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Murder at The Inn—a History of Crime in Britain’s Pubs

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  • Murder at The Inn—a History of Crime in Britain’s Pubs

    Looks an interesting book.

    The Krays have joined Lord Lucan and Jack the Ripper in a new guidebook about historic murder linked to pubs.

    The guide reveals where to find more than 250 boozers involved in murder and mayhem down the centuries.

    The Krays, of course, are well documented for rival gangster George Cornell’s murder in the Blind Beggar in Whitechapel in 1966.

    Ronnie Kray’s brazen act pulling a shotgun on Cornell at point-blank range joins the infamous black list back to the 1888 Whitechapel Murders when Jack the Ripper stalked his victims who frequented the Ten Bells in Spitalfields.

    “The history of our pubs has gone hand-in-hand with the history of crime,” author James Moore says. “We can link pubs that can still be found today with horrifying tales from their past.”

    James includes the Plumber’s Arms in Belgravia where Lady Lucan burst in screaming for help after her estranged husband Lord Lucan had battered their children’s nanny to death in 1974.

    The Magdala in Hampstead is also on the list, where Ruth Ellis shot dead her lover David Blakely on Easter Sunday, 1955.

    Pubs and hotels were used for murder inquests and autopsies until the 1920s, which also had connections with executions, James reveals. Men condemned to death were once allowed a last drink in pubs.

    Pubs are also implicated in high treason. Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot was hatched in a tavern in 1605, as any schoolkid will tell you.

    James Moore’s Murder at The Inn—a History of Crime in Britain’s Pubs, is published by the History Press at Ł9.99.


    http://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.u...pubs_1_4006600

  • #2
    It sounds very interesting.

    I suppose it goes into the links between Wood and the Rising Sun murder. Does it mention that the landlord of a nearby pub souvenired the skull of the Ratcliffe Highway murdered, John Williamson, who was buried at a crossroads with a stake and was dug up decades later by Victorian roadworkers?

    There was an unsolved murder in January 1920 of the landlady of the Cross Keys pub in Lawrence St, Chelsea. She was killed in the early hours of the morning and was a bit stupid in keeping her takings with her and sleeping alone in the pub.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Rosella View Post
      It sounds very interesting.

      I suppose it goes into the links between Wood and the Rising Sun murder. Does it mention that the landlord of a nearby pub souvenired the skull of the Ratcliffe Highway murdered, John Williamson, who was buried at a crossroads with a stake and was dug up decades later by Victorian roadworkers?
      Hi Rosella,

      Do you happen to know the current whereabouts of the skull of the "alleged" Ratcliffe Highway murderer, John Williams (Willamson was one of the victims)?

      Jeff

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      • #4
        Of course he was, Jeff! Boo-boo on my part! No, I have no idea. I read it somewhere in a book on London lore years ago and they said all the artefacts dug up, bones and so forth, had been lost over the many years. It was an odd custom though, wasn't it? And yes, it is 'alleged,' as Williams never went to trial, of course.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Rosella View Post
          Of course he was, Jeff! Boo-boo on my part! No, I have no idea. I read it somewhere in a book on London lore years ago and they said all the artefacts dug up, bones and so forth, had been lost over the many years. It was an odd custom though, wasn't it? And yes, it is 'alleged,' as Williams never went to trial, of course.
          Hi Rosella,

          The custom of burying Willaims at a cross road was an ancient one concerning the bodies of suicides. Suicides, by the act of killing themselves, deprived themselves of the right of burial in consecrated ground (this is usually a point brought up regarding Roman Catholic burial, but apparently it was true for the Anglican Church too in 1811). Williams was found hanging in his cell in prison, a few days after his arrest, and it was believed he committed suicide. A drawing of his head with the noose still around it was made by the artist Sir Thomas Lawrence, and still exists today. The suicide was used by the government to claim Williams killed himself due to his own guilty knowledge of the Ratcliffe Highway murders, and it was used to close further investigation into the killings. Williams was not only buried at a cross-road (across the street from one of the sites of the killings of the Marr Family or the Williamson household - inn) but a stake was driven into his body to prevent his spirit or ghost from wandering around the neighborhood.

