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Somerset Arrested In Canada For Murder

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Somerset Arrested In Canada For Murder

Post by Karen on Thu 17 Jun 2010 - 7:40

TRUE STRANGE STORIES OF REAL PEOPLE.

THE AMAZING LORD SOMERSET CASE.
BY AUGUSTUS ST. MARS.

[img][/img]

The southernmost neck of Ontario that has between three of the Great Lakes was quite agog in 1888 over the appearance of Lord Somerset.
That dignified and dapper gentleman reappeared with his wife in the same region two years later, traveling as Mr. and Mrs. John R. Birchall.
Their reappearance was most sensational and dramatic. In a desolate region, Blenheim Swamp, in ill favor as a hiding place for criminals, the authorities had found in the snow the frozen corpse of a conspicuously refined young man of about 21 with two bullet holes in the back of his head.
Everything that might identify the victim had been removed - laundry marks, tailors' and haberdashers' names, papers. That was on Feb. 22, 1890.
Superintendent Murray of Ontario's Criminal Investigation Department appeared to have no clue whatever on which to work. After sending the body to an undertaker in the nearby village of Princeton he combed the neighboring terrain. It yielded but one possible item of evidence, an amber and silver cigarette holder bearing the initials "F.C.B."
A few days later the erstwhile Lord Somerset, now calling himself Birchall, appeared at the undertaker's with his pretty wife. As they pulled down the sheet covering the murder victim Murray noticed that they flinched with sudden horror.
Birchall muttered nervously that the corpse was that of a jolly young chap he had chatted with on the ship that had brought them over from England. Birchall said he remembered the youth's first name as Fred but could not recall his last name. He thought it began with "B."
Murray, continuing to comb the neighborhood, found a girl who remembered that on Feb. 19 she had seen two strangers going toward the scene of the body's discovery. A man living nearby remembered hearing a couple of shots about the same time.
And their neighbor, the stationmaster, recalled seeing a very young man and an older man alight from the Buffalo train shortly before the girl had seen the two strangers. What fixed the circumstance in the stationmaster's memory was the fact that the young man had dropped his cigarette holder.
The stationmaster added that the older man closely resembled Lord Somerset who had visited the neighborhood two years before, also that he remembered that he had frequently seen him and Lady Somerset drive into Blenheim Swamp for picnics. Learning that the couple had gotten away as far as Hamilton, Murray wired the police there to arrest them.

Meanwhile the clever detective had cabled Scotland Yard, London's police headquarters. The reply stated that John Reginald Birchall, then touring Canada and the United States with his wife had lately advertised that he wished to contact several young men of means interested in becoming established as gentleman farmers in Canada.
Two young men who responded and paid premiums to Birchall were now en route with him and his wife to the big Birchall farm in Ontario. These clients were F.C. Benwell and a Mr. Pelly. As the initials of the former name were identical with the "F.C.B." on the silver and amber cigarette-holder, Superintendent Murray concluded that he now knew the name of the murdered man.
But Birchall was either Lord Somerset, his twin brother or his exact double, according to all who had seen them both and how to unscramble this egg Murray and his able staff were at their wits' end to determine.
While they were pondering over this Murray received a call from none other than Pelly, the young man reported to have left England with Birchall and Benwell. Having read of Birchall's arrest he had hurried from Montreal to give his testimony, which was by no means lacking in interest.
Reading Birchall's advertisement in a London paper, he had contacted him and given him a premium of 500 pounds (almost $2,500), as had Benwell, preparatory to accompanying them both to a vast agricultural tract alleged to have been owned by Birchall in Ontario.
During the trip Pelly noted that Birchall and Benwell were very friendly, the former calling the latter "Fred." Benwell was a high-spirited jokester and Birchall, although much older, was more subservient than superior in his attitude toward him, which had puzzled Pelly.
Arriving at Buffalo Birchall announced that he must make a brief business trip and Pelly was surprised when he discovered that Benwell had gone with him - was still more surprised when Birchall returned alone, on Feb. 20., stating that Benwell had begged to go on to the farm and get started with his training without further waste of time.
Pelly replied that he was equally anxious to get started without further delay and further expense but Birchall insisted on first visiting Niagara, where Pelly accompanied him much against his will.
Birchall further irritated his young client by insisting that they wait until night to walk under the cataract as he wished to look through the spray during moonlight. He led Pelly along the most perilous ledges and had begun to make a move that would have pushed the young man into the roaring, foaming chasm had not a stranger appeared on the ledge. Pelly retreated across a narrow bridge where Birchall overtook him and faked a collision that nearly consummated the deadly plot.
So Pelly, forfeiting his 500 pounds, had his baggage taken to the Buffalo station while Birchall was out of the hotel and hurried to Montreal.
Birchall was tried in Woodstock, a town about 30 miles above London, Ontario, the very place where he had effected previous swindles in the role of "Lord Somerset." His wife, who never wavered in her loyalty to him, was completely exonerated of any knowledge of or complicity in his crimes. He was defended by three prominent barristers and reporters from the chief cities of Canada and the United States covered the six days' court proceedings.
During that whole week Birchall maintained his smile, his swagger and his bluff. He was dressed in the very latest style, even to an extensive fur-lined topcoat. He testified in his own behalf without nervousness or irritation. But all of this was to no avail.
Maintaining his courageous pose he struted toward the scaffold, alongside the executioner chosen to hang him, but finally lost his nerve when his weeping, broken-hearted wife appeared from the crowd to kiss him goodbye.
As to why he voluntarily thrust himself into a police trap by appearing at the undertaker's establishment and identifying himself with Benwell remains one of the enigmas of criminology.

