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Littlechild and the 'Druce' Case.

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  • Littlechild and the 'Druce' Case.

    These are the documents relating to Littlechild and his involvement with the 'Druce' case.
    As the case is confusing I will post a summary of it later.
    Enjoy this classic piece of detective work from the period:

    'Pl L1/9 1898-1909 Reports of J.G. Littlechild, private detective,
    51 Warwick Street, Regent Street, with reference
    to the Druce cases; 1898-1909
    (258 items)
    Littlechild's reports were used and re-used as
    briefing material in the various Druce cases.
    Rather than retain multiple dispersed copies
    throughout the preceding sections, as well as
    the originals, all have been consolidated here.
    See also Pl L1/2/1/8.
    For more detailed descriptions see Pl
    L1/9/1-L1/9/4 below.

    Pl L1/9/1/1-6 1906-1908 Copy reports (1898-1908) of J.G. Littlechild,
    private detective, with reference to the Druce
    cases; 1906-1908
    (6 items, paper)
    Pl L1/9/1/1: Copy reports of J.G. Littlechild
    and his assistants to Messrs Freshfield and
    Williams on Mrs A.M. Druce and her movements (10
    Aug.-26 Oct. 1898).
    Pl L1/9/1/2: Copy reports of Littlechild on
    interviews with John Dalgety Henderson, 23
    Imperial Buildings, Ludgate Circus to obtain
    details of the Druce family, T.C. Druce's
    activities in Bury St Edmunds, etc. (6-8 Dec.
    1898 and 26 Oct. 1901).
    Pl L1/9/1/3-4: Copy reports of Littlechild and
    statements made to him (by Edward Mussibini)
    with regard to Mrs Hamilton (Nov.-Dec. 1901,
    Sept.-Nov. 1906 and n.d.).
    Pl L1/9/1/5: Copy reports of Littlechild on
    investigations made in Leeds relative to Mrs
    Robinson, and on Mrs Robinson's movements (24
    Dec. 1907-6 Jan. 1908).
    Pl L1/9/1/6: Summary of Littlechild's reports as
    to Mrs Hamilton, arranged chronologically.

    Pl L1/9/2/1-38 29.9.1901-6.12.1901 Copy reports and correspondence of J.G.
    Littlechild, private detective, with reference
    to Mrs Hamilton and the Druce cases; 29 Sept.-6
    Dec. 1901
    (38 items, paper)
    Pl L1/9/2/1: Copy reports received by
    Littlechild from the Liverpool area concerning
    Captain and Mrs Hamilton's period of residence
    in Great Crosby and thereabouts.
    Correspondence of Littlechild with 'Edward
    Bower' [Mussibini] 34 Grove Road, Norwich,
    reports on visit to see him in Norwich;
    statement made by Mussibini regarding the
    Hamiltons [in-laws], possible irregularity of
    T.C. Druce's first marriage, his doubts about
    Mrs Hamilton's statements, her ability to
    believe her own fabrications, Capt. Hamilton
    never married 'Mrs Hamilton' and returned to his
    real wife, M. stresses 'the horrible ruin she
    would bring upon her daughter and myself if the
    facts which would be wrung from her in cross
    examination were to reach the ears of my people'
    to dissuade her from appearing in court, the
    appearance of the 'Australian contingent' on the
    Druce scene, M. trying to persuade Hamilton to
    lie low in Norwich and forwarding letters he has
    received from her to Littlechild [wanting].
    Pl L1/9/2/36-38: Original and copy letters from
    'Edward Bower', 34 Grove Road, Norwich to Messrs
    Baileys, Shaw and Gillett (29 Sept.-9 Oct.
    Various items are manuscript copies in
    Littlechild's hand and press copies. Some may
    date to 1906 and the revival of the Druce
    business. From 1907 Littlechild's reports etc.
    are usually typed.

    Pl L1/9/3/1-4 23.2.1904-7.5.1904 Copy reports of J.G. Littlechild, private
    detective, with reference to Captain Whitson; 23
    Feb.-7 May 1904
    (4 items, paper)
    Reports on (following) Captain Whitsun, a 60
    year old married man with a limp, residing at 39
    Prince George's Road, Stoke Newington;
    references to Highgate Cemetery and Alfred Suart
    (23 Feb.-8 Mar. 1904).
    Letters from Freshfields, New Bank Buildings, 31
    Old Jewry to Messrs Baileys, Shaw and Gillett
    forwarding and commenting upon Littlechild's
    report, and with Littlechild's account
    (attached), 11 Mar. and 7 May 1904.
    See Pl L1/11/6/149-156 and Pl L1/13/5/2 for

