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  #11  
Old 03-01-2013, 03:58 PM
Paul Slade Paul Slade is offline
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Ah, thanks for clarifying that. I'd made the same assumption until I saw a clipping from The Times of October 18, 1892. Reporting Kirwan's inquest, the paper says: "He had lately been conducting his profession at Canning Town, where he had been acting as locum tenems for Dr Moire".

It's nice to have the full name of the Poplar pawnbroker, so I'll see if I can slot that in when I get the chance.
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  #12  
Old 03-01-2013, 04:57 PM
Lechmere Lechmere is offline
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I think Dr Moire is likely to be a corruption of the Dr Mosser mentioned in the Old Bailey report and I suspect the Times gave Canning Town as a general but slightly inaccurate location for the area Kirwan was working in.
Working as a locum in the East End as a doctor at the age of 42 (but the old bailey report says 32) implies that Kirwan was the most successful Doctor practising in Britain at the time.
Generally, then as now, the best doctir's opted to work in nice middle class areas.
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  #13  
Old 03-01-2013, 08:57 PM
Lechmere Lechmere is offline
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It definitely was Nathan’s pawnbrokers at 131-133 St Leonard’s Road, Poplar. The exact address is mentioned further down in the Old Bailey report. Kirwan took his coat there on 12th July 1892. He wasn’t living at Brixton Road at that time.

The police ranked Balch and Waller as two of the most dangerous thieves in all of London.
They committed mugging that became a murder in a pub very close to where they lived, in front of witnesses after following the victim for several hours in front of witnesses, and Waller was arrested soon after wearing the victims yellow kid gloves!
Hardly master criminals.

These are Kirwan’s movements on the morning he died. Because he was walking around in circles, to make sense of it I have divided his route into three maps.

(1) 5.30 am at 140 Newington Causeway - The Alfred’s Head
(2) 7.00 am incident at lodging house on Redcross Way
(3) 10.15 am at flower shop, 2 Great Dover Street (near junction with Borough High Street) – turned right onto Borough High Street.
11.15 am Marshallsea Road then to
(4) 11.30 am at One Distillery pub on Borough High Street
Name:  kirwan map 1.jpg
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Left pub and went up Borough High Street to Union Street then turned right to Whitecross Street, then through Redcross Gardens to Redcross way and back to Marshalsea Road.
Then back to Borough High Street, then Lant Street, then back to Borough High Street, back to One Distillery.
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Leave One Distillery again and back to Union Street and on to end with Southwark Bridge Road.
It was now 1.30 pm
(5) Lord Clyde, corner of Peter Street and Whitecross Street – entered by Kirwan and assailants but not woman.
2.10 pm left Lord Clyde.
(6) George IV – scene of fatal attack.
Name:  kirwan map 1 b.jpg
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Kirwan's normal route home is marked in red - he must have been familiar with this area.
Also when he left the Alfred's Head he went in the opposite direction from his lodgings.
London Bridge was not far away. There would have been cabs there. He must have voluntarily wallked around with the woman.

Last edited by Lechmere : 03-01-2013 at 08:59 PM.
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  #14  
Old 03-01-2013, 11:55 PM
Lechmere Lechmere is offline
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Here's the 1915 Ordnace Survey Map of Poplar which is the oldest I have, with the 1892 Aberfeldy marked in red.
The location of the present pub is marked in yellow.
St Leonard's Road is the light green line.
East India Dock Road (which becomes Barking Road just to the east of the map) is the red line.
The River Lee, the eastern boundary of Poplar with West Ham (and Canning Town) is the yellow line.
Name:  aberfeldy map.JPG
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  #15  
Old 03-11-2013, 12:27 AM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Default Bibliographical/Dramatical footnote

I was reading a book that I have owned two decades but never read entitled "Arthur Wing Pinero and Henry Arthur Jones". It was by Penny Griffin, and was part of a series called "Modern Dramatists". My copy is (New York, St. Martin's Press, 1991). I came across this, which should enlighten you. You would find it under pages. 153-155:

"The last of Pinero's 'serious' plays, DR. HARMER'S HOLIDAYS, written in 1924 (but not performed until 1931 in New York) is one of the strangest pieces he ever wrote. In 1892 he had witnessed a trial at the Old Bailey in whch three men were charged with the murder of a young doctor who, up to the events that led to his death, had possesed an irreproachable character. The young man, drunk, dirty, and dishevelled, had been found by the three thungs in a public house in the Borough. They had led him away from the pub into an alleyway, where they had beaten him up and robbed him. In his struggles, the young doctor was throttled. The events were seen by a witness and men were caught and brought to justice. In his Forward to the play, Pinero wrote that

What interested me at the moment, and continued to interest me
thirty years later, was the problem of the respectable young doctor --
the trusted assistant of an older practitioner in the City -- apparently
living a sober, honest and cleanly life, who met his end in such an
ignoble fashion: and I set myself to the task of forging a chain of
circumstances, intensifying rather than diminishing the tragedy of his
death....."

The play is a type of "Jeckyl and Hyde" plot in nine scenes, ending with the murder. Not quite what the evidence suggested but then again it may be on the mark.