Source: The Winnipeg Evening Tribune, November 4, 1939 (Page 4)

[img][/img]
Lord Somerset

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Birchell On Trial

Post by Karen on Thu 17 Jun 2010 - 20:35

THE GREAT MURDER TRIAL.

Birchell is on Trial at Woodstock.

The greatest murder trial of the age in Canada opened in Woodstock on Monday. The court room is crowded and all the leading papers of Canada have representatives present. A telegraph wire has been run into the court so that the evidence is flashed all over the world as soon as it is taken. J. Reginald Birchell, has been charged with the murder of his chum, F.C. Benwell. Judge McMahon presides. The most distinguished criminal lawyers are engaged on both sides.
F.C. Benwell, for whose murder Birchell was placed on trial today, was about twenty-five years of age, and son of Colonel W.H. Benwell, of the English army. He was intimately acquainted with Birchell in England and some time about last Christmas the latter made a proposition to him to form a partnership to obtain the control of a stock farm near Niagara Falls, of which Birchell claimed to be a part owner. Young Benwell looked favorably upon the matter, and Birchell then attempted to secure some money in advance from Benwell's father. The old gentleman, however, was wary, and decided that when his son reported to him from Canada that the business was satisfactory he would pay the money agreed upon, twenty-five hundred dollars, but not before. Accordingly, on February 5th, a party consisting of Benwell, Birchell, the latter's wife Florence, and a young man named Pelly, who had also arranged with Birchell to engage in farm work in Canada, sailed from Liverpool on the steamer Brittanic. After a short stay at New York the party proceeded to Buffalo, and thence to Niagara Falls. On February 17th, Birchell and Benwell started to investigate the alleged farm. They took the train as far as Eastwood station where they left it and started to walk. At the farm houses along the turnpike, Birchell was frequently recognized, he having lived at Woodstock for some time under the name of Lord Somerset. What transpired during the next few hours is a secret locked in one's man's breast, whether that man be the prisoner now on trial or someone else. At any rate Birchell returned to Niagara Falls alone.
Four days later, however, or on February 21st, the dead body of Benwell was found in the weeds of a swamp on the edge of Mud Lake in Oxford county. His clothing was saturated with blood that had flowed from the bullet wounds in the head. There were no papers in the pockets, and the murderer or murderers had actually cut out every portion of the victim's clothing upon which his name appeared. It happened, however, that a cigar case had been overlooked in the hind pocket of the coat, upon which his name was engraved. This gave the first clew to the detectives, and finally as a result of some decidedly skilful work Birchell was arrested and charged with the murder. He was arraigned before Police Magistrate Hill, of Niagara Falls, on March 12, and committed for trial. The crown, in the present trial, will first show that Birchell's farm was a pure myth, that for purposes of robbery, and believing that his victim was well supplied with funds, Birchell led him on some pretext into the swamp and then deliberately shot and killed him.

