Notable British Trials and War Crimes Trials
William Hodge & Company Limited
Editor's note: This is the relevant text of a 1954 pamphlet published by William Hodge & Company, cataloguing and advertising the Notable British Trials series, and the loosely-associated War Crimes Trials series. The text is provided for collectors and other interested parties. A full facsimile version is also available in PDF format.
Bibliographically, the list is incomplete. Volumes in NBT published after 1954 are not listed in the pamphlet, and are indicated below in red text.
The NBT series, consisting of between 83 and 85 volumes published between 1905 and 1959, was preceded by the Notable Scotish Trials series -- the two series can be distinguished on sight by the differences in their cloth: green for NST and red for NBT. There was also apparently a Colonial edition published by Butterworth with boards of a different color (possibly blue), and possibly a Canadian series published by the Toronto Canada Law Book Company roughy contemporaneously with the Nritish publications. The NBT texts have been republished in various forms, including several "limited edition club" variants and a multi-volume "Famous Trials" (abridged) series by Penguin in the 1950s.
The NBT series is important for any number of reasons: the trials chosen (Rattenbury-Stoner, Slater, Crippen, Cream, Bywaters-Thompson, Chapman, Christie-Evans, Maybrick, Peace, etc.); the skilled writers who worked on the project (Tennyson Jesse, Winifred Duke, Montgomery Hyde, Filson Young, and the inimitable William Roughead, among others); the matters of law and justice on which the cases turn; and the care with which the trial, rather than the crime, is the focus of the text.
The editor is assembling a complete set of the texts, and would be pleased to hear from dealers and others with volumes of NBT for sale.
THE Notable British Trials Series, the first volume of which was published in 1905, has now become a complete library of historical and criminal trials embracing the most famous British cause celebres between 1586 and 1953 (Mary Queen of Scots to the present day). Founded as a hobby by the late Mr. Harry Hodge, the Series has, in fact, enjoyed an outstanding success and has come to be regarded by many people as one of the greatest British publishing ventures of the twentieth century. Started in a modest way, the trials published by William Hodge and Company, Ltd., now approach the century mark.
A Notable British Trial is neither a "camouflaged thriller" nor a legal text-book. The book's value to the lawyer, historian, and medical man is beyond dispute, and sensation and human interest certainly abound, but its greatest attribute lies undoubtedly in its interest for the ordinary member of the community, that wide range of society commonly called the general public. In view of the fact that trials take place throughout the length and breadth of the country and the very limited accommodation available in the courts, the number of people able to listen to any one trial is extremely small, even though they have the time at their disposal so to do. And yet what takes place in court is carried through in the name of every citizen, the Crown being in reality the People. It is, therefore, of importance that the public should have the means of studying at leisure in a carefully prepared record the work of the immensely important legal machine. It is right that justice, as we know it in this country, should be without reproach, and that every accused person should have the right of hearing and fair trial before his fellow-citizens. And it is right, too, that his fellow-citizens should be able to judge of such fairness, which is the very essence of British justice. Unlike the legal codes of certain other countries, a British subject is always innocent of a charge until proved to the satisfaction of the jury that he is guilty of the act preferred against him.
Each volume of the Notable British Trials Series lays the entire case before the reader as it was laid out before the judge and jury. No pains are spared to include the best and fullest information possible in every volume, and official records arc consulted whenever these are obtainable. The greatest assistance has always been given to the publishers by the Director of Public Prosecutions and his assistants in London and by the Justiciary Office in Scottish trials. In many cases charges, speeches and expert evidence are revised either in manuscript or in proof by the judges, counsel and witnesses concerned, and the various police forces at all times give the editors the utmost assistance when requested to do so. Each volume opens with an exhaustive Introduction in which the editor traces the history of the case, and this is followed by a carefully edited verbatim report of the proceedings at the trial, with appendices frequently containing new and unpublished matter. Judgments on Appeal are also given in full, whilst illustrations complete the book. Every book is, to use the words of Professor Wigmore in Principles of Judicial Proof, "critically edited by a competent and scholarly editor." Quotations from volumes of the Series have been made in Courts of Law and in the House of Commons.
Following on the older Series, and presented in very much the same fashion, the first volume of the War Crimes Trials Series was published in 1948. The object of this series of trials is to present a cross-section of the various crimes committed by minor war criminals against the laws and usages of war and the elementary rights of the human race, during the Second World War. They are grim reminders of the baseness to which a country can descend when totalitarianism overthrows democracy and freedom of speech and action no longer exist.
The publishers very much regret that a substantial number of volumes in the Notable British Trials Series are now out of print. These have been so marked, and kept separate, in the list which follows. The inconvenience to readers and collectors is appreciated, and efforts will be made to ensure that these books are made available again as soon as possible. The task of reprinting so many volumes is, however, formidable under present-day conditions. Second-hand copies are occasionally available, and the student can study these scarcer volumes in good-class libraries.
Notable British Trials Series
Trial of Mary Queen of Scots. (1586.) Second Edition. Edited by A. FRANCIS STEuART, Advocate.
The trial of Mary Queen of Scots took place in the Star Chamber, and was the first formal trial of a crowned and accredited Sovereign in historic times. The unfortunate Queen was not tried, as many people think, for any deeds or misdeeds done during her reign in Scotland, but on account of her alleged complicity in the Babington plot which designed to free her and kill Queen Elizabeth of England. This volume gives the State Trial, the legal processes which led up to it, the tortuous policy of the English lawyers, and a rare account of the Queen's last miseries borne with such dignity and bravery.
Trial of Captain Kidd. (1701.) Edited by GRAHAM BROOKS, Barrister-at-Law.
The name of Captain Kidd has been saddled with a degree of infamy far in excess of that wretched man's deserts. After a successful career of meritorious service, he stooped to play the buccaneer, but in an age when pirates massacred or enslaved their victims, sacked and burned towns on which they descended for provisions, Kidd had but one murder and one arson to his discredit, and to some extent was but the victim of circumstances. This volume furnishes a complete report of four trials which took place at the Old Bailey on 8th and 9th May, 1701. He was tried alone for the murder of William Moore, a gunner, on the high seas off the coast of Malabar, and was then arraigned with some of his crew for different piracies.
Trial of the Duchess of Kingston. (1776.) Edited by LEWIS MELVILLE.
In 1776 Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess Dowager of Kingston, was tried by her peers in Westminster Hall on a charge of bigamy. It was alleged by the Crown that while her marriage with Augustus John Hervey, third Earl of Bristol, remained undissolved, she had bigamously married Evelyn Pierrepont, second Duke of Kingston. Tremendous public interest was aroused in the trial; there was a vast estate involved, and the notoriety of the accused was world-wide.
Trial of Henry Fauntleroy. (1824.) Edited by HORACE BLEACKLEY, M.A.(Oxon).
Henry Fauntleroy, the banker was brought to trial for forging a power of attorney on 3oth October, 1824. The accused was a gentleman of position, and the crime with which he was charged was punishable by death in the open street at the hands of the common hangman. Fauntleroy had swindled the Bank of England to the amount of £265,000 and he was found guilty and condemned to death. Great efforts were made to secure a reprieve, but the unfortunate banker was hanged in front of Newgate Prison, on 3oth November, 1824.
Trial of Burke and Hare. (1828.) Third Edition. Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
The names of Burke and Hare are familiar as household words wherever the English language is spoken. They confessed to a minimum of sixteen murders. These miscreants, incited by the large sums paid by anatomists for subjects for dissection, conceived the scheme of establishing in Edinburgh a sort of murder factory, in order to supply surgeons regularly with material. Throughout the year 1828 the business was successfully conducted, the purchaser in every instance being the notorious Dr. Knox, the extra-mural rival of the Professor of Anatomy. The discovery of their last crime resulted in the apprehension of the gang, including Burke's mistress, M`Dougal, and Hare's wife. Owing to the difficulty of securing a conviction the Crown was forced to accept the Hares as King's evidence. At the trial Burke was found guilty and M`Dougal was acquitted. The book also includes the trial of Hare for the murder of Daft Jamie, and there are many valuable appendices.
Trial of William Palmer. (1856.) Third Edition. Edited by ERIC R. WATSON, Barrister-at-Law.
The events which led up to this trial occurred in November, 1855, at Rugeley, in Staffordshire, where William Palmer had been a medical practitioner until two or three years previously. Mr. John Parsons Cook, whom Palmer was charged with poisoning, was a young man of about twenty-eight, who had been articled as a solicitor, but he inherited some 12,000 and did not follow his profession. He went on the turf, kept racehorses, and betted, and it was in this common pursuit that Palmer and Cook became acquainted. Three judges were appointed to try the case, a very rare occurrence in England. Palmer was found guilty of the crime charged against him and suffered the last penalty of the law.
