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A Case For William Grant Grainger

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  • R. J. Palmer
    I was reading this thread last night, and, as an aside, I couldn't help noticing that the 'S. L. Anderson' mentioned in Post #65 for the 1878 case is Sir Robert Anderson's older brother, Samuel Lee Anderson.

    "The hearing of the city of Dublin cases was re-sumed.
    Mr. Murphy, Q.C., and Mr. O'Brien, Q.C., (in-structed by Mr. S. L. Anderson), prosecuted."

    A small world.

    This would be fairly interesting if the defendant was the right William Grainger, but he doesn't appear to be. Not only is he from County Mayo, but another account lists his father as a former "head-constable of Constabulary."

    Later accounts claim that William Grainger, the suspect, came from a highly respected family, but this doesn't seem to jive with what Chris P and Debra A have uncovered.

    The whole Grainger business is rather strange. In some alternative universe he's probably considered one of the top suspects.

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  • Craig H
    I’ve been trying to find any records to support what was written about William Grainger in the PMG article.

    “He was in Cork city militia from 1883”
    I searched British Army Service Records (1760 – 1915) on FindMyPast. Lots of soldiers from Cork in that period, but no “Grainger”, “Grant” or “Green” that could be him.

    “He was from a wealthy Irish family”
    Grainger’s father (William) was a farmer and his grandfathers were a hatter (Richard - father’s side) and a farmer (mother’s side). There was another Richard Grainger who lived in the area at the same time who was wealthy – his daughter Juliet Isabella Grainger married Thomas James Nash at St Annes Shandon, Cork City in 1856. Was he telling people that this was his family ?

    “He was a medical student”
    Highly unlikely as he is recorded elsewhere as being a stoker, his father was a farmer, one sibling was a sail maker, his sisters married army soldiers.

    “He was widowed as his wife died when she discovered he was the Ripper”
    No record of him marrying, and his death certificate (March 1929, Cork) records him as a Bachelor.

    We know from the record of him at Banstead Asylum is he suffered “delusions of persecution and hallucinations of vision”

    Could it be that he wasn’t in the Irish militia, was married, or was a medical student – but this is want he wanted to be ?

    I still can’t understand how someone who was in and out of jail and in workhouses so frequently could have convinced Kebbel and Winslow that he was previously a medical student (which they both seemed to believe).

    He must have been articulate. Maybe this was how he appeared non-threatening to his victims ?

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  • Craig H
    Hi Debra

    Thanks for your reply.

    I did some more digging. The William Grainger sent to Camberwell House was in the 1891 Census with job as Brass turner. This is probably the Grainger in 1881 Census who was a brass worker with wife Maria, so not a fit.

    It would be great to find more records about Grainger / Grant. Some of "the story" doesn't seem right and may be due to his hallucinations.

    The articulate man in the Kebbel / Winslow articles that convinced them he was previously a medical student with well connected family seems different to the man constantly in and out of prison, workhouses and was a fireman / stoker.

    Any suggestions on where to find records of his early military career in Ireland or being a fireman on a cattle boat to America or Banstead asylum ?


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  • Debra Arif
    Hi Craig

    I am following your posts but haven't had a chance to comment or look anything up so far.

    Re Edmonton workhouse 1889-the note in the remarks column says "passed to Cork" , which means that was his parish of settlement. That's a good indication this was is right man! Well spotted.

    I'm not sure about the 1891 ship list man. Grant was a very common name especially in Scotland. Grainger was in Banstead in Feb/March 1891 and then according to the A to Z was in Fullham and Cork workhouses after that. The exact dates of those stays may be listed here or on the casebook thread to cross reference with this entry.

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  • Craig H
    I found several records which may be of interest:

    City Road Workhouse (St Luke's and Other Workhouses) Register, 1884-1885
    Name: William*Granger
    Birth Date: 1857
    Admission Age: 27
    Admission Date: 8 Jul 1884
    Discharge Date: 22 Jul 1884
    Record Type: Admission and Discharge

    On notes it says “Insane” and discharged to Camberwell House which was a lunatic asylum.

    Could this be William Grainger / Grant ? I’ve tried (unsuccessfully !) to find any digital records on Camberwell House admissions. Any advice on finding records ?

    Mental illness could also explain why some of the descriptions about Grainger / Grant are incorrect.

    He said he was a medical student in 1889 – seems unlikely as he would have been too old (30 y.o) , no evidence of completing academic studies, and his family were labourers / sail maker / hatter.

