoman. Not content with this, the King of Scots, with Perkin in his company, invaded England, in the hope that the adherents of the York family would rise in favour of the pretender. In this expectation he was disappointed, and what at first seemed likely to prove a dangerous insurrection ended in a mere border raid.

For a time Warbeck remained in Scotland; but when King James discovered that his continued presence at [21] his court completely prevented all hope of a lasting peace with England, he requested him to leave the country. The Flemings meanwhile had passed a law barring his retreat into the Low Countries. Therefore, after hiding for a time in the wilds of Ireland, he resolved to try the affections of the men of Cornwall. No sooner did he land at Bodmin, than the people crowded to his banners in such numbers, that the pretender, hopeful of success, took upon himself for the first time the title of Richard IV., king of England. Not to suffer the expectation of his followers to languish, he laid siege to Exeter; but the men of Exeter, having shut their gates in his face, waited with confidence for the coming of the king. Nor were they disappointed. The Lords D'Aubeney and Broke were despatched with a small body of troops to the relief of the city. The leading nobles offered their services as volunteers, and the king, at the head of a considerable army, prepared to follow his advanced guard. Perkin's followers, who numbered about 7000 men, would have stood by him; but the cowardly Fleming, despairing of success, secretly withdrew to the sanctuary of Beaulieu. The Cornish rebels accepted the king's clemency, and Lady Gordon, the wife of the pretender, fell into the hands of the royalists. To Henry's credit it must be mentioned that he did not visit the sins of the husband upon the poor deluded wife, but placed her in attendance upon the queen, and bestowed upon her a pension which she continued to enjoy throughout his reign, and even after his death.

It was a difficult matter to know how to deal with the impostor himself. It would have been easy to make the privileges of the church yield to reasons of state, and to take him by violence from the sanctuary; but at the same time it was wise to respect the rights of the clergy and the prejudices of the people. Therefore agents were appointed to treat with the counterfeit prince, and succeeded in inducing him, by promises that his life would be spared, to deliver himself up to King Henry. Once a captive, he was treated with derision rather than with extreme severity, and was led in a kind of mock triumph [22] to London. As he passed along the road, and through the streets of the city, men of all grades assembled to see the impostor, and cast ridicule upon his fallen fortunes; and the farce was ended by the publication of a confession in which Warbeck narrated his real parentage, and the chief causes of his presumption to royal honours.

But although his life was spared, he was still detained in custody. After a time he escaped from prison, and fled to the Priory of Sheen, near Richmond, where he desired the prior, who was a favourite with the king, to petition for his life and a pardon. If Henry had listened to the advice of his counsellors he would have taken advantage of the opportunity to rid himself of this persistent disturber of his peace; but he was content to give orders that "the knave should be taken out and set in the stocks." Accordingly, on the 14th of June 1499, Warbeck was exposed on a scaffold, erected in the Palace Court, Westminster, as he was on the day following at the Cross on Cheapside, and at both these places he read a confession of his imposture. Notwithstanding this additional disgrace, no sooner was he again under lock and key, than his restless spirit induced him to concoct another plot for liberty and the crown. Insinuating himself into the intimacy of four servants of Sir John Digby, lieutenant of the Tower, by their means he succeeded in opening a correspondence with the Earl of Warwick, who was confined in the same prison. The unfortunate prince listened readily to his fatal proposals, and a new plan was laid. Henry was apprised of it, and was not sorry that the last of the Plantagenets had thus thrust himself into his hands. Warbeck and Warwick were brought to trial, condemned, and executed. Perkin Warbeck died very penitently on the gallows at Tyburn. "Such," says Bacon, "was the end of this little cockatrice of a king." The Earl of Warwick was beheaded on Tower Hill, on the 28th of November 1499.



King Sebastian of Portugal, who inherited the throne in 1557, seems, even from his infancy, to have exhibited a remarkable love of warlike exercises, and at an early age to have given promise of distinguishing himself as a warrior. At the time of his accession, Portugal had lost much of her old military prestige; the Moors had proved too strong for her diminished armies; the four strongholds of Arzilla, Alcazar-Sequer, Saphin, and Azamor, had been wrested from her; and Mazagan, Ceuta, and Tangier alone remained to her of all her African possessions. Consequently, the tutors of the boy-king were delighted to see his warlike instinct, and carefully instilled into his mind a hatred of the Paynim conquerors.

The lesson was well learnt, and from the moment King Sebastian reached his 14th year (the period of his majority), it was evident that all his thoughts centred on an expedition to Africa, to revive the former glories of his house, and to extend his empire even beyond its former limits. In 1574 he set out, not to conquer the land, but simply to view it, and with youthful audacity landed at Tangier, accompanied by only 1500 men. Finding no opposition to his progress, he organized a hunting expedition among the mountains, and actually put his project into execution. The Moors, by this time thoroughly incensed by his audacity, mustered a force and attacked his escort, but he succeeded in beating them off, and escaped in safety to his ships, and reached his kingdom unharmed.

This peculiar reconnaissance only strengthened his resolution to wrest his former possessions from the Moslems; and although Portugal was impoverished and weak, he resolved at once to enter on a crusade against Muley Moluc and the Moors. The protests of his ministers were unheeded; he laid new and exorbitant imposts on his people, caused mercenaries to be levied in Italy and the Low Countries, and reluctantly persuaded [24] his uncle, Philip I. of Spain, to promise a contingent. His preparations being at last completed, and a regency established, he put to sea in June 1578. His armament consisted of 9000 Portuguese, 2000 Spaniards, 3000 Germans, and some 600 Italians—in all, about 15,000 men, with twelve pieces of artillery, embarked on fifty-five vessels.

On the 4th of August the opposing forces met. The Moorish monarch, who was stricken with a fatal disorder, was carried on a litter to the field, and died while struggling with his attendants, who refused to allow him to rush into the thick of the fight. The Portuguese were routed with great slaughter, notwithstanding the valour with which they were led by Don Sebastian. Two horses were killed under the Christian king; the steed on which he rode was exhausted, and the handful of followers who remained with him entreated him to surrender. Sebastian indignantly refused, and again dashed into the middle of the fray. From this moment his fate is uncertain. Some suppose that he was taken prisoner, and that his captors beginning to dispute among themselves as to the possession of so rich a prize, one of the Moorish officers slew him to prevent the rivalry ending in bloodshed. Another account, however, affirms that he was seen after the battle, alone and unattended, and apparently seeking some means of crossing the river. On the following day search was made for his body, Don Nuno Mascarcuhas, his personal attendant, having stated that he saw him put to death with his own eyes. At the spot which the Portuguese noble indicated, a body was found, which, though naked, Resende, a valet of Sebastian, recognised as that of his master. It was at once conveyed to the tent of Muley Hamet, the brother and successor of Muley Moluc, and was there identified by the captive Portuguese nobles. That their grief was sincere there could be no doubt; and the Moorish king having placed the royal remains in a handsome coffin, delivered them for a heavy ransom to the Spanish ambassador, by whom they were forwarded to Portugal, where they were buried with much pomp.


But although the nobles were well content to believe that Sebastian was dead, the mob were by no means equally satisfied that the story of his fate was true, and were prepared to receive any impostor with open arms. Indeed, in some parts of Portugal, Don Sebastian is supposed by the populace to be still alive, concealed like Roderick the Goth, or our own Arthur, in some hermit's cell, or in some enchanted castle, until the fitting time for his re-appearance arrives, when he will break the spell which binds him, and will restore the faded glory of the nation. During the incursions of Bonaparte, his appearance was anxiously expected, but he delayed the day of his coming. But if the real Sebastian remains silent, there have been numerous pretenders to his throne and his name.

In 1585 a man appeared who personated the dead king. He was a native of Alcazova, and a person of low birth and still lower morals. In his earlier days he had been admitted into the monastic society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but had been expelled from the fraternity on account of his misconduct. Even in his later life, when, by pretended penitence, he succeeded in gaining re-admission, his vices were found so far to outweigh his virtues and his piety that it was necessary again to confide him to the tender mercies of a sacrilegious world. He fled to the hermitage of Albuquerque, and there devotees visited him. Widows and full-blooded donnas especially frequented his cell; and the results of his exercises were such that the Alcalde threatened to lay hands upon him. Once more he disappeared, but only to turn up again in the guise of Don Sebastian. Two of his accomplices who mixed among the people pointed out his resemblance to the lost monarch: the credulous crowd swallowed the story, and he soon had a respectable following. Orders from Lisbon, however, checked his prosperous career. He was arrested and escorted by 100 horsemen to the dungeons of the capital. There he was tried and condemned to death. The sentence was not, however, carried into effect; for the imposture was deemed too transparent to merit the [26] infliction of the extreme penalty. The prisoner was carried to the galleys instead of the scaffold, and exhibited to visitors as a contemptible curiosity rather than as a dangerous criminal. So ended the first sham Sebastian.

In the same year another pretender appeared. This was Alvarez, the son of a stone-cutter, and a native of the Azores. So far from originating the imposture, it seems to have been thrust upon him. Like the youth of Alcazova, after being a monk, he had become a hermit, and thousands of the devout performed pilgrimages to his cell, which was situated on the sea-coast, about two miles from Ericeira. The frequency and severity of his penances gained him great celebrity, and at last it began to be rumoured abroad that the recluse was King Sebastian, who, by mortifying his own flesh, was atoning for the calamity he had brought upon his kingdom. At first he repudiated all claim to such distinction; but after a time his ambition seems to have been aroused; he ceased to protest against the homage of the ignorant, and consented to be treated as a king. Having made up his mind to the imposture, Alvares resolved to carry it out boldly. He appointed officers of his household, and despatched letters, sealed with the royal arms, throughout the kingdom, commanding his subjects to rally round his standard and aid him in restoring peace and prosperity to Portugal. The local peasantry, in answer to the summons, hastened to place themselves at his service, and were honoured by being allowed to kiss his royal hand. Cardinal Henrique, the regent, being informed of his proceedings, despatched an officer with a small force to arrest this new disturber of the public tranquillity; but on the approach of the troops Alvares and his followers took to the mountains. The cardinal's representative, unable to pursue them into their inaccessible fastnesses, left the alcalde of Torres Vedras at Ericeira with instructions to capture the impostor dead or alive, and himself set out for Lisbon. He had scarcely reached the plain when Alvares, at the head of 700 men, swooped down upon the town and took the alcalde and his soldiers prisoners. He next wrote to the cardinal [27] regent, ordering him to quit the palace and the kingdom. He then set out for Torres Vedras, intending to release the criminals confined there, and with their assistance to seize Cintra, and afterwards to attack the capital. On the march he threw the unfortunate alcalde and the notary of Torres Vedras, who had been captured at the same time, over a high cliff into the sea, and executed another government official who had the misfortune to fall into his clutches. The corregedor Fonseca, who was not far off, hearing of these excesses, immediately started at the head of eighty horsemen to oppose the rebel progress. Wisely calculating that if he appeared with a larger force Alvares would again flee to the hills, he ordered some companies to repair in silence to a village in the rear, and aid him in case of need. He first encountered a picked band of 200 rebels, whom he easily routed; and then, being joined by his reinforcements, fell upon the main body, which his also dispersed. Alvares succeeded in escaping for a time, but at last he was taken and brought to Lisbon. Here, after being exposed to public infamy, he was hanged amid the jeers of the populace.

Nine years later, in 1594, another impostor appeared, this time in Spain, under the very eyes of King Philip, who had seized the Portuguese sovereignty. Again an ecclesiastic figured in the plot; but on this occasion he concealed himself behind the scenes, and pulled the strings which set the puppet-king in motion. Miguel dos Santos, an Augustinian monk, who had been chaplain to Sebastian, after his disappearance espoused the cause of Don Antonio, and conceived the scheme of placing his new patron on the Lusitanian throne, by exciting a revolution in favour of a stranger adventurer, who would run all the risks of the rebellion, and resign his ill-gotten honours when the real aspirant appeared. He found a suitable tool in Gabriel de Spinosa, a native of Toledo. This man resembled Sebastian, was naturally bold and unscrupulous, and was easily persuaded to undertake the task of personating the missing monarch. The monk, Dos Santos, who was confessor to the nunnery of [28] Madrigal, introduced this person to one of the nuns, Donna Anna of Austria, a niece of King Philip, and informed her that he was the unfortunate King of Portugal. The lady, believing her father-confessor, loaded the pretender with valuable gifts; presented him with her jewels; and was so attracted by his appearance that it was said she was willing to break her vows for his sake, and to share his throne with him. Unfortunately for the conspirators, before the plot was ripe, Spinosa's indiscretion ruined it. Having repaired to Valladolid to sell some jewels, he formed a criminal acquaintance with a female of doubtful repute, who informed the authorities that he was possessed of a great number of gems which she believed to be stolen. He was arrested, and on his correspondence being searched, the whole scheme was discovered. The rack elicited a full confession, and Spinosa was hung and quartered. Miguel dos Santos shared the same fate; but the Donna Anna, in consideration of her birth, was spared and condemned to perpetual seclusion.

The list of pretenders to regal honours was not even yet complete. In 1598, a Portuguese noble was accosted in the streets of Padua by a tattered pilgrim, who addressed him by name, and asked if he knew him. The nobleman answered that he did not. "Alas! have twenty years so changed me," cried the stranger, "that you cannot recognise in me your missing king, Sebastian?" He then proceeded to pour his past history into the ears of the astonished hidalgo, narrating the chief events of the African battle, detailing the circumstances of his own escape, and mentioning the friends and events of his earlier life so fluently and correctly that his listener had no hesitation in accepting him as the true Sebastian. The news of the appearance of this pretender in Padua soon reached Portugal, and spread with unexampled rapidity throughout the country. Philip II. was gravely disturbed by the report, knowing that his own rule was unpopular, and that the people would be disposed to rally round any claimant who promised on his accession to the throne to relieve them from the heavy burdens [29] under which they groaned. He therefore lost no time in forestalling any attempt to oust him from the Portuguese sovereignty; and despatched a courier to Venice, demanding the interference of the authorities. The governor of Venice, anxious to please the powerful ruler of the Spanish peninsula, issued an order for the immediate expulsion of "the man calling himself Don Sebastian;" but the "man" had no intention of being disposed of in this summary manner. Immediately on receipt of the order he proceeded to Venice, presented himself at court, and declared himself ready to prove his identity. The Spanish minister, acting upon his instructions, denounced him as an impostor, and as a criminal who had been guilty of heinous offences, and demanded his arrest. He was thrown into prison; but when the charges of the Spanish minister were investigated, they failed signally, and no crime could be proven against him. At the solicitation of Philip, however, he was kept under arrest, and was frequently submitted to examination by the authorities, with a view of entrapping him into some damaging admission. At first he answered readily, and astonished his questioners by his intimate knowledge of the inner life of the Portuguese court, not only mentioning the names of Sebastian's ministers and the ambassadors who had been accredited to Lisbon, but describing their appearance and peculiarities, and recounting the chief measures of his government, and the contents of the letters which had been written by the king. At length, after cheerfully submitting to be examined on twenty-eight separate occasions, he grew tired of being pestered by his questioners, and refused to answer further interrogatories, exclaiming, "My Lords, I am Sebastian, king of Portugal! If you doubt it, permit me to be seen by my subjects, many of whom will remember me. If you can prove that I am an impostor, I am willing to suffer death."

The Portuguese residents in Italy entertained no doubt that the pretender was their countryman and their monarch, and made most strenuous exertions to procure his release. One of their number, Dr. Sampajo, [30] a man of considerable eminence, and of known probity, personally interceded with the governor of Venice on his behalf. He was told that the prisoner could only be released upon the most ample and satisfactory proof of his identity; and Sampajo, confident that he could procure the necessary evidence, set out forthwith for Portugal. After a brief stay in Lisbon, he returned with a mass of testimony corroborating the pretender's story; and, what was naturally considered of greater importance, with a list of the marks which were on the person of King Sebastian. The accused was stripped, and on his body marks were found similar to those which had been described to Dr. Sampajo. Still the authorities hesitated; and explained that in a matter of such importance, and where such weighty interests were involved, they could not act on the representations of a private individual; but if any of the European powers should demand the release of their prisoner it would be granted.

Nothing daunted by their failure, the believers in the claims of the so-called Sebastian endeavoured to enlist the sympathy of the foreign potentates on behalf of one of their own order who was unjustly incarcerated and deprived of his rights. In this they failed; but at last the government of Holland, which had no love for Philip, espoused the cause of his rival, and despatched an officer to Venice to see that justice was done. A day was appointed for the trial, and the prisoner being brought before the senate, presented his claims in writing. Witnesses came forward who swore that the person before them was indeed Sebastian, although he had changed greatly in the course of twenty years. Several scars, malformed teeth, moles, and other peculiarities which were known to be possessed by the king, were pointed out on the person of the pretender, and the evidence was decidedly favourable to his claims; when, on the fifth day of the investigation, a courier arrived from Spain, and presented a private message from King Philip. The proceedings were at once brought to a close; and, without further examination, the prisoner was liberated, and ordered to quit the Venetian territory in [31] three days. He proceeded to Florence, where he was again arrested by command of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The reason for this harsh treatment is not very clearly apparent, but it was probably instigated by the Spanish representative at the Florentine court; for no sooner did the news that he was in confinement reach Philip, than he demanded the delivery of the prisoner to his agents. The duke at first refused to comply with this request, but a threatened invasion of his dominions led him to reconsider his decision, and the unfortunate aspirant to the Portuguese sceptre was handed over to the Spanish officials. He was hurried to Naples, then an appanage of the Spanish crown, and was there offered his liberty if he would renounce his pretensions; but this he staunchly refused to do, saying, "I am Sebastian, king of Portugal, and have been visited by this severe punishment as a chastisement for my sins. I am content to die in the manner that pleases you best, but deny the truth I neither can nor will."

The Count de Lemnos, who had been the minister of Spain at Lisbon when Sebastian was on the throne, at that time was Viceroy of Naples, and naturally went to visit the pretended king in prison. After a brief interview, he unhesitatingly asserted that he had never seen the prisoner before; whereupon the pretended Sebastian exclaimed, "You say that you have no recollection of me, but I remember you very well. My uncle, Philip of Spain, twice sent you to my court, where I gave you such-and-such private interviews." Staggered by this intimate knowledge of his past life, De Lemnos hesitated for a minute or two, but at last ordered the gaoler to remove his prisoner, adding to his command the remark, "He is a rank impostor,"—a remark which called forth the stern rebuke, "No, Sir; I am no impostor, but the unfortunate King of Portugal, and you know it full well. A man of your station ought at all times to speak the truth or preserve silence!"

Whatever the real opinion of De Lemnos may have been, he behaved kindly to his prisoner, and treated him with no more harshness than was consistent with his [32] safe-keeping. Unfortunately, the life of the ex-ambassador was short, and his successor had no sympathy for the soidisant king. On the 1st of April 1602, he was taken from his prison and mounted upon an ass, and, with three trumpeters preceding him, was led through the streets, a herald proclaiming at intervals:—"His Most Catholic Majesty hath commanded that this man be led through the streets of Naples with marks of infamy, and that he shall afterwards be committed to serve in the galleys for life, for falsely pretending to be Don Sebastian, king of Portugal." He bore the ordeal firmly; and each time that the proclamation was made, added, in clear and sonorous tones, "And so I am!"

He was afterwards sent on board the galleys, and for a short time had to do the work of a galley slave; but as soon as the vessels were at sea he was released, his uniform was removed, and he was courteously treated. What ultimately became of him was never clearly ascertained, but it is certain that on more than one occasion he succeeded in confounding his opponents, and by his startling revelations of the past led many who would fain have disputed his identity to express their doubts as to the justice of his punishment. The probability is that he was a rogue, but he was a clever one. Rumour says he died in a Spanish fortress in 1606.


The reign of Catherine II. fills one of the darkest pages of Russian history. This lustful and ambitious empress waded to the throne through her husband's blood—bloodshed was necessary to establish her rule; infamous cruelties characterised her whole reign, and no princess ever succeeded in making herself more heartily detested by her subjects than the vicious daughter of Anhalt Zerbst. Plot after plot was concocted to oust her from [33] her high estate; and impostor after impostor appeared claiming the imperial purple; but the empress held her own easily, and suppressed each successive rebellion without difficulty, until Pugatscheff appeared at the head of the Cossacks, and threatened to hurl her from her throne, and dismember the empire.

Jemeljan Pugatscheff Was the son of Jemailoff Pugatscheff, a Cossack of the Don, and was born near Simonskaga. His father was killed on the field of battle, and left him to the care of an indifferent mother, who deserted him and sought the embraces of a second husband. An uncle, pitying the lad's desolation, carried him to Poland, where he picked up the French, Italian, German, and Polish languages, and distinguished himself by his aptitude for learning. After a time he returned to Russia, and took up his abode among the Cossacks of the Ukraine, who, attracted alike by his bodily vigour and his mental accomplishments, elected him one of their chiefs. He was not, however, contented with the comparative quiet of Cossack life, and longed for some greater excitement than was afforded by an occasional raid against the neighbouring tribes. Accordingly, taking advantage of the law promulgated by Peter III.,—that any Russian might leave the country and enter the service of any power not at war with the empire,—he entered the army of the King of Prussia. On the conclusion of peace he obtained a command in the Russian army, and served for a considerable time. At last his regiment was relieved, and Pugatscheff was allowed to return home. On his return he found the Cossacks of the Ukraine gravely dissatisfied with the government and the empire. The viciousness of the court had been reported to them; they were oppressed both by the clergy and the judges, and they only wanted a leader to break out into open revolt. Pugatscheff saw the golden opportunity, and presented himself. But spies were numerous, the garrisons were strong, and it was necessary to proceed with caution. In order the better to conceal his designs, he entered the service of a Cossack named Koshenikof, and after a short time succeeded in gaining [34] the adhesion of his master to his cause. The friends and kinsmen of Koshenikof were one by one, under oath of secrecy, informed of the plot, and by degrees the rebellious scheme was perfected. Pugatscheff was elected chief; and as he bore a strong resemblance to the murdered emperor, it was resolved that he should present himself to the people as Peter III. Accordingly, rumours were assiduously circulated that the emperor was still alive; that a soldier had been killed in his stead; and that although he was in hiding, he would shortly appear, and would avenge himself upon his enemies. Thousands listened and believed, and only waited for the first sign of success to join the movement. But the government was on the alert. Pugatscheff and his master were suspected and denounced; and while the latter was arrested, the former with difficulty escaped. In a few days, however, he succeeded in surrounding himself with 500 adherents, and marched at their head to the town of Jaizkoi, which he summoned to surrender. The answer was sent by 5000 Cossacks who had orders to take him prisoner. Strong in his faith in his fellow-countrymen, Pugatscheff advanced towards this formidable force, and caused one of his officers to present them with a manifesto explaining his claims, and his reasons for taking up arms. The general in command seized the document, but the men, who had no great love for the empress, insisted that it should be read. Their request was refused, and 500 of them at once deserted their standards and joined the ranks of the rebel chief. Alarmed by this defection, the Russian general withdrew to the citadel, while Pugatscheff encamped about a league off, hoping that further desertions would follow, and that the place would fall into his hands. In this he was disappointed; for his fellow-countrymen, although disloyal at heart, did not wish to commit themselves to a desperate undertaking which might involve them in ruin, and were disposed to wait until some success had attended the insurrection. The 500 who had precipitately chosen the rebellion had induced about a dozen of their officers to join them; but these men, suddenly repenting, refused to break their [35] oath of allegiance, and were at once hanged from the neighbouring trees. Finding further persuasion fruitless, Pugatscheff wisely refrained from any attempt to reduce the fortress, and marched his band towards Orenburg. On the way he secured large accessions to his force, and in a few days found himself at the head of 1500 men. With this army he attacked the fortified town of Iletzka, which offered no resistance—the garrison passing over to him. The commandant consented to share in the enterprise with his followers, but Pugatscheff wanted no commandants or men of intelligence who might interfere with his schemes, and gave orders for his immediate execution. The cannon captured at Iletzka were then pointed against Casypnaja, which yielded after a brief struggle. Thus fortress after fortress fell into the hands of the reputed emperor, who gladly received the common soldiery, but mercilessly slew their leaders.

By this time the news had spread abroad throughout Southern Russia that Peter III. was not dead, but was in arms for the recovery of his throne and for the redress of the grievances under which his people were suffering. Crowds of Cossacks heard the intelligence with joy, and hastened to cast in their lot with the army of Pugatscheff. Talischova, a powerful fortress, defended by 1000 regular troops, fell before his assault; and the false Peter soon found himself possessed of numerous strongholds, a formidable train of artillery, and a fighting force of 5000 men. Considering himself strong enough to attempt the reduction of Orenburg, the capital of the southern provinces, he marched against it. Here, however, he encountered a stubborn resistance, and attack after attack was repulsed with heavy loss. These repeated failures did not discourage the pretender or his adherents. The Cossacks continued to flock to his banners, and when General Carr, who had been despatched from Moscow to suppress the revolt, arrived in the neighbourhood of Orenburg, he found the rebel chief at the head of 16,000 soldiers. An advanced guard, which was sent to harass his movements, fell into the hands of Pugatscheff, who nearly exterminated it, and straightway hanged the officers [36] who were made captive, according to his usual custom. Emboldened by his success, he attacked the main body, and ignominiously defeated it in the open field; and Carr, panic-struck, fled to the capital, leaving General Freyman, if possible, to oppose the advance of the revolutionists. The result of this decisive victory was soon apparent. Province after province declared in favour of the pretender, chief after chief placed his sword at his service, and Pugatscheff began to play the emperor in earnest. He conferred titles upon his most distinguished officers, granted sealed commissions, and constructed foundries and powder manufactories in various places.

Catherine, by this time thoroughly alarmed, despatched another army to the Ukraine under General Bibikoff, an experienced and resolute officer. He arrived at Casan in February 1774, and issued a manifesto, exposing Pugatscheff's imposture, and calling upon the rebels to lay down their arms. Pugatscheff replied by another manifesto, declaring himself the Czar, Peter III., and threatening vengeance against all who resisted his just claims. He also caused coin to be impressed with his effigy, and the inscription "Redivivus et Ultor." In the meantime he continued to lay siege to Orenburg and Ufa. But Bibikoff was not a man to remain inactive, and lost no time in attacking him. Again and again he was defeated, the siege of the two strongholds was raised, and on more than one occasion his army was dispersed, and he was left at the head of only a few hundred followers. But, if the Cossack hordes could be easily dissipated, they could rally with equal ease; and on several occasions, when the rebellion seemed to be completely crushed, it suddenly burst out afresh, and Pugatscheff, who was supposed to be hiding like a hunted criminal, appeared at the head of a larger force than ever. Thus at one time scarcely 100 men followed him to a retreat in the Ural Mountains: in a few days he was at the head of 20,000 men, and took Casan by storm, with the exception of the citadel, which resisted his most determined attacks. Here he perpetrated the greatest atrocities, until the imperial troops arrived and wrested the town from [37] his grasp, seizing his artillery and his ammunition. For a time his position appeared desperate, and he fled across the Volga, but only to re-appear again at the head of an enormous force, and, as a conqueror, fortress after fortress yielding at his summons. At length a Russian army under Colonel Michelsohn overtook him and gave him battle. Pugatscheff held a strong position, had 24 pieces of artillery and 20,000 men, but his raw levies were no match for the regular troops. His position was turned, and a panic seized his followers, who deserted their guns and their baggage, and fled precipitately, leaving 2000 dead and 6000 prisoners behind them. Pugatscheff himself made for the Volga, closely pursued by the Russian cavalry, who cut down the half of his escort before they could embark. With sixty men he succeeded in escaping into the desert, and at last it was evident that his game was played out. The only three outlets were soon closed by separate detachments of the imperial troops, and the fugitives were thus confined in an arid waste without shelter, without provisions, and without water. The situation was so hopeless that each man only thought of saving himself, and Pugatscheff's companions were not slow to perceive that their sole chance of life lay in sacrificing their leader. Accordingly, they fell upon him while he was ravenously devouring a piece of horseflesh—the only food which he could command—and, having bound him, handed him over to his enemies. As Moscow had shown some sympathy for him, he was carried in chains to that city, and was there condemned to death. Several of his principal adherents likewise suffered punishment at the same time.

On the 23d of January 1775, Pugatscheff and his followers were led to the place of execution, where a large scaffold had been erected. Some had their tongues cut out, the noses of others were cut off, eighteen were knouted and sent to Siberia, and the chief was decapitated—his body being afterwards cut in pieces and exposed in different parts of the town. He met his fate with the utmost fortitude.



On the death of Feodor, son of Ivan the Terrible, the Russian throne was occupied by Boris Godunoff, who had contrived to procure the murder of Dimitri, or Demetrius, the younger brother of Feodor. For a time he governed well; but the crafty nobles beginning to plot against him, he had recourse to measures of extreme cruelty and severity, so that even the affections of the common people were alienated from him, and universal confusion ensued. Advantage was taken of this state of affairs by a monk named Otrefief, who bore an almost miraculous likeness to the murdered Dimitri, to assume the name of the royal heir. At first he proceeded cautiously, and, retiring to Poland, by degrees made public the marvellous tale of his wrongs and of his escape from his assassins. Many of the leading nobles listened to his recitals and believed them. In order to render his campaign more certain, the pretender set himself to learn the Polish language, and acquired it with remarkable rapidity. Nor did he rest here. He represented to the Poles that he was disposed to embrace the Catholic faith; and by assuring the Pope that if he regained the throne of his ancestors, his first care should be to recall his subjects to their obedience to Rome, he succeeded in securing the patronage and the blessing of the Pontiff. Sendomir, a wealthy boyard, not only espoused his cause, and gave him pecuniary help, but promised him his daughter Marina in marriage whenever he became the Czar of Muscovy. Marina herself was no less eager for the union, and through Sendomir's influence the support of the King of Poland was obtained.

News of the imposture soon reached Moscow, and Boris instantly denounced Dimitri as an impostor, and sent emissaries to endeavour to secure his arrest. In this, however, they were unsuccessful; and the false Dimitri not only succeeded in raising a considerable [39] force in Poland, but also in convincing the great mass of the Russian population that he really was the son of Ivan. In 1604 he appeared on the Russian frontier at the head of a small but efficient force, and overthrew the army which Boris had sent against him. His success was supposed by the ignorant peasantry to be entirely due to the interposition of Providence, which was working on the side of the injured prince, and Dimitri was careful to foster the delusion that his cause was specially favoured by heaven. He treated his prisoners with the greatest humanity, and ordered his followers to refrain from excesses, and to cultivate the goodwill of the people. The result was that his ranks rapidly increased, while those of the czar diminished. Even foreign governments began to view the offender with favour; and at last Boris, devoured by remorse for the crimes which he had committed, and by chagrin at the evil fate which had fallen upon him, lost his reason and poisoned himself.

The chief nobles assembled when the death of the czar was made known, and proclaimed his son Feodor emperor in his stead; but the lad's reign was very brief. The greater part of the army and the people declared in favour of Dimitri, and the citizens of Moscow having invited him to assume the reins of power, Dimitri made a triumphal entry into the capital, and was crowned with great pomp. At first he ruled prudently, and, had he continued as he began, might have retained his strangely acquired throne. But after a time he gave himself up to the gratification of his own wild passions, and lost the popularity which he really had succeeded in gaining. He disgusted the Russians by appointing numerous Poles, who had swelled his train, to the highest posts in the empire, to the exclusion of meritorious officers, who not only deserved well of their country, but also had claims upon himself for services which they had rendered. These Polish officers misconducted themselves sadly, and the people murmured sore. The czar, too, made no secret of his attachment to the Catholic faith; and while by so doing he irritated the clergy, he provoked the boyards by his haughty patronage, and disgusted the [40] common people by his cruelty and lewdness. At last the murmurs grew so loud and threatening, that some means had to be devised to quiet the popular discontent, and Dimitri had recourse to a strange stratagem. The widow of Ivan, who had long before been immured in a convent by the orders of Boris, and had been kept there by his successor, was released from her confinement, and was induced publicly to acknowledge Dimitri as her son. The widowed empress knew full well that her life depended upon her obedience; but notwithstanding her outward consent to the fraud, the people were not satisfied, and demanded proofs of Dimitri's birth, which were not forthcoming. Discontent continued to spread, and at length the popular fury could no longer be restrained. According to his promise, the sham czar married Marina, the daughter of the Polish boyard. The very fact that she was a Pole made her distasteful to the Russians; but that fact was rendered still more offensive by the manner of her entrance into the capital, and the treatment which the Muscovites received at the bridal ceremony. The bride was surrounded by a large retinue of armed Poles, who marched through the streets of Moscow with the mien of conquerors; the Russian nobles were excluded from all participation in the festivities; and the common people were treated by their emperor with haughty insolence, and held up to the scorn of his foreign guests. A report also became rife that a timber fort, which Dimitri had erected opposite the gates of the city, had been constructed solely for the purpose of giving the bloodthirsty Marina a martial spectacle, and that, sheltered behind its wooden walls, the Polish troops and the czar's bodyguard would throw firebrands and missiles among the crowds of spectators below. This idle rumour was carefully circulated; the clergy, who had long been disaffected, went from house to house denouncing the czar as a heretic, and calling an their countrymen to rise against the insolent traducer of their religion; and the secret of his birth and imposition was everywhere proclaimed. The people burst into open revolt, and, headed by the native prince Schnisky, rushed [41] to storm the imperial palace. The Polish troops broke their ranks and fled, and were massacred in the streets. Dimitri himself sought to escape by a private avenue in the confusion; but watchful enemies were lying in wait for him. He was overtaken and killed, and his body was exposed for three days in front of the palace, so that the mob might wreak their vengeance upon his inanimate clay. Marina and her father were captured, and after being detained for a little time were set at liberty.

By the death of the impostor, the throne was left vacant, and the privilege of electing a new czar reverted to the people. Schnisky, who had headed the revolt, made good use of his opportunity and popularity, and while the people were exulting over their success, contrived to secure the empire for himself. But when the heat of triumph died away, the nobles were chagrined because they had elevated one of their own number to rule over them, and the reaction against the new czar was as strong and as rapid as the extraordinary movement in his favour had been. The Muscovite nobles were determined to oust him from his newly-found dignities, and for this purpose adopted the strange expedient of reviving the dead Dimitri. It mattered little to them that the breathless carcase of the impostor had been seen by thousands. They presumed upon the gullibility of their countrymen, and, asserting that Dimitri had escaped and was prepared to come forward to claim his throne, endeavoured to stir up an insurrection. The cheat, however, was not popular, and the sham czar of the nobles never appeared.

But although the nobles failed in their attempt to foist another Dimitri upon their fellow-countrymen, the Poles, who were interested for their countrywoman Marina, were not discouraged from trying the same ruse. They produced a flesh-and-blood candidate for the Russian sceptre. This person was a Polish schoolmaster, who bore a striking likeness to the real Dimitri, and who was sufficiently intelligent to play his part creditably. To give a greater semblance of truth to their imposture, they succeeded in persuading Marina to abet [42] them; and not only did she openly assert that the new Dimitri was her husband, but she embraced him publicly, and actually lived with him as his wife.

At the time that this impostor appeared, Sigismund declared war against Russia, and his marshal Tolkiewski succeeded in inflicting a terrible defeat on Schnisky. Moscow yielded before the victorious Poles; and in despair Schnisky renounced the crown and retired into a monastery. But no sooner was the diadem vacant than a host of false Dimitris appeared to claim it, and the chief power was tossed from one party to another during a weary interregnum. At last, in 1609, Sigismund, who had remained at Smolensko while his marshal advanced upon Moscow, proclaimed his own son Vladislaf to the vacant sovereignty, and the pretended Dimitri sank into obscurity. Others, however, arose; and although some of them perished on the scaffold, it was not until 1616 that Russia was freed from the last of the disturbing impostors who attempted to personate princes of the race of Ivan the Terrible.


In the year 1640, there lived in Constantinople one Giovanni Jacobo Cesii, a Persian merchant of high repute throughout the Levant. This man, who was descended from a noble Roman family, was on most intimate terms with Jumbel Agha, the Sultan's chief eunuch, who sometimes gave him strange commissions. Among other instructions which the merchant received from the chief of the imperial harem, was an order to procure privately the prettiest girl he could find in the slave marts of Stamboul, where at this time pretty girls were by no means rare. Jumbel Agha intended this damsel as an adornment for his own household, and a personal companion for himself, and particularly specified [43] that to her beauty she should add modesty and virginity. Cesii executed his orders to the best of his ability, and procured for the bloated and lascivious Agha a Russian girl called Sciabas, as fair as a houri, and apparently as timid as a fawn. Unfortunately, notwithstanding her innocent demeanour, it only too soon became apparent that her virtue was not unimpeachable, and that ere long she would add yet another member to the household of her new master. Jumbel Agha, who was at first wroth with his pretty plaything, after the heat of his passion had passed, consented to forgive her if she would divulge the name of the father of her expected offspring; but the fair one, although frail, was firm, and despising alike threats and cajoleries, declined to give any hint as to its paternity. Thereupon her master handed her over to his major-domo to be re-sold for the best price she would fetch; but before she could be disposed of she was brought to bed of a goodly boy.

Some time after the child was born, the Agha, moved either by curiosity or compassion, expressed a strong desire to see it, and when it was brought into his presence, was so captivated by its appearance, that he loaded it with gifts, and gave orders that it should be sumptuously apparelled, and should remain with its mother in the house of the major-domo until he had decided as to its future fate. Just about this time the Grand Sultana had presented her Lord Ibrahim with a baby boy; and proving extremely weak after her delivery, it was found necessary to procure a wet-nurse for the heir to the sword and dominions of Othman. No better opportunity could have offered for Jumbel Agha. He at once introduced his disgraced slave and her "pretty by-blow" to his imperial mistress, who accepted the services of the mother without hesitation. For two years mother and child had their home in the grizzled old palace on Seraglio Point, until at last the Sultan began to display such a decided preference for the nurse's boy, that the jealousy of the Sultana was aroused, and she banished the offenders from her sight. Her anger was also excited against the unfortunate Agha, [44] who had been the means of introducing them into the harem, and she set herself to plot his ruin. Her dusky servitor was, however, sufficiently shrewd to perceive his danger, and begged Ibrahim's permission to resign his office, in order to undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca. At first his request was refused; for Jumbel Agha was a favourite slave, and whoever obtains leave to go the holy pilgrimage is ipso facto made free. But the chief eunuch having agreed to go as a slave, and to return to his post when he had performed his devotions, Ibrahim permitted him to set out.

A little fleet of eight vessels was ready to sail for Alexandria, and one of these was appropriated to Jumbel Agha and his household, amongst whom was his beautiful slave and her little son. After drifting about for some time in the inconstant breezes off the Syrian coast, they fell in with six galleys, which they at first supposed to be friendly ships of the Turkish fleet, but which ultimately proved Maltese cruisers, and showed fight. The Agha made a valiant resistance, and fell in the struggle, as did also Sciabas, the fair Russian—the cause of his journey and his misfortunes. The baby, however, was preserved alive; and when the Maltese boarded their prize, they were attracted by the gorgeously dressed child, and inquired to whom it belonged. The answer, given either in fear or in the hope of obtaining better treatment, was that he was the son of Sultan Ibrahim, and was on his way to Mecca, under the charge of the chief eunuch, to be circumcised. The captors, greatly exhilarated by the intelligence, at once made all sail for Malta, and there the glorious news was accepted without question. For a time the knights were so elated that they seriously began to consult together as to the possibility of exchanging the supposed Ottoman prince for the Island of Rhodes, which had slipped from their enfeebled grasp. The Grand Master of the Order and the Grand Croci had no doubt as to the genuineness of their captive, and wrote letters to Constantinople informing the Sultan where he might find his heir and his chief spouse, if he chose to comply with the Frankish [45] conditions. It is true that Sciabas was dead, but the worthy knights had recourse to subterfuge in dealing with the infidel, and had dressed up another slave to represent her. Portraits also were taken of the reputed mother and child, and were sent with descriptive letters to the European courts. The French and Italians eagerly purchased these representations of the beloved of the Grand Turk; but that mysterious being himself preserved an ominous silence. Even the knights of Malta, who hated him as a Mohammedan, nevertheless supposed that the Ottoman ruler was human, and when he made no effort to recover his lost ones, began to have some doubt as to the identity of the child of whom they made so much. In their dilemma they despatched a secret messenger to Constantinople, who contrived to ingratiate himself at the seraglio, and lost no opportunity of inquiring whether any of the imperial children were missing, and whether it were true that the Sultana had been captured by the Maltese some years before. Of course his researches were fruitless, and in 1650 he wrote to his employers assuring them that they had all the while been on a false scent. It was deemed best to let the imposture die slowly. Little by little the knights forbore to boast of their illustrious hostage; by degrees they lessened the ceremonials with which he had been treated, and at last neglected him altogether. He was made a Dominican friar; and the only mark of his supposed estate was the name Padre Ottomano, which was conferred upon him more in scorn than reverence, and which he continued to bear till the day of his death.


In the miscellaneous writings of John Evelyn, the diary-writer, there is an account of this extraordinary impostor, whose narration of his own adventures outshines [46] that of Munchausen, and whose experiences, according to his own showing, were more remarkable than those of Gulliver. In 1668 this marvellous personage published a book entitled the "History of Mohammed Bey; or, John Michel de Cigala, Prince of the Imperial Blood of the Ottomans." This work he dedicated to the French king, who was disposed to favour his pretensions.

In this remarkable book the pretender sums up the antiquity of the family of Cigala, entitling it to most of the crowns of Europe, and makes himself out to be the descendant of Scipio, son of the famous Viscount de Cigala, who was taken prisoner by the Turks in 1651. He pretends that Scipio, after his capture, was persuaded to renounce Christianity, and, having become a renegade, was advanced to various high offices at the Porte by Sultan Solyman the Magnificent. Under the name of Sinam Pasha, he asserts that his father became first general of the Janizaries, then seraskier, or commander-in-chief of the whole Turkish forces, and was finally created Grand Vizier of the empire. He also maintains that various illustrious ladies were bestowed as wives upon the new favourite; and among others the daughter of Sultan Achonet, who gave himself birth. According to his own story he was educated by the Moslem muftis in all the lore of the Koran, and by a series of strange accidents was advanced to the governorship of Palestine. Here, in consequence of a marvellous dream, he was converted, and was turned from his original purpose of despoiling the Holy Sepulchre of its beautiful silver lamps and other treasures. His Christianity was not, however, of that perfervid kind which demands an open avowal; and, continuing to outward appearance a Mussulman, he was promoted to the governorship of Cyprus and the islands. In this post he used his power for the benefit of the distressed Christians—redressing their, wrongs, and delivering such of them as had fallen into slavery. From Cyprus, after two years made brilliant by notable exploits (which no man ever heard of but himself), he was constituted Viceroy of Babylon, Caramania, [47] Magnesia, and other ample territories. At Iconium another miracle was performed for his benefit; and thus specially favoured of heaven, he determined openly to declare his conversion. At this important crisis, however, his father-confessor died, and all his good resolutions seem to have been abandoned. He repaired to Constantinople once more (still preserving the outward semblance of a true believer, and ever obedient to the muezzin's call), and was created Viceroy of Trebizonde and Generalissimo of the Black Sea. Before setting out for his new home on the shores of the Euxine, he had despatched a confidant named Chamonsi to Trebizonde in charge of all his jewels and valuables, and his intention was to seize the first opportunity of throwing off the yoke of the Grand Signior, and declaring himself a Christian. But Chamonsi proved faithless; and instead of repairing to the place of tryst, plotted with the Governor of Moldavia to seize his master. Mohammed Bey fell into the trap which they had prepared for him, but succeeded in making his escape, although grievously wounded, after a wonderful fight, in which he killed all his opponents. In his flight he met a shepherd who exchanged clothes with him, and in disguise and barefoot he contrived to reach the head-quarters of the Cossacks, who were at the time in arms against Russia.

In the Cossack camp there were three soldiers whom the quondam Ottoman general had released from captivity, and they, at once penetrating the flimsy disguise of the stranger, revealed him to their own commander in his true character. At first he was well treated by the Cossack chief, who was anxious that the honour of his baptism should appertain to the Eastern Greek Church; but our prince, designing from the beginning to make his solemn profession at Rome, and to receive that sacrament from the Pope's own hands, was neglected upon making his resolve known. He, therefore, stole away from the Cossacks, and, guided by a Jew, succeeded in reaching Poland, where the queen, hearing the report of his approach, and knowing his high rank, received him with infinite respect and at last persuaded him to condescend [48] to be baptized at Warsaw by the archbishop, she herself standing sponsor at the font, and bestowing upon him the name of John.

After his baptism and subsequent confirmation, this somewhat singular Christian set out on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Loretto, and afterwards proceeded to Rome, where he was received with open arms by Alexander VII. On his return journey through Germany he found that the emperor was at war with the Turks; and, without hesitation, espoused the Christian cause against the circumcised heathen, slaying the Turkish general with his own hand, and performing other stupendous exploits, of which he gives a detailed narration.

As a reward for his services the German emperor created him "Captain Guardian" of his artillery, and would have loaded him with further honours, but a roving spirit was upon him, and he started for Sicily to visit his noble friends who were resident in that island. On his route he was everywhere received with the utmost respect by the Princes of Germany and Italy; and when he arrived in Sicily, not only did Don Pedro d'Arragon house him in his own palace, but the whole city of Messina turned out to meet him, acknowledging his high position as a member of the noble house of Cigala, from which it seems the island had received many great benefits. Leaving Sicily he next came to Rome, into which he made a public entry, and was warmly received by Clement IX., before whom, in bravado, he drew and flourished his dreadful scimitar in token of his defiance of the enemies of the Church. At last, after touching at Venice and Turin, he arrived in Paris, where he was received by the king according to his high quality, and where he published the extraordinary narrative from which we have taken the above statements, and which honest John Evelyn, who was roused by his appearance in England, sets himself to disprove.

Right willingly does Evelyn devote himself to the task of stripping the borrowed feathers from this fine jackdaw. After inaugurating his work by quoting the Horatian [49] sneer, "Spectatum admissi risum teneatis, amici?" he at once plunges in medias res, and not mincing his language, says:—"This impudent vagabond is a native of Wallachia, born of Christian parents in the city of Trogovisti;" and throughout his exposure employs phrases which are decidedly more forcible than polite. From Evelyn's revelation it appears that the family of the pretended Cigala were at one time well-to-do, and ranked high in the esteem of Prince Mathias of Moldavia, but that this youth was a black sheep in the flock from the very beginning. After the death of his father he had a fair chance of distinguishing himself, for the Moldavian prince took him into his service, and sent him to join his minister at Constantinople. Here he might have risen to some eminence; but he was too closely watched to render his life agreeable, and after a brief sojourn in the Turkish capital returned to his native land. Here he became intimately acquainted with a married priest of the Greek Church, and made love to his wife; but the woman, the better to conceal the familiarity which existed between herself and the young courtier, led her husband to believe that he had an affection for her daughter, of which she approved. The simple ecclesiastic credited the story; until it became apparent that the stranger's practical fondness extended to the mother as well as the daughter, and that he had taken advantage of the hospitality which was extended to him to debauch all the priest's womankind. A complaint was laid before Prince Mathias, who would have executed him if he had not fled to the shores of the Golden Horn. He remained in Constantinople until the death of the Moldavian ruler, when he impudently returned to Wallachia, thinking that his former misdemeanours had been forgotten, and hoping to be advanced to some prominent post during the general disarrangement of affairs. His identity was, however, discovered; his old crimes were brought against him; and he only escaped the executioner's sword by flight. For the third time Constantinople became his home, and on this occasion he embraced the Moslem faith, hoping to secure his advancement thereby. The Turks, however, [50] viewed the renegade with suspicion, and treated him with neglect. Therefore, driven by starvation, he ranged from place to place about Christendom, and in countries where he was utterly unknown concocted and published the specious story of his being so nearly related to the Sultan, and succeeded in deceiving many. Of his ultimate fate nothing is known.


In the beginning of the year 1748, a small French merchantman, which was bound from Rochelle to Martinique, was so closely chased by the British cruisers that the captain and crew were compelled to take to their boat. By so doing they avoided the fate of the ship and cargo, which fell a prey to the pursuers, and succeeded in effecting a safe landing at Martinique. In their company was a solitary passenger—a youth of eighteen or nineteen summers, whose dignified deportment and finely-cut features betokened him of aristocratic lineage. His name, as given by himself, was the Count de Tarnaud, and his father, according to his own showing, was a field-marshal in the French service; but the deference with which he was treated by his shipmates seemed to suggest that his descent was even more illustrious, and his dignity loftier than that to which he laid claim. He was unattended, save by a sailor lad to whom he had become attached after his embarkation. This youth, called Rhodez, treated him with the utmost deference, and, while on an intermediate footing between friendship and servitude, was careful never to display the slightest familiarity.

This strangely assorted couple had no sooner landed upon the island than the pseudo De Tarnaud asked to be directed to the house of one of the leading inhabitants, and was referred to Duval Ferrol, an officer, whose residence was situated near the spot at which he had come [51] on shore. This gentleman, attracted by the appearance of the youth, and sympathising with his misfortunes, at once offered him a home, and De Tarnaud and Rhodez took up their abode at the maison Ferrol. The hospitable advances of its proprietor were received by his new guest in a kindly spirit, yet more as due than gratuitous; and this air of superiority, combined with the extreme deference of Rhodez, aroused curiosity. The captain of the vessel which had brought the distinguished guest was questioned as to his real name, but professed himself unable to give any information beyond stating that the youth had been brought to him at Rochelle by a merchant, who had privately recommended him to treat him with great attention, as he was a person of distinction.

Ample scope was, therefore, left for the curiosity and credulity of the inhabitants of Martinique, who at this time were closely blockaded by the English, and were sadly in want of some excitement to relieve the monotony of their lives. Every rumour respecting the stranger was eagerly caught up and assiduously disseminated by a thousand gossips, and, as statement after statement and canard after canard got abroad, he rose higher and higher in popular repute. No one doubted that he was at least a prince; and why he had elected to come to Martinique at such an inconvenient season nobody stopped to inquire.

As far as could be made out from the disjointed stories which were afloat, this mysterious individual had been seen to arrive at Rochelle some time before the date of his embarkation. He was then accompanied by an old man, who acted as a sort of mentor. On their arrival they established themselves in private lodgings, in which the youth remained secluded, while his aged friend frequented the quays on the look-out for a ship to convey his companion to his destination. When one was at last found he embarked, leaving his furniture as a present to his landlady, and generally giving himself the air of a man of vast property, although at the time possessed of very slender resources; and that he really was a person of distinction and wealth the colonists were prepared to believe. [52] They only awaited the time when he chose to reveal himself to receive him with acclamations.

After treating him hospitably for some time, Duval Ferrol precipitated matters by informing his strange guest, that as he did not know anything of his past life, and was himself only a subaltern, he had been under the necessity of informing his superior officers of his presence, and that the king's lieutenant who commanded at Port Maria desired to see him. The young man immediately complied with this request, and presented himself to the governor as the Count de Tarnaud. M. Nadau (for such was the name of this official) had of course heard the floating rumours, and was resolved to penetrate the mystery. He therefore received his visitor with empressement, and offered him his hospitality. The offer was accepted, but again rather as a matter of right than of generosity, and the young count and Rhodez became inmates of the house of the commandant.

Two days after young Taraud's removal to the dwelling of Nadau, the latter was entertaining some guests, when, just as they were sitting down to dinner, the count discovered that he had forgotten his handkerchief, on which Rhodez got up and fetched it. Such an occurrence would have passed without comment in France; but in Martinique, where slavery was predominant, and slaves were abundant, such an act of deference from one white man to another was noted, and served to strengthen the opinions which had already been formed respecting the stranger. During the course of the meal also, Nadau received a letter from his subordinate, Duval Ferrol, to the following effect:—"You wish for information relative to the French passenger who lodged with me some days; his signature will furnish more than I am able to give. I enclose a letter I have just received from him." This enclosure was merely a courteous and badly-composed expression of thanks; but it was signed Est, and not De Tarnaud. As soon as he could find a decent excuse, the excited commandant drew aside one of his more intimate friends, and communicated to him the surprising discovery which he had made, at the same time urging him to convey [53] the information to the Marquis d'Eragny, who lived at no great distance. The marquis had not risen from table when the messenger arrived, and disclosed to those who were seated with him the news which he had just received. A reference to an official calendar or directory showed that Est was a princely name, and the company at once jumped to the conclusion that the mysterious stranger was no other than Hercules Renaud d'Est, hereditary Prince of Modena, and brother of the Duchess de Penthièvre. The truth of this supposition was apparently capable of easy proof, for one of the company, named Bois-Fermé, the brother-in-law of the commandant, asserted that he was personally well acquainted with the prince, and could recognise him anywhere. Accordingly, after a few bottles of wine had been drunk, the whole company proceeded uproariously to Radau's, where Bois-Fermé (who was a notorious liar and braggart) effusively proclaimed the stranger to be the hereditary Prince of Modena. The disclosure thus boisterously made seemed to offend, rather than give pleasure to, the self-styled Count de Tarnaud, who, while not repudiating the title applied to him, expressed his dissatisfaction at the indiscretion which had revealed him to the public.

At this time the inhabitants of Martinique were in a very discontented and unhappy position. Their coast was closely blockaded by the English fleet, provisions were extremely scarce, and the necessities of the populace were utilised by unscrupulous officials who amassed riches by victimising those who had been placed under their authority. The Marquis de Caylus, governor of the Windward Islands, was one of the most rapacious of these harpies; and although, perhaps, he was more a tool in the hands of others than an independent actor, the feeling of the people was strong against him, and it was hoped that the newly-arrived prince would supersede him, and redress the grievances which his maladministration had created. Accordingly Nadau, who entertained a private spite against De Caylus, lost no time in representing the infamy of the marquis, and was comforted [54] by the assurance of his youthful guest, that he would visit those who had abused the confidence of the king with the severest punishment, and not only so, but would place himself at the head of the islands to resist any attempt at invasion by the English.

These loyal and generous intentions, which Nadau did not fail to make public, increased the general enthusiasm, and rumours of the plot which was hatching reached Fort St. Pierre, where the Marquis de Caylus had his headquarters. He at once sent a mandate to Nadau, ordering the stranger before him. A message of similar purport was also sent to the youth himself, addressed to the Count de Tarnaud. Upon receiving it he turned to the officers who had brought it, saying—"Tell your master that to the rest of the world I am the Count de Tarnaud, but that to him I am Hercules Renaud d'Est. If he wishes to see me let him come half-way. Let him repair to Fort Royal in four or five days. I will be there."

This bold reply seems to have completely disconcerted De Caylus. He had already heard of the stranger's striking resemblance to the Duchess de Penthièvre, and the assumption of this haughty tone to an officer of his own rank staggered him. He set out for Fort Royal, but changed his mind on the way, and returned to St. Pierre. The prince, on the other hand, kept his appointment, and not finding the marquis, proceeded to Fort St. Pierre, which he entered in triumph, attended by seventeen or eighteen gentlemen. The governor caught a glimpse of him as he passed through the streets, and exclaimed "that he was the very image of his mother and sister," and in a panic quitted the town. Nothing could have been more fortunate than his flight. The prince assumed all the airs of royalty, and proceeded to establish a petty court, appointing state officers to wait upon him. The Marquis d'Eragny he created his grand equerry; Duval Ferrol and Laurent 'Dufont were his gentlemen-in-waiting; and the faithful Rhodez was constituted his page. Regular audiences were granted to those who came to pay their respects to him, or to present memorials or petitions, and for a time [55] Martinique rejoiced in the new glory which this illustrious presence shed upon it.

It so happened that the Duc de Penthièvre was the owner of considerable estates in the colony, which were under the care of a steward named Lievain. This man, who seems to have been a simple soul, no sooner heard of the arrival of his master's brother-in-law in the island than he hastened to offer him not only his respects, but, what was far better, the use of the cash which he held in trust for the duke. He was, of course, received with peculiar graciousness, and immediate advantage was taken of his timely offer. The prince was now supplied with means adequately to support the royal state which he had assumed, and the last lingering relics of suspicion were dissipated, for Lievain was known to be a thoroughly honest and conscientious man, and one well acquainted with his master's family and affairs, and it was surmised that he would not thus have committed himself unless he had had very good grounds for so doing.

On his arrival at St. Pierre the prince had taken up his quarters in the convent of the Jesuits; and now the Dominican friars, jealous of the honour conferred upon their rivals, besought a share of his royal favour, and asked him to become their guest. Nothing loth to gratify their amiable ambition, the prince changed his residence to their convent, in which he was entertained most sumptuously. Every day a table of thirty covers was laid for those whom he chose to invite; he dined in public—a fanfaronade of trumpets proclaiming his down-sitting and his up-rising—and the people thronged the banqueting-hall in such numbers that barriers had to be erected in the middle of it to keep the obtrusive multitude at a respectful distance.

Meanwhile vessels had left Martinique for France bearing the news of these strange proceedings to the mother country. The prince had written to his family, and had entrusted his letters to the captain of a merchantman who was recommended by Lievain. And the discomfited governor, the Marquis de Caylus, had forwarded a full account of the extraordinary affair to his government, [56] and had demanded instructions. Six months passed away and no replies came. The prince pretended to be seriously discomposed by this prolonged silence, but amused himself in the meantime by defying M. de Caylus, by indulging in the wildest excesses, and by gratifying every absurd or licentious caprice which entered his head. But at last it became apparent that letters from France might arrive at any moment; the rainy season was approaching; the prince was apprehensive for his health; and the inhabitants had discovered by this time that their visitor was very costly. Accordingly, when he expressed his intention of returning to France, nobody opposed or gainsaid it; and, after a pleasant sojourn of seven months among the planters of Martinique, he embarked on board the "Raphael," bound for Bordeaux. His household accompanied him, and under a salute from the guns of the fort he sailed away.

A fortnight later the messenger whom the governor had despatched to France returned bearing orders to put his so-called highness in confinement. An answer was also sent to a letter which Lievain had forwarded to the Duc de Penthièvre, and in it the simple-minded agent was severely censured for having so easily become the dupe of an impostor. At the same time he was informed that since his indiscretion was in part the result of his zeal to serve his master, and since he had only shared in a general folly, the duc was not disposed to deal harshly with him, but would retain his services and share the loss with him. This leniency, and the delay which had taken place, only served to confirm the inhabitants of Martinique in their previous belief, and they were more than ever convinced that the real Prince of Modena had been their guest, although neither his relatives nor the government were willing to admit that he had been guilty of such an escapade.

The "Raphael" in due course arrived at Faro, where her illustrious passenger was received with a salute by the Portuguese authorities. On landing, the prince demanded a courier to send to Madrid, to the chargé d'affaires of the Duke of Modena, and also asked the [57] means of conveying himself and his retinue to Seville, where he had resolved to await the return of his messenger. These facilities were obligingly afforded to him, and he arrived at Seville in safety. His fame had preceded him, and he was received with the most extravagant demonstrations of joy by the inhabitants. The susceptible donnas of the celebrated Spanish city adored this youthful scion of a royal house; sumptuous entertainments were prepared in his honour, and his praises were in every mouth. His courier came not, but instead there arrived an order for his arrest, which was communicated to him by the governor in person. He seemed much astonished, but resignedly answered, "I was born a sovereign as well as he: he has no control over me; but he is master here, and I shall yield to his commands."