Trial of Madeleine Smith. (1857.) Third Edition. Edited by F. TENNYSON JESSE.
Madeleine Smith, the daughter of a well-known and respected citizen of Glasgow, was tried at Edinburgh in June, 1857, for the murder of Pierre Emile L'Angelier. When still young Madeleine made the acquaintance of L'Angelier, who was a clerk in a Glasgow warehouse and much below her in social station. From the first their association was of a clandestine nature; meetings and interviews became frequent, and when these were found impracticable, affectionately worded missives were exchanged. On becoming engaged to a gentleman in her own station of life, Madeleine endeavoured to get back from L'Angelier the compromising letters she had written him, but without success. At her trial, which followed the sudden death of L'Angelier, the case for the Crown was that his death was due to arsenical poisoning, and that on several occasions the accused had supplied L'Angelier with cocoa or coffee poisoned with arsenic. In this edition are printed for the first time the complete letters of Madeleine Smith.
Trial of Dr. Smethurst. (1859.) Edited by LEONARD A. PARRY, M.D.
On 3rd May, 1859, Miss Isabella Banks died suddenly after an obscure illness, and the doctors in attendance came to the conclusion that she had been poisoned with arsenic. Dr. Thomas Smethhurst was arrested and charged with the death of the lady, whom he had bigamously married shortly before. He was tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty, and sentenced to death. The verdict was denounced in the medical press as unjust. The Home Secretary took an unprecedented course, submitting all the facts to a well-known surgeon for an opinion as to the justice of the verdict. As a result Smethurst was reprieved and subsequently received a free pardon. Later he was tried for bigamy, and convicted.
Trial of Jessie M`Lachlan. (1862.) Third Edition. Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
This case created an enormous sensation in its day, and is still remembered by its once famous name of "The Sandyford Mystery." After the accused had been convicted of the murder of her friend and fellow-servant, Jessie M`Pherson, the Government took the unusual step of appointing a Crown Commissioner to take fresh evidence to test the truth of a statement the prisoner had made after the verdict of guilty had been returned against her, with the result that the sentence of death was commuted to penal servitude. The dramatic scene in which the convicted woman in the dock denounced the chief witness for the Crown as the actual murderer is unparalleled in the records of criminal trials.
Trial of the Stauntons. (1877.) Second Edition. Edited by J. B. ATLAY, Barrister-at-Law.
The case of the Stauntons was tried in September, 1877, at the Old Bailey. There were four people on trial, Louis Staunton, his brother, Patrick Staunton, Mrs. Patrick Staunton, and Alice Rhodes, a sister of Mrs. Patrick Staunton. They were charged with the murder of Mrs. Louis Staunton by starvation and were all found guilty and sentenced to death. Strong representations were made to the Home Secretary by the leaders of the medical profession in favour of the hypothesis of natural disease and the prisoners were reprieved, though only on the day before the date fixed for their execution. Alice Rhodes, against whom there was practically no evidence of anything but adultery, was at once released; the Stauntons were sentenced to long terms of penal servitude.
Trial of Dr. Lamson. (1882.) Second Edition Edited by HARGRAVE L. ADAM.
Dr. Lamson was tried at the Old Bailey, London, for the murder of his nephew, Percy Malcolm John. This is one of the few cases recorded where the poison used was aconitine. Lamson visited John, who was in residence at Blenheim House School, and, in presence of the headmaster, gave him a piece of cake and a capsule, the latter supposedly as medicine. Lamson then left hurriedly and the young man became suddenly ill; he died the same evening after suffering great agony. A motive for the murder was found in the fact that John possessed some small property, part of which was to revert to Lamson on the former's death; at the time the murderer was in considerable financial difficulty. Although great pressure was brought to bear to obtain a commutation of the sentence, especially from America, Lamson was eventually hanged.
Trial of John Watson Laurie. (1889.) Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
John Watson Laurie was tried and convicted at Edinburgh in 1889 for the Arran murder. The victim was Edwin Rose, a London clerk, whose acquaintance Laurie made while on holiday in Rothesay. They went together to Arran, where on 15th July they climbed Goatfell. Rose was never again seen alive. On 4th August Rose's body was found hidden beneath a boulder on the mountain, his head battered in and his pockets rifled. Laurie successfully evaded capture until 3rd September, when he was taken in a wood and attempted suicide. Tried for the murder he was found guilty and received sentence of death; but this was commuted to penal servitude for life on the ground of insanity.
Trials of Oscar Wilde. (1895.) Fourth Impression. Edited by H. MONTGOMERY HYDE, M.P., Barrister-at-law; with a Foreword by the Right Hon. Sir TRAVERS HUMPHREYS.
The Marquess of Queensberry objected to the association of his son, Lord Alfred Douglas, with Oscar Wilde, whose plays were then drawing crowded houses in London. He called at Wilde's club where he left a card on which were written five defamatory words. Wilde brought an action for criminal libel, but the trial brought to light some startling facts about the prosecutor's life, and on the third day the prosecutor withdrew. This trial is remarkable for the passages between Wilde, in the witness-box, and Carson. Queensberry was acquitted and the jury were instructed to find that the libel was true and that it was published for the public benefit. Wilde was arrested and charged with having committed offences under the recently passed Criminal Law Amendment Act. At his trial at the Old Bailey he was indicted jointly with a notorious character, Alfred Taylor, but on the jury being unable to agree, Wilde was retried separately at the next Sessions, convicted, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Fine advocacy was displayed in the various trials, particularly by Carson and Clarke, while the proceedings were enlivened by Wilde's epigrammatic wit in the witness-box.
The "Veronica" Trial. (1903.) Edited by Professor G. W. KEETON and JOHN CAMERON, K.C.
In 1902 the barque Veronica set sail with a mixed crew on what proved her last voyage. An extraordinary outbreak of mutiny occurred, resulting in the deaths of all but five of the thirteen persons on board, the ship was set on fire and abandoned, and the mutineers landed on an isolated island in the long-boat. From there they were rescued and brought to England, but the stories they told differed and the black cook, who had been no party to the deed, described what had actually happened. Three men were arraigned at Liverpool Assizes in 1903, the fourth having turned King's Evidence, were convicted and sentenced to death, one being eventually reprieved. The graphic tale that was unfolded at the trial reads like an historical romance of the high seas of the past.
Trial of Samuel Herbert Dougal. (1903.) Edited by F. TENNYSON JESSE.
Samuel Herbert Dougal had been several times in undesirable contact with the law, when, almost penniless, he met Camille Cecile Holland, an independent lady, possessed of some private means. He immediately captured the heart of the lady, and together they retired to the dreary isolation of the Moat Farm, near Clavering, Essex. Although Miss Holland disappeared shortly after her arrival there, four years passed before any enquiry was set on foot as to her fate. At length an exhaustive search of Moat Farm was carried out, and her decomposed body, with a bullet-hole in the skull, was found in a ditch near the farm-house. The case against Dougal was purely circumstantial, and the issue at his trial depended entirely upon the evidence of identification of the body. On 8th July, 1903, after confessing to the murder, Dougal was hanged at Chelmsford prison.
Trial of Oscar Slater. (1909-1928.) Fourth Edition. Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
Oscar Slater was tried at Edinburgh in 1909 for the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist, an old lady, in her flat in Glasgow. The case for the Crown was based on evidence of identity alone, and it had many weak links. In what other murder case, for instance, has the supposed right man been arrested on what was an admittedly wrong clue? Nevertheless, Slater was convicted, the jury voting as follows : for Guilty, nine; for Not Proven, five; and for Not Guilty, one. Slater was sentenced to death, but he was afterwards reprieved and sent to Peterhead. An official enquiry was held into the case in 1914, but it increased rather than diminished the mystery. In r927 Slater was liberated from Peterhead having served nineteen years in prison; and shortly afterwards this long legal tragedy was brought to a close when the case was taken to the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal and the conviction quashed.
Trial of Hawley Harvey Crippen. (Iwo.) Second Edition. Edited by FILSON YOUNG.
On the evening of 31st January, 1910, Dr. Crippen and his wife entertained friends at their house, 39 Hilldrop Crescent, London. That was the last occasion on which Mrs. Crippen was seen alive by anyone other than her husband. Crippen said that she had gone to California; later he announced that she had died there. He then brought his mistress, Ethel Le Neve, to live with him at Hilldrop Crescent. In June, a Mr. Nash went to Scotland Yard and raised the whole question of Mrs. Crippen's disappearance. Enquiries were set on foot and the house at Hilldrop Crescent was searched, without revealing any trace of the missing woman. Then just at a time when the matter might have been dropped, Crippen and Miss Le Neve injudiciously took to flight. A further search of the house was made, and the remains of Mrs. Crippen were discovered beneath the floor of a cellar. Crippen was arrested at sea, off Father Point, and brought back to London for trial.