    Similarly, there is a story about his family in Ireland were wealthy and well-connected.

    Grainger / Grant had also mentioned he was a fireman (ie. stoker) on a cattle boat from American.

    The only record I found was

    Name: William Grant
    Part of the Crew - a "fireman"
    Port of Departure: Montréal,Québec,Canada
    Arrival Date: 17May1891
    Port of Arrival: Liverpool, England
    Age: 31 so born 1860
    Ship Name: Sardinian
    Shipping Line: Allan Line
    However, he was listed as “Married” and “Scottish”

    Not sure if this was part of the delusion or if this is some one else ?

    Finally, a third record:

    Name : Wm Grainger
    Edmonton Workhouse
    Admission Date : 9 Nov 1889
    Discharge date : 13 Dec 1889 Notes has “Passed to (can’t read” C oehs ???) Attached
    Admission Age : 25 (so born 1864)

    Not sure if this is Grainger / Grant. Would be interesting if discharged to an asylum.

    I think it is the right one as there was a “Wm. Grant Granger” (42 y.o, so born 1861) who was admitted to same Edmonton Workhouse on 2 March 1903 (discharged a week later)

    Any thoughts ?

    Attached Files

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  • Howard Brown
    Wish I could help, Craig....I'd give it time, someone will probably give you the right advice.

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  • Craig H
    Hi all,

    It's been interesting to read these posts about William Grainger / Grant and his time in prison / court cases.

    There was also talk about him being on a cattle boat to or from America.

    Has anyone had a chance to look at any ship passenger lists around that time >

    If not, any advice or where I could start looking ?

    Maybe this could provide some new information on him ??


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  • Howard Brown
    Thanks Debs...that fact went right over my head.

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  • Debra Arif
    Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
    You're definitely on a good roll, Nashwan....thanks for that article. you think that the Grainger in Nashwan's article is our man ?
    Well, Grainger wasn't born in County Mayo, How, as I think Nashwan's man was?

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  • Howard Brown
    You're definitely on a good roll, Nashwan....thanks for that article. you think that the Grainger in Nashwan's article is our man ?

    Leave a comment:

  • Debra Arif
    Thanks for this information, Nashwan.
    Paul Kearney was in the process of collating all the Grant Grainger research from the boards coupled with his own research for an article before he sadly passed away.
    The research is spread over many years and many threads -
    I found Grainger in the Marylebone workhouse records c 1910 (where Forbes Winslow located him) where he gave his exact date of birth but added 10 years on his census age. From this record Chris Philips was able to trace Grainger in the Irish birth records in Cork.
    We know from Irish prison records I located that Grainger was in Cork prison on and off between visits to Banstead, London workhouses. The numerous Irish prison records spanning 30 yrs approx give a good description of Grainger, tattoos and all, that match exactly the descriptions given of Grainger in the English habitual criminals register located by Chris Phillips.

    I will try and link to some of the threads later if it helps?

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  • Nashwan
    Although I believe Grainger is supposed to have moved on by the time of the census here are all the W Gs in the Banstead Asylum in 1891 :

    1891 England, Wales & Scotland Census Banstead, Epsom, Surrey, England
    G W 1819 Married Male 72 Lunatic Inmate Labourer
    G W 1840 Married Male 51 Lunatic Inmate Formerly Carpenter
    G W 1846 Widower Male 45 Lunatic Inmate Labourer
    G W 1849 Single Male42 Lunatic Inmate Formerly Labourer
    G W 1856 Single Male35 Lunatic Inmate Printer
    G W 1858 Single Male33 Lunatic Inmate Bricklayer
    W G J 1858 Married Male 33 Lunatic Inmate Formerly Certified Flower Cutter
    W G 1847 Single Male 44 Lunatic Inmate Silk Weaver
    W G 1850 Single Female 41 Lunatic Inmate Domestic Servant
    W G 1852 Single Male 39 Lunatic Inmate Formerly Private In 14 Hussars
    W G 1860 Single Male 31 Lunatic Inmate Labourer
    W G 1865 Single Male 26 Lunatic Inmate Soldier
    W G 1867 Single Male 24 Lunatic Inmate Labourer
    W G H 1820 Married Male 71 Lunatic Inmate Formerly Labourer

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  • Nashwan
    Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
    Thanks for posting this Nashwan.
    According to court calendar records the William Grant involved in this incident was a cellarman by occupation born 1851.
    Looking on the 1881 census there was a William C Grant b c 1850 living in Lambeth. His occupation is given as cellarman so the details seem to match the man involved in the 1889 incident. This man was born in Southwark, Grant/Grainger was born in Cork.
    Thanks Debra,

    I didn't think there were that many Grainger's in Ireland but this William Grainger, exactly[?] the right age; checking him out though; he's born in Foxford, County Mayo. Height 5 ft 4 3/4 in. Brown hair, grey eyes and fair complexion.

