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Colonel Bolton Monsell

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Colonel Bolton Monsell

Post by Karen on Thu 12 Jul 2012 - 19:25

Colonel Bolton Monsell, who is mentioned on page 127 of the book, "Jack the Ripper: An Encyclopedia."


Certain allegations seriously affecting several members of the Metropolitan police attached to the E, or Bow-street division, are, says a correspondent, now in course of investigation by Colonel Monsell and the chief officers. The matter originated in the Hunter-street subdivision, one of the men attached to which is alleged to have been in the habit of introducing visitors of a certain class to a coffee-house in Hand-court, Holborn, and, in return for the service, receiving payment from the proprietors. The man fell sick, and it is stated that, as the outcome of the non-compliance of the coffee-house keepers with his application for a loan of money, the facts oozed out. The coffee-house in question had always been considered one of the most quiet and respectable in the neighbourhood. It is understood that, so far, the result of the investigation has led to the suspension of this man and another; while 12 more officers whom they have implicated, have been questioned and sent back to their duties, pending further inquiries. In all probability the facts will be submitted to magisterial investigation.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, May 3, 1891, Page 3

Last edited by Karen on Tue 17 Jul 2012 - 1:38; edited 1 time in total

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

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Re: Colonel Bolton Monsell

Post by Karen on Tue 17 Jul 2012 - 1:09



All through yesterday and up to a late hour at night the police were actively engaged in investigating every minute circumstance in any way likely to afford a clue to the mystery surrounding the murder of Mr. Henry Smith at Muswell-lodge.


Lieutenant-colonel Monsell, Chief Constable of the Northern district, visited the house, and was conducted over the grounds by Detective-inspector Henry Marshall, the Scotland-yard officer in charge of the case. Detective-inspector Charles Nutkins, the local officer engaged, was also busy with many assistants. Footprints had been carefully examined and taken up.


A photographer was also at work for the police, and search was being made in quarters known to be frequented by the criminal class. Late at night, however, it was stated that no arrest had been made.
Everything points to the fact that the burglars were quite familiar, not only with the situation of the wires in the garden, but also with the principle on which they were supposed to act.


It is said that the alarms were devised with considerable ingenuity, and that the connecting wires were so sensitive that on more than one occasion a dog or a cat running across the garden had exploded the cartridge. They were raised on iron supports about eighteen inches from the ground, and so arranged that it was almost impossible to approach the house without coming in contact with one of them. It was, however, a matter of common local knowledge that the premises were protected in this manner, and there is little doubt that the burglars were in this respect forewarned.


