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Discover the fascinating people and places of Tunbridge Wells.Take a journey back in time to the 19th and early 20th century. See what the town was like in the days of the horse and carriage and what the people did who lived there. See the vintage postcards and photographs.Read the articles about the different trades and professions and the people who worked in them.Learn about the historic buildings and the town's colourful history.

This month I feature a lovely turn of the century view of Buckingham Road, Tunbridge Wells by local photographer James Richards (1866-1949), presented as card No. 380 and identified as his work by the usual "JR" before the number on the bottom right hand side of the postcard. Of particular interest in this photograph is the image of an old milk cart on the road, parked there by the milkman making his rounds. The housewife, upon hearing the milkman knock at her door, would hand him a basin or milk jug, which the milkman would fill with a ladle from his cart. Most homes did not have electricity at that time and relied on cooling their milk by placing it in an icebox, the blocks of ice for which were delivered by the iceman on his horse and wagon. Delivery of milk and cream to the door in bottles came much later. James Richards was an interesting man, details of which were given in my article 'The Life and Times of James Richards' dated August 23,2013, the overview of which is given below.

"While it is not unusual for a person to have several careers over their life James Richards of Tunbridge Wells had in my opinion perhaps one of the most interesting range of careers. He was the son of a general labourer who at age 15 in 1881, while living in Hailsham,Sussex, worked as a twine spinner with his 13 year old brother George.By 1900 he was a resident of Tunbridge Wells working as a photographer,selling the photos and postcard views he produced of the town from his bookseller,stationer,newsagent shop at 85 Camden Road.But this was not enough for James and although his shop,which his wife Amy helped to run, was still going strong, as was the Camden Library from the same premises ,until his death in Tunbridge Wells in 1949, James became a Methodist preacher and in the 1930's authored and self- published a large number of books,many of a religious nature, in the Sussex dialect under the pseudonym of Jim Cadpole."


From the time this website was created in 2011, page 5 has been devoted entirely to articles pertaining to my family. For the foreseeable future Page 5 will now be used for articles devoted to the History of Tunbridge Wells. So please ensure that you visit page 5 on a regular basis.

The articles on this site are replaced by new ones on the first of the month, so come back and visit this site often. Feel free to copy any text and images of interest to you.Due to the quantity and size of the images in this website users will find that some of them are slow to appear. Please be patient, as they are worth waiting for.Those without high speed internet service will no doubt have to wait longer than others. To move from one page of the website to the next simply click on the page number in the bar at the top of the page-not the "Go To" instruction at the bottom of the page.

Also note that if you attempt to print any pages from this website before the page has fully loaded, some images may not be printed and the layout of the page may be distorted, as the text and images are repositioned during loading. For the best copy wait for the page to fully load.

There is no provision for contacting me from this website. If you wish to contact me I would suggest contacting the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library or the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society who will forward your inquiry to me. Their contact details can be found on their websites.


I am a researcher and writer of articles about the history of Tunbridge Wells and was a member of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society (TWFHS). I have been a regular contributer to the TWFHS Guestbook and Journal. I assist others with their genealogical inquiries on various websites such as Rootschat and the Kent & Sussex History Forum. I have had many articles published in various society journals, Newsletters and Magazines in England and Canada. I am decended from three generation of Gilberts who lived in Tunbridge Wells since 1881.

Shown here is a photograph of me taken in July 2015 proudly displaying my T-shirt. I was trained and worked as a Civil Engineer and in the late 1980's changed careers and became the owner of two corporations engaged in General Contracting and the supply of building materials. Upon my retirement in 1998 I devoted my spare time to research,writing and gardening. I lived in southern Ontario from 1950 to 1981 but moved to Thunder Bay,Ontario (about 950 miles north of Toronto) to work as a Supervising Engineer in NorthWestern Ontario. My father Douglas Edward Gilbert (1916-2009) came to live with me in 1983. He had been born in Tunbridge Wells but came to Canada with his parents/siblings in the early 1920's. Most of my relatives live in England and some still live in Tunbridge Wells. The only Gilberts from my family line in Canada are me (born in Canada 1950); my dads sister Mabel, born in Tunbridge Wells and her son born in Canada. Since I never got married I am the last of the family with the surname of Gilbert in Canada and I am the self appointed genealogist of my family line. A complete family tree of my family going back five generations can be found on the Ancestry UK website.Although my greatgrandfather of Tunbridge Wells had three sons and four daughters I am the only surviving descendent with the surname of Gilbert.

I established this website in 2011. Every month I replace all of the articles with new ones so please come back and visit again. If there are any articles you wish to keep for your records feel free to copy them. There is no archive of older articles on this site but the Tunbridge Wells Library and the Museum retain copies of my articles for their local history files,so please contact them to see them. I am in regular contact with the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society (Chris Jones) who takes an interest in my work and may have some of my articles in his files. Occasionally I republish older articles that have been updated with new information.

On October 9,2014 I was presented with a Civic Society Community Contribution Award in recognition of the contribution that this website has made to the town, especially in the field of history and family history. In the summer of 2015 I had the pleasure of visiting Tunbridge Wells and seeing first hand all of the places I had written about and those which will be featured in future articles. Shown above (left)is a photo taken during this trip at Hever Castle by Alan Harrison in July 2015 in which I am wearing my "I Love Royal Tunbridge Wells" T-Shirt, a slogan which accurately expresses my great interest in the town and its history. Shown with me is my good friend and neighbour Mrs Susan Prince of Thunder Bay,Ontario, who organized the trip,and the lady in dark blue on the right is my second cousin Mrs Christine Harrison of Tunbridge Wells.Christine and her husband were kind enough to drive us around Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. It was a memorable holiday, and one that will be reported on in various articles of this website. Also shown above right is a photograph of me that appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier in August 2015 from an article written about my visit to the town.This photograph was taken by the Courier photographer at the Victorian B&B, 22 Lansdowne Road, where I stayed during my visit. A reception was also held on June 30,2015  to commemorate my visit  and my work in writing about the history of the town by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society in the garden at the home of John Cunningham,who is a member of the Civic Society.John, Chris Jones and some 30 others came out for the reception and afterwards Susan Prince and I had a lovely meal and evening with John and Chris and their wives at John's home.

I hope you enjoy reading about my family and the articles I have written about the history of Tunbridge Wells.


Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: November 27,2016


This article presents an account of the elopement of Augusta Foster Nicholson (1790-1811) who was visiting Tunbridge Wells with her step mother when in 1809 she came to know, and fell in love with, John Giles, a comic performer in the troupe of Mrs Sarah Baker who had a theatre in the town.

Augusta was the heiress of a 14,000 pound fortune which she was to receive on her 21st birthday, but in 1809 she was only age 19 and still a ward of Chancery. Her mother Jemima Nicholson,nee Foster, the second wife of James Nicholson had passed away some years before. When her step mother became aware of the relationship between Augusta and Mr Giles she would not permit it and confined Augusta to her house. However Mr Giles contrived a plan to elope with Augusta and after borrowing some money from his friend Mr Smith, who was also a performer, set off for a walk to Seven Oaks and on the evening of the 24th where Giles and Smith hired a chaise-and-four and headed to Tunbridge Wells and made off with Augusta. Her flight from the home was soon discovered and on the following day her step mother  wrote to Augusta’s trustees in Bedford Row, who hired two men to trace them. They were found in the home of Mr Steele.By this time the banns of marriage had been recorded at Marylebone church and another  church.

The whole matter was brought before the Court of Chancery November 6,1809 at which charges against John Giles were discussed and the clerk of the church where the banns were recorded was severely criticised for his lack of inquiry about Miss Nicholson. In the end Augusta Foster Nicholson and John Giles made off to the Isle of Man where they were married February 22,1810 at Bradden. The marriage was a short one however  but it did produce one child namely John Foster Giles who was baptised March 11,1811 at Saint Mathews, Douglas, Isle of Man, who went on to marry in 1832 and have children, but died 1887 in Southampton. Augusta herself had a short life for she passed away in April 19,1811 and was buried April 26th in the grounds of St George’s Chapel in the Isle of Man.  

Augusta’s brother Elmes Squire Ludlow Nicholson (1788-1811) was a Lieutenant with the 29th Worcester Regiment of Foot at the time of his sister’s marriage and when his sister died he was next in line to inherit the family fortune. He did not live long enough to collect it however for upon his arrival in Plymouth Sound in 1811 he passed away. As a result, Augusta’s  inheritance and a portion of the estate of her brother Elmes which was left to her and her son, all passed to John Giles and the infant son John Foster Giles who lived a comfortable life off the dividends and interest earned from his inheritance.  John Giles,it appears, gave up performing and lived a comfortable life.

This article  reports on this interesting elopement case and provides information about the Nicholson, Foster and Giles families with a particular emphasis on Tunbridge Wells and to Mrs Sarah Baker’s theatre.


The matter of the elopement  and the recording of banns of Augusta Foster Nicholson was brought before the Court of Chancery ( 1895 image opposite) on November 6,1809 and gives the best account of the matter .

From my independent research there are some elements of the case requiring clarification.. Firstly the name of the girl who eloped was given only as “Miss Augusta Nicholson” . Her correct and full name was Augusta Foster Nicholson. Secondly the court transcript stated that the mother of Miss Augusta Nicholson was dead and that the Mrs Nicholson referred to was stated to be her step mother . This being the case one must conclude that the deceased mother of Augusta was Jemima Nicholson nee Foster. The details about her father’s marriage to her step-mother were not determined and nor was the name of the step-mother.  The next record of importance is the marriage record which gives the marriage between James Nicholson and Jemima Foster December 28,1784 at St Martin in the Fields, Middlesex. Jemima Foster was given as age 21, a spinster, and James Nicholson was given as a widower.  This means of course that James Nicholson had been married three times, first to an unknown wife, then to Jemima Foster, who had died before 1809, and then to an unknown lady who was visiting Tunbridge Wells with Augusta in 1809. The next record of note was the marriage of “Augusta Foster Nicholson” to John Giles February 22,1810 at Bradden, Isle of Mann. The next record of note was the baptism of Augusta Foster Nicholson June 16,1790 at Great Staughton, Huntingdonshire, with her parents given as James Nicholson and Jemima Foster.  Having  given these points of clarification I give below the Court record in its original form as presented in Dodsley’s Annual Register of 1809.

November 6,1809……….Court of Chancery…….Ward of Court v. Giles…….Mr Richards moved for an attachment against Mr John Giles, for carrying off Miss Augusta Nicholson, a ward of that court; and also for having a fit and proper person appointed by the court, to whom the care and custody of the infant (Miss Nicholson) should be entrusted. The circumstances of the case of the elopement is as follows.

Miss Augusta Nicholson, the daughter of colonel Nicholson, a ward of chancery, with a fortune of 14,000 pounds, eloped with Mr Giles the comedian, from Tunbridge Wells. The family reside at Worcester; the colonel is, we understand, at the Isle of Wight; the young lady’s mother is dead; the colonel is married to a second wife. Miss Nicholson has become entitled to a fortune of 14,000 pounds ,when of age, in consequence of the death of eight relatives since 1803. During the colonel’s absence from home, Miss Nicholson and her mother-in-law visited Tunbridge Wells, at which fashionable place the parties first became acquainted. Mr Giles first introduction to the lady was by an offer to carry some books for her from the library. On the following evening she went to the theatre, accompanied by her mother-in-law, and sat on the front seat of the stage-box; and while Mr Giles was performing close to the box, Miss Nicholson contrived to drop a letter to him unobserved, which he picked up unperceived by her mother-in-law. In that letter she acknowledged her attachment to him, and gave him encouragement to pay his addresses to her, and said that she would marry him. From that time a mutual intercourse and correspondence took place, in which the warmest affection was expressed. This proceeding was communicated to Miss Nicholson’s mother-in-law, who, to prevent the intercourse proceeding further, confined her to the house. This regulation however, had not the desired effect: for Mr Giles contrived a plan of exchanging letters through the key-hole of the street door; Miss Nicholson had a bed-rrom to herself, and got up every morning before five o’clock, and conversed with her lover out of the window. The correspondence continued about five weeks previous to the elopement. The elopement was effected by the following circumstances:

Mr Giles, destitute of the most needful article, money, for carrying on such an exploit,made Mr Smith, a brother performer, his confidant; told him what he had been doing, and what he was about to do, and asked him to lend him a sum of money to enable him to run away with Miss Nicholson. Mr Smith entered into his views, and lent him 30 pounds, being the whole of his stock. The two sons of the buskin (sp) having agreed upon their object, and having the consent and approbation of the lady, set off to walk from Tunbridge Wells to Seven Oaks, on the evening of the 24th; and, to avoid suspicion, they hired a chaise-and-four at a by-inn, a few miles from Seven Oaks, and set off in it about three o’clock in the morning, and proceeded towards Tunbridge Wells. They stopped a short distance before they came to the town (Tunbridge Wells); Smith stopped in the chaise and Giles went for the lady (Miss Nicholson); and she, on the signal of love, flew to his embraces with only one change of clothes, in hopes never to move to part; but disappointment overtook them.