His ready acquiescence in his inevitable fate was well thought of; and while it excited popular sympathy in his favour, rendered even those who were responsible for his safe-keeping anxious to serve him. Immediately on his apprehension he was conveyed to a small tower, which was occupied by a lieutenant and a few invalids, and very little restraint was placed upon his movements. His retinue were allowed to visit him, and every possible concession was made to his assumed rank. But he was far from content, and succeeded by a scheme in reaching the sanctuary of the Dominican convent. From this haven of refuge he could not legally be removed by force; but on the urgent representations of the authorities the Archbishop of Seville sanctioned his transfer, if it could be accomplished without bloodshed. A guard was despatched to remove him. No sooner, however, had the officer charged with the duty entered his apartment than the prince seized his sword, and protested that he would kill the first man that laid a finger upon him. The guard surrounded him with their bayonets, but he defended himself so valiantly that it became evident that he could not be captured without infringing the conditions laid down by the archbishop, and the soldiers were compelled to withdraw. Meanwhile news of what had been going on reached the populace, a crowd [58] gathered, and popular feeling ran so high that the discomfited emissaries of the law reached their quarters with difficulty. This disturbance made the government more determined than ever to bring the affair to an issue. Negotiations were renewed with the Dominicans, who were now anxious to deliver up their guest, but his suspicions were aroused, and his capture had become no easy matter. He always went armed, slept at night with a brace of pistols under his pillow, and even at meal times placed one on either side of his plate. At last craft prevailed—a young monk, who had been detailed to wait upon him at dinner, succeeded in betraying him into an immoderate fit of laughter, and before he could recover himself, pinioned him and handed him over to the alguazils, who were in waiting in the next apartment. He was hurried to gaol, loaded with chains, and cast into a dungeon. After twenty-four hours' incarceration he was summoned for examination, but steadily refused to answer the questions of his judges. He was not, however, remitted to his former loathsome place of confinement, as might have been expected from his obstinacy, but was conveyed to the best apartment in the prison. His retinue were meanwhile examined relative to his supposed design of withdrawing Martinique from its allegiance to France. The result of these inquiries remained secret, but, without further trial, the prince was condemned to the galleys, or to labour in the king's fortifications in Africa, and his attendants were banished from the Spanish dominions.

In due time he was despatched to Cadiz to join the convict gangs sentenced to enforced labour at Ceuta. The whole garrison of Seville was kept under arms on the morning of his departure, to suppress any popular commotion, and resist any possible attempt at rescue, On his arrival at Cadiz he was conducted to Fort la Caragna, and handed over to the commandant, a sturdy Frenchman named Devau, who was told that he must treat the prisoner politely, but would be held answerable for his safe-keeping. Devau read these orders, and replied, "When I am made responsible for the safe custody of anybody, I know but one way of treating him, and that [59] is to put him in irons." So the pseudo prince was ironed, until the convoy was ready to escort the prisoners to Ceuta. On the voyage the pretender was treated differently from the other galley-slaves, and on reaching his destination was placed under little restraint. He had full liberty to write to his friends, and availed himself of this permission to send a letter to Nadau, who had been ordered home to France to give an account of his conduct. In this document he mentioned the courtesy with which he was treated, and begged the Port Maria governor to accept a handsome pair of pistols which he sent as a souvenir. To Lievin, the Duc de Penthièvre's agent, he also wrote, lamenting the losses which he had sustained, and promising to make them good at a future time. His prison, however, had not sufficient charms to retain his presence. He took the first opportunity of escaping, and having smuggled himself on board an English ship, arrived in the Bay of Gibraltar. The captain informed the governor of the fort that he had on board his ship the person who claimed to be the Prince of Modena, and that he demanded permission to land. A threat of immediate apprehension was sufficient to deter the refugee from again tempting the Spanish authorities: he remained on board; and the ship sailed on her voyage, carrying with her the prince, who was seen no more.


On the 1st of August 1773, a horseman, who was approaching the town of Peronne in France, discovered by the wayside a boy, apparently about eleven years of age, clad in rags, evidently suffering from want, and uttering piercing cries. Stirred with pity for this unfortunate object, the traveller dismounted, and, finding his efforts to comfort his new acquaintance, or to discover the cause of his sorrow, unavailing, persuaded him to accompany him to the town, where his immediate necessities were [60] attended to. The boy ate ravenously of the food which was set before him, but continued to preserve the strictest silence, and, at length, it was discovered that he was deaf and dumb. A charitable woman, moved by his misfortunes, gave him a temporary home, and at the end of a few weeks he was transferred to the Bicêtre—then an hospital for foundlings—through the intervention of M. de Sartine, the well-known minister of police. Here his conduct was remarkable. From the first day of his entrance he shrank from association with the other inmates, who were for the most part boys belonging to the lower orders, and by so doing earned their ill-will, and brought upon himself their persecution. Indeed, so uncomfortable did his new home prove through the malignity of his fellow-pensioners, that the health of the poor waif gave way, and it was found necessary to remove him to the Hôtel Dieu of Paris. Here he was noticed by the Abbé de l'Epée, who was attracted by his quiet and aristocratic manners and gentle demeanour, and who at the same time considered that, by reason of his intelligence, he was likely to prove an apt pupil in acquiring the manual alphabet which the worthy ecclesiastic had invented. Accordingly, the Abbé removed him to his own house, and in a few months had rendered him able to give some account of himself by signs. His story was that he had a distinct recollection of living with his father and mother and sister, in a splendid mansion, situated in spacious grounds, and that he was accustomed to ride on horseback and in a carriage. He described his father as a tall man and a soldier, and stated that his face was seamed by scars received in battle. He gave a circumstantial account of his father's death, and said that he, as well as his mother and sister, were mourning for him. After his father's funeral he asserted that he was taken from home by a man whom he did not know, and that when he had been carried come distance he was deserted by his conductor and left in the wood, in which he wandered for some days, until he reached the highway, where he was discovered by the passing traveller, as above narrated.


When this tale was made public, it naturally created great excitement, and people set themselves to discover the identity of this foundling, whom the Abbé de l'Epée had named Joseph. The Abbé himself was never tired of conjecturing the possible history of his protégé, or of communicating his conjectures to his friends. At length, in the year 1777, a lady, who had heard the boy's story, suggested a solution of the mystery. She mentioned that in the autumn of 1773, a deaf and dumb boy, the only son and heir of Count Solar, and head of the ancient and celebrated house of Solar, had left Toulouse, where his father and mother then dwelt, and had not returned. It had been given out that he had died, but she suggested that the account of his death was false, and that Joseph was the young Count Solar. Inquiries were instituted, and showed that the hypothesis was at least tenable. The family of Count Solar had consisted of his wife and a son and daughter. The son was deaf and dumb, and was twelve years old at his father's death, which occurred in 1773. After the decease of the old count, the boy was sent by his mother to Bagnères de Bigorre, under the care of a young lawyer, named Cazeaux, who came back to Toulouse early in the following year, with the story that the heir had died of small-pox. The mother died in 1775.

The Abbé de l'Epée, astounded by the striking similarity between the facts and Joseph's account of himself, at once came to the conclusion that Providence had chosen him as the instrument for righting a great wrong, and set himself to supply the missing links in the chain of evidence, and to restore his ward to what he doubted not was his rightful inheritance. He maintained that young Solar's mother, either wearied with the care of a child who was deprived of speech and hearing, or to secure his estates for herself or her daughter, had given her son to Cazeaux to be exposed, and that that ruffian had made tolerably certain of his work, by carrying the lad 600 miles from home, to the vicinity of Peronne, and there abandoning him in a dense wood, from which the chances were he would never be able to extricate himself, but in [62] the mazes of which he would wander till he died. God alone, the Abbé declared, guided the helpless and hungry lad within the reach of human assistance, and sent the traveller to rescue him, opened the woman's heart to give him shelter, and brought him to Paris, so that he might be instructed and enabled to tell his doleful tale.

Fired by enthusiasm, the Abbé succeeded in engaging the co-operation of persons of the highest eminence. The Duc de Penthièvre, a prince of the blood, espoused the cause of the wronged noble, and provided for his support as became his supposed rank. From the same princely source, also, funds were forthcoming to obtain legal redress for his hardships, and to prosecute his claims before the courts. Proceedings were instituted against Cazeaux, who was still alive, and a formal demand was made for the reinstatement of the foundling of Peronne in the hereditary honours of Solar. The boy was taken to Clermont, his reputed birthplace, at which he was said to have passed the first four years of his life in the company of his mother. It could scarcely be supposed that those who knew the young heir, aged four, would be able to trace much similarity to him in the claimant of seventeen. But there was far more recognition than might have been anticipated. Madame de Solar's father fancied that Joseph resembled his grandson, and he was the more thoroughly convinced of his identity, because he felt an affection for the youth which he believed to be instinctive. The brother of the countess was convinced that Joseph was his nephew, because he had the large knees and round shoulders of the deceased count. The mistress of the dame-school at Clermont recognised in the Abbé's protégé her former pupil. Several witnesses also, who could not be positive as to the identity of the two persons, remembered that the youthful count had a peculiar lentil-shaped mole on his back, and a similar mole was found on the back of the claimant. As it afterwards proved, Joseph was not completely deaf, but was shrewd enough to conceal the fact. Consequently he succeeded in acquiring a good deal of useful information with respect to the Solar family, and [63] re-produced it as the result of his own recollection when the proper time came.

On the other hand, the evidence against his pretensions was very strong. Many persons in Toulouse who had been intimately acquainted with the youthful count declared that Joseph bore no resemblance to him; and the young countess repudiated him most emphatically, asserting that he was not her brother, and he failed to recognise her as his sister. However, he persevered in asserting his rights, and claimed before the Cour du Châtelet, in Paris, the name and honours of Count Solar; and orders were given by the court for the arrest of Cazeaux as his abductor and exposer. The unfortunate lawyer was seized and hurried to the Miséricorde, a loathsome dungeon below the Hotel de Ville, at Toulouse. Next day, heavily ironed, he was thrown into a cart, and thus set out on a journey of 500 miles to Paris. While the cart was in motion he was chained to it; when they halted he was chained to the inn table; at night he was chained to his bed. At length, after seventeen wearisome days, the capital was reached, and the prisoner was taken from his cart and cast into the vaults of the Châtelet. After considerable and unnecessary delay, the supposed abductor was brought to trial; and not only were the charges against him easily disproved, but the whole of the Abbé's grand hypothesis was destroyed beyond reconstruction. A host of witnesses came forward to testify that the young count did not leave Toulouse under the guardianship of Cazeaux, until the 4th of September 1773, whereas Joseph was found at Peronne on the 1st of August. Moreover, the contemporary history of the two youths was clearly traced, it being shown that in November 1773, the Count Solar was at Bagnères de Bigorre while Joseph was an inmate of the Bicêtre; and finally it was conclusively proved that on the 28th of January 1774, the real Count Solar died at Charlas, near Bagnères, of small-pox, having outlived his father about a year.

The acquittal of Cazeaux followed as a matter of course, and he was dismissed from the bar of the [64] Châtelet with unblemished reputation, but broken in health and ruined in fortune. Happily for him, a M. Avril, a rich judge of the Châtelet, who had been active against him during his trial, repented of the evil he had done him, sought his acquaintance, and bequeathed him a large fortune. Thus raised to wealth, and aided by the revolution, which levelled all social distinctions, he aspired to the hand of the widowed Countess Solar who had lost her estates. Success crowned his suit, and his former patroness became his wife. After their marriage the pair settled on an estate a few leagues from Paris, where Cazeaux died in 1831 and his wife in 1835. Joseph, who was undoubtedly the son of a gentleman, soon ceased to interest the public, and, his pretensions having failed, retired into comparative obscurity, accepting service in the army, and meeting an untimely death early in the revolutionary war.


In 1808, George Lindsay Crawfurd, twenty-second Earl of Crawfurd and sixth Earl of Lindsay, died without issue, and his vast estates descended to his sister, Lady Mary Crawfurd. After the death of the earl various claims were advanced to the peerage, one of them being preferred by a person of the name of John Crawfurd, who came from Dungannon, in the north of Ireland. When this claimant arrived at Ayr, in January 1809, he gave himself out as a descendant of the Hon. James Lindsay Crawfurd, a younger son of the family, who had taken refuge in Ireland from the persecutions of 1666-1680. At first he took up his abode at the inn of James Anderson, and from his host and a weaver named Wood he received a considerable amount of information respecting the family history. From Ayr he proceeded to [65] visit Kilbirnie Castle, once the residence of the great knightly family of Crawfurd. The house had been destroyed by fire during the lifetime of Lady Mary's grandfather, and had not been rebuilt—the family taking up their residence on their Fifeshire estates. At the time of the fire, however, many family papers and letters had been saved, and had been stored away in an old cabinet, which was placed in an out-house. To these Mr.. Crawfurd obtained access, and found among them many letters written by James Lindsay Crawfurd, whose descendant he pretended to be. He appropriated them and produced them when the fitting time came. At Kilbirnie he also introduced himself to John Montgomerie of Ladeside, a man well acquainted with the family story and all the vicissitudes of the Crawfurds, and one who was disposed to believe any plausible tale. The farmer, crediting the pretender's story, spread it abroad among the villagers, and they in turn fell into ecstacies over the idea of a poor man like themselves arriving at an earldom, rebuilding the ancient house of Kilbirnie, and restoring the old glories of the place. Their enthusiasm was turned to good account. The claimant was very poor, and stood in need of money to prosecute his claim, and he made no secret of his poverty or his necessities, and promised large returns to those who would help him in his time of need. "Farms," we are told, "were to be given on long leases at moderate rents; one was to be factor, another chamberlain, and many were to be converted from being hewers of wood and drawers of water to what they esteemed the less laborious, and therefore more honourable, posts of butlers and bakers, and body servants of all descriptions." These cheering prospects, of course, depended upon the immediate faith which was displayed, and the amount of assistance which was at once forthcoming. Therefore, each hopeful believer exerted himself to the utmost, and "poor peasants and farmers, cottagers and their masters, threw their stakes into the claimant's lucky-bag, from which they were afterwards to draw 'all prizes and no blanks.'" Men of loftier position, also, were not averse to speculate upon the chances [66] of this newly-discovered heir. Poor John Montgomerie gave him every penny he had saved, and every penny he could borrow, and after mortgaging his little property, was obliged to flee to America from his duns, where, it is said, he died. His son Peter, who succeeded to Ladeside, also listened to the seductive voice of the claimant, until ruin came upon him, and he was compelled to compound with his creditors.

In due time the pretender to the Crawford peerage instituted judicial proceedings. His advocates brought forward some very feasible parole evidence; but they mainly rested their case upon the documents which had been discovered in the old cabinet at Kilbirnie. These letters, when they were originally discovered, had been written on the first and third pages; but in the interim the second pages had been filled up in an exact imitation of the old hand with matter skilfully contrived to support the pretensions of the new-comer. In these interpolations the dead Crawfurd was made to describe his position and circumstances in Ireland, his marriage, the births of his children, and his necessities, in a manner which could leave no doubt as to the rightful claims of the pretender. Unfortunately for his cause, he refused to pay his accomplices the exorbitant price which they demanded, and they, without hesitation, made offers to Lady Mary, into the hands of whose agents they confided the forged and vitiated letters. The result was that a charge of forgery was brought against the claimant, and he and his chief abettor, James Bradley, were both brought to trial before the High Court of Justiciary, in February 1812, and were sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. This result was obtained by the acceptance of the evidence of Fanning, one of the forgers, as king's evidence. While under sentence the claimant wrote a sketch of his life, which was printed at Dairy, in Ayrshire, and was published before the sentence was carried into execution. After some delay the sham earl was shipped off to Botany Bay, and arrived in New South Wales in 1813. Many persons in Scotland continued under the belief that he had been harshly treated, and had fallen a victim to the perjured [67] statements of witnesses who were suborned by Lady Mary Crawfurd. It was not disputed that the documents which had been put in evidence really were forged; but it was suggested that the forgery had been accomplished without his knowledge, in order to accomplish his ruin. Public feeling was aroused in his favour, and he was regarded not only as an innocent and injured man, but as the rightful heir of the great family whose honours and estates he sought.

During his servitude in Australia, John Lindsay Crawfurd contrived to ingratiate himself with MacQuarrie, the governor of New South Wales, and got part of his punishment remitted, returning to England in 1820. He immediately recommenced proceedings for the recovery of the Crawfurd honours; and, as his unexpected return seemed to imply that he had been unjustly transported, his friends took encouragement from this circumstance, and again came forward with subscriptions and advances. Many noblemen and gentlemen, believing him to be injured, contributed liberally to his support and to the cost of the proceedings which he had begun. At last the case came,—and came under the best guidance—before the Lords Committee of Privileges, to which it had been referred by the king. Lord Brougham was counsel in the cause, and he publicly expressed his opinion that it was extremely well-founded. Many of the claimant's adherents, however, were deterred from proceeding further in the matter by the unfavourable report of two trustworthy commissioners who had been appointed to investigate the affair in Scotland. On the other hand, Mr. Nugent Bell, Mr. William Kaye, and Sir Frederick Pollock, with a host of eminent legal authorities, predicted certain success. Thus supported, the pretender assumed the rôle of Earl of Crawfurd, and actually voted as earl at an election of Scotch peers at Holyrood. Unfortunately for all parties, the claimant died before a decision could be given either for or against him. His son, however, inheriting the father's pretensions, and also apparently his faculty for raising money, contrived to find supporters, and carried on the case. Maintaining his father's truthfulness, he [68] declared that his ancestor, the Hon. James Lindsay Crawfurd, had settled in Ireland, and that he had died there between 1765 and 1770, leaving a family, of which he was the chief representative. On the other hand, Lord Glasgow, who had succeeded by this time to the estates, insisted that the scion of the family who was supposed to have gone to Ireland, and from whom the pretender traced his descent, had in reality died in London in 1745, and had been buried in the churchyard of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. It was finally proved that a record remained of the death of James Lindsay Crawfurd in London, as stated, and 120 genuine letters were produced in his handwriting bearing a later date than that year. The decision of the House of Lords was—"That from the facts now before us we are satisfied that any further inquiry is hopeless and unnecessary." This opinion was given in 1839, and since that time no further steps have been taken to advance the claim. Strange to say, Lord Glasgow allowed the body of the original claimant to be interred in the family mausoleum; and it has been more than suggested that if John Lindsay Crawfurd was not the man that he represented himself to be, he was at least an illegitimate offshoot of the same noble house, and that had he been less pertinacious in advancing his claims to the earldom, he might have ended his days more happily.


In 1830 or 1831 a Cornishman, named John Nichols Thom, suddenly left his home, and made his appearance in Kent as Sir William Courtenay, knight of Malta. He was a man of tall and commanding appearance, had ready eloquence, and contrived to persuade many of the Kentish people that he was entitled to some of the fairest estates in the county, and that when he inherited his [69] property they should live on it rent free. This pleasant arrangement agreeing with the views of a large proportion of the agriculturists, they entertained him hospitably, and made no secret of their impatience for the arrival of the happy time of which he spoke. Unfortunately Thom became involved in some smuggling transaction, and having been found guilty of perjury in connection with it, was sentenced to six years' transportation. After his condemnation it was discovered that he was insane, and his sentence was not carried out, but he was removed from Maidstone gaol to the county lunatic asylum, where he remained four years. In 1837 he was released by Lord John Russell, who considered that he was sufficiently recovered to be delivered up to the care of his friends. They, however, failed to discharge their duty efficiently; and in 1838, Thom reappeared in Kent, conducting himself more extravagantly than ever. The farmers and others supplied him with money, and he moved about the county delivering inflammatory harangues in the towns and villages—harangues in which he assured his auditors that if they followed his advice they should have good living and large estates, as he had great influence at court, and was to sit at her majesty's right hand on the day of the coronation. He told the poor that they were oppressed and down-trodden by the laws of the land, and invited them to place themselves under his command, and he would procure them redress. Moreover, he assured those whose religious convictions were disturbed, that he was the Saviour of the world; and in order to convince them, pointed to certain punctures in his hands, as those inflicted by the nails of the cross, and to a scar on his side, as the wound which had discharged blood and water. By these representations he succeeded in attaching nearly a hundred people to himself.

On the 28th of May he set out at the head of his tatterdemalion band from the village of Boughton, and proceeded to Fairbrook. Here a pole was procured, and a flag of white and blue, representing a rampant lion, was raised as the banner which was to lead them [70] to victory. From Fairbrook they marched in a kind of triumphal procession round the neighbouring district, until a farmer of Bossenden, provoked by having his men seduced from their employment by Thom's oratory, made an application for his apprehension. A local constable named Mears, assisted by two others, proceeded to arrest the crazy impostor. After a brief parley, Thom asked which was the constable; and on being informed by Mears that he held that position, produced a pistol, and shot the unoffending representative of the law, afterwards stabbing him with a dagger. The wounds were almost immediately fatal, and the body was tossed into a ditch. The remaining constables fled to the magistrates who had authorised them to make the capture, and reported the state of affairs. When the intelligence of Mears's death spread abroad, the general indignation and excitement was very great, and a messenger was despatched to fetch some soldiers from Canterbury. A military party soon arrived, but their approach had been heralded to Thom and his strolling vagrants, who had betaken themselves to the recesses of Bossenden wood, where the soi-disant Sir William, by his wild gesticulations and harangues, roused his adherents to a pitch of desperate fury. To show his own valour, as soon as the soldiers, who were intended rather to overawe than injure the mob appeared, he strode out from among his ignorant attendants, and deliberately shot Lieutenant Bennett of the 45th regiment, who was in advance of his party. The lieutenant fell dead on the spot. The soldiers, excited by the murder of their leader, immediately returned the fire, and Thom was one of the first killed. As he fell, he exclaimed, "I have Jesus in my heart!" Ten of his adherents shared his fate, and many were severely wounded. Some of the more prominent among his followers were subsequently arrested, tried, and found guilty of participating in Bennett's murder. Two of them were sentenced to transportation for life; one had ten years' transportation, while six expiated their offences by a year's imprisonment in the House of Correction.



Arthur Annesley, Viscount Valencia, who founded the families both of Anglesea and Altham, was one of the staunchest adherents of Charles II., and had a considerable hand in bringing about his restoration to the throne. Immediately after that event his efforts were rewarded by an English peerage—his title being Baron Annesley of Newport-Pagnel, in the county of Buckingham and Earl of Angelsea. Besides this honour he obtained the more substantial gift of large tracts of land in Ireland. The first peer had five sons. James Annesley, the eldest son, having married the daughter of the Earl of Rutland, and having been constituted heir of all his father's English real property, and a great part of his Irish estates, the old earl became desirous of establishing a second noble family in the sister kingdom, and succeeded in procuring the elevation of his second son Altham to the Irish peerage as Baron Altham of Altham, with remainder, on failure of male issue, to Richard his third son.

Altham, Lord Altham, died without issue, and the title and estates accordingly devolved upon Richard, who, dying in 1701, left two sons, named respectively Arthur and Richard. The new peer, in 1706, espoused Mary Sheffield, a natural daughter of the Duke of Buckingham, against the wishes of his relatives. He lived with his wife in England for two or three years, but was at last obliged to flee to Ireland from his creditors, leaving Lady Altham behind him in the care of his mother and sisters. These ladies, who cordially hated her, set about ruining her reputation, and soon induced her weak and dissipated husband to sue for a divorce, but, as proof was not forthcoming, the case was dismissed. Thereupon his lordship showed a disposition to become reconciled to his wife, and she accordingly went over to Dublin in October 1713; and through the good offices of a friend a [72] reconciliation was effected, and the reunited couple, after a temporary residence in Dublin, went to live at Lord Altham's country seat of Dunmain, in the county of Wexford. Here, in April or May 1715, Lady Altham bore a son, which was given to a peasant woman, named Joan Landy, to nurse. At first the young heir was suckled by this woman at the mansion, and afterwards at the cabin of her father, less than a mile from Dunmain. In order to make this residence a little more suitable for the child it was considerably improved externally and internally, and a coach road was constructed between it and Dunmain House, so that Lady Altham might be able frequently to visit her son.

Soon after the birth of the child Lord Altham's dissipation and his debts increased, and he proposed to the Duke of Buckingham that he should settle a jointure on Lady Altham, and for this purpose the pair visited Dublin. The effort was unsuccessful, as the estate was found to be covered by prior securities; and Lord Altham, in a fury, ordered his wife back to Dunmain, while he remained behind in the Irish capital. On his return his spite against her seemed to have revived, and not only did he insult her in his drunken debauches, but contrived an abominable plot to damage her reputation. Some time in February 1717, a loutish fellow named Palliser, who was intimate at the house, was called up to Lady Altham's apartment, on the pretence that she wished to speak to him. Lord Altham and his servants immediately followed; my lord stormed and swore, and dragged the supposed seducer into the dining-room, where he cut off part of one of his ears, and immediately afterwards kicked him out of the house. A separation ensued, and on the same day Lady Altham went to live at New Ross.

Before leaving her own home she had begged hard to be allowed to take her child with her, but was sternly refused, and at the same time the servants were instructed not to carry him near her. The boy therefore remained at Dunmain under the care of a dry nurse, but, notwithstanding his father's injunctions, was frequently taken to his mother by some of the domestics, who pitied her forlorn [73] condition. When he came to an age to go to school, he was sent to several well-known seminaries, and was attended by a servant both on his way to them and from them; "was clothed in scarlet, with a laced hat and feather;" and was universally recognised as the legitimate son and heir of Lord Altham.

Towards the end of 1722, Lord Altham—who had by this time picked up a mistress named Miss Gregory—removed to Dublin, and sent for his son to join him. He seemed very fond of the boy, and the woman Gregory for a time pretended to share in this affection, until she conceived the idea of supplanting him. She easily persuaded her weak-minded lover to go through the form of marriage with her, under the pretence that his wife was dead, took the title of Lady Altham, and fancied that some of her own possible brood might succeed to the title, for the estates were by this time well-nigh gone. With this purpose in her mind she used her influence against the boy, and at last got him turned out of the house and sent to a poor school; but it is, at least, so far creditable to his father to say, that he did not quite forget him, that he gave instructions that he should be well treated, and that he sometimes went to see him.

Lord Altham's creditors, as has been stated, were very clamorous, and his brother Richard was practically a beggar: they were both sadly in want of money, and only one way remained to procure it. If the boy were out of the way, considerable sums might be raised by his lordship by the sale of reversions, in conjunction with the remainder-man in tail, who would in that case have been Lord Altham's needy brother Richard. Consequently the real heir was removed to the house of one Kavanagh, where he was kept for several months closely confined, and in the meantime it was industriously given out that he was dead. The boy, however, found means to escape from his confinement, and, prowling up and down the streets, made the acquaintance of all the idle boys in Dublin. Any odd work which came in his way he readily performed; and although he was a butt for the gamins and an object of pity to [74] the town's-people, few thought of denying his identity or disputing his legitimacy. Far from being unknown, he became a conspicuous character in Dublin; and although, from his roaming proclivities, it was impossible to do much to help him, the citizens in the neighbourhood of the college were kindly disposed towards him, supplied him with food and a little money, and vented their abuse in unmeasured terms against his father.

In 1727 Lord Altham died in such poverty that it is recorded that he was buried at the public expense. After his death, his brother Richard seized all his papers and usurped the title. The real heir then seems to have been stirred out of his slavish life, and declaimed loudly against this usurpation of his rights, but his complaints were unavailing, and, although they provoked a certain clamour, did little to restore him to his honours. However, they reached his uncle, who resolved to put him out of the way. The first attempt to seize him proved a failure, although personally superintended by the uncle himself; but young Annesley was so frightened by it that he concealed himself from public observation, and thus gave grounds for a rumour—which was industriously circulated—that he was dead. Notwithstanding his caution, however, he was seized in March 1727, and conveyed on board a ship bound for Newcastle in America, and on his arrival there was sold as a slave to a planter named Drummond.

The story of his American adventures was originally published in the Gentleman's Magazine, and has since been rehearsed by modern writers. It seems that Drummond, who was a tyrannical fellow, set his new slave to fell timber, and finding his strength unequal to the work, punished him severely. The unaccustomed toil and the brutality of his master told upon his health, and he began to sink under his misfortunes, when he found a comforter in an old female slave who had herself been kidnapped, and who, being a person of some education, not only endeavoured to console him, but also to instruct him. She sometimes wrote short pieces of instructive history on bits of paper, and these she left [75] with him in the field. In order to read them he often neglected his work, and, as a consequence, incurred Drummond's increased displeasure, and aggravated his own position. His old friend died after four years, and after her death, his life having become intolerable, he resolved to run away. He was then seventeen years of age, and strong and nimble, and having armed himself with a hedging-bill, he set out. For three days he wandered in the woods until he came to a river, and espied a town on its banks. Although faint from want of food, he was afraid to venture into it until night-fall, and lay down under a tree to await the course of events. At dusk he perceived two horsemen approaching—the one having a woman behind him on a pillion, while the other bore a well-filled portmanteau. Just as they reached his hiding-place, the former, who was evidently the second man's master, said to the lady that the place where they were was an excellent one for taking some refreshment; and bread and meat and wine having been produced from the saddle-bags, the three sat down on the ground to enjoy their repast. Annesley, who was famished, approached closer and closer, until he was discovered by the servant, who, exclaiming to his master that they were betrayed, rushed at the new comer with his drawn sword. Annesley, however, succeeded in convincing them of his innocence, and they not only supplied him with food, but told him that they were going to Apoquenimink to embark for Holland, and that, out of pity for his misfortunes, they would procure him a passage in the same vessel. His hopes were destined to be very short-lived. The trio re-mounted, and Annesley had followed them for a short distance painfully on foot, when suddenly horsemen appeared behind them in chase. There was no time for deliberation. The lady jumped off and hid herself among the trees. The gentleman and his servant drew their swords, and Annesley ranged himself beside them armed with his hedge-bill, determined to help those who had generously assisted him. The contest was unequal, the fugitives were soon surrounded, and, with the lady, were bound and carried to Chester gaol.


It appeared that the young lady was the daughter of a rich merchant, and had been compelled to marry a man who was disagreeable to her; and that, after robbing her husband, she had eloped with a previous lover who held a social position inferior to her own. All the vindictiveness of the husband had been aroused; and when the trial took place, the lady, her lover, and the servant, were condemned to death for the robbery. James Annesley contrived to prove that he was not connected with the party, and escaped their fate; but he was remanded to prison, with orders that he should be exposed to public view every day in the market-place; and that if it could be proved by any of the frequenters that he had ever been seen in Chester before, he should be deemed accessory to the robbery and should suffer death.

He remained in suspense for five weeks, until Drummond chanced to come to Chester on business, and, recognising the runaway, claimed him as his property. The consequence was that the two years which remained of his period of servitude were doubled; and when he arrived at Newcastle, Drummond's severity and violence greatly increased. A complaint of his master's ill-usage was made to the justices, and that worthy was at last obliged to sell him to another; but Annesley gained little by the change. For three years he continued with his new owner in quiet toleration of his lot; but having fallen into conversation with some sailors bound for Europe, the old desire to see Ireland once more came upon him, and he ventured a second escape. He was recaptured before he could gain the ship; and under the order of the court, the solitary year of his bondage which remained was increased into five. Under this new blow he sank into a settled state of melancholy, and seemed so likely to die that his new master had pity upon his condition, began to treat him with less austerity, and recommended him to the care of his wife, who often took him into the house, and recommended her daughter Maria to use him with all kindness. The damsel exceeded her mother's instructions, and straightway fell in love with the good-looking young slave, often showing her affection in a manner [77] which could not be mistaken. Nor was she the only one on whom his appearance made an impression. A young Iroquis Indian girl, who shared his servitude, made no secret of her attachment to him, exhibited her love by assisting him in his work, while she assured him that if he would marry her when his time of bondage was past, she would work so hard as to save him the expense of two slaves. In vain Annesley rejected her advances, and tried to explain to her the hopelessness of her desires. She persistently dogged his footsteps, and was never happy but in his sight. Her rival Maria, no less eager to secure his affection, used to stray to the remote fields in which she knew he worked, and on one occasion encountered the Indian girl, who was also bent upon visiting him. The hot-blooded Indian then lost her self-control, and, having violently assaulted her young mistress, sprang into the river close by, and thus ended her love and her life together.

Maria, who had been seriously abused, was carried home and put to bed, and her father naturally demanded some explanation of the extraordinary quarrel which had cost him a slave and very nearly a daughter. The other slaves had no hesitation in recounting what they had seen, or of saying what they thought, and the truth came out. Annesley's master was, however, resolved to be certain, and sent him into her room, while he and his wife listened to what passed at the interview. Their stratagem had the desired success. They heard their daughter express the most violent passion, which was in no way returned by their slave. As they could not but acknowledge his honourable feeling and action, they resolved to take no notice of what had passed, but for their daughter's sake to give him his liberty. Next day his master accompanied him to Dover; but instead of releasing him—as he had promised his wife—sold him to a planter near Chichester for the remainder of his term.

After various ups and downs, he was transferred to a planter in Newcastle county, whose house was almost within sight of Drummond's plantation. While in this [78] employ he discovered that he was tracked by the brothers of the Indian girl, who had sworn to avenge her untimely fate, and nearly fell a victim to their rage, having been wounded by one of them who lay in wait for him. By another accident, while he was resting under a hedge which divided his master's ground from a neighbouring plantation, he fell asleep, and did not awake until it was perfectly dark. He was aroused by the sound of voices, and on listening found that his mistress and Stephano, a slave on another farm, were plotting to rob his master, and to flee together to Europe. Repressing his desire to reveal the whole scheme to his master, he took the first opportunity of informing his mistress that her infamy was discovered, and that if she persevered in her design he would be compelled to reveal all that he had overheard. The woman at first pretended the utmost repentance, and not only earnestly promised that she would never repeat her conduct, but by many excessive acts of kindness led him to believe that her unlawful passion had changed its object. Finding, however, that she could not prevail upon him either to wink at her misdeeds or gratify her desires, she endeavoured to get rid of him by poison; and an attempt having been made upon his life, Annesley resolved once more to risk an escape, although the time of his servitude had almost expired.

On this occasion he was successful; and having made his way in a trading ship to Jamaica, got on board the "Falmouth," one of his Majesty's ships, and declared himself an Irish nobleman. His arrival, of course, created a great stir in the fleet, and the affair came to the ears of Admiral Vernon, who, having satisfied himself that his pretensions were at least reasonable, ordered him to be well treated, wrote to the Duke of Newcastle about him, and sent him home to England. He arrived in October 1741. His uncle Richard had in the meantime succeeded, through default of issue, to the honours of Anglesea, as well as those of Altham, and became seriously alarmed at the presence of this pretender on English soil. At first he asserted that the claimant, [79] although undoubtedly the son of his deceased brother, was the bastard child of a kitchen wench. He next tried to effect a compromise with him, and subsequently endeavoured to procure his conviction on a charge of murder. It is also said that assassins were hired to kill him. But it is certainly true that Annesley having accidentally shot a man near Staines, the Earl of Anglesea spared neither pains nor money to have him condemned. He was tried at the Old Bailey, and being acquitted by the jury, proceeded to Ireland to prosecute his claim to the Altham estates. On his arrival at Dunmain and New Ross, he was very warmly received by many of the peasantry. His first attempt to secure redress was by an action at law. An action for ejectment was brought in the Court of Exchequer in Ireland for a small estate in the county of Meath, and a bill was at the same time filed in the Court of Chancery of Great Britain for the recovery of the English estates.

In Trinity term 1743, when everything was ready for a trial at the next ensuing assizes, a trial at bar was appointed on the application of the agents of the Earl of Anglesea. The case began on the 11th of November 1743, at the bar of the Court of Exchequer in Dublin, being, as is noted in Howell's State Trials, "the longest trial ever known, lasting fifteen days, and the jury (most of them) gentlemen of the greatest property in Ireland, and almost all members of parliament." A verdict was found for the claimant, with 6d. damages and 6d. costs. A writ of error was at once lodged on the other side, but on appeal the judgment of the Court below was affirmed. Immediately after the trial and verdict, the claimant petitioned his Majesty for his seat in the Houses of Peers of both kingdoms; but delay after delay took place, and he finally became so impoverished that he could no longer prosecute his claims.

James Annesley was twice married; but although he had a son by each marriage, neither of them grew to manhood. He died on the 5th of January 1760.



The earldom of Huntingdon was granted by King Henry VIII. to George, Lord Hastings, on the 8th of November 1529. The first peer left five sons, of whom the eldest succeeded to the title on his father's decease; but notwithstanding the multiplicity of heirs-male, and the chances of a prolonged existence, the title lapsed in 1789, on the death of Francis, the tenth earl, who never was married.

In 1817, there was living at Enniskillen, in Ireland, an ordnance store-keeper called Captain Hans-Francis Hastings, and this gentleman there made the acquaintance of a solicitor named Mr. Nugent Bell, who, like himself, was ardently devoted to field-sports. The friendship subsisting between the pair was of the closest kind; and it having been whispered about that the captain had made a sort of side-claim to the earldom of Huntingdon, Mr. Bell questioned him about the truth of the rumour. As it turned out, the circumstantial part of the story was totally false; but it nevertheless was a fact that Captain Hastings had a faint idea that he had some right to the dormant peerage. However, as he said himself, he had been sent early to sea, had been long absent from his native country, and had little really valuable information as to his family history. He said that his uncle, the Rev. Theophilus Hastings, rector of Great and Little Leke, had always endeavoured to impress upon him that he was the undoubted heir to the title, and that fourteen years previously he had himself so far entertained the notion as to pay a visit to College of Arms in London, to learn the proper steps to be taken to establish his claim; but that when he was told that the cost of the process would be at least three thousand guineas, he abandoned all notion of legal proceedings, which were simply impossible because of his scanty resources. Mrs. Hastings, who was present during the conversation, contributed all that she [81] knew respecting the whimsical old clergyman who had so carefully instructed his nephew to consider himself a peer in prospective, and particularly pointed out that the old gentleman entertained an irreconcileable hatred of the Marquis of Hastings. It seemed also that some time after the last earl's death, the Rev. Mr. Hastings had assumed the title of Earl of Huntingdon, and that a stone pillar had been erected in front of the parsonage-house at Leke, on which there was a metal plate bearing a Latin inscription, to the effect that he was the eleventh Earl of Huntingdon, godson of Theophilus the ninth earl, and entitled to the earldom by descent.

These reminiscences and suspicions could not have been poured into more attentive ears. Mr. Bell had long been a student of heraldry, and saw an opportunity not only of benefiting his friend, but of signalizing himself. Accordingly he undertook to investigate the matter, and offered, in the event of failure, to bear the whole of the attendant expense, simply premising that, if he succeeded, he should be recouped. On the 1st of July a letter passed between Captain Hastings and Mr. Bell, which shows the sentiments of both parties. This is it:—

My dear Bell, — I will pay you all costs in case you succeed in proving me the legal heir to the Earldom of Huntingdon. If not, the risk is your own; and I certainly will not be answerable for any expense you may incur in the course of the investigation. But I pledge myself to assist you by letters, and whatever information I can collect, to the utmost of my power; and remain very sincerely yours,

"F. Hastings.
               Nugent Bell, Esq."

On the back of this letter Captain Hastings wrote:

"By all that's good, you are mad."

On the 17th of August Mr. Bell sailed for England, and proceeded to Castle Donnington, where he had a very unsatisfactory interview with a solicitor named Dalby, who had long been in the employment of the Hastings family. Bit by bit, however, he picked up information, [82] and every addition seemed to render the claim of the Enniskillen captain stronger, until at last Bell drew up a case which met the unqualified approval of Sir Samuel Romilly, who said, "I do not conceive that it will be necessary to employ counsel to prepare the petition which is to be presented to the Prince-Regent. All that it will be requisite to do is to state that the first earl was created by letters-patent to him and the heirs-male of his body; and the fact of the death of the last Earl of Huntingdon having left the petitioner the heir-male of the body of the first earl, surviving him, together with the manner in which he makes out his descent; and to pray that his Royal Highness will be pleased to give directions that a writ of summons should issue to call him up to the House of Lords." A petition was accordingly prepared in this sense, and was submitted to the Attorney-General, Sir Samuel Shepherd, who made the recommendation as suggested. After the Attorney-General's report had received the approbation of the Lord Chancellor, the Prince-Regent signed the royal warrant, and Captain Hastings took his place in the House of Lords as Earl of Huntingdon.


Voldemar II., Marquis and Elector of Brandenburg, actuated by a fit of devotion, set out from his dominions in 1322 on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, leaving his brother John IV. to rule in his absence. He left no clue as to his intended route; but simply announcing his purpose of visiting the sacred shrines of Palestine, started on his journey accompanied by only two esquires. Four-and-twenty days after his departure his brother John sickened and died—not without suspicions of foul play—and Louis of Bavaria, then possessing the empire, presented the electorate to his own eldest [83] son as a vacant fief of Germany. The change was quietly effected; but in 1345 a man suddenly appeared as from the dead, proclaiming himself the missing Voldemar, and demanding the restoration of his rights. He was of about the same age as the elector would have been, and the story which he told of captivity among the Saracens was sufficient to account for any perceptible change in his gait and appearance, and in the colour of his hair. Those who were interested in opposing his claim stoutly asserted that he was a miller of Landreslaw, called Rebok, and that he was a creature of the Duke of Saxony, who coveted the Brandenburgian possessions, and who, being a relative of the family, had thoroughly instructed him as to the private life of Voldemar. His plausibility, and the accuracy of his answers, however, led many persons of influence to believe that he was no counterfeit. The Emperor Charles IV. (of Bohemia), the Primate of Germany, the Princes of Anhalt, and the Dukes of Brunswick, Pomerania, Mecklenburg, and Saxony, all supported his pretensions; the most of the nobility of the marquisate acknowledged him to be their prince; and the common people, either touched with the hardships he was said to have suffered, or wearied of Bavarian rule, lent him money to acquire his rights and drive out Louis. All the cities declared for him except Frankfort-on-the-Oder, Spandau, and Brisac, and war was at once begun. The victory at first rested with the so-called Voldemar; many of the towns opened their gates to him; and his rival Louis fled to his estates in the Tyrol, leaving the electorate to his two brothers—a disposition which was confirmed by the Emperor Charles IV. in 1350. There are two versions of the death of Voldemar. Lunclavius asserts that he was finally captured and burnt alive for his imposture; while De Rocoles maintains that he died at Dessau in 1354, nine years after his return, and was buried in the tombs of the Princes of Anhalt. The general impression, however, is that he was an impostor.



There are few cases in the long list of French causes célèbres more remarkable than that of the alleged Martin Guerre. This individual, who was more greatly distinguished by his adventures than by his virtues, was a Biscayan, and at the very juvenile age of eleven was married to a girl called Bertrande de Rols. For eight or nine years Martin and his wife lived together without issue from their marriage, notwithstanding masses said, consecrated wafers eaten by the wife and charms employed by the husband to drive away the bewitchment under which he supposed himself to labour. But in the tenth year after the marriage a son was born, and was named Sanxi. The father's joy was of brief duration; for having been guilty of defrauding his own father of a quantity of corn, he was compelled to abscond to avoid the paternal rage and the probable consequences of a prosecution. It was at first intended that he should only stay away until the family difficulty blew over. But Martin, once gone, was not so easily persuaded to come back, and eight long years elapsed before his wife saw his face. At the end of that time he suddenly returned, and was received with open arms by Bertrande, who was congratulated by her husband's four sisters, his uncle, and her own relations. The re-united pair lived together at Artigues for three years in apparent peace and happiness, and during this period two children were born to them. But suddenly the wife Bertrande appeared before the magistrates of Rieux, and lodged a complaint against her husband, praying "that he might be condemned to make satisfaction to the king for a breach of his laws; to demand pardon of God, the king, and herself, in his shirt, with a lighted torch in his hand; declaring that he had falsely, rashly, and traitorously imposed upon her in assuming the name and passing himself upon her for Martin Guerre."


The affair created no small stir in the neighbourhood, and the gossips were driven to their wits' end to explain it. Some asserted that, either through an old grudge or a recent quarrel, she had adopted this method of getting quit of her husband, while others maintained that she was naturally a woman of undecided character and opinions, and that, as at first she had been easily persuaded that this man was her husband, she had acted latterly on the suggestions and advice of Peter Guerre, her husband's uncle, who pretended to have discovered that he was an impostor, and had recommended her to apply to the authorities. The accused himself staunchly maintained that the charge was the result of a conspiracy between his wife and his uncle, and that the latter had contrived the plot with a view to possess himself of his effects. That no doubt might remain as to his identity he gave an outline of his personal history from the time of his flight from home to the time of his arrest, stating the reasons which induced him to leave his wife in the first instance, and his adventures during his absence. He said that for seven or eight years he had served the king in the wars; that he had then enlisted in the Spanish army; and that, having returned home, longing to see his wife and children, he had been welcomed without hesitation by his relations and acquaintances, and even by Peter Guerre, notwithstanding the alteration which time and camp-life had made in his appearance. He declared, moreover, that his uncle had persistently quarrelled with him since his return, that blows had frequently been exchanged between them, and that thus an evil animus had been created against him.

In answer to the interrogatories of the judge, he unhesitatingly told the leading circumstances of his earlier life, mentioning trivial details, giving prominent dates glibly, and showing the utmost familiarity with petty as with important matters of family history. As far as his marriage was concerned, he named the persons who were present at the nuptials, those who dined with them, their different dresses, the priest who performed the ceremony, all the little circumstances that happened that day and [86] the next, and even named the people who presided at the bedding. And, as if the official interrogatory were not sufficiently complete, he spoke, of his own accord, of his son Sanxi, and of the day he was born; of his own departure, of the persons he met on the road, of the towns he had passed through in France and Spain, and of people with whom he had become acquainted in both kingdoms.

Nearly a hundred and fifty witnesses were examined in the cause, and of these between thirty and forty deposed that the accused really was Martin Guerre; that they had known him and had spoken to him from his infancy; that they were perfectly acquainted with his person, manner, and tone of voice; and that, moreover, they were convinced of his identity by certain scars and marks on his person.

On the other hand, a greater number of persons asserted as positively that the man before them was one Arnold du Tilh, of Sagais, and was commonly called Pansette; while nearly sixty of the witnesses—who had known both men—declared that there was so strong a resemblance between these two persons that it was impossible for them to declare positively whether the accused was Martin Guerre or Arnold du Tilh.

In this dilemma the judge ordered two inquiries—one with regard to the likeness or unlikeness of Sanxi Guerre to the accused, and the other as to the resemblance existing between the child and the sisters of Martin Guerre. It was reported that the boy bore no resemblance to the prisoner, but that he was very like his father's sisters, and upon this evidence the judge pronounced the prisoner guilty, and sentenced him to be beheaded and quartered.

But the public of the neighbourhood not being so easily satisfied as the criminal judge of Rieux, and unable to comprehend the grounds of the decision, became clamorous, and an appeal was made on behalf of the convict to the Parliament of Toulouse. That Assembly ordered the wife (Bertrande de Rols) and the uncle (Peter Guerre) to be confronted separately with the man [87] whom they accused of being an impostor, and when the parties were thus placed face to face, the so-called Arnold du Tilh maintained a calm demeanour, spoke with an air of assurance and truth, and answered the questions put to him promptly and correctly. On the other hand, the confusion of Peter Guerre and Bertrande de Rols was so great as to create strong suspicions of their honesty. New witnesses were called, but they only served to complicate matters; for out of thirty, nine or ten were convinced that the accused was Martin Guerre, seven or eight were as positive that he was Arnold du Tilh, and the rest would give no distinct affirmation either one way or another.

When the testimony came to be analysed, it was seen that forty-five witnesses, in all, had asserted in the most positive terms that the man presented to them was not Guerre, but Du Tilh, which they said they were the better able to do, because they had known both men intimately, had eaten and drank with them, and conversed with them at intervals from the days of their common childhood. Most of these witnesses agreed that Martin Guerre was taller and of a darker complexion, that he was of slender make and had round shoulders, that his chin forked and turned up, his lower lip hung down, his nose was large and flat, and that he had the mark of an ulcer on his face, and a scar on his right eyebrow, whereas Arnold du Tilh was a short thickish man who did not stoop, although at the same time similar marks were on his face.

Among others who were called was the shoemaker who made shoes for the undisputed Martin Guerre, and he swore that Martin's foot was three sizes larger than that of the accused. Another declared that Martin was an expert fencer and wrestler, whereas this man knew little of manly exercises; and many deponed "that Arnold du Tilh had from his infancy the most wicked inclinations, and that subsequently he had been hardened in wickedness, a great pilferer and swearer, a defier of God, and a blasphemer: consequently in every way capable of the crime laid to his charge; and that an obstinate [88] persisting to act a false part was precisely suitable to his character."

But the opinion on the other side was quite as firm. Martin Guerre's four sisters had no hesitation in declaring that the accused was their brother, the people who were present at Martin's wedding with Bertrande de Rols deposed in his favour, and about forty persons in all agreed that Martin Guerre had two scars on his face, that his left eye was bloodshot, the nail of his first finger grown in, and that he had three warts on his right hand, and another on his little finger. Similar marks were shown by the accused. Evidence was given to show that a plot was being concocted by Peter Guerre and his sons-in-law to ruin the new comer, and the Parliament of Toulouse was as yet undecided as to its sentence, tending rather to acquit the prisoner than affirm his conviction, when most unexpectedly the real Martin Guerre appeared on the scene.

He was interrogated by the judges as to the same facts to which the accused had spoken, but his answers, although true, were neither so full nor satisfactory as those which the other man had given. When the two were placed face to face, Arnold du Tilh vehemently denounced the last arrival as an impostor in the pay of Peter Guerre, and expressed himself content to be hanged if he did not yet unravel the whole mystery. Nor did he confine himself to vituperation, but cross-questioned Martin as to private family circumstances, and only received hesitating and imperfect answers to his questions. The commissioners having directed Arnold to withdraw, put several questions to Martin that were new, and his answers were very full and satisfactory; then they called for Arnold again, and questioned him as to the same points, and he answered with the same exactness, "so that some began to think there was witchcraft in the case."

It was then directed, since two claimants had appeared, that the four sisters of Martin Guerre, the husbands of two of them, Peter Guerre, the brothers of Arnold du Tilh, and those who recognised him as the real man, [89] should be called upon and obliged to fix on the true Martin. Guerre's eldest sister was first summoned, and she, after a momentary glance, ran to the new comer and embraced him, crying, as the report goes, "Oh, my brother Martin Guerre, I acknowledge the error into which this abominable traitor drew me, and also all the inhabitants of Artigues." The rest also identified him; and his wife, who was the last of all, was as demonstrative as the others. "She had no sooner cast her eyes on Martin Guerre than, bursting into tears, and trembling like a leaf, she ran to embrace him, and begged his pardon for suffering herself to be seduced by the artifices of a wretch. She then pleaded for herself, in the most innocent and artless manner, that she had been led away by his credulous sisters, who had owned the impostor; that the strong passion she had for him, and her ardent desire to see him again, helped on the cheat, in which she was confirmed by the tokens that traitor had given, and the recital of so many peculiarities which could be known only to her husband; that as soon as her eyes were open she wished that the horrors of death might hide those of her fault, and that she would have laid violent hands on herself if the fear of God had not withheld her; that not being able to bear the dreadful thought of having lost her honour and reputation, she had recourse to vengeance, and put the impostor into the hands of justice;" and, moreover, that she was as anxious as ever that the rascal should die.

Martin, however, was not to be moved by her appeals, alleging that "a wife has more ways of knowing a husband than a father, a mother, and all his relations put together; nor is it possible she should be imposed on unless she has an inclination to be deceived;" and even the persuasions of the commissioners could not move him from his decision.

The doubts being at last dissipated, the accused Arnold du Tilh was condemned "to make amende honorable in the market-place of Artigues in his shirt, his head and feet bare, a halter about his neck, and holding in his hands a lighted waxen torch; to demand pardon [90] of God, the king, and the justice of the nation, of the said Martin Guerre, and De Rols, his wife; and this being done, to be delivered into the hands of the capital executioner, who, after making him pass through the streets of Artigues with a rope about his neck, at last should bring him before the house of Martin Guerre, where, on a gallows expressly set up, he should be hanged, and where his body should afterwards be burnt." It was further ordered that such property as he had should be devoted to the maintenance of the child which had been born to him by Bertrande de Rols.

At the same time, the court had very serious thoughts of punishing Martin Guerre, because his abandonment of his wife had led to the mischief, and his desertion of his country's flag seemed to merit censure. It was, however, finally decided that when he ran away he "acted rather from levity than malice;" and as he had entered the Spanish army in a roundabout way, and after considerable persuasion, that the loss of his leg in that service was sufficient punishment. The guilt of his wife, Bertrande de Rols, was thought even more apparent, and that a woman could be deceived in her husband was a proposition few could digest. Yet, as the woman's life-long character was good, and it spoke well for her that not only the population of Artigues, but also the man's four sisters, had shared her delusion, it was finally determined to discharge her.

Arnold de Tilh, the impostor, was carried back to Artigues for the execution of his sentence, and there made a full confession. He said that the crime had been accidentally suggested to his mind; that on his way home from the camp in Picardy he was constantly mistaken for Martin Guerre by Martin's friends; that from them he learned many circumstances respecting the family and the doings of the man himself; and that, having previously been an intimate and confidential comrade of Guerre in the army, he was able to maintain his imposture. His sentence was carried out in all its severity in 1560.



Scipio Le Brun, of Castellane, a Provençal gentleman, and lord of the manors of Caille and of Rougon, in 1655 married a young lady called Judith le Gouche. As is common in France, and also in certain parts of Britain, this local squire was best known by the name of his estates, and was commonly termed the Sieur de Caille. Both he and his wife belonged to the strictest sect of the Calvinists, who were by no means favourites in the country. Their usual residence was at Manosque, a little village in Provence, and there five children were born to them, of whom three were sons and two were daughters. The two youngest sons died at an early age, and Isaac, the eldest, after living to the age of thirty-two, died also.

When this Isaac, who has just been mentioned, was a lad of fifteen, his mother died, and in her will constituted him her heir, at the same time bequeathing legacies to her daughters, and granting the life interest of all her property to her husband. The King having revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, the Sieur de Caille quitted the kingdom with his family, which then consisted of his mother, his son Isaac, and his two daughters. The fugitives made their home in Lausanne, in Switzerland. In 1689 the French king, in the zeal of his Catholicism, issued a decree, by which he bestowed the property of the Calvinist fugitives upon their relations. The possessions of the Sieur de Caille were therefore divided between Anne de Gouche, his wife's sister, who had married M. Rolland, the Avocat-Général of the Supreme Court of Dauphiné, and Madame Tardivi, a relation on his own side.

Meantime Isaac, the son of the Sieur de Caille, who was by courtesy styled the Sieur de Rougon, assiduously applied himself to his studies, and, as the result of over-work, fell into a consumption, of which he died at Vevay on the 15th of February 1696.

In March 1699, Pierre Mêge, a marine, presented [92] himself before M. de Vauvray, the intendant of marines at Toulon, and informed him that he was the son of M. de Caille, at the same time telling the following story. He said that he had had the misfortune to be an object of aversion to his father because of his dislike to study, and because of his ill-concealed attachment to the Catholic religion; that his father had always exhibited his antipathy to him, and, while he was at Lausanne, had frequently maltreated him; that rather than submit to the paternal violence he had often run away from home, but had been brought back again by officious friends, who met him in his flight; that he had at last succeeded in making his escape, by the aid of a servant, in December 1690; that, in order to avoid recapture, and to satisfy his own desire to become a member of the Catholic Church, he had formed the design of returning into Provence; that on his homeward way he had been stopped by the Savoyard troops, who compelled him to enlist in their ranks; and that he had subsequently been captured by some French soldiers. He added that M. de Catinat, who commanded this part of the French army, and to whom he had presented himself as the son of M. de Caille, had given him a free pass; that he had arrived at Nice, and had enlisted in the Provençal militia; and that having been on duty one day at the residence of the governor, he had seen a silver goblet carried past him which bore arms of his family, and which he recognised as a portion of the plate which his father had sold in order to procure the means to fly into Switzerland. The sight of this vessel stirred up old recollections, and he burst into such a violent paroxysm of grief that the attention of his comrades was attracted, and they demanded the cause of his tears, whereupon he told them his story, and pointed out the same arms impressed on his cachet. This tale came to the ears of the Chevalier de la Fare, who then commanded at Nice, and after a hasty investigation he treated his subordinate with excessive courtesy, evidently believing him to be the man whom he represented himself to be.

The militia having been disbanded, the claimant to [93] manorial rights and broad estates repaired to Marseilles, where he fell in with a woman called Honorade Venelle, who was residing with her mother and two sisters-in-law. The morality of these females seems to have been of the slightest description; and Henriade Venelle had no hesitation in yielding to a proposal of this infamous soldier that he should represent her husband, who was at the time serving his king and country in the ranks of the army. The easy spouse drew no distinctions between the real and the supposititious husband, and the latter not only assumed the name of Pierre Mêge, but collected such debts as were due to him, and gave receipts which purported to bear his signature. In 1695 he enlisted under the name of Mêge, on board the galley "La Fidèle"—a ship in which the veritable Mêge was known to have been a marine from 1676—and served for nearly three years, when he was again dismissed. In order to eke out a temporary livelihood he sold a balsam, the recipe for which he declared had been given him by his grandmother Madame de Caille. He made little by this move, and was compelled once more to enlist at Toulon; and here it was that he met M. de Vauvray, and told him his wonderful story.

The intendant of marines listened to the tale with open ears, and recommended his subordinate to make an open profession of his adhesion to the Romish Church as a first step towards the restitution of his rights. The soldier was nothing loth to accept this advice, and after being three weeks under the tutelage of the Jesuits, he publicly abjured the Calvinistic creed in the Cathedral of Toulon, on the 10th of June 1699.

In his act of abjuration he took the name of André d'Entrevergues, the son of Scipio d'Entrevergues, Sieur de Caille, and of Madame Susanne de Caille, his wife. He stated that he was twenty-three years of age, and that he did not know how to write. The falsehood of his story was, therefore, plainly apparent from the beginning. The eldest son of the Sieur de Caille was called Isaac and not André; the soldier took the name of d'Entrevergues, and gave it to the father, while the family name was Brun de Castellane; he called his mother Susanne de [94] Caille, whereas her maiden name was Judith le Gouche. He said that he was twenty-three years of age, while the real son of the Sieur de Caille ought to have been thirty-five; and he did not know how to write, while numerous documents were in existence signed by the veritable Isaac, who was distinguished for his accomplishments.