          Ironically, given the wide results of the "suicide" there is today considerable doubt regarding William's actual or sole guilt in the seven murders of the two households. The late P. D. James co-wrote a fairly sensible study of the Ratcliffe Highway murders about 1970 called "The Maul and the Pear Tree", and she and her co-author suggested that the two sets of killings were the work of a gang which may have included Williams, and may have initially targeted Timothy Marr because he and Williams and another man were involved in a ship mutiny a few years before. Furthermore, the book suggested (and made a good case) that Williams was murdered in his cell by the gang members with the connivance of prison guards and officials.

          As for the remains of Williams, in 1905 (at a meeting of the celebrated murder officionados' club, "Our Society") the noted English literary scholar and amateur criminologist John Churton Collins brought Williams' recently exhumed bones from his arm (supposedly the one he used when he killed the victims with a carpenter's maul) to one of their dinners. Churton Collins actually waived these bones around a bit.

          You should not be too upset about your "booboo". When the late Martin Gardner first edited "The Annotated Adventures of Father Brown", there was a reference to Williamson being killed by Williams, and Gardner said this particular murder could not be traced. I sent Garner a letter and informed him that it referred to the second set of Ratcliffe Highway killings, and he wrote back thanking me, and said that he would update the note if there was a second edition. A second edition did come out, and he updated the note to mention me.

          Jeff

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks Jeff, for your long post. Very interesting, especially about Collins! Did those bones of his have any provenance? In 1905 it was about twenty years since they had been dug up!

            Yes, I read 'The Maul and the Pear Tree' years ago now. Wasn't the drawing of Williams in that? He was apparently a very short man with strange colouring, a very pale face and bright yellow-orange hair!

            Folklore is one of my interests and apparently the origin of placing a body at the crossroads was so that the spirit would be diffused in four different directions if it decided to 'walk'.

            I suppose the harsh way suicides were treated came down to the belief that it was 'self-murder'. Property was also confiscated and that was probably why coronial juries were always anxious to bring in verdicts like 'while the balance of mind was disturbed' so as not to penalise the family left behind.

            I always think of poor Mrs Merrett, mother of the appalling Donald, being questioned about her 'suicide attempt' in a barred ward in 1926, and dying there. It's amazing to me that this remained a criminal offence until 1961, within my lifetime.

            Cheers, Ros

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Rosella View Post
              Thanks Jeff, for your long post. Very interesting, especially about Collins! Did those bones of his have any provenance? In 1905 it was about twenty years since they had been dug up!

              Yes, I read 'The Maul and the Pear Tree' years ago now. Wasn't the drawing of Williams in that? He was apparently a very short man with strange colouring, a very pale face and bright yellow-orange hair!

              Folklore is one of my interests and apparently the origin of placing a body at the crossroads was so that the spirit would be diffused in four different directions if it decided to 'walk'.

              I suppose the harsh way suicides were treated came down to the belief that it was 'self-murder'. Property was also confiscated and that was probably why coronial juries were always anxious to bring in verdicts like 'while the balance of mind was disturbed' so as not to penalise the family left behind.

              I always think of poor Mrs Merrett, mother of the appalling Donald, being questioned about her 'suicide attempt' in a barred ward in 1926, and dying there. It's amazing to me that this remained a criminal offence until 1961, within my lifetime.

              Cheers, Ros
              Hi Ros,

              I learned about the matter of Churton Collins and those bones in some reading I did - I'll try to find it - but it was not a book on Churton Collins. So I don't know how long he had the bones, or came to possess them. He was a very interesting figure in his day, very contentious on questions concerning English literature. His death is mysterious. He was suffering from some illness and getting medication, when in 1908 he went to the Sevenoaks area to have a look around shortly after the shooting murder of General Luard's wife. He left his inn to walk around, when suddenly he was missing. Churton Collins' body was found a few hours later - he had drowned in a narrow pool or puddle that he apparently fell down in. It was suggested at the time that the medication had made him drowsy, causing him first to fall and then limiting his reaction when his face fell into the pond. But the truth about what exactly happened was never determined.