Not far from Norton Lees, where two stockbrokers were wounded by burglars five years ago, stands Muswell lodge. This residence is situated at the bottom of Tenterdown-lane, which connects Muswell-hill-road and Colney Hatch-road. On two sides the house, which stands in its own grounds, is isolated by field and woods. Tenterdown-lane is well occupied by small villas, and is approached from Hornsey by Muswell-hill-road. The frontage is to a great extent obscured by a high box-hedge, with two entrances, while at the back there are conservatories. Muswell lodge was occupied by Mr. Henry Smith, a retired engineer and gasfitter, of about 80 years of age. Although possessing ample means he lived entirely alone, cooking his own meals, and being assisted by his gardener in the work of the house. Each night the gardener Webber left for his home about 5:30, after seeing to the stokehole which supplied the conservatories. After this Mr. Smith used to prepare in his grounds a series of wires connected with a detonating appliance, which, as a practical engineer, he had invented as an alarm against burglars since the last Muswell-hill burglary and shooting affair. The usual course was followed on Thursday night. On entering the grounds about seven o'clock on Friday morning Webber noticed that the wires of the detonating appliance were broken, but discovered that the gun had not exploded. He proceeded to the kitchen, which is nearest Highgate woods, and observed that the catch of the window was broken, that the plants on the window-sill had been displaced, and that the window blind was up, an unusual occurrence. Peering through the casement he was shocked by the sight of his master lying on the floor in his night shirt, with his head battered in and bleeding profusely. Webber rushed for assistance, calling Major Challen, a neighbour, and also a nurseryman, named Stanbrook. A lamplighter coming up was sent to call up Dr. Webster, residing in Colney Hatch-lane; and another messenger despatched on a bicycle to the police-station at Southgate. The kitchen door was broken open, and the shocking nature of the murder discovered. Divisional-inspector Collins, with several police officers, brought up Dr. Stott, the police surgeon; but the doctors could only see that their services were useless, the unfortunate gentleman having been dead for some time. Detective-inspector Charles Nutkins drove over in a cart with Supt. Vedy, and a thorough search of the premises was made. That the crime was the work of burglars appeared evident. On the dining-room window and scullery window there were marks of a jemmy, which had been ineffectual in providing an ingress. On the kitchen window the marks indicated that the jemmy, after determined manipulation at the bottom of the sash, had forced the lower frame from the middle fastening, and thus enabled it to be raised for the entrance of the burglars. From the position of the body and the surrounding appearances it was conjectured that Mr. Smith, whose bedroom was immediately above the kitchen, heard the burglars at work, and descended unarmed to the ground floor to intercept the thieves, and upon entering the kitchen by the door leading from the passage of the house was stunned by a blow on the head. The door of the kitchen leading on to the garden was untouched. Mr. Smith, it was conjectured, rushed forward and then fell backwards with his head towards the door by which he had entered. While down the thieves appeared to have tied Mr. Smith's arms tightly to his body at the elbow with a jack-towel, and also his legs with another towel. He had only his night-shirt on. Leaving him thus apparently secure the thieves, it is surmised, then proceeded to the bedroom, and after rifling the pockets of the deceased's clothes, which were laid near the bed, secured, in addition to his personal belongings, his keys, including one of a safe kept in the room. To prevent their victim screaming for assistance the burglars had gagged him by stuffing a pocket-handkerchief into his mouth, and struck him on the head with a jemmy to further ensure his silence. Nearly twelve groat wounds were found on the frontal bone and scalp, one alone of which is stated to have been sufficient to cause death. In addition, the face and body were bruised, while the fingers of one hand are said to have been broken and lacerated, including that the deceased had raised his hands to protect his head from the blows directed at it. There is also a severe abdominal injury. The deceased, a powerful man for his age, had evidently made a determined struggle for his life, judging from the condition of the kitchen and its furniture.
A remarkable circumstance of the crime is that the burglars left valuable property behind them. A watch and jewellery had been thrown into a fire wood basket in the kitchen, near the body of the victim. The burglars also left behind them a dark lantern, while on the lawn was found a common tobacco box, supposed to have belonged to one of the men. The manner in which the crime was carried out is said to awaken a belief that the thieves were well acquainted with the habits of the deceased, if not the whereabouts of his property, as their operations were directed mainly to the bedroom, where deed-boxes, drawers, and the safe were alone tampered with.


At noon on Friday the body of the deceased was removed on a police ambulance to the Hornsey public mortuary, by order, it is said, of the doctors, but, as it will be readily understood, against the wish of Mr. Smith's friends.


Mrs. Bland, the eldest daughter of Mr. Smith's sister, Mrs. Coley, most kindly gave Lloyd's representative some particulars of the deceased's habits. It was his custom to have his kitchen fire laid overnight, so that it was ready for him to light when he came down in the morning. He would retire early, often going to bed soon after seven o'clock, and would rise between three and four to make his breakfast ready. When he had lighted the fire he would not go back to his bedroom, but would sit in an easy chair in the dining-room in the dark until he thought the water was boiling. Mrs. Bland's theory of the murder is that Mr. Smith had come down to prepare his breakfast, and so surprised the thieves on their entry by the kitchen window. The window in question was fastened by an ordinary catch, which had but a slight hold on the window frame, having been on some years; there was also a shutter, but Mr. Smith would never have it put up. The thieves appeared to have set upon him, gagged him, and bound him to the legs of the kitchen table with pieces of the kitchen table cloth, which was torn into strips for the purpose; they then went upstairs and ransacked his bedroom. In the meantime, being a very powerful man, for he stood over six feet high, and walked with the elasticity of a man of fifty years, he broke the kitchen table, and so got free. The burglars, hearing him moving, came down and murdered him, so as to prevent his raising an alarm, or being able to recognise his assailants. The house was full of mechanical devices of his own design and execution; the bath and fittings had all been arranged by himself; even the spring gun in the grounds was his own idea and make. For some years past curious observers walking through Highgate cemetery have noticed a remarkable grave surrounded by iron railings, with a stone on which was a man's face and an inscription complete in every particular save the date of death. This was Mr. Smith's monument to his wife and himself, built by his own hands. There is also on the back of his house a fac-simile of the face on the grave, both being made from a cast of his face that the murdered man had taken some years ago. He always carried a peculiarly shaped steel purse, about fifteen inches long and three broad, made by himself; in this purse he kept a sum varying from forty to fifty pounds, never less.