News of this abjuration having spread abroad, it reached Sieur de Caille, at Lausanne, who promptly forwarded the certificate of his son's death, dated February 15, 1696, to M. de Vauvray, who at once caused the soldier to be arrested. M. d'Infreville, who commanded the troops at Toulon, however, pretended that de Vauvray had no authority to place soldiers under arrest, and the question thus raised was referred from one to another, until it came to the ears of the king. The following answer was at once sent:—

"The King approves the action of M. de Vauvray in arresting and in placing in the arsenal the soldier of the company of Ligondés, who calls himself the son of the Sieur de Caille. His Majesty's commands are, that he be handed over to the civil authorities, who shall take proceedings against him, and punish him as his imposture deserves, and that the affidavits of the real de Caille shall be sent to them."

The soldier was accordingly conveyed to the common prison of Toulon, and was subsequently interrogated by the magistrates. In answer to their inquiries, he said that he had never known his real name; that his father had been in the habit of calling him d'Entrevergues de Rougon de Caille; that he believed he really was twenty-five years old, although two months previously he had stated his age to be twenty-three; that he had never known his godfather or his godmother; that only ten years had elapsed since he left Manosque; that he did not know the name of the street nor the quarter of the town in which his father's house was situated; that he could not tell the number of rooms it contained; and that even if he were to see it again he could not recognise it. In his replies he embodied the greater part of his original [95] story, with the exception of the episode with regard to Honorade Venelle, respecting which he was prudently silent. He said that he neither recollected the appearance nor the height of his sister Lisette, nor the colour of her hair; but that his father had black hair and a black beard, and a dark complexion, and that he was short and stout. (The Sieur de Caille had brown hair and a reddish beard, and was pale complexioned.) He did not know the height nor the colour of the hair of his aunt, nor her features, although she had lived at Lausanne with the son of the Sieur de Caille. He could not remember the colour of the hair, nor the appearance, nor the peculiarities of his grandmother, who had accompanied the family in its flight into Switzerland; and could not mention a single friend with whom he had been intimate, either at Manosque, or Lausanne, or Geneva.

One would have supposed that this remarkable display of ignorance would have sufficed to convince all reasonable men of the falsity of the story, but it was far otherwise. The relatives of de Caille were called upon either to yield to his demands or disprove his identity; and M. Rolland, whose wife, it will be remembered, had obtained a large portion of the property, appeared against him. Twenty witnesses were called, of whom several swore that the accused was Pierre Mêge, the son of a galley-slave, and that they had known him for twenty years; while the others deposed that he was not the son of the Sieur de Caille, in whose studies they had shared. The soldier was very firm, however, and very brazen-faced, and demanded to be taken to the places where the real de Caille had lived, so that the people might have an opportunity of recognising him. Moreover, he deliberately asserted that while he was in prison M. Rolland had made two attempts against his life. He was conducted, according to his request, to Manosque, Caille, and Rougon, and upwards of a hundred witnesses swore that he was the man he represented himself to be. The court was divided; but, after eight hours' consideration, twelve out of the twenty-one judges of the Supreme Court of Provence pronounced in his favour, and several of M. [96] Rolland's witnesses were ordered into custody to take their trial for perjury.

Three weeks after this decision the soldier married the daughter of the Sieur Serri, a physician, who had privately supplied the funds for carrying on the case. This girl's mother was a cousin of one of the judges, and it soon came to be more than hinted that fair play had not been done. However, the soldier took possession of the Caille property, and drove out the poor persons who had been placed in the mansion by Madame Rolland.

Honorade Venelle, the wife of Pierre Mêge, who had preserved silence during the proceedings, now appeared on the scene, all her fury being roused by the marriage. She made a declaration before a notary at Aix, in which she stated that she had unexpectedly heard that Pierre Mêge had been recognised as the son of the Sieur de Caille, and had contracted a second marriage; and affirmed upon oath, "for the ease of her conscience and the maintenance of her honour," that he was her real husband, that he had been married to her in 1685, and that he had cohabited with her till 1699; therefore she demanded that the second marriage should be declared void. The judges, zealous of their own honour, and provoked that their decision should be called in question, gave immediate orders to cast her into prison, which was accordingly done.

The authorities at Berne meantime, believing that the decision of the Provençal Court, which had paid no attention to the documents which they had forwarded from Lausanne and Vevay, to prove the residence and death of the son of the Sieur de Caille in Switzerland was insulting, addressed a letter to the King, and the whole affair was considered by his Majesty in council at Fontainebleau. After the commissioners, to whom the matter was referred, had sat nearly forty times, they pronounced judgment. The decision of the court below was upset; the soldier was deprived of his ill-acquired wealth, was ordered to pay damages, was handed over to the criminal authorities for punishment, while the former holders were restored to possession of the property.



At the beginning of the seventeenth century, a French gentleman, named Guy de Verré, lived with his wife and two sons at Saumur. Claude, the elder of these children, who had a peculiar scar on his brow (which had been left by a burn), at an early age expressed a strong desire to become a soldier, and his father accordingly procured an ensigncy for him in the regiment of Clanleu. In 1638 Claude de Verré left the paternal mansion to join his regiment; and from that date till 1651 nothing was heard of him. In the latter year, however, one of the officers of a regiment which had been ordered to Saumur presented himself at the chateau of Chauvigny, which was occupied by Madame de Verré, now a widow; and no sooner had he appeared than Jacques, the second son, observed his perfect resemblance to his missing brother. He communicated his suspicions to his mother, who was overwhelmed with delight, and without consulting more than her emotions, addressed the stranger as her son. At first the officer feebly protested that he did not enjoy that relationship, but, seeing the lady's anxiety, he at last admitted that he was Claude de Verré, and that he had hesitated to declare himself at first until he had assured himself that his reception would be cordial after his eighteen years of absence. He had no reason to doubt the maternal love and forgiveness. From the first moment of his discovery he was acknowledged as the heir, and the happy mother celebrated his return by great rejoicings, to which all her friends and relatives were invited. He was presented to the members of the family, and they recognised him readily; although they did not fail to notice certain distinctions of feature and manner between him and the Claude de Verré who had gone to join the regiment of Clanleu. Still, as he answered all the questions which were put to him promptly and correctly, and as he sustained the character of the lost son perfectly, it was easy to suppose that absence and [98] increasing age had effected a slight change in him, and he was received everywhere with marked demonstrations of friendship. M. de Piedsélon, a brother of Madame de Verré, alone denounced him as an impostor; but his words were unheeded, and the new comer continued to possess the confidence of the other relatives, and of the widow and her second son, with whom he continued to reside for some time.

At last the day came when he must rejoin his regiment, and his brother Jacques accompanied him into Normandy, where it was stationed, and where they made the acquaintance of an M. de Dauplé, a gentleman who had a very pretty daughter. Claude de Verré soon fell over head and ears in love with this girl, who reciprocated his passion and married him. Before the ceremony a marriage-contract was signed, and this document, by a very peculiar clause, stipulated that, in the event of a separation, the bridegroom should pay a reasonable sum to Madlle. de Dauplé. Jacques de Verré signed this contract as the brother of the bridegroom, and it was duly registered by a notary. After their marriage the happy couple lived together until the drum and trumpet gave the signal for their separation, and Claude de Verré marched to the wars with his regiment.

But when released from service, instead of returning to pass the winter with his wife, he resorted once more to Chauvigny, to the house of Madame de Verré, and took his brother back. She was delighted to see him again, and on his part it was evident that he was resolved to make amends for his past neglect and his prolonged absence. Nevertheless, during his stay at the family mansion, he found time to indulge in a flirtation—if nothing worse—with a pretty girl named Anne Allard. Soon after his arrival intelligence reached Saumur of the death of the Madlle. de Dauplé whom Claude had married in Normandy—an occurrence which seemed to give him the utmost sorrow, but which did not prevent him from marrying Anne Allard within a very short time, his own feelings being ostensibly sacrificed to those of his mother, who was anxious that he should settle down at home. [99] In this instance, also, a marriage-contract was entered into, and was signed by Madame de Verré and her son Jacques. Not content with this proof of affection, the mother of Claude, seeing her eldest son thus settled down beside her, executed a deed conveying to him all her property, reserving only an annuity for herself and the portion of the second son.

For some time Claude de Verré lived peacefully and happily with Anne Allard, rejoicing in the possession of an affectionate wife, managing his property carefully, and even adding to the attractiveness and value of the family estate of Chauvigny. Two children were born of the marriage, and nothing seemed wanting to his prosperity, when suddenly a soldier of the French Gardes presented himself at Chauvigny. This man also claimed to be the eldest son of Madame de Verré, and gave a circumstantial account of his history from the time of his disappearance in 1638 to the period of his return. Among other adventures, he said that he had been made a prisoner at the siege of Valenciennes, that he had been exchanged, and that, while he was quartered in a town near Chauvigny, the news had reached him that an impostor was occupying his position. This intelligence determined him to return home at once, and, by declaring himself, to dissipate the illusion and put an end to the comedy which was being played at his expense.

The revelations of the soldier did not produce the result which he had anticipated; for, whether she was still persuaded that the husband of Anne Allard was the only and real Claude de Verré, or whether, while recognising her mistake, she preferred to leave matters as they were rather than promote a great family scandal and disturbance, Madame de Verré persisted that the new comer was not her son, for she had only two, and they were both living with her. Of course, the husband of Anne Allard had no hesitation in declaring the soldier an impostor, and Jacques de Verré united his voice to the others, and repudiated all claims to brotherhood on the part of the guardsman.

However, affairs were not allowed to remain in this [100] position. The new arrival, rejected by those with whom he claimed the most intimate relationship, appealed to a magistrate at Saumur, and lodged a complaint against his mother because of her refusal to acknowledge him, and against the so-called Claude de Verré for usurping his title and position, in order to gain possession of the family property. When the matter was brought before him the magistrate ordered the soldier to be placed under arrest, and sent for Madame de Verré to give her version of the affair. The lady declined to have anything to do with the claimant, although she admitted that there were some circumstances which told in his favour. Her brother M. Piedsélon, however, who had refused to recognise Anne Allard's husband in 1651, was still at Saumur, and he was confronted with the claimant. The recognition between the two men was mutual, and their answers to the same questions were identical. Moreover, the new comer had the scar on his brow, which was wanting on the person of the possessor of the estate. The other relatives followed the lead of M. Piedsélon; and ultimately it was proved that the husband of Anne Allard was an impostor, and that his real name was Michael Feydy. Consequently, on the 21st of May 1657, the Criminal-Lieutenant of Saumur delivered sentence, declaring that the soldier of the Gardes was the true Claude de Verré, permitting him to take possession of the property of the deceased Guy de Verré, and condemning Michael Feydy to death.

The first part of this sentence was carried out. The new Claude took forcible possession of the mansion and estate of Chauvigny. But it was found that Michael Feydy had disappeared, leaving his wife full power to act for him in his absence. Anne Allard at once instituted a suit—not against the possessor of the estates, whom she persistently refused to acknowledge—but against Madame de Verré and her son Jacques, and petitioned that they might be compelled to put an end to the criminal prosecution which the soldier of the Gardes had instituted against her husband, to restore her to the possession and enjoyment of the mansion of Chauvigny, and the other property which belonged to her; and that, in the event [101] of their failure to do so, they should be ordered to repay her all the expenses which she had incurred since her marriage; to grant her an annuity of two hundred livres per annum, according to the terms of her marriage-settlement; and further, to pay her 20,000 livres as damages.

At this stage another person appeared on the scene—none other than Madlle. de Dauplé, whom the sham Claude had married in Normandy, and whom he had reported as dead. She also had recourse to the legal tribunals, and demanded that Madame de Verré and her second son should pay her an annuity of 500 livres, and the arrears which were due to her since her abandonment by her husband, and 1500 livres for expenses incurred by Jacques Verré during his residence with her father and mother in Normandy. The children of Anne Allard, moreover, brought a suit to establish their own legitimacy.

The Avocat-Général was of opinion that the marriage contract between Michael Feydy and Mademoiselle de Dauplé should be declared void, because there was culpable carelessness on the father's part and on the girl's part alike. He thought the marriage of Michael Feydy and Anne Allard binding, because it had been contracted in good faith. Jacques de Verré he absolved from all blame, and was of opinion that since Madame de Verré had signed the marriage-contract it was only just to make her pay something towards the support of Anne Allard and her children. The Supreme Court did not altogether adopt these conclusions. By a decree of the 31st of June 1656, it dismissed the appeals of Anne Allard and of Madeline de Dauplé. It declared the children of Michael Feydy and of Anne Allard legitimate, and adjudged to them and to their mother all the property acquired by their father, which had accrued to him by his division with Jacques de Verré, under the name of Claude de Verré, until the signature of the matrimonial agreement, and also the guarantee of the debts which Anne Allard had incurred conjointly with her husband. Madame de Verré was also condemned to pay 2000 livres to Anne Allard, under the contract which had been signed. Of Feydy himself nothing further is known.



Since the reign of Edward III. the family of Knollys has been distinguished in the annals of the kingdom. In those days Sir Robert Knollys, one of the companions of the Black Prince, not only proved himself a gallant soldier, but fought to such good purpose that he enriched himself with spoils, and was elevated to the distinction of the Blue Ribbon of the Garter. His heirs continued to enjoy the royal favour throughout successive reigns; and Sir Francis Knollys, one of his descendants, who likewise was a garter-knight in the earlier part of the sixteenth century, espoused Catherine Cary, a grand-daughter of the Earl of Wiltshire, and a grand-niece of Queen Anne Boleyn. Two sons were born of this marriage, and were named Henry and William respectively. Henry died before his father, and William, who was born in 1547, succeeded to the family honours in 1596. He had worn them for seven years, when King James created him Baron Knollys of Grays, in Oxfordshire, in 1603. Sixteen years afterwards, King James further showed his royal favour towards him by creating him Baron Wallingford, and King Charles made him Earl of Banbury in 1626. He was married twice during his long life—first to Dorothy, widow of Lord Chandos, and daughter of Lord Bray, but by her he had no children; and secondly, and in the same year that his first wife died, to Lady Elizabeth Howard, the eldest daughter of the Earl of Suffolk. The couple were not well-assorted, the earl verging on three-score years, while the lady had not seen her twentieth summer on the day of her nuptials. Still their married life was happy, and her youth gladdened the old man's heart, as is proved by his settlement upon her, in 1629, of Caversham, in Berkshire, and by his constituting her his sole executrix. In the settlement, moreover, he makes mention of "the love and affection which he beareth unto the said Lady Elizabeth his wife, having always been a good and loving wife;" and in the will he calls her his "dearly-beloved wife Elizabeth, Countess of [103] Banbury." Lord Banbury died on the 25th of May 1632, having at least reached the age of eighty-five.

No inquiry was made immediately after his death as to the lands of which he died seised; but about eleven months afterwards, a commission was issued to the feodor and deputy-escheator of Oxfordshire, pursuant to which an inquisition was taken on the 11th of April 1633, at Burford, when the jury found that Elizabeth, his wife, survived him; that the earl had died without heirs-male of his body, and that his heirs were certain persons who were specified. Notwithstanding this decision there appears to have been little doubt that about the 10th of April 1627, the countess had been delivered of a son, who was baptized as Edward, and that on the 3d of January 1631, she had given birth to another son, who received the name of Nicholas. Both of these children were living when the inquisition was made. The first was born when the Earl of Banbury was in his eightieth year, and his wife between forty and forty-one years of age, and the second came into the world almost when his father was about to leave it, and when the countess was between forty and forty-five. Within five weeks after the death of the earl, her ladyship married Lord Vaux of Harrowden, who had been on terms of intimate friendship with the family during the deceased nobleman's lifetime, and it was plainly said that the children of Lady Banbury were the issue of Lord Vaux, and not of the earl.

On the 9th of February 1640-41, a bill was filed in Chancery by Edward, the eldest son, described as "Edward, Earl of Banbury, an infant," by William, Earl of Salisbury, his guardian, and brother-in-law of the Countess of Banbury. Witnesses were examined in the cause; but after a century and a-half their evidence was rejected in 1809 by the House of Lords. There was, however, a more rapid and satisfactory means of procedure. A writ was issued in 1641, directing the escheator of Berkshire "to inquire after the death of William, Earl of Banbury;" and the consequence was that a jury, which held an inquisition at Abingdon, found, with other matters, [104] "that Edward, now Earl of Banbury, is, and at the time of the earl's decease was, his son and next heir." The young man, therefore, assumed the title, and set out on a foreign tour. He was killed during the next year near Calais, while he was yet a minor. His brother Nicholas, then about fifteen years of age, at once assumed the title. In the same year Lord Vaux settled Harrowden and his other estates upon him. His mother, the Countess of Banbury, died on the 17th of April 1658, at the age of seventy-three, and Lord Vaux departed this life on the 8th of September 1661, aged seventy-four. Meantime Nicholas had taken his seat in the House of Lords, and occupied it without question for a couple of years. The Convention Parliament having been dissolved, however, he was not summoned to that which followed it, and in order to prove his right to the peerage petitioned the Crown for his writ. This petition was heard by the Committee for Privileges, which ultimately decided that "Nicholas, Earl of Banbury, is a legitimate person."

At his death he left one son, Charles, who assumed the title of Earl of Banbury, and who petitioned the House of Lords to take his case into consideration. After thirty years' delay, occasioned by the disturbed state of the times, the so-called Lord Banbury having accidentally killed his brother-in-law in a duel, was indicted as "Charles Knollys, Esq.," to answer for the crime on the 7th of November 1692. He appealed to the House of Lords, and demanded a trial by his peers: it was therefore necessary to re-open the whole case. After a patient investigation, his petition to the House of Lords was dismissed, and it was resolved that he had no right to the earldom of Banbury. He was consequently removed to Newgate.

When he was placed before the judges, and was called upon to plead, he admitted that he was the person indicted, but pleaded a misnomer in abatement—or, in other words, that he was the Earl of Banbury. The pleas occupied, subsequently, more than a year, during which time the prisoner was admitted to bail. At last the House of Lords interfered, and called upon the Attorney-General [105] to produce "an account in writing of the proceedings in the Court of King's Bench against the person who claims the title of the Earl of Banbury." The Attorney-General acted up to his instructions, and Lord Chief-Justice Holt was heard by the Lords on the subject. Parliament, however, was prorogued soon afterwards, and no decision was arrived at in the matter. Meantime, the Court of King's Bench proceeded to act as if no interference had been made, and quashed the indictment on the ground that the prisoner was erroneously styled "Charles Knollys" instead of "The Earl of Banbury."

When the Lords reassembled on the 27th of November 1694 they were very wroth, but, after an angry debate, the affair was adjourned, and nothing more was heard of the Banbury Peerage until the beginning of 1698, when Charles Banbury again petitioned the king, and the petition was once more referred to the House of Lords. Lord Chief-Justice Holt was summoned before the committee, and in answer to inquiries as to the motives which had actuated the judges of the King's Bench, replied, "I acknowledge the thing; there was such a plea and such a replication. I gave my judgment according to my conscience. We are trusted with the law. We are to be protected, not arraigned, and are not to give reasons for our judgment; therefore I desire to be excused giving any." Mr. Justice Eyre maintained the same dignified tone, and at length the House of Lords abandoned its fruitless struggle with the common-law Judges. The petition of Lord Banbury was subsequently laid before the Privy Council, when the sudden death of Queen Anne once more put an end to the proceedings.

When the Hanoverian princes came to the throne, Lord Banbury again tempted fate by a new petition to the Crown. Sir Philip York, the then Attorney-General, investigated the whole of the past proceedings from 1600 up to his time, and made a full report to the king, but no definite decision was given. In 1740, the claimant Charles, so-called Earl of Banbury, died in France. During his lifetime he had never ceased to bear the title [106] he had presented five petitions to the Crown, demanding the acknowledgment of his rights, and neither he nor any of his family, during the eighty years which had elapsed from the first preferment of the claim, had ever relinquished an iota of their pretensions.

At his death Charles, the third assumed Earl of Banbury, left a son called Charles, who adopted the title, and, dying in 1771, bequeathed it to his son William, who bore it until his decease in 1776. He was, in turn, succeeded by his brother Thomas, at whose death, in 1793, it devolved upon his eldest son, William Knollys, then called Viscount Wallingford, who immediately assumed the title of Earl of Banbury, and in 1806 presented a formal petition to the Crown—a petition which was in due course referred to the Attorney-General, and was by his advice transferred to the House of Lords.

Until 1806, when the claim was renewed, the pretenders to the Banbury honours had not only styled themselves earls in all legal documents, but they had been so described in the proceedings which had taken place, and in the commissions which they had held; and while their wives had been styled Countesses of Banbury, their children had borne those collateral titles which would have been given by courtesy to the sons and daughters of the Earls of Banbury. But, although there had thus been an uninterrupted usage of the title for upwards of 180 years, when William Knollys succeeded his father a new system was practised. His father, the deceased earl, had held a commission in the third regiment of foot, and during his father's lifetime he had been styled in his own major-general's commission, "William Knollys, commonly called Viscount Wallingford." But on his father's decease, and the consequent descent of his father's claims, the title of earl was refused to him, and therefore it was that he presented his petition.

The case remained in the House of Lords for nearly six years. On the 30th of May 1808 it was brought on for hearing before the Committee for Privileges, when Sir Samuel Romilly, Mr. Gaselee, and Mr. Hargrave, appeared for the petitioner, and the Crown was [107] represented by the Attorney-General and a junior counsel. A great mass of documentary and genealogical evidence was produced; but after a most painstaking investigation, Lords Erskine, Ellenborough, Eldon, and Redesdale came to the conclusion that Nicholas Vaux, the petitioner, had not made out his claim to the Earldom of Banbury, and the House of Lords, on the 11th of March 1813, endorsed their decision.


In 1670 Jocelyn Percy, the eleventh Earl of Northumberland, died without male issue. Up to his time, throughout the six hundred years, the noble family of Percy had never been without a male representative, and the successive earls had almost invariably been soldiers, and had added to the lustre of their descent by their own valiant deeds. But when Earl Jocelyn died, in 1670, he left behind him a solitary daughter—whose life was in itself eventful enough, and who became the wife of Charles Somerset, the proud Duke of Somerset—but who could not wear the title, although she inherited much of the wealth of the Percys.

Jocelyn Percy was, however, scarcely cold in his grave when a claimant appeared, who sought the family honours and the entailed lands which their possession implied. This was James Percy, a poor Dublin trunkmaker, who came over to England and at once assumed the title. His pretensions aroused the ire of the dowager-countess, the mother of Earl Jocelyn, who, on the 18th of February 1672, presented a petition to the House of Lords on behalf of herself and Lady Elizabeth Percy, her grand-daughter, setting forth that "one who called himself James Percy (by profession a trunkmaker in Dublin) assumes to himself the titles of Earl of Northumberland and Lord Percy, to the dishonour of that family." This [108] petition was referred, in the usual course, to the Committee for Privileges. This was immediately followed by a petition from the claimant, which was read, considered, and dismissed. However, both parties appeared before the House of Lords on the 28th of November, James Percy claiming the honours, and the countess declaring him an impostor. Percy craved an extension of time; but, as he was unable to show any probability that he would ultimately succeed, his demand was refused, and his petition was dismissed—Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesea, alone protesting against the decision.

Percy, however, displaying the same valour and obstinacy in the courts which his ancestors had so often shown on the battle-fields, was not daunted, although he was discomfited. He appealed to the common-law tribunals, and brought actions for scandal and ejectment against various parties, and no fewer than five of these suits were tried between 1674 and 1681. The first adversary whom he challenged was James Clark, whom he sued for scandal, and in whose case he was content to accept a non-suit; alleging, however, that this untoward result was not so much brought about by the weakness of his cause as by the faithlessness of his attorney. In a printed document which he published with reference to the trial, he distinctly states that the Lord Chief-Justice, Sir Matthew Hale, was so much dissatisfied with the decision, that in the open court he plainly asserted "that the claimant had proved himself a true Percy, by father, mother, grandfather, and grandmother, and of the blood and family of the Percys of Northumberland; and that he did verily believe that the claimant was cousin and next heir-male to Jocelyn, late Earl of Northumberland, only he was afraid he had taken the descent too high." It is further reported that Sir Matthew, on entering his carriage, remarked to Lord Shaftesbury, who was standing by, "I verily believe he hath as much right to the earldom of Northumberland as I have to this coach and horses, which I have bought and paid for."

His next action was against a gentleman named Wright, who had taken upon himself to pronounce him illegitimate, [109] and in this instance he was more successful. The case was heard before Sir Richard Rainsford, Sir Matthew Hale's successor, and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff, with £300 damages. Flushed by this victory, he took proceedings against Edward Craister, the sheriff of Northumberland, against whom he filed a bill for the recovery of the sum of £20 a-year, granted by the patent of creation out of the revenues of the county. Before this, however, in 1680, he had again petitioned the House of Lords, and his petition was again rejected—Lord Annesley, as before, protesting against the rejection. The litigation with Craister in the Court of Exchequer being very protracted, the Duchess of Somerset (who was the daughter and heiress of Earl Jocelyn) brought the matter once more before the Lords in 1685, and her petition was referred to the Committee of Privileges. In reply to her petition Percy presented one of complaint, which was also sent to the Committee. No decision, however, seems to have been arrived at, and the reign of King James came to a close without further action. In the first year of the reign of William and Mary (1689), Percy returned to the charge with a fresh petition and a fresh demand for recognition and justice. These documents are still extant, and some of them are very entertaining. In one he candidly admits that he has been, up to the time when he writes, in error as to his pedigree, and, abandoning his old position, takes up fresh ground. In another, "The claimant desireth your lordships to consider the justice and equity of his cause, hoping your lordships will take such care therein that your own descendants may not be put to the like trouble for the future in maintaining their and your petitioner's undoubted right;" and lest the argumentum ad homines should fail, he asks, "Whether or no three streams issuing from one fountain, why the third stream (though little, the first two great streams being spent) may not justly claim the right of the original fountain?" In addition, he appends a sort of solemn declaration, in which he represents himself as trusting in God, and waiting patiently upon the king's sacred Majesty for his royal writ of summons to call him [110] to appear and take his place and seat according to his birthright and title, "for true men ought not to be blamed for standing up for justice, property, and right, which is the chief diadem in the Crown, and the laurel of the kingdom." That summons never was destined to be issued. When the Committee for Privileges gave in their report, it declared Percy's conduct to be insolent in persisting to designate himself Earl of Northumberland after the previous decisions of the House; and the Lords ordered that counsel should be heard at the bar of the House on the part of the Duke of Somerset against the said James Percy.

This was accordingly done; and the Lords not only finally came to the decision "that the pretensions of the said James Percy to the earldom of Northumberland are groundless, false, and scandalous," and ordered that his petition be dismissed, but added to their judgment this sentence, "That the said James Percy shall be brought before the four Courts in Westminster Hall, wearing a paper upon his breast on which these words shall be written: 'THE FALSE AND IMPUDENT PRETENDER TO THE EARLDOM OF NORTHUMBERLAND.'" The judgment was at once carried into execution, and from that time forward the unfortunate trunkmaker disappears from the public view. He does not seem to have reverted to his old trade; or, at least, if he did so, he made it profitable, for we find his son, Sir Anthony Percy, figuring as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1699. There can be no doubt that, although he was treated with undue harshness, his claims had no real foundation. At first he alleged that his grandfather, Henry Percy, was a son of Sir Richard Percy, a younger brother of Henry, ninth Earl of Northumberland—an allegation which would have made Sir Richard a grandfather at thirteen years of age. It was further proved that Sir Richard, so far from having any claim to such unusual honours, died without issue. In his second story he traced his descent to Sir Ingelram Percy, stating that his grandfather Henry was the eldest of the four children of Sir Ingelram, and that these children were sent from the north in hampers to Dame Vaux of [111] Harrowden, in Northamptonshire. He advanced no proof, however, of the correctness of this story, while the other side showed conclusively that Sir Ingelram had never been married, and at his death had only left an illegitimate daughter. At any rate, whether James Percy was honest or dishonest, "the game was worth the candle"—the Percy honours and estates were worth trying for.


Rather more than a hundred years ago the whole kingdom was disturbed by the judicial proceedings which were taken with reference to the succession to the ancient honours of the great Scotch house of Douglas. Boswell, who was but little indisposed to exaggeration, and who is reported by Sir Walter Scott to have been such an ardent partizan that he headed a mob which smashed the windows of the judges of the Court of Session, says that "the Douglas cause shook the security of birthright in Scotland to its foundation, and was a cause which, had it happened before the Union, when there was no appeal to a British House of Lords, would have left the fortress of honours and of property in ruins." His zeal even led him to oppose his idol Dr. Johnson, who took the opposite side, and to tell him that he knew nothing of the cause, which, he adds, he does most seriously believe was the case. But however this may be, the popular interest and excitement were extreme; the decision of the Court of Session in 1767 led to serious disturbances, and the reversal of its judgment two years later was received with the most extravagant demonstrations of joy.

In the beginning of the eighteenth century, Archibald, Duke of Douglas, wore the honours of Sholto, "the Douglas." His father, James, the second Marquis of Douglas, had been twice married, and had issue by his first wife in the person of James, earl of Angus, who was killed at the battle of Steinkirk; and by his second of a son and daughter. The son was the Archibald just [112] mentioned, who became his heir and successor, and the daughter was named Lady Jane. Her ladyship, like most of the women of the Douglas family, was celebrated for her beauty; but unhappily became afterwards as famous for her evil fortune. In her first womanhood she entered into a nuptial agreement with the Earl of Dalkeith, who subsequently became Duke of Buccleuch, but the marriage was unexpectedly broken off, and for very many years she persistently refused all the offers which were made for her hand. At length, in 1746, when she was forty-eight years old, she was secretly married to Mr. Stewart, of Grantully. This gentleman was a penniless scion of a good family, and the sole resources of the newly-wedded couple consisted of an allowance of £300 per annum, which had been granted by the duke to his sister, with whom he was on no friendly terms. Even this paltry means of support was precarious, and it was resolved to keep the marriage secret. The more effectually to conceal it, Mr. Stewart and his nobly-born wife repaired to France, and remained on the Continent for three years. At the end of that time they returned to England, bringing with them two children, of whom they alleged the Lady Jane had been delivered in Paris, at a twin-birth, in July 1748. Six months previously to their arrival in London their marriage had been made public, and the duke had stopped the allowance which he had previously granted. They were, therefore, in the direst distress; and, to add to their other misfortunes, Mr. Stewart being deeply involved in debt, his creditors threw him into prison.

Lady Jane bore up against her accumulated sorrows with more than womanly heroism, and when she found all her efforts to excite the sympathy of her brother unavailing, addressed the following letter to Mr. Pelham, then Secretary of State:—

"SIR,—If I meant to importune you I should ill deserve the generous compassion which I was informed some months ago you expressed upon being acquainted with my distress. I take this as the least troublesome way of thanking you, and desiring you to lay my application [113] before the king in such a light as your own humanity will suggest. I cannot tell my story without seeming to complain of one of whom I never will complain. I am persuaded my brother wishes me well, but, from a mistaken resentment, upon a creditor of mine demanding from him a trifling sum, he has stopped the annuity which he had always paid me—my father having left me, his only younger child, in a manner unprovided for. Till the Duke of Douglas is set right—which I am confident he will be—I am destitute. Presumptive heiress of a great estate and family, with two children, I want bread. Your own nobleness of mind will make you feel how much it costs me to beg, though from the king. My birth, and the attachment of my family, I flatter myself his Majesty is not unacquainted with. Should he think me an object of his royal bounty, my heart won't suffer any bounds to be set to my gratitude; and, give me leave to say, my spirit won't suffer me to be burdensome to his Majesty longer than my cruel necessity compels me.

"I little thought of ever being reduced to petition in this way; your goodness will therefore excuse me if I have mistaken the manner, or said anything improper. Though personally unknown to you, I rely upon your intercession. The consciousness of your own mind in having done so good and charitable a deed will be a better return than the thanks of

Jane Douglas Stewart."

The result was that the king granted the distressed lady a pension of £300 a-year; but Lady Jane seems to have been little relieved thereby. The Douglas' notions of economy were perhaps eccentric, but, at all events, not only did Mr. Stewart still remain in prison, but his wife was frequently compelled to sell the contents of her wardrobe to supply him with suitable food during his prolonged residence in the custody of the officers of the Court of King's Bench. During the course of his incarceration Lady Jane resided in Chelsea, and the letters which passed between the severed pair, letters which were afterwards produced in court—proved that their children [114] were rarely absent from their thoughts, and that on all occasions they treated them with the warmest parental affection.

In 1752, Lady Jane visited Scotland, accompanied by her children, for the purpose, if possible, of effecting a reconciliation with her brother; but the duke flatly refused even to accord her an interview. She therefore returned to London, leaving the children in the care of a nurse at Edinburgh. This woman, who had originally accompanied herself and her husband to the continent, treated them in the kindest possible manner; but, notwithstanding her care, Sholto Thomas Stewart, the younger of the twins, sickened and died on the 11th of May 1753. The disconsolate mother at once hurried back to the Scottish capital, and again endeavoured to move her brother to have compassion upon her in her distress. Her efforts were fruitless, and, worn out by starvation, hardship, and fatigue, she, too, sank and died in the following November, disowned by her friends, and, as she said to Pelham, "wanting bread."

Better days soon dawned upon Archibald, the surviving twin. Lady Shaw, deeply stirred by the misfortunes and lamentable end of his mother, took him under her own charge, and educated and supported him as befitted his condition. When she died a nobleman took him up; and his father, having unexpectedly succeeded to the baronetcy and estates of Grantully, on acquiring his inheritance, immediately executed a bond of provision in his favour for upwards of £2500, and therein acknowledged him as his son by Lady Jane Douglas.

The rancour of the duke, however, had not died away, and he stubbornly refused to recognise the child as his nephew. And, more than this, after having spent the greater portion of his life in seclusion, he unexpectedly entered into a marriage, in 1758, with the eldest daughter of Mr. James Douglas, of Mains. This lady, far from sharing in the opinions of her noble lord, espoused the cause of the lad whom he so firmly repudiated, and became a partisan so earnest that a quarrel resulted, which gave rise to a separation. But peace was easily [115] restored, and quietness once more reigned in the ducal household.

In the middle of 1761, the Duke of Douglas was unexpectedly taken ill, and his physicians pronounced his malady to be mortal. Nature, in her strange and unexplained way, told the ill-tempered peer the same tale, and, when death was actually before his eyes, he repented of his conduct towards his unfortunate sister. To herself he was unable to make any reparation, but her boy remained; and, on the 11th of July 1761, he executed an entail of his entire estates in favour of the heirs of his father, James, Marquis of Douglas, with remainder to Lord Douglas Hamilton, the brother of the Duke of Hamilton, and supplemented it by another deed which set forth that, as in the event of his death without heirs of his body, Archibald Douglas, alias Stewart, a minor, and son of the deceased Lady Jane Douglas, his sister, would succeed him, he appointed the Duchess of Douglas, the Duke of Queensberry, and certain other persons whom he named, to be the lad's tutors and guardians. Thus, from being a rejected waif, the boy became the acknowledged heir to a peerage, and a long rent-roll.

There were still, however, many difficulties to be surmounted. The guardians of the young Hamilton had no intention of losing the splendid prize which was almost within their grasp, and repudiated the boy's pretensions. On the other hand, the guardians of the youthful Stewart-Douglas were determined to procure the official recognition of his claims. Accordingly, immediately after the duke's decease, they hastened to put him in possession of the Douglas estate, and set on foot legal proceedings to justify their conduct. The Hamilton faction thereupon despatched one of their number to Paris, and on his return their emissary rejoiced their hearts and elevated their hopes by informing them that he was convinced, on safe grounds, that Lady Jane Douglas had never given birth to the twins, as suggested, and that the whole story was a fabrication. They, therefore, asserted before the courts that the claimant to the Douglas honours was not a Douglas at all.


They denied that Lady Jane Douglas was delivered on July 10, 1748, in the house of a Madame La Brune, as stated; and brought forward various circumstances to show that Madame La Brune herself never existed. They asserted that it was impossible that the birth could have taken place at that time, because on the specified date, and for several days precedent and subsequent to the 10th of July, Lady Jane Douglas with her husband and a Mrs. Hewit were staying at the Hotel de Chalons—an inn kept by a Mons. Godefroi, who, with his wife, was ready to prove their residence there. And they not only maintained that dark work had been carried on in Paris by the parties concerned in the affair, but alleged that Sir John Stewart, Lady Jane Douglas, and Mrs. Hewit, had stolen from French parents the children which they afterwards foisted upon the public as real Douglases.

The claimant, and those representing him, on their part, brought forward the depositions of several witnesses that Lady Jane Douglas appeared to them to be with child while at Aix-la-Chapelle and other places, and put in evidence the sworn testimony of Mrs. Hewit, who accompanied the newly-wedded pair to the continent, as to the actual delivery of her ladyship at Paris upon the 10th of July 1748. They also submitted the depositions of independent witnesses as to the recognition of the claimant by Sir John (then Mr.) Stewart and his wife, and produced a variety of letters which had passed between Sir John Stewart, Lady Jane Douglas, Mrs. Hewit, and others as to the birth. They also added to their case four letters, which purported to emanate from Pierre la Marre, whom they represented to have been the accoucheur at the delivery of Lady Jane.

Sir John Stewart, Lady Jane's husband, and the reputed father of the claimant, died in June 1764; but, before his decease, his depositions were taken in the presence of two ministers and of a justice of the peace. He asserted, "as one slipping into eternity, that the defendant (Archibald Stewart) and his deceased twin-brother were both born of the body of Lady Jane Douglas, his lawful spouse, in the year 1748."


The case came before the Court of Session on the 17th of July 1767, when no fewer than fifteen judges took their seats to decide it. During its continuance Mrs. Hewit, who was charged with abetting the fraud, died; but before her death she also, like Sir John Stewart, formally and firmly asserted, with her dying breath, that her evidence in the matter was unprejudiced and true. After a patient hearing seven of the judges voted to "sustain the reasons of reduction," and the other seven to "assoilzie the defender." In other words, the bench was divided in opinion, and the Lord President, who has no vote except as an umpire in such a dilemma, voted for the Hamilton or illegitimacy side, and thus deprived Archibald Douglas, or Stewart, of both the title and the estates.

But a matter of such importance could not, naturally, be allowed to remain in such an unsatisfactory condition. An appeal was made to the House of Lords, and the judgment of the Scottish Court of Session was reversed in 1769. Archibald Douglas was, therefore, declared to be the son of Lady Jane, and the heir to the dukedom of Douglas.


The idea of colonizing Nova Scotia found great favour in the eyes both of James VI. and Charles I., and the former monarch rewarded Sir William Alexander of Menstrie, who actively supported the project, with a charter, dated 12th September 1621, in which he granted to him "All and Whole the territory adjacent to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, thenceforward to be called Nova Scotia;" and constituted him, his heirs and assignees, hereditary Lords-Lieutenant. The powers which were given to these Lords-Lieutenant were little short of regal; but before the charter could be ratified by the Scotch Parliament his Majesty died. In 1625, however, the grant was [118] renewed in the form of a Charter of Novodamus, which was even more liberal than the original document. These deeds were drawn out in the usual form of Scottish conveyances, and were ratified by the Scotch Parliament in 1633.

In accordance with their terms Sir William despatched one of his sons to Canada, where, acting in his father's name, he built forts at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and acted as a petty king during his stay. Still the project did not flourish: colonists were scarce and shy, and, in order to make colonization more rapid, King James hit upon the expedient of creating Nova-Scotian baronets, and of conferring this distinction upon the leading members of those families who most actively engaged in the work of populating the land. His successor Charles I., who had an equal desire and necessity for money, converted the new order into a source of revenue by granting 16,000 acres of Canadian soil to those who could pay well, by erecting the district thus sold into a barony, and by attaching the honours of a baronet of Nova Scotia thereto. The order was afterwards extended to natives of England and Ireland, provided they became naturalized Scotchmen.

Sir William Alexander, by unfortunate speculations, was reduced to want; his affairs became involved, and he ultimately sold his entire Canadian possessions to a Frenchman named de la Tour. The original Scotch colony depended upon the crown of Scotland: it was ceded to France by the Treaty of St. Germains, dated the 29th of March 1632; was reconquered by Cromwell; was again surrendered in the reign of Charles II.; and in 1713 once more became a British colony—no consideration being paid at the last transfer to the real or imaginary claims of Sir William Alexander.

The worthy baronet, however, notwithstanding his misfortunes and his impecuniosity, continued a great friend of the first Charles, who, by royal letters patent, elevated him, on the 14th of June 1633, to a peerage under the title of the Earl of Stirling. The earldom became dormant in 1739.

After a lapse of more than twenty years a claimant for [119] these honours appeared in the person of William Alexander; but his appeal to the House of Peers was rejected on the 10th of March 1762, and the Stirling Peerage was commonly supposed to have shared the common earthly fate, and to have died a natural death. But a new aspirant unexpectedly appeared. This gentleman, named Humphreys, laid claim not only to the earldom of Stirling, but also to the whole territory of Canada, in addition to the Scottish estates appertaining thereto; and, in order to substantiate his pretensions, put forward an assumed pedigree. In this document he declared himself to be the lineal descendant and nearest lawful heir of Sir William Alexander, who he said was his great-great-great-grandfather. From this remote fountain he pretended to have come, following the acknowledged stream until he reached Benjamin, the last heir-male of the body of the first earl, and, diverting the current to heirs-female in the person of Hannah, Earl William's youngest daughter, who was married at Birmingham, and whom he represented as his own ancestress.

In 1824, having obtained formal license to assume the surname of Alexander, he procured himself to be served "lawful and nearest heir-male in general of the body of the said Hannah Alexander," before the bailies of Canongate, 1826. Then he assumed the title of Earl of Stirling and Dovan, and, in 1830, formally registered himself as "lawful and nearest heir in general to the deceased William, the first Earl of Stirling."

According to the patent of 1633, which was confined to heirs-male, Humphreys had no claim either to the title or estates; but he based his pretensions upon a document which, he said, had been granted by Charles I., in 1639, to the Earl of Stirling, and which conferred upon him, without limitation as to issue, the whole estates in Scotland and America, as well as the honours conveyed by the original patent. This he attempted to prove in an action in the Court of Session, which was dismissed in 1830, as was also a similar action for a like purpose in 1833.

But, although not officially recognised, he assumed all [120] the imaginary privileges of his position, granting to his friends vast districts of Canadian soil, creating Nova-Scotian baronets at his own discretion, and acting, if not like a king, at least like a feudal magnate of the first degree. He caused notice after notice to be issued proclaiming his rights, and the records of the time are filled with strange proclamations and announcements, to which his name is attached. As a rule, these productions are far too lengthy to be copied, and far too involved to be readily summarized. They have all a lamentably commercial tone, and invariably exhibit an unworthy disposition to sacrifice great prospective or assumed advantages for a very little ready money. Take, for instance, his address to the public authorities of Nova Scotia, issued in 1831. In it, after informing his readers of the steps which he had taken to assert his rights, and the prospects which existed of their recognition, he hastens to observe that "persons desirous of settling on any of the waste lands, either by purchase or lease, will find me ready to treat with them on the most liberal terms and conditions;" and throws out a gentle hint that in any official appointment he might have to make, he would prefer that "the persons to fill them should rather be Nova Scotians or Canadians, than the strangers of England." At the same time he issued numerous advertisements in the journals, reminding all whom it might concern of his hereditary rights, and warning the world in general against infringing his exclusive privileges. At length, having succeeded in gaining notoriety for himself, he aroused the Scotch nobility. On the 19th of March 1832, the Earl of Rosebery proposed and obtained a select committee of the House of Lords, with a view of impeding "the facility with which persons can assume a title without authority, and thus lessen the character and respectability of the peerage in the eyes of the public;" and the Marchioness of Downshire, the female representative of the house of Stirling, forwarded a petition to the Lords, complaining of the undue assumption of the title by Mr. Humphreys.

It is somewhat remarkable that the extraordinary [121] proceedings of this person should have been tolerated for so long a time by the law-officers of the Crown; but his growing audacity at last led to their interference, and what is termed an action of reduction was brought against him and his agent. Lord Cockburn, who heard the case, decided, without hesitation, that his claim was not established, declared the previous legal proceedings invalid, and demolished the pretensions of the claimant. Under these circumstances it was necessary to do something to strengthen those weak points in his title, which had been pointed out by the presiding judge, and Humphreys or his friends were equal to the emergency. A variety of documents were discovered in the most unexpected manner, which exactly supplied the missing links in the evidence, and the claim was accordingly renewed. The law-officers of the Crown denied the validity of these documents, which emanated from the most suspicious sources—some being forwarded by a noted Parisian fortune-teller, called Madlle. le Normand; and after Mr. Humphreys had been judicially examined with regard to them, he was served with an indictment to stand his trial for forgery before the High Court of Justiciary, at Edinburgh, on the 3d of April 1839. The trial lasted for five days, and created intense excitement throughout Scotland. During the trial it was elicited that the father of Mr. Humphreys had been a respectable merchant in Birmingham, who had amassed considerable wealth, had gone abroad, accompanied by his son, in 1802, and had taken up his temporary residence in France. As he did not return at the declaration of war which followed the brief peace, he was detained by Napoleon, and died at Verdun in 1807. His son, the pretended earl, remained a prisoner in France until 1815, and afterwards established himself as a schoolmaster at Worcester. There he met with little success, but bore an excellent character, and gained a certain number of influential friends, whose probity and truthfulness were beyond doubt; some of whom supported him through all his career, one officer of distinction even sitting in the dock with him. The public sympathy was also strongly displayed on his side. [122] But the evidence which was led on behalf of the Crown was conclusive, and a verdict was returned declaring the documents to be forgeries; but finding it "Not Proven" that the prisoner knew that they were fictitious, or uttered them with any malicious intention. He was therefore set at liberty, and retired into private life. Whether he was an impostor, or was merely the victim of a hallucination, it is very difficult to say. In any case he failed to prove himself the Earl of Stirling.


After the disastrous battle of Culloden, Charles Edward Stuart, or "The Young Pretender," as he was commonly styled by his opponents, fled from the field, and after many hair-breadth escapes succeeded in reaching the Highlands, where he wandered to and fro for many weary months. A reward of £30,000 was set upon his head, his enemies dogged his footsteps like bloodhounds, and often he was so hard pressed by the troops that he had to take refuge in caves and barns, and sometimes was compelled to avoid all shelter but that afforded him by the forests and brackens on the bleak hillsides. But the people remained faithful to his cause, and, even when danger seemed most imminent, succeeded in baffling his pursuers, and ultimately in effecting his escape. Accompanied by Cameron of Lochiel, and a few of his most faithful adherents, he managed to smuggle himself on board a little French privateer, and was at last landed in safety at a place called Roseau, near Morlaix, in France. He was treated with great respect at the French court, until the King of France, by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, disowned all rivals of the House of Hanover. The prince protested against this treaty, and braved the French court. He was accordingly ordered, in no very ceremonious terms, to leave the country, and betook himself to Italy, where he gave himself up to drunkenness, debauchery, and excesses [123] of the lowest kind. In 1772 he married the Princess Louisa Maximilian de Stolberg, by whom he had no children, and with whom he lived very unhappily. He died from the effects of his own self-indulgence, and without male issue, in 1788. His father, the Chevalier de St. George, had pre-deceased him in 1766, and his younger brother the Cardinal York, having been debarred from marriage, it was supposed that at the death of the cardinal the royal House of Stuart had passed away.

But, in 1847, a book appeared, entitled "Tales of the Century; or, Sketches of the Romance of History between the Years 1746 and 1846, by John Sobieski and Charles Edward Stuart," and it immediately created a considerable stir in literary circles. It was at once evident that the three stories which the work contained were not intended to be read as fictions, but as a contribution to the history of the period; or, in other words, the authors meant the public to understand that Prince Charles Edward Stuart left a legitimate son by his wife Louisa de Stolberg, and that they themselves were his descendants and representatives.

The first of these "Tales of the Century" is called "The Picture," and introduces the reader to a young Highland gentleman, named Macdonnell, of Glendulochan, who is paying a first visit, in 1831, to an aged Jacobite doctor, then resident in Westminster. This old adherent of the cause feels the near approach of death, and is oppressed by the possession of a secret which he feels must not die with him. He had promised only to reveal it "in the service of his king;" and believing it for his service that it should live, he confides it to the young chief. "I will reveal it to you," he says, "that the last of the Gael may live to keep that mysterious hope—They have yet a king."

He then narrates how, in the course of a tour which he had made in Italy, in 1773, a lingering fascination compelled him to remain for some days in the vicinity of St. Rosalie, on the road from Parma to Florence; how he had often walked for hours in the deep quiet shades of the convent, ruminating on his distant country, [124] on past events, and on coming fortunes yet unknown; and how, while thus engaged one evening, his reverie was disturbed by the rapid approach of a carriage with scarlet outriders. He gained a momentary glimpse, of its occupants—a lady and gentleman—and recognised the prince at once, "for though changed with years and care, he was still himself; and though no longer the 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' of our faithful beau-ideal, still the same eagle-featured royal bird which I had seen on his own mountains, when he spread his wings towards the south; and once more I felt the thrilling talismanic influence of his appearance, the sight so dear, so deeply-rooted in the hearts of the Highlanders—Charlie, King of the Gael."

On the same evening, while the doctor was pacing the aisles of St. Rosalie, he was disturbed from his meditation by a heavy military tread and the jingling of spurs, and a man of superior appearance, but equivocal demeanour, strode towards him, and demanded to know if he were Dr. Beaton, the Scotch physician. On receiving an affirmative answer, he was requested to render assistance to some one in need of immediate attendance, and all hesitation and inquiry was attempted to be cut short by the announcement—"The relief of the malady, and not the circumstances, of the patient is the province of the physician, and for the present occasion you will best learn by an inspection of the individual."

A carriage was in waiting, but, in true romantic style, it was necessary that the doctor should consent to be blindfolded; an indignity to which he refused to submit, until the stranger, with effusive expressions of respect for his doubts, said the secret would be embarrassing to its possessor, as it concerned the interest and safety of the most illustrious of the Scottish Jacobites. The doctor's reluctance now changed into eagerness; he readily agreed to follow his guide, and was conveyed, partly by land and partly by water, to a mansion, which they entered through a garden. After passing through a long range of apartments, his mask was removed, and he looked round upon a splendid saloon, hung with crimson velvet, and blazing [125] with mirrors which reached from floor to ceiling, while the dim perspective of a long conservatory was revealed at the farther end. His conductor rang a silver bell, which was immediately answered by a little page, richly dressed in scarlet. This boy entered into conversation in German with the cavalier, and gave very pleasing information to him, which he, in turn, communicated to the doctor. "Signor Dottore," said he, "the most important part of your occasion is past. The lady whom you have been unhappily called to attend met with an alarming accident in her carriage not half an hour before I found you in the church, and the unlucky absence of her physician leaves her entirely in your charge. Her accouchement is over, apparently without more than exhaustion; but of that you will be the judge."

The mention of the carriage and the accident recalled to Dr. Beaton his hasty vision of the prince, but, before he could collect his confused thoughts, he was led through a splendid suite of apartments to a small ante-room, decorated with several portraits, among which he instantly recognised one of the Duke of Perth and another of King James VIII. Thence he was conducted into a magnificent bed-chamber, where the light of a single taper shed a dim glimmer through the apartment. A lady who addressed him in English led him towards the bed. The curtains were almost closed, and by the bed stood a female attendant holding an infant enveloped in a mantle. As she retired, the lady drew aside the curtains, and by the faint light which fell within the bed, the doctor imperfectly distinguished the pale features of a delicate face, which lay wan and languid, almost enveloped in the down pillow. The patient uttered a few words in German, but was extremely weak, and almost pulseless. The case was urgent, and the Scotch doctor, suppressing all indication of the danger of which he was sensible, offered at once to write a prescription.

For this purpose he was taken to a writing-cabinet which stood near; and there, while momentarily reflecting upon the ingredients which were to form his prescription, he glanced at a toilet beside him. The light of the taper [126] shone full upon a number of jewels, which lay loosely intermixed among the scent bottles, as if put off in haste and confusion; and his surprise was great to recognise an exquisite miniature of his noble exiled prince, Charles Edward, representing him in the very dress in which he had seen him at Culloden. The lady suddenly approached, as if looking for some ornaments, and placed herself between him and the table. It was but an instant, and she retired; but when the doctor, anxious for another glimpse, again turned his eyes to the table, the face of the miniature was turned.

His duty done, he was led from the house in the same mysterious manner in which he was admitted to it; but not until he had taken an oath on the crucifix "never to speak of what he had seen, heard, or thought on that night, unless it should be in the service of his king—King Charles." Moreover, he was required to leave Tuscany the same night, and, in implicit obedience to his instructions, departed to a seaport. Here he resumed his rambles and meditation, having still deeper food for thought than when he was at St. Rosalie.

On the third night after his arrival, while strolling along the beach, his attention was attracted by an English frigate, and in answer to his inquiries he was told that her name was the "Albina," and that she was commanded by Commodore O'Haleran. The doctor lingered on the shore in the bright moonlight, and was just about to retire when he was detained by the approach of a horseman, who was followed by a small close carriage. In the horseman he recognised his mysterious guide of St. Rosalie, and waited to see the next move in the game. The carriage stopped full in the moonlight, near the margin of the water. A signal was given by the cavalier, and in response the long black shadow of a man-of-war's galley shot from behind a creek of rocks, and pulled straight for the spot where the carriage stood. Her stern was backed towards the shore. A lady alighted from the carriage, and as she descended the doctor observed that she bore in her arms some object which she held with great solicitation. An officer at the same time leaped from the boat and [127] hastened towards the travellers. The doctor did not discern his face, but, from the glimmer of the moonlight upon his shoulders, saw that he wore double epaulettes. It may therefore be conjectured that this was Commodore O'Haleran himself. He made a brief but profound salute to the lady, and led her towards the galley. Then, says the doctor,—

"As they approached the lady unfolded her mantle, and I heard the faint cry of an infant, and distinguished for a moment the glisten of a little white mantle and cap, as she laid her charge in the arms of her companion. The officer immediately lifted her into the boat, and as soon as she was seated the cavalier delivered to her the child; and, folding it carefully in her cloak, I heard her half-suppressed voice lulling the infant from its disturbance. A brief word and a momentary grasp of the hand passed between the lady and the cavalier; and, the officer lifting his hat, the boat pushed off, the oars fell in the water, and the galley glided down the creek with a velocity that soon rendered her but a shadow in the grey tide. In a few minutes I lost sight of her altogether; but I still distinguished the faint measured plash of the oars, and the feeble wail of the infant's voice float along the still water.

"For some moments I thought I had seen the last of the little bark, which seemed to venture, like an enchanted skiff, into that world of black waters. But suddenly I caught a glimpse of the narrow boat, and the dark figures of the men, gliding across the bright stream of moonlight upon the tide; an instant after a faint gleam blinked on the white mantle of the lady and the sparkle of the oars, but it died away by degrees, and neither sound nor sight returned again.

"For more than a quarter of an hour the tall black figure of the cavalier continued fixed upon the same spot and in the same attitude; but suddenly the broad gigantic shadow of the frigate swung round in the moonshine, her sails filled to the breeze, and, dimly brightening in the light, she bore off slow and still and stately towards the west."


So much for the birth. Doctor Beaton, at least, says that Louisa de Stolberg, the lawful wife of the young pretender, gave birth to a child at St Rosalie in 1773, and that it was carried away three days afterwards in the British frigate "Albina," by Commodore O'Haleran.

In the next story, called "The Red Eagle," another stage is reached. The Highland chief who went to visit Dr. Beaton in Westminster has passed his youth, and, in middle age, is astounded by some neighbourly gossip concerning a mysterious personage who has taken up his quarters in an adjacent mansion. This unknown individual is described as wearing the red tartan, and as having that peculiar look of the eye "which was never in the head of man nor bird but the eagle and Prince Charlie." His name also is given as Captain O'Haleran, so that there can be no difficulty in tracing his history back to the time when the commodore and the mysterious infant sailed from the Mediterranean port toward the west. Moreover, it seems that he is the reputed son of an admiral who lays claim to a Scottish peerage, who had married a southern heiress against the wishes of his relatives, and had assumed her name; and that his French valet is in the habit of paying him great deference, and occasionally styles him "Monseigneur" and "Altesse Royal." As if this hint were not sufficient, it is incidentally mentioned that a very aged Highland chief, who is almost in his dotage, no sooner set eyes upon the "Red Eagle" than he addressed him as Prince Charlie, and told his royal highness that the last time he saw him was on the morning of Culloden.

In the third and last of the tales—"The Wolf's Den"—the "Red Eagle" reappears, and is married to an English lady named Catherine Bruce. His pretensions to royalty are even more plainly acknowledged than before; and in the course of the story the Chevalier Græme, chamberlain to the Countess d'Albanie, addresses him as "My Prince." The inference is obvious. The Highland hero with the wonderful eyes was the child of the pretender; he espoused an English lady, and the names on the title-page of the book which tells this marvellous history lead [129] us to believe that the marriage was fruitful, and that "John Sobieski Stuart" and "Charles Edward Stuart" were the offspring of the union, and as such inherited whatever family pretensions might exist to the sovereignty of the British empire.

This very pretty story might have passed with the public as a mere romance, and, possibly, the two names on the title-page might have been regarded as mere noms de plume, if vague reports had not previously been circulated which made it apparent that the motive of the so-called Stuarts was to deceive the public rather than to amuse them.

There seemed, indeed, to be little ground for believing this romantic story to be true, and when it was made public it was immediately rent to pieces. One shrewd critic, in particular, tore the veil aside, and in the pages of the Quarterly Review revealed the truth. He plainly showed the imposture, both by direct and collateral evidence, and traced the sham Stuarts through all the turnings of their tortuous lives. By him Commodore O'Haleran, who is said to have carried off the child, is shown to be Admiral Allen, who died in 1800, and who pretended to have certain claims to the earldom of Errol and the estates of the Hay family. This gentleman, it seems, had two sons, Captain John Allen and Lieutenant Thomas Allen, both of whom were officers in the navy. The younger of these, Thomas, was married on the 2d of October 1792 to Catherine Manning, the daughter of the Vicar of Godalming. In this gentleman, Lieutenant Thomas Allen, the reviewer declares the prototype of the mysterious "Red Eagle" may clearly be recognised; and he works his case out in this way:—The "Red Eagle" calls himself captain, and is seen in the story in connection with a man-of-war, and displaying remarkable powers of seamanship during a storm among the Hebrides; Thomas Allen was a lieutenant in the navy. The "Red Eagle" passed for the son of Admiral O'Haleran; Thomas Allen for the son of Admiral Carter Allen. The "Red Eagle" married Catherine Bruce, sometime after the summer of 1790; Thomas Allen [130] married Catherine Manning in 1792. In the last of the three "Tales of the Century," Admiral O'Haleran and the mysterious guide of Dr. Beaton are represented as endeavouring to prevent the "Red Eagle" from injuring the prospects of his house by such a mesalliance as they considered his marriage with Catherine Bruce would be; and there is a scene in which the royal birth of the "Red Eagle" is spoken of without concealment, and in which the admiral begs his "foster son" not to destroy, by such a marriage, the last hope that was withering on his father's foreign tomb. In his will Admiral Allen bequeathed his whole fortune to his eldest son, and only left a legacy of £100 to Thomas; so that it may reasonably be inferred that his displeasure had been excited against his youngest born by some such event as an imprudent marriage. This Thomas Allen had two sons, of whom the elder published a volume of poems in 1822, to which he put his name as John Hay Allen, Esq.; while the marriage of the other is noted in Blackwood's Magazine for the same year, when he figures as "Charles Stuart, youngest son of Thomas Hay Allen, Esq." These are the gentlemen who, more than twenty years later, placed their names to the "Tales of the Century," and styled themselves John Sobieski Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart, thus seeking to persuade the world that they were the direct heirs of Prince Charlie.