Miss Nicholson’s flight was soon discovered after the family got up, and it was at length ascertained that she had eloped with Mr Giles. On Thursday, the following day, her mother-in-law wrote to Messrs Cardale and son, solicitors, of Bedord row, who are trustees to Miss Nicholson. They employed Adkins and his brother to trace the fugitives out. The officers persued their inquiries with all possible expedition and exertion. They traced the parties to have changed their horses at the White Heart Inn, at Bromley, and made from thence gradually to Westmorland-place, City Road, which is extremely well calculated for persons to conceal themselves. Adkins went with Mr Cardale to the house of Mr Steele; Adkins knocked at the door; a female answered it, and Adkins asked if Mr Giles was within; she answered in the affirmative, and that he was at dinner. Adkins  followed her in, and saw Mr Giles: Adkins addressed him by his name,and he answered to it; but when Adkins told him his business, he told him he must be mistaken, and that he never was at Tunbridge Wells in his life; Adkins , however, persisted that he was the man, from the description of him that he had received, and that the young lady who was dining with him was Miss Nicholson; the disputer about the identity of  their persons was soon settled by Mr Cardale, the solicitor, and Miss Nicholson’s trustee, entering the room, and a frantic tragic scene took place. Miss Nicholson finding any attempt to conceal herself longer a folly, both lovers rushed into each other’s arms, and swore attachment, beating their heads, and running about the room distracted; Miss Nicholson agreed to go with them quietly, after much persuasion; but , said she, I must go up stairs first. Adkins told her he must accompany her, to which she agreed; and one of the principal objects to take care of was her purse, which was not for the amount of cash it contained, as we understand it only contained a dollar and a few shillings at the one end, but the other contained the jewel of all jewels to her, the wedding ring, which was to tie her to her dearly beloved Giles that morning at Marylebone church, they having been asked in the church two Sundays, and the third time was to have taken place on that day. But, alas!~ Miss Nicholson is disappointed of being a married woman this time, especially as she has been so extremely anxious to get married to her dearest dearest Giles, that she had made him, since her elopement, swear several times upon the Bible, that he will never marry any woman but her.

The learned council read the afidavits of Mrs Sarah Frances Steel, of Westmorland place, stating that Miss Nicholson and Mr Giles came to her house on the 21st of last month, and had been seldom out from that time to the period of their being taken into custody. Then she understood that they had come to her house for the purpose of being married, and that the banns had been proclaimed in Marylebone church, and also in the other church, the name or situation of which she did not know. Mrs Nicholson,the step-mother, had also made an affidavit, stating that it would be inconvenient for her any longer to take charge of the infant. There was a relation of the infant’s however (an aunt) who, he believed, would be ready to undertake the charge of her. The friends of the young lady had reason to suppose that her indiscretion had gone no further than the act of eloping. The learned counsel,therefore, left it with his lordship to determine how the other parties should be disposed of.

Mr Bligh, appeared for a Mr Smith, an accessary against whom an attachment had already issued, and expressed his deep contrition for the part he had taken in the business.

The lord chancellor said, if Mr Smith wished to throw himself on the court with this expression of sorrow, it would certainly avail him in some degree, and if he had anything further to state, he should have an opportunity of doing so on Thursday, when his lordship would dispose of the case so far as he was concerned. As the proclamation of banns, were any of the parties might happen to be a ward of that court, was held by the law to be a matter of serious importance, his lordship ordered that the persons who had been concerned in proclaiming the  banns in the church in Marylebone, and in the other church, if it could be found out, should attend the court on Thursday. This order he made, not for the purpose of having it held out that their conduct had been improper, but because the law was particularly strict in such matters, requiring that every diligence should be used for the purpose of ascertaining that the parties, as to whom the banns are proclaimed, resided within the parish, and laboured under no disability which should prevent the marriage from taking place. Seven days were even allowed by Act of Parliament for the purpose of making this inquiry.-The care of the infant, in the meantime, his lordship ordered to be entrusted to the relation whom the learned counsel suggested. Against Mr Giles, he ordered, that the attachment should issue, leaving it to the discretion of the plaintiffs to judge how far it would be proper that it should be carried to execution. If not absolutely necessary, he was satisfied they would not feel themselves called on to resort to such an extremity. Mr Giles, in all probability, was not aware of the situation in which he stood, and, if he chose to appear by his counsel, and state anything which he might think would be for his advantage, his lordship would hear him on Thursday.

On Thursday, Mr Richards called the attention of his lordship to the above case. He recapitulated the circumstances which have been already laid out before the public, and recommended that the young lady should be placed under proper protection; as she had repeatedly declared her intention of running off, if she could get an opportunity.

Mr Blythe, as counsel for Mr Giles, stated that he had much to offer in extenuation of his conduct; but that he refrained, from considerations of delicacy to the family of the lady. He stated the contribution of Mr Giles for what had passed, and his readiness to submit to any terms which it might be his lordship’s pleasure to impose. As to the conduct of Mr Smith, the brother comedian, who had assisted in the elopement, and had lent money towards carrying it into execution, he had an affidavit from him stating his utter ignorance at the time of the lady’s being a ward in chancery. He read this affidavit, and also another from Mr Fry, Mr Giles solicitor, in extenuation. The learned gentlemen than stated, that Mr Giles was without friends, and without any means of subsistence;so that his utter ruin was certain in case of confinement.

The lord chancellor said, that he would defer his decision until Friday; but could not avoid now remarking upon the impropriety of the clergyman’s conduct, who had published the banns. He did not wish to impute any wilful impropriety to the gentleman who had acted upon this occasion; but an error he was certainly guilty of. The lordship now deemed t necessary to lay down the law precisely for the guidance of those who might be hereafter concerned in such circumstances. He undertood that clergymen frequently published banns, upon their being handed up to them, after the first and second lesson. The law, however, allowed no such power. By the Act of Parliament for the regulation of marriages, the banns should be made known to the clergyman at least seven days before their publication, together with the Christian and surname of the parties, the parish in which they resided, together with their respective residences, and how long they had occupied them.  It was the duty of the clergyman, after the first notice, to go to the house to which he was directed, and make inquiries there as to the correctness of the facts.-If on such inquiry he was deceived, then he certainly was not to blame; but if he neglected to make such inquiry, he was subject not only to heavy ecclesiastical censures, but to punishments of another description.- Ignorance, on the part of the clergyman, would not avail him as an excuse. He cited the strictness of Lord Thurlow in the case of Dr Markham…………..” His lordship advised a petition to be set up in the course of the day, from Mr Giles, which he would take into consideration and decide upon on Friday.

A petition was afterwards presented to his lordship dated December 10……Mr Blythe informed his lordship, that Messrs Giles and Smith were in attendance, in conformity with the directions which his lordship had given on the preceding day. The Lord Chancellor asked Mr Richards if he had any things to offer from the guardian of Miss Nicholson. Mr Richards replied in the negative, but observed, that Mr Giles had, in his affidavit, stated something respecting a letter to Mrs Wells, which required some further explanation. The Lord Chancellor intimated his intention of looking into that part of the affidavit. With respect to Mr Smith, he should allow him to be discharged, upon his undertaking  to come forward, if necessary, upon an future occasion. Mr Smith was of course then discharged”.

This concluded the case before the Court of Chancery. In closing, the Court of Chancery was a court in equity in England and Wales that followed a set of rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. It had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of lunatics, and the guardianship of infants. For further information about his court there are several websites and books giving a more detailed description.

Having laid out the elopement events and those that followed it, I continue the story in the following sections by providing information about Augusta and her lover John Giles as well as information about the Nicholson and Foster families, beginning with the Fosters .

The juicy details of the elopement story also appeared in The Hampshire Chronicle of Monday November 13,1809.


The connection of the Foster family to that of the Nicholson’s begins with the marriage of James Nicholson to Jemima Foster. A Bond of marriage was entered into and signed by James Nicholson and Jemima Foster on December 28,1784 in the parish of St Martin in the Fields, Middlesex. James Nicholson was given as a widow, and from that the researcher concluded that his marriage to Jemima was his second marriage. Any information about his first and third marriages are given in another section. Jemima was identified in the Bond as a spinster, age 21, making her year of birth as 1763.  One of the witnesses to her marriage was Elmes Foster, who most likely was her father rather than her brother.  At the time of the marriage Jemima was of Great James Street. However ,a baptism record for her gave her baptised on November 25,1761 at St Savior , Southwark ,Surrey. No information was given online as to who her parents were.

A family tree gave Jemima Foster as born 1756 in London , being the daughter of Elmes Foster (1723-1798) and Elizabeth Foster, nee Moore who was baptised December 6,1756 at Saint Paul, Covent Garden, Westminster and that she married James Nicholson December 28,1784. The family tree noted that Jemima had three siblings namely (1) William born 1751 (2) Elizabeth (1753-1829) (3) Captain Elmes Foster (1755-1795). The tree also noted that two children were born to James Nicholson and Jemima,namely (1) Elmes Squire Ludlow Nicholson (1788-1811)  (2) Augusts Foster Nicholson (1790-1811).

The Will of Elmes Foster (1723-1798) is a detailed one,denoting a man and family of considerable wealth.It  runs on for several pages. It refers to his wife Elizabeth ,to  whom he left pictures, books, liquors, provisions, household goods, furniture, and fixtures of every kind and also a substantial sum of money. Other beneficiaries included his friend Thomas Gadsby,esq., of Bedford Row ,and his son the Rev. Thomas Gadsby to whom he left 5,000 pounds. Also money and other items were left to his son Captain Elmes Foster (1755-1795)“late in East India” and his married eldest daughter Elizabeth Squire . A second daughter (possibly Salina  or Savanah)was also a beneficiary but it is strange that no mention is made of a daughter called Jemima, unless the “Salina ?” reference was meant to read Jemima.

Based on the Court of Chancery record a Mrs Nicholson (not Jemima) was the mother  in law of Augusta Foster Nicholson, the “second” wife of James Nicholson but the mother in law could not have been his second wife for James Nicolson had been married (according to his marriage record) before he married Jemima.When Jemima  died was not established but obviously some time before 1809 but after the birth of her youngest child Augusta in 1790 who’s brother Elmes Squire Ludlow Nicholson had been born  in 1788 and left money to his sister Augusta and her child when he died in 1811.


The central figure In this family is the Miss Nicholson referred to in the Court of Chancery case of December 1809 who was Augusta Foster Nicholson, the daughter of James Nicholson and Jemima Nicholson, nee Foster. The Westminster Magazine of December 23,1784 gave “ Marriage-Captain James Nicholson of the “marines” to Miss Jemima Foster of Great James Street.  Another reference to Captain James and the marines comes from an account dated 1808 in which it was stated “on November 7th a body of about 5,000 troops occupied the heights around the Bay of Rosas. During the night Capt. West landed with a party of seaman and part of the marines under Captain James Nicholson”. This is reference to a battle between the British and the Spanish .

Baptism records gave “ Augusta Foster Nicholson” baptised June 16,1790 at the parish church of St Andrew, at Great Staughton, Huntingdonshire, the daughter of James Nicholson and Jemima Nicholson, nee Foster. Great Staughton is a parish in Huntingdonshire  located about 3 -1/4 miles from Kimbolton.

It is known from a family tree and from a will that her brother was Elmes Squire Ludlow Nicholson (1788-1811). His will , was a brief one of only two short paragraphs, which was probated December 6,1811. The will identified Elmes as a Lieutenant of the 29th regiment; that he bequeathed to his father James Nicholson, esq., “all the property left now by the will of Elmes Foster, esq., except 100 pounds to Sara Yarby the property proprietor at the (? Unreadable) and to my sister Augusta Giles and to John Foster Giles my sisters infant son”. 

A death notice from the newspaper gave “ On the 24th of September last, in Plymouth Sound, on his return from Portugal, Captain Nicholson, brother of the late Miss Nicholson, who married Mr Giles, late of Mrs Baker’s Company of Comedians, of Maidstone, and who died four days previous to her attaining the age of 21, leaving an infant son; -by her death the brother became entitled (as the only surviving legatee) to her portion; it is understood his return to England was to take possession of this funded property, leaving the father  and infant under many pecuniary and unavoidable embarrassments, but by his sudden and immediate death, the infant becomes entitled to the whole of his mother’s portion”.  This article sets the date of death of Augusta as 1811.

The Court of Chancery transcript of November 1809 stated that Augusta’s mother was dead; that her father was Colonel Nicholson who at that time was understood to be at the Isle of Wight; that Augusta in 1809 was visiting Tunbridge Wells with her step mother; that Augusta eloped in 1809 with John Giles , that “the colonel is married to a second wife”, and that “ the Nicholson family reside at Worcester”.  From the Worcester reference it is believed by the researcher that Augusta’s brother Elmes was with the 29th Worcester Regiment of Foot and fought in the Battle of Albuera (May 16,1811) during the Peninsular War.(image opposite). The Battle of Albuera took place on the border of Portugal and Spain.

Further confirmation of his war experience is given in the Peninsula Roll Call which listed “ Elmes S.L. Nicholson, 29th Foot”.

From marriage records it was recorded that  Augusta Foster Nicholson married John Giles on February 22,1810 at Braddan, Isle of Man. The marriage was by special license by Rev Joseph Daultrough in front of two witnesses.  Banns had previously been recorded on two occasions at St Maryleone, Westminster, including one occasion on November 5,1809. The third reading of the banns was held at another unidentified church.  The choice of marriage in Bradden was an interesting one for it was known at that time as a place of refuge where until the laws were changed anyone staying there could do so with impunity, and this is very likely the reason that Augusta and John went there.

An article by Naomi Clifford gave a summary of the Court of Chancery case and stated in part “ Despite opposition, Augusta and John married in April 1810. She died soon afterwards, leaving her husband and infant son with  nothing-she was four days short of her 21st birthday, when she would have come into her fortune. That money was now her brother’s. He was a naval captain and promptly sailed back to England to claim it. However, he died in September 1811 en route, and as there were no other legatees, it reverted to Augusta’s son. The brother she did not refer to by name was Elmes Squire Ludlow Nicholson (1788-1811) and was not as Naomi states a naval captain but a Lieutenant in the 29th Foot.

Augusta’s father according to the Court of Chancery believed to be in November 6,1809 in the Isle of Wight ; that his wife Jemima and daughter Augusta were in Tunbridge Wells and that the family were from Worcester. Although the court record gave Augusta’s step mother as James second wife it is clear from his marriage record to Jemima that she was his third wife.

James Nicholson, esq. is referred to variously as Colonel  and General Nicholson and also with the marines.  The reference to him as a General came from the following announcement in the Kentish Gazette of April 6,1810 “ Married-Lately, Mr Giles, formerly comedian, of Mrs Baker’s Company, to Miss Nicholson, daughter of Gen. Nicholson”.