              You are right about William's hair color and appearance (and the appearance of the drawing by Lawrence in "The Maul and the Pear Tree"). If you recall, Thomas de Quincy had written the essay, "On Murder Considered as a Fine Art" and had discussed the Ratcliffe Highway murders in detail (although he gave the wrong year saying the murders were in 1812.). He has a famous description of William's appearance suggesting the hair color showed that Williams may have had a yellow sap in his veins instead of blood.

              An interesting thing about suicides and consecrated ground, and it is linked to my Casebook nickname of "Mayerling". When Crown Prince Rudolf and Countess Vetsera were found shot dead in January 1889 at Mayerling, the Royal Family of Austria-Hungary had a major problem. Besides the shocking story of the two deaths, Rudolf (as a Hapsburg prince and heir to the throne) had to be buried in consecrated ground. But it was obvious (although there was an attempt to attribute his death to a heart attack, before the public was aware of the death of his mistress with him) that it was a suicide pact. Emperor Franz Josef contacted the Pope to get a special dispensation, and Pope Leo was at first unwilling to do so because of the taboo concerning suicide. But Austria-Hungary was Europe's most powerful Catholic monarchy (France was a republic), so Leo was willing - a bit later - to accept assurances that Rudolf was mentally unbalanced when he took his own life. As for the Countess, even if it was a suicide pact Rudolf shot her. Technically she was murdered, so the issue of the death being such that she couldn't be buried in consecrated ground was not a troubling matter.

              The Donald Merritt case is one of those fascinating ones where the crimes stretch almost 30 years. By the way, besides his mother, wife, and mother-in-law, Merritt/Chesney is also thought to have killed a business associate in the black market of post war Germany in the late 1940s, so he probably killed four victims, not three. Interestingly, when he was tried for his mother's death in 1926, Sir Bernard Spilsbury appeared as an expert witness for Meritt. Spilsbury was the forensic expert in cases in England mostly, but could be a defense witness in Scotland without any problem.

              Jeff

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Jeff, goodness there are some fascinating unsolved cases from the past, aren't there and you have mentioned several.

                Strange how fate plays such a part in our lives. If Caroline Luard hadn't decided to accompany her husband part of the way to his golf game that August day she would have remained alive and well and had her tea party. I do think she met a callous itinerant at the bungalow, by chance. I don't believe the theory that she had an appointment, poor woman.

                So Churton Collins met his death as a result of seeking some insight into the case! Extraordinary really that he should have died in such shallow water!

                The Mayerling affair has always fascinated me. The death wish of Rudolf, the desire of Marie to share his fate, the scene in that room as Rudolf wrote letters and drank, his dead mistress at his side, trying for hours, probably, to screw up the courage to shoot himself.

                Then there was the macabre carriage ride of the dead Marie, propped up between her male relatives! I have been really frustrated over the years by there being no really good book in English (can't read German unfortunately) which examines this murder/suicide. How successful the Emperor's agents were in suppressing and destroying so much evidence!

                As for Donald Merritt/Chesney, nothing that character did would surprise me. He was totally amoral and without a conscience. Three victims/four, it would have made no difference. He was (for a while) making a great deal of money from his activities and that's all that mattered.

                I have a great admiration for Sir Bernard, in spite of several miscalculations over the years, but he did no-one any favours by insisting that Bertha Merritt could have easily manipulated that pistol because she was supple due to putting up her hair! If Donald Merritt had been found guilty of matricide and hanged it would have saved two lives and probably three.

                Cheers Ros

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rosella View Post
                  Hi Jeff, goodness there are some fascinating unsolved cases from the past, aren't there and you have mentioned several.

                  Strange how fate plays such a part in our lives. If Caroline Luard hadn't decided to accompany her husband part of the way to his golf game that August day she would have remained alive and well and had her tea party. I do think she met a callous itinerant at the bungalow, by chance. I don't believe the theory that she had an appointment, poor woman.

                  So Churton Collins met his death as a result of seeking some insight into the case! Extraordinary really that he should have died in such shallow water!

                  The Mayerling affair has always fascinated me. The death wish of Rudolf, the desire of Marie to share his fate, the scene in that room as Rudolf wrote letters and drank, his dead mistress at his side, trying for hours, probably, to screw up the courage to shoot himself.