Trial of the Seddons. (19r2.) Second Edition. Edited by FILSON YOUNG.
The trial of Mr. and Mrs. Seddon for the murder of Miss Barrow, their wealthy lodger, took place at the Old Bailey, and occupied ten days. Miss Barrow's death was originally certified as being due to natural causes. No suspicion was aroused until relatives enquired about her property and the money she was known to have had in her possession. Seddon explained that she had parted with her property to him for an annuity, and that he had found a sum of only Li∞ in her possession. Two months later Miss Barrow's body was exhumed, and it was found that arsenic was present in the remains. The jury convicted Seddon and acquitted his wife, although the evidence against him pressed just as heavily upon her.
Trial of George Joseph Smith. (1915.) Second Edition. Edited by ERIC R. WATSON, Barrister-at-Law.
George Joseph Smith was executed for the first of a series of murders which are now best remembered as the "Brides in the Bath Murders." The trial at the Central Criminal Court was the most important murder case heard in England since Rex v. Palmer. The method of this murderer was entirely novel, and demonstrated the ease with which an adult woman could be drowned in a bath without bruising her. It is known that he killed at least three women in this fashion, and the motive in each case was purely mercenary. An old reformatory boy and jailbird, so ignorant that in 1915 he spelt "German" with an initial "J," he yet succeeded in winning golden opinions from most men and women with whom he came in contact.
Trial of Harold Greenwood. (1920.) Edited by WINIFRED DUKE.
Harold Greenwood, a Llanelly solicitor, was charged with having poisoned his wife. At the time of her death the Greenwoods were living together at Rumsey House, Kidwelly, an eminently respectable and apparently happily married couple. In the early morning of 16th June, 1919, Mrs. Greenwood died suddenly after a few hours' illness. Her doctor granted a certificate to the effect that death was due to valvular disease of the heart, and she was buried in Kidwelly churchyard. This lengthy and extraordinary case began some months later, when, following upon sinister village gossip chiefly aroused by Greenwood's second marriage, the police instituted enquiries into his first wife's death. Her body was exhumed, and an expert's examination revealed the presence of a small quantity of arsenic in the organs. Greenwood was then arrested. His trial lasted for seven days, and terminated in a verdict of "Not Guilty."
Trial of Ronald True. (1922.) Second Edition. Edited by DONALD CARSWELL.
Ronald True early evinced signs of abnormality, which increased in later life when he became a drug addict, suffered from syphilis, and had two bad aeroplane crashes in England and two in America. These things undoubtedly affected his never-too-secure mental balance. Finally, after living a vagabond life, True murdered a prostitute for her valuables -- some L8 in cash and a little jewellery. He was tried at the Central Criminal Court, found guilty and sentenced to death. This was later respited by the Home Secretary on the ground of insanity. A great outburst of protest followed this decision, and Mr. Secretary Shortt was called on to face a tornado of execration from the Press and the public. This case of insanity abounds in interest, especially in view of the medical defences put forward in many cases to-day. True died in Broadmoor.
Trial of Frederick Bywaters and Edith Thompson. (1922.) Second Edition. Edited by FILSON YOUNG.
Frederick Bywaters and Edith Thompson were jointly charged at the Old Bailey with the murder of Percy Thompson, the woman's husband. Mrs. Thompson had written a long series of letters to Bywaters, who was at sea. In these letters were direct references to alleged attempts which she represented herself as making on the life of her husband. When read in Court, these letters produced a great effect upon the jury. Nevertheless, the case for the prosecution was a weak one, inasmuch as there was no witness of the murder, except possibly Mrs. Thompson. But Mrs. Thompson insisted on going into the witness-box, and, under a searching cross-examination, she made some damaging admissions. Both were found guilty. If Mrs. Thompson had not gone into the box it is unlikely that the jury could have convicted Bywaters of anything more than manslaughter, or that they could have convicted her at all.
Trial of H. R. Armstrong. (1922.) Edited by FILSON YOUNG.
Armstrong was tried at the Shire Hall, Hereford, for the murder of his wife; if he had been acquitted of that there was another charge on the indictment accusing him of the attempted murder of Mr. Martin, a fellow solicitor and business rival. There is support for the view that if the exhumation of Mrs. Armstrong's body, ten months after its burial, had not revealed the presence of arsenic, and led to Armstrong's conviction, other graves would have been disturbed and other tragedies brought to light. This was the last murder case tried by Lord Darling, the greatest criminal judge of his day.
Trial of Benjamin Knowles. (1928.) Edited by ALBERT LIECK.
Dr. Knowles was charged with the murder of his wife by shooting her in their bungalow at Beckwai, and he was tried before the Acting Circuit Judge of Ashanti, sitting without a jury. When a surgeon called, Dr. Knowles said to him, "there has been a domestic fracas," and the visitor found that Mrs. Knowles was severely wounded. She died shortly after making a deposition in which she said that her husband's revolver had accidentally discharged when she sat on it. He was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was afterwards commuted to one of imprisonment for life, but Dr. Knowles then carried an appeal to the Privy Council, and he was brought to London, where the matter was argued and the conviction quashed.
Trial of Alfred Arthur Rouse. (1931.) Second Edition. Edited by HELENA NORMANTON.
The "Blazing Car" case demonstrated a new means of murder, which, curiously, had been employed in Germany some months before. The crime was committed in the early morning of Thursday, 6th November, 5930, the victim, an unknown man, being burned to death in a motor car on a lonely road near the small village of Hardingstone in Northamptonshire. The suggestion of the prosecution at the trial was that Rouse, who was in embarrassed circumstances, calculated by this means to obscure his identity, and that his plan only miscarried because he was seen on the road near the burning car by two young men. Rouse maintained that the car had been accidentally set alight by the dead man while he (the accused) was out of it. After a six days' trial at the County Hall, Northampton, Rouse was found guilty.
Trial of Jeannie Donald. (1934.) Edited by J. G. WILSON, Advocate.
The murder of a little girl in a close in Aberdeen resulted in one of the most outstanding trials of recent years at the Scottish Bar. Mrs. Donald, who lived on the ground floor, was very jealous of the little girl Helen Priestly who lived upstairs and was a bright and popular child of eight. Helen was sent to the baker for some bread, but on the way back she was called in by Mrs. Donald who shook her and unfortunately choked her to death. To make it appear that the murder had been committed by a man, interference was effected to denote an attempted rape, and the body was left in a cupboard under the stairs during the early hours of the morning. In this case a very high degree of medical skill was brought to bear by the prosecution, including an expert bacteriologist, and the trial is exceptional in this respect. Mrs. Donald was convicted and sentenced to death, but later she was reprieved and served her prison sentence.
Trial of Alma Victoria Rattenbury and George Percy Stoner. (1935). Second Edition. Edited by F. TENNYSON JESSE.
"Daily willing lad, 14-18 for housework. Scout-trained preferred" -- these few simple words, inserted in an advertisement in The Bournemouth Daily Echo, were fated to bring together two persons into whose lives tragedy entered, culminating in their joint appearance in the dock at the Old Bailey. Seldom can dramatists have conjured up more tense situations than that of Mrs. Rattenbury in the witness-box, whose naÔve evidence outweighed the scale of suspicion against her participation in the murder of her husband. The unusual defence of cocaine addiction was advanced on behalf of the youthful Stoner, but without avail. The magnificent speech for the defence by Mr. T. J. O'Connor, K.C., Mr. Casswell's devoted but fated attempt, and the masterly arrangement of facts by Mr. Justice Humphreys bring an apt conclusion to one of the most poignant cases of modern times -- a case which culminates in the tragic suicide of one of the accused.
Trial of Dr. Buck Ruxton. (1936.) Second Edition. Edited by R. H. BLUNDELL, Barrister-at-Law, and Professor G. HASWELL WILSON, M.D.
The discovery of human remains at the bottom of a ravine near Moffat, in the south of Scotland, led to what is perhaps the most outstanding achievement in forensic and anatomical reconstruction ever described in a Court of Law. On znd March, 1936, Dr. Buck Ruxton was arraigned at Manchester on a charge of murdering his wife, Isabella Ruxton, in their house at 2 Dalton Square, Lancaster, and after a trial lasting for eleven days, was condemned to death. A special feature of the trial is that evidence was given of the death of another person, Mary Rogerson, the Ruxton's nurse-maid, and of the reconstruction of her body. The prisoner was not charged with her murder, but this evidence was admitted as assisting in proving the identity of a body believed to be that of Mrs. Ruxton. From the portions of human remains found, Professors Brash and Glaister reconstructed two bodies which corresponded in an amazing way with the published descriptions of the persons missing. For the first time in a criminal trial the superimposition of photographs of skulls on to known photographs of deceased persons was used as evidence, with remarkable results.