Obviously he had served in the military but by the time of Augusta’s death he must have been retired. Further definitive information about him was not found.

The last record for Augusta Foster Giles was her burial record stating that she had been buried April 26,1811 in the grounds of St George’s Chapel (photo above), Bradden, IOM .

Augusta’s headstone (photo opposite) is oval in shape and placed flush to the ground. I wish to thank Kevin in the IOM for sending the photo and also for various records pertaining to her marriage, death and burial. The transcription (#738) for her headstone gave “ Sacred to the memory of Mrs Augusta Foster Giles. Departed this life on ther 19th of April 1811 in the twentieth year of her age”.


The connection between the Giles in Nicholson family was by way of the marriage of Augusts Foster Nicholson of John Giles on February 22,1810 at Braddan, Isle of Man.

As noted in previous section John Giles was a comedian or comic performer who at the time he met Augusta was with Mrs Sarah Baker’s troupe who at that time were performing at her theatre in Tunbridge Wells, one of ten she had established in Kent. More about Mrs Baker and her theatre in Tunbridge Wells is given in the next section.

Apart from his marriage to Augusta; his fathering of a son by her; and his role as a comedian with Mrs Baker’s troupe, nothing more is known about him. The Court of Chancery does indicate he was a man of little money and had to borrow 30 pounds from his fellow actor Mr Smith to whisk Augusta away from her step mother.

He appears to have been a man of little note in theatrical circles for no mention about him and his acting career in the theatre was found from searching on the internet. As a member of Mrs Sarah Baker’s troupe he would have travelled about with a group of performers from one theatre to another. Information about his parentage, death etc were not found. The record of his marriage to Augusta did not provide the names of his parents.

Regarding John Giles son, it is known that he was born in 1811. He was baptised March 11,1811 at Saint Mathews, Douglas, Isle of Man, recorded in his baptism records as the son of Augusta Foster Giles, nee Nicholson and John Giles.  On August 16,1832 he married Amelia Smith Reviera at Chelterham,Gloucestershire. The couple had two known children namely John Elmes Giles (September 18,1833 at Ledbury) and George Allen Giles. He also had two daughters namely Augusta Lucy Giles and Eliza Emily Giles.

The 1851 census, taken at Ledbury, Hertfordshire gave John Foster Giles as born 1810 at Douglas, IOM with the occupation of fundholder and proprietor of houses. With him was his wife Amerlai Smith Giles, born 1815 at Cheltenham.Also there was one visitor and one servant.

The 1861 census, taken at Dibden, Hampshire gave John Foster Giles as born 1811 at Douglas IOM, a landed proprietor. With him was his wife Amelia and a son William F. Giles, born 1836 at Ledbury, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and Lientate(sp) of Apothecaries, general practitioner.

The 1871 census, taken at 4 Invernell Road, Paddington, London gave John Foster Giles, born 1811 Douglas IOM living off dividends and interest. With him was his wife Amelia Smith Giles and one servant.

Death records gave John Foster Giles as born 1811 and died in the 3rd qtr of 1887 at Southampton. Probate records gave John Foster Giles  late of 22 Oxford Street, Southampton,gentleman, who died August 17,1887 at 22 Oxford St. The executors of his 7,288 pound estate were William Foster Giles of Hythe,Southampton, surgeon, the son and Robert Welch of 61 Oxford St, physician.


To begin this brief account of Mrs Sarah Baker here is what is recorded about her in The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre-“Sarah Baker……(1736/7–1816), English theatre manageress, whose activities in Kent covered more than 50 years. The daughter of an acrobatic dancer, she married an actor in her mother's company in about 1761, and was widowed in 1769. Left with three small children to support, she went into management on her own account, and from 1772 to 1777 managed her mother's company. The latter having retired, Mrs Baker formed a new company which visited to towns in the country and had an ambitious repertory including Shakespeare and Sheridan. At first a portable theatre or any suitable building was used, but from about 1789 she built her own theatres—10 in all. Edmund Kean appeared with her early in his career.”

Sarah Baker’s husband, a ropedancer passed away 1769 leaving her to support three children. Her mother Anne Wakelin (sometimes given as Wakeling) managed a troupe of travelling players which performed puppetry, ventriloquism, conjuring,dancing and musical acts. Sarah followed in her mother’s footsteps. She earned enough money (500 pounds) to have a portable wooden theatre built, which was hauled from town to town in which her players performed, which theatre was eventually set up in Preston Street, Faversham, as the town’s permanent theatre.

In around 1788 Sarah Baker (1735/1736/1737-1816), who had previously been a travelling performer, established a theatre in Tunbridge Wells called The Temple (nicknamed ‘Temple of the Muses’) on Mount Sion. She had competition at first from a Mr Glassington, who ran a theatre on nearby Castle Street. The two showed plays on the same nights and competed enthusiastically for audiences. However, after a year or so Sarah prevailed. She had The Temple demolished and used some of the materials from it to build a small theatre at the prime site on the Lower Walk in the Pantiles, next to the Sussex Tavern (Sussex Hotel).

In 1802 she replaced this small theatre with a larger one (image above). Roger Farthings book A History of Mount Sion’ 2003 provides some interesting information about Sarah Baker’s theatre ‘The Temple’ on pgs 273/274 which in part gives an advertismemt in the Maidstone Journal in 1801 about the sale of it  “At the Angel Inn, Thursday May 21,1801” in which article is a good description of the theatre located “not yards away from Cumberland House”.  The same book also makes reference to a connection between Richard Cumberland and John Fry and Sarah Baker regarding her original theatre in Mount Sion and her “new” theatre in the Pantiles.

Sarah’s second theatre , located in the Lower Walk (Pantiles)was more elegant that the former one , notable for the fact that, due to the theatre’s location on the county boundary, the stage was in Kent and the auditorium in Sussex. It was at this theatre that Augusta Foster Nicholson and her step mother watched a performance, and where John Giles and others were performing, which led to an almost instant attraction between Augusta and John that let to their elopement and marriage. It is to be presumed that John Giles friend and fellow performer “Mr Smith”was part of Sarah Baker’s troupe at the time of the Tunbridge Wells performance.

Sarah, who also ran theatres in Faversham, Rochester, Maidstone , Canterbury, was a hard-working and shrewd businesswoman, who made substantial savings by selling tickets personally and by channelling customers for the box, pit and gallery all through a single entrance. She was so successful that it is recorded that at one time she had a total of ten theatres in Kent and typically each one had a residence attached.

Sarah distrusted banks and, once the evening’s performance was over, stored the takings in a set of large china punchbowls. As she travelled from town to town, with her band of performers, she would carry large amounts of gold in her pockets, although eventually she was persuaded to invest with the county banks and a few respectable tradesmen.

Actor Thomas Dibin, a member of Sarah’s Company for some years, said that she ‘owned and excellent heart, with much of the appearance and manners of a gentlewoman’, although he also commented that her language was sometimes more appropriate to the Peckham fair.  Charles Kemble who became a famous actor was also at one time in his career a member of Sarah Baker’s troupe in Tunbridge Wells.

In addition to running the box office, Sarah used to cut and paste programmes, recycling old ones and getting  an actor to write the names in as her writing was poor. In the early days she would help actors dress, do sound effects and act as prompter. She was also a poor reader, which made prompting difficult. On one famous occasion, when she was unable to help an actor who called for a word, and the next, and the next, without receiving any response, Sarah finally threw the book onto the stage, saying ‘There, now, you have ‘em all’, take your choice’.

In the autumn of 1806 Sarah employed actor Edmund Kean (image above) who stayed with her company for around a year. He played a range of minor parts, entertained the audience with comic songs between acts and did general work such as carrying messages. All this for a salary of 18 shillings a week. His big break came eight years later at the Drury Lane Theatre, when he played Shylock, Richard III, Hamlet and Othelo in a single season.From then he was a celebrated actor , performing Shakespearean roles all over the world until his death at age 44.

After Sarah Baker’s death February 20, 1816 the Tunbridge Wells Theatre was taken over by her son-in-law, actor William Dowton(1764-1851).  An article in Kent Online dated November 28,2016 gave “In 1808 – when she was past 70 – Mrs Baker retired.  She died 10 years later in her 80th year in the house she had built next to the Theatre Royal, Rochester. She is buried in St Nicholas’ churchyard but her memory lives on to this day.

The will of Sarah Baker , probated on July 15,1816, is a will running on for several pages giving details of her estate, in which can be found references to her theatres in Tunbridge Wells, Rochester, Canterbury, Hastings Sussex and elsewhere. References are also given to her beneficiaries, among which were her to daughters Ann and Sarah  and her son, and her son in law William Dowton (image opposite).

William Dowton (1764-1851) had a long and distinguished career as an actor and the manager of theatres. Details about his life and career can be found on the Wikipedia website and others. Within these references is his marriage to Miss Sarah Baker about 1793, who for a time performed in her mother’s troupe and was an actress and singer on the Canterbury circuit. He and Sarah are known  to have had at least two sons. The Biographical Dictionary of Actresses, Actors, Musicians etc has within it a reference to Mrs Sarah Bakers two daughters
Ann and Sarah. Ann Baker (1761-1817) was an actress and the eldest daughter of Mr Baker who’s name is unknown and Mrs Sarah Baker, nee Wakelin. Both of Ann’s parents are thought to have been on the London stage before moving permanently to the provinces, where Ann’s mother became  the most doubtable female British theatrical entrepreneur of the 18th century. Ann died October 8,1817 just four days before the death of her younger sister Sarah, who had married the famed comedian William Dowton”.

Under William Dowton  he prolonged the season by beginning in June or July and opened four days  a week with standard contemporary charges , boxes 5s, upper boxes 3s, pit 2s and gallery 1s. The theatre business  in Tunbridge Wells gradually declined and the theatre closed in 1843, at which point the Corn Exchange was constructed behind the theatre’s façade.  Details about the history of the Corn Exchange can be found in my article ‘The Corn Exchange’ dated March 17,2012. That article also provides much more information about the life and career of Mrs Sarah Baker and her theatres in Tunbridge Wells than I have provided in this elopement article.



Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: November 24,2016


Thomas Horatio Howarth was born 1844 in Manchester, the son of innkeeper William Howarth(1799-1862). At the time of the 1851 census he was living with his parents and two siblings along with several servants and visitors at the Royal Waterloo Hotel in Waterloo, Lancashire. At the time of the 1861 census Thomas was living with his widowed father, three siblings and several servants and members of staff at the Victoria Hotel on Bath Street,Liverpool. At that time Thomas was working as a cotton bookkeeper apprentice. The Howarth clan had a long history in the cotton trade but Thomas did not stick with it.

In the early 1860’s Thomas went into the oil refining and soap making business in partnership with Charles Tertius Burton, a gentleman from a distinguished family. All did not go well for the business and on May 4,1866 the partnership ended. In the early 1860’s Burton had served with the 1st Lancashire Artillery Volunteer Corp, achieving the rank of Captain in 1864. After the partnership with Thomas ended, Burton went on to continue as an oil agent but filed for bankruptcy in 1869.

Thomas did not fare any better financially than Mr Burton, and fell on hard times. He had filed for bankruptcy in 1867 ,ended up in debtors prison in Liverpool and at a trial in Lancashire on May 18,1868 he was sentenced to serve four months for fraud.

After that his life went from bad to worse, for in May 1870 he appeared in Eastbourne,Sussex using the false names of Lord Courcy/Lord Alfred de Courcy and C.A. De Courcy where he swindled various tradesmen including Mr Bradford; Henry Carter, the landlord of the Burlington Hotel, and the manager of the Brighton Hotel. Under his false names he had received accommodation and merchandise which he did not pay for and was pelted by disgruntled tradesmen from the town and made a hasty departure to Tunbridge Wells.

In Tunbridge Wells he presented himself as Thomas Horatio Howarth and for a time stayed at the Alexandra Hotel on Vale Road. Court documents pertaining to his trial in Maidstone July 1,1870 provided details of his criminal activities in Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells, when at the latter place he obtained,without paying for it, a quantity of wine from the High Street wine merchant Samuel Ridley Searle. Thomas was also reported to have taken a large house from local estate agents Jull & May and furnishings from Mr Booty and did not pay for his food and accommodation at the Alexandra Hotel. John Joseph Emery, the Superintendent of the Tunbridge Wells Police had been watching the prisoner for three or four days, being suspicious of his activities and on May 15,1870 went to the Alexandra Hotel and confronted him and recited the charges that had been brought against him by those he had swindled in the town. He was arrested, put on trial and sentenced to 18 months hard labour.

On his release from the Maidstone gaol upon ,completion of his 18 month sentence ,he stated in his release documents his intention to go to America. This he did on the SS NEVADA when he departed from Liverpool and arrived in New York January 25,1872 and was never heard from again.

This article reports on his life; his business dealings; his financial troubles and ultimately his deceptions and crimes committed in England before his departure to the USA.


Thomas Horatio Howarth was born 1844 in Manchester, Lancashire, his birth being registered there in the 4th qtr of that year. He was baptised December 6,1844 at the Cathedral Manchester and given as the son of William and “Alathea” Howarth.

Census and other records show he as one of several children born to William Howarth (1799-1862) who had been born at Bolton, Lancashire. Thomas’s mother was Alithea Howarth, born 1803 in Everton, Lancashire.

The 1851 census, taken at the Royal Waterloo Hotel (photo opposite) gave William Howarth as the innheeper. With him was his wife Alithea; his children Alithea,age 11; Thomas Howarth, age 6; Charles,age 5; one niece, five servants and seven visitors.  The Royal Waterloo Hotel had been built in 1815, although greatly altered by 1851, and was built in the Georgian style and located on Marine Terrace in a position that afforded views over the River Mersey, being just a two minute walk from the Crosby Coastal Park and a seven minute walk to the Waterloo train station. It was a popular hotel at that time and still exists today.

