A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 
 

 The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 15:53

Whereas Thomas Blood's daring theft of the English Crown Jewels from the Tower of London has gone down in infamy, the similar expropriation of Ireland's version remains one of the country's great "whodunnit" mysteries, and indeed has been unsolved to this day.

The theft occurred in 1907, four days before a royal visit and therefore of extreme embarrassment to the Irish authorities based, like the jewels themselves, in Dublin Castle. However a subsequent investigation into the circumstances in which they were guarded quickly revealed that it was an embarrassment waiting to happen, and was simply the last in a sequence of several others along the way.

The jewels - insignia studded with precious stones awarded to the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick by George III when he instituted it in 1783 - were to be kept in the strongroom in the castle, for which a new safe was ordered in 1903 as part of general refurbishments, including to the strongroom itself. This proved to be embarrassment number one. Upon arrival it was discovered that the safe was too big to fit through the door of the newly built strongroom.

At which point embarrassment number two steps in, in the form of one Arthur Vicars, the Castle's Officer of Arms. As the man with ultimate responsibility for the jewels' safety he suggested placing the safe in his own office, an apparently sound bit of logic until one learns that keys to this office were held by at least seven individuals officially and who knows how many others who had acquired copies in the past. Nor was Vicars probably the best man to assume such an onerous responsibility. He was someone who regularly (almost daily) relieved the tedium of his job by getting stociously drunk (even waking up with the crown jewels around his neck on one documented occasion) and whose office therefore served the dual purpose of an impromptu bar (no one likes drinking alone).

One regular drinking buddy was his deputy, and embarrassment number three in the story, Francis Shackleton. If the name sounds familiar it is because Francis was indeed the brother of that intrepid polar explorer Ernest, a man of whom it was well known that his dogged determination in pursuing his polar exploits was matched only by his equally dogged and desperate attempts at financing them. The Shackletons were, to put it bluntly, broke. And Francis was even worse off than his brother, having acquired a large debt in the pursuit of his public service career of which there was no hope of repaying. He had, also bluntly speaking, already "become known to the police" by 1907 as his spiralling debt sent him spiralling downwards through the agencies then available who might extend him loans.

When the theft was discovered Vicars was immediately suspect number one. The only two keys to the safe had been in his possession all the time. However his refusal to cooperate with the Viceregal Commission set up to investigate the crime - a privilege he held due to his office - meant that the same commission ultimately concluded that the case against him was unproveable. They chastised him for negligence but didn't go further. However they also concluded one other very strange thing; Vicars, feeling he was being made a scapegoat, made a public charge against Shackleton - a step one imagines he would not have taken unless he thought it at least merited investigation. Neither the Commission nor the police seem to have done much about it, but even despite this lack of investigation the Commission felt obliged to state in their findings nevertheless that Shackleton was completely exonerated.

The safe - the prime piece of evidence - was moved to Kevin Street police station where it remained right up until the 21st century. In 2006 it was finally given back to the Castle - an admission that at this stage there is hardly going to be a prosecution in the case.

Shackleton, true to Vicars's suspicions, proved himself a criminal in 1913 when he was convicted and imprisoned for fraud. Upon his release he changed his name to Mellor and died in Chichester in 1941. He never faced criminal charges for his role in the crown jewels affair, even when the 1913 trial exposed perjury on his part five years earlier when submitting testimony to the Commission.

Another possible suspect, at least in the police's eyes, Francis Bennett Goldney (one of Vicars's drinking buddies) was found upon his death to have "half-inched" artefacts and documents from various institutions. However there was nothing to link him to the crown jewels and in fact his habit of holding on to these goods rather than fencing them actually exonerated him posthumously.

And Arthur Vicars? A bitter and resentful man after his treatment by the authorities he retired and moved to his Kilmorna estate near Listowel in Kerry. There, in 1921, he was shot by the IRA and his house burned down. We do not know what thought passed through his mind immediately in advance of the bullet but it must surely have been along the lines of "Good grief, why me?"

A segment of his will, kept from public inspection until 1976, reveals his continuing resentment, and also rather touchingly where his true love lay:

"I might have had more to dispose of had it not been for the outrageous way in which I was treated by the Irish Government over the loss of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1907, backed up by the late King Edward VII, when I was made a scapegoat to save other departments responsible and when they shielded the real culprit and thief, Francis R. Shackleton (brother of the explorer who didn't reach the South Pole).

"My whole life & work was ruined by this cruel misfortune and by the wicked and blackguardly acts of the Irish Government.

"I had hoped to leave a legacy to my dear little dog Ronnie, had he not been taken from me this year -- well we shall meet in the next world."


Of all the characters named above I reckon Ronnie is the only one above suspicion. Historian Sean J Murphy recently concluded that it was Shackleton acting alone. Do you concur?

Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
ferval
Censura
ferval

Posts : 2602
Join date : 2011-12-27

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 16:43

I always veer towards cock up rather than conspiracy and, having read Murphy's account, suspect that that might well be the answer, in every sense! I suspect that the jewels ended up ornamenting the person of a pretty sailor in one of Dublin's more exotic bars and who then made off at high speed leaving some or all of the gentlemen in a state of dishabille and in no state or position to chase him.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 16:56

Murphy's excellent online version is available here:

Sean J Murphy - Irish Crown Jewels theft

There is no reference to homosexual activities except in one lurid accusation in a story published in America in 1908 and written by Pierce O'Mahony for the consumption of Irish-American republican sympathisers. A claim that they were all satanists would have gone down just as well with the same audience, and would have been as readily believed.

The other spurious allegation made outside the courts, that Shackleton and Gorges had had the jewels delivered for future sale to Amsterdam with instruction not to break them up for three years, carries much more credibility.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
Vizzer
Censura
Vizzer

Posts : 1164
Join date : 2012-05-12

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 20:43

Thanks for the link nordmann. That's fascinating reading.

It's slightly disappointing to discover that the 'Irish Crown Jewels' only dated back to the 1830s. I was expecting them to be some exquisite items dating back to the time of, say, King Henry VIII or even earlier. There was, for instance, the case of 'Lambert Simnel'/'Edward of Warwick' being crowned in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin in 1487. One wonders what regalia were used in that ceremony - and where those are now.

With regard to the 1907 theft then it seems that most likely they were broken up for sale. As to whodunnit then it could have been almost anyone. Erskine Childers?
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 20:57

They could well have crowned Simnel in Christchurch with a paper hat, it wouldn't have made any difference. The ringleaders weren't trying to impress the locals, simply put on a show which would ensure news got back to England that a new king had been declared by the Yorkist sympathisers. The procession to the Castle, its takeover, and the immediate minting of coins were more important than what went on up in the cathedral.

Funnily enough after the battle of Stoke the English parliament attainted any English-based nobles involved but didn't lift a finger against the real perpetrators of the rebellion, who were all Irish-based.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 21:55

Apparently they used the crown from a statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral, I am informed. At least so the story goes ...
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
Vizzer
Censura
Vizzer

Posts : 1164
Join date : 2012-05-12

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 22:53

@nordmann wrote:
Funnily enough after the battle of Stoke the English parliament attainted any English-based nobles involved but didn't lift a finger against the real perpetrators of the rebellion, who were all Irish-based.
There are probably a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly the Simnel/Warwick affair took place before the passing of 'Poyning's Law' by the Irish Parliament. So the English parliament basically had no authority to attain anyone in Ireland. Executive authority rested with the King of England (as Lord of Ireland) but outside the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of England as such.

Secondly the Lordship of Ireland itself was heavily dependent on divide and rule throughout its history and passed thru varying phases of delegatory and/or salutary neglect. Henry VII needed to secure his position in England first and foremost. He was in no practical position to influence events in Ireland for several years. And practicality was key. Pro-Lordship Earls in the Pale such as FitzGerald of Kildare were basically the only real option open to a King of England seeking to maintain some form of authority in Ireland in the 1490s. Whereas in England so many Yorkists were extirpated by Henry, in Ireland the use of pardon and rehabilitation was much more politic.

Do we know if the statue of the Virgin in Christ Church is still there or (more likely) did it fall victim to iconoclasm at some stage?

P.S. As an aside to the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1907 - something which I hadn't known about until quite recently is that the Russian Crown Jewels resided in Dublin for 30 years between 1920-1950. And for 18 of those years they were in Mrs Boland's house 15 Marino Crescent. A further bit of trivia is that that same house was where Bram Stoker had been born.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 23:00

Yes, keeping sweet with the Fitzgeralds was still the policy alright.

And no, the statue would have long ago been removed. Christchurch, as the city's principal cathedral, would have been one of the first places to play ball after Henry's new rules came in.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
Vizzer
Censura
Vizzer

Posts : 1164
Join date : 2012-05-12

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 23:52

I suppose also for Henry VII was that to be seen to be freaking out too much over the coronation would have conferred some degree of credibility onto something which Henry would have wanted to play down as much as possible. Since Ireland was not part of the Kingdom of England then the coronation of 'Edward VI' in Dublin could be presented as having had no real legitimacy. That alone would have suited Henry's propaganda purposes.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
Temperance

Posts : 6178
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : UK

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptyMon 11 Jun 2012, 09:42

According to Desmond Seward Simnel was crowned "with a circlet taken from a statue of the Virgin in St. Mary's church near Dame Gate."