Trials of Frederick Nodder. (1937.) Edited by WINIFRED DUKE.
On 5th January, 1937, Mona Tinsley, aged ten, left her school in Newark and vanished. Later a man called Nodder, who lived at Retford and who had stayed at the Tinsleys once as a lodger, was charged with taking her away by fraud, convicted, and sentenced at Birmingham Assizes to seven years' penal servitude by Mr. Justice Swift. The police continued in their constant search for the body which they knew, but could not prove, had been hidden somewhere by Nodder in the vicinity. Eventually the child was found in a canal, and on 22nd November, 1937, Nodder appeared at Nottingham Assizes charged with her murder. He was found guilty, and duly executed. Readers will find much interest in the passages in the first trial between the judge and counsel for the defence, who had much to put up with from the judge's wit.
Trials of Patrick Carraher. (1938 and 1946.) Edited by GEORGE BLAKE.
Glasgow has been notorious in recent years for its hooliganism and gang warfare, although of late there has been a diminution in this respect. Slum conditions, unemployment and drink have all played an important part in fostering this undesirable element, who as a rule confine their violence to their immediate associates. In 1938 Paddy Carraher was charged with the murder by stabbing of a man who was a total stranger to him, but the jury took a lenient view of the case and returned a verdict of culpable homicide, and Carraher escaped with a sentence of three years' penal servitude. In 1946 Carraher appeared once more in the dock of the Glasgow High Court on a charge of murder by stabbing. This time he was convicted, sentenced to death and duly hanged.
Trial of Peter Barnes and Others (I.R.A. Coventry Explosion). (1939.) Edited by LETITIA FAIRFIELD, C.B.E., M.D., Barrister-at-Law.
At 2.30 p.m. on 25th August, 1939, a bomb exploded in Coventry's busiest thoroughfare, Broadgate, killing 5 people, injuring 6o, and causing much damage. The accused were charged with the death of one person, and it was clearly proved that the bomb had been made at the house of one of them and taken away in a carrier cycle. Barnes and Richards were convicted and executed, the other three being acquitted. During 1939 many acts of sabotage were carried out by members of the Irish Republican Army, of which the two convicted men were members. In addition to the trial many interesting appendices are included in this volume. The Introduction deals with the historical background of the struggle for Irish independence, the only motive for such a crime.
Trial of Neville George Clevely Heath (1946.) Edited by MACDONALD CRITCHLEY, M.D.
On the night of 2oth/21st June, 1946, Mrs. Margery Gardner was brutally murdered in an hotel at Notting Hill. She had been gagged, lashed with a whip, and viciously attacked. After committing this murder Heath travelled to Worthing, and then to Bournemouth, where he stayed under an assumed name. On the night of 3rd/4th July Heath again committed murder, in circumstances even more revolting. He was arrested, and on 24th September was tried at the Old Bailey for the first murder. The defence brought in details of the second murder to assist a defence of insanity, but this failed and he was convicted and hanged. The problems of the psychopath are fully discussed in this volume.
Trial of Thomas John Ley and Lawrence John Smith. (1947.) Edited by F. TENNYSON JESSE,
On 3oth November, 1946, the body of a murdered man was found in a chalk pit near Woldingham, Surrey. This man was John Mudie, a barman from a hotel in Reigate. For this murder Ley and Smith were arrested and charged at the Old Bailey. Thomas John Ley had been a Minister of Justice in the Government of New South Wales, and on coming to England had started company promoting, amongst his lesser activities being the conversion of a derelict house at 5 Beaufort Gardens, London, into a series of flats. Smith was a joiner who worked for him. Ley had a mistress for whom he provided, and although she was sixty-six years of age he was insanely jealous of her and accused the terrified woman of adulterous relationships with her own son-in-law and the unfortunate Mudie, who had met her but once on the stairs of her house in Wimbledon. Mudie was kidnapped and brought to Beaufort Gardens where he was strangled. Smith was paid large sums of money by Ley who thought there was nothing that money could not buy. Smith and Ley were ultimately reprieved, but the latter died shortly afterwards in Broadmoor Asylum.
Trial of James Camb. (1948.) Edited by GEOFFREY CLARK, Barrister-at-Law.
James Camb was tried at Winchester Assizes for the murder of Gay Gibson. It was alleged that he had strangled her and then pushed her body through the port-hole of the s.s. Durban Castle when some sixty miles off the African coast. The defence 'brought three witnesses from South Africa to speak of the girl's ill-health in view of Camb's statement that she had died from natural causes through a heart attack, and they spoke also of her as a highly-strung somewhat neurotic young actress. There was little evidence to support this view, which was strenuously denied by her mother. The trial is important in that no body could be produced, and because of the conflict between the medical experts called by both sides. Camb was sentenced to death, but was reprieved as his sentence occurred at a time when capital punishment was temporarily in abeyance whilst being argued in the Houses of Parliament.
Trial of Peter Griffiths. (1948.) Edited by GEORGE GODWIN, Barrister-at-Law.
On the night of 15th May, 1948, June Anne Devaney, a little girl of three years eleven months, was stolen from her cot in the Queen's Park Hospital, Blackburn, taken into the hospital grounds, criminally assaulted, and then brutally killed by dashing her head against a wall. Finger-prints were found on a Winchester bottle in the ward, and the police proceeded to take the finger-prints of all males over sixteen in the Blackburn area -- the first time mass finger-printing had been contemplated in England. Eventually the prints were traced to a young ex-guardsman named Peter Griffiths, who was arrested and tried for the murder at the Lancaster Assizes in October, 1948. The defence plea was that the accused suffered from schizophrenia, and strong medical evidence was brought to support this contention. His father had been in an asylum for two years for this very complaint. Griffiths was condemned to death and hanged.
Trial of John George Haigh. (1949.) Edited by LORD DUNBOYNE, Barrister-at-Law.
Few trials have aroused such public interest as that of John George Haigh at the Lewes Assizes, before Mr. Justice Humphreys on 18th July, 1949, for the murder of Mrs. Olive Durand-Deacon, a wealthy widow. For months before, the country was aghast at rumours that a series of monstrous crimes had been committed by Haigh, and the excitement was little diminished when the editor of the Daily Mirror was charged with contempt of Court for publishing material closely associating the prisoner with crimes for which he was not being prosecuted. Severe censure was passed by the Lord Chief Justice, who sentenced the editor to three months' imprisonment and fined the paper Lio,000. The prosecution at Haigh's trial, in the formidable hands of the Attorney-General himself, charged him with the shooting of Mrs. Durand-Deacon and the disposal of her body in a drum of acid. Haigh's counsel did not dispute the facts but he put forward the defence that his client was suffering from paranoia and thereby was not responsible for his actions. In support, eight other murders were disclosed which Haigh alleged he had carried out, in which he said he had performed the shocking ritual of drinking a cupful of blood. Stress was laid on the accused's strict upbringing, the effect on his mind of his change of religion, and his vivid dreams in which blood predominated.
Trial of John Thomas Straffen. (1952.) Edited by LETITIA FAIRFIELD, C.B.E., M.D., and ERIC P. FULLBROOK.
In the summer of 1951 two little girls were strangled in Bath. Straffen, a certified mental defective, was tried at Taunton Assizes, found unfit to plead, and committed to Broadmoor Institution. In April next year he escaped, and within a matter of hours he strangled a third little girl. For this crime he was tried at Winchester Assizes, found guilty and sentenced to death, despite his plea of insanity. On the second day the trial had to start all over again with a fresh jury owing to the indiscretion of one of the jurors. Eventually Straffen was reprieved. The first murder by a Broadmoor escapee, and a mental defective at that, this trial is of the highest medical and legal importance and is unique in the annals of British Courts.
Trial of Craig and Bentley. (1952.) Edited by H. MONTGOMERY HYDE, M.P., Barrister-at-Law. (In preparation.)
On the night of 2nd November, 1952, a warehouse at Croydon was broken into by two young men aged 16% and 19. During a gun battle on the roof-top a policeman was shot and killed by Craig, who then dived to the ground, seriously injuring himself. Both youths were tried at the Old Bailey in December, Bentley being sentenced to death and Craig to prison detention owing to his age. Considerable controversy about the hanging of Bentley took place in the House of Commons and throughout the country, but eventually he was executed although Craig was the ringleader in the enterprise. It is a sad example of the utter recklessness and wickedness of certain young people of the post-war period, and reflects the greatest credit on the police who showed singular courage in carrying out their duty.
