Tichborne case

Deceased Person

1834 – 1898

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Who was Tichborne case?

The Tichborne case was a legal cause célèbre that captivated Victorian England in the 1860s and 1870s. It concerned the claims by an individual sometimes referred to as Thomas Castro or as Arthur Orton, but usually termed "the Claimant", to be the missing heir to the Tichborne baronetcy. He failed to convince the courts, was convicted of perjury and served a long prison sentence.

Roger Tichborne, heir to the family's title and fortunes, was presumed to have died in a shipwreck in 1854. His mother clung to a belief that he might have survived, and after hearing rumours that he had made his way to Australia, she advertised extensively in Australian newspapers, offering a reward for information. In 1866, a butcher known as Thomas Castro from Wagga Wagga came forward claiming to be Roger Tichborne. Although his manners and bearing were unrefined, he gathered support and travelled to England. He was instantly accepted by Lady Tichborne as her son, although other family members were dismissive and sought to expose him as an imposter.

During protracted enquiries before the case came to law in 1871, details emerged suggesting that the Claimant might be Arthur Orton, a butcher's son from Wapping in London, who had gone to sea as a boy and had last been heard of in Australia. After a civil court had rejected the Claimant's case, he was charged with perjury, and campaigned throughout the country to gain popular support for his cause. In 1874, a criminal court jury decided that he was not Roger Tichborne and declared him to be Arthur Orton. Before passing a sentence of 14 years, the judge condemned the behaviour of the Claimant's counsel, Edward Kenealy, who was subsequently disbarred because of his conduct.

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Born
1834
Died
Apr 1, 1898

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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