There can be no doubt as to their motive; but is it probable, or even possible, that the occurrences which they describe with so much minuteness could ever have taken place? The imaginary Dr. Beaton's story as to the birth is altogether uncorroborated. What became of the attendants on the Princess Louisa, of the lady who was in the bedchamber, of the nurse who held the child in her arms, and of the little page who announced the advent of the royal heir to the mysterious guide? They knew the nature of the important event which is said to have taken place, yet they all died with sealed lips, nor, even "in the service of the king," revealed the fact that an heir had been born. The officers and crew of the frigate, also, must have gossiped about the commodore's [131] midnight adventure, and the strange shipment of a lady and child off the Italian coast on a moonlight night; but not one of them ever gave a sign or betrayed the fact. Such secrecy is, to say the least, very unusual. Then, returning to Prince Charlie himself, it is indisputable that when his wife left him in disgust in 1780, he had no recourse to his imaginary son to cheer his old age, but turned instinctively to Charlotte Stuart, his illegitimate child, for sympathy. In July 1784 he executed a deed, with all the necessary forms, legitimating this person, and bestowing upon her the title of Albany, by which he had himself been known for fourteen years, with the rank of duchess. To legitimate his natural daughter, and give her the reversion of his own title, was very unlike the action of a pseudo-king who had a lawful son alive. In 1784, also, when the pretender executed his will, he left this same Duchess of Albany, of his own constitution, all that he possessed, with the exception of a small bequest to his brother the cardinal, and a few trifling legacies to his attendants. To the duchess he bequeathed his palace at Florence, with all its rich furniture, all his plate and jewels, including those brought into the family by his mother, the Princess Clementina Sobieski, and also such of the crown jewels of England as had been conveyed to the continent by James II. If the claimant to the British throne had had a son, would he have alienated from him not only his Italian residence and the Polish jewels which he inherited from his mother, but also the crown jewels of England, which had come into his possession as the descendant of a king, and which were, by the same right, the inalienable property of his legitimate son?

The Duchess of Albany very evidently knew nothing of the existence of her supposed half-brother. She survived her father Prince Charles Edward for two years. Before her decease she sent to the cardinal the whole of the crown jewels, and at her death she left him all her property, with the exception of an annuity to her mother, Miss Walkinshaw, who survived her for some time, and who was known in Jacobite circles as the Countess of Alberstroff.


The conduct of the Princess Louisa, the reputed mother of the child, was equally strange. When she left her old debauched husband, she found consolation in the friendship and intimacy of the poet Alfieri, who at his death left her his whole property. Cardinal York settled a handsome income upon her, and her second lover—a Frenchman, named Fabre—added to her store. She survived till 1824, when her alleged son must have been in his fifty-first year; yet at her death all her property, including the seal and the portrait of Prince Charles Edward, were left to her French admirer, and were by him bequeathed to an Italian sculptor.

Cardinal York, also, betrayed no knowledge that his brother ever had had a son. When Prince Charles Edward died the cardinal adopted all the form and etiquette usual in the residence of a monarch, and insisted upon its observance by his visitors, as well as by his own attendants. He published protests asserting his right to the British crown, and caused medals to be struck bearing his effigy, and an inscription wherein he is styled Henry the Ninth, King of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c., &c. This he neither could nor would have done had he been aware of the existence of his brother's son, who had a prior claim to his own. Moreover, when the Princess Louisa left her husband, he exerted himself to the utmost of his ability to serve her; carried her to Rome; and succeeded in procuring for her a suitable establishment from his brother. Surely, in return for his great services, she would have informed him of the existence of her son, if any such son had ever been born! When the pretender's health began to give way Cardinal York was among the first to hasten to his assistance, and, discarding all previous disagreements, renewed his friendship with him, and persuaded him to make his home in Rome for the last two years of his life. Yet Prince Charles in his old age, and with death before his eyes, never revealed the secret of St. Rosalie to his brother, but permitted him to assume a title to which he had not the shadow of a claim. In his will also, Cardinal York [133] betrays his ignorance of any heir of his brother, and bequeaths his possessions to the missionary funds of the Romish Church. Dr. Beaton alone seems to have been worthy of trust.

As far as Admiral Allen is concerned, it is not only unproven that he was a Tory or a Jacobite, but it is almost certainly shown that he was a Whig, and would have been a very unlikely person to be entrusted either with the secrets, or the heir, of Prince Charlie. Had Charles Edward been in a situation to confide so delicate a trust to any one, it is impossible to conceive that he would have selected any other than one of his staunchest adherents; yet John and Charles Hay Allen ask the public to believe that the charge was entrusted to one whose political relations seem to have been with the opposite party. They declare that the "Red Eagle" was aware of his real parentage prior to 1790; yet in the notice of Thomas Allen's marriage, which occurred two years later, he is expressly described as the son of Admiral Allen, and in the admiral's will he is distinctly mentioned as his son. As the reviewer, who has been quoted so freely, remarks: "What conceivable motive could induce the officer entrusted by Charles Edward with the care of the only hope of the House of Stuart to leave in his will, and that will, too, executed in the year of his death, a flat denial of the royal birth of his illustrious ward? The fact is utterly irreconcilable with the existence of such a secret, and appears absolutely conclusive. There was no occasion for the admiral stating in his will whose son Thomas Allen was. He might have left him £100 without any allusion to his parentage; but when he deliberately, and, as lawyers say, in intuitu mortis, assures us that this gentleman, the father of those who assume names so directly indicative of royal pretensions, was his own son, we are inclined to give him credit for a clearer knowledge of the truth than any now alive can possess."

Such is the story, and such is its refutation. It has had many believers and many critics. That it was advanced in earnest there can be no doubt, and the pretenders [134] were well known in London circles. The elder of them, "John Sobieski Stuart," died in February 1872; but before his decease solemnly appointed his successor, and passed his supposed royal birthright to a younger member of the same family—a birthright which is worthless and vain.


In the latter half of last century a farmer in one of the northern counties had in his house a very pretty girl, who passed as his daughter, and who supposed that he was her father. The damsel was industrious and virtuous as well as beautiful, and as she grew to maturity had many applicants for her hand. At last, as it became apparent that she would not long remain disengaged or single, her reputed father explained to her that she was not his daughter, but was an illegitimate child of Lord Robert Manners, who had all along paid for her support, and who was disposed to grant her a wedding portion of £1000, provided she married with his sanction. The news soon spread, and the rustic beauty became a greater toast than ever when it was known that she was also an heiress. Among others who heard of her sudden accession to fortune was a young fellow called John Hatfield, then employed as a traveller by a neighbouring linen-draper. He lost no time in paying his respects at the farm-house, or in enrolling himself in the number of her suitors, and succeeded so well that he not only gained the affections of the girl, but also the goodwill of the farmer, who wrote to Lord Robert Manners, informing him that Hatfield held a good position and had considerable expectations, and that he was anxious to marry his daughter, but would only do so on condition that her relatives approved of the union. Thereupon his lordship sent for the lover, and, believing his representations to be true, gave his consent at the first interview, and on the [135] day after the marriage presented the bridegroom with £1500.

The fellow was in reality a great scamp. A short time after he got the money he set out for London, purchased a carriage, frequented the most famous coffee-houses, and represented himself to be a near relation of the Rutland family, and the possessor of large estates in Yorkshire. The marriage portion was soon exhausted, and when he had borrowed from every person who would lend him money he disappeared from the fashionable world as abruptly as he had entered it. Little was heard of his movements for several years, when he suddenly turned up again as boastful, if not as resplendent, as ever. By this time his wife had borne three daughters to him; but he regarded both her and them as hateful encumbrances, and deserted them, leaving them to be supported by the precarious charity of her relations. The poor woman did not long survive his ill-usage and neglect, and died in 1782. Hatfield himself found great difficulty in raising money, and was, at last, thrown into the King's Bench prison for a debt of £160. Here he was very miserable, and was in such absolute destitution that he excited the pity of some of his former associates and victims who had retained sufficient to pay their jail expenses, and they often invited him to dinner and supplied him with food. He never lost his assurance; and, although he was perfectly well aware that his real character was known, still continued to boast of his kennels, of his Yorkshire park, and of his estate in Rutlandshire, which he asserted was settled upon his wife; and usually wound up his complaint by observing how annoying it was that a gentleman who at that very time had thirty men engaged in beautifying his Yorkshire property should be locked up in a filthy jail, by a miserable tradesman, for a paltry debt.

Among others to whom he told this cock-and-bull story was a clergyman who came to the prison to visit Valentine Morris, the ex-governor of St. Vincent, who was then one of the inmates; and he succeeded in persuading the unsuspecting divine to visit the Duke of Rutland, and lay his case before him as that of a near [136] relative. Of course the duke repudiated all connection with him, and all recollection of him; but a day or two later, when he remembered that he was the man who had married the natural daughter of Lord Robert Manners, he sent £200 and had him released.

Such a benefactor was not to be lost sight of. The duke was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in 1784, and had scarcely landed in Dublin when Hatfield followed him to that city. On his arrival he engaged a splendid suite of apartments in a first-rate hotel, fared sumptuously, and represented himself as nearly allied to the viceroy; but said that he could not appear at the castle until his horses, carriages, and servants arrived from England. The Yorkshire park, the Rutlandshire estate, and the thirty industrious labourers were all impressed into his service once more, and the landlord allowed him to have what he liked. When the suspicions of Boniface were aroused by the non-arrival of the equipages and attendants he presented his bill. Hatfield assured him that his money was perfectly safe, and that luckily his agent, who collected the rents of his estate in the north of England, was then in Ireland, and would give him all needful information. The landlord called upon this gentleman, whose name had been given to him, and presented his account, but of course without success; and Hatfield was thrown in the Marshalsea jail by the indignant landlord. By this time he was thoroughly familiar with the mysteries of prison life as it then existed, and had scarcely seated himself in his new lodging when he visited the jailer's wife and informed her of the relationship in which he stood to the lord-lieutenant. The woman believed him, gave him the best accommodation she could, and allowed him to sit at her table for three weeks. During this time he sent another petition to the new viceroy, who, fearing lest his own reputation should suffer, released him, and was only too glad to ship him off to Holyhead.

He next showed himself at Scarborough in 1792, and succeeded in introducing himself to some of the local gentry, to whom he hinted that at the next general election [137] he would be made one of the representatives of the town through the influence of the Duke of Rutland. His inability to pay his hotel bill, however, led to his exposure, and he was obliged to flee to London, where he was again arrested for debt. This time the wheel of Fortune turned but slowly in his favour. He lingered in jail for eight years and a-half, when a Miss Nation, of Devonshire, to whom he had become known, paid his debts, took him from prison, and married him.

Abandoning his Rutlandshire pretensions, he now devoted himself to business, and persuaded a Devonshire firm, who knew nothing of his antecedents, to take him into partnership, and also ingratiated himself with a clergyman, who accepted his drafts for a large amount. Thus supplied with ready money he returned to London, where he lived in splendid style, and even went so far as to aspire to a seat in the House of Commons. For a time all appeared to go well; but suspicions gradually arose with regard to his character and his resources, and he was declared a bankrupt. Deserting his wife and her two children, he fled from his creditors. For some time nothing was heard of him, but in July 1802 he arrived in Keswick, in a carriage, but without any servant, and assumed the name of the Honourable Alexander Augustus Hope, brother of the Earl of Hopetoun, and member of Parliament for Linlithgow.

In his wanderings he became acquainted with an old couple called Robinson, who kept a little hostelry on the shore of the Lake of Buttermere, and who had one daughter who was locally known as "The Beauty of Buttermere." The handsome colonel at once began to lay siege to this girl's heart, and was the less loth to do so because it was rumoured that old Robinson had saved a considerable sum during a long lifetime. But with his usual prudence, he thought it well to have two strings to his bow, and finding that there was an Irish officer in Keswick who had a ward of good family and fortune, and of great personal attractions, he procured an introduction as the Honourable Colonel Hope of the 14th regiment of foot. He failed with the ward, but he was more [138] successful with the Irishman's daughter. Her consent was given, the trousseau was ordered, and the wedding-day was fixed. But the lady would not agree to a secret ceremony, and insisted that he should announce his intended nuptials both to her own and his friends. This he agreed to do, and pretended to write letters apprising his brother, and even proposed a visit to Lord Hopetoun's seat. The bride's suspicions were, however, roused by the strange air of concealment and mystery which surrounded her intended husband; the desired answers to his letters came not, and she refused to resign either herself or her fortune into his keeping.

Thus baffled, he devoted all his attention to pretty Mary Robinson, and found her less reluctant to unite her lot with that of such a distinguished individual as Colonel Hope. The inquiries this time were all on the gallant officer's side, and it was only when he found that the reports as to old Robinson's wealth were well founded that he led her to the altar of Lorton church, on the 2d of October 1802.

On the day before the wedding the soi-disant Colonel Hope wrote to a gentleman of his acquaintance, informing him that he was under the necessity of being absent for ten days on a journey into Scotland, and enclosing a draft for thirty pounds, drawn on a Mr. Crumpt of Liverpool, which he desired him to cash and pay some small debts in Keswick with it, and send him over the balance, as he was afraid he might be short of money on the road. This was done; and the gentleman sent him at the same time an additional ten pounds, lest unexpected demands should be made upon his purse in his absence.

The Keswick folks were naturally astonished when they learned two days later that the colonel, who had been paying his addresses to the daughter of the Irish officer, had married "The Beauty of Buttermere," and the confiding friend who had sent him the money at once despatched the draft to Liverpool. Mr. Crumpt immediately accepted it, believing that it came from the real Colonel Hope, whom he knew very well. Meantime, instead of paying his proposed journey to Scotland Hatfield [139] stopped at Longtown, where he received two letters, by which he seemed much disturbed, and returned after three days' absence to Buttermere. Some friends of the real colonel, chancing to hear of his marriage, paused on their way through Cumberland, at Keswick, and wrote to their supposed acquaintance, asking him to come and visit them. Hatfield went in a carriage and four, and had an interview with the gentlemen, but flatly denied that he had ever assumed Colonel Hope's name. He said his name was Hope, but that he was not the member for Linlithgow. It was notorious, however, that he had been in the habit of franking his letters with Colonel Hope's name, and he was handed over to a constable. He contrived to escape, and fled first to Chester and subsequently to Swansea, where he was recaptured.

He was brought to trial at the Cumberland assizes on the 15th of August 1803, charged with personation and forgery, and was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed at Carlisle on the 3d of September 1803.


There is no darker page in the history of France than that whereon is inscribed the record of the Revolution; and in its darkness there is nothing blacker than the narration of the horrible treatment of the young dauphin by the revolutionists. The misfortunes of his father King Louis XVI., and of Marie-Antoinette, are sufficiently well known throughout Europe to render the repetition of them tedious; but the evil fate of the son has been less voluminously recorded by historians, and it is, therefore, necessary to repeat the story at some length to render the following narratives of claims to royalty thoroughly intelligible.

Louis-Charles was the second son of Louis XVI. and his consort Marie-Antoinette, and was born at the Chateau [140] of Versailles, on the 27th of March, at five minutes before seven in the evening. An hour and a half later he was baptised with much ceremony by the Cardinal de Rohan and the Vicar of Versailles, and received the title of Duke of Normandy. Then the king, followed by all the court, went to the chapel of the chateau, where Te Deum was sung in honour of the event, and subsequently the infant prince was consecrated a knight of the order of the Holy Ghost. Fireworks were displayed on the Place d'Armes at Versailles; and when the news reached Paris it is said "joy spread itself from one end of the great city to the other; the cannon of the Bastille responded to the cannon of the Invalides; and everywhere spontaneous illuminations, the ringing of bells, and the acclamations of the people, manifested the love of France for a king who, in the flower of his youth, found his happiness in the happiness of the people." Such was the introduction into the world of the young prince.

Fate seemed to have the brightest gifts in store for him. On the 4th of June 1789, the dauphin, his elder brother, died at Meudon, and the young Louis-Charles succeeded to his honours. At this time he was rather more than four years old, and is described as having a graceful and well-knit frame, his forehead broad and open, his eyebrows arched; his large blue eyes fringed with long chestnut lashes of angelic beauty; his complexion dazzlingly fair and blooming; his hair, of a dark chestnut, curled naturally, and fell in thick ringlets on his shoulders; and he had the vermilion mouth of his mother, and like her a small dimple on the chin. In disposition he was exceedingly amiable, and was a great favourite both with his father and mother, who affectionately styled him their "little Norman."

His happiness was destined to be very short-lived, for the murmurs of the Revolution could already be heard. On the 20th of July, 1791, King Louis XVI., his family and court, fled from the disloyal French capital in the night, their intention being to travel in disguise to Montmèdy, and there to join the Marquis de Bouillé, who was at the head of a large army. When they awoke the little [141] dauphin, and began to dress him as a girl, his sister asked him what he thought of the proceeding. His answer was, "I think we are going to play a comedy;" but never had comedy more tragic ending. The royal party were discovered at Varennes, and brought back to the Tuileries amid the hootings and jeers of the mob. "The journey," says Lamartine, "was a Calvary of sixty leagues, every step of which was a torture." On the way the little girl whispered to her brother, "Charles, this is not a comedy." "I have found that out long since," said the boy. But he was brave, tender to his mother, and gravely courteous to the commissioner of the Assembly who had been deputed to bring them back. "Sir," he said, from his mother's knee, "you ask if I am not very sorry to return to Paris. I am glad to be anywhere, so that it is with mamma and papa, and my aunt and sister, and Madame de Tourzel, my governess."

There soon came the wild scene in the Tuileries, and the sad appearance of the dethroned king in the Assembly, with its still more lamentable ending. Louis XVI. was carried to the prison of the Temple. This building had originally been a fortress of the Knights Templars. In 1792, the year in which it received the captive monarch, it consisted of a large square tower, flanked at its angles by four round towers, and having on the north side another separate tower of less dimensions than the first, surmounted by turrets, and generally called the little tower. It was in this little tower that the royal family of France were located by the commune of Paris. Here the king spent his time in the education of his son, while the best historian of the boy says he devoted himself to comforting his parents: "Here he was happy to live, and he was only turned to grief by the tears which sometimes stole down his mother's cheeks. He never spoke of his games and walks of former days; he never uttered the name of Versailles or the Tuileries; he seemed to regret nothing."

On the morning of the 21st January, 1793, Louis XVI. was carried to the scaffold, and suffered death. On the previous day, at a final interview which was allowed, he [142] had taken the dauphin, "his dear little Norman," on his knee, and had said to him, "My son, you have heard what I have just said"—he had been causing them all to promise never to think of avenging his death—"but, as oaths are something more sacred still than words, swear, with your hands held up to Heaven, that you will obey your father's dying injunction;" and, adds his sister, who tells the story, "My brother, bursting into tears, obeyed; and this most affecting goodness doubled our own grief." And thus father and son parted, but not for long.

On the 1st of July the Committee of Public Safety passed a decree, "That the son of Capet be separated from his mother, and committed to the charge of a tutor, to be chosen by the Council General of the Commune." The Convention sanctioned it, and it was carried into effect two days later. About ten o'clock at night, when the young dauphin was sleeping soundly in his bed, and the ex-queen and her sister were busy mending clothes, while the princess read to them, six municipal guards marched into the room and tore the child from his agonized mother. They conveyed him to that part of the Tower which had formerly been occupied by his father, where the "tutor" of the commune was in waiting to receive him. This was no other than a fellow called Simon, a shoemaker, who had never lost an opportunity of publicly insulting the king, and who, through the influence of Marat and Robespierre, had been appointed the instructor of his son at a salary of 500 francs a month, on condition that he was never to leave his prisoner or quit the Tower, on any pretence whatever.

On the first night, Simon found his new pupil disposed to be unmanageable. The dauphin sat silently on the floor in a corner, and not all his new master's threats could induce him to answer the questions which were put to him. Madame Simon, although a terrible virago, was likewise unsuccessful; and for two days the prince mourned for his mother, and refused to taste food, only demanding to see the law which separated him from her and kept them in prison. At the end of the second day he found that he could not persist in exercising his own [143] will, and went to bed. In the morning his new master cried in his elation, "Ha, ha! little Capet, I shall have to teach you to sing the 'Carmagole,' and to cry 'Vive la République!' Ah! you are dumb, are you?" and so from hour to hour he sneered at the miserable child.

On one occasion, in the early days of his rule, Simon made his pupil the present of a Jew's harp, at the same time saying, "Your she-wolf of a mother plays on the piano, and you must learn to accompany her on the Jew's harp!" The dauphin steadily refused to touch the instrument; whereupon the new tutor, in a passion, flew upon him and beat him severely. Still he was not cowed, although the blows were the first which he had ever received, but bravely answered, "You may punish me if I don't obey you; but you ought not to beat me—you are stronger than I." "I am here to command you, animal! my duty is just what I please to do; and 'vive la Liberté, l'Egalité.'" By-and-by personal suffering and violence had become only too common occurrences of his daily life.

About a week after the dauphin was transferred from the little tower, a rumour spread through Paris that the son of Louis XVI. had been carried off from the Temple Tower, and crowds of the sovereign people flocked to the spot to satisfy themselves of its truth. The guard, who had not seen the boy since he had been taken from his mother's care, replied that he was no longer in the Tower; "and from that time the popular falsehood gained ground and strength continually." In order to quiet the public apprehension, a deputation from the Committee of Public Safety visited Simon, and ordered him to bring down "the tyrant's son," so that the incoming guard might see him for themselves. They then proceeded to cross-question Simon as to the manner in which he discharged his duties. When that worthy had satisfied them as to his past treatment, he demanded decisive instructions for his future guidance.

"Citizens, what do you decide about the wolf-cub? He has been taught to be insolent, but I shall know how to tame him. So much the worse if he sinks under [144] it! I don't answer for that. After all, what do you want done with him? Do you want him transported?"






"But what then?"

"We want to get rid of him!"

The guard saw him and questioned him, and some of them even sympathized with him and tried to comfort him; but Simon came and dragged him away with a rough "Come, come, Capet, or I'll show the citizens how I work you when you deserve it!"

When the commissaries returned to the Convention they were able to announce that the report which had stirred up the populace was false, and that they had seen Capet's son. From this time forward Simon redoubled his harshness; beat the boy daily; removed his books and converted them into pipe-lights; cut off his hair, and made him wear the red Jacobin cap; dressed him in a scarlet livery, and compelled him to clean his own and his wife's shoes, and to give them the most abject obedience. At last the boy's spirit was thoroughly broken, and Simon not only did as he had said, and forced his victim to sing the "Carmagnole," and shout "Vive la République!" but made him drunk upon bad wine, and when his mind was confused forced him to sing lewd and regicide songs, and even to subscribe his name to foul slanders against his mother.

It might be supposed that the Convention was thoroughly satisfied with its worthy subordinate who had done his peculiar work so effectively, but he was considered too costly, and was ousted from his post. It was resolved that the expenses of the children of Louis Capet should be reduced to what was necessary for the food and maintenance of two persons, and four members of the Council-General of the Commune agreed to superintend the prisoners of the Temple. A new arrangement was made, and a novel system of torture was [145] inaugurated by Hébert and Chaumette, two of the most infamous wretches whom the Revolution raised into temporary notoriety. The wretched boy was confined in a back-room which had no window or connection with the outside except through another apartment. His historian describes it vividly—"The door of communication between the ante-room and this room was cut down so as to leave it breast high, fastened with nails and screws, and grated from top to bottom with bars of iron. Half way up was placed a shelf on which the bars opened, forming a sort of wicket, closed by other moveable bars, and fastened by an enormous padlock. By this wicket his coarse food was passed in to little Capet, and it was on this ledge that he had to put whatever he wanted to send away. Although small, his compartment was yet large enough for a tomb. What had he to complain of? He had a room to walk in, a bed to lie upon; he had bread and water, and linen and clothes! But he had neither fire nor candle. His room was warmed only by a stove-pipe, and lighted only by the gleam of a lamp suspended opposite the grating." Into this horrible place he was pushed on the anniversary of his father's death. The victim did not even see the parsimonious hand which passed his food to him, nor the careless hand that sometimes left him without a fire in very cold weather, and sometimes, by plying the stove with too much fuel, converted his prison into a furnace.

This horrible place he was expected to keep clean, but his strength was unequal to the task, and he was glad to crawl to his bed when ordered by his guards, who refused to give him a light. Even there he was not allowed to rest in peace, and often the commissaries appointed to relieve those on duty would often noisily arouse him from his pleasant dreams by rattling at his wicket, crying, "Capet, Capet, are you asleep? Where are you? Young viper, get up!" And the little startled form would creep from the bed and crawl to the wicket; while the faint gentle voice would answer, "I am here, citizens, what do you want with me?" "To see you," would be the surly reply of the watch for the night. "All [146] right. Get to bed. In!—Down!" And this performance would be repeated several times before morning. It would have killed a strong man in a short time. How long could a child stand it?

Days and weeks and months did pass, and as they passed brought increasing langour, and weakness, and illness. The want of fresh air, the abandonment and the solitude, had all had their effect, and the unfortunate dauphin could scarcely lift the heavy earthenware platter which contained his food, or the heavier jar in which his water was brought. He soon left off sweeping his room, and never tried to move the palliasse off his bed. He could not change his filthy sheets, and his blanket was worn into tatters. He wore his ragged jacket and trousers—Simon's legacy—both day and night, and although he felt all this misery he could not cry. Loathsome creatures crawled in his den and over his person until even the little scullion who attended him shuddered with horror as he glanced into the place and muttered, "Everything is alive in that room." "Yes," says Beauchesne, "everything was alive except the boy they were killing by inches, and murdering in detail. This beautiful child, so admired at Versailles and at the Tuileries, would not recognise himself, his form is scarcely human—it is something that vegetates—a moving mass of bones and skin. Never could any state of misery have been conceived more desolate, more lonely, more threatening than this!... And all that I here relate is true! These troubles, insults, and torments were heaped on the head of a child. I show them to you, like indeed to what they were, but far short of the reality. Cowardly and cruel men, why did you stop in your frenzy of murder? It would have been better to drink that last drop of royal blood, than to mingle it with gall and venom and poison; it would have been better to smother the child, as was done by the emissaries of Richard III. in the Tower of London, than to degrade and sully his intellect by that slow method of assassination which killed the mind before it slew the body. He should have been struck a year or two before; his little feet should have been aided to [147] mount the rude steps of the guillotine! Ah, if she could have known the fate you were reserving for him, the daughter of Maria-Theresa would have asked to take her child in her arms: she would have shared her very last victory with him; and the angels would have prepared at once the crown of the martyred and that of the innocent victim! Alas, history is fain to regret for Louis XVII. the scaffold of his mother!"

But the end of the torture was very near. Robespierre fell, and Simon, the Barbarous, accompanied him in the same tumbril to the guillotine, and shared his fate. Barras, the new dictator, made it almost his first care to visit the Temple; and, from what his colleagues and himself saw there, they came to the conclusion that some more judicious control was needed than that of the rough guards who had charge of the royal children—that a permanent agent must be appointed to watch the watchers. Accordingly, without consulting him, they delegated the citizen Laurent to take charge of the dauphin and his sister. Laurent was a humane man, and accepted the appointment willingly. Indeed he dared not have refused it; but, in common with the rest of the public, he had heard that the boy was miserably ill and was totally uncared for, and seems to have had a notion that he could better his condition.

He arrived at the Temple in the evening; but, having no idea of the real state of the child, he did not visit his little prisoner until the guard was changed at two o'clock in the morning. When he arrived at the entrance-door, the foul smell emanating therefrom almost drove him back. But he was forced to overcome his repugnance; for when the municipals battered at the little wicket, and shouted for Capet, no Capet responded. At last, after having been frequently called, a feeble voice answered "Yes;" but there was no motion on the part of the speaker. No amount of threatening could induce the occupant of the bed to leave it, and Laurent was compelled to accept his new charge in this way, knowing that he was safe somewhere in that dark and abominable hole. Early next morning he was at the wicket again, and saw [148] a sight which caused him to send an immediate request to his superiors to come and visit their captive. Two days later several members of the Committee of General Safety repaired to the Temple, the barrier and the wicket were torn down, and "in a dark room, from which exhaled an odour of corruption and death, on a dirty unmade bed, barely covered with a filthy cloth and a ragged pair of trousers, a child of nine years old was lying motionless, his back bent, his face wan and wasted with misery, and his features exhibiting an expression of mournful apathy and rigid unintelligence. His head and neck were fretted by purulent sores, his legs and arms were lengthened disproportionately, his knees and wrists were covered with blue and yellow swellings, his feet and hands unlike in appearance to human flesh, and armed with nails of an immense length; his beautiful fair hair was stuck to his head by an inveterate scurvy like pitch; and his body, and the rags which covered him, were alive with vermin." Mentally he was almost an imbecile; and in answer to all the questions which were put to him, he only said once, "I wish to die." And this was the son of Louis XVI., and the nearest heir to the throne of France!

The commissaries having given some trifling directions, went their way to concoct a report, leaving Laurent with very indefinite instructions. But all the human feelings of the man were roused. He sent at once for another bed, and bathed the child's wounds. He got an old woman to cut his hair, and comb it out, and wash him, and persuaded one of the municipals, who had been a kind of doctor, to prescribe for the sores, and managed to persuade his superiors to send a tailor, who made a suit of good clothes for the dauphin. At first the boy had some difficulty in understanding the change, but as it dawned upon him he was very grateful. Nor did Laurent's good work stop here. Although the Revolution was less bloody than before, it was still very jealous; and the keeper of the Temple was not permitted to see his prisoner, except at meal times and rare intervals. Still he contrived to obtain permission to carry him to the top of [149] the Tower, on the plea that fresh air was essential to his health, and tended him so assiduously, that while the prisoner was partially restored, and could walk about, the strength of his custodier broke down.

Under these circumstances he applied for an assistant, and citizen Gomin was appointed to the duty. Citizen Gomin, the son of a well-to-do upholsterer, had no desire to leave his father's shop to become an under-jailer at the Temple; but his remonstrances were silenced by the emissaries of the committee, and he was carried off at once from his bench and his counter in a carriage which was waiting. He was a kindly fellow, but prudent withal, and was so horrified when he saw the condition of his charge, that he would have resigned if he had not been afraid that by so doing he would become a suspect. As it was he did his best to help Laurent, and by a happy thought, and with the connivance of a good-hearted municipal, brought into the invalid's room four little pots of flowers in full bloom. The sight of the flowers and the undisguised mark of sympathy and affection did what all previous kindness had failed to do—unlocked the fountains of a long-sealed heart—and the child burst into tears. From that moment he recognised Gomin as his friend, but days elapsed before he spoke to him. When he did, his first remark was—"It was you who gave me some flowers: I have not forgotten it."

Gomin and Laurent by-and-by came to be great favourites; but the latter was compelled to resign his post through the urgency of his private affairs, and he was replaced by a house-painter called Lasné, who, like Gomin, was forced to abandon his own business at a moment's notice. He proved equally good-natured with the other two, and like them succeeded in gaining the friendship of the dauphin. As far as he could, he lightened his captivity and tended him with the utmost care. But no amount of kindliness could bring back strength to the wasted frame, or even restore hope to the careful attendants. They sang to him, talked with him, and gave him toys; but it was all in vain. In the month of May, 1705, they became really alarmed, and informed the [150] government that the little Capet was dangerously ill. No attention was paid to their report, and they wrote again, expressing a fear that he would not live. After a delay of three days a physician came. He considered him as attacked with the same scrofulous disorder of which his brother had died at Meudon, and proposed his immediate removal to the country. This idea was, of course, regarded as preposterous. He was, however, transferred to a more airy room; but the change had no permanent effect. Lasné and Gomin did all they could for him, carrying him about in their arms, and nursing him day and night; but he continued gradually to sink.

On the morning of the 8th of June a bulletin was issued announcing that the life of the captive was in danger. Poor patient Gomin was by his bedside, on the watch in more senses than one, and expressed his profound sorrow to see him suffer so much. "Take comfort," said the child, "I shall not always suffer so much." Then, says Beauchesne, "Gomin knelt down that he might be nearer to him. The child took his hand and pressed it to his lips. The pious heart of Gomin prompted an ardent prayer—one of those prayers that misery wrings from man and love sends up to God. The child did not let go the faithful hand that still remained to him, and raised his eyes to Heaven while Gomin prayed for him." A few hours later, when Lasné had relieved his subordinate, and was sitting beside the bed, the prince said that he heard music, and added, "Do you think my sister could have heard the music? How much good it would have done her!" Lasné could not speak. All at once the child's eye brightened, and he exclaimed, "I have something to tell you!" Lasné took his hand, and bent over the bed to listen. The little head fell on his bosom; but the last words had been spoken, and the descendant and heir of sixty-five kings was dead. The date was the 8th of June, 1795; and the little prisoner, who had escaped at last, was just ten years, two months, and twelve days old.

Lasné at once acquainted Gomin and Damont, the commissary on duty, with the event, and they instantly repaired [151] to the room. The poor little royal corpse was carried from the apartment where he died into that where he had suffered so long, the remains were laid out on the bed, and the doors were thrown open. Gomin then repaired to the offices of the Committee of Safety, and announced the decease of his charge. He saw one of the members, who told him that the sitting was ended, and advised the concealment of the fact till the following morning. This was done. The same evening supper was prepared at eight o'clock for "the little Capet," and Gomin pretended to take it to his room. He left it outside, and entered the chamber of death. Many years afterwards he described his feelings to M. Beauchesne—"I timidly raised the covering and gazed upon him. The lines which pain had drawn on his forehead and on his cheeks had disappeared.... His eyes, which suffering had half-closed, were open now, and shone as pure as the blue heaven. His beautiful fair hair, which had not been cut for two months, fell like a frame round his face, which I had never seen so calm."

At eight o'clock next morning four members of the committee came to the Tower to assure themselves that the prince really was dead. They were satisfied and withdrew. As they went out some of the officers of the Temple guard asked to see "the little Capet" whom they had known at the Tuileries, and were admitted. They recognised the body at once, and twenty of them signed an attestation to that effect. Four surgeons arrived while the soldiers were in the room, and had to wait until it could be cleared before they could begin the autopsy which they had been sent to perform. By this time also everyone outside the Temple had learned the event, except his sister, who was confined in another part of the Tower; and the good-hearted Gomin could not muster up courage to tell her.

On the evening of the 10th of June the coffin which contained the body was carried out at the great gate, escorted by a small detachment of troops, and the crowd which had collected was kept back by gens d'armes. Lasné was among the mourners, and witnessed the interment, [152] which took place in the cemetery of Sainte-Marguerite. As the soldier-guarded coffin passed along, the people asked whose body it contained, and were answered 'little Capet;' and the more popular title of dauphin spread from lip to lip with expressions of pity and compassion, and a few children of the common people, in rags, took off their caps, in token of respect and sympathy, before this coffin that contained a child who had died poorer than they themselves were to live.

The procession entered by the old gate of the cemetery, and the interment took place in the corner on the left, at a distance of eight or nine feet from the enclosure wall, and at an equal distance from a small house. The grave was filled up—no mound was raised, but the ground was carefully levelled, so that no trace of the interment should remain. All was over.

This is the story of M. Beauchesne, and there seems to be little reason to doubt its truth in any essential particular. He writes with much feeling, but he does not permit his sentiments to overcome his reason, and has verified the truthfulness of his statements before giving them to the public. His book is the result of twenty years' labour and research, and he freely reproduces his authorities for the inspection and judgment of his readers. He was personally acquainted with Lasné and Gomin, the two last keepers of the Tower, and the government aided him if it did not patronise him in his work. Certificates, reports, and proclamations are all proved, and lithographs of them are given. The book is a monument of patient research as well as of love, and the mass of readers will find no difficulty in believing that it embodies the truth, or that Louis XVII. really died in the Temple on the 8th of June 1795.

But in a land such as France, it is not remarkable that the utmost should have been made of the mystery which surrounded the fate of the youthful dauphin, or that pretenders should have endeavoured to personate the son of Louis XVI. The first of these was a lad called Jean Marie Hervagault, a young scamp, who [153] was a native of St. Lo, a little village in the department of La Manche, and who resided there during his early youth with his father, who was a tailor. This precocious youth, who was gifted with good looks, and who undoubtedly bore some resemblance to the deceased prince, ran away from home in 1796, and, by his plausible manners and innocent expression, succeeded in ingratiating himself with several royalist families of distinction, who believed his story that he was the son of a proscribed nobleman. His good luck was so great that he was induced to visit Cherbourg, and tempt his fortune among the concealed adherents of the monarchy who were resident there; but he was quickly detected, and was thrown into prison.

His father, learning his whereabouts, repaired to the jail, and implored his prodigal son to return to the needle and the shop-board at St. Lo, but his entreaties were unavailing, and the would-be aristocrat plainly announced his intention of wearing fine clothes instead of making them. Accordingly, when he was released, he assumed feminine attire, had recourse to prominent royalists to supply his wants, and explained his disguise by mysterious allusions to political motives, and to his own relationship to the Bourbons. The officers of the law again laid hands on him, and threw him into prison at Bayeux, and his father had once more to free him from custody. Still his soul revolted at honest industry; and, although he condescended to return to St. Lo, the shears and the goose remained unknown to him, and he made his stay under the paternal roof as brief as possible.

One morning in October, 1797, the honest old tailor awoke to find that his ambitious son was missing for the third time, and heard no more of him until he learnt that he was in prison at Châlons. He had contrived to reach that town in his usual fashion, and when he found himself in his customary quarters, and his further progress impeded, he informed some of his fellow-prisoners, in confidence, that he was the dauphin of the Temple, and the brother of the princess. They, of course, whispered the wondrous secret to the warders, who in turn conveyed [154] it to their friends, and the news spread like wildfire. The whole town "was moved, and the first impulse was to communicate to Madame Royale" the joyful intelligence that her brother still lived. Crowds flocked to see the interesting prisoner and to do him homage, and the turnkeys, anxious to err on the safe side, relaxed their rules, and permitted him to receive the congratulations of enthusiastic crowds, who were anxious to kiss his hand and to avow their attachment to himself and his cause.

The authorities were less easily moved, and sentenced the sham dauphin to a month's imprisonment as a rogue and vagabond, and, moreover, took good care that he suffered the penalty. On his release he was loaded with gifts by his still faithful friends, and went on his way rejoicing, until at Vere he had the misfortune to be captured by the police, and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for swindling. The royalists of Châlons, however, remained true to him, and when his captivity was ended he was carried to the house of a Madame Seignes, where he held a mimic court, and graciously received those who flocked to do him honour. But the attentions of the police having become pressing, he was compelled to move secretly from place to place, until he found a temporary home in the house of a M. de Rambercourt, at Vetry. Here he first told the full story of his adventures to a wondering but believing audience. He glibly narrated the events which took place in the Temple up to the removal of the miscreant Simon from his post; but this part of the tale possessed little attraction, for the cruelties of the shoemaker-tutor were well known; but the sequel was of absorbing interest.

He said that after the fall of Robespierre and his myrmidons, he received much more lenient treatment, and was permitted to see his sister daily, to play with her, and to take his meals in her company. Still his health did not improve, and the compassion of his nurse having been excited, she informed his friends without of his condition, and it was resolved to effect his release. An arrangement was made, and the real dauphin was placed in the midst of a bundle of foul linen, and was then [155] carried past the unsuspecting guards, while a child who had been purchased for the occasion from his unnatural parents was substituted in his place. The laundress' cart containing the prince was driven to Passy, and there three individuals received him, and were so certain of his identity that they at once fell on their knees and did him homage. From their care he was transferred to Belleville, the head-quarters of the Vendéan army, where with strange inconsistency he was compelled to observe an incognito! Here he passed two months disguised as a lady; and, although known to the chiefs, concealed from the loyal army.

Meantime the poor child who had been foisted upon the republicans was drugged and died, and Dessault, his medical attendant, died also—the suspicion being that both were poisoned. This miserable child, who had thus paid the death penalty for his king was none other, the pretender said, than the son of a rascally tailor, named Hervagault, who lived at St. Lo!

He further stated that, while the royalist cause was wavering, instructions arrived from some mysterious source to send him to England to secure his safety, and that thither he was despatched. The Count d'Artois, he admitted, refused to acknowledge him as his nephew; but simple George III. was more easily imposed upon, and received the pseudo-dauphin with much kindness, and after encouraging him to be of good cheer, despatched him in an English man-of-war to Ostia. At Rome he had an interview with the Pope, and presented to him a confidential letter which had been given to him by the English monarch. Moreover, the pontiff prophesied the future greatness of his illustrious visitor; and, in order to confirm his identity, stamped two stigmata on his limbs with a red-hot iron—one on the right leg, representing the royal shield of France, with the initial letter of his name; and the other, on his left arm, with the inscription of "Vive le roi!"

Embarking at Leghorn, he landed in Spain, and without staying to pay his respects to the king at Madrid hurried on to Portugal, where he fell in love with the [156] Princess Benedectine. This damsel, who was fair as a houri, had, he declared, returned his affection, and the Queen of Portugal had favoured his addresses; but as his friends were about to get up a revolution (that of the 18th Fructidor) on his behalf, he was compelled to leave his betrothed and hurry back to France. The pro-royalist movement having failed, he was forced to conceal himself, and to save himself by a second flight to England. But robbers, as well as soldiers, barred his way, and, after being stripped by a troop of bandits, he at last succeeded in reaching Châlons and his most attentive audience.

As it was known to those present that he had been imprisoned in Châlons as a rogue, and had condescended subsequently to accept the hospitality of the tailor of St. Lo, it was necessary to give some slight explanation of circumstances which were so untoward. But his ingenuity was not at fault, and the audacity of his story even helped to satisfy his dupes. He admitted that when he was examined before the authorities he had acknowledged Hervagault as his father; but he declared that he had done so simply to escape from the rage of his enemies, who were anxious to destroy him; and he considered that the tailor, who had accepted royalist gold in exchange for a son, was both bound to protect and recognise him.

There was no doubting. Those who listened were convinced. The king had come to take his own again; and Louis XVII. was the hero of the hour. Royalist vied with royalist in doing him service, and the ladies, who loved him for his beauty, pitied him for his misfortunes, and admired him for his devotion to the Princess Benedectine, were the foremost in endeavouring to restore him to his rights. Like devout Frenchwomen their first thought was to procure for him the recognition of the church, and they persuaded the curé of Somepuis to invite their protégé to dinner. The village priest gladly did so, inasmuch as the banquet was paid for by other folks than himself; but, being a jovial ecclesiastic, he failed to perceive the true dignity of this descendant of St. Louis, and even went so far as to jest with the royal participant [157] of his hospitality, somewhat rudely remarking that "the prince had but a poor appetite, considering that he belonged to a house whose members were celebrated as bons vivants!" The dauphin was insulted, the ladies were vexed, and the curé was so intensely amused that he burst into an explosive fit of laughter. The dinner came to an untimely conclusion, and the branded of the Pope retired wrathfully.

But Fouché heard of these occurrences! The great minister of police was little likely to allow an adventurer to wander about the provinces without a passport, declaring himself the son of Louis XVI. By his instructions the pretender was arrested, but even when in the hands of the police lost none of his audacity. He assumed the airs of royalty, and assured his disconsolate friends that the time would speedily come when his wrongs would be righted, his enemies discomfited, and his adherents rewarded as they deserved. The martyr was even more greatly fêted in jail than he had been when at liberty. The prison regulations were relaxed to the utmost in his favour by dubious officials, who feared to incur the vengeance of the coming king; banquets were held in the apartments of the illustrious captive; valuable presents were laid at his feet; and a petty court was established within the walls of the prison.

But again the dread Fouché interposed; and although Bonaparte, then consul, would not allow the sham dauphin to be treated as a political offender, the chief of police had him put upon trial as a common impostor. Madame Seignes was at the same time indicted as an accomplice, she having been the first who publicly acknowledged her conviction that Hervagault was the dauphin of the Temple. The trial came on before the Tribunal of Justice on the 17th of February, 1802. After a patient hearing Hervagault was sentenced to four years' imprisonment, while his deluded admirer was acquitted.

There was some hope in the bosoms of Hervagault's partizans that the influence of his supposed sister, the Duchess d'Angoulême, would be sufficient to free him from the meshes of the law, and she was communicated [158] with, but utterly repudiated the impostor. Meantime appeals were lodged against the sentence on both sides—by the prosecuting counsel, because of the acquittal of Madame Seignes, and by the friends of the prisoner against his conviction. A new trial was therefore appointed to take place at Rheims.

In the interval a new and powerful friend arose for the captive in Charles Lafond de Savines, the ex-bishop of Viviers. This ecclesiastic had been one of the earliest advocates of the revolution; but, on discovering its utter godlessness, had withdrawn from it in disgust, and had retired into private life. In his seclusion the news reached him that the dauphin was still alive, and was resolved to re-establish a monarchy similar to that in England, and in which the church, although formally connected with the state, would be allowed freedom of thought and freedom of action within its own borders. His zeal was excited, and he resolved to aid the unfortunate prince in so laudable an undertaking. He was little disposed to question the identity of the pretender, for the surgeons who had performed the autopsy at the Temple Tower had told him that, although they had indeed opened the body of a child, they had not recognised it, and could not undertake to say that it was that of the dauphin. To his mind, therefore, there appeared nothing extraordinary in the story of Hervagault, and he resolved to aid him to the best of his ability.

Recognising the deficiencies of the presumed heir to the throne of France, he determined to educate him as befitted his lofty rank, and declared himself willing, if he could not obtain the liberty of the prince, to share his captivity, and to teach him, in a dungeon, his duty towards God and man. He also entered into a lengthy correspondence with illustrious royalists to secure their co-operation in his plans, and even projected a matrimonial alliance for his illustrious protégé. Nor did he offer only one lady to the choice of his future king. There were three young sisters of considerable beauty at the time resident in the province of Dauphiné, and he left Hervagault liberty to select one of the three. He [159] assured his prince that they were the daughters of a marquis, who was the natural son of Louis XV., and as the grand-daughters of a king of France were in every respect worthy of sitting by his side on his future throne. But the prisoner's deep affection for the Princess Benedictine for a time threatened to spoil this part of the plan, until, sacrificing his own feelings, he consented to yield to considerations of state, and placed himself unreservedly in the hands of his reverend adviser, who at once set out for Dauphiné, and made formal proposals on behalf of Hervagault on the 25th of August, 1802, the anniversary of the festival of St. Louis.

But justice would not wait for Hymen; and while the fortunate young ladies were still undecided as to which of them should reign as Queen of France, the trial came on at Rheims. Crowds flocked to the town, prepared to give their prince an ovation on his acquittal; but the law was very stern and uncompromising. The conviction of Hervagault was affirmed; and, moreover, the acquittal of Madame Seignes was quashed, and she was sentenced to six months' imprisonment as the accomplice of a man who had been found guilty of using names which did not belong to him, and of extorting money under false pretences.

But all the evidence which was led failed to convince his dupes, and they subscribed liberally to supply him with comforts during his confinement. The authorities at Paris had ordered him to be kept in strict seclusion; but his jailers were not proof against the splendid bribes which were offered to them, and the august captive held daily court and fared sumptuously, until the government, finding that the belief in his pretensions was spreading rapidly, ordered his removal to Soissons, and gave imperative injunctions that he should be kept in solitary confinement.

The infatuated ex-bishop in the meantime was wandering about the country, endeavouring by every possible means to procure his release; and when he heard that the pseudo-prince was to be transferred from one prison to another, spent night after night wandering on the high [160] road, or sitting at the foot of some village cross, hoping to intercept the prisoner on his way, and perhaps rescue him from the gens d'armes who had him in custody. Of course, he did not succeed in his quixotic undertaking; and when he subsequently demanded admission to see the prince in Soissons jail, he was himself arrested and detained until the government had decided whether to treat him as a conspirator or a lunatic.

At Soissons, as at Vitry, Châlons, and Rheims, crowds flocked to pay homage to the pretender, until at last Bonaparte, disgusted with the attention which was given to this impudent impostor, caused him to be removed to the Bicêtre, then a prison for vagabonds and suspects. The place was thronged with the offscourings of Paris, and Hervagault found himself in congenial quarters. Certain enjoyments were permitted to those of the inmates who could afford to pay for them; and, as the so-called prince had plenty of money, and spent it liberally, his claims were as unhesitatingly recognised by his fellow-prisoners as they had been by the royalists of the provinces. Gradually his partizans found means to approach his person, and to procure for him extraordinary indulgences, which were at first denied to him; but when intelligence of this new demonstration in his favour reached the ears of the First Consul, he at once gave orders that he should be placed in solitary confinement, and that the ex-bishop of Viviers, who was at large under the surveillance of the police, should be arrested and shut up in Charenton as hopelessly mad. His instructions were fully carried out, and the unfortunate bishop shortly afterwards ended his days in the madhouse.

The last commands of Bonaparte had been so precise that no one dared to disobey them, and the sham dauphin for a time disappeared from public view. When the period of his imprisonment was at an end, he was turned out of the Bicêtre, with an order forbidding him to remain more than one day in Paris—a miserable vagabond dressed in the prison garb! During his incarceration he had gained the friendship of a Jew named Emanuel, who had given him a letter to his wife, in which he entreated her to treat [161] his comrade hospitably for the solitary night which he was permitted to spend in the capital. When Hervagault arrived at the Rue des Ecrivains, where the Jewess lodged, she was not at home; but a pastry-cook and his wife, who had a shop close by, invited the dejected caller to rest in their parlour until his friend returned. The couple were simple; Hervagault's plausibility was as great as ever, and, little by little, he told the story of his persecution, and passed himself off as a distressed royalist. The sympathies of the honest pastry-cook were stirred, and he not only invited the rogue to make his house his home, but clothed him, filled his purse, and took him to various places of public entertainment.

In return for this generous treatment, Hervagault in confidence informed his new protector that he was none other than the prisoner of the Temple; and that, when his throne was set up, the kindness he had received would be remembered and recompensed a thousandfold. One favour he did ask—money sufficient to carry him to Normandy. The needful francs were forthcoming, and the deluded pastry-cook bade his future sovereign a respectful adieu at the door of the diligence, never again to behold him, or his money, or his reward.

Hervagault's next appearance was in an entirely new character. He entered on board a man-of-war at Brest, under the name of Louis-Charles, and distinguished himself both for good conduct and courage. But he could not remain content with the praises which he acquired by his bravery, and once more confided the wonderful story of his birth and misfortunes to his shipmates, many of whom listened and believed. But the monotony of life at sea was too great for his sensitive nerves, and he deserted, and again took to a wandering life, trying his fortunes, on this occasion, among the royalists of Lower Brittany. Intelligence of his whereabouts soon reached the government, and he was arrested and again conveyed to the Bicêtre, with the intimation that his captivity would only terminate with his life.

By this time it was well known in France that Bonaparte's word, once passed, would not be broken; and [162] Hervagault, losing all hope, abandoned himself to drunkenness and the wildest excesses. His constitution gave way, and in a very short time he lay at the gates of death. A priest was summoned to administer the last consolations of religion to the dying pretender, and urged him to think on God and confess the truth. He gazed steadily into the eyes of the confessor, and said—"I shall not appear as a vile impostor in the eyes of the Great Judge of the universe. Before His tribunal I shall stand, revealed and acknowledged, the son of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette of Austria. A Bourbon, descendant of a line of kings, my portion will be among the blessed. There I shall meet with my august and unfortunate family, and with them I shall partake of the common eternal rest." Two days afterwards he died, as he had lived, with a lie on his lips.


Maturin Bruneau, the next pretender to the honours of the deceased son of Louis XVI., was quite as great a rascal as Hervagault, but he lacked his cleverness. Bruneau was the son of a maker of wooden shoes, who resided at the little village of Vezin, in the department of the Maine and Loire. He was born in 1784, and having been early left an orphan, was adopted by a married sister, who kept him until she discovered that he was incorrigibly vicious, and was compelled to turn him into the streets to earn his livelihood in the best way he could. Although Maturin was only eleven years old at the time, he found no difficulty in providing for himself. He strayed a little distance from home, into regions where he was personally unknown, and there accosted a farmer whom he met, asking him for alms, and stating at the same time that he was a little "De Vezin." The farmer's curiosity was excited, for the Baron de Vezin was a well-known nobleman, who had suffered sorely in the civil war of 1795, whose chateau [163] had been burnt, and whose estates had been devastated by the republican soldiery; and that his son should be compelled to beg was more than the honest agriculturist could bear. So he took the little waif home with him, and kept him until the Viscountess de Turpin de Crissé heard of his whereabouts, and carried him off to her own chateau at Angrie.

In her mansion Maturin Bruneau was treated as an adopted son, and lived in great splendour until, in 1796, a letter arrived from Charles de Vezin, the brother of the baron, who had just returned to France, and who informed the viscountess that she had been imposed upon, for the only nephew he ever possessed was at that time an emigrant refugee in England. The result was that Bruneau was thrust out of doors, and, sent back to his native village and the manufacture of wooden shoes. The jibes of his fellow-villagers, however, rendered his life so miserable that the viscountess consented to receive him as a servant, and he remained with her for a year; but his conduct was so unbearable that she was at last compelled to dismiss him.

After a brief sojourn with his relatives he announced his intention of making the tour of France, and left his home for that purpose at the age of fifteen. He seems, in the course of his wanderings, to have fought in the Chouan insurrection in 1799 and 1800, and having been press-ganged, deserted from his ship in an American port, and roamed up and down in the United States for some years. When the news of Napoleon's downfall reached that country in 1815, he returned to France, arriving with a passport which bore the name of Charles de Navarre. He reached the village of Vallebasseir in great destitution, and there, having been mistaken for a young soldier named Phillipeaux, who was supposed to have perished in the war in Spain, he picked up all available intelligence respecting the family, and forthwith presented himself at the house of the Widow Phillipeaux as her son. He was received with every demonstration of affection, and made the worst possible use of his advantages. After spending all the ready money which [164] the poor woman had, he proceeded to Vezin, where he was recognised by his family, although he pretended to be a stranger. Thence he repaired to Pont de Cé, where lived a certain Sieur Leclerc, an innkeeper, who had formerly been a cook in the household of Louis XVI. To this man he paid a visit, and demanded if he recognised him. The innkeeper said he did not, whereupon he remarked on the strangeness of being forgotten, seeing, said he, "that I am Louis XVII., and that you have often pulled my ears in the kitchen of Versailles."

Leclerc, whose recollections of the dauphin were of quite a different character, ordered him out of his house as an impostor. But it does not fall to everybody to be familiar with the ways of a court, or even of a royal kitchen, and a few persons were found at St. Malo who credited his assertion that he was the Prince of France. The government, already warned by the temporary success of Hervagault's imposture, immediately pounced upon him, and submitted him to examination. His story was found to be a confused tissue of falsehoods; and after being repeatedly interrogated, and attempting to escape, and to forward letters surreptitiously to his "uncle," Louis XVIII., he was removed to the prison of Rouen as the son of the Widow Phillipeaux, calling himself Charles de Navarre. When he entered the jail he was the possessor of a solitary five franc piece, which he spent in wine and tobacco, and he then took to the manufacture of wooden shoes for the other prisoners in order to obtain more. As he worked he told his story, and his fellow jail-birds were never tired of listening to his romance. Visitors also heard his tale, and yielded credence to it, and it was not long before everybody in Rouen knew that there was a captive in the town who claimed to be the son of the murdered king.

Among other persons of education and respectability who listened and believed was a Madame Dumont, the wife of a wealthy merchant. This lady became an ardent partizan of the pretender, and not only visited him, but spent her husband's gold lavishly to solace him in his captivity. She supplied him with the richest food and the [165] rarest wines that money could buy. A Madame Jacquières, who resided at Gros Caillon, near Paris, who was greatly devoted to the Bourbon family, also came under the influence of Bruneau's agents, and finally fell a victim to his rascality. This good lady was an ardent Catholic, and having some lingering doubt as to the honesty of the prisoner of Rouen, in order to its perfect solution she visited many shrines, said many prayers, and personally repaired to the old city in which he was confined, where she caused a nine days' course of prayer to be said to discover if the captive were really the person he pretended to be. This last expedient answered admirably. The Abbé Matouillet, who celebrated the required number of masses before the shrine of the Virgin, was himself a firm believer in Bruneau, and he had no hesitation in assuring the petitioner that loyalty and liberality towards the prince would be no bad investment either in this world or the next. The Abbé then led his credulous victim into the august presence of the clogmaker, and the poor dupe prostrated herself before him in semi-adoration. Nor would she leave the presence until his Majesty condescended to accept a humble gift of a valuable gold watch and two costly rings. His Majesty was graciously pleased to accede to the request of his loyal subject.

Bruneau could neither read nor write, and perhaps it was as well for himself that his education had been thus neglected, for if he had been left to his own devices his imposture would have been very short-lived. But he contrived to attach two clever rascals to himself, who helped to prolong the fraud and to victimise the public. They were both convicts, but convicts of a high intellectual type. One was Larcher, a revolutionary priest, and a man of detestable life; while the other was a forger named Tourly. These worthies acted as his secretaries. On the 3d of March 1816, the priest wrote a letter to "Madame de France" in these terms:—

"My Sister,—You are doubtless not ignorant of my being held in the saddest captivity, and reduced to a [166] condition of appalling misery. So may I beg of you, if you should think me worthy of your especial consideration, to visit me here in my imprisonment. Even should you for an instant suspect me of being an impostor, still may I claim consideration for the sake of your brother. The scandal and judgment of which our family is daily the object throughout the entire kingdom may well make you shudder. I am myself sunk in despair at the thought of being so near the capital without being permitted to publicly appear in it. If you determine upon coming down here you would do well to preserve an incognito. In the meantime receive the embraces of your unfortunate brother,     The King of France and Navarre."

This precious epistle Madame Jacquières undertook not only to forward to the Duchess d'Angoulême, but also promised to procure the honour of a private interview for the bearer of the missive.

Larcher and Tourly must have been kept very busy, for the pretended dauphin was never tired of sending appeals for assistance to the foreign powers, of addressing proclamations to the people, and even went so far as formally to petition the parliament that he might be taken to Paris, in order there to establish his identity as the son of Louis XVI. The whole of the papers issued from the prison, and they were enormous in quantity, were signed by his secretaries with his name.

