Seacombe Lodge News Report

Seacombe Lodge, King’s Road, Clapham Park

A trial at the Old Bailey, 13 January 1896:
Herbert Krahn, Henry Crane, Ernest Crane, and James Hook ‘were indicted for stealing from the person of Winifred Gordon, £1,700, ten certificates of shares in the Pacific Railway, rings, earrings, and other goods’.
As the evidence did not ‘establish that the property alleged to have been stolen was the actual property of the prosecutrix’ the accused were found not guilty.
(Old Bailey Proceedings Online , Reference Number: t18960113-113).

Transcribed selected news reports from The Morning Post
(19th Century British Library Newspapers online).

The Strange Affair at Clapham

    London, Friday, June 28, 1895
Henry Crane, of the Windsor Castle public-house, City Road, who voluntarily attended before Mr. Lane Q.C., on Thursday last, in order to be given into custody by Mrs. Winifred Gordon, of 147 Brixton Road, for robbing her of jewellery and securities of the value of £3,000 at Seacombe, an empty house in King's Road, Clapham Park, was brought up yesterday at the South-Western Police Court for examination. James Hook, the one-armed man who was referred to by Mrs. Gordon as having opened the door of the house on her arrival, and who was arrested on Sunday last at Hackney, was placed in the dock with Crane, charged with being concerned in the robbery.
The allegation against the prisoners is that, having decoyed Mrs. Gordon into the empty house, they handcuffed her, stripped her of all her clothing, and robbed her of the whole of her property, forcing the rings off her fingers and the earrings out of her ears.
Mr. C. Salter, who prosecuted, signified his intention of calling witnesses to corroborate Mrs. Gordon's story. As to the ownership of the property he did not know of any justification for taking a woman who might owe money into an empty house, and there beating and robbing her without the persons concerned being amenable to the criminal law. Mrs. Gordon had private means before she became acquainted with Crane or Hook. She opened an account at her bankers with a sum of £1,700 early in 1892. She subsequently possessed herself of five Bank of England notes of the total value of £900. These were stolen from her, and, while a prisoner in the empty house, Crane cashed the whole of them. It was not until the notes were properly cashed that Mrs. Gordon was allowed to leave her imprisonment; and then, and not until then, did the men leave the country.
Mr. S.A. Maton, manager of the Brixton branch of the London and South-Western Bank, was called to prove that Mrs. Gordon opened an account at that bank, and in January 1894, her account on deposit was £1,725, which she subsequently withdrew.
Replying to Mr. Beard, who represented Crane, witness said in 1894 Mrs. Gordon was indebted to the bank for £11. Proceedings were taken against her in the County Court, but the bank had been up to this date unsuccessful in obtaining the money.
Mr. W.R.P. Lawrence, a clerk at the Bank of England, said on March 25 Crane presented a £500 note, and asked for cash. As it was unusual to pay more than £200 in gold over the counter without inquiry, he questioned the prisoner, who said he was going to return to Turkey to purchase some rights which he had lost, and gold would be very useful to him. He was also asked how he came by the note, and he answered that he received it in part payment for the sale of one of his public-houses. Witness also produced four £100 notes which passed into the bank from the London and South-Western Bank.
Mrs. Gordon was recalled, and said she first became acquainted with the man Herbert Krahn, now at large, when he called at her house for apartments in September 1892. She did not see Crane until after the proceedings she took in the Chancery Division.
Mr. Lane told her that she ought to have kept her money at the bank; it would have been safe there.
Mrs. Gordon, in answer to further questions, said she understood that her bankers had been paid the £11.
In cross-examination, Mrs. Gordon stated that her husband of that name was dead. Since his death she had married a man named Kelmcke, but this marriage was null and void. She was 53 in May last.
Mr. Beard - Where were you born?
Mrs. Gordon - Either in India, Scotland, or England. (Laughter.)
Replying to other questions, witness said in 1856 she married a butcher, and gave the assumed name of Elizabeth Williams in order to conceal her correct name. It was a marriage of protection. She would have married a sweep in order to escape from a convent. Her father was a doctor. She told Mr. Beard not to "bamboozle" her. (Laughter.)
Mr. Beard - You were 53 in May last?
Witness - Yes. I know you won't believe it. (Laughter.) When I married Kelmcke my name was given as the Hon. Mrs. Gordon. Kelmcke boarded in my house, and I married him. The marriage was not nullified, as he had a wife living.
Mr. Beard - Did you take steps to have it nullified?
Witness - No, because he doubted it himself. (Loud laughter.)
Mr. Beard - You are no honourable at all, are you?
Witness - How dare you say so? My husband was the second son of Lord Henry Gordon, who was son of the Marquis of Huntly. I am entitled to the sum of £40,000 from an acquaintance.
Answering further questions, witness denied that she and Mr. Krahn had lived as man and wife.
Witness was asked how she became possessed of so much money, and she replied that she had been engaged to several gentlemen, who gave her presents of money.
Mr. Beard reminded her of the names of other gentlemen, one of whom she stated came to teach her Greek and Italian.
Mr. Beard - I suggest he is another of your lovers.
Witness - He fell in love with me so desperately that I had to get rid of him. (Laughter.)
Mr. Beard read some quotations from letters which had passed between Mrs. Gordon and gentlemen.
Mrs. Gordon said those were the letters which were stolen from her.
The prisoners were further remanded.