Jeff
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  #16  
Old 03-11-2013, 08:18 AM
Paul Slade Paul Slade is offline
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That's fascinating, Mayerling - thanks so much for digging it out. I can quite see why the Kirwan case would have appealed to a dramatist like Pinero, particularly in his pre-comedy career. It's good to see he was as as curious about Kirwan's motives as I was.

I live quite close to the British Library, and I have a reader's card there, so I'm going to see if I can consult both Griffin's book and the play's full text there later in the week. I shall report back when I've read them.

Pinero's work seems to be quite in vogue here in London at the moment, with The Magistrate recently completing a run at the National Theatre, and Trelawny of The Wells filling seats at the Donmar right now. Maybe Dr Harmer's Holidays will get a staging too!
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  #17  
Old 03-11-2013, 04:40 PM
Paul Slade Paul Slade is offline
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The British Library has copies of both Griffin’s book and the play’s full text, which I’ve now had a chance to read. Pinero describes the real Kirwan killing and the trial in great detail, both in his foreward to the play and in the text itself, suggesting either that he’d kept some newspaper clippings from the trial all that time, or that he went to a good deal of trouble in researching it again before he started writing. The play’s plot boils down to this:

Dr Walter Harmer lodges in Balham (near Kirwan's Stockwell) with his landlady Mrs Nethercliff and her niece Elsie. He’s a saintly doctor for 49 weeks of the year, but every August he disappears for a mysterious three-week holiday, laying a false trail to suggest an innocent seaside break.

In fact, he spends that three weeks every year in the same neighbourhood of Southwark where Kirwan was killed, staying with a whore called Lilian Dipple and drinking himself stupid in her squalid surroundings. It’s during one of these trips that he meets three thugs called Gorham, Kelk and Crickway, who sponge drinks off him every chance they get.

Harmer is consumed by guilt at these episodes, but thinks he sees a way out when Elsie is jilted by her selfish young fiance Birkett. Harmer asks Elsie to marry him instead, she accepts, and he looks forward to spending that August on a Swiss honeymoon with her rather than slumming it in Southwark as usual. At last, he thinks, he’s found a way to break the Borough’s terrible spell over him.

At the last moment, however – July 31 as it happens – Elsie and Birkett get back together, plunging Harmer into despair and sending him off to Southwark again for the biggest bender yet. We know he’s lost for good this time, because his final visit has him speaking in the same phonetic low-class accent Pinero’s used for the Southwark characters all along.

Harmer is in Lilian’s room when Gorham sees him flashing some money, and decides to pounce. Lilian leaves the two men alone there while she helps a sick friend get to Guy’s Hospital, and the scene closes with Gorham beckoning his two friends in to help him subdue the already confused and weakened Harmer. Next time we see him, he’s lying dead on the floor of that same room, amid signs of what Pinero calls “a desperate struggle”. Curtain.

Pinero slips several details of Kirwan’s real case into his story. He has Harmer buy some roses for Lilian in Great Dover Street, for example, and describes him taking up with with a woman named Roberts in the One Distillery, where the three thugs are already following him. But Kirwan’s own death, which Lilian describes in great detail, is said to be something which happened nearby some time ago. “Theer was a re-spectable bloke murdered close by ‘ere years ago,” she warns Harmer. “Gen’leman jes’ like yew – an’ by igsac’ly th’ same clarss as Alf Gorham an’ ‘is pals”.

The closest Pinero comes to explaining Harmer’s compulsion about Southwark comes in a conversation with his friend MacGill in the play’s first scene. Harmer claims at first that he’s simply relating what an anonymous patient has told him, but later confesses its his own behaviour he’s describing.

“At intervals – once a year perhaps – he’ll slink away from his wholesome surroundings – where he’s regarded as a model of rectitude – and abandon himself to a course of utter depravity,” Harmer tells MacGill. ‘The individual I speak of dives into the foulest quarter of London he can find – the heart of the Borough or east of Aldgate Pump, among the Chinks; and there for a term he’ll swelter and soak, living, as I say, the most bestial life conceivable. My dear MacGill, he favoured me with details that would have revolted even a Thames-side police magistrate.”

That’s not so much an explanation of Harmer’s behaviour as a simple description of it. Even if Pinero had given us any further hint of Harmer’s motivation, there’s no reason to think it would have matched Kirwan’s own, but I can’t help being a little disappointed anyway. If one of the leading dramatists of his age had any particular insight into Kirwan’s behaviour which escaped the rest of us, I'm afraid he chose not to share it here. His play's a great little footnote to the case, though.
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  #18  
Old 03-11-2013, 06:19 PM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Slade View Post
The British Library has copies of both Griffin’s book and the play’s full text, which I’ve now had a chance to read. Pinero describes the real Kirwan killing and the trial in great detail, both in his foreward to the play and in the text itself, suggesting either that he’d kept some newspaper clippings from the trial all that time, or that he went to a good deal of trouble in researching it again before he started writing.

