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Recluse Of New York

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Recluse Of New York

Post by Karen on Mon 1 Mar 2010 - 23:57

Recluse Who Died In Attic May Be Duke


Inquiry on Two Continents Seeks Identity of Aged Man; Double to Present Grafton Head
Kept Photo and a Sketch of Nobleman

Records Show Elder Son in Family Left Home Because of Marriage


An inquiry is underway today on two continents in an effort to determine the identity of a man of sixty-two, known as Edward Euston, who died on July 12 in a dingy attic at 17 Hicks Street, Brooklyn.
With little to grace his quarters but a strip of faded carpet and an iron bedstead, he remained an unapproachable recluse, without a soul to aid him at the end. He refused to listen to the importunities of Mrs. Elizabeth Morris, his kindly landlady, that a physician should be called.
He died as he had lived - silent, lonely, resentful of intrusion.
His body now lies in an undertaking parlor, unclaimed, while an attempt is being made to learn whether he was the elder brother of the present Duke of Grafton and the rightful head of the family. Whatever the secret he hid with such desperate intensity, the few belongings he left under the shabby strip of carpet - two photographs, an insurance policy and a Masonic apron - furnished the clew that set detectives working yesterday to establish his identity.


Had Newspaper Clippings


Newspaper clippings pasted to his photographs indicated that he might belong to the ancient Fitzroy family, the lineal descendants of Charles II. On the other hand, it might have been chance or a passing whim that caused him to glue to the back of a photograph, presumably of the Earl of Euston, who has since become the Duke of Grafton, this clipping:
"Lord Euston is a widower of sixty-four and father of three children - Lady Lillian, who married July 20, 1910, Charles Robertson, late of the Ministry of Education in Egypt; Lady Margaret Fitzroy, and Viscount Ipswich. The Viscount is thirty years old, being eight months the junior of Lady Lillian and seventeen months younger than Lady Margaret.
"Lord Euston married April 27, 1875, a daughter of Eric Carrington Smith, of Stonewich, Sussex. She died March 10, 1918. Today, Monday, is the Duke of Grafton's birthday. He is a veteran of the Crimean War and was badly wounded at the battle of Inkerman."
The second photograph is of Edward Euston himself, wearing a pepper and salt suit, wing collar and four-in-hand cravat. Detective Frank Upton, of the Missing Persons Bureau, said that the two men photographed bear a striking resemblance. They are enough alike to be brothers.
Three years ago this strange old man took up his abode in her house, Mrs. Morris said yesterday. He left at the end of two years and then returned, always doling out his week's rent of $2 in silver coins. The only demand he made of her was that she should tell no one of his comings and goings. He pledged her to solemn secrecy. His pride in his name, amounting almost to fanaticism, was the only form of emotion he ever displayed.


Cultured Englishman


"He was a cultured English gentleman," Mrs. Morris said. "Anyone could see that. He certainly did not strike me as being the kind of man who might have delusions about himself. The most he ever told me was that he had been a cook, a steward and a watchman, but I always knew he had seen better days. He never let me inside his room. I had to leave the clean bed linen outside his door. Another Englishman lived across the hall from him, but when they met at the same sink to wash themselves he would not respond to the civil remarks of the other."
Mr. Morris said the last work he did was house cleaning by the day. He was gone from 9 until 4 or 5 o'clock.
The dime-a-week life insurance policy found with the photographs furnished no further clew to his identity. In taking out the policy, he did not name beneficiaries, simply stating that he wanted a "decent Christian burial." Inquiry at the offices of the Prudential Life Insurance Company in Newark elicited the information that he took out the policy when he was thirty-seven years old and living at 772 Third Avenue, Brooklyn. He gave his birthplace as New York City and the date of his birth as April 20, 1860. There was nothing on the policy to indicate what his ancestry might be. It is thought possible his age was understated, either by accident or design, in the application for the policy.
The fact that a Masonic apron was found with his other belongings strengthens the theory that he might belong to the British aristocracy. The present Duke of Grafton is one of the principal Masonic dignitaries in the United Kingdom.
Investigators are working on the theory that the recluse who died in Brooklyn may be the real Duke of Grafton, who dropped out of sight in favor of his younger brother after getting himself into disgrace. Nearly half a century ago, according to records cited by the Associated Press, the young Earl of Euston, heir to the dukedom of Grafton, fell desperately in love with Kate Walsh, a demi-mondaine of London, marrying her "out of chivalry." Horrified at what he had done, he turned over all his money to her and went to Australia to begin life anew. While he was gone, according to the records, his friends discovered that Kate Walsh had a husband living when she married the Earl of Euston. The young heir to the dukedom hurried home when he discovered that George Manley Smith, the alleged first husband, would testify for him in annulment proceedings. His wife's lawyers retorted by proving that Smith himself was married prior to his union with Kate Walsh. The court held that the woman's first marriage was invalid and that the subsequent ceremony making her Lady Euston was legal and binding. So she remained Lady Euston up to the time of her death.
The records show that Lord Euston's troubles did not end with the death of Kate Walsh. He was involved later with a chorus girl, and finally, in 1903, his creditors swooped down on him, and after being twice declared a bankrupt he came to America. Nothing more was heard of him until it was reported in 1912 that he had died.

Source: New York Tribune, Thursday July 20, 1922

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Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"
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