Trial of John Reginald Halliday Christie (1953) and Timothy John Evans (1950). Edited by F. TENNYSON JESSE. (In preparation.)
In March, 1953, the new tenant of the ground floor at io Rillington Place, Notting Hill, spied through the papered-over cupboard in the kitchen the body of a woman. Police investigation disclosed a perfect charnel-house of horror. Three dead girls were found in the cupboard, Mrs. Christie was unearthed from under the floorboards, and two female Skeletons were reconstructed from bones in the garden. Christie, who had disappeared, was later found and tried at the Old Bailey for the murder of his wife. The defence brought in the other murders to prove insanity, and Christie stated in evidence that he had also killed a Mrs. Evans who had been found strangled in the same house in 1949 and whose husband had been found guilty and hanged in 195o for the murder of his baby girl. Considerable uproar took place in the House of Commons and the press. Had an innocent man been hanged, even though he had confessed? Evans had been convicted of the death of his child not his wife; and Christie maintained to the last that he himself had killed Mrs. Evans but not the baby. This case is of great medical importance and considerable general interest. To give a proper understanding, the Evans trial has been included, as well as the Report to the Home Secretary by Mr. Scott Henderson, Q.C., on the facts of the two cases.
Trial of The Merrifields. (1953). Edited by K B. EDWARDS. (In preparation.)
On 12th March, 1953, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Merrifield, as a result of an advertisement, took charge of a small bungalow in Blackpool owned by an old lady of 8o, Mrs. Ricketts. On 31st March Mrs. Ricketts executed a will leaving the bungalow to the Merrifields, and on 14th April she died. The Merrifields were tried at Manchester Assizes on loth July with having murdered her by phosphorus poisoning in the form of Rodine rat poison, and after an eleven day trial Mrs. Merrifield was convicted. The jury failed to agree about the guilt of her husband, and the charge was subsequently abandoned. Mrs. Merrifield was hanged. Her crime was extremely callous and cruel, and purely for personal gain. The trial is complex in the diverse views held by the medical and scientific witnesses, and is noteworthy in this respect.
Trial of Guy Fawkes and Others (The Gunpowder Plot). (1606.) Edited by DONALD CARSWELL.
Historians on the whole have accepted the official tradition that the Gunpowder Plot was a serious attempt at a Roman Catholic coup d'etat prevented just in time by a providential accident. Roman Catholic writers have urged objections that cannot be lightly dismissed. Mr. Donald Carswell discusses the considerations pro and contra in this volume. He presents the story of the Gunpowder Plot in a novel way that shows how much more obscure and complicated the story is than is generally supposed.
Trial of King Charles the First. (1649.) Edited by J. G. MUDDIMAN, M.A.(Oxon). With a Foreword by the EARL OF BIRKENHEAD.
King Charles the First was beheaded outside Whitehall on 3oth January, 1649, by order of a tribunal set up to try him by about one-eighth of the members of the House of Commons. The present book relates the story of this so-called trial by printing in full the original "Journal" of the regicides, compiled by a committee with the aid of the regicides' clerks, Phelps and Broughton, and by adding to it details from other sources. The history of the King before 1649 is largely based upon the journals of the times, and these last authorities supply the bulk of the material for the conclusion of the book, describing the execution of the King.
The Bloody Assizes. (1685.) Edited by J. G. MUDDIMAN, M.A.(Oxon).
The objects of the present book are, in the first place, to reprint the material portions of the book commonly called the "Bloody Assizes," of which Macaulay and many lesser writers have made such copious and uncritical use. For this purpose the original and various editions of the book have been examined and the career of its principal author, John Tutchin, and his friends described in detail. The Western Circuit of September, 1685, has been described from manuscripts, newsletters, and other documents, either unknown or which have not hitherto received consideration.
Trial of Jack Sheppard. (1724.) Edited by HORACE BLEACKLEY, M.A., F.S.A., and S. M. al.'s.
Jack Sheppard accomplished three remarkable escapes from the prisons of Clerkenwell and Newgate. In the most celebrated of these escapes he effected his release unaided and alone, in darkness, and with merely a nail and an iron bar (wrenched from a chimney) for "tools." His pluck, gaiety, strength, and endurance, and the bravery with which he met his cruel death at the gallows at the age of twenty-two, have tinted his otherwise sordid story with pitiful romance. This volume provides a full account of Jack Sheppard's life and his Trial in 1724, and includes a rare contemporary memoir of Jonathan Wild who was the associate of Jack Sheppard and the main factor in the early termination of his life.
Trial of Captain Porteous. (1736.) Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
The trial of Captain John Porteous, "a name memorable in the traditions of Edinburgh as well as in the records of criminal jurisprudence" (Sir Walter Scott), took place in July 1736, and in view of the strange and far-reaching events by which it was attended is certainly one of the most remarkable that ever came before the High Court of Justiciary.
The Annesley Case. (1743.) Edited by ANDREW LANG.
The Annesley Case, in which James Annesley claimed to be the legitimate heir of Arthur, third Lord Altham, was tried in Ireland in November, 1743. The Earl of Anglesey, the defendant in the case, claimed the title of Lord Altham, as brother and heir to t:ie deceased lord. About four months after the death of his father, James Annesley was, through the instrumentality of the Earl of Anglesey, kidnapped, sent to America, and there sold for a common slave. Some years later he returned to Great Britain, and his case was taken up with such vigour that a verdict was secured in his favour.
Trial of Lord Lovat. (1747.) Edited by DAVID N. MACKAY.
Lord Lovat's trial in 1747 and his condemnation to death for treason marked the close of an epoch in Scottish history, the end of the clan period in the Highlands. When a hundred and seventeen peers answered, with weary monotony, "Guilty, upon my honour," the public career of the last Scottish clan dictator came to an end. Thenceforward the name "chief" was to be a thing of polite conceit, except when the bearer had other claims to respect.
Trial of Mary Blandy. (1752.) Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
The heroine of this eighteenth-century cause celebre was convicted at Oxford Assizes in 1752 for the murder of her father at Henley by poisoning him with arsenic. Her defence was that she gave him the drug believing it to be a love philtre, with the view of making him "kind" to her lover, Captain Cranstoun, and removing his opposition to their marriage. Cranstoun escaped and died abroad, leaving Mary Blandy to pay the penalty at Oxford Castle.
Trial of James Stewart. (1752.) Second Impression. Edited by DAVID N. MACKAY.
The story of the tragedy of Lettermore and of its grim sequel at Inveraray and Ballachulish takes the imagination back to a time when the Highlander still revenged his wrongs as near as possible to the spot where he suffered them, and when the blood feud still passed from father to son; it tells of strong local passions, political and social, and the old enmities of the Stewarts and Campbells. In West Highland belief James Stewart was an innocent victim of the law, and to the individual whom fate serves thus, the thoughts of posterity will always revert.
Eugene Aram: His Life and Trial. (1750.) By ERIC R. WATSON, Barrister-at-Law.
Eugene Aram was executed on the 6th of August, 1759, for a murder committed at Knaresborough, on 8th February, 1744-45. From then until now his genius and his fate have engaged the interest and activities of minds distinguished in every department of knowledge. Bulwer Lytton's famous novel and Tom Hood's poem have helped to keep the mystery alive.
Trial of Katherine Nairn. (1765.) Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
A girl of nineteen, daughter of a Perthshire baronet, Sir Thomas Nairn of Dunsinnan, Katherine Nairn married Thomas Ogilvie of Eastmiln, a bonnet-laird and small farmer, more than twenty years her senior, in January, 1765. Four months afterwards he died suddenly, and suspicions that his wife had poisoned him, with the connivance of his brother, Lieutenant Patrick Ogilvie, culminated in their arrest on a double charge of incest and murder. The trial of Katherine Nairn, which took place at Edinburgh, in August, 1765, is one of the most celebrated of Scottish causes celebres.
The Douglas Cause. (1761-1769.) Edited by A. FRANCIS STEUART, Advocate.
The "Douglas Cause" is probably the greatest civil trial affecting status that Scotland will ever know, and no trial of its time created so great a sensation or aroused so much popular feeling. The Cause lasted in all for eight years, eventually reaching the House of Lords.
Trial of Deacon Brodie. (1788.) Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
The trial of William Brodie for breaking into and robbing the General Excise Office for Scotland took place at Edinburgh on 27th and 28th August, 1788. The story of his strange career is as enthralling as any romance. The double life which he so long and successfully led -- as a respected citizen and town councillor by day, and by night the captain of a band of housebreakers -- was the wonder of the country at the time. Robert Louis Stevenson owed to him the original conception of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The "Bounty" Mutineers. (1792.) Edited by OWEN RUTTER.