About the same time considerable interest was excited by a trashy novel, called the "Cemetery of the Madeleine," which pretended to give a circumstantial account of the life of the dauphin in the Temple. Out of this book the secretaries and their employer proceeded to construct "The Historical Memoirs of Charles of Navarre;" but after they had finished their work, they found that it was so ridiculously absurd that there was no probability that it would deceive the public for a moment. They accordingly handed the manuscript over to a more skilful rogue with whom they were acquainted, and this man, who was called Branzon, transformed their clumsy narrative into a well-written and plausible history. He did more, and "coached" the [167] pretender in all the petty circumstances which he could find out respecting the Bourbon family. Manuscript copies of the "Memoirs" were assiduously distributed in influential quarters in Rouen, and particularly among the officers of the third regiment of the royal guard, then quartered in the town. A copy fell into the hands of a Vendéan officer named De la Pomelière, who recollected the story of the pretended son of Baron de Vezins, and half-suspected a similar imposture in this instance. With some difficulty he procured admission to the royal presence, and induced the sham dauphin to speak of La Vendée. During the conversation he remarked, that when the chateau of Angrie, the residence of the Viscountess de Turpin, was mentioned, the pretender slightly changed colour and became embarrassed. The acknowledgment that he was acquainted with the mansion, and the accurate description which he gave of it, gave the first clue whereby proof was obtained of his identity with Maturin Bruneau.

But although M. de la Pomelière, from his previous knowledge, had a hazy idea of the truth, the uninformed public continued devoted to the cause of the pretender; and the convict secretaries, if they failed to stir up the educated classes, at least succeeded in entrapping the ignorant. The prison cell of Bruneau was converted into a scene of uninterrupted revelling. Persons of all classes sent their gifts—the ladies supplying unlimited creature comforts for their king, while their husbands strove to compensate for their incapacity to manufacture dainties by filling the purse of the pretender. Nothing was forgotten: fine clothes and fine furniture were supplied in abundance; and the adoring public were so anxious to consider the comfort of the illustrious prisoner, that they even subscribed to purchase a breakfast service of Sevrès, so that the heir to the throne might drink his chocolate out of a porcelain cup.

Meantime Madame Jacquières had not been idle, and was ready to fulfil her promise to send a messenger to the Duchess d'Angoulême. Her chosen emissary was a Norman gentleman named Jacques Charles de Foulques, [168] an ardent Bourbonist and a lieutenant-colonel in the army. This officer was both brave and suave, and seemed in every respect a fitting person to act as an ambassador to the Tuileries. He was deeply religious, very conscientious, and extremely simple. His mental capacity had been accurately gauged by Bruneau and his associates, and care was taken to excite his religious enthusiasm. The Abbé Matouillet plainly told him that Heaven smiled upon the cause, and introduced him to the prince, who administered the oath of allegiance, which the credulous Norman is said to have signed with the seal of his lips on a volume that looked like a book of gaillard songs, but which the simple soldier mistook for the Gospels. After several audiences, his mission was pointed out, and Colonel de Foulques, without hesitation, agreed to proceed to Paris, and there to place in the hands of the daughter of Louis XVI. a copy of the "Memoirs of Charles of Navarre," and a letter from her reputed brother.

The latter document was produced in the court at Rouen when Bruneau was afterwards placed at the bar, and is a very curious production. In it the maker of clogs thus addresses "Madame Royale:"—

"I am aware, my dear sister, a secret presentiment has long possessed you that the finger of God was about to point out to you your brother, that innocent partaker of your sorrows, the one alone worthy to repair them, as he was fated to share them.

"I know, also, that you were surrounded by snares, and that they who extend them for you are men of wicked ways. They believe they have destroyed the germs of some virtues, as they succeeded in arresting the progress of my education; but there remain to me uprightness of principle, courage, a tendency to good, and the desire of preserving the glory of my nation. Louis XIV. could boast of no more.

"I know that I have been pictured to you as one who has forgotten his dignity, and who is the slave of a love for wine. Alas! that beverage that was forced upon me [169] in my tenderest youth, by the ferocious Simon, has served to fortify my constitution in the course of a most painful life, even as it did that of the great Henry IV.; and, if I have been addicted to the use of it in this place, it was for my health's sake, to preserve which a more refined method would not have so well suited me.

"The use of tobacco was recommended to me in 1797, at Baltimore, also on account of my health. I have profited by it. It has occasionally served to dissipate my sense of weariness, and the thin vapour has often caused me to forget that life might be breathed away from my lips almost as readily.

"I have wished, my dear sister, to speak to you as a brother. Whatever may be the force of a custom preserved during nineteen years, I shall know how, in sharing the fatigues of my troops, to deprive myself of what is a pastime to them. Other occupations will but too easily absorb me entirely. Cease to see by any other vision than your own. Trust to the evidence of your own senses, and no other. I have learned, through a long series of misfortunes, how to be a man, and to be upon my guard against my fellowmen. Truth is not apt to penetrate under golden fringes. It is, however, my divinity; and henceforward, my sister, it will dwell with us. I grant the right of having it told to me. It will never offend a monarch who, having contracted the habit of bearing it, will have the courage to heed it for the benefit of his people.

"I dispersed the last calumny which perversity has aimed at me, when it declared that your brother was still in the United States. No; I had long left it when my evil destiny conducted me from Brazil (as you will see in my "Memoirs") to France, which is anything for me but the promised land. Heaven, to whom my eyes and hopes were ever raised, will not fail to have in its keeping certain witnesses to my existence. There is one to whom I presented, in 1801, at Philadelphia, three gold doubloons, a note of twenty dollars, three shirts, a coat, a levite, and two pairs of old boots. This witness, whom chance has again brought me acquainted with here, is a certain [170] Chaufford, son of a baker of Rouen, well known to the keeper of the prison, and who was on board the French fleet which sailed from Brest. This witness (of whom I have spoken in my "Memoirs") deserted from the fleet. My servant François meeting him in Marc Street, brought him to me. I was then suffering in consequence of a fall from my horse, and was obliged to go about on crutches; and it was from me that he received every species of assistance, and it is by me that he has been reminded of it within the walls of this odious prison, where he least of all expected again to meet with his illustrious benefactor.

"I conclude, my dear sister, certifying to you, by my ambassador, the nature of my ulterior projects. He will hear of your final resolution, and will at once return to me, after assuring you that the superior rank to which destiny calls me is only coveted by me for the sake of my people, and in order to share with you the grateful attachment, which will always be for me the sweetest reward. It is the heart of your king and brother that has never ceased to hold you dear. He presses you to that heart which the most cruel misery has not been able to render cold towards you."

Armed with this extraordinary document, Lieutenant-Colonel de Foulques set out for Paris, honoured by his mission, and convinced that he had only to present himself at the Tuileries to obtain easy access to the duchess, and only to gain her ear to insure her co-operation in the sacred task of placing her long-lost and ill-treated brother on the throne of France. Of course, there were certain forms which must be complied with, but the result was, to his mind, certain. He first opened negotiations with M. de Mortmaur, and delivered the despatches to his care. To his surprise they were treated with the utmost indifference, not to say rudeness; and the Norman was still more disgusted when told that no audience would be granted. From M. de Mortmaur he repaired to the Duchess of Serent, and, in a letter, craved her influence to procure for him the desired interview with "Madame [171] Royale." The reply was prompt and unmistakable: If he did not leave the capital within eight days, he would be thrown into jail.

The colonel did not wait for a week; but in an angry mood returned at once to those who sent him, cursing the government in his heart, stigmatizing "Madame Royale" as an unnatural sister, and considering the king no better than other royal uncles who had occupied thrones which belonged to their imprisoned nephews. The news of his discomfiture did not disconcert or dishearten the plotters, and, although their first attempt to approach the daughter of Louis XVI. had resulted in failure, they resolved to make another attempt. Madame de Jacquières, in particular, was very hopeful, and, with a wisdom and modesty which did her credit, discovered that there would have been great indelicacy in the Duchess of Angoulême granting a private interview to a man. A female messenger ought to have been sent; and she soon found one to repair the first blunder.

Madame Morin, who superseded De Foulkes, was a lady of great accomplishments and considerable intelligence. The documents which the unsuccessful ambassador had carried with him were entrusted to the new emissary; and, in addition, she carried with her a portrait of Charles of Navarre, who was represented in the brilliant uniform of a general officer of dragoons. But Madame Morin was as ill-fated as her predecessor had been, and all her efforts to force her way into the presence of the duchess were fruitless. The police also frightened her as they had terrified De Foulkes, and paid a visit to her residence. They did not make a thorough search, but gave her to understand that if any further attempts were made to annoy the duchess they would institute a strict perquisition—a threat which had so great an effect upon the ambassadress that she immediately burnt her copy of the "Memoirs," her credentials, and even the portrait of her illustrious master and prince, and returned to the power from which she was accredited, shamefacedly to confess that she had been equally unfortunate with the gallant Norman colonel.


It was evident that the hard heart of the duchess could not easily be moved, and it was necessary to have recourse to other tactics. At this time misery and famine were prevalent in the land, and many persons were discontented with the rule of Louis XVIII., who was in extremely ill health. The Abbé Matouillet saw his opportunity, and taking advantage of the prevalent disaffection, issued a proclamation intimating that if the people of France would place their captive king upon the throne now occupied by a dying usurper, the liberated and grateful sovereign would, in return, immediately fix the price of bread at three sous per pound. Meantime, the generous offerer was regaling himself on the fat of the land, and holding his petty court within the walls of Rouen jail. But this last move led to energetic action on the part of the authorities. The attempted rising was crushed, the careless jailers were dismissed, the prisoner was placed in solitary and comfortless confinement, and the keeper of the seals commenced serious proceedings in order to bring him to trial.

The chief object to be accomplished was to prove his birth, for there were many who jumped to the conclusion that he must be the son of Louis XVI., since he was not the son of the Widow Phillipeaux. Seeing that his time had come, and that the government was determined to punish him with severity, Bruneau became alarmed, and offered his new jailers ten thousand francs to set him at liberty. The offer was refused and reported, the prisoner was more narrowly guarded, and his preliminary examinations were hastened. The stories which he told were so absurd and so wildly contradictory, as to leave no doubt of the hollowness of his pretensions; but still the difficulty remained of proving who he really was.

When affairs were in this stage the Viscountess Turpin, Bruneau's first benefactress, arrived in Rouen. M. de Pomelière, the officer of the king's guard who had suspected him from the first, had communicated his suspicions to the viscountess, and she had come to see him, and, if she could, to expose him. When Bruneau was confronted with his former patroness, he at once admitted [173] that he had enjoyed the lady's hospitality, but declared that that fact did not render him the less the Dauphin of France. The viscountess reproached him, and endeavoured to ashame him; but the impudent and ungrateful scamp turned to her with an air of mock majesty and exclaimed, "Madame, I accept counsel from no one. I give it as I do commands. I am a sovereign!" The members of his family were next brought from Vezin to identify him, and had no hesitation in doing so. He denied ever having seen them before, but frequently betrayed himself by addressing them by their pet household names, and by contradicting them with regard to trivial occurrences. The imposture was plain; and Bruneau, his forger-secretary Tourly, Branzon the author of the "Memoirs," the Abbé Matouillet, and Madame Dumont, were committed for trial as swindlers, as the government did not deem them of sufficient importance to charge them with high treason.

The Abbé contrived to effect his escape from the jail, but the others were placed in the dock, Bruneau was received with some faint cries of "Vive Louis XVII.!" but the scamp knew that his game was played out, and did not care to conceal his knowledge of the fact. He had made no effort to make himself presentable; but appeared in court ill-dressed, unshaven, and wearing a cotton night-cap on his head. It was with difficulty that he could be compelled to respect the forms of the court, or to preserve ordinary decency. He interrupted the opening speech of the government prosecutor by noisy ejaculations, oaths, filthy expletives, and immodest and insulting gestures, and when rebuked by the judges showered down upon them all the abusive and abominable epithets of his extensive vocabulary.

The trial lasted for ten days, and the career of Bruneau was clearly traced from his very childhood. As revelation after revelation was made, and the history of crime after crime was disclosed, his interruptions became more and more frequent and violent, until his very accomplices shrank from him in horror, protesting that it he had presented himself to them in the same guise when he first [174] proclaimed his pretensions, they would not have been seduced by him. Their advocates pleaded on their behalf that they were dupes and not confederates, and the plea served to exculpate the Abbé, Madame Dumont, and Tourly. The impostor himself was condemned to five years' imprisonment, three thousand francs fine, and a further imprisonment of two years for his offences against the dignity of justice and the public morality committed in open court. He was further condemned to remain at the after-disposal of the government, and to pay three-fourths of the expenses of the trial. Branzon, his literary friend, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and to pay a fourth of the expenses. When that part of the sentence was pronounced, which referred to the cost of the proceedings, Bruneau burst into an insulting laugh, and informed the judges that he would take care to defray the heavy responsibility laid upon him as soon as he was able. But, as the saying is, he laughed without his host. The subscriptions of his dupes were lying at the Bank of France, were confiscated by the state, and, amply served to pay the pecuniary penalty. After his imprisonment had expired Bruneau disappeared from public view.


One evening, while Napoleon I. was still reigning at the Tuileries and guiding the destinies of France, a stranger appeared in the marketplace of Brandenburg, in Prussia. He had travelled far, was very tired, and sat him down to rest. But the Prussian police had then, and have still, a deep dislike to weary tramps; and the poor wayfarer had not been long seated when he was accosted, by the guardians of the peace, who demanded his papers. The stranger told them he had none, that he was very weary, that he liked the town, and that he had resolved [175] to take up his abode in it. The police were astounded by his coolness, and continued to ply him with questions. They asked what his station in life was, when he seemed a little confused; but ultimately said he was a watchmaker. They demanded his name, and he said it was Naündorff, but whence he had come he refused to tell; and his sole worldly possession was a seal, which, he said, had belonged to Louis XVI. of France. The police kept the seal, and, finding that they could elicit no further information from the mysterious being who had thrust himself so unceremoniously into their dull town, permitted him to settle down quietly in Brandenburg.

Without tools, without money, without friends, he found life hard enough at first; but an old soldier and his sister took pity upon him, and took him into their house. To them he first declared himself to be Louis XVII., and narrated the manner of his escape from the Temple. He told them all about Simon and his cruelty, and described the dungeon in which he was confined, the iron wicket, and the loathsomeness of the place. He said he recollected some persons attending him who, he thought, were doctors; but he was afraid of them, and would not answer their questions. As the result of their visit, however, he was cleaned, his room was put in order, and the wicket was torn down.

About this time, he said, his friends determined to rescue him; but they found the guard at the Temple too numerous and too vigilant to allow them to carry out their plans, or to remove him from the place. Accordingly they hit upon a strange device, and resolved to conceal him in the building. They determined to take him from the second floor which he occupied, and hide him in the fourth storey of the Temple. Sometime in June, 1795, an opiate was administered to him, and he fell into a drowsy condition. In this state he saw a child, which they had substituted for him in his bed, and was himself laid in a basket in which this child had been concealed under the bed. He perceived as in a dream that the effigy was only a wooden doll, the face of which had been carved and painted to imitate his own. The change [176] was effected while the guard was relieved, and the new guard who came on duty was content to perceive an apparently sleeping figure beneath the bedclothes, without investigating too closely whether it were the dauphin or not. Meantime the opiate did its work, and not even his curiosity could prevent him from dropping off into insensibility.

When he recovered consciousness he found himself shut up in a large room which was quite strange to him. This room was crowded with old furniture, amongst which a space had been prepared for him, and a passage was left to a closet in one of the turrets, in which his food had been placed. All other approach was barricaded. Before the transfer had taken place, one of his friends had told him that, in order to save his life, he must submit to hardship and suffering, for a single imprudent step would bring destruction, not only on himself, but on his benefactors. It was, therefore, agreed that he should pretend to be deaf and dumb. On awaking he remembered the injunctions of his friends, resolved that no indiscretion on his part should endanger their safety, and waited with patience and in silence in his dreary abode, being supplied at intervals with food, which was brought to him during the night by one of his protectors.

His escape was discovered on the same night on which it took place; but the government thought fit to conceal it, and caused the wooden figure to be replaced by a deaf and dumb boy. At the same time the guard was doubled, to give the public the idea that the dauphin was still in safe-keeping. This extra precaution prevented his friends from smuggling him out of the Tower, as they had intended; but, in order to deceive the authorities, they despatched a boy under his name, in the direction, he believed, of Strasburg. At this time he was about nine years and a half old, and his long imprisonment had rendered him accustomed to suffering. Throughout the long winter he endured the cold without a murmur; and no one guessed his hiding-place, for the room was disused and was never opened, and if any one had by chance entered it, he could not have been seen, as even the friend [177] who visited him could only reach him by crawling on all-fours, and when he did not come the captive remained patiently in his concealment. Frequently he waited for several days for his food; but no murmur escaped his lips, and he was only too glad to endure present suffering in the hope of future safety.

While he was thus stowed away in the upper storey of the Temple Tower, a rumour spread abroad that the dauphin had escaped, and the government took the alarm. It was decided that the deaf and dumb boy, who had been substituted for the doll which had taken his place, should die, and to kill him poison was mixed with his food in small quantities. The captive became excessively ill, and Desault, the surgeon, was called in, not to save his life, but to counterfeit humanity. Desault at once saw that poison had been administered, and ordered an antidote to be prepared by a friend of his own, an apothecary called Choppart, telling him at the same time that the official prisoner was not the son of Louis XVI. Choppart was indiscreet, and betrayed the confidence which had been reposed in him; and the floating rumour reached the authorities. In alarm lest the fraud should be detected, they removed the deaf and dumb child, and substituted for him a rickety boy from one of the Parisian hospitals. To make assurance doubly sure, according to Naündorff's version, they poisoned both Desault and Choppart, and the substituted rickety boy was attended by physicians, who, never having seen either the real dauphin, or the deaf and dumb prisoner, naturally believed it was the dauphin they were attending.

After recounting further and equally remarkable adventures, Naündorff declared that he was conveyed out of France, and was placed under the care of a German lady, with whom he remained until he was about twelve years of age. He could not recollect either the name or place of residence of this lady, and only remembered that she was kind to him, and that he used to call her "bonne maman!" From her custody he was transferred to that of two gentlemen, who carried him across the sea; but [178] whether they took him to Italy or America he could not tell. One of these gentlemen taught him watchmaking, a craft which he afterwards used to very good purpose. He had a distinct recollection of an attempt which was made to poison him, but the draught was taken by somebody else, who died in consequence. In 1804, while in the neighbourhood of the French frontier, near Strasburg, he was arrested, and was cast into prison, where he remained under the strictest guard and in the greatest misery till the spring of 1809, when he was liberated by a friend named Montmorin, through the aid of the Empress Josephine. Montmorin and himself then set out for Frankfort-on-the-Maine, and during the journey the former "sewed some papers in the collar of his greatcoat, which would form undeniable proofs of his identity to all the sovereigns of Europe." In 1809, according to his own showing, he was at Stralsund fighting under Major de Schill of the Brunswick dragoons, and, when that redoubtable officer was killed, received a blow on the head which fractured his skull and rendered him unconscious for a long time. In 1810 he was in Italy, where he was recognised by several old officers of Louis XVI., who received him with every mark of loyal respect. Napoleon, he asserted, was aware of his existence, and threatened him with death if he disturbed the public peace; and when, on the downfall of the usurper, he wrote to the European powers urging his claims, his application was coldly passed over in silence, and Louis XVIII. was raised to the throne in his stead.

The credulous soldier and his equally simple sister believed this wonderful tale, and pressed their royal visitor to continue to receive their humble hospitality. Between them a letter was addressed to the Duchess of Angoulême, announcing the existence of a brother, who would be found to be the real man, and no counterfeit. A similar letter was sent to the king, and another to the Duchess de Berri; but all the three missives were careful to state that the Duke of Normandy had no desire to sit upon the throne or to disturb the tranquillity of France, but would be content to accept a reasonable pension and hold [179] his tongue—to surrender all his claims, and retire into obscurity for ever, if he were well paid. His letters remained unanswered, but he returned to the attack, and indulged the Duchess of Angoulême with a multitude of letters, in which he implored her good offices for a brother who needed only to be seen to be recognised. But the duchess remained silent. At length he announced to the French royal family his intention of marrying a young girl only fifteen years of age, the daughter of a Prussian corporal. He could not, of course, expect that such a step would be agreeable to the other members of the House of Bourbon, but he valued his love more than his pride, and if his royal uncle would only grant such an allowance as would enable himself and his wife to live in a position of independence, he would trouble him no more, and the world need never know that the son of Louis XVI. was alive, and had perpetrated a mésalliance. But Louis XVIII. was obdurate, and would not listen even to the seductive voice of Hymen. The young couple were allowed to wed, but they had to look for their means of livelihood elsewhere.

For a time Naündorff was equal to the occasion, and supported the corporal's daughter and his rising brood by cleaning the watches and clocks of the Brandenburgers. But trouble came upon him. The house of his next door neighbour took fire, and the watchmaker was suspected of being the incendiary. He was arrested and thrown into prison; his wife and children were turned into the street; and, although his innocence was unequivocally proved, his trade was ruined, and he had to flee from the midst of the distrustful and suspicious folks among whom he had laboured and loved and wedded.

By the exertions of one of the few friends who remained to him Naündorff was appointed foreman in a watchmaking factory at Crossen, and thither he removed, carrying with him his wife and the half-dozen children who had blessed his union. But the distance was long, the roads were bad, and the man was poor. When Naündorff reached Crossen on foot with his weary and half-famished band he found that the post which he had [180] come to obtain had been given to another, and abandoned himself to despair. Then the plebeian energy of the corporal's daughter rose superior to the weakness of her royal husband. She obtained a temporary shelter, procured needlework, and, by her unaided efforts, managed to keep the wolf from the door. After a little delay work was obtained for Naündorff also; and as his spirits revived his hopes and pretensions revived also. Little by little he told his story to his fellow-workmen, who paid no heed to it at first, but nicknamed him in derision "the French prince." But the tale was improving as it got older, and by-and-by he could number among his followers the syndic of the town, one of the preachers, a magistrate, and a teacher of languages. The syndic, in particular, was an enthusiastic partizan, and himself addressed a letter to the Duchess of Angoulême and to the principal courts of Europe. He also took a journey to Berlin to claim from the authorities the seal which Naündorff said had been taken from him by the Brandenburg police—the same seal which Louis XVI., as he was passing to execution, had handed to Clery with his dying injunction to deliver it to his son. The government very sharply ordered their subordinate back to his post, telling him that they knew nothing of Naündorff, but that they were well aware that Clery had handed the jewel which he mentioned to Louis XVIII., who had rewarded him with the riband of St. Louis. The syndic left Berlin in haste, and arrived at home full of chagrin. He concealed himself from public view, and shortly afterwards sickened and died. Naündorff declared he had been poisoned.

The discomfited impostor, finding that he was not likely to be able to move the world from his retirement at Crossen, quietly disappeared from that humble town, and was lost to the public gaze for a considerable period. His movements about this time were very mysterious; but it is proved with tolerable certainty that he repaired to Paris, and his visit to the French capital may have had something to do with the visions of Martin of Gallardon. This man was an ignorant peasant, and, being a sort of clairvoyant, pretended that, as the result of a [181] vision, he knew that the son of Louis XVI. was still alive. He said that, in the year 1818, while he was at mass in the village church at Gallardon, an angel interrupted his devotions by whispering in his ear that the dauphin of the Temple was alive, and that he (Martin) was celestially appointed on a mission to Louis XVIII. to inform him of the fact, and to announce to him that if he ever dared to be formally crowned the roof of the cathedral would fall in and make a very speedy ending of him and his court. The king was prevailed upon to grant an interview to this impostor, and made no secret of his message. Therefore, when year after year passed without a formal coronation, the superstitious whispered that Louis knew better than tempt the Divine vengeance, and, although he sat upon the throne, was well aware that he had stolen another man's birthright, and that the dauphin of the Temple was still alive.

But people were beginning to forget the existence of the watchmaker of Crossen, when one evening, in the autumn of 1831, a traveller entered one of the best frequented inns at Berne, in Switzerland. Attached to this inn was a parlour, in which some of the most jovial of the local notables were accustomed to pass their evenings, gossiping over the occurrences of the day, and whiling away an hour or so with a quiet game at dominoes. The stranger was a pleasant-looking man, of from forty to forty-five years of age, and preferred the good company of the familiar parlour to the dulness of his private sitting-room, or the staid society of the public salon. He said his name was Naündorff, and by his affability soon made himself such a general favourite that one of the leading habitués of the place invited him to his house and introduced him to his family. In private life he shone even more brilliantly than in the mixed company of the hotel. There was a certain dignity about his appearance which seemed to proclaim him a greater personage than he at first claimed to be, and his host was not greatly astonished when, after the lapse of a fortnight, he confided to him the secret that Naündorff was merely an assumed name, and that he was in reality the Duke of Normandy, the [182] disinherited heir to the French throne. The whole family rose in a flutter of excitement at the presence of this distinguished guest in their midst. They had no doubt of the truth of his story, and one daughter of the house urged him to take prompt and decisive measures to recover his crown. As far as her feeble help could go it was freely at his service. The mouse has e'er now helped the lion; and this enthusiastic girl was not without hope that she might render some assistance in restoring to France her legitimate king. She became amanuensis and secretary to Naündorff, compiled a statement from his words and documents, laid it before the lawyers, and they pronounced favourably, and advised the claimant to proceed without delay to Paris and prosecute his cause vigorously. He went.

On a May morning in 1833, the watchman of the great Parisian cemetery at Père la Chaise discovered a dust-stained traveller sleeping among the tombs, and shaking him up demanded his name, and his reason for choosing such a strange resting-place. His name he said was Naündorff; but as he only spoke German the curiosity of the guardian of the place was not further satisfied. In a short time the same individual met a gentleman who could speak German, who took pity upon his apparent weakness and ignorance of the gay capital, and who, when he heard that he had arrived on foot the night before, and was utterly destitute, advised him to apply to the old Countess de Richemont, as one who was proverbially kind to foreigners, and had formerly been one of the attendants on the dauphin who died in the Temple. The stranger was profuse in his thanks, muttered that the dauphin was not dead yet, and set out for the Rue Richer, where the countess lived.

He obtained easy access to the presence of the lady, and announced himself as the Duke of Normandy. The countess acted in orthodox fashion, and straightway fainted, but not before she had hurriedly exclaimed that he was the very picture of his mother Marie Antoinette. The first joyful recognition over, and all parties being sufficiently calm to be practical, the countess produced [183] the numerous relics which she possessed of the happy time when Louis XVI. reigned in Versailles. The duke recognised them all down to the little garments which he had worn in his babyhood. She mentioned scars which were on the body of the youthful prince, and her visitor assured her that he had similar marks which he could show in private. The countess was wild with delight, ordered him to be placed in the best bed the mansion could afford, sent for a tailor, and had him clothed as befitted his rank, and invited her royalist friends to come and pay their homage to their recovered king. They came in crowds, and to all and sundry, the pretender told the story of his escape from the Tower. They were disposed to be credulous, and the majority yielding readily to the prevalent enthusiasm, proclaimed their belief in his truth, and promised their assistance to restore him to his own again. A few were dubious, and one lukewarm Bourbonist remarked, "You were an extremely clever child, and spoke French like an angel. How is it you have so completely forgotten it?" The duke replied that thirty-seven years of absence was surely a sufficient explanation of his ignorance; but a few held a different opinion and retired, and by their withdrawal somewhat damped the general enthusiasm.

But there was a safe and certain method of arriving at the truth. The duke was taken in haste to be confronted with the seer, Martin, who was then living in the odour of sanctity at St. Arnould, near Dourdin. That fanatic no sooner beheld the stranger than he hailed him as king, and told his delighted auditory that he was the exact counterpart of the lost prince, who had been revealed to him in a vision. The question of identity was considered solved, the whole party proceeded to the church to return thanks for the revelation which had been made, and the village bells were rung to celebrate the auspicious event. The noble ladies who were attached to the pretender influenced the priests, the priests influenced the peasantry, and Martin, the clairvoyant and quack, exerted a powerful influence over all. Money was wanted, and contributions flowed in abundantly, until the so-called [184] Duke of Normandy found his coffers filling at the rate of fifty thousand pounds a-year.

Thus suddenly enriched, he set up a magnificent establishment in Paris. His horses and carriages were among the most splendid in the Champs Elysées, his banquets were equal to those of Lucullus, his name was in every mouth, and people wondered why the government did not interpose. They were afraid, said some, to touch the sacred person of the man they knew to be king; they did not care to meddle with an obvious impostor, whose crest was a broken crown, said others; but his partizans maintained that their silence was more dangerous than their open enmity, and that the crafty Louis Philippe had given orders that his rival should be assassinated. They declared that this was no mere supposition, for late on one November evening, when the duke was returning to his quarters in the Faubourg St. Germain, across the Place du Carrousel, a dastardly assassin sprang upon him and stabbed him with a dagger. Fortunately for the illustrious victim he wore a medallion of his sainted mother, Marie-Antoinette, and the metal disc caught the point of the weapon, and received the full force of the blow; but nevertheless a slight wound was inflicted, and the duke staggered home wounded and bleeding. He was too confused to report the circumstance at any of the guard-houses which he passed, but in his own mansion he showed the dint of the cowardly blade, and the cut on his flesh. It was disgraceful, cried his adherents; it was ridiculous, said his opponents; and they did not hesitate to add, that if blow there had been it was self-inflicted.

But if the calumny was intended to destroy the faith of Naündorff's partizans, it failed in its effect. Their zeal waxed hotter than ever; their contributions flowed even more freely than before into his treasury; and they conceived the idea of solacing his misfortunes by providing him with a wife. Unfortunately, there remained the long-forgotten daughter of the corporal and her progeny who were alive and well, although somewhat impoverished, at Crossen. Their existence had to be declared, and as [185] it was not seemly that they should be longer separated from their illustrious lord and master, they were sent for, and a governess was provided for the youthful princes and princesses. It was now the turn of the lion to help the mouse. The lady who was selected for the post was the enthusiast of Berne—the same damsel who had acted as scribe to the wandering heir—the daughter of the gentleman who had been the first to penetrate the thin disguise of the illustrious stranger in the cosy parlour of the inn.

The new governess was a real acquisition to the household, and devoted herself more to politics than tuition. Once more the duke resumed his habit of letter-writing, and epistles both supplicatory and minatory were showered upon the Duchess of Angoulême and the Duchess de Berri. To the former, however, the pretender generally wrote as to a beloved sister, whose coldness and reluctance to receive him caused him the keenest pain. He offered to satisfy her as to his identity by incontrovertible proofs, and recalled one circumstance which ought to dissipate her last lingering doubts as to his truth. He reminded her that when the royal family were confined together in the Temple, his aunt the Princess Elizabeth, and his mother Marie-Antoinette, had written some lines on a paper; which paper was subsequently cut in two and given one half to "Madame Royale," and the other half to the dauphin. "When we meet," said the pretender, "I will produce the corresponding half to that which you possess. It has never been out of my possession since our fatal separation." Even this appeal failed to move the duchess, and failed simply because she had never heard of the existence of any such divided document.

But the claims even of righteous claimants are apt to become wearisome to the public, and the interest in them dies away unless it is now and again fanned into a flame. The Duke of Normandy found it so, and devised a new means of attracting attention. Although he had gone with his followers to return his grateful thanks to God at the shrine of St. Arnould, he was not a member of [186] the Roman Catholic Church, but he discovered the error of his past ways, and was desirous to embrace the orthodox faith. Accordingly, he was openly received as a disciple and proselyte in the church of St. Roche. His conversion was followed by that of his wife and children; but it cost him a very good friend. It was hoped that the governess would have consented to change her creed with the others. But the Swiss girl was a good and conscientious Protestant, and this wholesale conversion aroused her suspicions as to the cause in which she was engaged; she reviewed the pretensions of the duke a little more judiciously than she had ever done before, and as the result of her investigations, threw up her post and returned to her father, convinced that she had been ignorantly aiding an imposture.

But if he lost a very efficient assistant, he gained many partizans who had only refrained from acknowledging him previously by a fear lest the throne should be snatched from the Catholic party. These late adherents came to pay their homage bringing gifts, and their accession to his ranks and their contributions to his purse stimulated the duke to still more ostentatious displays of regal magnificence. His court grew to an alarming size, and at last a hint was sent from the prefecture of police, that if he did not moderate his pretensions, and behave with greater circumspection, it would be necessary for him to have an interview with the judges of the Assize Court. The threat was quite sufficient. Naündorff withdrew to a quiet abode in the Rue Guillaume, and granted his interviews in a more secret manner. Indeed, from open clamour he turned to underhand plotting, and so mysterious was his conduct that his landlord requested him to betake himself elsewhere. He found a yet more retired asylum, and still more suspicious-looking friends, until the police began to suspect that a conspiracy was on foot, and favoured him with a domiciliary visit. They seized his papers and read them; but they treated him with no great severity. They hired three places in the diligence which, in 1838, travelled between Paris and Calais. The duke occupied one of these seats, and two police agents [187] the others, and when they reached the famous little port, his attendants placed him on board the English packet, and watched her speeding towards Dover with the prisoner of the Temple as a present to the English nation.

The duke established himself at Camberwell Green, and made it his earliest care to write to the Duchess of Angoulême, soliciting her good offices on behalf of her unfortunate brother, who had been so vilely treated by the government of Louis Philippe, and had been cast out from the country over which he should have ruled. In England he devoted himself to the manufacture of fireworks and explosive shells; and while he obtained the commendation of the authorities at Woolwich for his ingeniously-contrived obuses, aroused the ire of the inhabitants of Camberwell, who could not sleep because of the continuous explosion of concussion-shells on his premises. They summoned him before the magistrates as a nuisance, and he transferred his establishment to Chelsea. Here the emissaries, or supposed emissaries, of the French king, pursued him. An attempt was made to shoot him, and he made it a pretext for leaving a country where his life was not safe, and retired to Delft, in Holland, where he died in very humble circumstances, on the 10th of August, 1844.


Bloomsbury has been equally honoured with Camberwell and Chelsea in providing a home for a pretended dauphin of France, and for a dauphin whose pretensions are not allowed to lapse, although he has himself sunk into the grave, but are persistently presented before the public at recurring intervals by his sons. The story which he told, and which they continue to tell, is a curious jumble of the inventions which preceded it—a sort of literary patchwork, without design or pattern, and a flimsy covering either for self-conceit or imposture.


In this case the tale is, that, about September, 1793, Tom Paine, who was then a member of the National Convention, wrote to England to a Mrs. Carpenter to bring to Paris a deaf and dumb boy for a certain purpose. Deaf and dumb boys are not easily procurable, and ladies, when entrusted with mysterious missions, have an inveterate habit of communicating them to their personal friends. Mrs. Carpenter knew a Mrs. Meves, a music teacher, and hastened to inform her of the strange instructions which she had received from France, and the pair set out to find a child to suit the requirements of Paine. They failed, and Mrs. Meves in her chagrin told her husband of their failure. That worthy, who was then resident in Bloomsbury Square, had a son, supposed to be illegitimate, living in his house. The lad had been born in 1785, was about the age required, was in delicate health, and a burden to his father, and there was no apparent reason why he should not occupy the precarious position intended for the deaf and dumb boy, at least until a mute could be found to take his place. Mr. Meves, therefore, actuated by these ideas, proceeded to France, and, as those who now bear his name assert, succeeded in procuring an interview with Marie-Antoinette in her dungeon in the Conciergerie, where he made the illustrious sufferer a vow of secrecy respecting her son, which he kept to the latest hour of his existence. And, lest there should be any doubt about this interview, it is added that many loyalists, both before and after, penetrated into the gloom of her prison-cell, and all but one contrived to evade being detected.

At the interview it was agreed that he should introduce the lad, whom he had brought, into the Temple, and should place him under the care of Simon, the shoemaker, till a good opportunity occurred to extricate Louis XVII. The arrangement was no sooner made than it was carried out. Madame Simon, who was a party to the plot, found the "good opportunity." The dauphin was removed in the convenient basket of a laundress—perhaps the same basket which had held Naündorff, and the unfortunate bastard of Mr. Meves was left in his stead. On reaching [189] the hotel at which Mr. Meves was staying the rescued prince was respectably attired, and, having been placed in a carriage by his new guardian, was escorted by the Marquis of Bonneval as far as the coast of Normandy. It is not said whether, during the long ride, Mr. Meves felt a twinge of remorse for his heartless conduct towards the harmless and delicate child whom he had left in the clutches of Simon; but, at all events, he is represented as reaching England in safety with his new charge. The liberated king took up his abode in Bloomsbury Square, and was adopted as the son of Mr. Meves, who had better reasons for abiding by the laws of adoption than those of parentage. At this time he was only eight years and seven months old.

But Mrs. Meves was not so thoroughly satisfied with the result of her husband's mission as that astute individual was himself disposed to be; and having learnt that the boy who had passed as her son was a prisoner in the Temple Tower, hurried off to her friend Mrs. Carpenter to tell her doleful tale, and to concoct measures for his release. A renewed search was instituted for a deaf and dumb boy, and one was found—"the son of a poor woman"—and in the month of January, 1794, Mrs. Meves procured passports, and proceeded with this boy and a German gentleman to Holland to the Abbé Morlet. From Holland the Abbé, the boy, and Mrs. Meves went to Paris, "and the deaf and dumb boy was placed in certain hands to accomplish her son's liberation at the most convenient time, but at what precise date such was carried into effect remains to be ascertained."

It is, however, more than suggested that the worn-out child seen by Lasne and Gomin, who was so abnormally reticent, was the deaf and dumb boy; and there is a wild attempt to prove either that he never spoke at all, or that, if the captive under their care did speak, it must have been a fourth child who had been substituted for the mute. The whole tale is unintelligible and incoherent; assertions are freely made without an iota of proof from its beginning to its end. If we are to credit the sons of the pretender, the dauphin was educated by Mr. Meves [190] as a musician, and knew nothing of his origin till the year 1818, when Mrs. Meves declared it to him. In the years 1830 and 1831 he addressed letters (which were not answered) to the Duchess of Angoulême, stating the circumstances in which he had been conveyed to England, but making an egregious blunder as to the date, which his sons vainly endeavour to conceal or explain. They say, also, that a very large section of the French nobility had no hesitation in admitting the royal descent of their father. Thus the Count Fontaine de Moreau expressed himself convinced that the man before him was the missing dauphin, after examining with singular interest some blood spots on his breast, resembling "a constellation of the heavens." The Count de Jauffroy not only called and wrote down his address—21 Alsopp's Terrace, New Road—but declared his opinion that the British government was perfectly aware that "at 8 Bath Place, lives the true Louis XVII." "But, sir," the count went on to say, "the danger lies in acknowledging you, as from the energy of your character you might put the whole of Europe into a state of fermentation, as you are not only King of France in right of your birth, but you are also heir to Maria Theresa, empress of Germany." His sons add that "Louis Napoleon" is aware, and has been for many years, that the person called 'Augustus Meves' was the veritable Louis XVII." At the time these words were penned the Emperor of the French was alive in this country, and a Times' reviewer not unreasonably said, "If, indeed, the illustrious exile of Chiselhurst be aware of so remarkable a fact, he will surely soon proclaim it, together with his reasons for being aware of it. Aspirants to the throne of France cannot touch him further; and the triumphant proof of Augustus Meves' heirship to Louis XVI. would not only confound the councils of Frohsdorff, but it would turn the grandest legitimist of Europe into little better than a usurper, if, as was said by the Count de Jauffroy, Augustus Meves must of necessity not only be the eldest son of St. Louis, but the eldest son of Rudolf of Hapsburg to boot."

Napoleon passed away, and made no sign; but the sons [191] of Augustus Meves (who himself died in 1859) show no disposition to under-rate his pretensions. The elder, who styles himself Auguste de Bourbon, and upon whom the royal mantle is supposed to have fallen, is not indifferent to the political changes of the time, and has again and again endeavoured to thrust his claims to the French throne before the public. In a letter dated June 17, 1871, he says—"Several articles have recently appeared respecting the chances of the Comte de Chambord succeeding to power, in virtue of his right of birth as the eldest representative of legitimate monarchy. This supposition by many is admitted; nevertheless, it is a palpable hallucination, for the representative of legitimate hereditary monarchy by actual descent is directly vested in the eldest son of Louis XVII. Periodically, the Comte de Chambord issues a manifesto, basing his right for doing such as representing, by the right of hereditary succession, the head of the House of Bourbon. Whenever such appears, duty demands that I should protest against his pretensions. Great the relief would indeed be to me could the Comte de Chambord, or any historian, produce rational argument, or rather documents, to support the supposition that the son of Louis XVI. and Marie-Antoinette died in the Tower of the Temple, in June, 1795. Those who believe this with such proof as is now extant to the general public are under a hallucination. Should, however, the Comte de Chambord or the fused party base the right of succeeding to power on the principle of inheriting it by the law of legitimate succession, I, the son of Louis XVII., should demand a hearing from France, and in France's name now protest against any political combinations that have the object in view of acknowledging the Comte de Chambord as the legitimate heir to the throne of France.... I owe my origin to the French revolution of 1789; for had not Louis XVII. been delivered from his captivity in the Temple, I should have had no existence. Being, then, the offspring of the French revolution, it is compatible with reason that by restoring the heir of Louis XVII. as a constitutional king, such would be acceptable alike to [192] revolutionists and monarchists, and so end that state of alternate violence and repression which, ever since the revolution of 1789, has characterised unhappy France." In a still later document, he says:—"The Comte de Chambord I can recognise as a nobleman, and as representing a principle acknowledged; but the House of Orleans can only be looked upon and recognised as disloyal and renegade royalty, deserving the obliquy of fallen honour, having forfeited its right to all regal honours." From his lofty perch this strange mongrel king still awaits the call of France!


On the 30th of October, 1834, a mysterious personage was placed at the bar of the Assize Court of the Seine, on a charge of conspiring to overthrow the government of Louis Philippe, and of assuming titles which did not belong to him, for the purpose of perpetrating fraud. This individual, who is described as a little man, of aristocratic appearance, was another of the many pretenders who have from time to time assumed the character of Louis XVII., and his story was so evidently false that it would scarcely be worth mention were it not for the fate which befell him. For several years he had been prowling throughout France in various disguises, and under a multitude of names, swindling the credulous public; and from being an assumed baron, he suddenly developed himself into the dauphin of the Temple, and laid claim to the throne. Like the other impostors, he made his assumption profitable, and found a peculiarly easy victim in the Marquise de Grigny, a lady aged eighty-two years, who not only gave him all her ready-money, but would have assigned her estates to him if the law had not interposed. So successful was he in victimizing the public, that he could afford to keep a private printing-press at work, and disburse large sums to stir up [193] disturbances in various parts of the country; and so hopeful, that he bought a plumed hat, a sword, and a gorgeous uniform, to appear before his subjects in fitting guise on the day of his restoration.

The clothes-basket of the laundress was brought into requisition for his benefit also, and in it he lay ensconced while devoted friends were carrying him away from the Temple, and from the rascally Simon, who was still in authority. Like Meves, he asserted that Madame Simon aided the plot, and in the course of his trial placed a certain M. Remusat in the witness-box, who stated that while he was in the hospital at Parma a woman called Semas complained bitterly of the treatment to which she was subjected, and declared loudly that if her children knew it they would soon come to her relief. Remusat thereupon asked her if she had any children, when she responded, "My children, sir, are the children of France! I was their gouvernante!" There was no mistaking the allusion, and her astonished hearer replied, "But the dauphin is dead." "Not so," was the answer; "he lives; and, if I mistake not, was removed from the Temple in a basket of linen." "Then," added the witness, "I asked the woman who she was, and she told me that she was the wife of a man called Simon, the former guardian-keeper. Then I understood her assertion, 'I was their gouvernante!'"

This extraordinary piece of evidence was entirely uncorroborated, and in reality the accused had no case. But if he was deficient in proof of his assertions, he had abundance of audacity. At first he declined to answer the interrogatories of the judge, and permitted that functionary to lay bare his past life, without any attempt to dispute his assertions; but when the witnesses were brought against him, he broke his silence, and finally became irrepressibly talkative. The authorities had traced his career with some care, and showed that his real name was d'Hébert, and that he always used that name in legal documents, such as transfers of property to himself, being shrewd enough to know that a conveyance would be invalid if executed in a false name. In his [194] proclamations, however, he invariably appeared as "Charles de Bourbon, Duke of Normandy." In private life his favourite title was Baron Richemont, although sometimes he condescended to be addressed as Colonel Gustave; and when imperative occasion demanded, passed under the vulgar cognomen of Bernard.

The agents of police tracked him under all these disguises with the greatest facility, by means of a clue which he himself provided. Having been a man of method, he was in the habit of keeping a memorandum-book or diary, in which he recorded, in cypher, all his proceedings. This interesting volume fell into the hands of the detectives, who soon discovered the key to it, and thus enabled the judge of the Assize Court to present the sham dauphin with a very vivid portrait of himself drawn by his own hand. Among other occurrences which were recorded in this diary, was a visit which had been paid by the pretender to a certain Madame de Malabre, at Caen; and it was specially noted that he had granted this lady permission to erect a monument to himself in her garden, and to dedicate it to the Duke of Normandy; and, what was a very much graver matter, that he had visited Lyons with the express purpose of stirring up a revolution there. In some of his letters, also, he mentioned this attempted uprising in the great city which rests on the twin rivers, and asserted that the denouement approached, and that his triumph was certain. "I am at Lyons," he added, "where I have seen the representatives of sixty-five departments. We shall march to Paris, and I have in the capital forces ten times greater than are necessary to oust the rascal!"

To follow all the evidence which was led against the prisoner would be very tedious, and worse than useless; but one witness appeared whose testimony is worthy of record. He was an old man, aged seventy-six, who was very deaf, and whose voice was almost gone. It was Lasné, the faithful keeper of the Temple. He said—

"Two people came to my house and asked me if the dauphin were really dead, and if he had not been carried out of the Temple; and I told them that the poor child [195] died in my arms, and that though a thousand years were to pass his Majesty Louis XVII. would never reappear."

Then the interrogatory proceeded:—

"Was he long ill?"

"He was ill for nine months after the establishment of the commune. Dr. Dessault prescribed several drops of a mixture which he was to take every morning, and three consecutive times the child vomited the medicine, and asked if it were not injurious. In order to reassure him, Dr. Dessault took the cup and drank some of it before him, when he said, 'Very good. You have said that I ought to take this liquid, and I will take it;' and he swallowed it. Dr. Dessault attended him for eight days, and every morning drank some of the medicine to reassure the Child. When Dessault died suddenly from an apoplectic stroke, M. Pellatan took his place and continued the same treatment. At the end of three months the poor child died resting on my left arm."

"Was it easy to approach the child?"

"No, sir; it was necessary to pass through the courts of the Temple. The applicant then knocked at a wicket. I answered the summons; and if I recognised the person I opened the wicket. Then the visitor was taken to the third floor, where the prince was."

"Did he show much intelligence?"

"Yes, sir, he was very intelligent. Every day I walked with him on the top of the Tower, holding him under the arm. He had a tumour at his knee, which gave him a great deal of pain."

"But it is said that another child was substituted for him, and that the real dauphin was smuggled out of the Tower?"

"That is a false idea. I used to be a captain of the French Gardes in the old days, and in that capacity I often saw the young dauphin. I have attended him in the Jardin des Feuillants, and I am convinced that the child who was under my care was the same. I was condemned to death; but the events of the 9th Thermidor saved my life. I was condemned, at the instigation of Saint-Just, [196] who caused me to be arrested by eight gens d'armes. I solemnly declare that the child who died in my arms was in reality Louis XVII."

"That he was undoubtedly the same child?"

"Undoubtedly the same child, with the same features and the same figure."

More than one impostor has tripped, stumbled, and fallen over that declaration.

But notwithstanding Lasné's evidence, on the second morning of the trial a printed sheet was circulated among the audience, which is a curiosity in its way. This document, which was addressed to the jury, was signed "Charles-Louis, Duke of Normandy," and was a sort of protest in favour of Louis XVII., who pretended to have nothing in common with the sham Baron Richemont. It asserted that "the secret mover of the puppet Richemont could not be unaware the real son of the unfortunate Louis XVI. was furnished with the requisite proofs of his origin, and that he could prove by indisputable evidence his own identity with the dauphin of the Temple. It was perfectly well known that every time the royal orphan sought to make himself known to his family, a sham Louis XVII. was immediately brought forward—an impostor like the person the jury was called upon to judge—and by this manœuvre public opinion was changed, and the voice of the real son of Louis XVI. was silenced." At the opening of the court an advocate appeared on behalf of this second pretender; but after a short discussion was refused a hearing.

As far as Richemont was concerned, all his audacity could not save him; from the beginning the evidence was dead against him; there was no difficulty in tracing his infamous career, the public prosecutor was merciless in his denunciation, and in his demand that a severe sentence should be passed upon this new disturber of the state, and Richemont's own eloquence availed him nothing. The prisoner was, however, bold enough, and in addressing the jury, said—"The public prosecutor has told you that I cannot be the son of Louis XVI. Has he told you who I am? He has been formally [197] asked, and has kept silence. Gentlemen, you will appreciate that silence, and will also appreciate the reasons which prevent us from producing our titles. This is neither the place nor the moment. The competent tribunals will be called upon to give their decision in this matter. He tells you also that inquiries have been made everywhere; but he has not let you know the result of these inquiries. He cannot do it!... I repeat to you that if I am mistaken, I am thoroughly honest in my mistake. It has lasted for fifty years, and I fear I shall carry it with me to my tomb."

The jury were perfectly indifferent to his appeal, and found him guilty of a plot to upset the government of the king, of exciting the people to civil war, of attempting to change the order of succession to the throne, and of three minor offences in addition. The Advocate-General pressed for the heaviest penalty which the law allowed, and the judge condemned "Henri-Hebert-Ethelbert-Louis-Hector," calling himself Baron de Richemont, to twelve years' imprisonment.

Richemont listened to his sentence unmoved, and as the officers were about to take him away, said in a low voice to those near him, "The man who does not know how to suffer is unworthy of persecution!"


America also has had her sham dauphin, in the person of an Indian missionary, whose claims have been repeatedly presented to the public both in magazine articles and in book form. His adventures, as recorded by his biographers, are quite as singular as those of his competitors for royal honours. We are told that in the year 1795, a French family, calling themselves De Jardin, or De Jourdan, arrived in Albany, direct from France. At that time French refugees were thronging to America; [198] and in the influx of strangers this party might have escaped notice, but peculiar circumstances directed attention to them. The family consisted of a lady, a gentleman, and two children; and although the two former bore the same name, they did not seem to be man and wife, Madame de Jourdan dressed expensively and elegantly, while Monsieur de Jourdan was very plainly attired, and appeared to be the lady's servant rather than her husband. Great mystery was observed with respect to their children, who were carefully concealed from the public gaze. The eldest was a girl, and was called Louise; while the youngest, a boy of nine or ten years of age, was invariably addressed as Monsieur Louis. He was very rarely seen, even by the few ladies and children who were admitted into a sort of semi-friendship by the new-comers, and when he did appear seemed to be dull, and paid no attention to the persons present or the conversation. Madame de Jardin, who had in her possession many relics of Louis XVI. and Marie-Antoinette, made no secret that she had been a maid of honour to the queen, and was separated from her on the terrace of the Tuileries, prior to her imprisonment in the Temple. She had not yet recovered from the dreadful events of the revolution, and had a theatrical habit of relieving her highly-strung feelings by rushing to the harpsichord, wildly playing the Marseillaise, and then bursting into tears. Those who had free admittance into the family of the De Jourdans had no difficulty in tracing a resemblance between the children and the portraits of the royal family of France; but delicacy forbade questions, and even the most confident could only surmise that this retired maid of honour had escaped from her native land in charge of the children of the Temple. After remaining for a short time in Albany, without any apparent purpose, the De Jardins sold most of their effects, and disappeared as mysteriously as they had come.

Later in the same year (1795) two Frenchmen, one of them having the appearance of a Romish priest, arrived at the Indian settlement of Ticonderoga, in the vicinity of Lake George, bringing with them a sickly boy, in a [199] state of mental imbecility, whom they left with the Indians. The child is said to have been adopted by an Iroquis chief, called Thomas Williams, alias Tehorakwaneken, whose wife was Konwatewenteta, and although no proof is offered that he was the boy called Monsieur Louis by Madame de Jardin, and still less that he was the dauphin of France, it is said by those who support his pretensions, that whoever considers the coincidences of circumstance, time and place, age, mental condition and bodily resemblance, must admit, apart from all other testimony, that it is highly probable that he was both the sham De Jardin and the real dauphin.

Thomas Williams, the Iroquis chief, who had some English blood in his veins, lived in a small log-house on the shores of Lake George. His unpretending dwelling was about twenty feet square, perhaps a little larger, roofed with bark, leaving an opening in the centre to give egress to the smoke from the fire which blazed beneath it on the floor, in the middle of the ample apartment. Around this fire were ranged the beds of the family, composed of hemlock boughs, covered with the skins of animals slaughtered in the chase. The fare of the family was as simple as their dwelling-place. From cross-sticks over the fire hung a huge kettle, in which the squaw made soup of pounded corn flavoured with venison. They purchased their salt and spirits at Fort-Edward; and the stream supplied them with fish, the woods and mountains with game. Such was the early upbringing of the missionary king.

The boy was known as Lazar or Eleazar Williams; his reputed father, the chief, invariably acknowledged him and addressed him as his own son; and the lad himself could tell but little of his earlier years. He had hazy recollections of soldiers and a gorgeous palace, and a beautiful lady on whose lap he used to recline; but when he tried to think closely and recall the past, his mind became confused, and painted chiefs, shady wigwams, and the homely face of the chieftain's squaw, obtruded themselves, and blurred the glorious scenes amid which he faintly remembered to have lived.


But circumstances sometimes occurred which made a deep impression even on his weak mind. Thus, when the youthful Eleazar was one day sporting on the lake near Fort-William, in a little wooden canoe, with several other boys, two strange gentlemen came up to the encampment of Thomas Williams, and took their seats with him upon a log at a little distance from the wigwam. With natural curiosity at a circumstance which broke in upon the usual monotony of Indian life, the boys paddled their canoe ashore, and strolled up to the encampment to ascertain who the strangers were, when Thomas Williams called out, "Lazar, this friend of yours wishes to speak to you." As he approached one of the gentlemen rose and went off to another Indian encampment. The one who remained with the chief had every indication in dress, manners, and language of being a Frenchman. When Eleazar came near, this gentleman advanced several steps to meet him, embraced him most tenderly, and when he sat down again on the log made him stand between his legs. In the meantime he shed abundance of tears, said "Pauvre garçon!" and continued to embrace him. The chief was soon afterwards called to a neighbouring wigwam, and Eleazar and the Frenchman were left alone. The latter continued to kiss him and weep, and spoke a good deal, seeming anxious that he should understand him, which he was unable to do. When Thomas Williams returned to them he asked Eleazar whether he knew what the gentleman had said to him, and he replied, "No." They both left him, and walked off in the direction in which the other gentleman had gone. The two gentlemen came again the next day, and the Frenchman remained several hours. The chief took him out in a canoe on the lake; and the last which Eleazar remembered was them all sitting together on a log, when the Frenchman took hold of his bare feet and dusty legs, and examined his knees and ankles closely. Again the Frenchman shed tears, but young Eleazar was quite indifferent, not knowing what to make of it. Before the gentleman left he gave him a piece of gold.


A few evenings later, when the younger members of the household were in bed, and were supposed to be asleep, Eleazar, who was lying broad awake, overheard a conversation between the Indian chief and his squaw which interested him mightily. The chief was urging compliance with a request which had been made to them to allow two of their children to go away for education; but his wife objected on religious grounds. When he persisted in his demand she said, "If you will do it you may send away this strange boy. Means have been put into your hands for his education; but John I cannot part with." Her willingness to sacrifice him, and the whole tone of the conversation, excited suspicions in the mind of the listener as to his parentage, but they soon passed away. Mrs. Williams at last agreed that John, one of her own children, and Lazar, according to this story, her adopted child, should be sent to Long Meadow, a village in Massachusetts, to be brought up under the care of a deacon called Nathaniel Ely. It is said that when the supposed brothers entered the village, dressed in their Indian costume, the entire dissimilarity in their appearance at once excited attention, and they became the subjects of general conversation among the villagers. At Long Meadow the lads remained for several years, and are represented as having made "remarkably good proficiency in school learning," as exhibiting strong proofs of virtuous and pious dispositions, and as "likely to make useful missionaries among the heathen." This encomium seems, however, to have been much more applicable to Eleazar than his companion; for, after the most persistent attempts, it was found impossible to cultivate the mind of John, whose passion for savage life was irrepressible, and who returned home to live and die among the Indians. With Eleazar it was different, and his biographer proudly records that he was called familiarly "the plausible boy."

He was as versatile as he was plausible, and in the course of his long life played many parts besides that of Louis XVII. When he had forgotten the early lessons of the wigwam, and had acquired the learning and [202] religious enthusiasm of the New Englanders, he became a sort of wandering gospel-preacher among the Indians; but the work was little suited to him, and he found far more congenial employment when the war broke out between England and America, as superintendent-general of the Northern Indian Department on the United States side. In this office "he had under his command the whole secret corps of rangers and scouts of the army, who spread themselves everywhere, and freely entered in and out of the enemy's camp." In other words, he was a sort of chief spy; and if he had been caught in the British lines would have had a very short shrift, notwithstanding his sanctimonious utterances, and the peculiarly sensitive conscience of which he made a perpetual boast. About the same time he was declared a chief of the Iroquis nation, under the name of Onwarenhiiaki, or the tree cutter—a compliment little likely to have been paid to an unknown man, but which would not unreasonably be bestowed upon the son of a famous chief. Having received a severe wound he was nursed back into life by his reputed father, and on his complete recovery expressed his contrition for his backsliding, and his horror of the bloodthirsty trade of war, and returned to the peaceful work of attempting to teach and convert his dusky Indian brethren. He deserted the Congregationalists with whom he had previously been connected, and joined the Protestant Episcopal Church, by which he was ordained, and to which he remained faithful during the later years of his life.

By this time he was convinced that he was no Indian, and believed that he was the son of some noble Frenchman, but he scarcely ventured to think that he was a pure Bourbon; although dim suspicions of his royal descent sometimes haunted him, although friends assured him that his likeness to the French king was so strong that his origin was beyond question, and although he had certain marks on his body which corresponded with those said to exist on the person of the dauphin. But as he got older, the evidence in favour of his illustrious parentage seemed to grow stronger; if he was questioned [203] on the subject he was too truthful to deny what he thought, and the knowledge of his name and the number of those who believed in him rapidly increased. At last, according to his own story, an event occurred which placed the matter beyond all doubt.

The Prince de Joinville was travelling in America in 1841, and what happened in the course of his travels to the Rev. Eleazar Williams that gentleman may be left to tell. He says—"In October 1841, I was on my way from Buffalo to Green Bay, and took a steamer from the former place bound to Chicago, which touched at Mackinac, and left me there to await the arrival of the steamer from Buffalo to Green Bay. Vessels which had recently come in announced the speedy arrival of the Prince de Joinville; public expectation was on tiptoe, and crowds were on the wharves. The steamer at length came in sight, salutes were fired and answered, the colours run up, and she came into port in fine style. Immediately she touched the Prince and his retinue came on shore, and went out some little distance from the town to visit some natural curiosities in the neighbourhood. The steamer awaited their return. During their absence I was standing on the wharf among the crowd, when Captain John Shook came up to me and asked whether I was going on to Green Bay, adding that the Prince de Joinville had made inquiries of him concerning a Rev. Mr. Williams, and that he had told the prince he knew such a person, referring to me, whom he supposed was the man he meant, though he could not imagine what the prince could want with or know of me. I replied to the captain in a laughing way, without having any idea what a deep meaning attached to my words—'Oh, I am a great man, and great men will of course seek me out.'