This purse was attached to his person by a steel chain, and, contrary to general belief, the thieves did find it and emptied it of its contents, the purse being found separated from the chain, lying on the kitchen floor. Mr. Smith was said to be a man who did not know what fear was. For some years he was in the habit of walking from Highgate-archway to his house at Muswell nearly every night - this being at the time when there was no conveyance, and street lamps were undreamt of. The only things he carried were a walking-stick and a small lantern. The dead man had seemed fond of money, and had repeatedly said to his sister, Mrs. Coley, "I can't part with any of it while I live, but you can do what you like with it when I am gone." In all his letters to her this year the unfortunate gentleman had seemed to have a premonition of his death, and had continually expressed the opinion that he would not live through 1896. In his last letter but one he wrote: "I feel very cold about the feet. I dare say it will not be long before I am cold all over."


Yesterday a Lloyd's representative, accompanied by two artists, paid a visit to the scene of the crime for the special purpose of gathering some accurate information concerning the jealously-guarded house and its surroundings, and the way in which the cruel murder was carried out. Alighting at Highgate station, a walk was taken to Muswell lodge, by way of Highgate woods, which gave an opportunity of noting the facilities of escape afforded to the criminals by this rural spot, with its dense thickets and winding paths. On arriving at the house by way of the road, taken again where the wood bends off just below Norton Lees, a few persons were found lingering about the front entrance, which was guarded by a stalwart policeman. The replies of this officer to questions, though courteous, were of the "no information" order, but he offered no opposition to sightseers who cared to look over the gate or peer through the thick hedge which surrounds the house at this point. Nothing of the back of the house is visible from the road, and private property bounds it on either side. The front gate is a small and strong one of open ironwork swung between two stout wooden posts, and protected against any attempts to climb over it by an arched iron bar. The path on which it opens leads directly to the front entrance of the house, which is porched and creeper-covered. On each side of this path rise two very thick and closely clipped box hedges, which, running up flush with the house walls, effectually bar any ingress to the garden, and militate strongly against the idea, which has been expressed, that it was by this road the burglars entered the grounds. To gain any idea of how and when the crime was committed it was necessary to view the back of the house, and this view could only be obtained in one way. Accordingly the scribe and draughtsman proceeded a little way down the road to escape the observant eye of the policeman at the front gate. Next to the house stands a small iron chapel in a closely-fenced field, and next to this are the grounds of a nurseryman; beyond lies a very muddy field, and across this it was resolved to go to reach the private coppice known as Coldham-wood, which lies behind Muswell lodge.


