The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue

By Piu Marie Eatwell

One of the main infamous and weird mysteries of the Edwardian age, for readers who enjoyed The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

In 1898, an aged widow, Anna Maria Druce, got here to the British court docket with an excellent request. She stood one of the overflowing pews of St. Pauls Cathedral claiming that the service provider T. C. Druce, her past due partner's father, had honestly been a mystery id for none except the deceased and significantly prosperous fifth Duke of Portland. preserving her composure amid growing to be agitation from the seize of attorneys, reporters, and curious onlookers crowded into the church, Mrs. Druce claimed that Druce were the duke's regulate ego and that the duke had, in 1864, faked the demise of his middle-class doppelgänger while he grew bored with the ruse. Mrs. Druce sought after the tomb unlocked and her father-in-law's coffin exhumed, adamant that it's going to lie empty, proving the falsehood and leaving her son to inherit the giant Portland property. From that fateful afternoon, the lurid information of the Druce-Portland case spilled forth, seizing the eye of the British public for over a decade.

As the Victoria period gave approach to the Edwardian, the increase of sensationalist media blurred each truth into fiction, and kinfolk secrets and techniques and fluid identities driven classification anxieties to new heights. The fifth Duke of Portland had lengthy been the sufferer of suspicion and scandalous rumors; a wierd guy with a fervent penchant for privateness, he lived his days in just coordinated isolation within the dilapidated Welbeck Abbey property. He built intricate underground passageways from one finish of his domestic to the opposite and communicated together with his loved ones employees via letters. T.C. Druce was once a equally mysterious determine and had regularly remained startlingly evasive approximately his origins; on his arrival in London he claimed to have "sprung from the clouds."

Drawing from revelations hidden in the Druce relatives tomb within the cold confines of Highgate Cemetery, Piu Marie Eatwell recounts essentially the most drawn-out sagas of the period in penetrating, gripping aspect. From each one thwarted research and depraved try to hide facts to the parade of unusual figures asserting themselves because the rightful inheritor, Eatwell paints a portentous portrait of britain on the sunrise of the Edwardian age.

Few tales―be they through Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins, The significance of Being Earnest or The unusual Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde―could surpass the weird and deliciously darkish twists and turns of the Druce-Portland affair. A enchanting travel throughout the tangled hierarchies of Edwardian England, The useless Duke, His mystery spouse, and the lacking Corpse illuminates the lies, deceit, and hypocrisy practiced via "genteel" society on the time―and their unavoidably sordid consequences.

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Herbert Druce’s head hung even decrease. assistance for the defence shot up from his seat like a bolt. ‘He was once the son of the second one spouse! ’ snapped Horace Avory, KC, representing Herbert Druce. Horace Edmund Avory have been virtually born into the previous Bailey. His father, Henry Avory, were the executive clerk there for a few years, and used to be stated to understand extra legislation than a few of the judges. Avory had as a result grown up surrounded by means of the minimize and thrust of litigation. To the perfect of the felony spectrum and a fanatical recommend of the dying penalty, Avory used to be a ruthless legal professional who, in later years, was once to develop into the main feared of the ‘Hanging Judges’. He was once good conscious of his acceptance, which he appeared with a certain quantity of black humour. In his later years, whilst an acquaintance handed him by way of on the street as an previous guy and requested him how he was once doing, he's acknowledged to have spoke back: ‘Oh, simply putting on, you recognize. ’ Small and wiry, with a mummy-like, expressionless face, Avory used to be defined as ‘the Sphinx of the courts’ through the legislation Society Gazette. ‘Emotionless, austere, he holds the scales of justice in thin, attenuated fingers. One attempts in useless to learn the workings of the brain in the back of that mask-like face. ’ To the witnesses he cross-examined and people within the dock that he was once later to pass judgement on, Avory was once referred to as ‘the Acid Drop’. Others defined him as no longer a lot dry, as ‘desiccated’. the most recent instalment of the Druce saga opened with the stunning revelation that the diary saved by means of omit Mary Robinson – a key record in George Hollamby’s case – had, in the earlier few days, been stolen. omit Robinson’s account, which used to be supported via her woman spouse, leave out O’Neill, used to be that she were procuring in a London highway, whilst a guy got here up and informed her there has been a spider on her shoulder. She had positioned down her purse, which contained the diary, to look at her shoulder, merely to arrive for the bag a number of moments later and locate that it had long gone. The incident used to be the entire extra suspicious due to the fact pass over Robinson had already complained to the police in regards to the robbery of numerous different letters and papers in the course of the process her voyage to England from New Zealand. Notices were published within the newspapers, providing a �100 gift for info resulting in the diary’s go back. yet there have been no confident leads up to now. Who had stolen the diary? Accusing hands pointed on the brokers of Herbert Druce and the sixth Duke of Portland. George Hollamby’s solicitor, Edmund Kimber, subsequent gave facts to the influence that he had sought a professional opinion at the age of the paper on which the diary have been written. He were trained that the paper may perhaps good date from prior to 1860. This accorded with the dates whilst pass over Robinson claimed she had saved the diary. omit Robinson then declared that she had made a replica of the diary sooner than it being stolen. software was once made to confess the reproduction in court docket as opposed to the unique, yet – after loads of criminal wrangling – the reproduction was once governed by means of Plowden to be inadmissible in proof.

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