In 1787 the Bounty under the command of Lieutenant Bligh, was sent on a special mission to Tahiti. On the homeward voyage, three hundred miles out from Tahiti, the mutineers led by Christian forced Bligh and eighteen of the crew into an open boat and turned them adrift. Six weeks later Bligh brought the boat to Timor -- a remarkable feat of navigation and one of the finest in the annals of the sea. The mutineers returned to Tahiti, where fourteen of them elected to remain. The rest, under Christian, sailed away in the Bounty and later settled on Pitcairn Island. H.M.S. Pandora was dispatched from England, and apprehended those who had remained on Tahiti. On 12th September, 1792, they were court-martialed. Four were acquitted and the remainder were sentenced to death.
Trial of Abraham Thornton. (1817.) Edited by Sir JOHN HALL, Bart.
On the morning of Whit Tuesday, 27th May, 1817, the body of Mary Ashford was found in a pond near Sutton Coldfield. The surrounding circumstances suggested that she had been criminally assaulted and murdered. The night before she had attended a village dance at which Abraham Thornton had paid her marked attentions. At the Warwick Assizes he was acquitted, but so unpopular was this verdict that an obsolete process of law was revised, an appeal of murder was "sued out," Abraham Thornton was re-arrested and had to plead at Westminster Hall to a charge of which he had been declared "not guilty." Eventually discharged, he had to emigrate.
Trial of Thurtell and Hunt. (1824.) Edited by ERIC WATSON, Barrister-at-Law.
At Hertford Assizes on 6th and 7th January, 1824, Thurtell and Hunt were tried for the murder of Mr. Weare in Gill's Hill Lane, near Elstree. It was almost the last famous trial to take place under the old Tudor procedure, rightly described by Mr. Justice Park as "inquisitorial"; and it was the first trial "by newspaper" and the first in which there was any very serious collision between the Bench and the Press.
Trial of James Blomfield Rush. (1849.) Edited by W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE.
At his trial at Norwich, in March, 1849, James Blomfield Rush, a farmer, was charged with the murders of Isaac Jermy, his landlord and a recorder of Norwich, and his son, also Isaac Jermy. Rush, after a great deal of premeditation, surprised his victims in their own house and shot them. At his trial the motive for these crimes was supplied by the fact that the murderer was very deeply in debt to Mr. Jermy. The most interesting and amazing feature of this trial was the behaviour throughout of the accused. Rush conducted his own defence, delivering on his own behalf a most remarkable speech, perhaps the most vivid ever made in a Criminal Court. He was executed on 21st April, 1849.
Trial of Franz Muller. (1864.) Edited by H. B. IRviNG.
On the night of Saturday, 9th July, 1864, a suburban train on the North London Railway arrived at Hackney and a passenger noticed that a compartment was covered with blood, and in the carriage a hat, stick, and bag were found. On the same night a driver of a train noticed the body of a man lying between Hackney Wick and Bow stations. Late the following night he expired from his injuries. Suspicion fell upon a man named Muller who was found to have left London for America. He was arrested on board the Victoria when it arrived in New York Harbour, and after a four days' trial was sentenced to death.
Trial of Dr. Pritchard. (1865.) Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
Dr. Pritchard, a well-known medical practitioner in Glasgow, was charged with the double murder of his wife and mother-in-law by poisoning them. He was found guilty and was executed on 28th July, 1865, this being the last public execution in Scotland. Seldom has a more cruel and crafty miscreant graced the gallows. The sensational evidence of Dr. Paterson, who had seen the victims when alive and believed that they were being poisoned, yet maintained that it would have been contrary to medical etiquette for him to have interfered to save their lives, was one of the features of the trial.
Trial of the Wainwrights. (1875.) Edited by H. B. IRVING and Sir EDWARD MARSHALL HALL, K.C.
Henry Wainwright, a married man, had long led a double life, and when his affairs became embarrassed, he determined to murder his mistress, Harriet Lane, who was pressing him for money. His brother, Thomas, pretended that he was going to provide for her, and she left her lodgings and was never again seen alive. Twelve months afterwards Henry Wainwright was apprehended in the act of transferring from a cab to his brother's premises two parcels which were found to contain the dismembered body of a female. At his own place of business, in Whitechapel Road, a grave was found in which the remains had been buried.
Trial of Eugene Marie Chantrelle. (1878.) Edited by A. DUNCAN SMITH.
Eugene Marie Chantrelle, a teacher of languages resident in Edinburgh, had become almost penniless through extravagance and debauchery when he insured his wife's life for £i000. The policy was so framed as to take effect only in the case of her death by accident. Fifteen months later Mrs. Chantrelle died suddenly and her husband tried to make it appear that she had died as a result of an accidental escape of gas in her bedroom. He was arrested and charged with administering poison to her. After four days, Chantrelle was found guilty.
Trial of Kate Webster. (1879.) Edited by ELLIOIT O'DONNELL.
When Kate Webster was engaged by Mrs. Thomas, a somewhat eccentric widow, as domestic servant, she had spent at least six years of her life in jail paying for various thieving exploits. Mrs. Thomas was reputed to be a wealthy woman and, after careful premeditation, Webster murdered her. The crime was an excessively brutal one; it is probable that the murderess commenced her task of dismembering the body while the victim was still alive. Her trial at the Central Criminal Court, London, lasted for a week. She was executed at Wandsworth prison after making a confession.
Trial of the City of Glasgow Bank Directors. (1879.) Edited by WILLIAM WALLACE, Advocate.
On 1st October, 1878, a sensation was caused in business circles by the stoppage of the City of Glasgow Bank following a resolution of the Directors. Accounts had been deliberately falsified, securities entered at fictitious values, bad debts taken as good assets, and the gold which ought to have been held against the note issue deliberately squandered to the extent of over L300,000. The Government had been deceived by false returns and the shareholders by "cooked" balance sheets.
Trials of Charles Peace. (1879.) Edited by W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE.
On the evening of 29th November, 1876, Peace shot and killed a Mr. Dyson, with whose wife he was in love. He escaped, adopted various aliases, and thereafter enjoyed a fairly successful career as a burglar. Eventually he was arrested, convicted of attempting to murder a policeman, and sentenced to penal servitude for life. His antecedents were investigated and eventually he was found guilty of the murder of Mr. Dyson and sentenced to death. While awaiting his execution he confessed to another murder for which a man was serving a life sentence.
Trial of Adelaide Bartlett. (1886.) Edited by Sir JOHN HALL, Bart.
Following the sudden death of Mr. Bartlett on 1st January, r886, a coroner's jury returned a verdict of "wilful murder," against Mrs. Bartlett, and found that the Rev. George Dyson had been an accessory before the fact. When the trial opened at the Old Bailey the charge against Dyson was withdrawn and he became the principal witness for the prosecution. A feature of the trial was the brilliant defence of Mrs. Bartlett by the late Sir Edward Clarke, to whose skilful advocacy the verdict of "not guilty" was mainly due; but Sir James Paget has said that, once it was all over, she should have told us in the interests of science how she did it!
Trial of Mrs. Maybrick. (1889.) Edited by H. B. IRVING.
James Maybrick, a Liverpool cotton broker, died on 11th May, 1889. A suspicion had arisen in the minds of some of those attending Mr. Maybrick during his illness that his wife was attempting to poison him. She was arrested and tried for his murder at the Liverpool Assizes, convicted and sentenced to death on 7th August, 1889. This sentence was commuted by the Home Secretary to one of penal servitude for life. Mrs. Maybrick served fifteen years of imprisonment, and was released on 25th January, 1904. The justice of Mrs. Maybrick's conviction was gravely questioned at the time and has been the subject of criticism ever since.
The Baccarat Case. (1891.) Edited by W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE.
On 8th September, 189o, a house-party assembled at Tranby Croft for the Doncaster Races. The guests included the Prince of Wales, Sir William Gordon-Cumming, Bart., and many other notables. At the house-party Sir William Gordon-Cumming was accused of cheating at cards. No attempt was made to thrash the matter out properly, but Sir William signed a document undertaking never again to play cards. In return, secrecy in the affair was to be observed 'by all concerned. There is no reason to doubt that Sir William's reason for signing that document was, as he maintained, to avoid a scandal in which the Prince would be involved.
Trial of Thomas Neill Cream. (1892.) Edited by W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE.
Cream was taken as a boy to Canada, where he was well educated. He studied medicine, and qualified as a physician and surgeon both there and in this country. From the start of his professional career in Canada and Chicago he adopted murder as a means of livelihood and seemingly of pleasure, the climax being the series of murders he committed in Lambeth in the year 1891. He was hanged for murdering a prostitute. At the trial evidence was admitted that he had made a practice of buying poison such as had been administered to Matilda Clover, and that he was almost certainly guilty of other similar crimes.