The 1861 census, taken at the Victoria Hotel (photo opposite), 27 Bath Street, Waterloo, Merseyside, was and still is a well-known pub with accommodation for guests. At that time it was occupied by William Howarth, who was the innkeeper, and who was widowed. Also there were his children William S,age 23, a ship builders clerk; Alithea, age 21; Thomas Horatio, age 16, a cotton bookkeeper apprenctice and William’s sister Ellen Howarth, age 74. Eight other people were also there, including two housekeepers, one barmaid, one waitress and for general servants.

Although the Howarth clan were well known in the cotton trade in Lancashire, and not doubt Thomas began his career working for a relative in this business. He however did not stick with it and went into the oil refining and soap making business with Charles Tertius Burton, sometime in the early-mid 1860’s with premises on Boundary Road in Liverpool (photo opposite).

Charles Tertius Burton had come from a respectable family. He had been born July 14,1844 at Leeds, Yorkshire, one of seven children born to Rev. Charles Henry Burton, who had been born 1817 in Buslem, Staffordshire, and Lydia Helen Burton, nee Rothwell (1824-1877). Charles was baptised July 23,1844 at St Peter Church in Leeds, Yorkshire.

In a book (photo below) about Rev. Doctor Charles Burton DCL FLS who had been born 1793 it is stated by the author that Charles Tertius Burton was his grandson and had married Rabie Wells, a relative of the author.

Charles Tertius Buron spent part of his early life in military service. The Edinburgh Gazette and the London Gazette reported that Charles Tertius Burton became a 2nd Lieut June 29,1861; a 1st Lieut on September 15,1862 and Captain on August 12,1864 with the 1st Lancashire Artillery Volunteer Corps.

At the time of the 1861 census Charles was living at 1 Sandown Terrace in Liverpool, Lancashire with his parents and siblings, when at the time his father was the rector of St Phillips church. Charles was married at St Phillips Church on April 23,1867 tgo Charlotte Eliza Clarke (1836-1887). With her he had a daughter Theolina May Rothwell Burton (born 1868) and also Lillian Margaret Rothwell Burton who married a man listed in the Peerage.

The London Gazette of May 8,1866 reported that the partnership between Charles Tertius Burton and Thomas Horatio Howarth, carrying on business as oil merchants at Liverpool, Lancashire under the name of Burton, Howarth and Co. had been dissolved by mutual consent on May 4,1866. This dissolution of partnership and other financial difficulties would soon result in the bankruptcy of both men.

The London Gazette of November 19,1869 reported that notice was given that Charles Tertius Burton of Bradford and Horsforth, County of York, oil agent, has left in the office of the Chief Registrar of the Court of Bankruptcy Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London a list of all his debts and liabilities and a statement of his property and credits as required by the Bankruptcy Amendment Act 1868, dated November 18,1869.

The 1871 census, taken at 10 Park Grove in Stretford,Lancashire gave Charles as a chemical manufacturer and living with him was just two servants. His wife was away from the home at that time visiting her parents.

The Engineer of December 18,1871 reported that Charles Tertius Burton had been awarded a patent (2252)  for obtaining pulp for the manufacture of paper.

The Solicitors Journal of August 16,1873 reported that Charles Tertius Burton and Edwin Ellis, of Queens Wharf, Hammersmith, oil merchants had run into financial difficulties and a meeting of creditors was to be held at the offices of Barnard and Co on August 19th at Dane’s Inn.  The London Gazette of August 18,1873, under the Bankruptcy Act of 1869 reported on a liquidation by arrangement instituted by Charles Tertius Burton and Edwin Ellis of Victoria oil works, Queens Wharf, Hammersmith, oil merchants, refiners and copartners carrying on business under the name of Burton Ellis and Co.

At the time of the 1881 census, Charles was living as a boarder and working as a foreman. Also living there as a boarder was Florence Robie (Rabie) Burton.

The Probate records of his first wife Charlottte Eliza Burton dated December 1887 in London showed that Charles was the executor of her estate. In 1888 Charles Tertius Burton married Rebecca (Rabie) Wells but appears to have not had any children with her.

Charles Tertius Burton, of The Cottage, Feltham,Middlsesex, died February 2,1891 at Staines, Middlesex. The executors of his under 100 pound estate was Robert Ernest Horsfall, an artist and husband of Charles daughter Theolina. The Law Times of February 16,1895 reported on creditors meetings. Apparently when Charles died he owed money to a number of creditors.

The Edinburgh Gazette of September 27,1867 reported “ Thomas Horatio Howarth, late of Boundary Street (photo opposite),Liverpool, Lancashire, oil refiner and soap boiler, formerly trading with a partner under the name of Burton, Howarth & Company, late of 10 Kerferd Street, Everton, near Liverpool, and lately a prisoner for debt in the Liverpool Borough Gaol at Walton, Lancaster (photo opposite). The same report appeared in the London Gazette of September 13,1867. The Law Times of September 28,1867 under “Bankrupts” reported on the petition of September 18,1867 of Thomas Horatio Howarth, oil refiner, late Liverpool who was to surrender October 9th.  Several other newspapers reported on this matter also.

If this was not enough trouble for Thomas, the Criminal Register stated that Thomas Horatio Howarth was tried on May 18,1868 at Lancashire and sentenced to serve four months of hard labour for fraud, back at the Liverpool Borough Gaol.

After completing his sentence Thomas was released from prison. What he got up to until his arrival in Eastbourne in 1870 is not known but being in a desperate financial state he resorted to a life of deception and crime adopting alias to hide his true identity. I pick up his life in the next section when he appeared first in Eastbourne,Sussex and them most interestingly in Tunbridge Wells , where his crimes landed him back to prison.


The criminal activities of Thomas Horatio Howarth under the alias of Lord Courcy/ Lord Alfred de Courcy/ C.A. De Courcy began in Eastbourne in early May 1870 although it appears that no charges were brought against him until he was caught for fraud in Tunbridge Weels two to three weeks later under the name of Thomas Horatio Howarth, and identified by whitnesses as the same crook Lord Courcy in Eastbourne.

The details of his crimes in both locations are given below in a transcription of trail at Court of Quarter Sessions of the peace, held at Maidstone,Kent on July 1,1870.

The prisoner Thomas Horatio Howarth was tried on the following indictment for obtaining a quantity of wine from one Samuel Ridley Searle, by a false pretence. The jurors of our Lady the Queen upon their oath present, that Thomas Horatio Howarth, late of the parish of Tunbridge, in the county of Kent, on the 14th of May, 1870, at the parish aforesaid, unlawfully and knowingly did falsely pretend to Samuel Ridley Searle that he, the said Thomas Horatio Howarth, had taken a house in Tunbridge Wells, that Mr Booty was going to furnish it for him, that he, the said Thomas Horatio Howarth, had got a carriage and pair, and expected it down either that day or the next, and that he had large property abroad; by means of which said false pretences the said Thomas Horatio Howarth then unlawfully did obtain from the said Samuel Ridley Searle six quarts of sherry wine, six quarts of port wine, and twenty-four bottles of the goods and chattels of the said Samuel Ridley Searle, with intend to defraud. Whereas, in truth and in fact, the said Thomas Horatio Howarth had not taken a house in Tunbridge Wells, Mr Booty was not going to furnish it for him, and he, the said Thomas Horatio Howarth had not got a carriage and pair, nor had he any property abroad,as he well knew, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace of our Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity.

The following evidence was given on the trial. Samuel Ridley Searle was sworn and said: I am a wine merchant at High Street, Tunbridge Wells. I remember prisoner coming to my shop on Thursday, the 12th of May. He told me he was lodging at Alexandra-place (actually the Alexandrea Temperance Hotel on Vale Road), Tunbridge Wells. He said he should require some wine to be sent in on Saturday or Sunday, as he said he had some friends coming to see him. He gave his name as T.H. Howarth, and said he had taken a large house at Tunbridge Wells, from Jull and May, house agents. He said he expected his carriage and pair down. He also said he had ordered furniture from Mr Booty. He said he had just come from Paraquary, and that he had just shipped a large quantity of wine to Rio de Janeiro from England. On Saturday he called again and told me to send wine in. I sent two dozen of wine. He said he should pay cash, but he did not. I let him have it because he represented to me he was a wealthy man. Under other circumstances I should not have done so.

Martin Skinner was sworn and said: I am clerk to Jull and May, house agents, Tunbridge Wells. On the 12th of May prisoner called in the morning. He came and asked for a house. He had agreed to take a house. He said a reference should be given as soon as the draft of lease was ready. He said he would not refer to his friends, but would give any amount of money for security. I never got any money from him. I never saw the carriage and pair which prisoner spoke of. I have not sent draft of lease.

John Joseph Emery was sworn and said; I am superintendent of the Tunbridge Wells Police. I had been keeping watch upon prisoner for three or four days. On Sunday the 15th of May I went to prisoner’s lodging in Alexandra-place. I saw prisoner and asked for his name. He gave his name and asked what I wanted to know for. I said “I believe you are the man who has been passing as C.A. De Courcy, at Eastbourne, and swindling tradesmen there”. He said he had never been in Eastbourne in his life. I said “ I am positive you are the man; of so, you have a scar under your right eye”. I turned him round to the light and said “ There it is”. He said “What do you want?”. I said,”Your landlord charges you with getting food and lodging by false pretences, and Mr Searle also charges you with getting two dozen of wine by false pretences”. He said, he “would go with me-why did you not take me before?”. I said that it would be by representing himself as being a person of position, talking about horses and carriages and a banking account. I said, “Two or three days ago you were in Eastbourne under an entirely different name”. I then took him into custody. On the way to the police station he said, “ I am glad you have takenme. Why did you not take me before?. I feel happier now. I shall know the end of it. My friends are to blame, not me; they would not assist me.” I said, “ You had a narrow escape at Eastbourne?” He said “ Yes, I did. I have sent to my friends for some money, and shall bring an action against the landlord for hiring a gang of roughs to pelt me”. I can find nothing of a carriage and pair. I have made inquiries about them.

Henry Carter was sworn and said: I am landlord of the Burlington Hotel, Eastbourne. Prisoner came to my house on the 9th of May. I wrote to him a letter on that day; in consequence prisoner sent for me. He was known by the name of C. A. De Courcy. He had no luggage. I told him it was usual when a gentleman arrived without luggage to place a deposit of money. He said it was a pity I had not told him sooner, or he would have given it. But in the morning he said he would go to the banking house, change a cheque, and pay me. I allowed him to stop the night. I said I had telegraphed to the Grand Hotel, Brighton, to know whether he had been staying there, or whether Lord Alfred De Courcy had been staying there. He took rooms for him (Lord Alfred de Courcy) and stabling for his five horses on the following day, and arranged with the proprietor of mews to drive him (Lord Alfred de Courcy) over to Hastings. On the next morning I waited for him at the coffee-room door of my hotel. I said in consequence of the telegram I had received he could have no further accommodation in my house. He asked for his boots, and said he would go to the bank and get a cheque, and settle with me. I told him in these days everybody took a material guarantee, and I should not let him have his boots. I took a ring from him, and told him his boots were worth a bushel of such things, and I might as well keep that. He again talked about Lord A. De Courcy. I let him have his boots, and I went with him to the Lewes Bank in Eastbourne, and waited till the bank opened. He said he had sent a telegram to some bank. I went again with him about twelve the same day ( I never lost sight of him). I saw the manager of the bank. A telegram had been received; there was 1s to pay. The manager of the bank asked prisoner for 1s.  He said he had not got 1s. The manager said before he opened the telegram prisoner must pay 1s. The manger eventually paid. Prisoner told me he could not pay my bill. He told Mr Bradford and another man the same as to their bills. He was pelted out of town.

No witnesses were called for the defence in this case. At the close of the case for the prosecution, the counsel for the Crown admitted that he could not support those parts of the false pretence which charged that the prisoner had said he had taken a house in Tunbridge Wells, and that Mr Booty was going to furnish it for him. The counsel for the prisoner then objected, and contended that there was no case at all to be left to the jury , and that the “Court ought to direct the jury to acquit the prisoner on various grounds. He chairman declined to withdraw the case from the jury. The jury found the prisoner guilty, and the Court sentenced him to eighteen months imprisonment with hard labour in the Maidstone gaol, but reserved for the consideration of the Justices of either Bench and Barons of the Exchequer, the question whether, by reason of objections taken by the counsel for the prisoner, the Court ought to have withdrawn the case from the jury and directed an acquittal. Execution of the judgement was respited until the determination of the question reserved, and the prisoner was committed to prison, but the court ordered that he might be discharged on entering into a recognisance, himself in 100 pounds, and two sureties in 50 pounds each, conditioned for the prisoner’s appearing and rendering himself in execution if the conviction should be confirmed.

At the Court of Criminal Appeal Held on November 12,1870 the Court held “that the false pretences charged were sufficient in point of law, and also that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction”. Thomas Horatio Howarth had no money and so served the full 18 months in the Maidstone Gaol (image above).

The Criminal Register listed the trail of Thomas Horatio Howarth June 30,1870 in Kent for obtaining money by false pretences and that he had been previously convicted of a like offence and sentenced to 18 months and seven years of police supervision. The 1871 census, taken at Maidstone Goal gave him as born 1846 in Manchester. His release documents from the prison recorded that he had served the fill 18 months and that the prisoner intended to emigrate to America. Mr Howarth was released from the Maidsone Gaol on December 29,1871.

Passenger records show that Thomas Horatio Howarth departed from Liverpool in steerage on the SS NEVADA (photo opposite), under the command of Captain William Forsyth,   and arrived in New York January 25,1872 and was never heard from again. The voyage was reported to have taken 12 days.  The ship was of the Buion Line being some 3,121 tons andf built 1868 at Jarrow-on-Tyne by Palmer’s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. It served in the passenger and freight trade for many years before being renamed the HAMILTON in 1894 and then scrapped in Italy in 1896.

