By Kate Colquhoun
In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was once traveling domestic after vacationing his niece and her husband for dinner. He entered a firstclass carriage at the 9.45pm Hackney carrier of the North London railway. At Hackney, financial institution clerks entered the carriage and stumbled on blood within the seat cushions; additionally at the ground, home windows and facets of the carriage. A bloodstained hat used to be stumbled on at the seat in addition to a damaged hyperlink from an eye fixed chain. The race to spot the killer and seize him as he flees on a ship to the USA was once eagerly by means of electorate each side of the Atlantic. Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping story of a criminal offense that stunned the country.
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Extra info for MR Briggs' Hat: The True Story of a Victorian Railway Murder
Hence the rustic lagged in the back of its ecu neighbours and notwithstanding dactyloscopy – or fingerprinting – used to be pioneered in Britain and can have given Tanner’s research evidence past doubt, its attractiveness as a regular police device lay sooner or later. equally, the precipitin attempt to distinguish among human and animal blood wouldn't be invented via the German scientist Paul Uhlenhuth until eventually 1901. In 1864, all a chemist used to be capable of do used to be research spots below a microscope to divine first whether or not they have been certainly blood, after which to make a wager as to their foundation via evaluating the form of the cells to a coarse chart of other animal varieties. It used to be no longer authorized police perform to gather hairs from crime scenes and no-one scrutinised both the bloodied stone mendacity on the subject of the place Briggs’ physique used to be came across or the battered hat discovered at the teach for such information. Microscopic facts wouldn't be springing to Inspector Tanner’s relief. the single clues he had to date have been the crumpled hat, descriptions of the stolen watch and chain and a potential description of the assassin. Forsaken or misplaced hats started to tackle an entire new importance. The Bow police station used to be already inundated with hats of all sizes and shapes recovered from park benches and dustcarts around the urban, stories of suspicious hats being wiped clean and knowledge on those that had lower back domestic hatless or with black eyes at the evening of Saturday nine July. in other places, divisional police stations throughout London have been being stored busy by means of a gradual circulate of keen voters queuing to have their say. As every one probably fruitful lead was once pursued in the neighborhood, copies of the stories have been despatched to the Commissioner and to Tanner who used to be, in influence, sitting on the slim finish of a effective funnel into which the general public have been pouring their insinuations, suspicions and fears. there have been allegations approximately ruptures in the prolonged Briggs kinfolk and at Islington police station a neighbour of Thomas Briggs at Clapton sq. said that he had travelled within the comparable teach as Briggs on Saturday evening. He claimed guy among 40 and fifty, a bit taller than general with a thick crimson face, facet whiskers and moustache, had rushed into his second-class carriage sooner than the teach trigger and had stared heavily at all of the passengers. The protect had closed the door however the stranger had reopened it, jumped down onto the platform and rushed in the direction of front of the teach towards the firstclass booths. dealing with a welter of proliferating experiences, Inspector Tanner was once prepared to target sturdy leads and his personal intuition. Superintendent Howie had already wondered the hatmaker Walker at his store in Marylebone yet had drawn an exasperating clean. Inspector Kerressey had requested Briggs’ son Thomas James to come to Clapton sq. to take away the hook left dangling from the buttonhole of his father’s waistcoat. besides the leap hyperlink present in the carriage and the chain recovered from Death’s store, the separate elements that held the chain to the stolen watch and connected it to his garments have been now reunited in police arms.