Trial of A. J. Monson. (1893.) Edited by JOHN W. MORE, Advocate.
Monson was tried at Edinburgh for the murder of Cecil Hambrough, a boy of seventeen, to whom he was acting as tutor. Hambrough was killed at Ardlamont, Argyllshire, by a shot from a sporting-gun while out shooting with Monson and a man named Scott. Both declared that he had accidentally shot himself. Monson applied for payment of two life insurance policies value L2o,000, which the boy had taken out before his death and assigned to him. Shortly afterwards Monson was arrested, but Scott, whose real name was Edward Sweeney, had disappeared. The verdict at Monson's trial was "Not Proven."
Trial of William Gardiner. (1903.) Edited by WILLIAM HENDERSON.
The searchlight of publicity was thrown upon the lives of people in the small Lincolnshire village of Peasenhall, where William Gardiner, deeply religious and a hard-working Primitive Methodist, came under the glare during two successive trials for the murder of Rose Harsent. That he owed much to his able lawyers is at once apparent. The late Sir Ernest Wild's defence of the accused is a triumph of skilful advocacy.
Trial of George Chapman. (19o3.) Edited by HARGRAVE L. ADAM.
George Chapman's criminal career ended on the gallows at Wandsworth on 7th April, 1903. It had been proved at the Central Criminal Court in London, on 16th March and following days, that he had murdered at least three persons -- all of them young women who had lived with him. In each case his method of murder had been the same, namely, to dispose of his victim by poisoning her with antimony. Chapman, whose real name was Severin Klosowski, may well have been the notorious "Jack the Ripper."
Trial of Adolf Beck. (1904.) Edited by ERIC R. WATSON, Barrister-at-Law.
This case is a most remarkable instance of a genuine miscarriage of justice. On 5th March, 1896, Adolf Beck was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude for various frauds on women. The strange frauds ceased while he was in prison and began again after his release on licence in 1901. He was again arrested, identified as before, and convicted. A few days later the real offender was arrested. He was a known criminal who by mere chance had been using the same haunts as Beck and wearing similar clothes. Persistence in his crime after Beck was again in custody brought the truth to light. Beck received free pardons and L5000 as compensation.
Trial of Robert Wood. (1907.) Edited by BASIL HOGARTH.
This young artist-engraver was charged with the murder of a prostitute named Emily Dimmock in Camden Town. Scotland Yard questioned hundreds of people who had known the dead woinan, and appealed through the Press for the writer of the famous Rising Sun post card, the only tangible clue in the case. Wood did not come forward, but attempted, with the help of his mistress, to build up a false alibi. Ultimately he was betrayed to the police and arrested. The case furnishes a remarkable precedent of the first instance in which an accused murderer, availing himself of the facilities to give evidence on his own behalf bestowed in 1898, successfully maintained his plea of not guilty.
Trial of John Alexander Dickman. (1910.) Edited by S. 0. ROWAN-HAMILTON, Barrister-at-Law.
John Alexander Dickman was executed for a murder committed in a railway carriage on the main line of the North-Eastern Railway, near Morpeth. The murdered man was John Innes Nisbet, who was carrying a bag containing £370 to pay wages at a colliery. Dickman was convicted upon purely circumstantial evidence, and the identification of him as the man seen with the victim in the train was far from being conclusive. In the witness box, however, the accused gave a very unsatisfactory account of his conduct and movements on the day of the crime, and this was mainly accountable for the verdict.
Trial of Steinie Morrison. (1911) Edited by the Hon. H. FLETCHER MOULTON, Barrister-at-Law.
Steinie Morrison was convicted of murdering Leon Beron, a Russian Jew, who was found dead on Clapham Common on New Year's Day, 1911. His face had been mutilated by a knife and two large S's -- "the mark of vengeance" -- had been cut on the cheeks. The sentence of death was commuted to one of penal servitude, and Morrison died from semi-starvation in Parkhurst Prison Infirmary some years later. The trial gives a picture of life in London unaffected by ordinary conditions, where men who do no work stay all day in restaurants; where a man with fifteen shillings a week is described as a retired gentleman living on his means, and where a man is one day a waiter and the next day a customer in the same eating-house.
Trial of Sir Roger Casement. (1916.) Second Edition. Edited by GEORGE H. KNOTT, Barrister-at-Law.
Casement, having held divers high appointments under the British Crown, having been knighted for his services, and having retired on a pension, upon the outbreak of hostilities proceeded to Germany where he was actively employed in inciting the Irish prisoners of war to join the German arms against England. The frustration of his attempt to run men, arms and ammunition with a view to raising a rebellion in Ireland reads more like some tale of strange adventure than sober history. The speech by Casement from the dock after conviction is one of the most dramatic in the annals of British procedure.
Trial of Jack Alfred Field and William Thomas Gray. (1920.) Edited by WINIFRED DUKE.
On 16th August, 1920, Irene Munro, a London typist, aged seventeen, arrived at Eastbourne for a fortnight's holiday. On 19th August, she left her rooms during the afternoon and never returned. Twenty-four hours later her body was discovered, buried in the shingle of the Crumbles, the head and face being shockingly mutilated. Two local unemployed, Jack Alfred Field and William Thomas Gray, were arrested and charged with the murder. The case is remarkable for the way in which a double conviction was obtained upon entirely circumstantial evidence.
Trial of Jean Pierre Vaquier. (1924.) Edited by R. H. BLUNDELL and R. E. SEATON, Barristers-at-Law.
Mrs. Mabel Theresa Jones, an Englishwoman holidaying in France, met a Frenchman named Jean Pierre Vaquier at Biarritz. These two became friendly, then intimate, and when Mrs. Jones returned to England and the Blue Anchor Hotel at Byfleet, Surrey, Vaquier followed her. Here, Mr. Jones, his wife, and her paramour all lived for a time under the same roof; but the little Frenchman was determined to poison the innkeeper. He did so on 29th March, 1924, employing strychnine for the purpose.
Trial of John Donald Merrett. (1927.) Edited by WILLIAM ROUGHEAD, W.S.
John Donald Merrett, a University student, was tried at Edinburgh for the murder of his mother, Bertha Merrett, and for uttering forged cheques upon her banking account. The authorities at first believed that she had committed suicide, and no suspicion was raised for eight months. Merrett was most skilfully defended, and the jury returned a verdict of "Not Proven" on the charge of murder, and guilty of uttering. He received a sentence of twelve months' imprisonment. In 1954, after a chequered career, under the name of Chesney, he killed his wife and mother-in-law, and then committed suicide.
Trial of Browne and Kennedy. (1927.) Edited by W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE.
Police Constable Gutteridge was shot dead while patrolling his beat in the early hours of the morning. For nearly four months his murderers remained at large. In January, 1928, the authorities arrested Frederick Guy Browne and William Henry Kennedy on a charge of stealing a motor car. Soon afterwards the men were also charged with the murder of Gutteridge. Browne was executed at Pentonville Prison and Kennedy at Wandsworth.
Trial of Sidney Harry Fox. (1930.) Edited by F. TENNYSON JESSE.
There is a strong flavour of the monstrous and the horrible about Sidney Harry Fox's murder of his aged and infirm mother in a Margate Hotel. The crime was committed purely for gain, Fox having taken out accident policies on his mother's life amounting to 3000. Only a matter of minutes before these policies were due to expire, he tried to turn her to account as his last remaining asset. Mrs. Fox was found dead after a fire had broken out in her bedroom. He was tried at the Sussex Assizes at Lewes, and the case for the prosecution was that he had strangled his mother and then set fire to the room to make it appear that death had been accidental. Fox was convicted, made no appeal, and was duly hanged.
The Royal Mail Case. (1931.) Edited by COLLIN BROOKS.
The trial of Lord Kylsant in 1931 marked a turning-point in the history of company finance. The Kylsant case cannot be understood unless the financial background of 1928-31 is properly envisaged. After the boom of the former year, crashes and crises were many, ranging from the conviction of Brandreth of the "Ner-Sag" companies to the frauds of Clarence Hatry; but the Royal Mail Case assumes a greater importance to investors from the fact that those charged were felt to be not rogues but honest men.
Trial of William Joyce. (1945.) Edited by J. W. HALL, Barrister-at-Law.
During the war years 1939-45 the irritating voice of William Joyce, nicknamed "Lord Haw-Haw," coming over the wireless from Germany was known to all who listened to German broadcasts. At the close of hostilities Joyce was captured and duly arrived at the Old Bailey on trial for treason. The legal points at issue were of immense importance, and the question of whether he owed allegiance to the British Crown so vital that leave to appeal from his conviction to the House of Lords was granted. Joyce lost his final appeal, with one judge dissenting, and was duly hanged.
