THE TICHBORNE CLAIMANT Codicil to his will, signed.
Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne aka Arthur Orton aka Thomas Castro (known as "the Tichborne Claimant").
The Codicil to the will of Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne. Dated 13th May 1868. 3pp. Signed by Roger Tichborne and also initialled by him three times in the margins.
In this codicil, Roger Tichborne revokes certain bequests and appointments previously made in his will in favour of his former solicitor John Holmes and trustees Joseph Leete and Francis Baigent. He substitutes other bequests and appointments in favour of John Holmes and his friends Francis Lushington and Guildford Onslow and hotel keeper Edward Rous. The bequests are made subject to his being put into possession of the Tichborne estates ("now being litigated"), etc. This codicil was drafted by the solicitor Edmund Kell Blyth and the text is in the hand of his clerk, Herbert Chamberlain, both of whom have signed the codicil in addition to Roger Tichborne.
Legal foolscap. Approx 12.75 x 8 inches. Watermarked R. Barnard 1867. Very slight fraying to top edge. Some mounting residue to verso, else fine.
The case of the Tichborne Claimant was one of the most celebrated and reported civil cases of the 19th century. The heir to the Tichborne baronetcy, Roger Tichborne, was presumed to have drowned in a shipwreck off Brazil in 1854. His grieving mother, believing him to be still alive, advertised widely enquiring after his whereabouts and in 1866 a butcher from Wagga Wagga, Australia, came forward claiming to be the lost heir. Lady Tichborne brought him to England and, although he appeared unrefined and ill-educated, she instantly accepted him as her lost son, although the majority of the family refused to do so. When she died in March 1868 there began a long legal battle in which the identity of Roger Tichborne was disputed and his right to inherit the title and estates was hotly contested. The court eventually held that the claimant was, in fact, Arthur Orton, the son of a butcher from Wapping who, whilst in Australia had also gone under the name of Thomas Castro. Following his loss of the protracted civil case he was prosecuted for perjury in what was one of the longest trials in the history of the English criminal law and was subsequently sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Following his release on licence in 1884 Orton continued to pursue his claim but, by then, the public had lost their appetite for the affair and he died destitute on 1st April 1898. Although he is known as one of the great fraudsters and imposters of history, there is some evidence to suggest that he may indeed have been the real Roger Tichborne. When he died, it is reported that 5,000 people attended his funeral and the family allowed the coffin to bear the inscription "Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne" and the burial was so recorded in the Paddington cemetery records.
An exceptional document of historic significance. The persons named in the codicil Holmes, Baigent, Lushington, Onslow, etc, where all persons who had a prominent part in the legal proceedings in one way or another. The codicil was made shortly after the death of Lady Tichborne and whilst the litigation was still in its earliest stages.
Provenance: From a 19th century album compiled by the Blyth family. Edmund Kell Blyth, the solicitor who drafted this codicil, appears to have been related to the engineer, Benjamin Blyth and the three times premier of Australia, Arthur Blyth.