What Thomas got up to in the USA was not determined after the researcher investigated any activities of this man under his real name and alias he had used in Eastbourne and found none.

The activities of Thomas Horatio Howarth and the alias he used were reported on extensively in a number of newspapers such as the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of May 21,1870 under the headline “ Lord De Courcy Again!” which reported on his activities in Tunbridge Wells,making reference to his previous frauds in Eastbourne. The same newspaper wrote a follow up article dated July 9,1870 who said the man arrested in Tunbridge Wells “was the same man who a week or two since passed Eastbourne”.

The Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser of  May 21,1870 and also June 27,1870 reported on Howarth obtaining good under false pretences in Tunbridge Wells.  The same newspaper dated July 2,1870 ran an article under the heading “ The Tunbridge Wells Swindler” and described Howarth as a labourer born 1846.

The Dover Express of May 17,1870 and also July 8,1870 referred to Howarth as “a well -dressed man, who was recently driven out of Eastbourne by a number of tradesmen who he had attempted to defraud..” The same paper dated July 8,1870 referred to Howarth as “a hotel swindler and that he was a labourer indicted for obtaining by false pretenses wine from a Tunbridge Wells wine merchant and didn’t pay his hotel bills.


In this section I provide additional information about those who Thomas Horatio Howarth defrauded, and others who testified at his trial. Also provided is information about the hotels he cheated out of the money he owed them in Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells.


A photo of this hotel is shown opposite. In the centre of this photo is the Metrople Hotel and to the right of it is the Grand Hotel. This hotel, which still exists today was built in 1869 and faces, like a long line of others, the sea front. It is located at 97-99 Kings Road in Brighton and is an example of an Italian influence in  Victorian architecture.

The manager of the hotel is not given by name in the court case of 1870 but a 1878 directory gave Daniel Colledge as the secretary and manager that year with an address of 99 Kings Road. A directory of hotels dated 1877 gave “Grand Hotel, Brighton immediately facing the sea and centrally positioned for the piers and aquarium ( W. Quiddington, manager).

In the summer of 2015 my friend and travelling companion and I visited
Tunbridge Wells and one day we set off early from the train station and had a pleasant trip to Brighton. We had set off early that morning and did not get back to Tunbridge Wells until 10pm due to signal problems on the line due to the high temperature, and had to take a taxi with a group of others from the Brighton train station to Eastbourne where we caught the train. We had walked from the Brighton station along the main road on our way to the seashore, stopping along the way to  look in some of the shops. Arriving at the seashore we hobbled over the rocky beach and soon got soaked by the waves. After going out on the pier and then stopping for lunch at a local pub we passed by the Grand Hotel and others to see the sights and do some shopping. The Grand Hotel and others formed virtually a continuous line facing the seashore and were predominantly white in colour. I well remember remarking to Susan what a grand view it all was.


The Burlington Hotel (photo opposite) still exists today. It is a whitewashed Victorian era hotel that was given a Grade II listing by English Heritage. Today it contains 159 rooms. It was named after the Eastbourne landowner William Cavendish, the Earl of Burlington.

Henry Carter testified at the 1870 trail of Thomas Horation Howarth (see previous section) and identified himself as the landlord of the Burlington Hotel at the time the crook was there and did not get paid for the time he had stayed at his hotel.

Henry Carter had been born 1828 at St Marylebone, London. The 1861 census, taken at St George Hanover Square gave Henry as a lodging house keeper. With him was his wife Margaret, born 1828 at Welshpool, Wales and their three month old son Henry.Also there were five lodgers, two visitors and two domestic servants.

Henry Carter died in Eastbourne in the 3rd qtr of 1870, not long after he had testified in the Howarth case. When he died his wife Margaret took over the running of the hotel. Directories of 1877 to 1884 gave her as the proprietor of the hotel. The 1881 census, taken at the Burlington Hotel, 12-16 Grand Parade gave Margaret Carter as the hotel keeper and a widow. With her4 was three of her children her sister in law Elizabeth Carter, born 1832; seven boarders and seven servants.

Sometime before 1891 Margaret left Eastbourne and is found in the 1891 census as living on own means at 73 Romfield Garden in Hampstead, London with two of her children and her sister in law Elizabeth Carter and two servants. By the time of the 1911 censusm taken at Kittery Courty in Kingwear, Devon Margaret was living with her son  Sidney Carter and his wife and child along with a governess and three domestic servants. Her son was at that time a former solicitor now living in private means. Margaret died in Devon not long after the census was taken.


The court case of 1879 referred to Mr Howarth staying at Alexandra-place in Tunbridge Wells. Not finding out anything about it Chris Jones of the Civic Society identified it as the Alexandra Hotel on Vale Road.

This hotel was not particularly large and was located at 37-39 Vale Road. Advertisments for the hotel described it as being opposite the Vale Road post office with a view of the commons. Shown opposite is a postcard view, by Harold H. Camburn, of Vale Road looking north. The large building in the middle is the post office and to the right of it on the east side of Vale Road just past the building with the awning was the Alexandra Temperance Hotel.

When the hotel was built was not established but it begins to appear in local directories in the late 1860’s. An 1891 advertisment for the hotel gave “Alexandra Hotel Temperance and Family Hotel, opposite the post office facing the common. Close to the SE & CR and LB and SC railway, telephone No. 0301. Most central hotel for commercial gentlemen. Every home comfort combined with moderate charges. Alexandra Hotel, Vale Road, Tunbridge Wells.

The Palace Journal of May 27,1892 reported that a meeting of the local temperance society had been held in this hotel. In a builders trade publication from 1894 it was noted that alterations and additions to the hotel had been undertaken.

The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Alexandra Temperance Hotel (William Youde proprietor) 37-39 Vale Road”. The 1903 Kelly gave the same information except the proprietor of the hotel was George Hitchcock. The 1923 Kelly listed the hotel but did not give a name of its proprietor.

George Hitchock is found in the 1901 census at 37-39 Vale Road, a hotel proprietor, born 1857 in Lavenham,Suffolk. Also there was his wife Margaret, born 1857 in Colyford, Devon and three servants. By tbe time of the 1911 census George Hitchcock and his wife, who he had married in 1898, had taken up residence at 34 Warwick Road in Margate where George was a poultry farmer. The 1911 census for the Alexandra Hiotel, 37-39 Vale Road gave Helen Bagg, a 61 year old widow born in Hackney, Middlesex as the hotel keeper. With her were four boarders, three servants and her son 31 year old Henry Bagg who was an assistant in the hotel.

The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of June 1,1917 reported “ Alfred James, described as a commercial traveller, was charged with obtaining false credit by fraud to the amount of 7s 9d, at the Alexandra Hotel on May 25th. The prisoner commenced addressing the chairman in a loud voice immediately after stepping into the dock. He was found guilty and sentenced.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of June 20,1947 announced “Auction-The important and valuable freehold investment known as The Alexandra Hotel, Vale Road, Tunbridge Wells, comprising a private unlicensed commercial hotel containing hall, receptions rooms…….”

A review of Planning Authority records for the period of 1974 and afterwards showed no reference to this hotel but based on the 1980 map opposite regarding a block of land outlined in black, in the middle of which is the word “ Depository” it is clear that the hotel had been demolished sometime before 1974. The owner of this block of land made several applications to redevelope the site, identified as being 35-43 Vale Road, in 1978 and again in 1979 but was refused. It appears that this site became what is now Jubilee House , which in 1980 application was known as PPP House with an address of 35-41 Vale Road.


The testimony of Superintendent  John Joseph Emery of the Tunbridge Wells Police was given in the previous section. The following information about him is from my article ‘An Early History of the Police
Service’ dated April 3,2012. The court document was in error regarding the spelling of his surname. It was Embery not Emery as given in court records. 

John Embery took over the position of Superintendent of police from Cyril Onslow in 1866 and still held the position in 1891 and perhaps even after then but was gone by 1901.He is found listed in that position in the directories of 1867,1874 and 1882 but in the position in the 1891 census.

John Embery was born 1837 at Southwark,London.His parents were John Embery,a druggist,born 1804 at Bideford,Devon and Sophia,born 1802 at Honiton Clysh,Devon.John junior  was baptised April 9th of that year at St George The Martyr.In 1851 John was living with his parents at 45 Moneyer Street,Shoreditch,Middlesex and working as a porter.His father at that time was a druggist assistant.In the 1891 census taken at #10 Calverly Road,Tunbridge Wells John is living on his own and is listed as the Chief Constable of the police force.John certainy did marry late in life for he was not married until the first quarter of 1895 in Tunbridge Wells when he was 58 years of age.The 1901 census taken at #10 Calverley Road records John Emery as a retired police officer.Living with him is his wife Lavina Alberta and their two children Arthur John,born 1896 and Frederick William,born 1899.Both children were born in Tunbridge Wells.

On May 19,1915 John Joseph Embery of #10 Calverley Road passed away in Tunbridge Wells.His estate valued at 611 pounds was left to his wife who passed away in town in the 4th quarter of 1938.


The testimony of this gentleman at the 1870 trail was given in the previous section, and was the wine merchant on the High Street (view opposite)Tunbridge Wells, who Thomas Horatio Howarth had cheated out of wine he received and did not pay for.

Samuel was born in the 1st qtr of 1845 at Croydon. He as one of several children born to Samuel Searle, born 1818 in Saffron Walden, Essex and Eliza Searle, born 1811 at Hexton, Middlesex.

The 1851 census, taken at Hackney, London gave Samuel Searle as a brewers clerk. With him was his wife Elizal four of their children, including Samuel Ridley Searle, a nurse and two domestics.

The 1861 census, taken at Palace Grove  Battersey, Surrey gave Samuel as a brewers clerk. With him was his wife Eliza; four of their children including Samuel junior and two servants. Sometime before 1868 Samuel junior moved to Tunbridge Wells and opened a wine merchants shop.

He was listed in a 1868 directory of Tunbridge Wells as a wine merchant on the High Street.

The 1871 census, taken at in Tunbridge Wells gave Samuel junior as a visitor with the Gibson family, He was unmarried and his occupation was given as “formerly wine merchant”.

It was not established what became of him after 1871.


The testimony of Martin Skinner as the clerk to estate agents Jull and May of Tunbridge Wells was given in the 1870 trial.

Martin Skinner was born 1847 in Tunbridge Wells and was one of several children born to Alfred Skinner, a carpenter, born 1815 in Tunbridge Wells and Elizabeth Skinner an upholstress born 1815 in Tunbridge Wells.

At the time of the 1851 census the family were living at Prospect Cottage on London Road. The 1861 census, taken at 2 Palace Terrace on Wood Street (photo opposite) gave Martin living with his parents and siblings and attending school. The 1871 census, taken at 9 Wood Street, Tunbridge Wells gave Martin as a house agents clerk (Jull & May) and living with his parents and brother. Nothing further about Martin was researched except to note that he passed away in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1872.

His employers were Jull & May, who at the time of the 1870 trail were operating as house agents in the town.  The Bragshaw directory of 1863 gave an advertisement for Edward Durrant, late R. Jull family grocers and wine merchants, the Parade. Edward Durrant, in a 1884 directory was a wine and spirit merchant with premises at 7 Royal Parade and advertised that the business was established in 1768. Durrant was still at 7 the Pantiles in 1892. For further details about Durrant see  the article I wrote about him.

Earlier directories such as 1847 gave Delves & Jull as estate agents in the Parade. The 1851 directory gave the listing “ Delves & Jull, grocers, house agents, china, glass etc warehouse, The Parade”. The 1974 directory gave “ Jull & Co, Pelham House, Parade, Tunbridge Wells, auctioneers”.

On November 6,1846 Robert Jull, a tea dealer, married Elizabeth Knight, the daughter of Thomas Knight. Robert’s father was given as Thomas Jull.

The 1851 census, taken at Bath Square (The Pantiles) gave Robert Jull as born 1819 in Wratham, Kent, a tea dealer and grocer. With him was his wife Elizabeth, born 1824 in Wratham and a son Frank, born 1850 in Tunbridge Wells. Robert at that time was a tea dealer and grocer. The 1861 census, taken at Abergaveney Villa gave Robert Jull as a house and estate agent. With him was his wife Elizabeth and a daughter Kate Knight Jull, born 1858 in Speldhurst.


Mr Booty was referred to in the 1870 case as being requested by Mr Howarth to provide furnishings for his home in Tunbridge Wells. From the ‘Overview’ of my article entitled ‘James Booty- A Pantiles Silk Mercer’ dated September 2,2014 is some information below about him and his business.

James Booty (1826-1898)(image opposite), originally from Suffolk,came to Tunbridge Wells in March 1864 and acquired the silk mercers and haberdashers business of Robert Elliott who with Mr Crispe operated their shop at No. 60 The Pantiles under the name of Crispe & Elliott, who advertised that their business was a continuation of the business of Mr Lashmar. Details about these two forerunners to the business of Mr Botty are given in separate articles.

Mr Booty’s business was a success and soon expanded his shop to include 60, 62,64 and 66 The Pantiles where he advertised himself as a silk mercer and  haberdasher by appointment to Her Majesty, and that he was also a linen draper, hosier,glover,costumer. With the passage of time he expanded his business to include cabinet making and general house furnishings and by the early 1880’s he also operated as an undertaker with premises at 40 Pantiles. In 1889 William Dust opened a silk mercers shop at 1-5 The Pantiles, in competition to James Booty, which continued well into the mid 20th century and its presence may be one reason why Mr Booty’s business was not continued by his sons for very long after his death in 1898.

James Booty was married in 1850 to Eliza Matthews(1825-1901) and with her had six sons and four daughters, although one of his sons (Stanley Herbert) died at birth.His other children went on to have successful careers in various professions with two of his sons ,James Ernest Booty (1855-1923) and Edward Horace booty (1860-1927)carrying on his undertakers and silk mercers business upon his retired and death. The Booty family continued to have a business presence on the Pantiles until about 1922.



Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario, Canada

Date: November 17,2016


The birth of Frederick George Barton, as simply Frederick Barton, was registered in Tunbridge Wells in 1859. He was the son of John Barton (1830-1900) and Catherine F. Barton (1829-1912), one of three children in this poor working class family. At the time of the 1861 census John Barton was working as a groom while the family lived in a little cottage in Hervey Town, a poor neighbourhood in the Calverley Road/Cresent Road part of Tunbridge Wells. At the time of the 1871 census John Barton was a coachman  at 16 Calverley Mews,Tunbridge Wells; in 1881 a coachman at 6 Nevill Arms Cotttage in Frant, and in 1891 a fly driver and groom at 23 Grecian Road,Tunbridge Wells. Frederick would in his exploits elevate his father’s position to that of “Lord”, the owner of a great estate; a man of nobility and great wealth.

When Frederick was age 7 he began his life of crime when apprehended by police for setting gorse on fire in the Commons. He was let off with a warning and his parents were instructed to give the boy a good whipping. In an interview Frederick’s  father was quoted as saying his protégé “are a damb poor lot”.  He may not have been an educated man but he certainly knew what a rotten son he had spawned. No doubt he followed his sons criminal activities for they were widely reported on in the media, assuming he could read.

Frederick continued his criminal activities as a thief for which he was arrested at age 12 and sent to a reform school in Red Hill. He was found there in the 1871 census with over 200 other boys, but soon after ran away from it. By the time he was located his term at the reform school had expired. He continued his various crimes in London and elsewhere and then in 1876 he was arrested and found guilty of robbing the home of  Mr T.D. Headlam of 2 Camden Park,Tunbridge Wells  and sent to prison for 10 years.  He managed to get out of prison earlier though by way of a pardon obtained based on false information he had submitted through an accomplice. In 1881 he was found back in Tunbridge Wells, wearing a costume in the form of an army uniform, in possession of his pardon, and in possession of stolen property for which he was charged.

Barton was a conman, an arsonist, a thief, a murderer, just to name a few of his qualities, and a bigamist having married under false pretenses at least 7 gullible women in England and the USA who he swindled out of their fortunes and then abandoned them. He operated under at least eight alias such as Lord Barrington, the fictitious “Lord” with a large estate and grand “Castle” in his native Tunbridge Wells. He learned how to speak four languages while serving time in prison, was well read, and could tell a convincing story to fool almost anyone. When he had some stolen cash to work with he dressed and acted like a nobleman. He made false claims about serving in the military, being wounded, and being awarded the VC, and when it suited him he gave himself the title of Lieutenant and even Major.

In 1888 he fled England after leaving a trail of crimes behind and having spent more time in custody than as a free man. In 1891 his first female victim was Celestine Elizabeth Miller who’s father had died leaving her and her mother financially well off. Desiring to separate the Miller family from their cash and property he married Celestine in Brooklyn New York. After the marriage the couple set sail for England, his wife expecting to be living in her husband’s Tunbridge Wells castle. Since no such castle existed she was put off ,by various concocted stories, and they lived initially in the finest hotels in London and then took up rented premises near Brighton,Sussex in 1892. Upon his arrival back in England Barton resumed his criminal ways and was found to have been involved in a number of robberies and in 1892 was arrested, hauled off in view of his mystified wife, and sent to prison.  In 1892 Bartons wife gave birth to a daughter, Elaine Elizabeth Barton and in 1893 ,after being sent some funds from family and friends ,Mrs Barton and her daughter returned to New York, never to return to England. 

Bartons criminal exploits appeared in the Police Gazette and in newspapers around the world. His most notable crime perhaps was his conviction in 1903 in St Louis for the murder of his so called “friend” James P. McCann. He was sentenced to hang but his sentence was later reduced to life in prison and was then pardoned in 1918. This was not the only murder he was suspected of having committed for there were examples of suspicious deaths of associates and wives he was believed to have played a part in but insufficient evidence allowed him to remain free to continue his life of crime.

By 1938 the Americans had enough of Mr Barton,and rightfully so, and deported him back to England on the SS PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT escorted by American Immigration officials up the gangplank. As the ship was waved off and news of his departure was reported on in the media, no doubt a great sigh of relief was felt by many to finally see the end of him who had left a trail of death,destruction and tears as his American legacy. The steamship arrived in Plymouth September 22,1938. Although now age 79, and presumably at the end of his criminal activities, given his record of crime, his return to England was looked upon with misgivings. Would he return to Tunbridge Wells ?-local officials and the police hoped not !.  Although some accounts state Barton died in a London prison in 1942 nothing was found to substantiate this and death registry documents and probate records gave him passing away in the East end of London February 18,1942 while residing at Shamcastle Briscoe Road in Rainham, Essex.

Although one could write a very interesting book several hundred pages long about Barton and his life of crime, in this article I provide a much condensed version of the story with a particular emphasis on his time in England and more specifically in Tunbridge Wells.

Shown in the 'Milestones' section below is a photo of Mr Barton with related text on the back taken on July 26, 1938 in the county jail while he was awaiting deportation as “ Lord Frederick Hastings Seymour, one of his many alias’s . This photo was sold on ebay October 24,2016 by a seller in Memphis, Tenn. USA for about $30 and is the last known image of him. Images  of him from earlier years are given later in this article.


Due to the complexity of Barton’s life and the need to condense the voluminous material into something more manageable and perhaps better appreciated by my readers, I have given below a summary, a timeline, of what I consider the most significant parts of his life. 

1858………….Frederick George Barton born in Tunbridge Wells. Most often given by him and others in accounts a Frederick George Barton, although sometimes simply as Frederick Barton. His birth as Frederick George Barton was registered in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1859. No baptism record was located. Death and probate records for 1942 gave him as Frederick George Barton. One of three children born to John Barton (1830-1900) and Catherine F. Barton (1829-1912).Frederick’s year of birth is sometimes given as 1859 and sometimes as late as 1864 in various accounts.

1861………….At the time of the 1861 census, taken at 14 Holy Bank Cottages, Hervey Town, Tunbridge Wells, “Frederick Barton” is living with parents John and Catherine and sister Kate,age 7, born 1854 Tunbridge Wells. John Barton born 1830 at Hadlow, Kent, occupation groom. Catherine born 1829 in Cranbrook, Kent.

1865………….At age 7, according to the Kent & Sussex Courier, Frederick made his first appearance in any court when he was charged with setting fire to gorse in the Common, but in consideration of his tender age, he was let off with a caution on his parents promising to give him a good whipping.

1870…………At age 12 Frederick was committed for five years to Red Hill Reformatory for embezzlement. The 1871 census, taken at the Red Hill Reformatory, Reigate Union Red Hill, Surrey (also known as the Philanthropic Society Farm School) gave Frederick as age 12, an inmate of the reformatory along with 248 other boys ages 5 to 18. The head of the reformatory at that time was Charles Worthers, MA, age 44, Chaplain. The Kent & Sussex Courier article of 1892 stated “He absconded before his time expired, and was not traced until the period of detention had run out. Shown below are photos of the Red Hill Reformatory Chapel and the Farm School.

1871……………Although details are lacking  the Washington Post of August 14,1907 reported that after being in the reformatory and before he reached the age of majority Barton married a wealthy English girl on false pretenses, obtained most of her money and decamped, after which time he was in and out of prison for various swindles.

1872-1875…………In Yorkshire found guilty of robbing his master, a peripatetic auctioneer in watches and jewellery and sent to prison. The Kent & Sussex Courier of 1892 reported “ Upon his release in October 1875, his employer, won by his plausible manner, forgave him, and again took him into his service, where he remained for a year, when he decamped with a portmanteau full of his master’s jewellery, which he pawned in various parts of the country.Although a warrant had been issued against him, he managed to elude the vigilance of police”.

1876………… Stayed in and robbed a boys refuge in London

1876………….After leaving London Frederick moved back to Tunbridge Wells. At age 18, in 1876 the Kent & Sussex Courier reported “ He stole 17,000 pounds worth of securities by a burglary in the house of a clergyman who had befriended him. He was taken and sentenced in 1876 to ten years penal servitude”at a trial on July 10,1876. The theft had taken place at the home of Mr T.D. Headlam of 2 Camden Park. He had been brought before the magistrates May 16,1876 and remanded. Mr Headman was not as the Courier states a clergyman but Thomas Duckworth Headlam, born 1807 in London, a widow and a gentleman living on own means, who formerly was an insurance broker.

1880…………The Kent & Sussex Courier reported “In December 1880, with six years of his 10 year sentence unexpired, Barton was again in Tunbridge Wells, much to the astonishment of the police, who found him in possession of a free pardon from the Home Secretary, obtained by a daring and ingenious fraud”. Barton, with promises of financial reward, convinced another convict to assist him in obtaining a pardon through the production and submission of false documents containing outlandish false information. Barton himself crafted some of the information and it was all so skillfully done that the Home Secretary(Sir William Harcourt) was duped. In the spring of 1881 Bartons disgruntled accomplice (Mr Smith)who was instrumental in assisting Barton in obtaining the pardon, having been cheated by Barton out of his promised reward, wrote to the authorities to report the fraud but for some unknown reason Barton was not pursued.

1881………..The Kent &Sussex Courier in an 1892 article stated that “Barton next enlisted” (in the British Army). Barton claimed in his representations to others he wished to sway that he had served in the Boer War, had been wounded, and that he had been awarded the VC. Articles regarding the suspicious death of Lieut. Percy O. Roper at the Chatham barracks on February 11, 1881,state Barton was in his employ but this was not the case at the time of Ropers death. Another article states that Barton was a valet of Lieut Percy O.Roper at an earlier time in India. Barton was never charged with the murder of Lieut Roper but police had their suspicions he had committed the crime or at least masterminded it.

1881………..The Kent & Sussex Courier reported “ In July 1881, Barton was back in Tunbridge Wells and was arrested that month upon suspicion of having committed several burglaries in the neighbourhood of Tunbridge Wells, He was in uniform, with a sergeant’s stripes, to which he was not entitled, and in his pocket was a forged furlough. The Police it is said, have a strong suspicion that he was in the employ of Lieutenant Roper as soldier-servant at the time the officer was found dead at Chatham Barracks. The Evening Press, a Welsh newspaper dated February 13,1906 reported that “in 1881 Barton was arrested for the murder of an army officer (Lieut Percy O Roper) who’s valet he had been, but although circumstances established a moral certainty of his guilt, no evidence could be secured against him, and he was released”.

1881………..The Kent & Sussex Courier reported” In the following November (November 1881) Barton was sentenced to a second term of ten years penal servitude, and it was not until 1889 when he was released and then fled to America”. The Police Gazette of July 25,1881 reported that “Barton was remanded at Tunbridge Wells, charged with two burglaries during the last month. Frederick George Barton now gives his name as Victor Vernon Sydenham, a sergeant in the 2nd Regiment, stationed at Guildford, and on a recruiting service, dressed in the uniform of 2nd Regiment. In his possession were found a red and brown purse containing (various items of watches,chains etc-detailed list given)pawn brokers tickets etc.”

1889………..Barton left England, sailing from London to New York and resumed his criminal activities in the United States, but would return to England in 1891 to commit further crimes. He arrived in New York, according to the Evening Express, with a draft for 6,000 pounds.

1891…………While residing in Brooklyn, New York, dressed as a nobleman and representing himself as a wealthy,well -dressed, well -educated English gentleman he circulated among society looking for an easy target among American young ladies to deceive and deprive of their money, introducing himself as Lieutenant Barton of the Royal Engineers. The Brooklyn Eagle reported that Barton “danced at the ball with lords and ladies and spent the remainder of the night visiting mansions by stealth, cracking safes and driving away in a closed cab”. His first female victim as a wife was Celestine Elizabeth Miller, the daughter of a wealthy father who had recently passed away and who had left her and her mother Elizabeth Patterson Miller and sisters as beneficiaries of his large estate. On March 9,1891  Celestine (age stated as 25) and Frederick George Sydney Neville Barton VC (an alias) were married and with promises of a grand life living on Barton’s large estate in his  “castle” in Tunbridge Wells. Soon Barton elevated his position to “Lord Barrington” (another alias) the owner of the old feudal estate “Barrington Meadows”. Barton and his wife boarded a steamship in New York and arrived in London in the summer of 1891.  Some accounts suggest that Barton’s mother-in-law went with them and if so did not remain there long for she is found later back in Brooklyn NY. Barton had convinced his wife and mother in law to turn all her assets into cash and give it to him to “invest”, which they did, and it was the last they saw of the money, leaving the Millers destitute.

1891……………The Kent & Sussex Courier reported “ On coming to England, Barton went to Burgess Hill(image opposite) and took a residence. At once mysterious burglaries began in the neighbourhood. As noted later police brought charges against Barton for these burglaries. Barton’s wife makes no mention in her testimony about Burgess Hill upon their arrival and refers first to her and her husband taking up residence in London

1891……………..Barton and Celestine (according to Celestine) lived in grand style in the finest hotels in London and during that time Barton committed a number of robberies in London to pay for it all. Although his wife kept asking when they would take up residence in his Tunbridge Wells “castle” Barton gave one excuse after another why this would have to wait. The Evening Express reported “Barton took up residence in London and after four months the police recognized him and arrested him for embezzlement.

1892………………Barton and his wife took up residence in a considerable home about 10 miles from Brighton, Sussex  (according to Celestine). Burgess Hill is  about 10 miles north of Brighton is where they lived. According to Celestine her husband furnished in a grand style their residence by purchasing furnishings on time and then selling them without paying for them in full to pocket the cash. Celestine stated “ we had only been at this home two days before the sheriff came and arrested my husband for grand larceny. The Kent & Sussex Courier refers to Barton and his wife in Brighton and that while there Barton and another women he met on the Brighton Front went by dog cart to Burgess Hill to see about his letters and that upon arriving at Cedar Lodge Barton and the young woman were arrested together and taken to the police station. The lady was thought to be an accomplice in the burglaries at Burgess Hill but after questioning and further investigation was set free.