Source: Portage La Prairie Weekly Review, September 24, 1890, Page 8

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15 Men Murdered

Post by Karen on Fri 18 Jun 2010 - 4:23

A case that attracted attention throughout the world occurred back on Feb. 22, of 1890, that of John R. Birchall, alias Lord Somerset. He murdered another young Englishman, Fred C. Benwell, whose body was found in Blenheim swamp near Princeton in southwestern Ontario. I was not present when the murderer was hanged, but John Murray, who handled the case, loved to describe the highlights of what was then, and I believe continue to be, a criminal case without parallel in the history of the Dominion.
The evidence showed Birchall as "a mass murderer for profit." He was well-educated and well connected in England. When about thirty years of age he began to publish advertisements in Old Country papers inviting young men who wished to learn farming in Canada to contact him. For a consideration of 500 pounds ($2,500) he would agree to take them to Canada where he claimed to have a large farm. There he would teach them a practical knowledge of farming.

It was disclosed in the investigation that at least 15 young Englishmen who had accompanied Birchall at different times from England had never afterwards been heard of by their families. When the body of his latest victim was discovered at a point only 50 miles west of Buffalo, New York, detectives had little difficulty in connecting him with Birchall and his wife who had all registered at a Buffalo hotel. The evidence was that Birchall and Benwell had taken an early morning train, crossing into Ontario, and had been seen alighting at Princeton.

By that curious coincidence, which is sometimes known as "the hand of Providence," witnesses were found who saw the two men leave the train back to Buffalo. A milkman actually heard, at a time that would coincide with the appearance of these two strangers, a pistol shot.
With the co-operation of Scotland Yard it was easily established that Birchall had left Liverpool with Benwell and another young Englishman who had paid him, according to their friends, 500 pounds each for training on his mythical farm in Canada.
In the trial it was disclosed that several people around Woodstock recognized the prisoner as a man they had known several years previously as Lord Somerset.
While luring these enterprising young people across the ocean to their deaths Birchall spent his idle time drinking champagne and enjoying social amenities.

Detective Murray told me that he had never met a more cold, calculating criminal. And yet the morning he was to pay the supreme penalty Birchall walked out of his cell, his head erect and put his arms around his weeping wife, patting her on the shoulder and urged her to have courage.
This display of decency secured for the condemned man the only sympathy ever extended to him. His religious advisor said the murderer was deeply concerned over his future and declared his belief that he had been forgiven.
Though convicted purely on circumstantial evidence it was learned some years later that Birchall had confessed to his spiritual advisor though this fact was never officially recorded.
These are some of the cases which came under my own observation and they cause me to marvel over the adaptability of human nature.

Source: The Winnipeg Evening Tribune, August 24 ,1940, Page 4

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Lord Somerset's Life, Trial and Execution

Post by Karen on Sat 19 Jun 2010 - 5:54

REGINALD BIRCHALL HANGED FRIDAY MORNING.

He Remains Jaunty, Callous and Unaffected to the Last - He Made No Confession - The Last Fare Well.

WOODSTOCK, Nov. 14 - Jno. Reginald Birchall was hanged this morning at 8:27. He retained his jaunty, callous air to the end, apparently unaffected by the advice of Rev. Mr. Wade, the clergyman who has been in his cell day after day exhorting him to prepare for death. The past night has been a terrible one for all who, through family ties held the condemned man dear. Various reports have been sent broadcast through the press concerning the final interview between the murderer and his unhappy wife. These accounts in no way represented what really occurred in the condemned man's cell. This morning, however, officials and friends talk freely about it. Mrs. Birchall went to the jail at 7 o'clock, accompanied by her sister, Mrs. West Jones, and a college friend of Birchall's named Arthur Leetham now in Montreal. At that time Birchall had but just parted company with Deputy Sheriff Perry, who was there to see that things were all right and that no hitch would occur to balk justice at the last moment. The deputy sheriff had not talked to the prisoner many moments when he found that suicide was the most remote possibility. Instead of being dejected Birchall was resorting to every device which his vivid fancy might suggest to sustain his spirits at an elevated pitch. He had worked himself up to a degree not far removed from insane merriment. He made jokes about the gallows and railed at the cooks, who had sent him a venison steak for supper, that had not been kept long enough after killing; but he had his calm minutes also, and in one of these he presented the deputy sheriff with a signed and dated photograph of himself. Soon after Mr. Perry had left, Mrs. Birchall and Mrs. West Jones were ushered into the cell. The latter remained only some fifteen minutes. Her farewell was a sad one, but she kept perfect control of herself. Mrs. Birchall was then practically alone with her doomed husband for the guards stood at the other side of the cells with averted faces while the clergyman withdrew from the scene. The woman wept piteously, though she tried to confine her tears for a while. Then she wept aloud in her abandonment of misery. The man kept cool for a time, then he adopted a caressing disposition. Mrs. Birchall did not faint and help had not to be called in at any time. It would be charitable to draw a veil over the agonizing scene. When an hour had passed by Mrs. West Jones returned in a cab, but she had to wait. Then the spiritual adviser declared that Birchall needed the brief remaining hours of his preparation. This was at 1:30 a.m. The effect of the prolonged interview had somewhat unnerved the prisoner, but he smiled coldly as he parted with his wife forever. He was as a child in the hands of the clergyman. Then he lay down and in his exhausted condition tried to sleep, but sleep was impossible. Then he got up and declared that he would sit it out. He laughed and joked at the guards again, but after a while he began to pay attention to the administration of Mr. Wade. At six o'clock, the prisoner who had again laid down for a few minutes rose and robed himself in a dark suit of clothes, a white shirt with cuffs and collar, black tie, and white gloves.