                  Then there was the macabre carriage ride of the dead Marie, propped up between her male relatives! I have been really frustrated over the years by there being no really good book in English (can't read German unfortunately) which examines this murder/suicide. How successful the Emperor's agents were in suppressing and destroying so much evidence!

                  As for Donald Merritt/Chesney, nothing that character did would surprise me. He was totally amoral and without a conscience. Three victims/four, it would have made no difference. He was (for a while) making a great deal of money from his activities and that's all that mattered.

                  I have a great admiration for Sir Bernard, in spite of several miscalculations over the years, but he did no-one any favours by insisting that Bertha Merritt could have easily manipulated that pistol because she was supple due to putting up her hair! If Donald Merritt had been found guilty of matricide and hanged it would have saved two lives and probably three.

                  Cheers Ros
                  Hi Ros,

                  Merritt would have been no really great loss had he been executed (although due to his age he might only have gotten a prison sentence that would have ended just about the start of World War II). Oddly enough, he actually did well in the war (not just materially). He had some kind of nerve or courage, and he actually performed well working in some naval operations as an auxiliary of some type. That still does not make up for one matricide, one wife murder, one witness murder (his mother-in-law) and one business related killing. Merritt, by the way, is the only murderer I am aware of who we definitely know based one crime on another killer's: he read a book that he checked out of a library on "Brides-in-the-Bath" Smith, and decided to use that killing to kill his wife. At the time he was "Ronald Chesney", and he discovered there was a copy of the volume in the "Notable British Trial" series on his own trial. He got rid of that copy.

                  I am always fascinated by Rudolf, Marie, and their fate - one of the great historical tragedies of the period (and the first major scandal after Whitechapel "ended" in November - December 1888; Mayerling is January 1889). I have not found a good volume on the incident, but Fredric Morton's, "A Nervous Splendor" about life and society in Vienna in 1888-89 is a wonderful read, with plenty on Rudolf and Marie and the court (but also about other historical Austrian figures of the times: including Klimt, Hugo Wolf, Freud, Herzl, Brahms, Johann Strauss 2nd, Anton Bruchner, and even - at the tail end - Adolf Hitler who was born in April 1889). There is a biography of "Sisi" by Joan Haislip called "The Lonely Empress" which is worth examining too.

                  The most recent discussions about Caroline Luard's murder has pointed out that she once sent money to John Alexander Dickman, who would hang in 1910 for the railroad murder of a cashier carrying a payroll, John Nesbit, near Newcastle (I think). The money Nesbit was carrying was never found, and the circumstantial evidence against Dickman remains really questionable. The money Mrs. Luard had sent appears to have been given under false pretenses, and the poor woman might have threatened Dickman with exposure to the police - thus ensuring his determination to silence her. When Dickman's connection with Mrs. Luard was discovered, one person (who is quoted in an appendix to Colin Wilson's and Pat Pitman's "The Encyclopedia of Murder") pointed out that Dickman may have faced hostility from several friends of the Luards' who knew he was the killer of Caroline (and indirectly the cause of the General's suicide) and decided that since he was convicted for a second murder he would not escape his fate, even though he might not have been conclusively proven guilty. One of the so-called friends of the Luards was the then Home Secretary Winston Churchill. I tend to actually doubt this (Churchill was a close friend of General Sir Frederick Lugard, who like Charles Luard served for some time in Africa). I have never seen any reference to Luard in any Churchill biography I have read.

                  There is also a third unsolved murder connected to Dickman, from 1908 - that of a Jewish pawn broker and moneylender named Cohen who was found beaten to death in his rooms over his establishment. I think there is a good probability that Dickman did kill Caroline Luard.

                  If he did kill Mrs. Luard and Cohen, as well as Nisbet, could he have had a hand in the odd demise of John Churton Collins? No proof at all for what looks odd to me, but it would not have surprised me at all if he had.

                  Jeff
                  Last edited by Mayerling; 03-28-2015, 09:44 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks Rosella and Jeff for all the tid bits, looks like another book to keep an eye out for.
                    G U T

                    There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

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