1892…………….Barton arrested at the Barton home near Brighton (Burgess Hill) charged with grand larceny.Celestine stated “ I was convinced about this time that I had been duped and on the day he was arrested I took a train and went down to Tunbridge Wells where he said the castle was…”All she found was his father John Barton in “a poor thatched cottage, almost bare of furniture, a poor broken down old cab driver…My husband was sentenced to 12 years in prison”.  If he served the full time he would have been released in 1904. The Kent & Sussex Courier reported “At the recent assizes at Lewes, Barton was indicted for burglary, and found guilty of receiving goods well knowing them to have been stolen, and was sentenced to twelve years penal servitude; but as he is even now only thirty-two or thirty-three years of age, it is quite possible that this plausible criminal will be heard of again in the future”, and how right they were. As you will read later Barton was released before his sentence was to end in 1904 for by 1903 he was in the USA. The Evening Express reported that Barton served seven years of this sentence and then returned to the USA which would put him in the USA in 1899.

1892…………….. Celestine Elizabeth Barton gave birth to a daughter Elaine Elizabeth Barton, who was born in England. Birth records show her birth registered 1st qtr 1892 at Steyning, Sussex.

1893………………Passenger records show that Celestine E. Barton and her 10 month old daughter Elaine departed from Liverpool on the steamship BRITTANIC (photo opposite)arriving at New York February 27,1893 never to return to England again. Celestine ended up operating a laundry in Brooklyn and because of her poor situation and concern for her daughters well- being she with the assistance of The Eagle newspaper in Brooklyn gave up her daughter who was adopted or handed over to Ferdinand Danton(1877-1939), an artist .Elaine was age 13 in 1905. Elaine turned out to be an interesting young lady as a painter and theatrical performer but sadly she was killed in a canoeing accident in 1905 not long after her marriage to Mr Fairfax a theatrical performer who she toured with. There are many examples of the artwork of Ferdinand Danton and information about him on the internet. The 1910 census, taken in New York listed Danton with a wife and children but Elaine Barton was not listed with him. She was age 18 at that time and married.

1893……….A USA patent No. 22,494 was awarded June 6,1893 to Elizabeth Miller and her daughter Celestine Barton of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York for “A new and original design for Rucking and Trimming.

1899…………Barton completes seven years of his 12 year sentence and leaves England destined for New York according to newspaper articles. See item below referring to his release in 1901. No reliable passenger list for Barton travelling to America was found to confirm his actual date of arrival.

1901………….The Los Angeles Herald of February 16,1903 gave an account about Barton, part of which stated “ Two years ago Barton,released from prison in England returned to America and hunted up his wife (Celestine).He tried to persuade her to support him, but she repudiated him utterly and then engaged himself as a coachman in the home of a Mr Dudley in Brooklyn. Barton left there under some sort of cloud and he next appeared at Short Hills where he engaged himself as a farm hand and general helper at the country home of a wealthy woman, against whom he afterward brought suite for damages on the grounds that one of her dogs had bitten him. His next engagement was a coachman in the family of a Jersey City man living near Bergen Avenue and Virginia Street. While there he made the acquaintance of Thomas Baughan, a harness maker, with whom, as coachman, he had professional dealings. Mrs Baughan is an English woman.She became interested, as did her husband, in the talented linguist and traveler whose ill luck had brought him to a coachman’s livery.For a time, after having again lost his situation Barton boarded with the Baughan family.Then Chief Murphy learned from Scotland Yard authorities that the man was a famous English crook and would bear watching and he put Barton under surveylance.Barton learned that he was being watched and fled. His next employment was with E.M. McCheancy, a real estate dealer in Orange, New Jersey.There Barton got into trouble and sought a new field. His departure was said to have been expedited by Chief Murray having traced him and it lifted the Orange police.For a short time Barton was employed as a coalman in St Louis.He then worked for a man engaged in the mail order business on Madison Avenue, New York,Barton left there on November 24 last,saying he was going to be married” (to Miss Margaret Bafferty)

1902…………..In October 1902 Barton went to St Louis and posed as an emissary sent by the British Government to the Louisiana Exposition. He was accepted in many homes as a genuine English nobleman.

1902………….On December 1,1902 Barton married Miss Margaret Bafferty, a women of Canadian extraction and the daughter of a wealthy coal dealer in Philadelphia. Barton  abandoned her a week later after having robbed her of several trunks making up her trousseau, valued at some $500. He abandoned her in Cincinnati under some pretext taking with him the trunks. The distraught women reported the event to the Jersey City police headquarters and told Chief Murphy the story. He telegraphed the Cincinnati chief of police (Colonel Deltach) to look for Barton, but the fugitive was not traced and nothing was heard of him until “Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Seymour” registered at the Southern Hotel in St Louis where he was apprehended,questioned, and found to be in possession of the trunks. He was sentenced to six months in the workhouse.

1903………….As Lord Seymour Frederick Barrington, Barton married Wilhelmina Grace Cochrane(image opposite) of Kansas City on January 31,1903.They had met in St Louis when Barrington was passing himself off as a member of a crack English regiment and had engaged rooms at the home where Miss Cochrane was visiting.The day after the marriage the brother of the former Miss Cochrane became suspicious of her husband and after investigation was convinced he was a fraud and literally kicked him down three flights of stairs in the home out on to the street. The brother contacted police and Barrington/Barton was sent to the workhouse for disturbing Cochrane, disorderly conduct  and vagrancy. Three days later Wilhelmina left Barton and appears to be one of the lucky ones who got away from Barton before he stripped her of any money she had.

1903…………The Kansas City Gazette of April 13,1903 reported that the “bogus lord Barrington(image opposite) has been released from the workhouse. His wife Wilhelmina left the home of her sister last Saturday morning to avoid meeting her husband. In 1903 Wilhelmina received her divorce from Barton and the decree restored her to her maiden name Cochrane. Chief Desmond said Barrington will not be rearrested and Barrington stated he intended to remain in St Louis and go into business with a man who is going to revive the saloon and concert Hall”. This man  Barrington/Barton was referring to was Mr McCann who he befriended and soon after murdered.  The Jasper Weekly Courier of March 11,1904 reported in part that it was while Barton was in the workhouse that Mr J. P. McCann met him and took him into his home upon his release from the workhouse.

1903……….On June 18,1903 Barton lured James P. McCann to a desolate spot and shot and stabbed him to death.He then returned to the home of Mrs McCann where he had been living saying that her husband had been called out of town suddenly. McCann’s stripped body was found a few days later in a quarry. Mrs McCann identified the body as that of her husband and Barrington/ Barton was arrested and accused of the murder and put in jail in St Louis awaiting trial. In the image opposite from the newspaper Barton is seated on the left and McCann on the right.

1904……….On March 11,1904 the Jasper Weekly Courier reported that after three hours of deliberation ‘Lord Barrington” was found guilty of killing J. P. McCann. He was sentenced to be hung on April 23,1904  but was postponed pending appeal.  The court upheld the conviction on appeal and Barrington/Barton’s execution was set for July 1,1907

1904………..On June 29,1907 Gov. Joseph W. Folk of Missouri commuted Barton’s sentence to life in prison.

1905…………The only known child of Frederick George Barton was Elaine Elizabeth Barton, born in Sussex, England, 1892. Her mother was Celestine Elizabeth Barton, nee Miller. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of September 19,1920 reported in part that they assisted Celestine in finding someone to act as guardian or to adopt her daughter and “at age 13(1905) Elaine was adopted by the well-known oil painting artist Ferdinand Danton,of Manhattan, and instructor at Manhattan College”. The artist referred to was Ferdinand Danton Jr (1827-1939) who was best known for his work (photo opposite)as an art forger who spent two years in prison for mail fraud, used at least four names and died in poverty.It was under his care that Elaine became an accomplished painter.

1907……..The Pittsburgh Press of July 8,1907 in an article entitled ‘False Lord Tells Story’ reported that Lord F. Seymour Barrington who now signs his name to the public and numerous polite notes to women acquaintances as J. Frederick Augustus Harrington Seymour is now near the end of his rope at Clayton St Louis County (re his murder of J.P. McCann)

1913………….Elaine Elizabeth Barton, daughter of Frederick George Barton married William C. Sites,alias Max C. Elliott,a theatrical performer,booking agent on July 24,1913 in Alabama.As a young women Elaine became a noted theatrical performer and for two years toured with her husband under the stage name of Elaine Fairfax, Elaine Miller and Berenice Woods. An article in the Billboard stated that Elaine Fairfax married Max Elliott in Chicago December 17,1912. a rather poor quality image of Elaine from a newspaper article is shown opposite. No photograph or sketch of her performing was found.

1913………….The Montgomery Advertiser of August 3,1913 and The Tennessean of the same date published an identical article entitled ‘Women tells story of alleged frauds’ in which was stated “One time footlight favourite Mrs Sites alleges she was an unwilling participant under compulsion from her husband W.C. Sites, alias Max C. Elliott. Mrs Sites, alias Elaine Mills, nee Elizabeth Barton, is in this city yesterday.She is registered at present at the American Hotel, claiming that she came here to peddle smoothing irons for B.S. Silverstein and to escape publicity in Gadsden, where her husband was tried before the federal court on a charge of using the mails to defraud and get money under false pretenses,Mrs Sites was reared in Boston and in early life she was attracted to the glare of the floodlights.She says she studied under Mr Sites. After she had won recognition on the stage, she says her husband began to write letters to managers, put advertisments in the theatrical magazines and resorted to other measures to get her positions. Whenever he would get a reply she alleges, he would call for expense money, transportation advances etc, and when there was a reply he would pocket the money,change his address and advertise under another name. She alleged her husband would force her to reply to letters and when she refused on one occasion her husband threw a typewriter at her.She says they were married at Fort Payne in this state and that she will hereafter try to earn her own livelyhood”.

1913…………..Elaine Elizabeth Fairfax, nee Barton, died in Virginia 1915 when her canoe capsized and she was drowned according to The Brooklyn Eagle of September 1920 but this is not substantiated by other records. The New York Dramatic Mirror stated that “Elaine R. Miller, known professionally as Berenice Woods and Elaine Fairfax, drowned in the river at Tuscaloosa, Alabama October 5,1913 and that she was the wife of Max C. Elliott, well-known agent from Chicago and that her body was being shipped back east for burial”. An article in the New York Clipper of November 1,1913 reported that “Bernice Woods, known to many vaudeville people as Elaine Fairfax met with a tragic death…” A death record gave Elaine Miller ,born 1893, married, died September 22,1913 at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

1918…………The Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper(1920) stated from their inquiries that the St Louis Prison Authorities reported that Barrington/ Barton had been paroled from his jail for the killing of J.P. McCann on December 24,1918. His parole was granted on the basis that he be deported from the USA back to England but on his release Barton escaped from his guards en route to board a steamship at New York and for a time disappeared. Some say he spent the next 20 years wandering about the country under various alias escaping detection but a record of him in 1938 suggests it was believed that he returned to England and re-entered to USA illegally under the alias Lord Frederick Hastings-Seymour.

1920…………. Marriage record dated 2nd qtr 1920 in Eastbourne, Sussex gave marriage of Frederick A Hastings-Seymour to May Haffenden. Marriage record for May Hastings-Semour, nee Heffenden to Arthur R Muggleton 2nd qtr 1930 Eastbourne,Sussex.

1920…………..The Vancouver Daily World of Vancouver Canada on September 1,1920 reported that Major F.A. Hastings-Seymour sailed from Liverpool to Quebec on the EMPRESS OF FRANCE (photo opposite).

1920………….The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of September 19,1920 published a long and detailed article under the heading of ‘Frederick George Barton alias Lord Barrington of American and English Fame’ on the occasion of the appearance in September 1920 of a Major J.K.Hastings-Seymour, who they quickly identified was an alias and the same man as Frederick George Barton. The Major represented himself as acting on behalf of Lord Barrington who he claimed had died in England leaving a large inheritance for his daughter Elaine Elizabeth Barton and wanting information regarding her whereabouts so he could make contact with her. His story did not check out and when a meeting was set up between the Major and members of the Miller family at his hotel, the hotel clerk said the Major had left with his baggage in a hurry. The forwarding address the Major left in Montreal was found to be bogus. The newspaper had a photograph on file of Lord Barrington and there was no question in their mind that the Major and the “Lord” were the same man.  His calling card and passport bore the name Major J.K. Hastings-Seymour which suggests he had come from England and must have been forgeries.They believe the purpose of the Major’s visit was not to give money to Elaine but rather to extract money from her, something he had attempted unsuccessfully from his wife Celestine in 1903 who contacted the police.

1921………….Marriage record for Major Frederick Augustus Hastings-Seymour to Montie Elizabeth McIntosh dated July 15,1921 at Moore, North Carolina. Her husband stated his parents were deceased but the marriage register gave him as F.A.H. Seymour with parents of Edward and Constance E Seymour.

WW 1 service records gave Montie McIntosh of 9 South 4th St Wilmington, North Carolina born at Carthage as a nurse overseas from June 5,1918 to January 6,1919.