"Soon after, the prince and his suite arrived and went on board. I did the same, and the steamer put to sea. When we were fairly out on the water, the captain came to me and said, 'The prince, Mr. Williams, requests me to say to you that he desires to have an interview with you, and will be happy either to have you come to him, or allow me to introduce him to you.' 'Present my [204] compliments to the prince,' I said, 'and say I put myself entirely at his disposal, and will be proud to accede to whatever may be his wishes in the matter.' The captain again retired, and soon returned, bringing the Prince de Joinville, with him. I was sitting at the time on a barrel. The prince not only started with evident and involuntary surprise when he saw me, but there was great agitation in his face and manner—a slight paleness and a quivering of the lip—which I could not help remarking at the time, but which struck me more forcibly afterwards in connection with the whole train of circumstances, and by contrast with his usual self-possessed manner. He then shook me earnestly and respectfully by the hand, and drew me immediately into conversation. The attention he paid me seemed not only to astonish myself and the passengers, but also the prince's retinue.

"At dinner-time there was a separate table laid for the prince and his companions, and he invited me to sit with them, and offered me the seat of honour by his side. But I was a little abashed by the attentions of the prince, so I thought I would keep out of the circle, and begged the prince to excuse me, and permit me to dine at the ordinary table with the passengers, which I accordingly did. After dinner the conversation turned between us on the first French settlement in America, the valour and enterprise of the early adventurers, and the loss of Canada to France, at which the prince expressed deep regret. He was very copious and fluent in speech, and I was surprised at the good English he spoke; a little broken, indeed, like mine, but very intelligible. We continued talking late into the night, reclining in the cabin on the cushions in the stern of the boat. When we retired to rest, the prince lay on the locker, and I in the first berth next to it.

"The next day the steamer did not arrive at Green Bay until about three o'clock, and during most of the time we were in conversation. On our arrival the prince said I would oblige him by accompanying him to his hotel, and taking up my quarters at the Astor House. I begged to be excused, as I wished to go to the house [205] of my father-in-law. He replied he had some matters of great importance to speak to me about; and as he could not stay long at Green Bay, but would take his departure the next day, or the day after, he wished I would comply with his request. As there was some excitement consequent on the prince's arrival, and a great number of persons were at the Astor House wishing to see him, I thought I would take advantage of the confusion to go to my father-in-law's, and promised to return in the evening when he would be more private. I did so, and on my return found the prince alone, with the exception of one attendant, whom he dismissed. He opened the conversation by saying he had a communication to make to me of a very serious nature as concerned himself, and of the last importance to me; that it was one in which no others were interested, and therefore, before proceeding farther, he wished to obtain some pledge of secrecy, some promise that I would not reveal to any one what he was going to say. I demurred to any such conditions being imposed previous to my being acquainted with the nature of the subject, as there might be something in it, after all, prejudicial and injurious to others; and it was at length, after some altercation, agreed that I should pledge my honour not to reveal what the prince was going to say, provided there was nothing in it prejudicial to any one, and I signed a promise to this effect on a sheet of paper. It was vague and general, for I would not tie myself down to absolute secrecy, but left the matter conditional. When this was done the prince spoke to this effect—

"'You have been accustomed, sir, to consider yourself a native of this country, but you are not. You are of foreign descent; you were born in Europe, sir; and however incredible it may at first sight seem to you, you are the son of a king. There ought to be much consolation to you to know this fact. You have suffered a great deal, and have been brought very low; but you have not suffered more or been more degraded than my father, who was long in exile and in poverty in this country; but there is this difference between him and you, that he [206] was all along aware of his high birth, whereas you have been spared the knowledge of your origin.'

"When the prince said this I was much overcome, and thrown into a state of mind which you can easily imagine. In fact, I hardly knew what to do or say; and my feelings were so much excited that I was like one in a dream. However, I remember I told him his communication was so startling and unexpected that he must forgive me for being incredulous, and that I was really between two."

"'What do you mean,' he said, 'by being between two?'

"I replied that, on the one hand, it scarcely seemed to me he could believe what he said; and, on the other, I feared he might be under some mistake as to the person. He assured me, however, he would not trifle with my feelings on such a subject, and had ample means in his possession to satisfy me that there was no mistake whatever. I requested him to proceed with the disclosure partly made, and to inform me in full of the secret of my birth. He replied that, in doing so, it was necessary that a certain process should be gone through in order to guard the interest of all parties concerned. I inquired what kind of process he meant. Upon this the prince rose and went to his trunk, which was in the room, and took from it a parchment which he laid on the table and set before me, that I might read and give him my determination in regard to it. There were also on the table pen and ink and wax, and he placed there a governmental seal of France—the one, if I mistake not, used under the old monarchy. The document which the prince placed before me was very handsomely written in double parallel columns of French and English. I continued intently reading and considering it for a space of four or five hours. During this time the prince left me undisturbed, remaining for the most part in the room, but he went out three or four times.

"The purport of the document which I read repeatedly word by word, comparing the French with the English, was this: It was a solemn abdication of the crown of France in favour of Louis Philippe by Charles Louis, the [207] son of Louis XVI., who was styled Louis XVII., King of France and Navarre, with all accompanying names and titles of honour, according to the custom of the old French monarchy, together with a minute specification in legal phraseology of the conditions and considerations and provisos upon which the abdication was made. These conditions were, in brief, that a princely establishment should be secured to me either in America or in France, at my option, and that Louis Philippe would pledge himself on his part to secure the restoration, or an equivalent for it, of all the private property of the royal family rightfully belonging to me, which had been confiscated in France during the revolution, or in any way got into other hands."

After excusing himself for not taking a copy of this precious document when he had the chance, and mentioning, among other reasons, "the sense of personal dignity which had been excited by these disclosures," the Rev. Eleazar proceeds with his narrative:—

"At length I made my decision, and rose and told the prince that I had considered the matter fully in all its aspects, and was prepared to give him my definite answer upon the subject; and then went on to say, that whatever might be the personal consequences to myself, I felt I could not be the instrument of bartering away with my own hand the rights pertaining to me by my birth, and sacrificing the interests of my family, and that I could only give to him the answer which De Provence gave to the ambassador of Napoleon at Warsaw—'Though I am in poverty and exile, I will not sacrifice my honour.'

"The prince upon this assumed a loud tone, and accused me of ingratitude in trampling upon the overtures of the king, his father, who, he said, was actuated in making the proposition more by feelings of kindness and pity towards me than by any other consideration, since his claim to the French throne rested on an entirely different basis to mine—viz., not that of hereditary descent, but of popular election. When he spoke in this strain, I spoke loud also, and said that as he, by his [208] disclosure, had put me in the position of a superior, I must assume that position, and frankly say that my indignation was stirred by the memory that one of the family of Orleans had imbrued his hands in my father's blood, and that another now wished to obtain from me an abdication of the throne. When I spoke of superiority, the prince immediately assumed a respectful attitude, and remained silent for several minutes. It had now grown very late, and we parted, with a request from him that I would reconsider the proposal of his father, and not be too hasty in my decision. I returned to my father-in-law's, and the next day saw the prince again, and on his renewal of the subject gave him a similar answer. Before he went away he said, 'Though we part, I hope we part friends,'"

And this tale is not intended for burlesque or comedy, but as a sober account of transactions which really took place. It was published in a respectable magazine, it has been reproduced in a book which sets forth the claims of "The Lost Prince," and it was brought so prominently before the Prince de Joinville that he was compelled either to corroborate it or deny it. His answer is very plain. He had a perfect recollection of being on board the steamer at the time and place mentioned, and of meeting on board the steamboat "a passenger whose face he thinks he recognises in the portrait given in the Monthly Magazine, but whose name had entirely escaped his memory. This passenger seemed well informed respecting the history of America during the last century. He related many anecdotes and interesting particulars concerning the French, who took part and distinguished themselves in these events. His mother, he said, was an Indian woman of the great tribe of Iroquis, and his father was French. These details could not fail to vividly interest the prince, whose voyage to the district had for its object to retrace the glorious path of the French, who had first opened to civilisation these fine countries. All which treats of the revelation which the prince made to Mr. Williams of the mystery of his birth, all which concerns the pretended personage of Louis [209] XVII., is from one end to the other a work of the imagination—a fable woven wholesale—a speculation upon the public credulity."

These are but a few of the numerous sham dauphins who have at various times appeared. One author, who has written a history of the elder branch of the House of Bourbon, estimates the total number of pretenders at a dozen and a half, while M. Beauchesne increases the list to thirty. But few, besides those whose history has been given, succeeded in gaining notoriety, and all failed to rouse the French authorities to punish or even to notice their transparent impostures.


Great excitement prevailed throughout England towards the close of the year 1853, in consequence of the result of a trial which took place at the autumn assizes at Gloucester. A person calling himself Sir Richard Hugh Smyth laid claim to an extinct baronetcy, and brought an action of ejectment to recover possession of vast estates, situated in the neighbourhood of Bristol, and valued at nearly £30,000 a-year. The baronetcy in question had become, or was supposed to have become, extinct on the death of Sir John Smyth, in 1849, and at his decease the estates had passed to his sister Florence; and when she died, in 1852, had devolved upon her son, who was then a minor, and who was really the defendant in the cause. Mr. Justice Coleridge presided at the trial, Mr. (afterwards Lord-Justice) Bovill appeared for the claimant, and Sir Frederick Thesiger represented the defendant.

According to the opening address of the counsel for the plaintiff, his client had been generally supposed to be the son of a carpenter of Warminster named Provis, and had been brought up in this man's house as one of his [210] family. When the lad arrived at an age to comprehend such matters, he perceived that he was differently treated from the other members of the household, and, from circumstances which came to his knowledge, was led to suspect that Provis was not really his father, but that he was the son of Sir Hugh Smyth of Ashton Hall, near Bristol, and the heir to a very extensive property. It seemed that this baronet had married a Miss Wilson, daughter of the Bishop of Bristol, in 1797, that she had died childless some years later, and that he had, in 1822, united himself to a Miss Elizabeth. The second union proved as fruitless as the first, and when Sir Hugh himself died, in 1824, his brother John succeeded to the title and the greater portion of the property. By-and-by, however, certain facts came to the ears of the plaintiff, which left no doubt on his mind that he was the legitimate son of Sir Hugh Smyth, by a first and hitherto concealed marriage with Jane, daughter of Count Vandenbergh, to whom he had been secretly married in Ireland, in 1796. But, although the plaintiff was thus convinced himself, he knew that, while he possessed documents which placed his origin beyond a doubt, it would be extremely difficult for a person in his humble circumstances to substantiate his claim, or secure the services of a lawyer bold enough to take his case in hand, and refrained from demanding his rights until 1849; in which year, rendered desperate by delay, he went personally to Ashton Hall, obtained an interview with Sir John Smyth, and communicated to him his relationship and his claims. The meeting was much more satisfactory than might have been expected. As Sir John had been party to certain documents which were executed by his brother in his lifetime (which were among those which had been discovered), and in which the circumstances of the concealed marriage and the birth of the claimant were acknowledged, it was useless for him to deny the justice of the demand, and he recognised his nephew without demur. But the excitement of the interview was too great for his failing strength, and he was found dead in bed next morning. Thus all the hopes of the real heir were dashed to the [211] ground, for it was not to be expected that the next-of-kin, who knew nothing of the supposed Provis, or of Sir Hugh's marriage, would yield up the estates to an utter stranger, without a severe struggle and a desperate litigation. He, therefore, refrained from putting forth his pretensions, and travelled the country with his wife and children, obtaining a precarious living by delivering lectures; and he took no steps to enforce his rights until 1851, when, after negotiations with several legal firms, he at length found the means of pursuing his claims before the tribunals of his country.

In support of the plaintiff's case a number of documents, family relics, portraits, rings, seals, &c., were put in evidence. At the time when the marriage was said to have taken place there was no public registration in Ireland, but a Family Bible was produced which bore on a fly-leaf a certification by the Vicar of Lismore that a marriage had been solemnized on the 19th of May, 1796, "between Hugh Smyth of Stapleton, in the county of Gloucester, England, and Jane, daughter of Count John Samuel Vandenbergh, by Jane, the daughter of Major Gookin and Hesther, his wife, of Court Macsherry, county of Cork, Ireland." In the same Bible was an entry of the plaintiffs baptism, signed by the officiating clergyman. A brooch was produced with the name of Jane Gookin upon it, and a portrait of the claimant's mother, as well as a letter addressed by Sir Hugh Smyth to his wife on the eve of her delivery, in which he introduced a nurse to her. Besides these, there were two formal documents which purported to be signed by Sir Hugh Smyth, in which he solemnly declared the plaintiff to be his son. The first of these declarations was written when the baronet was in extreme ill-health, in 1822, and was witnessed by his brother John and three other persons. It was discovered in the possession of a member of the family of Lydia Reed, the plaintiff's nurse. The second paper, which was almost the same in its terms, was discovered in the keeping of an attorney's clerk, who had formerly lived in Bristol. The following is a copy of it:—


"I, Sir Hugh Smyth, of Ashton Park, in the county of Somerset, and of Rockley House, in the county of Wilts, do declare that, in the year 1796, I was married in the county of Cork, in Ireland, by the Rev. Verney Lovett, to Jane, the daughter of Count Vandenbergh, by Jane, the daughter of Major Gookin, of Court Macsherry, near Bandon. Witnesses thereto—The Countess of Bandon and Consena Lovett. In the following year, Jane Smyth, my wife, came to England, and, immediately after giving birth to a son, she died on the 2d day of February, 1797, and she lies buried in a brick vault in Warminster churchyard. My son was consigned to the care of my own nurse, Lydia Reed, who can at any time identify him by marks upon his right hand, but more especially by the turning up of both the thumbs, an indelible mark of identity in our family. My son was afterwards baptized by the Rev. James Symes of Midsomer Norton, by the names of Richard Hugh Smyth; the sponsors being the Marchioness of Bath and the Countess of Bandon, who named him Richard, after her deceased brother, Richard Boyle. Through the rascality of my butler, Grace, my son left England for the continent, and was reported to me as having died there; but, at the death of Grace, the truth came out that my son was alive, and that he would soon return to claim his rights. Now, under the impression of my son's death, I executed a will in 1814. That will I do, by this document, declare null and void, and, to all intents and purposes, sett asside(sic) in all its arrangements; the payment of my just debts, the provision for John, the son, of the late Elizabeth Howell, and to the fulfilment of all matters not interfering with the rights of my heir-at-law. Now, to give every assistance to my son, should he ever return, I do declare him my legitimate son and heir to all the estates of my ancestors, and which he will find amply secured to him and his heirs for ever by the will of his grandfather, the late Thomas Smyth of Stapleton, Esq.; and further, by the will of my uncle, the late Sir John Hugh Smyth, baronet. Both those wills so fully arrange for the security of the property in possession or reversion that I have now only to appoint and constitute my [213] beloved brother John Smyth, Esq., my only executor for his life; and I do by this deed place the utmost confidence in my brother that he will at any future time do my son justice. And I also entreat my son to cause the remains of his mother to be removed to Ashton, and buried in the family vault close to my side, and to raise a monument to her memory.

"Now, in furtherance of the object of this deed, I do seal with my seal, and sign it with my name, and in the presence of witnesses, this 10th day of September, in the year of our Lord, 1823.

Hugh Smyth (L.S.).    William Edwards.
   William Dobbson.
   James Abbott."

After some proof had been given as to the genuineness of the signatures to this and the other documents, the plaintiff was put into the witness-box. He said that his recollections extended back to the time when he was three years and a half old, when he lived with Mr. Provis, a carpenter in Warminster. There was at that time an elderly woman and a young girl living there, the former being Mrs. Reed, the wet-nurse, and the latter Mary Provis, who acted as nursemaid. He stayed at the house of Provis until Grace, Sir Hugh's butler, took him away, and placed him at the school of Mr. Hill at Brislington, where he remained for a couple of years, occasionally visiting Colonel Gore and the family of the Earl of Bandon at Bath. From Brislington he was transferred by the Marchioness of Bath to Warminster Grammar School, and thence to Winchester College, where he resided as a commoner until 1810. He stated that he left Winchester because his bills had not been paid for the last eighteen months; and, by the advice of Dr. Goddard, then headmaster of the school, proceeded to London, and told the Marchioness of Bath what had occurred. The marchioness kept him for a few days in her house in Grosvenor Square, but "being a woman of high tone, and thinking that possibly he was too old for her protection," she advised him to go to Ashton Court to his father, telling [214] him at the same time that Sir Hugh Smyth was his father. She also gave him some £1400 or £1500 which had been left to him by his mother, but declined to tell him anything respecting her, and referred him for further information to the Bandon family. The marchioness, however, informed him that her steward, Mr. Davis, at Warminster, was in possession of the deceased Lady Smyth's Bible, pictures, jewellery, and trinkets. But the lad, finding himself thus unexpectedly enriched, sought neither his living father nor the relics of his dead mother, but had recourse to an innamorata of his own, and passed three or four months in her delicious company. He afterwards went abroad, and returned to England with exhausted resources in 1826. He then made inquiries respecting Sir Hugh Smyth, his supposed father, and discovered that he had been dead for some time, and that the title and estates had passed to Sir John. Under these circumstances he believed it to be useless to advance his claim, and supported himself for the eleven years which followed by lecturing on education at schools and institutions throughout England and Ireland.

Up to this time he had never made any inquiry for the things which the Marchioness of Bath had informed him were under the care of Mr. Davis; but, in 1839, he visited Frome in order to procure them, and then found that Davis was dead. Old Mr. Provis, who had brought him up, was the only person whom he met, and with him he had some words for obstinately refusing to give him any information respecting his mother. The interview was a very stormy one; but old Provis, who was so angry with him at first that he struck him with his stick, quickly relented, and gave him the Bible, the jewellery, and the heir-looms which he possessed. Moreover, he showed him a portrait of Sir Hugh which hung in his own parlour, and gave him a bundle of sealed papers with instructions to take them to Mr. Phelps, an eminent solicitor at Warminster. The jewellery consisted of four gold rings and two brooches. One ring was marked with the initials "J.B.," supposed to be those of "James Bernard;" [215] and on one of the brooches were the words "Jane Gookin" at length.

The claimant further stated that, on the 19th of May, 1849, he procured an interview with Sir John Smyth at Ashton Court. He said that the baronet seemed to recognise him from the first, and was excessively agitated when he told him who he was. To calm him, the so-called Sir Richard said that he had not come to take possession of his title or property, but only wanted a suitable provision for his family. It was, therefore, arranged that Sir John's newly-found nephew should proceed to Chester and fetch his family, and that they should stay at Ashton Court, while he would live at Heath House.

But the fates seemed to fight against the rightful heir. When he returned from Chester twelve days later, accompanied by his spouse and her progeny, the first news he heard was that Sir John had been found dead in his bed on the morning after his previous visit. All his hopes were destroyed, and he reverted calmly to his old trade of stump orator, which he pursued with equanimity from 1839 till 1851. During this time he vainly endeavoured to secure the services of a sanguine lawyer to take up his case on speculation, and it was not until the latter year that he succeeded; but when the hopeful solicitor once took the affair in hand, evidence flowed in profusely, and he was at last enabled to lay his claims before her Majesty's judges at Gloucester assizes. Such, at least, was his own story.

In cross-examination he stated that although Provis had two sons, named John and Thomas, he only knew the younger, and had but little intercourse with John, who was the elder. He described his youthful life in the carpenter's house, and represented himself "as the gentleman of the place," adding that he wore red morocco shoes, was never allowed to be without his nurse, and "did some little mischief in the town, according to his station in life, for which mischief nobody was allowed to check him." After a lengthy cross-examination as to his relationship with the Marchioness of Bath and his alleged interview with Sir John Smyth, he admitted that [216] as a lecturer he had passed under the name of Dr. Smyth. He denied that he had ever used the name of Thomas Provis, or stated that John Provis, the Warminster carpenter, was his father, or visited the members of the Provis family on a footing of relationship with them. As far as the picture, which he said the carpenter pointed out to him in his parlour as the portrait of his father, was concerned, and which, when produced, bore the inscription, "Hugh Smyth, Esq., son of Thomas Smyth, Esq., of Stapleton, county of Gloucester, 1796," he indignantly repudiated the idea that it was a likeness of John Provis the younger, although he reluctantly admitted that the old carpenter sometimes entertained the delusion that the painting represented his son John, and that the inscription had not been perceivable until he washed it with tartaric acid, which, he declared, was excellent for restoring faded writings. He was then asked about some seals which he had ordered to be engraved by Mr. Moring, a seal engraver in Holborn, and admitted giving an order for a card-plate and cards; but denied that at the same time he had ordered a steel seal to be made according to a pattern which he produced, which bore the crest, garter, and motto of the Smyths of Long Ashton. However, he acknowledged giving a subsequent order for two such seals. On one of these seals the family motto, "Qui capit capitur" had been transformed, through an error of the engraver, into "Qui capit capitor," but he said he did not receive it until the 7th of June, and that consequently he could not have placed it on the deed in which Sir Hugh Smyth so distinctly acknowledged the existence of a son by a first marriage—a deed which he declared he had never seen till the 17th of March. A letter was then put into court, dated the 13th of March, which he admitted was in his handwriting, and which bore the impress of the mis-spelled seal. Thus confronted with this damning testimony, the plaintiff turned pale, and requested permission to leave the court to recover from a sudden indisposition which had overtaken him, when, just at this juncture, the cross-examining counsel received a telegram from London, in consequence of [217] which he asked, "Did you, in January last, apply to a person at 361 Oxford Street, to engrave for you the Bandon crest upon the rings produced, and also to engrave 'Gookin' on the brooch?" The answer, very hesitatingly given, was, "Yes, I did." The whole conspiracy was exposed; the plot was at an end. The plaintiff's counsel threw up their briefs, a verdict for the defendants was returned, and the plaintiff himself was committed by the judge on a charge of perjury, to which a charge of forgery was subsequently added.

The second trial took place at the following spring assizes at Gloucester. The evidence for the crown showed the utter hollowness of the plaintiff's claim. The attorney's clerk, from whom the impostor had stated he received the formal declaration of Sir Hugh Smyth, was called, and declared that he had written the letter which was said to have accompanied the deed, from the prisoner's dictation; the deed was produced at the time, and the witness took a memorandum of the name of the attesting witnesses on the back of a copy of his letter. This copy, with the endorsement, was produced in court. The brown paper which the prisoner had sworn formed the wrapper of the deed when he received it, was proved to be the same in which Mr. Moring, the engraver, had wrapped up a seal which he had sent to the prisoner—the very seal in which the engraver had made the unlucky blunder. It was also clearly proved that the parchment on which the forgery had been written was prepared by a process which had only been discovered about ten years, and chemical experts were decidedly of opinion that the ink had received its antique appearance by artificial means, and that the wax was undoubtedly modern. Various startling errors and discrepancies were pointed out in the document itself, the most noteworthy being a reference made to Sir Hugh's wife, as "the late Elizabeth Howell," whereas that lady was alive and in good health at the time the deed was supposed to have been drawn up, and having been previously married to Sir Hugh, was known as Lady Smyth up to her death in 1841, she having survived her husband seventeen years,


The picture, which had been produced on the first trial as a portrait of Sir Hugh, was proved beyond all doubt to be that of John Provis, the eldest son of the carpenter; and the prisoner's sister, a married woman named Mary Heath, on being placed in the witness-box, recognised him at once as her youngest brother, Thomas Provis; and said she had never heard of his being any other, although she knew that upon taking up the trade of lecturing he had assumed the name of "Dr. Smyth." Several persons, who were familiarly acquainted with the carpenter's family, also recognised him as Tom Provis; and evidence was led to identify him as a person who had kept a school at Ladymede, Bath, and had been compelled to abscond for disgraceful conduct towards his pupils. They, however, failed to do so very clearly; "whereon," says the reporter, "the prisoner, with an air of great triumph, produced an enormous pig-tail, which up to this moment had been kept concealed under his coat, and turning round ostentatiously, displayed this appendage to the court and jury, appealing to it as an irrefragable proof of his aristocratic birth, and declaiming with solemn emphasis that he was born with it. He added also that his son was born with one six inches long." Cocks, the engraver, proved that he was employed by the prisoner, in January, 1853, to engrave the inscriptions on the rings, which the prisoner had selected on the supposition that they were antique rings; but, in fact, they were modern antiques. Mr. Moring also gave evidence as to the engraving of the fatal seal. On this evidence Provis was found guilty, and was sentenced to twenty years' transportation. He retained his composure to the last, and before his trial assigned all his right, title, and interest in the Smyth estates to his eldest son, lest they should become forfeited to the crown by his conviction for felony.

His history was well known to the authorities, who were prepared to prove, had it been necessary, that he had been convicted of horse-stealing in 1811, and had been sentenced to death—a sentence which was commuted; that he had married one of the servants of Sir John [219] Smyth, and had deserted her, and that he had fled from Bath to escape the punishment of the vilest offences perpetrated during his residence in the City of Springs. But it was needless to produce more damning testimony than was brought forward. For twenty years the world has heard nothing more of the sham Sir Richard Hugh Smyth.


In 1866, Mrs. Lavinia Jannetta Horton Ryves, and her son, William Henry Ryves, appeared before the English courts in support of one of the most extraordinary petitions on record. Taking advantage of the Legitimacy Declaration Act, they alleged that Mrs. Ryves was the legitimate daughter of John Thomas Serres and Olive his wife, and that the mother of Mrs. Ryves was the legitimate daughter of Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland and Olive Wilmot, his wife, who were married by Dr. Wilmot, at the Grosvenor Square mansion of Lord Archer, on the 4th of March, 1767. They also asserted that Mrs. Ryves had been lawfully married to her husband, and that her son was legitimate; and asked the judges to pronounce that the original marriage between the Duke of Cumberland and Olive Wilmot was legal; that their child Olive, who afterwards became Mrs. Serres, was legitimate; that their grandchild Mrs. Ryves had been lawfully married to her husband; and that consequently the younger petitioner was their legitimate son and heir. The Attorney-General (Sir Roundell Palmer) filed an answer denying the legality of the Cumberland marriage, or that Mrs. Serres was the legitimate daughter of the duke. There wap no dispute as to the fact that the younger petitioner, W.H. Ryves, was the legitimate son of his father and mother. The case was heard before Lord Chief-Justice Cockburn, Lord Chief-Baron Pollock, Sir James Wilde, and a special jury.


The opening speech of the counsel for the claimant revealed a story which was very marvellous, but which, without the strongest corroborative testimony, was scarcely likely to be admitted to be true. According to his showing Olive Wilmot was the daughter of Dr. James Wilmot, a country clergyman, and fellow of a college at Oxford. During his college curriculum this divine had made the acquaintance of Count Poniatowski, who afterwards became King of Poland, and had been introduced by him to his sister. The enamoured and beautiful Polish princess fell in love with Wilmot and married him, and the result of their union was a daughter, who grew up to rival her mother's beauty. The fact of the marriage and the existence of the daughter were, however, carefully kept from the outer world, and especially from Oxford, where Dr. Wilmot retained his fellowship. The girl grew to the age of sweet seventeen, and, in 1767, met the Duke of Cumberland, the younger brother of George III., at the house of Lord Archer, in Grosvenor Square. After a short courtship, the duke was said to have married her—the marriage having been celebrated by her father on the 4th of March, 1767, at nine o'clock in the evening. Two formal certificates of the marriage were drawn up and signed by Dr. Wilmot and by Lord Brooke (afterwards Lord Warwick) and J. Addey, who were present at it; and these certificates were verified by the signatures of Lord Chatham and Mr. Dunning (afterwards Lord Ashburton). These documents were put in evidence. The Duke of Cumberland and Olive Wilmot lived together for four years; and, in October, 1771, while she was pregnant, her royal mate deserted her, and, as was alleged, contracted a bigamous marriage with Lady Anne Horton, sister of the well-known Colonel Luttrel. George III., having been aware of the previous union with Olive Wilmot, was very indignant at this second connection, and would not allow the Duke of Cumberland and his second wife to come to Court. Indeed, it was mainly in consequence of this marriage, and the secret marriage of the Duke of Gloucester, that the Royal Marriage Act was forced through Parliament.

Olive Wilmot, as the petitioner's counsel asserted, [221] having been deserted by her husband, gave birth to a Child Olive, who ought to have borne the title of Princess of Cumberland. The baby was baptised on the day of its birth by Dr. Wilmot, and three certificates to that effect were produced, signed by Dr. Wilmot and his brother Robert. But, although the king was irritated at the conduct of his brother, he was at the same time anxious to shield him from the consequences of his double marriage, and for that purpose gave directions to Lord Chatham, Lord Warwick, and Dr. Wilmot that the real parentage of the child should be concealed, and that it should be re-baptised as the daughter of Robert Wilmot, whose wife had just been confined. The plastic divine consented to rob the infant temporarily of its birthright but at the same time required that all the proceedings should be certified by the king and other persons as witnesses, in order that at a future time she should be replaced in her proper position. Perhaps, in ordinary circumstances, it would not have been possible for a country priest thus to coerce George III.; but Dr. Wilmot was in possession of a fatal secret. As is well known, King George was publicly married to Princess Charlotte in 1762; but, according to the showing of the petitioners, he had been previously married, in 1759, by this very Dr. Wilmot, to a lady named Hannah Lightfoot. Thus he, as well as the Duke of Cumberland, had committed bigamy, and the grave question was raised as to whether George IV., and even her present Majesty, had any right to the throne. Proof of this extraordinary statement was forthcoming, for on the back of the certificates intended to prove the marriage of the Duke of Cumberland and Olive Wilmot, the following certificates were endorsed:—

"This is to solemnly certify that I married George, Prince of Wales, to Princess Hannah, his first consort, April 15, 1759; and that two princes and a princess were the issue of such marriage.

J. Wilmot."

            "London, April 2, 176—."

"This is to certify to all it may concern that I lawfully married George, Prince of Wales, to Hannah Lightfoot, [222] April 17, 1759; and that two sons and a daughter are their issue by such marriage.

J. Wilmot.
J. Dunning

The concealed Princess Olive was meanwhile brought up, until 1782, in the family of Robert Wilmot, to whom it was said that an allowance of £500 a year was paid for her support by Lord Chatham. On the 17th of May, 1773, his Majesty created her Duchess of Lancaster by this instrument,—

            "George R.

"We hereby are pleased to create Olive of Cumberland Duchess of Lancaster, and to grant our royal authority for Olive, our said niece, to bear and use the title and arms of Lancaster, should she be in existence at the period of our royal demise."

                                                                  "Given at our Palace of St. James's, May 17, 1773.

J. Dunning

A little before this time (in 1772) Dr. Wilmot had been presented to the living of Barton-on-the-Heath, in Warwickshire, and thither his grand-daughter Olive went with him, passing as his niece, and was educated by him. When she was seventeen or eighteen years old she was sent back to London, and there became acquainted with Mr. de Serres, an artist and a member of the Royal Academy, whom she married in 1791. The union was not a happy one, and a separation took place; but, before it occurred, Mrs. Ryves, the elder petitioner, was born at Liverpool in 1797. After the separation Mrs. Serres and her daughter lived together, and the former gained some celebrity both as an author and an artist. They moved in good society, were visited by various persons of distinction, and in 1805 were taken to Brighton and introduced to the Prince of Wales, who afterwards became George IV. Two years later (in 1807) Dr. Wilmot died at the mature age of eighty-five, and the papers in his [223] possession relating to the marriage, as well as those which had been deposited with Lord Chatham, who died in 1778, passed into the hands of Lord Warwick. Mrs. Serres during all this time had no knowledge of the secret of her birth, until, in 1815, Lord Warwick, being seriously ill, thought it right to communicate her history to herself and to the Duke of Kent, and to place the papers in her hands.

Having brought his case thus far, the counsel for the petitioners was about to read some documents, purporting to be signed by the Duke of Kent, as declarations of the legitimacy of Mrs. Ryves, but it was pointed out by the court that he was not entitled to do so, as, according to his own contention, the Duke of Kent was not a legitimate member of the royal family. Therefore, resigning this part of his case, he went on to say that Mrs. Serres, up to the time of her death in 1834, and the petitioners subsequently, had made every effort to have the documents on which they founded their claim examined by some competent tribunal. They now relied upon the documents, upon oral evidence, and upon the extraordinary likeness of Olive Wilmot to the royal family, to prove their allegations.

As far as the portraits of Mrs. Serres were concerned, the court intimated that they could not possibly be evidence of legitimacy, and refused to allow them to be shown to the jury. The documents were declared admissible, and an expert was called to pronounce upon their authenticity. He expressed a very decided belief that they were genuine, but, when cross-examined, stammered and ended by throwing doubts on the signatures of "J. Dunning" and "Chatham," who frequently appeared as attesting witnesses. The documents themselves were exceedingly numerous, and contained forty-three so-called signatures of Dr. Wilmot, sixteen of Lord Chatham, twelve of Mr. Dunning, twelve of George III., thirty-two of Lord Warwick, and eighteen of the Duke of Kent.

The following are some of the most remarkable papers:—


"I solemnly certify that I privately was married to the princess of Poland, the sister of the King of Poland. But an unhappy family difference induced us to keep our union secret. One dear child bless'd myself, who married the Duke of Cumberland, March 4th, 1767, and died in the prime of life of a broken heart, December 5th, 1774, in France.

J. Wilmot."

    " January 1, 1780."

There were two other certificates to the same effect, and the fourth was in the following terms:—

"I solemnly certify that I married the Princess of Poland, and had legitimate issue Olive, my dear daughter, married March 4th, 1767, to Henry F., Duke of Cumberland, brother of His Majesty George the Third, who have issue Olive, my supposed niece, born at Warwick, April 3d, 1772.

Robt. Wilmot.

"May   23, 1775.

"As a testimony that my daughter was not at all unworthy of Her Royal Consort the Duke of Cumberland, Lord Warwick solemnly declares that he returned privately from the continent to offer her marriage; but seeing how greatly she was attached to the Duke of Cumberland, he witnessed her union with His Royal Highness, March 4th, 1767.


J. Wilmot.

Warwick                                                                                                  Robt. Wilmot."

"We solemnly certify in this prayer-book that Olive, the lawful daughter of Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland and Olive his wife, bears a large mole on the right side, and another crimson mark upon the back, near the neck; and that such child was baptised as Olive Wilmot, at St. Nicholas Church, Warwick, by command of the King (George the Third) to save her royal father from the penalty of bigamy, &c. to save her royal father from the penalty of bigamy, &c.

J. Wilmot.
Robt. Wilmot."


"I hereby certify that George, Prince of Wales, married Hannah Wheeler, alias Lightfoot, April 17th, 1759; but, from finding the latter to be her right name, I solemnized the union of the said parties a second time, May the 27th, 1759, as the certificate affixed to this paper will confirm. 1759, as the certificate affixed to this paper will confirm.

                    Witness (torn).

J. Wilmot."

"Not to be acted upon until the king's demise."

"With other sacred papers to Lord Warwick's care for Olive, my grand-daughter, when I am no more. J.W."

"My Dear Olive,— As the undoubted heir of Augustus, King of Poland, your rights will find aid of the Sovereigns that you are allied to by blood, should the family of your father act unjustly, but may the great Disposer of all things direct otherwise. The Princess of Poland, your grandmother, I made my lawful wife, and I do solemnly attest that you are the last of that illustrious blood. May the Almighty guide you to all your distinctions of birth. Mine has been a life of trial, but not of crime!

J. Wilmot."

"January, 1791."

"If this pacquet meets your eye let not ambition destroy the honour nor integrity of your nature. Remember that others will be dependent on your conduct, the injured children, perhaps, of the good and excellent consort of your king—I mean the fruit of his Majesties first marriage—who may have been consigned to oblivion like yourself; but I hope that is not exactly the case; but as I was innocently instrumental to their being, by solemnizing the ill-destined union of power and innocence, it is but an act of conscientious duty to leave to your care the certificates that will befriend them hereafter! The English nation will receive my last legacy as a proof of my affection, and when corruption has desolated the land, and famine and its attendant miseries create civil commotion, I solemnly command you to make known to the Parliament the first lawful marriage of the king, as when you are in possession of the papers, Lord Warwick has been sacredly and affectionately by myself entrusted with, their constitutional import will save the country! Should the necessity exist for their operation, consult able and patriotic men, and they will instruct you. May Heaven bless their and your efforts in every sense of the subject, and so shall my rejoiced spirit with approving love (if so permitted) feel an exultation inseparable from the prosperity of England.

J. Wilmot."


         "George R.

"We are hereby pleased to recommend Olive, our niece, to our faithful Lords and Commons for protection and support, should she be in existence at the period of our royal demise; such being Olive Wilmot, the supposed daughter of Robert Wilmot of Warwick.

J. Dunning.
Robt. Wilmot.
                                                                 January 7th, 1780."

Mrs. Ryves, the petitioner, was the principal witness called. She gave her evidence very clearly and firmly, and when offered a seat in the witness-box declined it, saying that she was not tired, and could stand for ever to protect the honour of her family. She said she recollected coming from Liverpool to London with her father and mother when she was only two years and a half old, and narrated how she lived with them conjointly up to the date of the separation, and with her mother afterwards. It was then proposed to ask her some questions as to declarations made by Hannah Lightfoot, the reputed wife of George III., but the Lord Chief-Justice interposed with the remark that there was no evidence before the court as to the marriage of the king with this woman. The petitioner's counsel referred to the two following documents:—

"April 17, 1759.

"The marriage of these parties was this day duly [227] solemnized at Kew Chapel, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, by myself,

J. Wilmot.

                                                                                George P.

"Witness to this marriage,

W. Pitt.
Anne Tayler."

"May 27, 1759.

"This is to certify that the marriage of these parties, George, Prince of Wales, to Hannah Lightfoot, was duly solemnized this day, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, at their residence at Peckham, by myself,

J. Wilmot.

         George Guelph.
         Hannah Lightfoot."

"Witness to the marriage of these parties,

William Pitt.
Anne Tayler."

Upon this, the Lord Chief-Justice again interposed, saying, "The Court is, as I understand, asked solemnly to declare, on the strength of two certificates, coming I know not whence, written on two scraps of paper, that the marriage—the only marriage of George III. which the world believes to have taken place—between his Majesty and Queen Charlotte, was an invalid marriage, and consequently that all the sovereigns who have sat on the throne since his death, including her present Majesty, were not entitled to sit on the throne. That is the conclusion to which the court is asked to come upon these two rubbishy pieces of paper—one signed 'George P,' and the other 'George Guelph.' I believe them to be gross and rank forgeries. The court has no difficulty in coming to the conclusion—even assuming that the signatures had that character of genuineness which they have not—that what is asserted in these documents has not the slightest foundation in fact."

Lord Chief-Baron Pollock expressed his entire concurrence in the opinion of the Lord Chief-Justice. After [228] explaining that it was the province of the court to decide any question of fact, on the truth or falsehood of which the admissibility of a piece of evidence was dependent, he declared that these documents did not at all satisfy him that George III. was ever married before his marriage to Queen Charlotte; that the signatures were not proved to be even like the king's handwriting; and that the addition of the word "Guelph" to one of them was satisfactory proof that the king, at that date Prince of Wales, did not write it—it being a matter of common information that the princes of the royal family only use the Christian name.

Sir James Wilde also assented, characterizing the certificates as "very foolish forgeries," but adding that he was not sorry that the occasion had arisen for bringing them into a court of justice, where their authenticity could be inquired into by evidence, as the existence of documents of this sort was calculated to set abroad a number of idle stories for which there was probably not the slightest foundation.

The evidence as to Hannah Lightfoot being thus excluded, the examination of Mrs. Ryves, the petitioner, was continued. She remembered proceeding to Brighton, in 1805, where herself and her mother were introduced to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. The prince had subsequently many conversations with them, and had bestowed many kindnesses on them. She knew the Duke of Kent from a very early age—he being a constant visitor at their house from 1805 till the time of his death. In the spring of 1815 Lord Warwick's disclosure was made, and the Duke of Kent acknowledged the relationship even before he saw the proofs which were at the time at Warwick Castle. Thither the earl went to procure them, at the expense of Mrs. Serres, he being at this time so poor that he had not the means to go; indeed, Mrs. Ryves asserted that sometimes the earl was so terribly impoverished that he had not even a sheet of note-paper to write upon.

His mission was successful; and on his return he produced three sets of papers, one of which he said [229] he had received from Dr. Wilmot, another set from Lord Chatham, and the third set had been always in his possession. One packet was marked "Not to be opened until after the king's death," and accordingly the seal was not broken; but the others were opened, and the papers they contained were read aloud in the presence of the Duke of Kent, who expressed himself perfectly satisfied that the signatures of George III. were in his father's handwriting, and declared that, as the Earl of Warwick might die at any moment, he would thenceforward take upon himself the guardianship of Mrs. Serres and her daughter. The sealed packet was opened in the latter part of 1819, and Mrs. Ryves, when questioned as to its contents, pointed out documents for the most part relating to the marriage of Dr. Wilmot and the Polish princess. Among other documents was the following:—

"Olive, provided the royal family acknowledge you, keep secret all the papers which are connected with the king's first marriage; but should the family's desertion (be) manifested (should you outlive the king) then, and only then, make known all the state secrets which I have left in the Earl of Warwick's keeping for your knowledge. Such papers I bequeath to you for your sole and uncontrolled property, to use and act upon as you deem fit, according to expediency of things. Receive this as the sacred will of

James Wilmot.

June—st, 1789.
          Witness, Warwick."

Mrs. Ryves maintained that up to the moment of the opening of the sealed packet her mother had believed herself to be the daughter of Robert Wilmot and the niece of Dr. Wilmot, and she did not know of any Olive Wilmot except her aunt, who was the wife of Mr. Payne. When the first information as to her birth was given to her by Lord Warwick, she supposed herself to be the daughter of the Duke of Cumberland by the Olive Wilmot who was afterwards Mrs. Payne, and had no idea [230] that her mother was the daughter of Dr. Wilmot, and was another person altogether. There was a great consultation as to opening the packet before the king's death; but the Duke of Kent persisted in his desire to know its contents, and the seals were broken. The Duke of Kent died on the 26th of January, 1820, and George III. in the following week, on the 30th of the same month.

Mrs. Ryves then proved the identity of certain documents which bore the signatures of the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Kent. They were chiefly written on morsels of paper, and elicited the remark from the Lord Chief-Justice, that "his royal highness seemed to have been as poor as to paper as the earl." She said that these documents were written in her own presence. Among them were these:—

"I solemnly promise to see my cousin Olive, Princess of Cumberland, reinstated in her R—l rights at my father's demise.


"May 3, 1816."

"I bind myself, by my heirs, executors, and assigns, to pay to my dearest coz. Olive, Princess of Cumberland, four hundred pounds yearly during her life.


"May 3, 1818."

"I bequeath to Princess Olive of Cumberland ten thousand pounds should I depart this life before my estate of Castlehill is disposed of.


"June 9, 1819."

"I hereby promise to return from Devonshire early in the spring to lay before the Regent the certificates of my dearest cousin Olive's birth.


" Novr. 16, 1819."

"Jany. (illegible).

"If this paper meets my dear Alexandria's eye, my dear cousin Olive will present it, whom my daughter will, for my sake, I hope, love and serve should I depart this life.



"I sign this only to say that I am very ill, but should I not get better, confide in the duchess, my wife, who will, for my sake, assist you until you obtain your royal rights.
"God Almighty bless you, my beloved cousin, prays


"To Olive my cousin, and blessing to Lavinia."

Mrs. Ryves then went on to state that, after the death of the Duke of Kent and his father, the Duke of Sussex paid a visit to herself and her mother. On that occasion, and subsequently, he examined the papers, and declared himself satisfied that they were genuine.

In her cross-examination, and in answer to questions put by the court, Mrs. Ryves stated that her mother, Mrs. Serres, was both a clever painter and an authoress, and was appointed landscape painter to the court. She had been in the habit of writing letters to members of the royal family before 1815, when she had no idea of her relationship to them. Her mother might have practised astrology as an amusement. A letter which was produced, and described the appearance of the ghost of Lord Warwick's father, was in her mother's handwriting—as was also a manifesto calling upon "the Great Powers, Principalities, and Potentates of the brave Polish nation to rally round their Princess Olive, grand-daughter of Stanislaus," and informing them that her legitimacy as Princess of Cumberland had been proved. Her mother had written a "Life of Dr. Wilmot," and had ascribed the "Letters of Junius" to him, after a careful comparison of his MS. with those in the possession of Woodfall, Junius's publisher. She had also issued a letter to the English nation in 1817, in which she spoke of Dr. Wilmot as having died unmarried; and Mrs. Ryves could not account for that, as her mother had heard of his marriage two years previously.

A document was then produced in which the Duke of Kent acknowledged the marriage of his father with Hannah Lightfoot, and the legitimacy of Olive, praying the latter to maintain secrecy during the life of the king, [232] and constituting her the guardian of his daughter Alexandrina, and directress of her education on account of her relationship, and also because the Duchess of Kent was not familiar with English modes of education. Mrs. Ryves explained that her mother refrained from acting on that document out of respect for the Duchess of Kent, who, she thought, had the best right to direct the education of her own daughter (the present queen). She also stated that her mother had received a present of a case of diamonds from the Duke of Cumberland, but she did not know what became of them.

The Attorney-General, on behalf of the crown, after explaining the provisions of the Act, proceeded to tear the story of the petitioners to pieces, pronouncing its folly and absurdity equal to its audacity. The Polish princess and her charming daughter he pronounced pure myths—as entirely creatures of the imagination as Shakspeare's "Ferdinand and Miranda." As to the pretended marriage of George III. and Hannah Lightfoot, the tale was even more astonishing and incredible, for not only were wife and children denied by the king, and a second bigamous contract entered into, but the lady held her tongue, the children were content to live in obscurity, and Dr. Wilmot faithfully kept the secret, and preached sermons before the king and his second wife Queen Charlotte. Not that Dr. Wilmot did not feel these grave state secrets pressing him down, but the mode of revenge which he adopted was to write the "Letters of Junius!"

Yet Dr. Wilmot died in 1807, apparently a common-place country parson. Surely there never was a more wonderful example of the possibility of keeping secrets. One would have imagined that the very walls would have spoken of such events; but although at least seven men and one woman (the wife of Robert Wilmot) must have been acquainted with them, the secret was kept as close as the grave for forty-three years, and was never even suspected before 1815, although all the actors in these extraordinary scenes seemed to have been occupied day and night in writing on little bits of paper, and telling the whole story. In 1815 the facts first came to the [233] knowledge of Mrs. Serres; but, even then, they were not revealed, until the grave had closed over every individual who could vouch as to the handwriting.

As far as the petitioner, Mrs. Ryves, was concerned, the Attorney-General said he could imagine that she had brooded on this matter so long (she being then over 70 years of age), that she had brought herself to believe things that had never happened. The mind might bring itself to believe a lie, and she might have dwelt so long upon documents produced and fabricated by others, that, with her memory impaired by old age, the principle of veracity might have been poisoned, and the offices of imagination and memory confounded to such an extent that she really believed that things had been done and said in her presence which were entirely imaginary. He contended that Mrs. Serres, the mother of the petitioner, was not altogether responsible for her actions, and proceeded to trace her history. Between 1807 and 1815, he said, she had the advantage of becoming personally known to some members of the royal family, and being a person of ill-regulated ambition and eccentric character, and also being in pecuniary distress, her eccentricity took the turn of making advances to different members of that family. She opened fire on the Prince of Wales in 1809, by sending a letter to his private secretary, comparing His Royal Highness to Julius Cæsar, and talking in a mad way about the politics of the illustrious personages of the day. In 1810 other letters followed in the same style, and in one of them she asked, "Why, sir, was I so humbly born?"

Scattered about these letters were mysterious allusions to secrets of state and symptoms of insane delusions. In one she imagined she had been seriously injured by the Duke of York. In another, she fancied that some one had poisoned her. In one letter she actually offered to lend the Prince of Wales, £20,000 to induce him to grant the interview of which she was so desirous, although in other letters she begged for pecuniary assistance, and represented herself to be in great distress. The letters were also full of astrology; she spoke of her "occult [234] studies;" and she further believed in ghosts. The manifesto to Poland also pointed to the same conclusion as to her state of mind. A person of such an erratic character, he said, was very likely to concoct such a story, and the story would naturally take the turn of trying to connect herself with the royal family.

During the interval between the death of Lord Warwick in 1816 and 1821, when it was first made public, her story passed through no less than three distinct and irreconcilable stages. At first she stated that she was the daughter of the Duke of Cumberland by Mrs. Payne, the sister of Dr. Wilmot; and in 1817 she still described herself as Dr. Wilmot's niece. It was said that she did not come into possession of the papers until after Lord Warwick's death, but this assertion was contradicted by the evidence of Mrs. Ryves, as to events which were within her own recollection, and which she represented to have passed in her presence.

The second stage of the story was contained in a letter to Mr. Fielding, the Bow Street magistrate, in October, 1817. Having been threatened with arrest, she wrote to him for protection, and in this letter she represented herself as the natural daughter of the late Duke of Cumberland by a sister of the late Dr. Wilmot, whom he had seduced under promise of marriage, she being a lady of large fortune. In connection with this stage of the story, he referred to another letter which she wrote to the Prince-Regent in July, 1818, in which she stated that Lord Warwick had told her the story of her birth in his lifetime, but without showing her any documents; that he excused himself for not having made the disclosure before by saying that he was unable to repay a sum of £2000 which had been confided to him by the Duke of Cumberland for her benefit; and then she actually went on to say that when Lord Warwick died she thought all evidence was lost until she opened a sealed packet which contained the documents. This was quite inconsistent with the extraordinary story of Mrs. Ryves as to the communication of the papers to her and her mother in 1815.


The claim of legitimate royal birth was first brought forward at a time of great excitement and agitation, when the case of Queen Caroline was before the public; and it was brought forward in a tone of intimidation—a revolution being threatened if the claim were not recognised within a few hours. The documents were changed at times to suit the changing story, and there was every reason to believe that they were concocted by Mrs. Serres herself, who was a careful student of the Junius MSS., who was an artist and practised caligraphist, and who had gone through such a course of study as well prepared her for the fabrication of forged documents. The internal evidence of the papers themselves proved that they were the most ridiculous, absurd, preposterous series of forgeries that perverted ingenuity ever invented. If every expert that ever lived in the world swore to the genuineness of these documents, they could not possibly believe them to be genuine. They were all written on little scraps and slips of paper such as no human being ever would have used for the purpose of recording transactions of this kind, and in everyone of these pieces of paper the watermark of date was wanting.

At this stage of his address the Attorney-General was interrupted by the foreman of the jury, who stated that himself and his colleagues were unanimously of opinion that the signatures to the documents were not genuine.

The Lord Chief-Justice, thereupon, immediately remarked that they shared the opinion which his learned brethren and himself had entertained for a long time—that everyone of the documents was spurious.

After some observations by the counsel for the petitioner, who persisted that the papers produced were genuine, the Lord Chief-Justice proceeded to sum up the facts of the case. He said it was a question whether the internal evidence in the documents of spuriousness and forgery was not quite as strong as the evidence resulting from the examination of their handwriting. Two or three of them appeared to be such outrages on all probability, that even if there had been strong evidence of [236] the genuineness of their handwriting, no man of common sense could come to the conclusion that they were genuine. Some of them were produced to prove that King George III. had ordered the fraud to be committed of rebaptising an infant child under a false name as the daughter of persons whose daughter she was not; another showed that the king had divested the crown of one of its noblest appendages—the Duchy of Lancaster—by a document he was not competent by law to execute, written upon a loose piece of paper, and countersigned by W. Pitt and Dunning; by another document, also written upon a loose piece of paper, he expressed his royal will to the Lords and Commons, that when he should be dead they should recognise this lady as Duchess of Cumberland. These papers bore the strongest internal evidence of their spuriousness. The evidence as to the marriage of the Duke of Cumberland with Olive Wilmot could not be separated from that part of the evidence which struck at the legitimacy of the Royal Family, by purporting to establish the marriage of George III. to a person named Hannah Lightfoot. Could any one believe that the documents on which that marriage was attested by W. Pitt and Dunning were genuine? But the petitioner could not help putting forward the certificates of that marriage, because two of them were written on the back of the certificate of the marriage of the Duke of Cumberland with Olive Wilmot. Men of intelligence could not fail to see the motive for writing the certificates of those two marriages on the same piece of paper. The first claim to the consideration of the royal family put forward by Mrs. Serres was, that she was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Cumberland by Mrs. Payne—a married woman. Her next claim was, that she was his daughter by an unmarried sister of Dr. Wilmot. She lastly put forward her present claim, that she was the offspring of a lawful marriage between the duke and Olive, the daughter of Dr. Wilmot. At the time when the claim was put forward in its last shape, it was accompanied by an attempt at intimidation, not only on the score of the injustice that would be done if George IV. refused to recognise the claim, but [237] also on the score that she was in possession of documents showing that George III., at the time he was married to Queen Charlotte, had a wife living, and had issue by her; and consequently that George IV., who had just then ascended the throne, was illegitimate, and was not the lawful sovereign of the realm. And the documents having reference to George III.'s first marriage were inseparably attached to the documents by which the legitimacy of Mrs. Serres was supposed to be established, with the view, no doubt, of impressing on the king's mind the fact that she could not put forward her claims, as she intended to do, without at the same time making public the fact that the marriage between George III. and Queen Charlotte was invalid. Could any one believe in the authenticity of certificates like these; or was it possible to imagine that, even if Hannah Lightfoot had existed, and asserted her claim, great officers of state like Chatham and Dunning should have recognised her as "Hannah Regina," as they were said to have done?

In another document the Duke of Kent gave the guardianship of his daughter to the Princess Olive. Remembering the way in which that lady had been brought up, and the society in which she had moved, could the Duke of Kent ever have dreamed of superseding his own wife, the mother of the infant princess, and passing by all the other distinguished members of his family, and conferring on Mrs. Serres, the landscape painter, the sole guardianship of the future Queen of England? They must also bear in mind the way in which the claim had been brought forward. The irresistible inference from the different tales told was, that the documents were from time to time prepared to meet the form which her claims from time to time assumed. A great deal had been said about different members of the royal family having countenanced and supported this lady. He could quite understand, if an appeal was made on her behalf as an illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Cumberland, that a generous-minded prince might say, "As you have our blood flowing in your veins, you shall not be left in want;" and, very likely, papers might have been [238] shown to some members of the royal family in support of that claim which they believed to be genuine. It was just as easy to fabricate papers showing her illegitimacy as to fabricate those produced; and probably such papers would not be very rigorously scrutinized. But it was not possible to believe that the documents now produced (including the Hannah Lightfoot certificates) had been shown to members of the royal family, and pronounced by them to be genuine. He could not understand why the secret was to be kept after the Duke of Cumberland's death, when there was no longer any danger that he would incur the risk of punishment for bigamy; and why the death of George III. should be fixed upon as the time for disclosing it. The death of George III. was the very time when it would become important to keep the secret, for if it had been then disclosed, it would have shown that neither George IV. nor the Duke of Kent were entitled to succeed to the throne. Why then should the Duke of Kent stipulate for the keeping of the secret until George III. died? They must look at all the circumstances of the case, and say whether they believed the documents produced by the petitioner to be genuine.

The jury at once found that they were not satisfied that Olive Serres, the mother of Mrs. Ryves, was the legitimate daughter of Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland, and Olive his wife; that they were not satisfied that Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland was lawfully married to Olive Wilmot on the 4th of March, 1767. On the other issues—that Mrs. Ryves was the legitimate daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Serres, and that the younger petitioner, W.H. Ryves, was the legitimate son of Mr. and Mrs. Ryves—they found for the petitioner.

On the motion of the Attorney-General, the judges ordered the documents produced by the petitioners to be impounded.

It may be noted, in conclusion, that if Mrs. Ryves had succeeded in proving that her mother was a princess of the blood royal, she would at the same time have established her own illegitimacy. The alleged marriage of the [239] Duke of Cumberland took place before the passing of the Royal Marriage Act; and, therefore, if Mrs. Serres had been the duke's daughter, she would have been a princess of the blood royal. But that Act had been passed before the marriage of Mrs. Serres to her husband, and would have rendered it invalid, and consequently her issue would have been illegitimate. As it was, Mrs. Ryves obtained a declaration of her legitimacy; but in so doing she sacrificed all her pretensions to royal descent.


On the 22d of March, 1869, William, the fourth Earl of Wicklow, died, without male issue. His next brother, the Hon. and Rev. Francis Howard, had died during the late earl's lifetime, after being twice married. By his first marriage he had had three sons, none of whom had survived; but one son blessed his second nuptials, and he claimed the peerage at his uncle's death. A rival, however, appeared to contest his right in the person of William George Howard, an infant, who was represented by his guardians as the issue of William George Howard, the eldest son of the Hon. and Rev. Francis Howard by his first marriage, and a certain Miss Ellen Richardson. As to the birth of the former claimant there could be no doubt, and it was not denied that his eldest half-brother had been married as stated; but the birth of the infant was disputed, and the matter was left for the decision of the House of Lords.

The case for the infant was briefly as follows:—Mr. W.G. Howard, his reputed father, was married to Miss Richardson, in February, 1863. Four months after their marriage the couple went to lodge with Mr. Bloor, an outdoor officer in the customs, who resided at 27 Burton Street, Eaton Square. Here they remained only three weeks, but during that time appear to have contracted a sort of friendship with the Bloor family, for, after being [240] absent till the latter end of the year, they returned to the house in Burton Street, and endeavoured to procure apartments there. Mr. Bloor's rooms were full, and he was unable to accommodate them; but, in order to be near his old friends, Mr. Howard took apartments for his wife, at No. 32, in the same street. Being a person of dissipated and peculiar habits, and being, moreover, haunted by duns, he did not himself reside in the new lodgings, or even visit there; but, by Mr. Bloor's kindness, was accustomed to meet his wife occasionally in a room, which was placed at his service, in No. 27. Still later, Mrs. Howard returned to lodge at Mr. Bloor's, and occupied the whole upper portion of the house, while the lower half was rented by one of her friends, named Baudenave. Mr. Howard, in the meantime, remained in concealment in Ireland, and thither Mr. Bloor proceeded in April or May 1864, and had an interview with him, at which it was arranged that the Burton Street lodging-house keeper should allow Mrs. Howard to be confined at his residence, and should make every arrangement for her comfort. On the 16th of May, Mrs. Howard, whose confinement was not then immediately expected, informed the Bloors that she intended to leave London for a time, and set out in a cab for the railway station. In a very short time she returned, declaring that she felt extremely ill, and was immediately put to bed; but there being few symptoms of urgency, she was allowed to remain without medical attendance until Mr. Bloor returned from his work at eight o'clock, when his wife despatched him for Dr. Wilkins, a medical man whom Mrs. Howard specially requested might be summoned, although he was not the family doctor, and lived at a considerable distance. At half-past nine o'clock Mr. Bloor returned without the doctor; and was told by his rejoicing spouse, that her lodger had been safely delivered of a son under her own superintendence, and that the services of the recognised accoucheur could be dispensed with. Proud of the womanly skill of his wife, and glad to be spared the necessity of another wearisome trudge through the streets, he gladly remained at home, and Dr. Wilkins was not [241] sent for several weeks, when he saw and prescribed for the infant, who was suffering from some trifling disorder. Unfortunately, this fact could not be proved, nor could the doctor's evidence be obtained as to Mr. Bloor's visit, as he had died before the case came on. But Mrs. Bloor, who attended Mrs. Howard during her confinement; Miss Rosa Day, sister of Mrs. Bloor, who assisted her in that attendance; Miss Jane Richardson, sister of Mrs. Howard; and Mr. Baudenave, their fellow-lodger, were all alleged to have seen the child repeatedly during the three following months, although it was admitted that its existence was kept a profound secret from everybody else. The three women above-mentioned were placed in the witness-box, and gave their evidence clearly and firmly, and agreed with each other in the story which they told; and, although Mrs. Bloor was rigorously cross-examined, her testimony was not shaken. When Mr. Baudenave was wanted he could not be found, and even the most urgent efforts of detectives failed to secure his attendance before the court.