    Pl L1/9/4/1-210 1.12.1905-21.10.1908 Copy reports of J.G. Littlechild, private
    detective, to Messrs Baileys, Shaw and Gillett
    with reference to the Druce cases; 1 Dec.
    1905-21 Oct. 1908 (Pl L1/9/4/41 and 49 unfit for
    (210 items, paper)
    Pl L1/9/4/1-26 for 1905-06 (mainly Sept. 1906
    and after): Reports on the antecedents of Mrs
    Hamilton, investigation to see whether she had
    died since her appearance in Druce v Young,
    Bower alias Mussibini now dead, interview with
    'Mrs Bower' (daughter of 'Mrs Hamilton'), Mrs
    Hamilton frightened off by Littlechild's
    interview with Mussibini in 1901, contact now
    established with Mrs Hamilton and interview,
    removals and deaths of persons formerly
    contacted in the Liverpool area, interview with
    Hamilton's nephew and investigations of the
    family in Westmorland; continued enquiries
    Pl L1/9/4/27-81 for 1907: Persons offering
    'valuable' information; interview with Trewinard
    (Pl L1/9/4/35) on question of the heirship to
    T.C. Druce, the claim of Charles Edgar Druce
    'fool' and compact between him and G.H. Druce;
    investigations at Witney and Eynsham, Oxon,
    meeting various Druces and recording details of
    their family history (Pl L1/9/4/38, 42, 48);
    'the woman who alleges her letters were stolen'
    [Mrs Robinson], observations of his agents
    following 'Miss' [Mrs] Robinson and Miss
    'O'Neill' [Robinson] about London; further visit
    to Witney etc. (Pl L1/9/4/57); investigation of
    Bicester, Chipping Norton and Winkfield Druces;
    summary of reports from New Zealand concerning
    Robinson (Pl L1/9/1/70), further investigation
    of her, inc. at Leeds (Pl L1/9/4/81);
    investigations at Carlisle into the
    Atkinson/Hamilton family (Pl L1/9/4/75-76).
    Pl L1/9/4/82-129 for Jan. 1908: Statements of
    Wyatt and dealings with Lord Deerhurst;
    enquiries at Witney; discovery of the true
    identity of Robinson, 'singular that [she]
    should be now living so near the spot where Mary
    Ann Webb was born'; round the clock reports on
    the movements of Robinson and O'Neill at 1a
    Sisters Avenue, Lavender Hill; investigation of
    G.H. Druce, Ltd by one of Littlechild's agents
    who has acquired shares in it for that purpose;
    report on John Thomas Wyatt of
    Westcliffe-on-Sea; further enquiries regarding
    Captain Whitson, and A. Suart, F.G. Coles and
    other investors in the Druce company.
    Pl L1/9/4/130-207 for Feb. 1908 onward:
    movements of Mrs Hamilton; observations at her
    daughter's house and ruse adopted to find her;
    following her about London; attendance at
    meeting of G.H. Druce, Ltd to discuss its
    voluntary liquidation, with report (Pl
    L1/9/4/146); calls upon Messrs Naylor, Marks and
    Phillips; opinions on G.H. Druce, Coburn et al.
    (Pl L1/9/4/153); following G.H. Druce; seeking
    information on Mr and Mrs Coburn's movements,
    left Mill Hill for Kilburn, following them about
    until the family leaves for Australia, following
    Mr Coburn about thereafter.
    Pl L1/9/4/208: Undated report [1907-08] relative
    to address of the witness Mrs Bayley [recte Miss
    Pl L1/9/4/209: Press copy of Littlechild's
    expenses (Mar. 1907) in connection with his
    visit to Witney, Oxfordshire and environs in
    pursuit of Druces.
    Pl L1/9/4/210: Copy information required from
    Mrs E.A. Atkinson, daughter of Robert and
    Isabella Atkinson, Fayrestow, Dalston Road,
    Carlisle, and answers as telegraphed by
    Littlechild's agent in Carlisle (28-29 Nov.

  • #2
    And this is a summary of the complicated case.
    Somehow the ending sounds familiar.