The Case of Mrs Gordon

    London, Monday, December 16, 1895
Herbert Krahn, 32, stockbroker, with no fixed home, was charged on remand on Saturday at the South-Western Police Court on an extradition warrant, with stealing some valuable jewellery and securities worth £4,000 belonging to Mrs Winifred Gordon, residing at Brixton. It was alleged that the prisoner and three other men decoyed Mrs Gordon to an empty house in Clapham Park, and, after handcuffing her and stripping her almost naked, robbed her and left her in the house. The prisoner was arrested in New York, and brought over on the Teutonic, being received in custody at Liverpool by Detective Sergeant Cloake.
Mr Clavell Salter, barrister, prosecuted; and the prisoner was defended by Mr Beard.
Mr Salter stated that he made an arrangement with Mr Beard whereby the proceedings before his Worship would be considerably shortened, since it was impossible to avoid a committal. Krahn, he said, penniless and a bankrupt, entered Mrs Gordon's house as a lodger, made love to her, and from time to time borrowed money of her, and at length he made off to Germany with some £1,200 belonging to her, and converted the money into Canadian Pacific and Milwaukee Bonds. Subsequently by agreement he gave back the bonds, and then he again tried to rob her. He was frustrated, and then he carried out with extraordinary daring the scheme of decoying Mrs Gordon to the empty house and robbing her.
Mrs Gordon was called and corroborated the opening statement of counsel. She said that the prisoner first assaulted her in December 1894 when he robbed her of the £1,200 with which he purchased the Canadian Stock. She was driven to Seacombe, Clapham, in a brougham, Krahn having represented that a billiard table which she was desirous of purchasing was on view there. She was admitted by Hook, who opened the door. She was first handcuffed, then stripped of all her clothing, and robbed of the whole of her property; the diamond rings being forced off her fingers and the earrings out of her ears. Krahn presented a revolver at her, and Henry Crane said, "Don't be a fool", and dragged it from him. Krahn said, "Feel in her hair or wig". Her hair was her own, and she would give anyone in Court £100 if a false hair could be found. The handcuffs were removed on her undertaking to sign an agreement declaring that the money was taken from her by her free will. She escaped from the house on the third day. During the whole of her forced detention she had nothing to ear or drink. She was afraid to eat anything, thinking that they would poison her. They carried her into the room where the robbery took place and locked the door.
No other witnesses were called, Mr Salter reserving the additional evidence for the trial. He asked the Magistrate to commit the prisoner for assault and robbery.
Mr Beard contended that there could be no committal for the assault, at that offence did not appear in the Extradition Treaty with the United States.
Mr Cluer expressed a similar opinion, and said that the responsibility must be left with the Judge who would try the case. He committed the prisoner for the robbery only, and refused an application for bail.

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