Montie had a record of mental illness and had been in hospital. She died September 26,1921 , after dousing herself with kerosene and setting herself alight. Her death was registered as Monterey
Elizabeth McIntosh Seymour September 29,1921 at Carthage, Bensalem Morre, North Carolina with her birth date given as August 17,1873 in Moore County, North Carolina, the daughter of Neil McIntosh and Sarah E. Dunlap. She was buried at the Bensalem Church cemetery on September 29,1921. On July 26,1921 ,only eleven days after marriage , she gave her husband power of attorney and therefore control over all of her assets while she was alive. Her husband who was the executor of her extensive estate, attempted to have what he claimed was her will probated but her relatives objected stating that  what was claimed to be her will was falsified and that her husband had exercised undue influence on his wife in giving him power of attorney and that the wording “ this also constitutes my last will” was not the wishes of the deceased. The matter went before the Superior Court of North Carolina and they concluded that the wording regarding “my last” will had been added in a different hand to the original document; that the document was not her will and that her husband had no legal right to act. The relatives of Mrs Hastings-Seymour won the case. The Wilmington Morning Star of September 20,1921 reported “it is the second tragedy in the life of Major Hastings-Seymour, who was very active in church work here, friends state, he having list his first wife and daughter when a boat in which they were riding capsized. This happened in England and the Major who witnessed the accident was powerless to give aid. Major Hastings Seymour, well known in Willmington where he was in charge of the employment office of the Carolina ship yard for some time following his return to the USA from Europe. When he was in the war Mrs Hastings-Seymour was a nurse in the war, it is said, and it was while she was nursing the Major that the two became friends and were engaged and later married”. The Moore County News of July 21,1921 stated in part “Major Hastings-Seymour is an English army officer who served in the war…”

1923………Marriage record dated June 2,1923 for a marriage between Frederick Augustus Hastings-Seymour and Olive Keep at Duval, Florida, USA. A 1924 directory of Jacksonville Florida listed Olive Hastings-Seymour as a stenographer but no mention of her husband.

1938…………..Barton collapsed in a Los Angeles street and after questioning by police was identified as a wanted man and kept in custody awaiting deportation. The St Louis Post-Despatch of September 26,1938 reported “ Early last summer he (Barton) had applied at the British Consulate in Seattle for aid to get him back to his homeland. Informed that his passport was antiquated, he fled Seattle, only to be caught when his ailing heart brought him into a Los Angeles hospital and to the attention of police.”….”Lord Barrington was secretive when asked in Los Angeles about his activities in America since his pardon from the Jefferson City Penitentiary (photo above).

1938…………A photograph of Barton was taken July 26,1938 in the county jail awaiting a decision of the Labour Department on whether or not he will be deported to England, being charged with entering the United States illegally. The typed text on the back of the photo states “Now 79 years old Lord Frederick Hastings-Seymour, central figure in a sensational murder years ago is believed to have entered the country 18 years ago (1920) on a limitless passport”. This suggests that after his release from prison in 1918 that he returned to England but re-entered the United States in 1920 under the alia Lord Frederick Hastings-Seymour.

1938………….Barton was taken to New York for deportation to England and escorted up the gangplank of the SS PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT (photo below)by US Immigration officers, never to return to America again. He arrived in Plymouth on September 22,1938 and was recorded in the passenger list as “deportee”. He gave his proposed address as “Uk Tunbridge Wells” but it is not known if he actually returned to Tunbridge Wells. The St Louis Post-Despatch of September 26,1938 reported “ As a trans-Atlantic steamer docked at Southampton, England last week, United States immigration authorities escorted a stooped elderly man down the gangplank and put him on the boat train for London. After many years “Lord” F Seymour Barrington was back in England for a rest”.

1942…………..An account that Barton died in a London jail in 1942 was not substantiated from research. Death registration and probate records gave him of Shamcastle Briscoe Road, Rainham, Essex when he died February 19,1942.  Both the probate record and the death registration gave his name as Frederick George Barton.


Frederick George Barton was ,from birth records, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1859. The birth record did not contain the names of his parents and the researcher made no attempt to purchase his death certificate. His birth was registered simply as Frederick Barton. No baptism record for him was found.

The first record for him was the 1861 census, taken at 14 Holly Bank Cottage, Hervey Town, Tunbridge Wells where he and his sister Kate,age 7, born Tunbridge Wells, and his parents John Barton,born 1831 Hadlow, Kent, a groom, and Catherine Barton, born 1832 Cranbrook,Kent. As noted in my article ‘The History of Hervey Town’ dated May 15,2015  a decision was made in the early 1840’s to create Hervey Town on a plot of land located on the north west corner of Calverley Road and Crescent Road (given sometimes as Calverley Cresent). This became a residential development containing small cottages, sometimes only two rooms in size, and occupied by members of the lower working class. It became a rough area and the police were called on many occasions regarding a variety of crimes and disturbances. Shown opposite is a map showing Hervey Town, which also shows the Calverley Mews referred to below.

In a newspaper article several years later Frederick stated that his parents were John Alexander Barton and Catherine Felesia Neville and in several statements about his background Frederick claimed he was a Lord and came from a noble family with a large estate and castle in Tunbridge Wells and that his father was Lord John Barton. Frederick George Baron at one time used the false name of Frederick George Sydney Neville Barton and his use of the name “Neville” is certain to be fictitious in both his and his mother’s name, borrowing it from the well-known Neville family of Tunbridge Wells to elevate his and his parents status.

A family tree, which was verified and found to be accurate gave Frederick’s parents as John Barton (1830-1900) and Catherine F. Barton (1829-1912). This record gave John Barton as born 1830 in Hadlow,Kent and that he died January 1900 at Hollingbourn, Kent and had six siblings, all born in Hadlow. The researcher believes however that John Barton born 1830 died in the 2nd qtr of 1893 in Hastings,Sussex.

In April 1858 John Barton married Catherine F Cramp (1829-1912). John’s father was given as John Barton (1811-1878) who had died in Tunbridge Wells March 6,1878 and his mother was given as Mary Pattenden (1817-1849).

Catherine F. Camp was born 1829 in Cranbook, Kent and died January 1912 in Ticehurst,Sussex. She was the daughter of John Cramp (1802-1879) and Mary Sophia Griggs, born 1813 and had three siblings, all born in Ramsgate, Kent between 1842 and 1848.

From a review of birth, census and other records it is known that Frederick George Barton had the following siblings (1) Kate Barton (1854-1878) born before her parent’s marriage (2) Lizzie Barton (1866-1956) (3) Elizabeth Barton , born 1864 . All three of these children were born in Tunbridge Wells.

As noted in the previous section Frederick George Barton was still living with his parents in 1865 when police apprehended him for setting gorse on fire in the Common as police released him to his parents for whipping. In 1870 Frederick was sent to a reform school as noted earlier and there are no records to indicate he ever returned to live with his parents. See the previous section for information about the rest of his life.

Returning to his parents, the 1871 census, taken at 16 Calverley Mews in Tunbridge Wells gave John Baron, age 42, as a coachman. With him was his wife Catherine,age 42, a dressmaker. Also there was their daughter Elizabeth,age 7, a scholar. Calverley Mews was located behind Calverley Parade. Calverley Parade was one of John Wards residential developments, fronting on Mount Pleasant Road, running between Crescent Road north to what later became Monson Road. The Calverley Mews was part of the same development and there was accommodation for coachmen and grooms and their families and storage facilities for the carriages and horses belonging to the residents of Calverley Parade. Shown opposite is postcard view of Calverley Parade with the Opera House (with domed roof)just beyond it.

The 1881 census, taken at 6 Nevill Arms Cottages, Frant,Sussex gave John Barton as age 50, and working there as a coachman. With him was his wife Catherine, age 49.

The 1891 census, taken at 23 Grecian Road,Tunbridge Wells, gave John Barton,age 61, a fly driver and groom. With him was his wife Catherine (given as Kate) and two boarders. A modern view of Grecian Road is shown opposite.

The 1901 census, taken at Ticehurst,Sussex, gave George Gibbs age 40, as a gardener domestic. With him was his wife Lizzie Gibbs (nee Barton) age 36 and five Gibbs children. Also there was Catherine Barton, mother in law, a 72 year old widow. Catherine died in Ticehurst,Sussex in 1912. Death information for her husband John Barton was given near the top of this section.

The name of Barton is well known to those who have studied the history of Tunbridge Ware makers in the town and an investigation was undertaken by the researcher to establish whether there was any connection between the Barton clan making these wares and the branch of the Barton family from whom Frederick George Barton originated but no connection was found.


As noted in the previous section Frederick George Barton had been a thorn in the side of the Tunbridge Wells police since the age of seven and it was not until his quick departure to the United States in 1889, after a series of crimes in the town and elsewhere, that they were finally done with his escapades once and for all. Perhaps his most noteworthy and widely publicised crime was that of 1876.

The theft of property from a home at 2 Camden Park, Tunbridge Wells by the accused, Frederick George Barton, was widely reported on localy and elsewhere. The Kent & Sussex Courier of May 12,1876 , May 17,1876 and July 14,1876 all contained details about the case. These articles, which can be seen in their entirety in the microfilm records of the Tunbridge Wells Library should be consulted for the full text for here I provide only the highlights.

The May 12th article reported ‘Burglary in Camden Park’ and stated that 17,000 pounds worth of property had been stolen. “At the Town Hall, this Friday morning before Major Lutwidge, Frederick George Barton was charged with breaking into and entering a dwelling house at No. 2 Camden Park and stealing…the property of T.D. Headlam”. The May 17th edition gave more details about the theft and that Barton had papers in Mr Headlam’s name on him and that Mr Headlam identified the property found on Barton as that belonging to him. The July 14th edition under the heading ‘The Burglary and extensive robberies at Tunbridge Wells’ stated in part that Frederick George Barton, age 18, pleaded guilty to entering a dwelling house at No. 2 Camden Park and stealing property…….”

The ‘Pall Mall Budget’ dated May 19,1876 reported “ Frederick George Barton, a youth of 18, who was last week charged at the Southwark police court with unlawfully having in his possession railway certificates, bonds, and other securities valued at 17,000 pounds was on Tuesday brought before the magistrates at Tunbridge Wells. The property was found in a portmanteau which the prisoner left at a house at Walworth, and which some suspicious appearances about the prisoner induced the landlord of the house to look into while the lad was absent. The prisoner described himself as the son of a colonel in the army, but is understood to be a former page of Mr T.D. Headlam, of 2 Camden Park,Tunbridge Wells, from who’s house the propertuy had been stolen. While being taken to Tunbridge Wells the prisoner said he got a man from London to commit the robbery, he directing him how to proceed. An entrance was obtained to the mansion by forcing the window of the knife-house. The burglar then went to Mr Headlam’s study and opened the drawers of his writing table. The prisoner was remanded.”Frederick George Barton was sentenced to 10 years penal servitude at a trial on July 19,1876. As I have noted in the previous section Barton did not serve out his entire sentence for he showed up back in Tunbridge Wells in 1881.

Camden Park was a residential development in Tunbridge Wells in which many grand homes were constructed. The book ‘The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells (2004) by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society provides a history of this development. The first evidence of the development appeared in covenants drafted in 1846 in which no dwelling house less in value that 1,200 pounds was to be erected, a substantial amount at that time, indicating that only grand homes were to be built. By 1851 only the east and west lodges had been built with two new homes under construction Five homes were built during the first years of the development and others soon followed. Among the first group of homes as No. 2 Camden Park, a large home finished in stucco,similar to others by William Willicombe in the town. No 2 Camden Park was known as and named Wavertree by Mr Headlam and was built in 1856. Details about the history of this home and its occupants can be found in my article ‘The History of Wavertree-No. 2 Camden Park’ dated April 7,2015.Shown opposite is an image of No. 2 Camden Park. For the purposes of this article the following information was gathered for the victim of the crime, Thomas Duckworth Headlam.

Although the Kent & Sussex Courier reported Mr Headlam as a minister of the church this in fact was not the case as you will read below.

Thomas Duckworth Headlam  had been born December 13,1896 in Middlesex. He was christened January 14,1807 at St Marylebone, Westminster, Middlesex, the son of Thomas Headlam and Dorothy Blooming Headlam.

He was married in the 4th qtr of 1840 at Marylebone to Letitia Simpson (1822-1869) and with her had four children between 1843 and 1850.

The 1851 census, taken at Church Lane in the parish of Wavertree, Lancashire gave Thomas as an insurance broker. With him was his wife Letitia, born in France; four of their children and five servants.

Sometime after 1851 and before 1861 the Duckworth family moved to Tunbridge Wells and took up residence at 2 Camden Park. The 1861 census taken at that residence gave Thomas as a fundholder. With him was his wife Letitia, four of his children and three servants. None of the servants included Frederick George Barton. One of his sons was Stewart Duckworth Headlam (12 January 1847 – 18 November 1924) who was a priest of the Church of England and who was involved in frequent controversy in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Headlam was a pioneer and publicist of Christian Socialism, on which he wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian Society, and a supporter of Georgism. He is noted for his role as the founder and warden of the Guild of St Matthew and for helping to bail Oscar Wilde from prison at the time of his trials. A photo of Stewart is shown opposite.

The 1871 census, taken at 2 Camden Park gave Thomas as a widow and living on interest from investments. With him was his 26 year old daughter Constance and four domestic servants, none of which included Frederick George Barton. As it was claimed that Barton had formerly been in the employ of Mr Headlam this must have taken place after 1871 and the theft in 1876.

Thomas Duckworth Headlam died in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1885. His probate record gave him late of Tunbridge Wells and passing away October 2,1885 in Tunbridge Wells, presumably at No 2 Camden Park. His estate was valued at 38,573 pounds with the executors being his son Rev Alfred Duckworth Headlam of 16 Alfred Place, Bedford Square, Middlesex, clerk, and his daughter Constance Coote (wife of Rev Algernon Coote) clerk of Tunbridge Wells. No burial record for him was found at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery but perhaps he was buried in the Woodbury Park Cemetery.

Newspaper reports from around the world reported on this case at the time it was committed and in articles written afterwards chronicling his life of crime. Although several hundred pages about Barton could be written I now close off my coverage of him. For those interested in more detail there is no shortage of articles to be found on the internet, some of which go into great detail, particularly regarding the mysterious death of Lieut Roper in 1881 and J.P. McCann in St Louis in 1903.

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