To enter this coppice it was necessary to cross a dirty ditch defended on its further side by much villainous barbed wire, whose sharply-pointed hooks had no respect for clothes or person, but with some little damage to each it was at last surmounted and the wood gained. The coppice is of considerable extent, and runs down to the railway which divides it from Highgate wood. It is now almost demonstrably certain that the burglars entered the Muswell lodge grounds from this direction, crossing the railway line from Highgate woods, and returning in their flight the same way. Pushing through bramble bushes and undergrowth, which are here very thick, and working to the left, the back of the lodge was soon reached, and the easiness with which it could be entered at once perceived. The only protection is a park fence of the ordinary kind, armed at the top by upright iron spikes about two inches long, and set about an inch and a-half apart. The height of the fence is about seven feet, but this is discounted on the coppice side by the confirmation of the ground, which rises terrace-like to some three feet, leaving the base of the fence in a sort of ditch, and enabling any person of ordinary height to look well into the Lodge grounds. A person standing on this higher ground has no difficulty in placing a foot on the horizontal rail that carries the fence uprights, and to an active man the rest is easy. The spot at which the burglars made their entry is very plain and appears as sketched. In addition to footmarks on the horizontal rail, the timber knee placed as a support bears evidence of having afforded foothold, and is much marked and scratched. The spikes at the top are bent over towards the Lodge grounds, as they would be by persons entering in the manner described. Some two feet further to the right the fence is broken and marked as it would be by heavy bodies coming over it away from the Lodge. All the marks and scratches and the fracture of the lath carrying the spikes at this spot are fresh, and plainly only done within a day or two. Having got thus far, pressman and artists resolved to risk a nearer view, with the result that we are enabled to give our readers an accurate description and view of the kitchen within which the tragedy took place. The garden is of the trimmest, neat box edging surrounding the beds, which are devoted to vegetable growing, the narrow paths are clean and weedless, well-cared-for fruit trees stand here and there, and the whole place bears evidence of the care and attention bestowed upon it by its late unfortunate owner. Against the fence over which the burglars entered is a border, and, getting off that, a path runs to the right of the grounds, turning off at one point to a sort of terrace, but leaving that on the right, together with the conservatory seen in the illustration of the back of the house, and passing under a high and closely-trimmed box hedge to the kitchen door, by which the burglars left the house.
The kitchen window by which the burglars entered is an ordinary one, and the stories of its extra strength are apocryphal. No attempt was made to break the catch by a "tourniquet," as stated, but it was simply pried up by a "jemmy" or bar inserted underneath it, and screws, fastenings, and all gave way together. The kitchen, which is nearly square, is judging hastily, about fourteen by fifteen feet, and is of an ordinary character. The door leading from the garden is faced immediately opposite by another one which leads into the hall of the house. Immediately to the left (speaking as coming from the grounds) is another door which leads into a small pantry, in which was found the basket of sticks, amongst which the murdered man's jewellery had been hastily thrown. To the right of the door, and between it and the window is a small sink and tap, and it was almost under this sink that the head of the murdered man lay when he was found. The artist has marked the position of the body by a cross, viewing the kitchen as looking towards the garden door. The fireplace lies to the right looking from the garden, and there are cupboards on each side. There is no dresser, a small table being placed under the window, and a larger one, of which the leg was broken in the deadly struggle, near the centre of the apartment. Blood is splashed about everywhere, two great patches marking the spot and position in which the body lay. It is a ghastly sight for the jurymen who will have to view it. Mr. Webber, the gardener, is in charge of the premises with the police, and of their presence our representatives speedily became aware. It was in one respect advantageous, since it enabled the artists to get sketches of the finder of the body and of Inspector Lambert. Enquiries show that this latter officer, who is stationed at New Southgate, was the first to be informed by Major Challen of the tragedy that had been enacted in the quiet suburb. With great promptitude he at once proceeded to the scene, calling for the divisional surgeon on his way, taking charge of the premises, and at once sending for Inspector Nutkins and the other officials. Mr. Webber, who will be the most important witness at the inquest, is a man of medium height, wearing a full, thick, reddish-brown beard. He evidently feels acutely the barbarous murder of his kind old employer.
Leaving the immediate scene of the tragedy, a walk was taken in the coppice and something that may be a memento of the crime was picked up by Lloyd's representative in the shape of a broken shirt stud. It is a common one, but of somewhat peculiar pattern, and was found embedded in the ground over which it is possible the murderers passed in their flight after the crime. Our representative's attention was called to it by seeing it shine as he moved the grass with his foot, and soon afterwards, meeting with Detective-serjeant Chapman and his colleagues, who were searching the coppice, he told them of his find, and they at once demanded the article, which was handed over to them.
In respect to clues, a curious fact is that the door leading from the hall by which the old man must have entered the kitchen was found locked, and it is possible the murderers locked it to prevent his escape on seeing that he knew them. The key, we understand, has not been found.


Dr. Webster informed a correspondent that in his opinion death took place in the early hours of the morning. The deceased gentleman had one eye knocked completely out.
C.J. Webber, the deceased's gardener, lives with his wife in a little cottage opposite Muswell lodge. He spoke in the highest terms of his dead master, whom he had served for over ten years. Webber said that he had been cautioned not to talk on the subject of the murder, but he volunteered the statement that he believed the murderers made their way to the house through the front gate, and decamped by the rear across the fields. Mr. Smith and he did the housework between them, and no woman ever entered.
Mr. Robert Hayward, a friend of the deceased, who resides in the Eastern-road, Fortis-green, in an interview, said Mr. Smith, before he retired from business, was a gas engineer.


He was the architect of his own house. When asked if Mr. Smith had any enemies, or if it was known if any one owed him a grudge, Mr. Hayward said: "That is a very painful subject, and I dare not at this moment express what I actually think. I may say, however, that I saw Mr. Smith's solicitor today, and I have reason to believe that he has certain information which will serve as a clue to the perpetrators of this dastardly crime. I have known Mr. Smith for over 35 years, and was probably his only intimate friend. He was an extremely amiable man, although he was not without his eccentricities. Twenty years ago he married the widow of the Rev. Mr. McDonald, but two years afterwards his wife died. Since then he has lived entirely alone, not permitting even a charwoman in the house to clean the place up. He spent nearly all his time attending to his garden and plants, and if anyone was sick in the neighbourhood he always sent large bunches of grapes to whoever it might be.