    Column 9, of 9
    Yesterady morning, at 11 o'clock, the Right Hon. the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas Divi-sion resumed the business of the Winter Assizes in the Courthouse, Green-street.
    The hearing of the city of Dublin cases was re-sumed.
    Mr. Murphy, Q.C., and Mr. O'Brien, Q.C., (in-structed by Mr. S. L. Anderson), prosecuted.
    At the Dublin Winter County Assizes yesterday William Grainger, Northbrook-avenue, North-strand, was indicted before Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, for having, on Satur-day night, the 19th of Ocgtober, caused the death of John Tavena?, a London labourer, by stabbing him.
    Mr. P. Keogh and Mr. C Molley, instructed by Mr. Gerald Byrne, defended.
    The evidence of the prosecutrix went to show that the accused was sent out on Saturday night about half-past nine o'clock on an errand. At the corner of Northbrook-avenue, North-strand, he met the accused, and a dispute arose between them about a dog. The deceased violently assaulted the prisoner, who, it was alleged, under great provoca-tion stabbed Tavena, who died from the effects of the wound inflicted about a month or so after. The stab was proved by Dr. Kilgariff, visiting surgeon of the Jervis-street Hos-pital, to have been given with great force. it penetrated through two of the ribs. It was ad-mitted on the part of the defence that the accused did, under very great and repeated provocation, draw a penknief. The prisoner received a very good character from Mr. W. Law J.P. ; Mr. P. Law, B.L. ; Mr. Johnson Commission Agent ; and from Mr. Grainger, the prisoner's father. They all bore testimony to the very good behaviour of the accused, who was belonging to the temperance branch of the community.
    Mr. Johnson, his employer, said so efficient and correct was the accused that he had given him a present of a watch. He was a delicate boy, and was not at all the kind of a young man who would give offence.
    His Lordship, in charging the jury, referred to the excellent character given to the accused, as the best he had ever heard given to a prisoner since he presided on the bench. He alluded to the wound, which had been described by Dr. Kilgariff, the in-telligent and respectable surgeon of thee admirable institution, Jervis-street Hospital, as a very serious wound which had been inflicted with force.
    The jury then retired, and after being in consul-tation for a short time entered court, and the fore-man said that they had found him guilty, but that he had committed the offfence under great fear, and one of the jurors said that in that case they might find him not guilty.
    His Lordship said they could not those circumstances return a verdict of not guilty unless there were great fears entertained by the accused.
    The jury then found the prisoner guilty, and said he received great provocation, and recom-mended him to mercy.
    His Lordship, in sentencing the accused, said he thought it would have been regretted if they had acquitted the prisoner, as it would hold out that the use of the knife could be justified. The pri-soner was sentenced to three months' imrpsion-ment from the date of his committal, the 19th of October.

    The death is registered as Tavenea

    Ireland, Civil Registration Deaths Index, 1864-1958
    Name: John Ball Tavenea
    Estimated Birth Year: abt 1854
    Date of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec 1878
    Death Age: 24
    Registration district: Dublin North
    Volume: 2
    Page: 427
    FHL Film Number: 101589

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  • Tim Atkinson
    Originally posted by Paul Kearney A.K.A. NEMO View Post
    Yes strange isn't it?

    I can only explain it if Swanson or whoever observed the confrontational identification of Kosminski only assumed the reasons for the witness to not wish to testify against him - which is possible

    The other identifications might have been as much a test of the witness as they were of the suspect

    It is the certainty of Anderson and Swanson of the ID of Kosminski being 100% that creates the mystery

    I could imagine a policeman asking how certain the witness was on a scale of say 1-10 and the witness says 9, still leaving possibilities for more certainly identifying a different suspect in the future

    On a different note, should we consider that Kosminski resembles Grainger?
    That's a possibility I ran with, Neemo. Kosminski resembling Grainger.

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  • Howard Brown
    Nice try, Nash....
    Grainger-related stories have been hard as hell to locate.

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