BIRCHALL ON THE GALLOWS.

He Made no Confession - But Dies With Sealed Lips.

WOODSTOCK JAIL, Nov. 14, 1890. - At six o'clock breakfast, consisting of poached eggs on toast, canned peaches, canned raspberries and coffee, was brought into Birchall's cell. Birchall disposed of a couple of eggs and then pushed the tray from him. Then he began to prepare himself for the final terrible ordeal. At about half-past seven the doors of the jail were opened and a crowd of waiting men admitted to the yard to which the scaffold was erected, and in half an hour a couple of hundred people were in the yard, while trees outside the walls were crowded with boys and the platform and partly constructed wall at the new county building was crowded with a throng of men. Dr. Rice gaol surgeon, went up to Birchall's cell early this morning and joined Rural Dean Wade; behind him Dr. Chamberlain, followed by A.D. Stewart and Deputy-Sheriff Perry. The prisoner came next, deathly pale but resolute. His step was steady, and his jet black hair made the pallor of his face like marble. He was dressed in dark colored tweed clothes, white flannel shirt, with black bow at the collar and light patent leather shoes. His friend Leetham walked on one side of him. With his day guard Geo Parry on the other. The gaoler followed them and after the hangman, the sheriff was supported to the door of the corridor overlooking the west yard. The march was slow along the corridor and out into the yard. On one side of the prisoner Leetham walked close and held one hand in both of his with all the assurance of a friend's hearty clasp. On his right side day guard Perry held Birchall's arm. The principal actors in the tragedy stopped with their charge about fifteen feet from the gallows. In the eyes of the black-haired, white-faced young man, standing on the threshold of eternity there was not a trace of the triviality that had lightened his imprisonment; as he stood listening to the low toned priest they were fixed on the low blue sky over the north. There was no haunted look nor was there any fear in his eyes, but a fixed look that seem to consume his reason. At the words in the service "Dust to dust," Birchall stepped firmly forward and took his place under the scaffold. He took Leetham's hand in his and the friends kissed under the gallows. The executioner put a strap around the prisoner's legs, just above his knees. The clergyman then took Birchall's hand and kissed him. As the priest entered upon the Lord's prayer the executioner put a black cap over the head of the doomed man and adjusted the noose about his neck. Birchall had declared he would say nothing on the scaffold and he did not, nor did he say a word after leaving his cell except it might have been to mutter a word to Leetham or Wade when he bade them goodbye with a kiss. At 8:27 the words "deliver us from evil" gave the signal and a quick pull on a small rope by the executioner, who stood behind the law's victim, released the immense weight; it fell to the ground and sank six or eight inches by the force of its weight. Birchall had stood close to one of the uprights and the jerk of the noose drew his body first oblique and then up. The body was jerked into the air about five feet and fell until its feet were within two feet of the ground. The drop was made at 8:29. Convulsions commenced half a minute later, but they were not at all violent. At 8:30 the convulsions had ceased and at 8:35 Dr. Chamberlain who stood with his hand on the body, declared life extinct. The neck was broken.
At the post-mortem it was discovered that death had been caused by strangulation. The usual statuatory verdict was found by the coroner's jury. It is the opinion of the jail officials and Dr. Chamberlain that the execution was well done. Dr. Chamberlain says he never saw a more finished execution, and in his judgment Birchall felt nothing three seconds after the falling of the weight. The body will be buried in the jail yard, but whereabouts the officials will not divulge.