On the other side it was contended that the story told on behalf of the infant plaintiff was so shrouded in mystery as to be absolutely incredible, and that it was concocted by the missing Baudenave, who was said to have been living on terms of suspicious familiarity with Mrs. Howard, and who had succeeded in inducing the witnesses to become accomplices in the conspiracy from motives of self-interest. Evidence was also produced to show that the birth had not taken place. A dressmaker, who measured Mrs. Howard for a dress, a little time before the date of her alleged confinement, swore that no traces of her supposed condition were then visible. Dr. Baker Brown and another medical man deposed that they had professionally attended a lady, whom they swore to as Mrs. Howard, and had found circumstances negativing the story of the confinement; and Louisa Jones, a servant, who lived in the house in Burton Street shortly after the birth of the infant, said she had never seen or heard of its existence. After the hearing of this evidence the case was postponed.


On its resumption Mrs. Howard produced witnesses to show that she was at Longley, in Staffordshire, during the whole of that period of August, 1864, to which the evidence of Dr. Baker Brown and the other medical witness related.

At the sitting of the court, on the 1st of March, 1870, Sir Roundell Palmer (Lord Selborne), who represented Charles Francis Howard, the other claimant, gave the whole case a new complexion by informing the court that he was in a position to prove that, in the month of August, 1864, Mrs. Howard and another lady visited a workhouse in Liverpool, and procured a newly-born child from its mother, Mary Best, a pauper, then an occupant of one of the lying-in wards of the workhouse hospital. In support of his assertion he was able to produce three witnesses—Mrs. Higginson, the head-nurse, and Mrs. Stuart and Mrs. O'Hara, two of the assistant-nurses, of whom two could swear positively to Mrs. Howard's identity with the lady who came and took away the child. The third nurse was in doubt.

The Solicitor-General, who represented the infant-claimant, thereupon requested an adjournment, in order to meet the new case thus presented. Their lordships, however, refused to comply with his desire until they had had an opportunity of examining Mrs. Howard; but when that lady was called she did not appear, and it was discovered that she had left the House of Lords secretly, and could not be found at her lodgings or discovered elsewhere. The case was therefore adjourned. At the next sitting, a week later, Mrs. Howard appeared before the committee, but refused to be sworn, demanding that the witnesses who were to be brought against her should be examined first. As she persisted in her refusal, she was given into custody for contempt of court, and the evidence of the Liverpool witnesses was taken. As Sir Roundell Palmer had stated, while one of the nurses remembered the transaction she could not be positive that Mrs. Howard was the party concerned in it; but the two others, and Mary Best the child's mother, had no hesitation in asserting that she was the person who had [243] taken away the infant from the hospital. Towards the close of the sitting it was announced that a telegram had been received from Boulogne, stating that the real purchasers of Mary Best's child had been found, and that they would be produced at the next hearing of the case to re-but the Liverpool evidence; but when the next sitting came no Boulogne witnesses were forthcoming, and the Solicitor-General was compelled to state that he had been on the wrong scent; but that he would be able to refute the story which had been trumped up against his client. Mary Best was placed in the witness-box, and, in the course of a rigorous cross-examination, admitted that she had left the workhouse with a baby which she had passed off as her own. She stated that this child was given to her while she was in the workhouse, but she could not tell either its mother's name or the name of the person who gave it to her. She had never received any payment for it, but had fed and clothed it at her own expense, had taken it with her to her father's house in Yorkshire, had represented it as her own to her family, and had paid the costs of its burial when it died. Her relatives and friends were produced, and corroborated these facts. The nurses, on the other hand, when recalled, denied all knowledge of this second child, and affirmed that a child could not have been brought to her without their knowledge.

The court delivered judgment on the 31st of March, 1870, when the Lord Chancellor announced that their lordships had come to the conclusion that Charles Francis Arnold Howard had made out his claim, and was entitled to vote at the election of representative peers for Ireland as Earl of Wicklow; and that the infant claimant, the son of Mrs. Howard, had failed in establishing his claim to that privilege. He said the marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Howard was undisputed, and the real difficulty that surrounded the case was in proving the birth of this child without the evidence usually forthcoming of such an event—neither medical man nor nurse having been present at the birth, or having attended either the mother or the child subsequently. The fact that the [244] existence of the child had been concealed from all the world, and that it had neither been registered nor baptised, increased the difficulties in the way of Mrs. Howard's case. It was a remarkable fact that, up to that time, with the exception of three persons who had undoubtedly sworn distinctly to certain circumstances, no human being had been called who had noticed that Mrs. Howard had shown signs of being in the family-way; and it was equally remarkable that those who had had ample opportunity of noticing her condition at the time, and who might have given distinct and positive evidence on the point, had either not been called, or had refused to give evidence in the case. Undoubtedly, as far as words could go, their lordships had had the distinct evidence of two witnesses, who stated that they were present when the alleged birth occurred, and of another who had stated that he had gone to fetch the doctor, who was sent for, not because the birth was expected to occur, but because Mrs. Howard was taken suddenly ill. Of course, if credence could be given to the statement of these witnesses, the case put forward by Mrs. Howard was established beyond a doubt, and most painful it was for him to arrive at the conclusion, as he felt bound to do, that those persons had been guilty of the great crime of not only giving false evidence by deposing to events that had never occurred, but of conspiring together to endeavour to impose upon the Wicklow family a child who was not the real heir to the title and estates attaching to the earldom. He was bound to add that the demeanour of Mrs. Bloor and her sister Rosa Day in the witness-box, was such that, if the case were not of such prodigious importance, and if it had not been contradicted by all surrounding circumstances, their statement, which they had given with firmness and without hesitation, would have obtained credence. It was, however, so utterly inconsistent with all the admitted facts, and with the rest of the evidence, that he was compelled to arrive at the painful conclusion that it was a mere fabrication, intended to defeat the ends of justice. The evidence of Dr. Baker Brown, who had identified Mrs. Howard as the person whom he had [245] examined, on the 8th of July, 1864, and who had stated to him that she had never had a child, was very strong, and was only to be explained upon the supposition that it was a case of mistaken identity; and that it was her sister Jane Richardson, who was examined, and not Mrs. Howard. This supposition, however, was entirely set aside by the Longney witnesses, who stated that upon the occasion of the birth-day dinner party at Longney, which had been brought forward to prove an alibi, both Mrs. Howard and her sister Jane Richardson were present. It was evident, therefore, either that the story could not be true, or that the witnesses were mistaken as to the day on which that event had occurred, and under these circumstances the whole evidence in support of the alibi broke down altogether. Having arrived at this conclusion with respect to the original case set up by Mrs. Howard, it was scarcely necessary to allude to the Liverpool story, which was certainly an extraordinary and a singular one, and had a tendency to damage the case of those who had set it up, although he did not see how they could possibly have withheld it from the knowledge of their lordships. Looking at the fact that Mary Best was proved to have been delivered of a fair child, and that the child she took out of the workhouse with her was a dark child, he confessed that much might be said both in favour of and against the truth of her statement; but it was, perhaps, as well that it might be entirely disregarded in the present case; and, at all events, in his opinion, there was nothing in its being brought forward which was calculated to shake their lordships' confidence in the character of those who were conducting the case on behalf of the original claimant.

Lord Chelmsford next delivered a long judgment, agreeing with that of the Lord Chancellor, and in the course of it remarked that it was impossible to disbelieve the story of the alleged birth, as he did, without coming to the conclusion that certain of the witnesses had been guilty of the grave crimes of conspiracy and perjury. With reference to the Liverpool story, he said he was satisfied that the child brought into the workhouse by [246] Mary Best, and taken by her to Yorkshire, was not that of which she had been confined, although he did not believe her statement of the way in which she had become possessed of the child which she had subsequently passed off as her own.

Lords Colonsay and Redesdale concurred; and the Earl of Winchelsea, as a lay lord, and one of the public, gave it as his opinion that the story told by Mrs. Howard was utterly incredible, being only worthy to form the plot of a sensational novel. He regretted that Mr. Baudenage, the principal mover in this conspiracy, would escape unscathed.

Their lordships, therefore, resolved that Mrs. Howard's child had no claim to the earldom; but that Charles Francis Arnold Howard, the son of the Hon. Rev. Francis Howard, by his second marriage, had made out his right to vote at the election of representative peers for Ireland as Earl of Wicklow.


The unhappy fate of James, the last Earl of Derwentwater, has been so often recounted, both in prose and verse, that it is almost unnecessary to repeat the story; but lest any difficulty should be found in understanding the grounds on which the so-called countess now bases her pretensions, the following short summary may be found useful:—

James Radcliffe, the third and last Earl of Derwentwater, suffered death on Tower Hill, in the prime of his youth, for his devotion to the cause of the pretender. He is described as having been brave, chivalrous, and generous; his name has been handed down from generation to generation as that of a martyr; and his memory even yet remains green among the descendants of those amongst whom he used to dwell, and to whom he was at once patron and friend.


When he was twenty-three years of age he espoused Anna Maria, eldest daughter of Sir John Webb of Cauford, in the county of Dorset, and had by her an only son, the Hon. John Radcliffe, and a daughter, who afterwards married the eighth Lord Petre. By the articles at this time entered into, the baronet agreed to give his daughter £12,000 as her portion; while the earl, on his part, promised £1000 jointure rent charge to the lady, to which £100 a-year was added on the death of either of her parents, and an allowance of £300 a-year was also granted as pin-money. The earl's estates were to be charged with £12,000 for the portions of daughter or daughters, or with £20,000 in the event of there being no male issue; while by the same settlement his lordship took an estate for life in the family property, which was thereby entailed upon his first and other sons, with remainder, and after the determination of his or their estate to his brother, Charles Radcliffe, for life; on his first or other sons the estates were in like manner entailed.

If the Earl of Derwentwater had been poor his Jacobite proclivities might have been overlooked, but he was very rich, and his head fell. Moreover, after his decapitation on Tower Hill the whole of his immense property was confiscated, and given by the crown to the Commissioners of Greenwich Hospital. The commissioners of to-day assert that the property became the property of the representatives of the hospital absolutely. On the other hand, it is contended that, by the Act of Attainder, the property of forfeiting persons was vested in the crown only, according to their estate, rights, and interest, and that the earl, having only an estate for life in his property, could forfeit no greater interest.

His only son, although he lost his title of nobility by the attainder of his father, was, by solemn adjudication of law, admitted tenant in tail of all the settled estates, and the fortune of the earl's daughter was, moreover, raised and paid thereout. The earl's son was in possession of the estates during sixteen years; and, had he lived to attain twenty-one, he might have effectually dealt with them, so that they could not at any future [248] time have been affected by the attainder of his father, or of his uncle Charles Radcliffe. At least so say the supporters of the self-styled countess.

Upon the death of the martyr-earl's son, in 1791, and presumably without issue, the life estate of Charles Radcliffe commenced, but it vested in the crown by reason of the attainder. Not so, however, the estate in tail of the eldest son, James Bartholomew. This boy was born at Vincennes, on the 23d of August, 1725; but by a statute passed in the reign of Queen Anne, he had all the rights of a subject born in the United Kingdom; and, among others, of course, had the right to succeed to any property to which he might be legally entitled. But the government perceived the fix in which they were placed, and immediately, on the death of the son of the earl, and when James Bartholomew was an infant of the age of five years, they hurried an Act through Parliament which declared that nothing contained in the dictatory law of Queen Anne gave the privilege of a natural born subject to any child, born or to be born abroad, whose father at the time of his or her birth either stood attainted of high treason, or was in the actual service of a foreign state in enmity to the crown of Great Britain. This excluded the boy, and the government began to grant leases of the estates which would otherwise have fallen to him.

And now we begin to plunge into mystery. It is asserted that the reported death of John Radcliffe, son of the last earl, was merely a scheme on the part of his friends to protect him against his Hanoverian enemies who sought his life. Some say that he died at the age of nineteen, at the house of his maternal grandfather, Sir John Webb, in Great Marlborough Street, on the 31st of December, 1731. Others maintain that he was thrown from his horse, and killed, during his residence in France. But the most recent statement is that his interment was a sham, and was part of a well-devised plan for facilitating his escape from France to Germany during the prevalence of rumoured attempts to restore the Stuarts, and that, after marrying the Countess of Waldsteine-Waters, he lived, bearing her name, to the age of eighty-six.


By this reputed marriage it is said that he had a son, who was called John James Anthony Radcliffe, and who, in his turn, espoused a descendant of John Sobieski of Poland. To them a daughter was born, and was named Amelia. Her first appearance at the home of her supposed ancestors was very peculiar; and the report of her proceedings, which appeared in the Hexham Courant, of the 29th of September, 1868, was immediately transferred into the London daily papers, and was quoted from them by almost the entire provincial press. The following is the account of the local journal, which excited considerable amusement, but roused very little faith when it was first made public:—

"This morning great excitement was occasioned in the neighbourhood of Dilston by the appearance of Amelia, Countess of Derwentwater, with a retinue of servants, at the old baronial castle of her ancestors—Dilston Old Castle—and at once taking possession of the old ruin. Her ladyship, who is a fine-looking elderly lady, was dressed in an Austrian military uniform, and wore a sword by her side in the most approved fashion. She was accompanied, as we have said, by several retainers, who were not long in unloading the waggon-load of furniture which they had brought with them, and quickly deposited the various goods and chattels in the old castle, the rooms of which, as most of our readers are aware, are without roofs; but a plentiful supply of stout tarpaulings, which are provided for the purpose, will soon make the apartments habitable, if not quite so comfortable as those which the countess has just left. In the course of the morning her ladyship was visited by Mr. C.J. Grey, the receiver to the Greenwich Hospital estates, who informed her she was trespassing upon the property of the commissioners, and that he would be obliged to report the circumstance to their lordships. Her ladyship received Mr. Grey with great courtesy, and informed that gentleman she was acting under the advice of her legal advisers, and that she was quite prepared to defend the legality of her proceedings. The sides of the principal [250] room have already been hung with the Derwentwater family pictures, to some of which the countess bears a marked resemblance, and the old baronial flag of the unfortunate family already floats proudly from the summit of the fine, though old and dilapidated tower."

This is a bald newspaper account; but the lady herself is an experienced correspondent, and in one of her letters, which she has published in a gorgeously emblazoned volume, thus gives her version of the affair in her own vigorous way:—

"Devilstone Castle, 29th September, 1868.

"Here I am, my dear friend, at my own house, my roofless home; and my first scrawl from here is to the vicarage. You will be sorry to hear that the Lords of Her Majesty's Council have defied all equitable terms in my eleven years' suffering case. My counsel and myself have only received impertinent replies from under officials. Had my lords met my case like gentlemen and statesmen, I should not have been driven to the course I intend to pursue.

"I left the Terrace very early this morning, and at half-past seven o'clock I arrived at the carriage-road of Dilstone Castle. I stood, and before me lay stretched the ruins of my grandfather's baronial castle; my heart beat more quickly as I approached. I am attended by my two faithful retainers, Michael and Andrew. Mr. Samuel Aiston conveyed a few needful things; the gentle and docile pony trotted on until I reached the level top of the carriage-road, and then we stopped. I dismounted and opened the gate and bid my squires to follow, and, in front of the old flag tower, I cut with a spade three square feet of green sod into a barrier for my feet, in the once happy nursery—the mother's joyful upstairs parlour—the only room now standing, and quite roofless. I found not a voice to cheer me, nothing but naked plasterless walls; a hearth with no frame of iron; the little chapel which contains the sacred tombs of the silent dead, and the dishonoured ashes of my grandsires.


"All here is in a death-like repose, no living thing save a few innocent pigeons, half wild; but there has been a tremendous confusion, a wild and wilful uproar of rending, and a crash of headlong havoc, every angle is surrounded with desolation, and the whole is a monument of state vengeance and destruction. But here is the land—the home of my fathers—which I have been robbed of; this is a piece of the castle, and the room in which they lived, and talked, and walked, and smiled, and were cradled and watched with tender affection. You never saw this old tower nearer than from the road; the walls of it are three feet or more in some parts thick, and of rough stone inside. The floor of this room where I am writing this scrawl is verdure, and damp with the moisture from heaven. It has not even beams left for a ceiling, and the stairs up to it are scarcely passible; but I am truly thankful that all the little articles I brought are now up in this room, and no accident to my men.

"Radcliffe's flag is once more raised! and the portraits of my grandfather and great-grandfather are here, back again to Devilstone Castle (alias Dilstone), and hung on each side of this roofless room, where both their voices once sounded. Oh! as I gaze calmly on these mute warders on the walls, I cannot paint you my feelings of the sense of injustice and wrong, a refining, a resenting sorrow—my heart bleeds at the thought of the cruel axe, and I am punished for its laws that no longer exist. I pray not to be horror-stricken at the thoughts of the past ambition and power of princes who cast destruction over our house, and made us spectacles of barbarity. But, nevertheless, many great and Christian men the Lord hath raised out of the house of Radcliffe, who have passed away; and now, oh! Father of Heaven! how wonderfully hast Thou spared the remnant of my house, a defenceless orphan, to whom no way is open but to Thy Fatherly heart. Now Thou hast brought me here, what still awaits me? 'Leave Thou me not; let me never forget Thee. Thou hast girded me with strength into the battle. I will not therefore fear what man can do unto me.'


"These are my thoughts and resolutions. But I am struggling with the associations of this lone, lone hearth—with no fire, no father, no mother, sister or brother left—the whole is heartrending. I quit you now, my kind friends; I am blind with tears, but this is womanly weakness.

"Twelve o'clock the same day. My tears of excitement have yielded to counter-excitement. I have just had an intrusive visitor, who came to inquire if it is my intention to remain here. I replied in the affirmative, adding earnestly, 'I have come to my roofless home,' and asked 'Who are you?' He answered 'I am Mr. Grey, the agent for her Majesty, and I shall have to communicate your intention.' I answered, 'Quite right, Mr. Grey. Then what title have you to show that her Majesty has a right here to my freehold estates?' He replied, 'I have no title.' I then took out a parchment with the titles and the barony and manors, and the names of my forty-two rich estates, and held it before him and said, 'I am the Countess of Derwentwater, and my title and claim are acknowledged and substantiated by the Crown of England, morally, legally, and officially; therefore my title is the title to these forty-two estates.' He has absented himself quietly, and I do hope my lords will not leave my case now to under officials.—Yours truly,

Amelia, Countess of Derwentwater.

Their lordships left the case to very minor officials, indeed; namely to a person whom the countess describes as "a dusky little man" and his underlings, and they without hesitation ejected her from Dilstone Hall. The lady was very indignant, but was very far from being beaten, and she and her adherents immediately formed a roadside encampment, under a hedge, in gipsy fashion, and resolved to re-enter if possible. From her letters it appears that she was very cold and very miserable, and, moreover, very hungry at first. But the neighbouring peasantry were kind, and brought her so much food eventually, that she tells one of her friends that cases of tinned meats from Paris would be of no use to her. The [253] worst of the encampment seems to have been that it interfered with her usual pastime of sketching, which could not be carried on in the evenings under a tarpaulin, by the light of a lantern.

But her enemies had no idea that she should be permitted to remain under the hedge any more than in the hall itself. On the 21st of October, at the quarter sessions for the county of Northumberland, the chief constable was questioned by the magistrates about the strange state of affairs in the district, and reported that the encampment was a little way from the highway, and that, therefore, the lady could not be apprehended under the Vagrant Act! A summons, however, had been taken out by the local surveyor, and would be followed by a warrant. On that summons the so-called countess was convicted; but appealed to the Court of Queen's Bench.

During the winter the encampment could not be maintained, and the weather, more powerful than the Greenwich commissioners, drove the countess from the roadside. But in the bright days of May she reappeared to resume the fight, and this time took possession of a cottage at Dilston, whence, says a newspaper report of the period, "it is expected she will be ejected; but she may do as she did before, and pitch her tent on the high-road." On the 30th of the same month, the conviction by the Northumberland magistrates "for erecting a hut on the roadside," was affirmed by the Court of Queen's Bench.

On the 17th November, 1869, while Mr. Grey was collecting the Derwentwater rents, the countess marched into the apartment, at the head of her attendants, to forbid the proceedings. She was richly apparelled, but her semi-military guise did not save herself, or those who came with her, from being somewhat rudely ejected. Her sole consolation was that the mob cheered her lustily as she drove off in her carriage.

On the 5th of January, in the following year, a great demonstration in her favour took place at Consett, in the county of Durham. A few days previously a large [254] quantity of live stock had been seized at the instance of the countess, for rent alleged to be due to her, and an interdict had been obtained against her, prohibiting her from disposing of it. However, she defied the law, and in the midst of something very like a riot, the cattle were sold, flags were waved, speeches were made, and the moment was perhaps the proudest which the heiress of the Derwentwaters is likely to see in this country.

Such conduct could not be tolerated. The Lords of the Admiralty were roused, and formally announced that the claims of the so-called countess were frivolous. They also warned their tenants against paying their rents to her, and took out summonses against those who had assisted at the sale. On the 16th of January, the ringleaders in the disgraceful affair were committed for trial.

Notwithstanding this untoward contretemps, the countess made a further attempt, in February, to collect the rents of the forty-two freehold estates, which she said belonged to her. But the bailiffs were in force and resisted her successfully, being aided in their work by a severe snowstorm, which completely cowed her followers, although it did not cool her own courage. On the 11th of February, 1870, the Lords of the Admiralty applied for an injunction to prevent the so-called countess from entering on the Greenwich estates, and their application was immediately granted. Shortly afterwards the bailiff acting on behalf of the countess, and the ringleaders in the Consett affair, were sentenced to short terms of imprisonment. Thus those in possession of the property could boast a decided victory.

But the law courts are free to all, and the countess determined to take the initiative. She had jewels, and pictures, and documents which would at once prove her identity and the justice of her claim. Unfortunately they were all in Germany, and the lady was penniless. By the generosity of certain confiding gentlemen, about £2000 was advanced, on loan, to bring them to this country. They came, but their appearance was not satisfactory even to the creditors, who became clamorous [255] for their money. There was only one way left to satisfy them, and Amelia, of Derwentwater, took it. The jewels and pictures were brought to the hammer in an auction-room in Hexham—the countess disappeared from public ken, and the newspapers ceased to chronicle her extraordinary movements.


The case of Arthur Orton is too recent to need many words of introduction. We have hardly yet cooled down to a sober realization of the facts which, as they stand, mark the latest and most bulky of the claimants, as not only the greatest impostor of modern or perhaps of any days, the base calumniator who endeavoured to rob a woman of her fair fame to gratify his own selfish ends, but as a living proof of the height to which the blind credulity of the public will now and again elevate itself. Arthur Orton is in prison undergoing what all thinking men must admit to be a very lenient sentence—a sentence which in no way meets the justice of the case; for the advent of this huge carcase lumbering the earth with lies was nothing less than a misfortune to the people of England. And the word misfortune, if used even in its highest and widest sense, will in no way imply that which has happened to a peaceful family, who have been associated with their lands and titles as long as our history goes back, and who have had their privacy violated, and the sanctity of their homes invaded; who have been pilloried before a ruthless and unsympathising mob, who have had their women's names banded from one coarse mouth to another, and who—least misfortune of all—have had to expend large sums of money, and [256] great amounts of time and trouble, to free themselves from a persecution as unparalleled as it was vicious and cruel. Those who, having neither fame nor fortune to lose, speak lightly and think not at all of the sorrows which were launched avalanche-like upon the devoted heads of the Tichbornes and their connections, would do well to ponder over what such personation as that of Arthur Orton means to its immediate victims. It means a sudden derangement of all the ties and sympathies by which life is made dear, a sudden shock which never in life will be recovered. There is no member of the community, no matter how well and how carefully he has chosen his path in life, who would not fear to have his every action published and criticised, his every motive analysed unfairly, and the most mischievous construction placed upon each deed or thought found capable of perversion. How much more terrible would it be, then, for any man to know that his wife or mother was to be subjected to such ordeal; that for no fault committed, for nothing but the delectation of an unscrupulous scoundrel and his admirers, a tender and sensitive lady was to be put to torture far worse than any physical punishment could ever have been, even in ages and countries whose only refinement was that of cruelty?

Arthur Orton is in prison, but there are still many who loudly assert their belief in his identity with the lost Sir Roger; there are others who are quite as strong in their avowals of doubt as to the name found for the huge mystery being the correct one; and there are again others who, caring little who or what the man may be, affect to credit many of his most villanous utterances. But do these people in their blind impetuosity ever give the merits of the case one thought? do they remember that Orton was detected in his every lie, and found as heinously guilty as man can be detected and found guilty, when the evidence against him admits of but circumstantial proof? They do not; and like the man who constantly avers that the earth is flat, and his congeners who deny the existence of a Being who is apparent in every one of His marvellous works, the believers in Orton must [257] be placed in the catalogue of those who, either of malice prepense, or from mental affliction, take the wrong view of a subject as naturally as sparks fly upwards. If the man now in prison is Sir Roger Tichborne, then trial by jury, the selection of our judges, and the whole basis of our legal system—indeed, of almost every system by which calm and peaceful government is maintained, and the right of the subject duly regarded—must be radically wrong, and right is wrong also. If he is not Arthur Orton, then there never was an Arthur Orton, and Wapping is a place which has no existence out of the annals of the Tichborne trial.

The baronetcy of Tichborne, now Doughty-Tichborne, is not only old of itself, and connected with vast estates, but is held by a family well known in the history of this country, even as far as that history goes. No parvenu, whose rank is the result of success in cheesemongering or kindred pursuit, is the holder of the title, for, as Debrett tells us, the family of Tichborne was of great importance in Hampshire before the Conquest, and derives its name from the river Itchen, at the head of which it had estates; "hence it was called De Itchenbourne, since corrupted into Tichborne. Sir John de Tichborne, knight, sheriff of Southampton, on hearing of the death of Queen Elizabeth, immediately repaired to Winchester, and there proclaimed King James VI. (of Scotland) as King of England. In 1621, he was created a baronet, the honour of knighthood having been previously conferred upon three of his sons, while his fourth son Henry was subsequently knighted. Sir Henry, the third baronet, hazarded his life in defence of Charles I. in several enterprises, and his estates were sequestrated by the Parliamentarians. After the restoration he was successively Lieutenant of the New Forest, and Lieutenant of Ordnance." Other Tichbornes have been sufficiently prominent in their times to leave marks on the history of the country; and altogether riches and honours seemed, until comparatively recently, to be the unshadowed lot of the head of the family. That, however, large estates and long descent do not always secure perfect happiness, has been very [258] well shown in the great trial just past, in many ways perfectly independent of the actual result, or of any question as to whether or not the claimant was he whom he professed to be.

Family differences and unpleasantnesses seem to have been the actual, even if remote, cause of the great imposition of Arthur Orton. Had matters been conducted as one might have anticipated they would among people blessed with the means of gratifying every whim and caprice, Roger Tichborne would have lived and died like other men, and his name would never have been known except as a quiet country gentleman of English origin and French tastes, which led him into more or less eccentricities, and caused him to be more or less popular among his neighbours and dependants. But this was not to be. All great families have their secret unpleasantnesses, and in these the Tichbornes were by no means behindhand. The Tichbornes generally had a knack of disagreeing, and this feeling was shown in excelsis by James, the father of Roger, and his wife, who lived abroad for many years, she being French in every sentiment, while the husband was but naturalized, and now and again exhibited a desire to return to his native land. When Roger was born there was but little chance of his ever becoming the owner of either titles or estates, and so his education was entirely foreign, his tutors being M. Chatillon, and a priest named Lefevre. As time wore on, it became evident that Mr. James Tichborne would in due course become Sir James, and he felt it his duty to secure to his son an English education. This the mother opposed most strenuously, and it was only by artifice that the boy was brought to England. Sir Henry Joseph Tichborne, who had succeeded to the baronetcy in 1821, had no son, and though time after time a child was born to him, Providence blessed him with no male heir. Again and again a child would be born at Tichborne, but it was always a girl. Sir Henry had seven children, of whom six lived, all celebrated for their good looks, and their tall and handsome proportions; but all were daughters. [259] Still there was Sir Henry's brother, Edward Tichborne, who had taken large estates under the will of a Miss Doughty—which led to the present junction of the Doughty and Tichborne properties, and to the double surname—and with them had assumed the name of that lady, and he was after Sir Henry the next heir. Edward had a son and daughter. But one day there came the news to James and his wife in France, that Sir Edward's little boy had died, and then it was that the father perceived more clearly the error that he had made in permitting Roger to grow up ignorant of English habits and the English tongue. Edward Doughty was an old man. His brother James Tichborne himself was growing in years. The prospect of Roger one day becoming the head of the old house of Tichborne, which had once been so remote, had now become almost a certainty. It would not do for the Lord of Tichborne to be a Frenchman; sooner or later he must learn English, and receive an education fitting him to take the position which now appeared in store for him. All this was clear enough to Mr. James, but not so clear to his weak-headed and prejudiced wife. The father did, indeed, obtain her consent to take the boy over to England, and let him see his uncle and aunt, the Doughtys, at Upton, in Dorsetshire, and his uncle, Sir Henry, at the ancestral home down in Hampshire. But Roger was then but a child, and as he grew older Mrs. Tichborne became more than ever resolute in her determination that, come what might, her darling should be a Frenchman. What cared she for the old Hampshire traditions? France was to her the only land worth living in; a Frenchman's life was the only life worthy of the name. Her dear Roger might succeed to the title and estates, but she could not bear the thought of his going to England. It was in her imagination a land of cold bleak rains and unwholesome fogs. But it was worse; it was the country of a people who had been false to their ancient faith. Even the Tichbornes, though still Catholics, had not always been true to their religion. And so Mrs. Tichborne planned out for the future heir of Tichborne a life of perpetual absenteeism. He should [260] marry into some distinguished family in France or Italy, and little short of a Princess should share his fortunes. If he went into the army it should be in some foreign service. But in no case should he go to Tichborne, or set foot in England again, if she could help it.

James Tichborne was like many other weak men who have self-willed wives. He put off the inevitable day as long as he could, but finally achieved his purpose by strategy. Roger was in his seventeenth year when the news arrived that Sir Henry had died. It was right that James Tichborne should be present at his brother's funeral, and reasonable that he should take with him the heir, as everyone regarded him to be. Accordingly Roger took leave of his mother under solemn injunctions to return quickly. But there was no intention of allowing him to return. The boy attended the funeral of his uncle at the old chapel at Tichborne, went to his grandfather's place at Knoyle, and thence, by the advice of relations and friends, and with the consent of the boy himself, he was taken down to the Jesuit College at Stonyhurst, and there placed in the seminary with the class of students known as "philosophers." When Mrs. Tichborne learnt that this step had been completed her fury knew no bounds. Roger wrote her kind and filial letters in French—ill-spelt it is true, but admirably worded, and testifying an amount of good sense which promised well for his manhood. But Mrs. Tichborne gave no reply, and for twelve months the son, though longing ardently for a letter, got no token of affection. Yet Mrs. Tichborne was not the person to see her son removed from her control without an effort. She upbraided her husband violently, and there was a renewal of the old scenes in the Tichborne household; but Roger was now far away, and the danger of Mr. Tichborne's yielding in a momentary fit of weakness was at an end. Meanwhile the mother wrote violent letters to the heads of the college, exposing family troubles in a way which called forth a remonstrance from even the lad himself. What was the precise nature of his studies at Stonyhurst, and what progress he made in them, are questions that have been much debated, but [261] it is certain that he applied himself resolutely to the study of English, and made such progress that, although he could never speak it with so much purity and command of words as when conversing in his mother tongue, he learnt to write it with only occasional errors in spelling and construction. In Latin he made some little progress, and in mathematics more. He attended voluntary classes on chemistry, and his letters evidence an inclination for the study both of science and polite literature. At Stonyhurst Roger may be said to have passed the three happiest years of his life.

During the period just mentioned, the then last of the Tichbornes made many friends, and if he did not become what we understand as accomplished, he was refined and sensitive. During the vacations he used to visit his English relatives in turn; but there was one place above all others to which he preferred to go. This was the house at Tichborne, then in possession of his father's brother Sir Edward Doughty. There was a certain amount of delicacy in his position towards his uncle and his aunt Lady Doughty, which cannot but be intelligible to any one who has the least knowledge of human failings. It is not in the nature of things that either Lady Doughty or her husband could have been greatly predisposed towards the youthful stranger, and Roger was shy and reserved and over-sensitive. He had the misfortune to stand in the place which they must once have ardently hoped that their dead child would have lived to inherit. Sir Edward was in failing health, and his brother James was an old man. The time could not therefore be far distant when this youth, with his foreign habits and his strong French accent, would take possession of Tichborne Park with all the ancient lands. More than that, he would come into absolute possession of the new Doughty property, including the beautiful residence of Upton, near Poole, in Dorsetshire, for which Sir Edward and his family had so strong an affection. It was through Sir Edward alone that this property had been acquired, but the lady who had bequeathed it to him had no notion of founding a second family; in time all the lands and houses in [262] various countries bequeathed by her, as well as those which were purchased by trustees under her will, were to go to swell the Tichborne estate, and to increase the grandeur and renown of the old house. Upton was the favourite home of the Doughtys. Sir Edward, who had been in the West Indies, had returned thence with his black servant named Andrew Bogle, then a boy, and had married—he and his wife doubtless for a long time looking on Upton as their home for life. It cost them a pang to remove even to the house at Tichborne. It was at Upton that their only surviving child Kate had spent her early years, and to return there and enjoy the fresh sea breezes in the summer holidays was always a fresh source of delight. It was hard to think that even Upton must pass from them, and that the day was probably not far distant when there would be nothing left for them but to yield up their home and estates to the new comer, and retire even upon a widow's handsome jointure and the fortune of Miss Kate. But if such feelings ever passed through the minds of the family at Tichborne, they could have been only transient. The shy, pale-faced boy with the long dark locks, came always to Tichborne in his holidays, making his way steadily in the favour of that household, and this not from interested motives on the part of Lady Doughty, as has been falsely alleged, and triumphantly disproved, but clearly from something in the nature of the youth which disarmed ill-feeling. Roger, despite his early training abroad, soon showed good sound English tastes. He took delight in country life; and though he did not bring down the partridges in the woods, or throw the fly upon the surface of the Itchen, with a degree of skill that would command much respect in the county of Hants, he did his best, and really liked the out-door life. In hunting he took delight from the time when he donned his first scarlet coat, and he rarely missed an opportunity of appearing at "the meet" in that neighbourhood. The time soon came when Roger had to think of a profession, and James Tichborne again gave mortal offence to his wife by determining that the young man [263] should go into the army. Among the daughters of Sir Henry, was one who had married Colonel William Greenwood of the Grenadier Guards. Their house at Brookwood was but half an hour's ride from Tichborne, and Roger was fond of visiting there. Colonel Greenwood's brother George was also in the army, and he took kindly to Roger, and determined to do his best to get him on. So he took him one morning to the Horse Guards, and introduced him to the commander-in-chief, who promised him a commission. There was a little delay in keeping this promise, and the young man did not go troubling uncles again, but took the self-reliant course of writing direct to the Horse Guards, to remind the Commander-in-chief of what he had said; and before long Mr. Roger Charles Tichborne was gazetted a cornet in the 6th Dragoons, better known as the Carabineers. He passed his examination at Sandhurst satisfactorily, and went straight over to Dublin to join his regiment. From Dublin he went to the south of Ireland, and twice he came over to England on short visits. He went through the painful ordeal of practical joking which awaited every young officer in those days, and came out of it, not without annoyance and an occasional display of resentment, yet in a way which conciliated his brother officers; and few men were more liked in the regiment than Roger Tichborne, affectionately nicknamed among them "Teesh." In 1852 the Carabineers came over to England, and were quartered at Canterbury. They expected then to be sent to India, but the order was countermanded, and Roger saw himself doomed apparently to a life of inaction. There is a letter of Roger's among the mass of correspondence which he kept up at this period of his life, in which he notices the fact that his mother still dwelt upon her old idea of providing him with a wife in the shape of one of those Italian princesses of which he had heard so much, and with whom he had always been threatened. But Roger was by this time in love with his cousin, and his love was by no means happy. Roger had been for years visiting at Tichborne before he had ever seen his cousin Kate there. He had [264] met her long before when he came over as a child from Paris on a visit, but Miss Doughty was too young at that time to have retained much impression of the little dark-haired French boy, who could hardly have said "Good morning, cousin," in her native tongue. When Roger was twenty years of age, they met for a few days at Bath, where both had come on the melancholy duty of taking leave of Mr. Seymour, then lying dangerously ill and near his death. Then they parted again; Roger went to Tichborne for a long stay, but Miss Doughty returned to school at the convent at Taunton. In the Midsummer holidays, however, they once more met at the house in Hampshire, and for six weeks the young cousins saw each other daily. Then Miss Doughty went away to Scotland with her parents; and the youth took upon himself the pleasant duty of going to see the party take their departure from St. Katherine's Wharf. October found the party again assembled at Tichborne Park; and there Roger took farewell of uncle, aunt, and cousin, to go to Ireland and join his regiment; and Miss Doughty, whose schooldays were not yet ended, went down to a convent at Newhall, in Essex. When Roger got a short leave of absence, his first thought was to visit his uncle and aunt, who had so affectionate a regard for him. There was a summer visit to Upton, in Dorsetshire, for a week, when Miss Doughty happened to be there; and there was a visit to Tichborne in January 1850, when there were great festivities, for Roger then attained his majority; again the cousins took farewell, and met no more for eighteen months. No wonder Roger loved Tichborne, with all its associations. In that well-ordered and affectionate household he found a tranquillity and happiness to which he had been a stranger in his own home. In his correspondence with his father and mother at this time there were no lack of tokens of a loving son; but no one was more sensible than Roger of the miseries of that life which he had led up to the day when he came away to pursue his studies at the Jesuit College, and to learn to be an Englishman. But there was another association, [265] long unsuspected, yet growing steadily, until it absorbed all his thoughts, and gave to that neighbourhood a glory and a light invisible to other eyes. Roger had spent many happy hours with his cousin; she had grown in those few years from a girl almost into a woman, and he had come to love her deeply. To her he said not a word, to Sir Edward he dared not speak, but one day Roger took an opportunity of confiding to Lady Doughty the new secret of his life. His aunt did not discourage the idea; but Miss Doughty was still but a girl of fifteen; and there was the grave objection that the twain were first cousins. And besides, though Roger was of a kind and considerate disposition, truthful, honourable, and scrupulous in points of duty, he had certain habits which assumed serious proportions in the mind of a lady so strict in notions of propriety. He had in Paris acquired a habit of smoking immoderately. In the regiment he had been compelled, by evil customs then prevailing, to go through a noviciate in the matter of imbibing "military port;" and his habits had followed him to Tichborne, and the young officer had been seen at least on one occasion in a state of semi-intoxication—no less a word will describe his condition. He was also accustomed to bring in his portmanteau French novels, which were decidedly objectionable, though few young men would probably regard it as much sin to read them. So little did the young man appreciate her objections to this exciting kind of literature that he had actually recommended to his aunt some stories which no amount of humour and cleverness could prevent that pious lady regarding as debasing and absolutely immoral. How Lady Doughty felt under all the circumstances of Roger's love, as compared with his general conduct, will be best shown by the following letter:—

"1850. Tichborne Park, begun 29 Jan., finished 31st.

"My Dearest Roger,—After three weeks being between life and death it has pleased God to restore me so far that I have this day for the first time been in the wheel chair to the drawing-room, and I hasten to begin my [266] thanks to you for your letters, especially that private one, though it may yet be some days before I finish all I wish to say to you, for I am yet very weak, and my eyes scarcely allow of reading or writing.... Remember, dear Roger, that by that conversation in town you gave me every right to be deeply interested in your fate, and therefore doubly do I feel grieved when I see you abusing that noblest of God's gifts to man, reason, by diminishing its power.... I cannot recall to my mind the subject you say I was beginning in the drawing-room when interrupted; probably it might have had reference to the confidence which you say you do not repent having placed in me. No, dear Roger, never repent it; be fully assured that I never shall betray that confidence. You are young, and intercourse with life and the society you must mix with might very possibly change your feelings towards one now dear to you, or rather settle them into the affection of a brother towards a sister; but whatever may be the case hereafter, my line of duty is marked out, and ought steadily to be followed; that is, not to encourage anything that could fetter the future choice of either party before they had fully seen others and mixed with the world, and with all the fond care of a mother endeavour, while she is yet so young, to prevent her heart and mind from being occupied by ideas not suited to what should be her present occupations, and hereafter, with the blessing of God, guard her against the dangers she may be liable to be ensnared into by the position in which she is placed.... You have been, I rejoice to hear, raised in the opinion of all with whom you have lately had to transact business by your firmness and decision. You are in an honourable profession, which gives you occupation.... Resist drink, or a rash throwing away life, or wasting in any way the energies of a naturally strong, sensible mind, and really attached heart. Now write to me soon; tell me truly if I have tried your patience by this long letter which I venture to send, for it is when returning to life as I now feel that renewed love for all dear to one seems to take possession of our hearts, so you must forgive it if you find it long. Your [267] uncle and cousin send their kindest love.—Adieu, dearest Roger, ever be assured of the sincere affection and real attachment of your aunt.

Katherine Doughty."

Roger protested that his failings had been exaggerated, and by his letters it is noticeable there is a trace of vexation that Lady Doughty should have lent an ear to coloured reports of his manner of life; but there is no abatement in the affectionate terms on which he stood with his aunt at Tichborne. Matters, however, could not long go on in this fashion. As yet Roger Tichborne had never spoken of his love to Miss Doughty, though it cannot be doubted that some tokens had revealed that secret. But love must find expression in something more than hints and tokens, and at last came the inevitable time. It was on Christmas eve, 1851, that Roger joyfully set foot in Tichborne Park once more. That was a happy meeting in all but the fact that Sir Edward Doughty was in weak health. Now comes the dénoûment. Miss Doughty had given Roger a keepsake volume of Father Faber's Hymns, and there was an exchange of gifts. Suddenly the truth flashed across the mind of the father, and he was vexed and angry. On a Sunday morning, when the two cousins had been walking in the garden enjoying the bright winter day, and they were sitting together at breakfast, a message came that Sir Edward desired to see his nephew in the library. The girl waited, but Roger did not come back to the breakfast table. The eyes of the cousins met sorrowfully in the chapel, and in the afternoon, with Lady Doughty's permission, they saw each other in the drawing-room to take farewell. For Sir Edward's fiat had gone forth. Marriage between first cousins was forbidden by the Church, and there were other reasons why he was resolute that this engagement should be broken off before it grew more serious. So it was arranged that on the very next morning the young man should leave the house for ever. Thus the great hope of Roger's life was suddenly extinguished, and there was nothing left for him but to sail [268] with his regiment for India, and endeavour, if he could, to forget the past. Some days after that, at his cousin's request, he wrote out for her a narrative of his sorrows at this time, in which he said:—

"What I felt when I left my uncle it is difficult for me to explain. I was like thunderstruck. I came back to my room, and tried to pack up my things, but was obliged to give up the attempt, as my mind was quite absent. I sank on a chair, and remained there, my head buried between my two knees for more than half an hour. What was the nature of my thoughts, my dearest K., you may easily imagine. To think that I was obliged to leave you the next day, not to see you again—not, perhaps, for years, if ever I came back from India. The idea was breaking my heart. It passed on, giving me no relief, until about two o'clock, when my aunt told me that you wished to see me. That news gave me more pleasure than I could express; so much so that I never could have expected it. The evening that I saw you, my dear K., about five o'clock, you cannot conceive what pleasure it gave me. I saw you felt my going away, so I determined to tell you everything I felt towards you. What I told you it is not necessary to repeat, as I suppose you remember it. When I came away from the drawing-room my mind was so much oppressed that it was impossible to think of going to bed. I stopped up until two o'clock in the morning. I do not think it necessary, my dearest K., to tire you with all the details of what I have felt for you during these two days; suffice it to say, that I never felt more acute pain, especially during the night when I could not sleep. I promise to my own dearest Kate, on my word and honour, that I will be back in England, if she is not married or engaged, towards the end of the autumn of 1854, or the month of January 1855. If she is so engaged I shall remain in India for ten or fifteen years, and shall wish for her happiness, which I shall be too happy to promote."

Neither Roger nor Kate had, however, given up hope of some change. Lady Doughty, despite a secret dread of her nephew's habits, had a strong regard for him, and [269] would be certain to plead his cause. And in a very few days circumstances unexpectedly favoured his suit. Sir Edward's malady grew worse, the physicians despaired, and he believed himself near his end. Roger was sent for hurriedly to take farewell of his uncle. As he approached the sick bed his uncle said, "I know, my dear Roger, the mutual attachment which exists between you and your cousin. If you were not so near related I should not object at all to a marriage between you two: but, however, wait, three years; then, if the attachment still exists between you, and you can get your father's consent, and also leave from the Church, it will be the will of God, and I will not object to it any longer."

To which Roger replied—"Ever since I have had the pleasure of knowing you and my cousin, I have always tried to act towards you two in the most honourable way I possibly could. The Church, as you know, grants dispensations on these occasions. Of course, if you approve of it, I will get my father's consent, and also leave from the Church, and do it in an honourable way in the eyes of God and of the world." These two speeches seem rather stilted and unnatural, yet this is how they have been given in evidence. Days passed, and Roger sat up night after night with his uncle. It was during those tedious watchings that he again wrote at Miss Doughty's request a narrative of his feelings, which ran thus:—

"Tichborne Park, Feb. 4, 1852 (1.30 A.M.)

"I shall go on," he said, "with my confessions, only asking for some indulgence if you find them too long and too tedious. You are, my dearest K., the only one for whom I have formed so strong and sincere an attachment. I never could have believed, a few years ago, I was able to get so attached to another. You are the only young person who has shown me some kindness, for which I feel very thankful. It is in some respects rather a painful subject for me to have to acknowledge my faults; but, as I have undertaken the task, I must write all I have done, and what have been my thoughts, for the last five weeks. I had a very wrong idea when [270] I left Ireland. It was this: I thought that you had entirely forgotten me. I was, nevertheless, very anxious to come to Tichborne for a short time to take a last farewell of you, my uncle, and my aunt. My mind and heart were then so much oppressed by these thoughts, that it was my intention not to come back from India for ten or fifteen years. I loved you, my dearest K., as dearly as ever. I would have done anything in this world to oblige you, and give you more of that happiness which I hoped I might see you enjoy. I would have given my life for your happiness' sake. To have seen all these things, I repeat again, with a dry eye and an unbroken heart, or for a person who has a strong feeling of attachment towards another to behold it, is almost beyond human power. These feelings will arise when I shall be thousands of miles from you, but I have taken my pains and sorrows and your happiness in this world, and said a prayer that you might bear the pains and sorrows of this world with courage and resignation, and by these means be happy in the next. When I came here I found I had been mistaken in the opinion I had formed, and I reproached myself bitterly for ever having such an idea. It is not necessary for me to mention that I got rid of these bad thoughts in a few minutes. Things went on happily until Sunday, January 11, 1852, when I was sent for by my uncle at breakfast. What took place between us I think it unnecessary to repeat, as you know already. I was obliged to leave the next morning by the first train for London. I never felt before so deeply in my life what it was to part with the only person I ever loved. How deeply I felt I cannot express, but I shall try to explain as much of it as I can in the next chapter.

"What I have suffered last night I cannot easily explain. You do not know, my own dearest K., what are my feelings towards you. You cannot conceive how much I loved you. It breaks my heart, my own dearest K., to think how long I shall be without seeing you. I do feel that more than I can tell you. You have the comfort of a home, and, moreover, at some time or other, [271] some person to whom you can speak, and who will comfort you. I have none. I am thrown on the world quite alone, without a friend—nothing; but, however, I shall try and take courage, and I hope that when you will see me in three years you will find a change for the better. I shall employ these three years to reform my conduct, and become all that you wish to see me. I shall never, my own, my dearest K., forget the few moments I have spent with you; but, on the contrary, I shall only consider them as the happiest of my life. You cannot imagine how much pleasure your letter has given me. It proved to me, far beyond any possible doubt, what are your feelings towards me. I did not, it is true, require that proof to know how you felt for me. It is for that reason that I thank you most sincerely for that proof of confidence, by expressing yourself so kindly and openly to me. You may rest assured, my own dearest K., that nothing in this world will prevent me, except death in actual service, from coming back from India at the time I have named to you—the latter part of the autumn of 1854, or the beginning of 1855. It will be a great comfort for me, my own dearest K., when I shall be in India, to think of you. It will be, I may say, the only pleasure I shall have to think of the first person I ever loved. You may rest assured that nothing in the world will make me change. Moreover, if you wish me to come back sooner, only write to me, and I shall not remain five minutes in the army more than I can help. I shall always be happy to comply with your wishes, and come back as soon as possible. Again rest assured, my dearest K., that if in any situation of life I can be of help or service to you, I shall only be too happy, my dearest K., to serve and oblige you.—Your very affectionate cousin,

"R.C. tichborne."

Roger went back to his regiment in Ireland soon after the date given in the foregoing extract; but the Carabineers were finally removed to Canterbury, and in the summer he again got leave of absence, which he spent with his aunt and cousin in London, and at Tichborne; [272] and it was on the 22d of June 1852, that the young people walked together for the last time in the garden of Tichborne house. They talked of the future hopefully; and for her comfort he told her a secret. Some months before that time he had made a vow, and written out and signed it solemnly. It was in these words:—"I make on this day a promiss, that if I marry my Cousin Kate Doughty, this year, or before three years are over, at the latest, to build a church or chapel at Tichborne to the Holy Virgin, in thanksgiving for the protection which she has showed us in praying God that our wishes might be fulfilled." Roger went back to his regiment and indulged his habitual melancholy. To his great regret, the order for the Carabineers to go to India had been countermanded; but he had no intention of leading the dull round of barrack life in Canterbury. He had determined to go abroad for a year and a half or two years; by that time the allotted period of trial would be near an end. He had determined to leave a profession which offered no outlet for his energies. The tame round of the cities and picture-galleries of Europe had no charms for him. Among the many books which he had read at this time were the Indian romances of Chateaubriand, "René," "Attila," and "Le Dernier Abencerage." How deeply these stories had impressed his mind is apparent in his letters to Lady Doughty. "Happy," he says, "was the life of René. He knew how to take his troubles with courage, and keep them to himself,—retired from all his friends to be more at liberty to think about his sorrows and misfortunes, and bury them in himself. I admire that man for his courage; that is, the courage to carry those sorrows to the grave which drove him into solitude." Among his intimate friends and schoolfellows at Stonyhurst, was Mr. Edward Waterton, whose father, the celebrated naturalist, had given to the college a collection of stuffed foreign birds and other preserved animals; and there can be no doubt that the famous narratives of adventure in South America of that distinguished traveller were among the books which Roger and other college friends read at that period. How deeply the splendours [273] of the natural history collection of Stonyhurst had impressed the mind of the boy is evidenced in the fact that Roger took delight at school in practising the art of preserving birds and other animals; while long afterwards, in humble emulation of the great naturalist's achievement, he gathered and sent home, when on his travels, many a specimen of birds of splendid plumage. South America, in short, had long been the subject of his dreams; and now in travelling in that vast continent, he would try to find occupation for the mind, and get through the long time of waiting which he had undertaken to bear patiently. His scheme was to spend a twelvemonth in Chili, Guayaquil, and Peru, seeing not only wild scenes but famous cities; thence to visit Mexico, and so by way of the United States find his way back to England. Having taken this resolution, he set about putting his affairs in order, for Roger was a man of business-like habits, and by no means prone to neglect his worldly interests. He made his will,—saying, however, as he remarked in one of his letters, "nothing about the church or chapel at Tichborne," which he said he would only build under the conditions mentioned in a paper which he had left in the hands of his dearest and most trusted friend, Mr. Gosford, the steward of the family estates. In truth, months before the day when he gave Miss Doughty a copy of "The Vow" in the garden at Tichborne, he had solemnly signed and sealed up a compact with his own conscience, and deposited it with other precious mementoes of that time in his friend's safe keeping. Parting with friends in England cost him, perhaps, but little sorrow, for his mind was full of projects to be carried into effect on his return. He aspired to the character of a traveller, and to be qualified for membership at the Travellers' Club, where, in one of his letters while abroad, he requests that his name may be inscribed as a candidate. He had an old habit of keeping diaries, and he promised to send extracts, and, after all, the time would not be long. There was one house in which Roger naturally shrank from saying farewell. He had made a solemn resolution that he would go to Tichborne no more while matters remained thus, [274] and his pride was wounded by what appeared to him to be a want of confidence on the part of Lady Doughty. In a worldly point of view it is difficult to conceive any union more desirable than that of the two cousins. But it is clear that the mother trembled for the future of her child. Hence she still gave ready ear to tales of the wild life of the regiment, and hinted them in her letters to her nephew in a way that made him angry, but not vindictive. He was asked to go and see his uncle, Sir Edward, before starting; but his will was inflexible, and he went away, as he had all along said that he would, resolved to bury his sorrows within himself. Roger went away in February, and spent nearly three weeks in Paris with his parents and some old friends of his early days. His mother was much averse to his plan of travelling; and she opposed it both by her own upbraidings, and by the persuasion of spiritual advisers who had influence over her son. But it was of no avail. Roger had chosen to sail in a French vessel from Havre—"La Pauline"—and sail he would. His voyage to Valparaiso was to last four months, and thence he was going on in the same vessel to Peru. It was doubtless because of the strong hold which the French language and many French manners still had on him, that, though he took an English servant with him, he preferred a French ship with a French captain and French seamen. On the 1st of March, 1853, he sailed away from Europe, and, as we are bound to believe, never returned. The "Pauline" started with bad weather, which detained her in the Channel, and compelled her to put in at Falmouth, but after that she made a good voyage round Cape Horn to Valparaiso, where she arrived on the 19th of June. As the vessel was to remain there a month, Roger, after spending a week in Valparaiso, started with his servant John Moore to see Santiago, the capital of Chili, about ninety miles inland. Thence he returned and sailed for Peru, where he embarked for places in the north. At Santiago his servant had been taken ill, and, though recovering, was unfitted to travel. His master thereupon furnished him with funds to set up a store, and took another servant, [275] with whom he underwent many adventures. At Lima he visited the celebrated churches, and purchased souvenirs for his friends and relatives. Having stored a little yacht with provisions, he started with his servant on a voyage of about three hundred miles up the river Guayaquil, and was for some days under the Line; he made similar journeys in a canoe with his servant and two Indians, still bent on collecting and preserving rare birds of gorgeous plumage. He also visited and explored silver and copper mines. During all this travelling he continued his home correspondence with great regularity. But the first news he received was bad. Scarcely had the "Pauline" left sight of our shores, when Sir Edward Doughty died, and Roger's father and mother were now Sir James and Lady Tichborne. By and by the wanderer began to retrace his steps, came back to Valparaiso, and with his last new servant, Jules Berraut, rode thence in one night ninety miles to Santiago again. Again he started with muleteers and servants on the difficult and perilous journey over the Cordilleras, and thence across the Pampas to Buenos Ayres, Monte Video, and Rio de Janeiro. In April 1854, there was in the harbour of Rio a vessel which hailed from Liverpool, and was called the "Bella." She was about to sail for Kingston, Jamaica, and it was to Kingston that Roger had directed his letters and remittances to be forwarded, that being a convenient resting place on his journey to Mexico, where he intended to spend a few months. The "Bella" was a full-rigged ship of nearly 500 tons burden, clipper-built, and almost new. Aboard this ship, then taking in her cargo of coffee and logwood, came one April morning a young English gentleman who introduced himself as Mr. Tichborne. He was dressed in a half tourist, half nautical costume, and wanted a passage to Kingston. Travelling with servants, hiring yachts and canoes, buying paintings, curiosities, and natural history specimens, had proved more expensive than he expected. His funds were exhausted; nor could his purse be replenished until he got to Kingston, where letters of credit were expected to be waiting for him. It was some little time before the captain [276] believed the young man's story, but when he did, he not only undertook to convey him and his people to Kingston; he determined to help him in a matter of some delicacy and not a little danger; for when the vessel was near sailing, Roger was found to be without that indispensable requisite, a passport. Great excitement then prevailed in Brazil on the subject of runaway slaves. Black slaves had escaped by making themselves stowaways; "half-caste" people, relying on their comparative fairness of skin, had openly taken passage as seamen or even passengers, and thus got away from a hateful life of bondage. Hence the peremptory regulation that no captain should sail with a stranger aboard without an official license. Under these circumstances a plan was devised by the captain. When the Government officers came aboard, no Tichborne or other stranger was visible. As the vessel, loosened from her moorings, was slowly drifting down the harbour in the morning, the officers sat at a little table on deck, smoked and drank with the captain. At length the moment came to call their boat and take farewell, wishing the good ship "Bella" and her valuable freight a pleasant voyage. Scarcely had they departed, when the table was removed; and just beneath where they had been sitting a circular plug closing the entrance to what is known as the "lazarette" was lifted, and out came Roger laughing at the success of their harmless device. Before noon the "Bella" had passed from the harbour of Rio into the open ocean, and was soon on her voyage northward. That was on the 20th of April 1854, and that is the last ever known in good sooth of the "Bella," except as a foundered vessel. Six days after she had left the port of Rio, a ship, traversing her path, found tokens of a wreck—straw bedding such as men lay on deck in hot latitudes, a water-cask, a chest of drawers, and among other things a long boat floating bottom upwards, and bearing on her stern the ominous words "Bella, Liverpool." These were brought into Rio, and forthwith the Brazilian authorities caused steam vessels to go out and scour the seas in quest of survivors; but none were seen. That the [277] "Bella" had foundered there was little room to doubt; though the articles found were chiefly such as would have been on her deck. Even the items of cabin furniture were known to have been placed on deck to make way for merchandise, with which she was heavily laden. The night before these articles were found had been gusty, but there had been nothing like a storm. When time went by and brought no tidings, Captain Oates, a great friend of the captain of the "Bella," who had been instrumental in getting Roger on board, came with other practical seamen to the conclusion that she had been caught in a squall; that her cargo of coffee had shifted; and that hence, unable to right herself, the "Bella" had gone down in deep water, giving but little warning to those on board. In a few months this sorrowful news was brought to Tichborne, where there was of course great mourning. One by one the heirs of the old house were disappearing; and now it seemed that all the hopes of the family must be centred in Alfred, then a boy of fifteen. So, at least, felt Sir James Tichborne. He had inquiries made in America and elsewhere. For a time there was a faint hope that some aboard the "Bella" had escaped, and had, perhaps, been rescued. But months went by, and still there was no sign. The letters of news that poor Roger had so anxiously asked to be directed to him at the Post Office, Kingston, Jamaica, remained there till the paper grew faded. The banker's bill, which was wanted to pay the passage money, lay at the agents, but neither the captain nor his passenger of the "Bella" came to claim it. Weeks and months rolled on; the annual allowance of one thousand a year, which was Roger's by right, was paid into Glyn & Co.'s bank, but no draft upon it was ever more presented at their counters. The diligent correspondent ceased to correspond. At Lloyd's the unfortunate vessel was finally written down upon the "Loss Book"—the insurance was paid to the owners, and in time the "Bella" faded away from the memories of all but those who had lost friends or relatives in her. Lady Tichborne was always full of hope that her son had been saved, and could never be brought [278] to regard him as drowned; but we have now seen the last of the real Roger Tichborne, and our next business will be with the counterfeit.