Trial of August Sangret. (1959). Edited by MACDONALD CRITCHLEY.
War Crimes Trial Series
General Editor: JAMES H. HODGE
Volume I. The "'Peleus" Trial -- Trial of Kapitanleutnant Eck and four Others. Edited by JOHN CAMERON, D.S.C., K.C. Foreword by the Right Hon. Sir DAVID MAXWELL FYFE, K.C., M.P.
This trial, the first to be completed under the jurisdiction of a British Military War Crimes Court, was held at Hamburg, on i7th October, 1945, and the three succeeding days. The indictment charged the accused with violations of the laws and usages of war in that they were concerned in the killing of members of the crew, Allied nationals, of the s.s. Peleus by firing and throwing grenades at them after the torpedoing of that Greek steamship. Evidence was given for the prosecution by members of the U-boat crew, and affidavits made by three survivors of the crew were read in court. The defence of Eck, the Kommandant, was that of operational necessity, and of the others that they were acting under superior orders. This volume includes many appendices of interest to the reader.
Volume II. The Belsen Trial -- Trial of Josef Kramer and forty-four Others. Edited by RAYMOND PHILLIPS, M.C., Barrister-at-Law. Foreword by the Right Hon. VISCOUNT JOWITT, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain. Double Volume.
The trial of the "Beast of Belsen" and his colleagues for the murder and ill-treatment of Allied nationals at Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz Concentration Camps caused widespread interest. The world was aghast at the appalling conditions found by the British troops on entering Belsen Camp in April, 1945. The case lasted for fifty-four days. The evidence lays bare the appalling cruelties suffered by the internees of both camps --the gas chambers, the ravaging by dogs, the whippings, the starvation -- and is an everlasting indictment of the S.S. and the Nazi system. In his Foreword the Lord Chancellor places the responsibility most aptly : "I myself find it quite impossible to believe that these events were not widely known throughout the German Reich; and it is to the eternal disgrace of the German peoples that they should have been, as they must have been, tolerated." This very long volume is illustrated with eighty-two photographs, which vividly portray the conditions at these camps, the suffering of the inmates, and the types of men and women who were charged with their care.
Volume III. The Gozawa Trial -- Trial of Captain Gozawa Sadaichi and nine Others. Edited by COLIN SLEEMAN, Barrister-at-Law. Foreword by the Right Hon. VISCOUNT MOUNTBATTEN.
This was the first British War Crimes Trial to be held in the Far East. It was the trial of ten officers, N.C.Os. and men of the Japanese Army, the staff of a P.O.W. camp, for a series of shocking atrocities perpetrated against Indian prisoners of war. This 'book gives the reader considerable insight into the Japanese mentality, and is also by no means devoid of legal interest, particularly with regard to the law relating to conspiracy, the admissibility of evidence under the regulations and the treatment of hostile witnesses. It is also of interest to note that the first trial to be held under British jurisdiction in the East should be for crimes committed against Indians and not against members of the British Home Forces.
Volume IV. The Hadamar Trial -- Trial of Alfons Klein and six Others. Edited by EARL W. KINTNER, Attorney. Foreword by the Hon. ROBERT H. JACKSON, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court.
On 8th October, 1945, seven German citizens, including one woman, sat in the dock at Wiesbaden and faced an American Military Tribunal. They were members of the staff of a small sanatorium for the mentally ill, near the town of Hadamar, Germany, and they were charged in the name of the United States of America with the deliberate murder of over 400 Polish and Russian nationals at the Hadamar Institution by injections of poisonous drugs. These slave labourers had been sent to the Institution to receive treatment for tuberculosis; instead, within two hours of arrival they were killed -- men, women and children. Most of the accused relied on the fact that "mercy killing" of German mental defectives was a recognized practice under German law; but their victims were Russians and Poles, and no law could be found to cover such a crime as their extermination, quite apart from the fact that no mental disease was in any way in question.
Volume V. The Natzweiler Trial -- Trial of Wolfgang Zeuss and nine Others. Edited by A. M. WEBB, Barristerat-Law. Foreword by the Right Hon. Sir HARTLEY SHAWCROSS, K.C., M.P., Attorney-General.
The accused in this case were all members of the Natzweiler Concentration Camp, and were charged with being concerned in the killing of four British women when prisoners of war. These women, members of S.O.E. and employed on certain special missions in France, were alleged to have been injected and put, after very little delay, into the crematorium at the camp without any previous trial. The accused, who varied in station from the Kommandant and camp doctor down to one of the German criminal inmates, put forward the pleas either that they were not present and so knew nothing about the matter, or that they believed that a trial had in fact taken place at Karlsruhe and that they were correctly carrying out the legal sentence as ordered. The victims had been parachuted or landed from aircraft in occupied France. Theirs was a mission requiring the utmost bravery, skill and coolness. Whether or not they were spies is debateable, but there was no justification for killing them without any previous trial and legal sentence.
Volume VI. Trial of Generaloberst Nikolaus von Falkenhorst -- Edited by E. H. STEVENS, O.B.E., W.S. Foreword by the Right Hon. Sir NoamaN BIRKETT.
On 29th July, 1946, Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, one-time Commander-in-Chief of the German Armed Forces in Norway, faced a British Military Tribunal at Brunswick on nine charges of committing a war crime, was convicted on seven of those charges and sentenced to death, being ultimately reprieved and imprisoned for twenty years. He was charged with the responsibility for the killing of British soldiers and sailors, prisoners of war. The whole case turned on the infamous Fiihrerbefehl issued by Adolf Hitler on i8th October, 1942, dealing with the killing of Commandos, and its interpretation by von Falkenhorst. This order had far-reaching effects in every theatre of the war, and makes this trial of the utmost importance.
Volume VII. The Velpke Baby Home Trial -- Trial of Heinrich Gerike and seven Others. Edited by GEORGE BRAND, LL.B. Foreword by Professor H. LAUTERPACHT.
In their drive to obtain slave labour the Germans found that children, and particularly babies, were a heavy drag on the potential productivity of those driven from the East to work in the Fatherland. No decree, however, could entirely prevent the birth of children, so the Nazis set up a Baby Home in the village of Velpke where babies were forcibly taken from their mothers, usually within a day or two of birth, and placed in the care of a woman with no knowledge of child welfare, assisted by three or four foreign girl-helpers equally inexperienced. The children were in a few days starving, bitten by bugs and covered with sores and in a very short time they were dead. From May to December, 1944, ninety-six infants died. The accused were charged with the killing by wilful neglect of those babies, and the prosecution asserted that such a system of wilful neglect existed so that the children were in fact never intended to survive.
Volume VIII. The "Double Tenth" Trial -- Trial of Lieut.-Colonel Sumido Haruzo and twenty Others. Edited by COLIN SLEEMAN, Barrister-at-Law, and S. C. SILRIN, Barrister-at-Law. Foreword by the Right Hon. Viscoumr SIMON.
On 18th March, 1946, twenty-one members of the Japanese Kempei Tai faced a British War Crimes Court at Singapore on charges of arresting, ill-treating and torturing fifty-seven civilians at Changi Gaol, whereby fifteen died. The tale unfolded is a gruesome one indeed. The inhuman treatment of the prisoners by this unit of the Japanese military police is almost beyond belief, and the methods of torture applied are more related to medieval days than to a twentieth century so-called civilized nation. Even such a reverend figure as the Bishop of Singapore was not immune from their vile assaults. This story is typical of the methods adopted by this criminal organization, which worked in a way whereby results could be obtained from confessions quite oblivious of the fact that such forced confessions were often very far from the truth.
Volume IX. The Dulag Luft Trial -- Trial of Erich Killinger and four Others. Edited by ERIC CUDDON, Barrister-atLaw. Foreword by the Right Hon. Sir FRANK SOSKICE, Q.C., M.P.
The trial of the Kommandant of an interrogation camp and his assistants took place at Wuppertal, on 26th November, 1945, and following days. The charge was that when members of the staff of this Luftwaffe Interrogation Centre they committed a war crime in the ill-treatment of British prisoners of war. The main point was that in order to obtain information certain prisoners were placed in small cells in which electric heaters were turned on, causing the utmost distress to the inmates. It was also suggested that medical attention to wounded airmen was withheld, and that forms were used at the reception of prisoners on which the Red Cross was improperly used. This most interesting case is noteworthy for the large number of members of the R.A.F. who appeared as witnesses, or whose affidavits were adduced in evidence, both for the prosecution and the defence.
Last updated 7-15-07 by Marc Demarest (email@example.com)