NO CONFESSION.

Birchall fearing a fake confession might be worked off on the public after his death, made out this document.

WOODSTOCK JAIL, NOV. 1890
All rights reserved.

"If after my death there shall appear in the press or in any other manner whatsoever any confession that I had any hand in the murder of F.C. Benwell or any personal knowledge of said murder with intent or malice aforethought, or any personal connection with the murder on the 17th of February, or other day, or any knowledge that any such murder was likely to be committed or any statement further than that I have made public previous to this date, I hand this statement to the care of George Perry, of Woodstock, Ont. that he may know any confession or partial confession are entirely fictitious and without a word of truth. This likewise applies to my story in the Mail in which I have made no confession or partial confession. This holds good throughout.

(Signed) Reg Birchall

Mrs. Birchall, who had been under the influence of opiates since her last interview with her husband, awoke about 9:30. The facts of the execution were told to her. She bore up much better than they expected under the circumstance. Birchall's body was cut down fifteen minutes after the execution. When the black cap was removed the dead man's face was greatly discolored, numerous dark blue spots appearing all over and the red of his eyeballs was quite apparent. The last words that Birchall uttered were addressed to the hangman just as he was putting the black cap over the condemned man's head. Birchall said: "Have you any objection to shaking hands with me?" The hangman replied, "Certainly not," and they shook hands. It is impossible to learn anything definite as to when Mrs. Birchall will leave for England, but it is stated that she will remain in Woodstock some little time. Birchall's body was buried this evening in the church yard.

BIRCHALL'S MOTHER DYING.

LONDON, Nov. 14. - The news of Birchall's execution was received here and throughout England with the deepest interest. As a rule, executions in Great Britain do not attract attention from the general public, but no crime of recent years has aroused curiosity and anxiety for the details that the Birchall case has excited. Crowds waited anxiously for the news of the hanging, which came about three o'clock in the afternoon and the papers were eagerly bought up. It is said that at Oxford University, where Birchall was a student, someone draped in mourning the door of the apartment which he had occupied, and nothing else had been talked of by the students for several days but Birchall's crime and fate. He had many friends among his old college chums and to this day he is spoken of with favor and regret at the college. His mother is rapidly sinking, and it is feared that the news of the execution will finish her. Birchall's half-brother Rev. Oswald Birchall, denied himself to all callers today and yesterday, and is said to have spent all Thursday night in prayer. Mr. Stevenson, father of Mrs. Birchall, is crushed with anxiety about his daughter, and has again sent word to Mrs. West Jones to return to England immediately with her sister. Mr. Stevenson is well situated as to property and there is no danger of Mrs. Birchall wanting for anything. The newspapers are unanimous in approving the action of the Canadian authorities in enforcing the law to the letter in Birchall's case.

THE MAIL BACKS OUT.

There is $550 held back agreed to be paid by the Toronto Mail for the history of his life. He was to furnish matter to no other newspaper. The autograph letter in the Sentinel Review, the Mail people claim, is a violation of contract, and they refuse to pay the balance. Birchall's friends say the letter was delivered to Geo Perry and not to Sentinel Review, and therefore is no violation.

OTTAWA, Nov. 14. - A letter signed by "J.R.M," and bearing a Washington postmark was received today by Chief McVelty. The writer says that he knows who shot Benwell, but it was not Birchall. The man who did shoot him got $500 for doing it.

The Crime.

