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Arthur Orton was born June 1,1834, being therefore the junior of Roger Tichborne by nearly six years. He was the youngest son of a respectable shipping butcher, who lived in London, at 69 High Street, Wapping. He was but poorly educated, learning to read and write, and acquiring a smattering of arithmetic, just enough to aid his father a little in his business. The boy was afflicted with Saint Vitus's dance, and when about fourteen years of age he was sent a sea voyage for his health. This defendant had mentioned that he had had Saint Vitus's dance, which, though true of Orton, was not true of Roger Tichborne. Orton, accordingly, took passage, in 1848, from Antwerp, for Valparaiso, arriving there in November of that year. Two months later he was at Valparaiso again, and this time deserted his ship, and went inland to a small town called Melipilla. There he became acquainted with a family of Castros, who treated him kindly, and afterward he is found assuming the name of Castro. He picked up also a smattering of Spanish, showing that he stayed in the place for some little time. In February, 1851, the defendant again sailed for home, under the name of Joseph Orton, but bearing the seaman's number of Arthur Orton. He arrived in safety, made his way forthwith to 69 High Street, and in the circle of his old acquaintance was dubbed "fatty," or sometimes "bullocky," Orton, on account of his great increase in size. At this time his heart was somewhat touched by the charms of a damsel of Wapping, named Mary Anne Loder ; with whom he "kept company." But ere long he became restless, slipped the chains of affection, deserted the fair Mary Anne, and, in December, 1852, embarked on board the ship " Middleton," bound for Hobart Town.
Having arrived there, he set up in trade as a slaughterer and afterward as a butcher. His skill with the cleaver was remarked upon, and he said he learned it at Newgate market; and speaking further of the same matter, he showed a familiarity with that neighborhood and its denizens wholly unexplainable in Roger Tichborne. While at Hobart Town, he met a family of Jurys, connected with him by marriage, and at first saw a good deal of them; but, having borrowed £14 of one of them, he opportunely disappeared, just before his note of hand for that sum fell due, and did not afterward renew the acquaintance. He was in service at Gippsland, and afterward at Wagga-Wagga. At the latter place, an old acquaintance from Hobart Town, one Hopwood, met him, and hailed him as Orton; but he replied: "I am not Orton: I am Castro. Come and have a drink." January 29,1865, he married a servant-girl, describing himself as Castro, born in Chili, and thirty years old: just the age of Orton, but six years less than the age of Roger. He lived with his wife at Wagga-Wagga, for a time, in a state of extreme poverty. He had been leading a disreputable life; had been accused of horse-stealing; and acknowledged having been very intimate with two notorious bush-rangers and highwaymen, Morgan and Tote, of whom the former was shot in 1865. Yet in all his adventures and intimacies, he never mentioned to any person, not even to his wife, that he had been wrecked and saved from drowning.
At what time the plan that " this slaughterman " should set up as Roger Charles Tichborne was first concocted, Mr. Hawkins said that it was impossible to show precisely. The inception of such dark plots is usually wrapped in some degree of secrecy. But the way in which it came about was this: the Dowager Lady Tichborne, in the year 1863, advertised for him in the "Times." Previously she may be supposed to have been held in check by her husband, Sir James; but he died in 1862, and she was then left free to follow her delusions. About the same time, one Cubitt, in Sydney, Australia, opened a " Missing Friends' Office." He advertised it freely, and Lady Tichborne saw the advertisement. Forthwith she wrote to him. Cubitt at once made public the knowledge that an heir to the Tichborne estates was wanted. One Gibbes, a lawyer in the neighborhood, was at the time engaged in putting Orton, alias Castro, through insolvency. One day he saw his client smoking a pipe, upon which he observed the initials "R. C. T." Straightway the shrewd man of the law turned upon the smoker, told him that his secret was out, that he was indeed the long-lost heir, Roger Charles Tichborne, and that if he did not disclose himself then he, Gibbes, would do so. So Gibbes wrote to Cubitt announcing the discovery, and Cubitt wrote to Lady Tichborne, conveying the glad news of the resurrection; and the Dowager, much pleased, hastened to reply. Several letters followed. In her correspondence she artlessly gave divers facts in the life of her son, which she intended should be used in identifying the person claiming that honor. This information, however, obviously came to hand very opportunely for use for a quite different purpose. It gave valuable hints, some of which were improved, and others were, strangely enough, lost. And now the initials R. C. T., seen nowhere for eleven years, reappeared at the foot of the defendant's letters. Strange to say, however, they were invariably accompanied by a peculiar mark, which had always been used by Arthur Orton, after the Spanish fashion. Gibbes suggested to the defendant that it would be becoming in him to write to his mother; and defendant at last accepted this advice, and wrote an affectionate epistle, whereof the grammar and the spelling would have made the hearts of most mothers ache sorely, but of which the sentiments were noble.