Whether the Virgin's diadem had already been brought from the Dame Gate church ready for the service in the Cathedral, or whether there was a moment's panic and someone had to race down to St. Mary's (A "Jesus, what are we going to use for a bloody crown?" scenario perhaps), I have no idea. Is/was St. Mary's within running distance of the Cathedral?
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptyMon 11 Jun 2012, 10:10

St Mary del Dam was a parish church situated less than 50 yards from Christchurch main cathedral and served as a devotional and funereal chapel for the cathedral. When Simnel was crowned it was actually in the chapel itself as the main knave in Christchurch was closed due to repairs after the ceiling fell in. So no running involved.

The exact site of St Mary's is now in the middle of Lord Edward Street just outside the cathedral's eastern railings. It corresponds roughly to number 38 on Speed's map from 1610.

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Dublin10
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
Temperance

Posts : 6178
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : UK

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptyMon 11 Jun 2012, 10:15

Ah - thank you, Nordmann.
Back to top Go down
Vizzer
Censura
Vizzer

Posts : 1164
Join date : 2012-05-12

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? EmptySat 09 Nov 2019, 18:26

@nordmann wrote:
The other spurious allegation made outside the courts, that Shackleton and Gorges had had the jewels delivered for future sale to Amsterdam with instruction not to break them up for three years, carries much more credibility.

That would seem to be the most likely fate of the artefacts (i.e. broken up and sold on) particularly when one considers that they were comprised mainly of small diamonds. Much more likely than, say, sitting in a secret repository of the descendants of a wealthy collector more than 110 years after the event.

With regard to the identity of the culprit(s) then the several omissions by the Commission of Investigation, in terms of not pursuing leads, are simply staggering. For example Francis Shackleton suggested that the Lord Lieutenant’s son, George Gordon had been implicated. This was simply ignored. Now it could be that it was just a clever psychological ploy on the part of Shackleton. He could have basically been saying to the commissioners that this loss of the jewels and public investigation was highly embarrassing to the state establishment and if they wished then he could make it even more embarrassing for them. In other words, just enough to make the investigators satisfied with his ‘perfectly truthful and candid’ performance as a witness and then back off.

What I hadn’t appreciated is that the Lord Lieutenant in question (the Earl of Aberdeen) was the same peer whose book Jokes Cracked by Lord Aberdeen was published in the 1920s and subsequently gained popularity among a later generation so much so that it warranted re-publication in the 2010s. Dubbed ‘the world’s worst joke book’ its 21st century publication was more to do with the idea that it's-so-bad-that-it’s-good and thus being seen as an iconic and/or ironic must have among contemporary comedians.

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Y648

Here are some of his jokes:

Unsettled
"I've seen better days, sir," said a tramp to an Aberdonian, who replied, "So have I – but I havna time to discuss the weather the noo."

Dinna boast
A young woman who had obtained a situation in the south of England was asked by the lady by whom she was employed: "Annie, I know of course by your tongue that you are Scotch, but you have never mentioned the part of Scotland from which you come. Which is it?"
"I come from near Aberdeen, Ma'am," she replied.
"Oh, indeed," said the lady, "but why did you not tell me before?"
"Weel, I didna like tae dee that, Ma'am, because when I was leaving hame ma Mither said, 'Noo, Annie, be sure an' dinna boast.'"

He couldn’t say!
A lady remarked to a former Bishop of London on one occasion, “Oh! Bishop, I want to tell you something very remarkable. An aunt of mine had arranged to make a voyage in a certain steamer, but at the last moment she had to give up the trip; and that steamer was wrecked; wasn’t it a mercy that she did not go in it?”
“Well, but”- replied the Bishop, “I don’t know your aunt.”

Try the Empire
A reminiscence concerning the late Dr Campbell, bishop of Glasgow, which he probably narrated, or which at any rate would be thoroughly appreciated by him was, that some English friend once addressed a letter to "The Right Rev the Bishop of Glasgow, The Palace, Glasgow." The letter was returned from the Post Office, marked, "Not known at the Palace – try the Empire."

Reservoir and tanks!
An Englishman, who was saying Farewell to a French acquaintance, and who wished to utter the appropriate expression, (though his knowledge of the French language was slender) said, “Au reservoir” to which the Frenchman, whose knowledge of English was likewise imperfect, replied “Tanks”.

An offender
On the way home from the Kirk_ “Did ye hear Duncan snorin’ i’ the sermon?”
“Aye did I; it wis disgracefu’; he waukened’s a’.”

The invitation
“Jock, will ye dine wi’ me the morn’s nicht.”
“Aye, Sandy, I will.”
“Guid! Eight o’clock at your hoose.”

The count
An Irish Census recorder on enquiring - "How many males in this house?" received the reply - "Three of course; breakfast, lunch and tea!"


Personally, I don’t think that they’re actually that bad. They’re maybe just of their time and class.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?   The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit? Empty

Back to top Go down
 

The Irish Crown Jewels - whodunnit?

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of mystery ... :: Unsolved crimes-