    Pl L1 The Druce Case, 1896-1913
    Case papers, correspondence, photographs and press cuttings in the Druce cases; 1896-1913
    What is commonly called the Druce case (a more convoluted version of impersonation than that of the Tichborne claimant) was, in fact, several suits proceeding through different courts at roughly the same time. Druce v Howard de Walden and others is the principal suit, leading on to a series of perjury/forgery trials (R v Hamilton, R v Robinson and R v Caldwell - aborted with Caldwell in an asylum in New York). The same evidence and exhibits were recycled from suit to suit, and the number of prominent counsel briefed and retained was large, leading to much duplication of material.
    At the heart of the original case (of 1897) and of Druce v Howard de Walden was whether Thomas Charles Druce, the wealthy co-proprietor of the Baker Street Bazaar, had indeed died in 1864, or was this a charade with a funeral service conducted over a coffin filled with lead (as his daughter-in-law, Anna Maria Druce, alleged). The medical details of what was done to Druce in his last months (see Pl L1/2/6/6) render his survival beyond the grave somewhat unlikely.
    Druce was married twice; his second wife gave birth to three illegitimate children during the life of his first. Mrs A.M. Druce's late husband was the eldest legitimate child of the second marriage. Druce's surviving executor, the prominent accountant Alexander Young, was roped into the first bout of litigation which led to some establishment of who was legitimate and who not, but to no exhumation.
    Mrs Druce's first allegations were that her son was in fact the heir to the Portman estate, and also Duke of Somerset. She spent her later life in an asylum.
    The next development was the allegation that the eccentric, subterraneous 5th Duke of Portland sometimes posed as T.C. Druce; and then that they were one and the same, and that, in consequence, the Portland properties and title were rightly a Druce's. Enter George Hollamby Druce, a grandson of T.C. Druce by his first wife (through an arrangement with his senior first cousin whose legitimacy was in doubt). Thenceforth ever more implausible allegations made by disreputable persons from New York to Australasia clog the air, ultimately to be resolved in a string of successful prosecutions for perjury, after the principal action had been dismissed as 'frivolous and vexatious'. The Druces underwrote their legal costs by setting up a limited liability company, shareholders in which would be entitled to a share of the spoils on the successful conclusion of the principal action.
    Confusingly, that action is Druce v Howard de Walden and others. Under the terms of the will of the 4th Duke of Portland and related settlements, the English provincial estates of the family were limited to the heir male. On the death of the 5th Duke his kinsman succeeded to these and his peerages. The Marylebone estate (and some portion of the Ayrshire properties) was settled on the 4th Duke's issue, his daughters succeeding (to equal quarter shares) in default of male heirs, with remainder to their male heirs. This is what happened. The 5th Duke died unmarried, as had his brothers before him. His eldest sister, Lady Harriet, was unmarried; the next, Lady Ossington, was married but childless, like the youngest, who predeceased the 5th Duke; the third sister was Lady Howard de Walden. Her descendant and trustees (including E.H. Bailey) were defendants in the action.
    Had the Druce claim met with success, presumably a further action would have taken place to recover the other estates from the 6th Duke. But of course the whole business was a covetous delusion. An exhumation at Highgate Cemetery in December 1907 finally proved that T.C. Druce was not the 5th Duke of Portland in a false beard. Thus 'Mrs Hamilton', allegedly born in Rome, was born in Kendal and was never married to Captain Hamilton. 'Miss' Robinson, whose diary had been mysteriously stolen, was Mrs Robinson, born to a Wandsworth police constable 10 years earlier than to her alleged father, a tobacco planter in Virginia; her daughter was pretending, under an alias, to be her companion. Both 'Mrs Hamilton' and 'Miss' Robinson were imprisoned for perjury. Mr Caldwell had himself admitted to an asylum in New York to stay extradition proceedings.
    Lesser actions involved libel and allegations of fraud in connection with the promotion of the latest of the Druce limited companies. The press had a field day, particularly the tendentious articles appearing in 'The Idler', a publication linked to the Druce interest. An unnamed publication asked how much the cemetery company would want for a photographic exclusive of the exhumation of T.C. Druce! When all was done, T.C. Druce's lawyer, one Coburn (an erstwhile Australian bankrupt), had the temerity to complain of the Duke of Portland's description of the whole business as a 'fraud'. The Portlands and Howard de Waldens, having spent in the region of £ 20,000 in legal costs, were naturally disappointed that G.H. Druce and those closest to him escaped entirely. The Director of Public Prosecutions was instructed from above not to proceed. '


    • #3
      There are also some interesting references to Chief Inspector Dew in the files, perhaps indicating a closer relationship between himself and Littlechild than had previously been thought, such as this one:

      'Most statements made to Chief Inspector Dew at
      New Scotland Yard; many are by or about
      shareholders in the Druce limited company or
      others financially interested in the success of
      the Druce claim; all made 13 June-22 July 1908.
      Also sent were previous instructions, proofs of
      Mary Robinson and 'Miss O'Neill' (see Pl L1/4/ )
      and papers found at Mrs Robinson's flat (see Pl
      L1/6/ ).
      Attached to Pl L1/2/1/65 is a copy letter from
      [Edward Phillips] to W.H. Perris giving his view
      of the Druce cases, his involvement in the 1898
      case as a then clerk with the firm of solicitors
      [acting for Mrs A.M. Druce], doubts then about
      Mrs Hamilton, attempts to involve him in the
      more recent proceedings, probable perjury of Mrs
      Hamilton and Robert Caldwell, affidavit with
      Trewinard in proceedings involving the New Druce
      Portland Company, Ltd (see Pl L1/10/3/ below).
      Pl L1/2/1/84-85 are notes on the statements Pl
      L1/2/1/61-62, 2 July 1908.
      Pl L1/2/1/86: Statements dictated to Chief
      Inspector Dew after his visit to Welbeck, 7 Aug.
      1908 by: Edward Haydock, John Marshall and Adam
      P. Castle of Worksop, coachmen/coach builders;
      Mrs Bertha Lambourn, wife of Henry; Joseph
      Johnston of Holbeck, carter; John Thomas
      Whitney, proprietor of the Red Lion Hotel,
      Worksop; and others.'


      • #4
        This file does appear to show that Littlechild - although retired - was very much working with Dew together on this case:

        'Pl L1/11/1/152-204 1.1.1908-8.7.1908 Correspondence with Messrs Freshfields relating
        to the Druce case and its participants; 1 Jan.-8
        July 1908 (Pl L1/11/1/155 unfit for production)
        (53 items, paper)
        Correspondence received by E.H. Bailey/N.C.
        Bailey/Messrs Baileys, Shaw and Gillett, 5
        Berners Street from Edwin Freshfield/W.H.
        Leese/Messrs Freshfields, New Bank Buildings, 31
        Old Jewry concerning Druce cases; exhumation of
        T.C. Druce, costs and arrangements; further
        information on the Eynsham Druces; documents
        relating to the marriage of 'Miss' Robinson
        (Mary Ann Webb), Littlechild keeping an eye on
        her movements, discussions with the Director of
        Public Prosecutions, Inspector Dew's activities
        etc., her arrest;'


        • #5
          And this file shows Littlechild and Dew passing on information to one another while Dew is still an official at Scotland Yard; and that all the Scotland Yard officers were rewarded by the Duke for their role in the case:

          'Pl L1/11/6/1176-1234 1.6.1908-29.12.1908 General correspondence relating to the Druce
          business; 1 June-29 Dec. 1908 (Pl
          L1/11/6/1196-7, 1200 and 1227 unfit for
          (69 items, paper)
          Correspondence addressed or forwarded to E.H.
          Bailey/Norman C. Bailey/Messrs Baileys, Shaw and
          Gillett, 5 Berners Street (with occasional draft
          and copy relies) by: the Duke of Portland; T.
          Warner Turner, Portland Estate Office, Mansfield
          Woodhouse, etc.; the Treasury Solicitor/Director
          of Public Prosecutions and officials; J.S. and
          C.A. Whall, Worksop; George Fell, 30 Ingham
          Road, West Hampstead; S.A.T. Rowlatt, 4 Temple
          Gardens; W. Dew, Metropolitan Police; T.K.V.
          Coburn, 6 Clements Inn, Strand; Messrs Moser and
          Sons, solicitors, Kendal, Westmorland. Various
          copy attendance entries.
          Direction by the Attorney-General to the DPP not
          to prosecute George Hollamby Druce etc.; passing
          on information from the private detective,
          Littlechild, to Chief Inspector Dew re Captain
          Whitsun et al.; visit of Dew to Welbeck; thanks
          of the Duke of Portland and Lord Howard de
          Walden to the Metropolitan Police and small
          presents to select officers for their help in
          the Druce case; disagreement over the
          contribution of the Director of Public
          Prosecutions to the costs of Messrs Moser and
          Sons in the Hamilton prosecution;'


          • #6
            You might not find a more wacky story coming from this time period. The Druce Case was reported in depth in a September 2004 Ripperologist article entitled "The Duke of Baker Street" by Jan Bondeson. It wasn't an easy story to follow along with, yet Littlechild was involved in the case from 1898-1908. Littlechild and the men in his private detective agency worked very hard and were probably paid quite well. While reading the Ripperologist article, a good picture emerges in regards to the techniques used by Littlechild.

            He'd look strongly into the antecedents of the person he was investigating. And he wasn't shy about hiring spies to infiltrate and become informants. In the Druce Case, Littlechild looked into a star witness named Mrs. Margaret Hamilton and he set it up where he could intercept and steal her private mail.