[Birchall's crime was the killing of F.C. Benwell, Feb. 17 last, in a swamp in Oxford County, Ontario. On Feb. 21 last, the body of a young man was found in the Princeton swamp with two bullet wounds in the head. He had been shot down from behind. The body was dressed in English tweed and the under garments were of the finest texture. At first there seemed to be no clue to his identity. The plans were so ingeniously laid that but for one slight circumstance the identification would have been nearly impossible. The murderer had partly undressed his victim, and neatly cut from the clothing the name, and then, after rifling the pockets, he quickly departed thinking he had destroyed everything.
But when the victim fell his cigar case flew from his breast pocket and lodged in the snow half under a small dead sapling, whose branches were spread over the ground. The murderer overlooked this small silent witness and it was found by the detective. On it was inscribed the name of Fred'k C. Benwell. Following up this clue, the officers arrested Birchall at Niagara Falls, Ont., where he had his preliminary examination and was formally indicted for murder in the first degree. He came up for trial at Woodstock, and after one of the most important murder trials ever held in the Dominion, the details of which are still fresh in the minds of our readers, was condemned to die. Great pressure was brought to bear by Mrs. Birchall for the reprieve of her husband, but without avail. Birchall came to Canada early in the summer of 1882 to become a farmer, but, finding the work harder and the pay smaller than he had been led to expect, he stayed in Woodstock. Birchall talked a good deal about aristocrats in England with whom he claimed to be acquainted or connected. He signed himself Bischall or Burchell, but spoke of himself as the possessor of or heir apparent to the title of Lord Somerset. Many people in Oxford county knew him only as Somerset. There did not seem to be anything vicious about him, he was simply out on having a good time. His wife seemed to second him in what he did, and was known everywhere as "Lady Somerset." These two disappeared in the fall as quickly as they had come, leaving certain unpaid bills. When a man was arrested in February last for the murder of the stranger whose body was found in the swamp near Princeton, the people were made aware for the first time that Lord Somerset or Birchall, had returned.

Source: Brandon Sun Weekly, Thursday November 20, 1890, Page 1

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Grenadier Guards and Horse Guards

Post by Karen on Sun 20 Jun 2010 - 1:57

The following article is interesting since the insubordination inside the ranks of the Grenadier Guards and the appointment of a new Commandant of Militia for the Horse Guards coincided with the time of Lord Somerset's arrest and detainment. Lord Arthur Somerset was Major of the Horse Guards in London.

Evidence of insubordination appearing in the ranks of the Grenadier Guards at London, England, that regiment has been ordered to Bermuda, for which post it would leave on Tuesday.

Friends of the prisoner Birchall in England, says the Toronto World, have subscribed 300 pounds as a defence fund for the accused, and a draft of 100 pounds is now on the way out. The father of the murdered Benwell has been subpoenaed to give evidence at the trial of Birchall, and will arrive from England shortly in order to be present at the trial. It is probable that Mr. B.B. Osler, Q.C., will be engaged to defend Birchall. The assizes at which Birchall will be tried, open at Woodstock on Sept. 18th.

It is estimated that the Dominion Government will make an effort to satisfy the demand for the appointment of a Canadian as Commandant of Militia by selecting Col. Chas. Robinson, a Canadian, now assistant military secretary to the Horse Guards in London, to the position. Col. Robinson is a son of the late chief justice, Sir John Beverly Robinson, and brother of Hon. J.B. Robinson, late Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, of Christopher Robinson, Q.C., and of Sir Lucan Robinson, of Toronto. He has seen active service in Ashantee, in Zululand and elsewhere and is a full colonel in the imperial service.

Source: Minnedosa Tribune, July 24, 1890, Page 2

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Of A Superior Class

Post by Karen on Sun 20 Jun 2010 - 2:14

THE PRINCETON MURDER.

The Mystery Being Cleared Up.

NIAGARA FALLS. March 3. - The uncertainty and doubt surrounding the identity of the dead man found with evidence of murder near Princeton, Ont., has been cleared up, and the body shown to be that of F.C. Benwell, of London, England. The proof was given by a person named J. Burchell, at present stopping at Niagara Falls, who stated that he knew the deceased and had received a letter from him about three weeks since, dated from London, Ont., where he was on a journey seeking to find a good farm suitable for stock raising. The sequel of the information proved rather startling. Burchell expressed the confident opinion that Benwell had been decoyed into the locality where his body was found and there murdered. Yesterday Burchell was himself arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the murder. It appears that the deceased with Burchell and his wife and a young man named Pelley arrived at New York some time ago on the White Star steamer "Britannic," and at once came to this place. About a month ago Benwell is said to have gone west and Pelley to New York, but his return was announced for yesterday. The trains were watched for Pelley and on the arrival of the train from New York he was arrested and taken to the magistrate's office. After some private investigation Burchell's arrest was ordered. Both the people arrested, and Mrs. Burchell who feels her arrest keenly, are well bred and evidently belong to a superior class of society.

Source: Brandon Sun Weekly, March 13, 1890, Page 1

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Re: Somerset Arrested In Canada For Murder

Post by Guest on Sat 26 Jun 2010 - 17:54

This is interesting indeed. But a question, please. I do not see any reference to a "Sam Flynn" in the articles. What is his involvement in this case?

