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.
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.
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
Mr. Beard - Did you take steps to have it nullified?
Witness - No, because he doubted it himself. (Loud
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
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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