Wagga Wagga, Jan. 17 66. My Dear Mother: — The delaye which as taken place Since my last letter, dated 22d April 54 Makes it very difficult to commence this Letter. I deeply regret the trouble and Anxiety I must have cause you by not writing before. But they are known to my Attorney and the more private details I will keep for your own Ear. Of one thing rest Assured, that though I have been in a A humble condition of life, I have never let any Act disgrace you or my Family. I have been A poor Man and nothing worse. Mr. Gibbes suggest to me as essential that I should recall to your memory things which can only be known to you and me, to convince you of my Identity. I don't think it needful, My Dear Mother, although I send them, Mamely, the Brown Mark on my side And the Card Case at Brighton. I can assure you My Dear Mother, I have kept your promise ever since. In writing to me please enclose your letter to Mr. Gibbes, to prevent unnecessary Enquiry, as I do not wish any person to know me in this Country. When I take my proper position and title, Having therefore made up my mind to return and face the Sea once more, I must request to send me the means of doing so, and paying a few outstanding debts. I would return by the Overland Mail. The passage Money and other expences would be over Two Hundred pound, for I propose Sailing from Victoria, not this colony And to sail from Melbourne in my own Name. Now to enable me to do this my dear Mother you must send me [The rest of the letter is missing.]
Unfortunately for the sufficiency of these brief and mysterious suggestions, there had been no brown mark on Roger's body, and no card case had ever occurred at Brighton. But worse than this even were the defendant's statements, made at this time to sundry persons that he was in the army only thirteen days, and was then "bought off;" that he went to school at Winchester, whereas Roger went to Stonyhurst, &c. But the poor Dowager was satisfied, out of her inner consciousness, so to speak; and, even before she had received the foregoing tender first letter from her son, in February, 1866, wrote to her " Dearest Son Roger."
After some delay, the defendant, as appears from his letter, had prepared to return to England. But, before doing so, he deemed it proper to make his will. It was a most unfortunate piece of forethought. In that document he disposed of property at Cowes, Isle of Wight, where the Tichbornes had no property; of property at the Hermitage in Dorsetshire, whereas there was no such family seat in that county; but there was a farm called Hermitage in Surrey, which had been acquired by the family after Roger left; of which some loose rumor might have reached the defendant's ears, and which he had perhaps confounded with Upton in Dorsetshire, which also belonged to the Tichbornes, but which was not referred to. Then he mentioned estates at Ryde, Isle of Wight, where the Tichbornes owned nothing. He named three executors; one being a friend of Arthur Orton, but unknown to Tichborne; another being a wholly fictitious personage; and the third being his mother, " Hannah Frances." "He did not even know his mother's name!" said Mr. Hawkins. The Dowager's initials, " H. F.," had been learned from the c rrespondence ; but her real name was Henriette Fe"licite\ The name Henriette had indeed been signed to one letter; but this had apparently been overlooked.
Passages in one of the Dowager's letters in May, 1866, disclosed the fact that the Tichbornes were adherents of the Roman Catholic faith. The defendant's marriage had previously been celebrated only in a Wesleyan Chapel. But upon receipt of this information as to the family creed he was forthwith married again in a Catholic Chapel, and wrote to his "dearest mama," "and may the blessed Maria have mercy on your soul." He was first married as Castro; but the second nuptials were by the name of Tichborne, which, however, he very carelessly spelled with an extra t, thus, Titchborne. He also at one time inserted the initial D for Doughty, into his name, writing it R. C. D. T., which was erroneous.
Having found his way back to England by the way of New York, the defendant, on the evening of his arrival in London, repaired straight to No. 69 High Street, Wapping! His father, George Orton, however, was dead; another family occupied the house. So the wanderer turned aside to a public-house hard by, and there made inquiries about the Ortons. The landlady answered him, and, looking fixedly at him, exclaimed, "Why, bless me! you are rather like an Orton yourself!" "Oh, no!" he said, "I'm not an Orton: I'm only a friend of the family." Soon after he communicated with the sisters of Arthur Orton, using a feigned name. The letters written to him in reply were destroyed, or not forthcoming. But the contents could be inferred in part from his answers; in these he denied being Arthur Orton, from which it was obvious that his correspondents had suspected his identity with their long-absent brother. They wrote, asking for pictures of their brother's wife and children. The defendant in return sent pictures of his own wife and children; and beyond all this, it was discovered that he made a regular allowance of five pounds per month to their brother, Charles Orton. Later, in view of the gross imprudence of such conduct, he sent his gifts in a feigned name, as coming from one "Bland."
The morning next after this nocturnal tour of inspection, he again returned to inquire about the sisters of Arthur Orton, Mrs. Jury, and Mrs. Tredgett. He was directed to a Mrs. Pardon, whom he found. He sent in to her the card of a Mr. Stephens, a fellow-passenger of his in the ship from Melbourne, whose card he had secured. Mrs. Pardon again charged him with being an Orton, and a second time he denied the impeachment. Such disagreeable accusations, however, were to be shunned, — he took the warning; and this appears to have been his last open visit. He left a letter, dated at Wagga-Wagga, June 3, 1866, purporting to come from Orton to his sister, and to introduce Stephens. It was signed
The letter was evidently composed for the purpose of deception; and was not written when and where it purported to be. For Stephens never saw the defendant until he was on shipboard, crossing the ocean to England. So soon as Mrs. Tredgett opened the letter she uttered an exclamation which Mrs. Pardon heard, but which the rules of law made inadmissible in evidence.