At last, in the neighbourhood in which Sir James and his wife lived, it became notorious that the mother was prepared to receive any one kindly who professed to have news of her son, and naturally when the story once got wind there were many who tried to profit by her credulity. Among other adventurers, a tramp in the dress of a sailor found his way to Tichborne, and, having poured into the willing ears of the poor mother a wild story about some of the survivors of the "Bella" being picked up off the coast of Brazil, and carried to Melbourne, was forthwith regaled and rewarded. There is a freemasonry among beggars which sufficiently explains the fact, that very soon the appearance of ragged sailors in Tichborne Park became common. Sailors with one leg, and sailors with one arm, loud-voiced, blustering seamen, and seamen whose troubles had subdued their tones to a plaintive key, all found their way to the back door of the great house. Everyone of them had heard something about the "Bella's" crew being picked up; and could tell more on that subject than all the owners, or underwriters, or shipping registers in the world. And poor Lady Tichborne believed, as is evidenced by a letter of hers written in 1857, only three years after the shipwreck, to a gentleman in Melbourne, imploring him to make inquiries for her son in that part of the world. Sir James, however, though no less sorrowful, had no faith; and he made short work of tramping sailors who came to impose on the poor lady with their unsubstantial legends. But Sir James died in 1862. Shortly before this event his only surviving son Alfred had married Theresa, a daughter of the eleventh Lord Arundel of Wardour. This, however, did not prevent the mother, in one of her crazy moods, taking a step calculated to induce some impostor to come forward and claim to be the rightful heir—which was the insertion of an advertisement in the Times, offering a reward for the discovery of her eldest son, and giving a number of [279] particulars with regard to his birth, parentage, age, date and place of shipwreck, name of vessel, and other matters. She also incorporated in her advertisement the stories of the tramping sailors about his having been picked up and carried to Melbourne; and this mischievous advertisement was published in various languages, and doubtless copied in the South American and Australian newspapers. This is the first step we find towards the formation of the imposture.

Time rolled on, and no Roger, true or false, made his appearance. One day the Dowager happened to see in a newspaper a mention of the fact that there was in Sydney a man named Cubitt, who kept what he called a "Missing Friends' Office." To Cubitt accordingly she wrote a long rambling letter, in which, among other tokens of her state of mind, she gave a grossly incorrect account of her son's appearance, and even of his age; but Cubitt was to insert her long advertisement in the Australian papers, and he was promised a handsome reward. Cubitt, in reply, amused the poor lady with vague reports of her son being found in the capacity of a private soldier in New Zealand; and as there was war there at that time the poor lady wrote back in an agony of terror to entreat that he might be bought out of the regiment. Mr. Cubitt soon perceived the singular person he had to deal with; and his letters from that time were largely occupied with requests for money for services which had no existence out of the letters. At last came more definite information. A Mr. Gibbes, an attorney at the little town of Wagga-Wagga, two hundred miles inland from Sydney, had, he said, found the real Roger living "in a humble station of life," and under an assumed name. Again money was wanted. Then Gibbes, apparently determined to steal a march on Cubitt, wrote directly to the credulous lady, and there was much correspondence between them. At first there were some little difficulties. The man who, after a certain amount of coyness, had pleaded guilty to being the long-lost heir, still held aloof in a strange way, concealed his present name and occupation, and instead of going home at once, preferred to [280] bargain for his return through the medium of an attorney and the keeper of a missing-friends' office. All this, however, did not shake the faith of Lady Tichborne. Then he gave accounts of himself which did not in the least tally with the facts of Roger's life. He said he was born in Dorsetshire, whereas Roger was born in Paris; he accounted for being an illiterate man by saying that he had suffered greatly in childhood from St. Vitus's dance, which had interfered with his studies. "My son," says Lady Tichborne, in reply, "never had St. Vitus's dance." When asked if he had not been in the army, he replied, "Yes," but that he did not know much about it, because he had merely enlisted as a private soldier "in the Sixty-sixth Blues," and had been "bought off" by his father after only thirteen days' service. What ship did you leave Europe in? inquired Mr. Gibbes, with a view of sending further tokens of identity to the Dowager. To this inquiry, Roger Tichborne might have been expected to answer in "La Pauline," but, as was shown in the trial, this mysterious person replied, in "The Jessie Miller." "And when did she sail?" "On the 28th of November, 1852," was the reply; whereas Roger sailed on the 1st of March, 1853. Asked as to where he was educated, the long-lost heir replied, "At a school in Southampton," where Roger never was at school. But it happened that Lady Tichborne in a letter to Mr. Gibbes had said that her son was for three years at the Jesuit College of Stonyhurst, in Lancashire; Mr. Gibbes accordingly suggested to the client "in a humble station of life," that his memory was at fault on that point, but the client maintained his ground. "Did she say he had been at Stonyhurst College? If so, it was false;" and, he added, with an oath, "I have a good mind never to go near her again for telling such a story." Yet this strange person was able to confirm the entire story of the tramping sailors. He had embarked in the "Bella," he had been picked up at sea with other survivors in a boat off the coast of Brazil, and it was quite true that he was landed with them in Melbourne. In short, he corroborated the Dowager's long advertisement in every [281] particular; but beyond that he had nothing of the slightest importance to tell which was not absurdly incorrect. His replies, however, were forwarded to the Lady Tichborne, with pressing requests to send £200, then £250, and finally £400, to enable the lost heir to pay his debts—an indispensable condition of his leaving the colony. It is evident that the statements thus reported puzzled the poor lady a little, and she seems to have been unable to account for the lost heir sending his kind remembrance to his "grandpa," because Roger's' paternal grandfather died before he was born; and his grandfather by the mother's side had also died several years before Roger left England, as the young man knew well enough. She was clearly a little surprised to hear that the resuscitated Roger did not understand a word of French, for "my son," she says, "was born in Paris, and spoke French better than English." But yet, with the strange pertinacity which causes people to cling to that which they know to be wrong, and try to force themselves into belief of its truth, she believed in the bona-fides of the claimant for maternal solicitude and the paternal acres. "I fancied," she said in one letter to Gibbes, "that the photographies you sent me are like him, but of course after thirteen years' absence there must have been some difference in the shape, as Roger was very slim; but," she added, "I suppose all those large clothes would make him appear bigger than he is." Again, alluding to the "photographies," she remarks that at least the hand in the portrait is small, and adds, "that peculiar thing has done a good deal with me to make me recognise him. A year and a half was consumed in these tedious hagglings with brokers and agents for the restoration of a lost heir, and during great part of that time the lost heir himself made no sign, but contented himself with begging trifling loans of Gibbes on the strength of his pretensions. Sometimes a pound was the modest request; sometimes more. He had married, and a child was born, and on that occasion he implored for "three pound," plaintively declaring that he was "more like a mannick than a B. of B.K. (supposed to mean a Baronet of British Kingdom) [282] to have a child born in such a hovel." Still the new man wrapped himself in impenetrable secrecy. The Dowager Lady Tichborne complained that while pressed to send everybody money, she was not even allowed to know the whereabouts nor present name of her lost Roger; and she entreated piteously to be allowed to communicate more directly. It was nothing to her that the accounts the pretender had given of Roger's life were wrong in every particular, except where her own advertisement had furnished information. I think she said on this point, "My poor dear Roger confuses everything in his head just as in a dream, and I believe him to be my son, though his statements differ from mine." In the midst of this curious correspondence trouble once more entered the old home at Tichborne. Sir Alfred, the younger brother of Roger, was dead, and the poor half-crazed mother in a solitary lodging in her loved Paris was left more than ever desolate. Widowed and childless, she had nothing now but to brood over her sorrows, and cling to the old dream of the miraculous saving of her eldest born, who, since the terrible hour of shipwreck—now twelve years past—had given no real token of existence. The position of affairs at Tichborne was remarkable, for though there were hopes of an heir to Tichborne, Sir Alfred had left no child. Should the child—unborn, but already fatherless—prove to be a girl, or other mischance befall, there was an end of the old race of Tichborne. The property would then go to collaterals, and the baronetcy must become extinct. It was under the weight of these new sorrows that the Dowager Lady Tichborne wrote pitiable letters to Gibbes, promising money and asking for more particulars; while enclosing at the same time to the man who thus so unaccountably kept himself aloof a letter beginning, "My dear and beloved Roger, I hope you will not refuse to come back to your poor afflicted mother. I have had the great misfortune to lose your poor dear father, and lately I have lost my beloved son Alfred. I am now alone in this world of sorrow, and I hope you will take that into consideration, and come back." It is hardly surprising that during this time Mr. [283] Gibbes was constantly urging his mysterious client to relinquish his disguise. Why not write to the mother and mention some facts known only to those two which would at once convince her? True, he had already mentioned "facts," which turned out to be fictions, and yet the Dowager's faith was unabated. Mr. Gibbes's client was therefore justified in his answer, that he "did not think it needful." But Gibbes was pressing, for it happened that the Dowager had in one of her letters said, "I shall expect an answer from him. As I know his handwriting, I shall know at once whether it is him." Accordingly we find the Claimant, under the direction of Mr. Gibbes, penning this:—

"Wagga-Wagga, Jan. 17 66.

"My Dear Mother,—The delay which has taken place since my last Letter Dated 22d April 54 Makes it very difficult to Commence this Letter. I deeply regret the truble and anxoiety I must have cause you by not writing before. But they are known to my Attorney And the more private details I will keep for your own Ear. Of one thing rest Assured that although I have been in A humble conditoin of Life I have never let any act disgrace you or my Family. I have been A poor Man and nothing worse Mr. Gilbes suggest to me as essential. That I should recall to your Memory things which can only be known to you and me to convince you of my Idenitity I dont thing it needful my dear Mother, although I sind them Mamely. the Brown Mark on my side. And the Card Case at Brighton. I can assure you My Dear Mother I have keep your promice ever since. In writing to me please enclose your letter to Mr. Gilbes to prevent unnesersery enquiry as I do not wish any person to know me in this Country. When I take my proper prosition and title. Having therefore mad up my mind to return and face the Sea once more I must request to send me the Means of doing so and paying a fue outstranding debts. I would return by the overland Mail. The passage Money and other expences would be over two Hundred pound, for I propose Sailing from Victoria not this colonly And to Sail [284] from Melbourne in my own Name. Now to annable me to do this my dear Mother you must send me"—

The half-sheet is torn off at this point, but it has been stated by Lady Tichborne's solicitor, who saw it when complete, that the ending originally contained the words "How's Grandma?" This must have again puzzled the Dowager, for Roger had no "Grandma" living when he went away. The date "22d April 54" was also incorrect, for the "Bella" sailed on April 20th. But there were other difficulties; Lady Tichborne had never seen, and, what is more, had never heard of any brown mark on her son Roger; she could say nothing about the "card case at Brighton" (which referred, according to Mr. Gibbes, to the Claimant's assertion that he had left England in consequence of having been swindled out of £1500 by Johnny and Harry Broome, prize-fighters, and others at Brighton races); and lastly, the anxious mother could not recognise the handwriting. The Australian correspondent was somewhat disappointed that the mother did not at once acknowledge him as her son. But the Dowager soon declared her unabated faith; sent small sums and then larger, and finally made up her mind to forward the four hundred pounds. Meanwhile she sent to him, as well as to her other Australian correspondents, much family information. Among other things she told him that there was a man named Guilfoyle at Sydney, who had been gardener for many years at Upton and Tichborne, and another man in the same town named Andrew Bogle, a black man, who had been in the service of Sir Edward. Mr. Gibbes's client lost no time in finding out both these persons, and soon became pretty well primed. It was shortly after this period that it became known in Victoria and New South Wales that there was a man named Thomas Castro, living in Wagga-Wagga as a journeyman slaughterman and butcher, who was going to England to lay claim to the baronetcy and estates of Tichborne. From the letters and other facts it is manifest that it was originally intended to keep all this secret even from the Dowager. "He wishes," says his attorney, Mr. Gibbes, "that his present identity should be totally [285] disconnected from his future." It happened that one Cator, a Wagga-Wagga friend of the Claimant, whose letters show him to have been a coarse-minded and illiterate man, was leaving for England shortly before the time that Castro had determined to embark. Whether invited or not Cator was not unlikely to favour his friend with a visit in the new and flourishing condition which appeared to await him in that country. Perhaps to make a virtue of necessity, Castro gave to Cator a sealed envelope, bearing outside the words, "To be open when at sea," and inside a note which ran as follows:—

"Wagga-Wagga, April 2nd, 1866.

"Mr. Cater,—At any time wen you are in England you should feel enclined for a month pleasure Go to Tichborne, in Hampshire, Enquire for Sir Roger Charles Tichborne, Tichborne-hall, Tichborne, And you will find One that will make you a welcome guest. But on no account Mension the Name of Castro or Alude to me being a Married Man, or that I have being has a Butcher. You will understand me, I have no doubt. Yours truely, Thomas Castro. I Sail by the June Mail."

All this secrecy, however, was soon given up as impracticable for articles in the Melbourne, Wagga-Wagga, and Sydney journals, quickly brought the news to England, and finally Castro determined to take with him his wife and family. One of his earliest steps was to take into his service the old black man Bogle, and pay the passage-money both of himself and his son to Europe with him. Certain relics of Upton and of Tichborne which the Claimant forwarded to a banker at Wagga-Wagga from whom he was trying to obtain advances, were described by the Claimant himself as brought over by "my uncle Valet who is now living with me." The bankers, however, were cautious; and "declined to make loans." Nevertheless, the Claimant had the good fortune to convince a Mr. Long, who was in Sydney, and had seen Roger "when a boy of ten years old riding in Tichborne Park," and accordingly this gentleman advanced him a considerable sum. Finally the Claimant embarked [286] aboard the "Rakaia," on his way to France viâ Panama, and accompanied by his family, and attended by old Bogle, his son, and a youthful secretary, left Sydney on September 2d, 1866, and was expected by the Dowager in Paris within two months from that date. But nearly four months elapsed, and there were no tidings. Between Christmas day and New Year's eve of 1866, there arrived in Alresford a mysterious stranger, who put up at the Swan Hotel in that little town, and said that his name was Taylor. He was a man of bulk and eccentric attire. He wrapped himself in large greatcoats, muffled his neck and chin in thick shawls, and wore a cap with a peak of unusual dimensions, which, when it was pulled down, covered a considerable portion of his features. The stranger, at first very reserved, soon showed signs of coming out of his shell. He sent for Rous, the landlord, and had a chat with him, in the course of which he asked Rous to take him the next day for a drive round the neighbourhood of Tichborne. Rous complied, and the innkeeper, chatting all the way on local matters, showed his guest Tichborne village, Tichborne park and house, the church, the mill, the village of Cheriton, and all else that was worth seeing in that neighbourhood. In fact, Mr. Taylor became very friendly with Rous, invited him to drink in his room, and then confided to him an important secret—which, however, was by this time no secret at all, for Mr. Rous had just observed upon his guest's portmanteau the initials "R.C.T." Indeed it was already suspected in the smoking-room of the Swan that the enormous stranger was the long-expected heir. Suspicion became certainty when the stranger telegraphed for Bogle, and that faithful black, once familiar in the streets of Alresford, suddenly made his appearance there, began reconnoitring the house at Tichborne, contrived to get inside the old home, to learn that it had been let by the trustees of the infant baronet to a gentleman named Lushington, and to examine carefully the position of the old and new pictures hanging on the walls. This done, the stranger and his black attendant disappeared as suddenly as they had come. But the news spread [287] abroad, and reached many persons who were interested. Roger's numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins heard of the sudden appearance of the long-expected Australian claimant. The Dowager in Paris, the mother of the infant, then at Ryde, all heard the news; and finally Mr. Gosford, Roger's dearest and most intimate friend and confidant, then in North Wales, got intelligence, and hastened to London to ascertain if the joyful news could be true.

But the enormous individual had vanished again. The circumstance was strange. Bogle had written letters from Australia declaring that this was the identical gentleman he had known years before as Mr. Roger Tichborne when a visitor at Sir Edward's; and the Dowager had declared herself satisfied. But why did the long-lost Roger hold aloof? No one could tell. There was no reason for such conduct, and so suspicion was engendered. With infinite pains Mr. Gosford and a gentleman connected with the Tichborne family ascertained that the person who had figured as Mr. Taylor at the Swan had taken apartments for himself and his family at a hotel near Manchester Square, and that he had even been there since Christmas day. But once more the clue was lost. Sir Roger Tichborne had gone away with his wife and children, and left no one there but Bogle and his secretary. Then by chance Mr. Gosford discovered that "Sir Roger" was staying at the Clarendon Hotel, Gravesend. Forthwith Mr. Gosford, with the gentleman referred to, and Mr. Cullington, the solicitor, went to the Clarendon Hotel at Gravesend, where, after long waiting in the hall, they saw a stout person muffled, and wearing a peaked cap over the eyes, who, having glanced at the party suspiciously, rushed past them, hurried upstairs, and locked himself in a room. In vain the party sent up cards, in vain they followed and tapped at the door. The stout person would not open, and the party descended to the coffee-room, where soon afterwards they received a mysterious note, concluding:—"pardon me gentlemen but I did not wish any-one to know where I was staying with my family. And was much anoyed to see you all here." Lady Tichborne herself had failed to recognise in the [288] letters from Wagga-Wagga the handwriting of her son, and Mr. Gosford was equally unsuccessful. The party therefore left the house after warning the landlord that he had for a guest an "impostor and a rogue." Still the idea that his old friend, who had made him his executor and the depositary of his most secret wishes, could have come back again alive, however changed, was too pleasing to be abandoned by Mr. Gosford, even on such evidence. Accordingly, by arrangement with an attorney named Holmes, he went down again, and, more successful this time, had conversation with the stranger who called himself Roger. But nothing about the features of the man brought back to him any recollection, and subsequent interviews but confirmed the first impression.

Meanwhile, Lady Tichborne had learned that he whom she called Roger had arrived in England; and she wrote letters imploring him to come to her, to which the Claimant, who had not been in London more than a fortnight, answered, that he was "prevented by circumstances!" and added, "Oh! Do come over and see me at once." On the very day after the date of this letter, however, he arrived in Paris, accompanied by a man whose acquaintance he had made in a billiard room, and by Mr. Holmes, the attorney to whom his casual acquaintance had introduced him. The party put up at an hotel in the Rue St. Honoré. They knew Lady Tichborne's address in the Place de la Madeleine, scarcely five minutes' walk from their hotel; but they had arrived somewhat late, and "Sir Roger" paid no visit to his mother that day. Lady Tichborne had in the meantime consulted her brother and others on the subject, but though the opinions given by them were adverse to the claims of the impostor, she only became more fixed in her ideas. Early the morning after the Claimant's arrival, she sent her Irish servant, John Coyne, to the hotel in the Rue St. Honoré with a pressing message, but was told that "Sir Roger" was not well; his mistress, dissatisfied with that message, sent him again, whereupon "Sir Roger" came out of his bedroom and walked past him "slowly and with his head down," bidding him at the same time [289] go and tell his mamma that he was not able to come to her; and his mistress, still more dissatisfied, then directed her servant "to take a cab immediately and fetch her son." Coyne then went a third time and found "Sir Roger" with his attorney and his casual acquaintance sitting at breakfast, but was again unsuccessful. Lady Tichborne that afternoon went herself to the hotel, and was then permitted to see her son in a darkened chamber, and in the presence of his attorney and friend. "Sir Roger," said Coyne, who tells the story, "was lying on the bed with his back turned to us and his face to the wall," and he added that while he was in that position, his mistress leaned over and kissed Sir Roger on the mouth, observing at the same time that "he looked like his father, though his ears were like his uncle's." Then "Sir Roger" having remarked that he was "nearly stifled," Lady Tichborne directed Coyne to "take off her son's coat and undo his braces;" which duties the faithful domestic accomplished with some difficulty, while at the same time he "managed to pull him over as well as he could." Upon this Mr. Holmes, solemnly standing up, addressed John Coyne in the words: "You are a witness that Lady Tichborne recognises her son," and John Coyne having replied, "And so are you," the ceremony of recognition was complete.

Soon after this it was rumoured in the neighbourhood of Alresford, that the Dowager Lady Tichborne had acknowledged the stranger as her lost son Roger; that she had determined to allow the repentant wanderer £1000 a year; and that he was going to take a house at Croydon pending his entering into the possession of the Tichborne estates. There happened then to be living in Alresford a gentleman named Hopkins. He had been solicitor to the Tichborne family, but they had long ceased to employ him. He had also been a trustee of the Doughty estates, but had been compelled to resign that position, at which he had expressed much chagrin. Hopkins had an acquaintance named Baignet at Winchester, an eccentric person of an inquisitive turn. Both these began at this time to busy themselves greatly [290] in the matter of the Tichborne Claimant, who, on his next visit to Alresford, was accordingly invited to stay at Mr. Hopkins's house. From that time Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Baignet became active partisans of the Claimant's cause. Hopkins had not been the solicitor of Roger Tichborne, but he had seen him occasionally from fifteen to twenty years previously; and he made an affidavit, that "though he could not recall the expression of Roger Tichborne's features," he had no doubt, from the knowledge which the Claimant had shown of the neighbourhood of Tichborne and of family matters, that he was the same person. All Alresford may, in fact, be said to have been converted; the bells were rung on the Claimant's arrival there; and Colonel Lushington, the tenant of Tichborne house, invited the Australian stranger and his wife to stay with him there. Colonel Lushington had never seen Roger Tichborne, but he has explained that he was impressed by his visitor's knowledge of the old pictures on the walls, which, it will be remembered, Bogle had been sent by "Mr. Taylor" to reconnoitre. When the news came that "Sir Roger's wife," on a visit with her husband to Col. Lushington, had had a child baptised in the chapel at Tichborne, while Mr. Anthony Biddulph, another convert, and a remote connection of the Tichborne family, had become godfather, the bells of Alresford rang louder; and nobody seemed for a moment to doubt the right of the Claimant to the estates and title. Still it was felt strange that "Sir Roger" went near none of his old friends. He had left Paris without an effort to see his former circle of acquaintances. Chatillon, his early tutor, had been brought by the Dowager there to see him; but Chatillon had said, "Madame, this is not your son!" Neither the Abbé Salis, nor Roger's dear old instructor, Father Lefevre, nor Gossein, the faithful valet, who had played with him from childhood, and had known him well as a man, nor, indeed, any person in Paris who had been acquainted with Roger Tichborne, received a visit. In England the facts were the same. The stranger would go nowhere, and at last it began to be believed that he was afraid of detection.


Active measures were meanwhile in preparation for those legal proceedings which have, within the past three years, occupied so large a share of public attention. Mr. Holmes and many others were busy in procuring information. The voluminous will of Roger Tichborne, setting forth a mass of particulars about the family property, was examined at Doctors' Commons. Then there were records of proceedings in the Probate Court and in Chancery relating to the Tichborne estates, of which copies were procured. The Horse Guards furnished the indefatigable attorney with minute and precise statements of the movements of the Carabineers during Roger Tichborne's service, and of the dates of every leave of absence and return. Then the Dowager's attorney procured from Stonyhurst lists of the professors and officials during Roger's three years' study there; and finally, the books of Lloyd's and the "Merchant Seamen's Register" were searched for information about the movements of the "Pauline," the "Bella," and other vessels. Coincident with these researches, there was a marked improvement in the Claimant's knowledge of the circumstances of what he alleged to be his own past life. There was no mention now of "the Sixty-sixth Blues," or of having been a private soldier; no denial, with or without an oath, of having been at Stonyhurst; no allusion to any other of the numerous statements he had made to Mr. Gibbes on those points. Then converts began to multiply, but not among the Tichborne family, or in any other circle that had known Roger very intimately. Affidavits, however, increased in number. People related wonderful instances of things the Claimant reminded them of, and which had happened in the past. On the one hand, these facts were regarded as "genuine efforts of memory;" on the other, they were stigmatised as the result of an organized system of extracting information from one person, and playing it off upon another.

At the end of July 1867, there was a public examination of the Claimant in Chancery, at which, for the first time, he made generally known that famous account of [292] his alleged wreck and—escape in one of the boats of the "Bella," with eight other persons, which, with some variations, he has since maintained. It was then that, in answer to questions, he stated that he was not certain of the name of the vessel that picked him up, but was "under the impression that it was the 'Osprey.'" He also said that her captain's name was "Owen Lewis, or Lewis Owen," but he was "not certain," though he said that three months elapsed between the date of his being saved and his being landed in Melbourne in July 1854. Besides these, the most remarkable points in his examination were his statements that, on the very next day after his arrival, he was engaged by a Mr. William Foster, of Boisdale, an extensive farmer in Gippsland, to look after cattle; and that he henceforward lived in obscurity in Australia under the name of Thomas Castro. The name of Thomas Castro, he added, had occurred to him because, during his travels in South America, he had known a person so named at Melipilla, in Chili.

Mr. Gosford was also examined on that occasion, with results which had an important influence on the progress of the great cause célèbre. Some time before that gentleman had been induced to have one more interview with the Claimant in the presence of two of his most influential supporters, who thereupon requested Mr. Gosford to test their protégé by asking him about some private matter between him and his friend Roger in the past. Thus challenged Mr. Gosford naturally bethought him of the sealed paper, in which Roger had recorded his intention of building a chapel or church at Tichborne, and dedicating it to the Virgin, in the event of his marrying his cousin within three years; and he therefore requested the Claimant to declare, if he could, what were the contents of a certain packet marked "private" which Roger left in his hands when he went away. Having obtained no definite answer, Mr. Gosford, for the sake of fairness, went a step further, and said that it recorded an intention "to carry out an arrangement at Tichborne in the event of his marrying a certain lady." Still there was no answer; and thereupon Mr. Gosford, declaring that the whole [293] interview "was idle," left the place. That packet, unfortunately, was no longer in existence. Some years after Roger Tichborne's death appeared to be beyond all doubt, Mr. Gosford had simply burnt it, regarding it as a document which it would be useless, and which he had no right, to keep, and yet one which, on the other hand, he should not be justified in giving up to any living person. The fact of its being burnt he had for obvious reasons concealed, but being now asked on the subject he was compelled to state the circumstance. It is remarkable that, on the very morrow of that disclosure, the Claimant for the first time made a statement to his supporter, Mr. Bulpett, as to the packet. It may be supposed that Mr. Bulpett and the Claimant's friends generally were inclined to draw unfavourable inferences from his apparent ignorance of the contents of the packet. He now, however, declared that not ignorance of its contents, but delicacy and forbearance towards Mrs. Radcliffe, had alone prevented his answering Mr. Gosford's test question. Mr. Gosford, he said, was right. It did relate to "an arrangement to be carried out at Tichborne," but an arrangement of a very painful kind. Then it was that he wrote out the terrible charge against the lady whom Roger had loved so well—confessing, it is true, his own diabolical wickedness, but at the same time casting upon her the cruellest of imputations. This, he said, was what he had sealed up and given to Mr. Gosford. Mr. Bulpett, the banker, put his initials solemnly to the document, and within a few months all Hampshire had whispered the wicked story. It is to be observed that, during all this time, no word had been spoken by the Claimant of his having confided to Mr. Gosford a vow to build a church. Four years later, when under examination, he was asked whether he had ever left any other private document with Mr. Gosford, and he answered, "I think not." Then it was that counsel produced the copy of the vow to build the church in Roger Tichborne's hand, which he had fortunately given to his cousin on the sorrowful day of their last parting; and finally there was found and read aloud the letter of Roger Tichborne to [294] Mr. Gosford, dated January 17th, 1852, in which occur the precious words, "I have written out my will, and left it with Mr. Slaughter; the only thing which I have left out is about the church, which I will only build under the circumstances which I have left with you in writing." Happily these facts render it unnecessary to enter upon the question, Whether this story was not wholly irreconcilable, both with itself and with the ascertained dates and facts in Roger Tichborne's career?

The estates of Tichborne were not likely to be left undefended either by the trustees or by the family, who, with the exception of the Dowager Lady Tichborne, had, with one accord, pronounced the Claimant an impostor. Accordingly, very soon after his arrival in England, a gentleman named Mackenzie was despatched to Australia to make inquiries. Mr. Mackenzie visited Melbourne, Sydney, and Wagga-Wagga, and up to a certain time was singularly successful in tracing backwards the career of Thomas Castro. He discovered that, some months before the Dowager's advertisement for her son had appeared, and Mr. Gibbes' client had set up his claim, the slaughter-man of Wagga-Wagga had married an Irish servant-girl named Bryant, who had signed the marriage register with a cross. He also found that the marriage was celebrated, not by a Roman Catholic priest, but by a Wesleyan minister. Searching further he found out that immediately after the date of the arrival of a letter from the Dowager, informing Mr. Gibbes that her son was a Roman Catholic, Thomas Castro and Mary Anne Bryant had again gone through the ceremony of marriage in those names, and on this occasion the wedding was celebrated in a Roman Catholic chapel. By applying to Mr. Gibbes, Mr. Mackenzie then discovered that the Claimant, before leaving Australia, had given instructions for a will, which was subsequently drawn up and executed by him, in which he pretended to dispose of the Tichborne estates, and described properties in various counties, all of which were purely fictitious. The Tichborne family had not, and never had, any such estates as were there elaborately set forth, nor did any such estates exist; and the will contained no bequest, nor indeed any [295] allusion to a solitary member of Roger's family except his mother, whom it described as Lady "Hannah Frances Tichborne," though her Christian names were, in fact, "Henriette Félicité." Mr. Gibbes explained that it was the knowledge which this document seemed to display of the Tichborne estates and family which induced him to advance money, and that the Dowager Lady Tichborne's letters being merely signed "H.F. Tichborne," he had inserted the Christian names, "Hannah Frances," on the authority of his client. Lastly, Mr. Mackenzie learnt that there had been a butcher in Wagga-Wagga named Schottler, and that Higgins's slaughterman, known as Tom Castro, had once told some one that he had known Schottler's family, and lived very near their house when he was a boy. Schottler had disappeared, but he was believed to have originally come from London. This information was slight, but it appeared to the shrewd Mr. Mackenzie to be valuable. If the Schottlers were known to Tom Castro as neighbours when he was a boy in London, it would seem to be only necessary to find the Schottler family in order to discover who the Claimant to the Tichborne estates really was. After much trouble, though Schottler was not discovered, a clue was found. The solicitor to the defendants in the Chancery suits obtained old directories of London, and discovered that there was one Schottler, who had kept a public-house, called The Ship and Punchbowl, in High Street, Wapping. In that direction, therefore, inquiries were instituted. The Schottlers had, it was found, gone and left no trace, but it was easy to instruct a detective to inquire after old neighbours, to show them a portrait of the Claimant, and to ask if any one in that locality recognised the features. At last the man prosecuting inquiries found himself in the Globe public-house in Wapping, the landlady of which hostelry at once declared the carte de visite to be a portrait of a mysterious individual of huge bulk who had visited her on the night of the previous Christmas day, stayed an hour in her parlour, and made numerous inquiries after old inhabitants of Wapping. His inquiries included the Schottlers, and he had particularly wanted [296] the address of the family of the late Mr. George Orton, a butcher in the High Street, who answered the description of an old "neighbour of the Schottlers." The Christmas day referred to was the very day of the Claimant's arrival in England, and the landlady of the Globe was positive that the portrait represented her visitor, whoever he might have been. Moreover, she informed the gentleman that, struck by his inquiries after the Ortons, she had scanned her mysterious visitor's features closely, and observed, "Why, you must be an Orton; you are very like the old gentleman." Three daughters of old George Orton were then applied to, but they declared that the portrait had no resemblance to any brother of theirs. Neighbours, however, had perceived that these persons, who had been extremely poor, had suddenly shown signs of greatly improved circumstances. Further inquiry led to the discovery that they had a brother named Charles, "a humpbacked man," who had been a butcher in a small way, in partnership with a Mr. Woodgate, in Hermitage Street, Wapping. He had recently dissolved partnership rather suddenly, but he had previously confided to Mr. Woodgate the curious information that he had a brother just come home from Australia, who was entitled to great property, and who had promised him an allowance of "£5 a month," and £2000 "when he got his estates." When, after some trouble, Charles Orton was discovered, he showed signs of being disposed to explain the mystery "if the solicitors" would promptly "make it worth his while;" but in the very midst of the inquiry he suddenly vanished from the neighbourhood, and for a long while all trace of him was lost. Meanwhile, the Claimant had, by some mysterious means, become aware that these inquiries were in progress, for he wrote at this period to his confidential friend Rous, the landlord of the Swan, as follows:—"We find the other side very busy with another pair of sisters for me. They say I was born in Waping. I never remember having been there, but Mr. Holmes tell me it a very respectiabel part of London." Shortly afterwards two out of the three daughters of old Mr. Orton made affidavit [297] that the Claimant was not their brother, nor any relation of theirs; the other sister and Charles Orton, however, made no affidavit. Four years later the Claimant confessed that he was, after all, the mysterious visitor at the Globe public-house on that Christmas eve; that he shortly afterwards entered into secret correspondence and transactions with the Orton family; that he gave the sisters money whenever they wrote to say they were in want of any; and that after the period when Charles Orton was solicited to give information to "the other side," he allowed him £5 a month—Charles Orton, who was then in concealment, being addressed in their correspondence by the assumed name of "Brand." The Claimant's explanation of these relations with the Orton family, which he at first denied, was, that their brother, Arthur Orton, had been a great friend of his for many years, and in various parts of Australia, and that hence he was desirous of assisting his family. At one time he said that his object was to ascertain if his friend, Arthur Orton, had arrived in England; at another he stated, on oath, that when he sailed from Australia he left Arthur Orton there. The solicitors for the defendants in the Chancery suit, however, did not hesitate to declare their conviction that the pretended Roger Tichborne was no other than Arthur Orton, youngest son of the late George Orton, butcher, of High Street, Wapping; that his visit to Wapping on the very night of his arrival was prompted by curiosity to know the position of his family, of whom he had not heard for some years; and that his stealthy transactions with the three sisters, and with the brother of Arthur Orton, had no object but that of furnishing them with an inducement to keep the dangerous secret of his true name and origin.

While all these discoveries were being made, the poor old lady went to live for a time with her supposed son at Croydon; but even she could not manage to stay in the extraordinary household, and after a time, though still strong, despite the advice of her best friends, that the huge impostor was her son, she left, and gradually becoming weaker and weaker in body as well as mind, she was, [298] on the 12th of March 1868, found by a servant dead in a chair, and with no relative or friend at hand, in a hotel near Portman Square, where she had sought and found a shelter.

Amidst much that was vague in the Claimant's account of his past life, there were, at all events, two statements of a precise and definite character. These were, first, that he had been at Melipilla, in Chili, and had there known intimately a man named Thomas Castro, whose name he had afterwards assumed; and, secondly, that in 1854, he had been engaged as herdsman to Mr. William Foster, of Boisdale, in Gippsland, Australia. If he were an impostor, these statements were undoubtedly imprudent. But they served the purpose of establishing the identity of his career with that of the man whom he claimed to be, for Roger Tichborne had, undoubtedly, travelled in Chili; and, according at least to the tramping sailors' story, embodied in the Dowager's advertisement, he had been carried thence to Australia. The importance attached by his supporters to these apparent tokens of identity sufficiently explains the Claimant's explicitness on these points. Melipilla is a long way off; and Boisdale is still further. It may have been supposed that witnesses could not be brought from so far; but vast interests were at stake, and the defendant in the Chancery suit speedily applied for Commissions to go out to South America and Australia to collect information regarding the Claimant's past history. The proposition was strenuously opposed as vexatious, and designed merely to create delay, but the Court granted the application. Then the Claimant asked for an adjournment, on the ground that he intended to go out and confront the Melipilla folks, including his intimate friend Don Thomas Castro, before the Commission; and also to accompany it to Australia. The postponement was granted, a large sum was raised to defray his expenses, and he finally started with the Commission, accompanied by counsel and solicitors, bound for Valparaiso and Melipilla, and finally for Victoria and New South Wales. When the vessel, however, arrived at Rio. the Claimant went ashore, declaring that he [299] preferred to go thence to Melipilla overland. But he never presented himself at that place, and finally the Commission proceeded to examine witnesses and to record their testimony, which thus became part of the evidence in the suit. The Claimant had, in fact, re-embarked at Rio for England, having abandoned the whole project; for which strange conduct he made various and conflicting excuses. Even before he had started, circumstances had occurred which had induced some of his supporters to express doubts whether he would ever go to Melipilla. When the Commission had become inevitable, the Claimant had written a letter to his "esteemed friend, Don Tomas Castro," reminding him of past acquaintance in 1853, sending kind remembrances to a number of friends, and altogether mentioning at least sixteen persons with Spanish names whom he had known there. The purpose of the letter was to inform Don Tomas that he had returned to England, was claiming "magnificent lands," and in brief to prepare his old acquaintances to befriend him there. This letter was answered by Castro through his son Pedro, with numerous good wishes and much gossip about Melipilla, and what had become of the old circle. But to the astonishment and dismay of the Claimant's attorney, Mr. Holmes, Pedro Castro reminded his old correspondent, that when among them he had gone by the name of Arthur Orton. A Melipilla lady named Ahumada then sent a portion of a lock of hair which the Claimant acknowledged as his own hair, and thanked her for. But this lady declared that she had cut the lock from the head of an English lad named Arthur Orton; and the Claimant thereupon said that he must have been mistaken in thanking her, and acknowledging it as his. In the town of Melipilla—sixty or seventy miles inland from Valparaiso—everyone of the sixteen or seventeen persons mentioned by the Claimant as old acquaintances—except those who were dead or gone away—came before the Commission, and were examined. They proved to have substantially but one tale to tell. They said they never knew any one of the name of Tichborne. Melipilla is a remote little towns far off the great high road, and the only [300] English person, except an English doctor there established, who had ever sojourned there, was a sailor lad who, not in 1853, but in 1849, came to them destitute; was kindly treated; picked up Spanish enough to converse in an illiterate way; said his name was Arthur, and was always called Arthur by them; declared his father was "a butcher named Orton, who served the queen;" and said he had been sent to sea to cure St. Vitus's Dance, but had been ill-used by the captain, and ran away from his ship at Valparaiso. This lad, they stated, sojourned in Melipilla eighteen months, and finally went back to Valparaiso and re-embarked for England. Don Tomas Castro, the doctor's wife, and others, declared they recognised the features of this lad in the portrait of the Claimant; and being shown two daguerreotype portraits of Roger Tichborne, taken in Chili when he was there, said that the features were not like those of any person they had ever known. Searches were then made in the records of the consul's office at Valparaiso, from which it resulted that a sailor named Arthur Orton did desert from the English ship "Ocean" in that port at the very date mentioned, and did re-embark, though under the name of "Joseph M. Orton," about eighteen months later.

To Boisdale, in Australia, the Commission then repaired, and though this is many thousands of miles from South America, but here similar discoveries were made. Mr. William Foster, the extensive cattle farmer, was dead, but the widow still managed his large property. In reference to the Claimant's statement that in July, 1854, the very day after he was landed by the vessel which he believed was named the "Osprey," at Melbourne, he was engaged by Mr. William Foster, and went with him at once to Gippsland, under the assumed name of Thomas Castro, the lady declared that her husband did not settle at Boisdale, or have anything to do with that property till two years later than that date, and that they never had any herdsman named Thomas Castro. The ledgers and other account books of Mr. Foster were then examined, but no mention of any Castro, either in 1854 [301] or at any other time, could be found. On the other hand, there were numerous entries, extending over the two years 1857 and 1858, of wages paid and rations served out to a herdsman named Arthur Orton, whom the lady perfectly well remembered, and who had come to them from Hobart Town.

All these discoveries were confirmed by the registers of shipping, which showed that Arthur Orton embarked for Valparaiso in 1848, re-embarked for London in 1851, and sailed again for Hobart Town in the following year. But there were other significant circumstances. The ship in which Arthur Orton had returned from Valparaiso was called the "Jessie Miller," which was the very name which the Claimant in his solemn declaration, prepared by Mr. Gibbes, gave as the name of the vessel in which he came out to Australia. In the same document he had stated the date of his sailing from England as the "28th of November, 1852," and this was now discovered to be the very day, month, and year on which Arthur Orton embarked in the vessel bound for Hobart Town. Mr. Foster's widow had specimens of Arthur Orton's writing, and other mementoes of his two years' service among them, and she unhesitatingly identified a portrait of the Claimant as that of the same man. Among other witnesses, a farmer named Hopwood deposed that he had known Arthur Orton at Boisdale under that name, and again at Wagga-Wagga under his assumed name of Thomas Castro. At Wagga-Wagga the will executed by the Claimant, and already referred to, was produced, and it was found that amidst all its fictitious names and imaginary Tichborne estates, it appointed as trustees two gentlemen residing in Dorsetshire, England, who have since been discovered to have been intimate friends of old Mr. Orton, the butcher. The testimony on the Claimant's behalf before the Commission threw but little light. It consisted chiefly of vague stories of his having spoken when in Australia of being entitled to large possessions, and of having been an officer in the army, and stationed in Ireland. Such testimony could, of course, have little weight against the statements of the Claimant in writing, [302] made just before embarking at Sydney, with a view of satisfying capitalists of his identity, and betraying total ignorance of Roger Tichborne's military life.

While these exposures were being made abroad, matters at home began to look very bad for the Claimant. Charles Orton, the brother of Arthur, called upon the solicitors for "the other side," and volunteered to give information. In the presence of Lord Arundell and other witnesses, this man then stated that the Claimant of the Tichborne estates was his brother Arthur, that he had been induced by him to change his name to Brand, and to remain in concealment, that in return the Claimant had allowed him £5 per month; but that, since his departure for Chili, the allowance had ceased. Letters of Charles Orton to the Claimant's wife, asking whether "Sir Roger Tichborne, before he went away, left anything for a party of the name of Brand," have been found and published; and this same Charles has, since the conviction of the Claimant, put forth a statement of the whole matter, so far as he was concerned. Under these circumstances, Mr. Holmes withdrew from the case, and the county gentlemen who, relying in great measure on Lady Tichborne's recognition, and the numerous affidavits that had been made, had supported the Claimant, held a meeting at the Swan, at Alresford, at which, among other documents, certain mysterious letters to the Orton sisters were produced. These letters were signed, "W.H. Stephens," and they contained inquiries after the Orton family, and also after Miss Mary Anne Loader, who was an old sweetheart of Arthur Orton's, long resident in Wapping. They enclosed as portraits of Arthur Orton's wife and child, certain photographic likenesses which were clearly portraits of the Claimant's wife and child; and though they purported to be written by "W.H. Stephens," a friend of Arthur Orton's just arrived from Australia, it was suspected that the letters—which were evidently in a feigned hand—were really written by the Claimant. They manifested that desire for information about Wapping folks, and particularly the Ortons, which the Claimant was known to have exhibited on more [303] occasions than one; and they indicated a wish to get this information by a ruse, and without permitting the writer to be seen. But the correspondence showed that the sisters of Orton had discovered, or at least believed that they had discovered, that the writer was in truth their brother Arthur. The Claimant, however, being called in and questioned, solemnly affirmed that the letters were "forgeries," designed by his enemies to "ruin his cause." Nor was it until he was pressed in cross-examination, three years later, that he reluctantly confessed that his charges of forgery were false; and that, in fact, he, and no one else, had written the Stephens' letters. The Claimant's solemn assurances did not convince all his supporters at the meeting at the Swan, but they satisfied some; and funds were still found for prosecuting the Chancery, and next the great Common Law suit which was technically an action for the purpose of ejecting Col. Lushington from Tichborne house, which had been let to him. Col. Lushington was then a supporter of the Claimant, and had not the least objection to be ejected. But the action at once raised the question whether the Claimant had a right to eject him. Of course that depended on whether he was, or was not, the young man who was so long believed to have perished in the "Bella;" and accordingly this was the issue that the jury had to try on Thursday, the 11th of May, 1871, that Sergeant Ballantine rose to address the jury on behalf of the Claimant, and it was not until the 6th of March, 1872, that the trial was concluded—the proceedings having extended to 103 days. On both sides a large number of witnesses were examined, many being persons of respectability, while some were of high station. The military witnesses for the Claimant were very numerous; and among them were five of Roger Tichborne's old brother officers, the rest being sergeants, corporals, and privates. There were Australian witnesses, and medical witnesses, old servants, tenants of the Tichborne family, and numerous other persons. With the exception of two remote connexions, however, no members of the numerous families of Tichborne and Seymour presented themselves to [304] support the plaintiffs claims; and even the two gentlemen referred to admitted that their acquaintance with Roger was slight, and that it was in his youth; and finally, that they had not recognised the features of the Claimant, but had merely inferred his identity from some circumstances he had been able to mention. The plaintiffs case was almost entirely unsupported by documentary evidence, and rested chiefly on the impressions or the memory of witnesses, or on their conclusions drawn from circumstances, which often, when they were inquired into in cross-examination, proved to be altogether insufficient.

But the cross-examination of the Claimant himself was really the turning-point of the trial. It extended over twenty-seven days, and embraced the whole history of Roger Tichborne's life, his alleged rescue, the life in Australia, and all subsequent proceedings. Besides this, matters connected with the Orton case were inquired into. Much that was calculated to alarm supporters of the Claimant was elicited. He was compelled to admit that he had no confirmation to offer of his strange story of the rescue, and that he could produce no survivor of the "Osprey," nor any one of the crew of the "Bella" alleged to have been rescued with him. The mere existence of such a vessel was not evidenced by any shipping register or gazette, or custom-house record. It was moreover admitted that he had changed his story—had for a whole year given up the "Osprey," and said the vessel was the "Themis," and finally returned to the "Osprey" again. All the strange circumstances of the Wagga-Wagga will, the Gibbes and Cubitt correspondence, the furtive transactions with the Orton family, the curious revelations of the commissions in South America and Australia, were acknowledged, and either left unexplained or explained in a way which was evasive, inconsistent, and contradictory. His accounts of his relations with Arthur Orton were also vague, and his attempts to support his assertion that Castro and Orton were not one and the same, but different persons, were unsatisfactory, while by his own confession his habitual associates in Australia had been highway robbers and other persons of [305] the vilest class. With regard to his life in Paris he admitted that his mind was "a blank," and he confessed that he could not read a line of Roger Tichborne's letters in French. He gave answers which evidenced gross ignorance on all the matters which Roger's letters and other evidence showed that he had studied. He said he did not think Euclid was connected with mathematics, though Roger had passed an examination in Euclid; and that he believed that a copy of Virgil handed to him was "Greek," which it doubtless was to him. He was compelled again and again to admit that statements he had deliberately made were absolutely false. When questioned with regard to that most impressive of all episodes in Roger's life, his love for his cousin, now Lady Radcliffe, he showed himself unacquainted not merely with precise dates, but with the broad outline of the story and the order of events. His answers on these matters were again confused, and wholly irreconcilable. Yet the Solicitor-General persisting for good reasons in interrogating him on the slanderous story of the sealed packet, he was compelled to repeat in Court, though with considerable variations, what he had long ago caused to be bruited abroad. Mrs. (she was not then Lady) Radcliffe, by her own wish, sat in Court beside her husband, confronting the false witness, and they had the satisfaction of hearing him convicted, out of his own mouth, and by the damnatory evidence of documents of undisputed authenticity, of a deliberate series of abominable inventions. It was during the course of this trial that the pocket-book left behind by the Claimant at Wagga-Wagga was brought to England. It was found to contain what appeared to be early attempts at Tichborne signatures, in the form "Rodger Charles Titchborne," besides such entries as "R.C.T., Bart., Tichborne Hall, Surrey, England, G.B.;" and among other curious memoranda in the Claimant's handwriting was the name and address, in full, of Arthur Orton's old sweetheart, at Wapping—the "respectiabel place" of which he had assured his supporters in England that he had not the slightest knowledge. The exposure of Mr. Baigent's unscrupulous [306] partisanship by Mr. Hawkins, and the address to the jury by Sir John Coleridge, followed in due course, and then a few family witnesses, including Lady Radcliffe, were heard, who deposed, among many other matters, to the famous tattoo marks on Roger's arm; and, finally, the jury declared that they were satisfied. Then the Claimant's advisers, to avoid the inevitable verdict for their opponents, elected to be nonsuit. But, notwithstanding these tactics, Lord Chief-Justice Bovill, under his warrant, immediately committed the Claimant to Newgate, on a charge of wilful and corrupt perjury.

Those who fondly hoped that the great Tichborne imposture had now for ever broken down, and that the last in public had been seen of the perjured villain, were mistaken, as, after a few weeks in Newgate, the Claimant was released on bail in the sum of £10,000—his sureties being Earl Rivers, Mr. Guildford Onslow, M.P., Mr. Whalley, M.P., and Mr. Alban Attwood, a medical man residing at Bayswater. Now began that systematic agitation on the Claimant's behalf, and those public appeals for subscriptions, which were so remarkable a feature of the thirteen months' interval between the civil and the criminal trial. The Tichborne Romance, as it was called, had made the name of the Claimant famous; and sightseers throughout the kingdom were anxious to get a glimpse of "Sir Roger." It was true his case had entirely broken down, but the multitude were struck by the fact that he could still appear on platforms with exciteable members of Parliament to speak for him, and could even find a lord to be his surety. It was not everyone who, in reading the long cross-examination of the Claimant, had been able to see the significance of the admissions which he was compelled to make; and owing to the Claimant's counsel stopping the case on the hint of the jury, the other side of the story had really not been heard; and this fact was made an argument in the Claimant's favour. Meanwhile, the propagandism continued until there was hardly a town in the kingdom in which Sir Roger Charles Tichborne, Bart., had not appeared on platforms, and addressed crowded meetings; while Mr. Guildford Onslow [307] and Mr. Whalley were generally present to deliver foolish and inflammatory harangues. At theatres and music halls, at pigeon matches and open-air fêtes, the Claimant was perseveringly exhibited; and while the other side preserved a decorous silence, the public never ceased to hear the tale of his imaginary wrongs. The Tichborne Gazette, the sole function of which was to excite the public mind still further, appeared; and the newspapers contained long lists of subscribers to the Tichborne defence fund. This unexampled system of creating prejudice with regard to a great trial still pending was permitted to continue long after the criminal trial had commenced. There had been proceedings, it is true, for contempt against the Claimant and his supporters, Mr. Onslow, Mr. Whalley, and Mr. Skipworth, and fine and imprisonment were inflicted; but the agitation continued, violent attacks were made upon witnesses, and even upon the judges then engaged in trying the case, and at length the Court was compelled peremptorily to forbid all appearances of the Claimant at public meetings.

The great "Trial at Bar," presided over by Sir Alexander Cockburn, Lord Chief-Justice of the Queen's Bench, Mr. Justice Mellor, and Mr. Justice Lush, commenced on the 23d of April, 1873, and ended on the 28th of February 1874—a period of a little over ten months. On the side of the prosecution 212 witnesses gave their testimony; but the documentary evidence, including the enormous mass of Roger Tichborne's letters, so valuable as exhibiting the character, the pursuits, the thoughts, and feelings of the writer, were scarcely less important. The entire Tichborne and Seymour families may be said to have given their testimony against the defendant. Lady Doughty had passed away from the troubled scene since the date of the last trial; but she had been examined and cross-examined on her death bed, and had then repeated the evidence which she gave on the previous occasion, and declared that the Claimant was an impostor. Lady Radcliffe again appeared in the witness-box, and told her simple story, confirmed as it was in all important particulars by the correspondence and other records. Old Paris [308] friends and acquaintances were unanimous. Father Lefevre and the venerable Abbé Salis, Chatillon the tutor and his wife, and numerous others, declared this man was not Roger Tichborne, and exposed his ignorance both of them and their past transactions. When questioned, the defendant had sworn that his father never had a servant named Gossein; but the letters of Sir James were shown to contain numerous allusions to "my faithful Gossein," and Gossein himself came into the witness-box and told how he had known Roger Tichborne from the cradle to his boyhood, and from his boyhood to the very hour of his going on his travels. On the Orton question, nearly fifty witnesses declared their conviction that the defendant sitting then before them was the butcher's son whom they had known in Wapping. The witnesses from Australia and from South America unhesitatingly identified the defendant with Orton; but it is more important to observe, that their testimony was supported by records and documents of various kinds, including the ledgers of Mr. Foster of Boisdale, letters under the defendant's own hand, and writings which it could not be denied were from the hand of Arthur Orton.

On the other side, the witnesses were still more numerous. They included a great number of persons from Wapping, who swore they did not recognise in the defendant the lad whom they had known as Arthur Orton. Many others swore they had known both Orton and the defendant in Australia, and that they were different persons, but their stories were irreconcilable with each other, and were moreover in direct conflict with the statements of the Claimant on oath, while several of these witnesses were persons of proved bad character, and unworthy of belief. Great numbers of Carabineers declared that the defendant was exactly like their old officer; but while ten officers of that regiment appeared for the prosecution, and positively affirmed that the defendant was not Roger Tichborne, only two officers gave testimony on the other side; and even these admitted that they had doubts. Eight years had elapsed since Mr. Gibbes fancied he had discovered Sir Roger at [309] Wagga-Wagga, but still no Arthur Orton was forthcoming; nor did the sisters of Orton venture to come forward on behalf of the man who had been compelled to admit having taken them into his pay. Not only was the Claimant's story of his wreck and rescue shown to be absurd and impossible, but it was unsupported by any evidence, except vague recollections of witnesses having seen an "Osprey" and some shipwrecked sailors at Melbourne in July, 1854; and it was admitted that if their tale were true the phantom vessel and the fact of its picking up nine precious lives must have escaped the notice of Lloyd's agents, of custom-house officers, and of the Australian newspapers. More, the Claimant's "Osprey" must have escaped the notice of such authorities in every port which she had entered from the day that she was launched. So, indeed, the matter stood until the witness Luie, the "pretended steward of the 'Osprey'" swore to his strange story, as well as to the defendant's recognition of him by name as an old friend. The Luie episode, terminating in the identification of that infamous witness as an habitual criminal and convict named Lundgren, only recently released on a ticket-of-leave, together with the complete disproof of his elaborate "Osprey" story, is familiar to the public. It was a significant fact, that other witnesses for the defence were admitted to be associates of this rascal; while one of the most conspicuous of all—a man calling himself "Captain" Brown—had pretended to corroborate portions of Luie's evidence which are now proved to be false.

Some allowance may perhaps be made in the defendant's favour for the singularly unskilful and damaging character of his counsel Dr. Kenealy's two addresses to the jury, which occupied no less than forty-three entire days. This barrister not only made violent personal attacks on every witness of importance for the prosecution, without, as the judges observed, "any shadow of foundation," but he assailed his own client with a vehemence and a persistence which are without parallel in the case of an advocate defending a person against a charge of perjury. He gave up statements of the [310] defendant at almost every period of his extraordinary story as "false;" declared them to be "moonshine;" expressed his conviction that no sensible person could for a moment believe them; acknowledged that to attempt to verify them in the face of the evidence, or even to reconcile them with each other, would be hopeless; set some down as "arrant nonsense," denounced others as "Munchausenisms," and recommended the jury "not to believe them" with a heartiness which would have been perfectly natural in the mouth of Mr. Hawkins, but which, coming from counsel for the defence, was, as one of the learned judges remarked, "strange indeed." But the doctrine of the learned gentleman was, that the very extent of the perjury should be his client's protection, because it showed that he was not a man "to be tried by ordinary standards." When, in addition to this, he laboured day after day to persuade the jury that Roger Tichborne was a drunkard, a liar, a fool, an undutiful son, an ungrateful friend, and an abandoned libertine—declared in loud and impassioned tones that he would "strip this jay of his borrowed plumes," and indignantly repudiated the notion that the man his client claimed to be had one single good quality about him, the humour of the situation may be said to have reached its climax. Yet Dr. Kenealy at least proved his sincerity by not only insinuating charges against the gentleman who disappeared with the "Bella," but by actually calling witnesses to contradict point blank statements of his own client which lay at the very foundation of the charges of perjury against him. There were, it is true, many unthinking persons of the kind that mistake sound for sense, who considered Dr. Kenealy a vastly clever fellow. If he be so, then the world in general, and the constitution of the English bar in particular, are wrong; but anyhow one thing is certain, that the counsel damaged the case materially, and showed himself eminently unfitted for the position of leader. Mr. Hawkins' powerful address quickly disposed of Dr. Kenealy and his crotchets. The inquiry was raised into a calmer height when the Lord Chief-Justice commenced his memorable summing up, going minutely through the vast [311] mass of testimony—depicting the true character of Roger Tichborne from the rich mine of materials before him, contrasting it with that of the defendant as shown by the evidence, and, while giving due weight to the testimony in his favour, exposing hundreds of examples of the falsity of his statements made upon oath. The verdict of Guilty had been anticipated by all who paid attention to the evidence. The foreman publicly declared that there was no doubt in the mind of any juryman that the man who has for eight years assumed the name and title of the gentleman whose unhappy story is recorded in these pages is an impostor who has added slander of the wickedest kind to his many other crimes. But not only were they satisfied of this; they were equally agreed as to his being Arthur Orton. The sentence of fourteen years' penal servitude followed, and was assuredly not too heavy a punishment for offences so enormous. Yet there are others still at large, who, having aided the impostor with advice and money, should not be allowed to escape, while the more clumsy scoundrel suffers the award of detected infamy.

Thus ended the great Tichborne impersonation case, the most remarkable feature in which was, not that a rude ignorant butcher should proclaim himself a baronet, but that thousands of persons sane in every other respect should have gone crazy about him, and should, despite the evidence given—sufficient many hundreds of times told, or for any reasonable being—even now persist that Roger Tichborne still lives, and is the victim of a gross conspiracy. What need is there to point out the idiotcy of such ravings? What necessity ever to contradict statements which contradict themselves?

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