That’s not so much an explanation of Harmer’s behaviour as a simple description of it. Even if Pinero had given us any further hint of Harmer’s motivation, there’s no reason to think it would have matched Kirwan’s own, but I can’t help being a little disappointed anyway. If one of the leading dramatists of his age had any particular insight into Kirwan’s behaviour which escaped the rest of us, I'm afraid he chose not to share it here. His play's a great little footnote to the case, though.
Hi Paul,

Thanks for double checking and elucidating the information I found. Pinero was a pretty good dramatist (although his friend Shaw and critic Max Beerbohm found much to criticize about his works - Beerbohm disliking his writing style which his contemporaries found very eloquent, although admitting Pinero knew how to write a last act well). This appears to have been the only time he based a drama on an actual crime. Interestingly enough, his contemporary Sir William Gilbert wrote a final one act play, "The Hooligan" in 1911 about a wife killer. Gilbert, interested in crime (he had been a barrister) attended the trial of Dr. Crippen in 1910.

Jeff
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  #19  
Old 06-03-2013, 11:34 AM
Paul Slade Paul Slade is offline
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I just chanced across a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short story The Adventure of the Reigate Squire, which features a murder victim called ... William Kirwan.

In this case, Kirwan is not a doctor, but a Surrey coachman, killed by his employers after an attempt to blackmail them. There's no resemblance between the plot of the story and the real Kirwan's death, but the timing is interesting.

Our William Kirwan was murdered in October 1892, and his killers brought to trial that November, so all the newspaper coverage was concentrated into those two months. Reigate Squire first appeared in the June 1893 issue of The Strand magazine, which suggests Conan Doyle may well of been working on it - or at least planning it out - as the real Kirwan's murder was dominating the headlines.

This could just be a coincidence, of course, but the timing's so neat it suggests another explanation. Casting about for a name to give the victim in his latest Holmes story, Conan Doyle picks up the morning newspaper and decides to borrow the name of a real murder victim whose colourful case is all over the news. As a crime writer, Conan Doyle would surely have been intrigued by the real Kirwan's behaviour, so perhaps this was his own little tribute to the case's fascination?
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  #20  
Old 06-03-2013, 10:48 PM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Originally Posted by Paul Slade View Post
I just chanced across a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short story The Adventure of the Reigate Squire, which features a murder victim called ... William Kirwan.

In this case, Kirwan is not a doctor, but a Surrey coachman, killed by his employers after an attempt to blackmail them. There's no resemblance between the plot of the story and the real Kirwan's death, but the timing is interesting.

Our William Kirwan was murdered in October 1892, and his killers brought to trial that November, so all the newspaper coverage was concentrated into those two months. Reigate Squire first appeared in the June 1893 issue of The Strand magazine, which suggests Conan Doyle may well of been working on it - or at least planning it out - as the real Kirwan's murder was dominating the headlines.

This could just be a coincidence, of course, but the timing's so neat it suggests another explanation. Casting about for a name to give the victim in his latest Holmes story, Conan Doyle picks up the morning newspaper and decides to borrow the name of a real murder victim whose colourful case is all over the news. As a crime writer, Conan Doyle would surely have been intrigued by the real Kirwan's behaviour, so perhaps this was his own little tribute to the case's fascination?
Hi Paul,

I have read that story (which in the United States was retitled "The Adventure of the Reigate Puzzle", which is a puzzle to me - apparently the term "Squires" was considered offensive to Americans who were such super democracy lovers supposedly). It isn't unusual for a real name to pop up in a Conan Doyle story. In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", one of the two step-daughters of Dr. Roylott is Julia Stoner. Julia Stoner was a lady in waiting at Queen Victoria's court. In the novel "The Sign of Four", the Scotland Yard inspector is "Althelney Jones". It turns out that there was a member of Parliament with that name.

In a later story, "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" written in the 1890s, but not published until the last collection, "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes" came out, there is a reference to a ship named the "Mathilda Briggs". This gets complicated. Doyle loved to reweave material into his sense of realism. The fictional ship is involved in an unpublished story involving "the Giant Rat of Sumatra, for which the world is not prepared." Now it turns out that the baby who was lost with the Captain and his wife (her parents) on the ill-fated Mary Celeste, was "Sophia Mathilda Briggs". That's part one. Part two is that one of the chief witnesses against Florence Maybrick in her 1889 trial for the murder of James Maybrick (her husband) was a maid named "Mathilda Briggs", who was ripped apart on the witness stand by Florence's barrister Sir Charles Russell. Told you it was complicated.

[Regarding the Mary Celeste, Conan Doyle wrote an early successfully received story supposedly telling what happened on that ship to it's crew, entitled, "J. Habbakuk Jephson's Statement". The story is full of errors (it renames the ship "Marie Celeste") but it was so well written that Her Majesty's Proctor (legal head) at Gibraltar, Solly Flood - who handled the 1871-72 investigation - claimed the story was an impudent set of lies. He was right, but it helped establish Conan Doyle as a highly interesting fiction writer. The "Habbakuk Jephson" story does not mention anyone named Mathilda Briggs.]

Jeff
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