Mr. Smith, before he retired from business, 35 years ago, was a gas engineer, and since then he had taken much interest in all scientific affairs. He was the architect of his own house, and with his own hands built the long vinery of iron and stone work which ornaments the garden."
Mr. Smith mentioned to a friend that he would have a large quantity of stocks grown this year, because he knew that the poor people liked that better than any other flower.
A German friend, an old gentleman, visited Mr. Smith nearly every Sunday. Deceased was very patriotic, and on all occasions of Royal thanksgiving or mourning a flag invariably appeared on his tower. The last time it was seen was when it floated at half-mast on the day of Prince Henry of Battenberg's funeral.


Deceased was one of the subscribers to the Clock Tower erected in the neighbourhood last year. The baker who was in the habit of calling upon him reports that the old gentleman cheerily shouted out from one of the windows, "Mind you bring me a nice loaf on Saturday." He engaged the milkman in a long chat at the door.
A contemporary states that it was Mr. Smith's habit, before going to bed, to lock all the room doors on the outside; and the burglars soon discovered that they were locked in. They had no other implements with them, it is believed, than one or two small jemmeys, with candle and lantern. So they searched the cupboards in the kitchen, which contained some tools; and, unfortunately for the deceased, they found in one of them a drill. This was precisely what the burglars wanted. They got to work with it as silently as they could upon the wood above the bolt of the door; and while they were so occupied, Mr. Smith, aroused from his sleep by the sound, came down the stairs in night shirt, stockings, and slippers, with candle in hand, unlocked the kitchen door, and was instantly amongst the burglars.


In an interview a Lloyd's representative had with a retired solicitor, now living in Hampstead, who for many years was a personal friend of Mr. Smith, some details concerning the ways of the murdered man were gleaned. Mr. Smith, said our informant, though averse to seeing much company, was a genial and entertaining friend to the few who really knew him. He was passionately fond of books, flowers, birds, and children, and in the walks he used to take would make friends with any of the latter he met, and accompany them in their rambles. He was a botanist of no mean repute, and a personal friend of the late Shirley Hibberd, with whom he entered into a long correspondence in a well-known gardening journal on the subject of viniculture. He also at one time advanced a theory that the destruction of the French vine past, the phylloxera, might be secured by dressing the vine roots with a compost of his own invention. The story published that he became a recluse owing to an early disappointment in love is incorrect. He was never in love until late in life, and then with the woman he married when he was over 50 years of age, Mrs. Macdonald, the widow of the Rev. Robert Macdonald. The latter gentleman he had known in his youth, when training for the profession of a civil engineer, which he afterwards followed. In this capacity he had much to do with the works of the Metropolitan Gas Light and Coke company in the early days of gas engineering. To his wife Mr. Smith was very deeply attached, and when she died at Hove, near Brighton, in 1872, just 18 months after the marriage, his health was seriously affected, and for three months he lay in a most critical condition. On his return to his house at Muswell-hill, which he had built to his own designs, Mr. Smith commenced the course of life he followed until the time of his death. He had no aversion to women, but he was morbidly sensitive to any scandal in connection with them, and so resolved to do without any help from the softer sex. Despite this fact, and what has been asserted concerning the condition of the interior of the murdered man's house, he was scrupulously clean and neat in his habits, and the rooms were kept in apple-pie order. In addition to his other attainments, Mr. Smith was an excellent chess-player, and has in his time contributed problems and solutions to most of the chess journals. In his way of living he was very simple, being almost a vegetarian. To the poor his purse was always open, and an appeal for help for a deserving case always met a generous and immediate response. Our informant feels that only somebody who had an intimate knowledge of the ways of the deceased man could have planned the robbery, which, significantly enough, took place just after one of Mr. Smith's periodical visits to the City, from which he was believed always to return with a considerable sum in gold. Altogether, Mr. Smith lived a useful and blameless life, and his loss will be specially deplored by many of his poorer friends and neighbours.
Most of the inhabitants of Upper-street, Islington, remember when the strip of ground lying between the Unitarian church and Cross-street was known as Rufford's-row, and was numbered from 1 to 15, counting from the end towards the "Angel." This row of shops had then a raised pavement some four feet above the road way running in front of them, and it was about where 296, Upper-street, Islington, now stands that about forty years ago Mr. Smith was in business as a gas engineer at No. 11 or 12, Rufford's-row. This is clearly established by Mrs. Bland, who remembers being taken there as a little girl by her mother.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, February 16, 1896, Pages 1-2

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

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