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Inside Joke

Post by Karen on Sat 26 Jun 2010 - 19:23

It is actually an inside joke -

Sam Flynn, a poster on Casebook, I believe his real name is Gareth once asked me if Lord Arthur Somerset was ever arrested for anything and he was quite harassing in his tone towards me. It seemed that he was defending Somerset at the time. My recent discovery of Somerset's arrest is a way of me "sticking it to Gareth", as it were.

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Birchell's Crime

Post by Karen on Wed 14 Jul 2010 - 22:26

BIRCHELL'S CRIMES.
The Coroner's Jury Charges Him with Young Benwell's Murder.

ANOTHER POSSIBLE VICTIM.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Neville H. Pickthall Leads to the Belief That He, Too, Was Killed by the Handsome Englishman.

PRINCETON, Ont., March 9. - The coroner's jury in the Benwell inquest has rendered a verdict that Benwell came to his death at the hands of Reginald Birchell, and they implicate his wife as having guilty knowledge of the crime after its commission.
Under the law of Canada a wife cannot be punished for shielding her husband, and therefore Mrs. Birchell cannot be made accessory after the fact, in the general sense of the term.
Mr. Pelley, the young man who accompanied Benwell and Birchell to this country, was taken to the grave Saturday, and after viewing the body declared that it was Benwell's. In the course of his evidence before the jury he said that Mrs. Birchell spoke to him about the farm and the servants in the farm house. She told him that she was not very well satisfied with either the farm life or the farm servants, the farm being lonely and the servants unsuitable.
Pelley believed that Mrs. Birchell knew of the plot conceived by her husband to defraud him and that she was a partner to the fraud.

Was There Another Victim?

WOODSTOCK, Ont., March 9. - New and sensational developments are cropping out in connection with the Benwell tragedy, and the question now is whether there have not been at least two victims. Some two or three years ago a young Englishman, Neville H. Pickthall, came here, and about a year ago purchased a farm six miles south of this place. About four months ago he married the daughter of his minister. On Feb. 10 last Pickthall raised $1,000 on a mortgage on his farm and left here, saying to his wife: "I am going to double this money before I come back." He was seen at Niagara Falls that night and said he was going to New York to meet his sister.

Pickthall's Mysterious Disappearance.

The testimony in the Birchell examination showed that Pickthall reached New York and there met the Birchells. Since then no trace of him has been found, and no word has been received from him. His disappearance caused a stir at the time, and the police sent descriptions of him all over the country.
The theory now is that he was enticed to New York by Birchell with the expectation of making a large sum of money, and that he was put out of the way for the money he carried with him. A search of Birchell's baggage will be made in the hope of finding some clew to Pickthall's fate.

Strong Evidence of Guilt.

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont., March 9. - The coroner's inquest on the body of Benwell has developed some very strong evidence showing Birchell's guilt. It has been previously proved that on the afternoon of the same day on which Birchell and Benwell left Buffalo a man resembling Birchell boarded a return train at Eastwood, a station on the Grand Trunk railway in Canada, near the supposed "stock farm," and but a few miles from where Benwell's body was found.
Now comes the positive identification of Birchell as the man, and the still more important testimony of witnesses who, in the forenoon of the day of the murder, saw Birchell and Benwell leave the Grand Trunk railway at Eastwood together and walk off in the direction of the spot where the body of Benwell was afterward found. Farmer John Crosby saw the two men walking along the road about a mile out of Eastwood, and Miss Alice Smith met Birchell returning alone. She knew him two years ago as Lord Somerset, when he cut a dash at Woodstock. Several other witnesses saw Birchell at the depot.
An almost perfect chain of circumstantial evidence holds Birchell from the time he left Buffalo with Benwell until the time he came back without him. Birchell had four and a half hours to do the murder in between his arrival in Eastwood and his departure. This was plenty of time for him. From the time he left England probably he knew just the place to which he intended to lure Benwell and kill him.

Scotland Yard Aroused.

LONDON, March 9. - A Scotland Yard detective left for Canada in consequence of a belief here in the existence of a gang of desperadoes whose object is to inveigle rich young men to Canada and murder them. There have been two mysterious disappearances in Canada during the past nine months - one young man from Cheshire, who went to Montreal, and the other the son of a rich farmer living near Shrewsbury, who went to take a farm near the spot where Benwell was murdered.

Source: The Ogdensburg Journal, Tuesday March 11, 1890

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Karen Trenouth
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