Orsam Books

A Look Under the Barnett

According to Gary Barnett, when he said on JTR Forums of 2 July 2017 that the research on Casebook in respect of alternative names had been 'misinterpreted', he was referring to research posted by Kattrup on 18 January 2017.  The correct interpretation, according to Barnett, is that 'the research suggests they generally felt it necessary to reveal the fact [of having an alternative name] when presenting themselves to the authorities'.  But is that really what Kattrup's research showed?  Let's have a closer look.

Kattrup posted 18 examples of individuals who had given evidence as a witness at the Old Bailey between 1880 and 1895.  Of these 18 individuals, 7 were women.  As women have, throughout history, been perfectly capable of having two names - a maiden name and a married name - I haven't considered them for the purpose of this article. In the context of considering the issue as it relates to Charles Cross, I think we can all agree that we need to focus on men, who would normally be assumed to have one surname only.

So Kattrup gives us 11 men but, of those 11 men, two evidently did not have any form of alternative name at all. These are George Peacock and William Sadler  I'll just deal with these in turn so that we can eliminate them.

George Peacock a.k.a. James Smith

This chap wasn't a witness, he was a defendant (i.e. a prisoner).  Although charged under the name of 'George Peacock' he said that he pawned some articles 'in the name of James Smith, which is my real name'.  This is a bit confusing because Peacock's co-defendant at his trial was James Smith.  So presumably both men were called James Smith.  But, if the real name of 'George Peacock' was James Smith, then 'George Peacock' was an assumed name, or an alias, adopted for the purpose of concealing his identity. It's not a genuine alternative name.  So this is not a good example and we can ignore this one. 

William Sadler a.k.a. Frank Kitto

This is another confusing one.  Sadler said in his evidence: 'My real name is Frank Kitto'.  Bearing in mind that, like George Peacock, his first name has changed as well as his surname, it's a good indication that we are dealing with another assumed name.  Sadler's evidence was that he was living at the home of a printer at 16 Griffen Street called George Sadler.  It rather looks like Frank Kitto, who also described himself as a printer, had unofficially changed his name to make it appear that he was related to George Sadler.  So it's really a false name and another one we can safely ignore.

So we are left with 9 individuals with alternative names who gave evidence at the Old Bailey but I think we can eliminate one more who doesn't seem to have had a genuine alternative name. This is Francis Le Maistre, a witness at a fraud trial in September 1894, who said he was also called 'Masters'.  To me it looks like this was no more than a Anglicized version of the name Le Maistre which probably made it easier for English people to pronounce.  Le Maistre was preceded in the witness box by William Bennett Fordham, who said in his evidence that a man called 'Masters' had visited him.  Then came Le Maistre who, obviously, had to say that he was the man Fordham knew as 'Masters'.  It's not a case, in other words, of a person presenting himself as having two names but the most important thing here (and the reason to eliminate him) is that Masters is little more than a variant (or translation) of Le Maistre.

So, hopefully, we can all agree that we are down to the final 8 men.  They are Richard Sawyer a.k.a. Richard Abraham, William Blaeser a.k.a. William Klishmidt, John Miller a.k.a. John Palmer, John Bahrs a.k.a. John Johnson, Henry Hoare a.k.a. Henry Harris Victor Bevan a.k.a. Bevan Whalley, Norton Coulander a.k.a. Norton Schauffenhausen and Arthur Dyer a.k.a. Arthur Brown.  The odd one out in this list is Victor Bevan who has a different first name and surname but we'll keep him in the list for now.

1. Richard Sawyer a.k.a. Richard Abraham

Richard Abraham had lived under that name until his mother, Annie Abraham, married John Sawyer when he was 11 or 12.

This is a case where Sawyer's alternative name was relevant to the proceedings because the prisoner at the trial in which he was a witness was his stepfather, John Sawyer, accused of murdering his wife, and Richard's real mother, Annie Sawyer (formerly Annie Abraham).  With John Sawyer being his stepfather, he obviously had a different surname before Sawyer married his mother. So this is not a case of a man going into the witness box and revealing that he had an alternative name for no reason.  It was relevant to the proceedings.

2. William Blaeser a.k.a William Klishmidt

William Blaeser was a defence witness at the trial of William Henbach and, from the note of the proceedings, it is arguable that he was asked to state his birth name by Henbach during his examination, hence we find this:

'I am a baker, of 278, Waterloo Road—I have known the prisoner three or four years—my real name is Klishmidt, but I go in the name of my stepfather, Blaeser —I accompanied you to the police-station when you were taken — You asked me to go the first thing next morning, 13th July, to 58, or 59, Redcross Street, to Mr. Humbert, and fetch two boxes of ladies' hats which was there in your name, and bring them to the police-court'

So it's evident from Blaeser's use of the words 'you' that he was being asked questions by the defendant (or prisoner), Henbach.  It's not entirely certain at what point those questions began and, in saying 'I have known the prisoner three or four years', he appears at that point to have been answering a question asked by the court.  The only issue is whether Henbach then asked him if he had an alternative name or if Blaeser volunteered it to the court.  I don't think the answer can be known.

3.  John Miller a.k.a. John Palmer

Prior to entering the witness box, other witnesses had already referred to someone called 'Palmer', so John Miller had to say that he was also known as John Palmer. It wasn't explained why he was so known but the point here is that his supposed alternative name was relevant to the proceedings.

4. John Bahrs a.k.a. John Johnson

Bahrs was a witness in a murder trial.  The first witness at the trial, Christopher Taylor, said that on the night of the murder, 'I was in company with three firemen, named Frederick Charles Swain, John Cooper and John Bahrs, who is also called Johnson'.  So the alternative name of Bahrs had already been 'revealed' by another witness before he gave evidence.  The firemen were all from a ship called the 'John Bright' and, in his evidence, Bahrs said, 'I am known as Johnson on board the ship'. So his supposed 'alternative' name was relevant, although it may be that this was nothing more than a nickname because Bahrs seems to be saying that it was only on the ship that he was called Johnson. For that reason it's possible we should be ignoring this one too.

5. Henry Hoare a.k.a. Henry Harris

Henry Hoare only informed the court that he was 'known by the name of Harris at Stanmore Street' during cross-examination.  The reason for his use of the name of Harris appears to have been that he was living off the earnings of a prostitute called Lizzie Harris with whom he was presumably living at the time.  Consequently, this was more of an assumed name than an alternative name but, either way, it wasn't a name he volunteered in evidence. 

6. Victor Bevan a.k.a. Bevan Whalley

When giving evidence for the prosecution in the trial of George Harrison, this individual gave his name as Victor Bevan.  Like Hoare, he did NOT disclose that he had some other type of name. This only came out in cross-examination when he said he was otherwise known as Bevan Whalley.  The explanation for this was 'one name I was christened in, and the other was my mother's name'.  So there appears here to be some form of  alternative name scenario which is why he remains in the list.

What is important to note is that when George Harrison was charged at Bow Street Police Court, Bevan gave evidence at that hearing.  This was how it was reported in The Standard of 30 November 1887:

'Victor Bevan, a compositor, of Temple Street, St George's-road, said that on the 13th inst...'

At no point, according to the news report, did Bevan say that he was also known as Bevan Whalley. So this is actually an example of a man NOT presenting himself to 'the authorities' as having an alternative name (assuming he actually had one).

7. Norton Coulander a.k.a. Norton Schauffenhausen

This is another example of a man who did NOT disclose his alternative name.  When he gave his evidence for the prosecution he stated his name as Norton Colander only.  It was only in cross-examination that he was asked about his alternative name and revealed that his 'real' name was Schauffenhausen but, he said, it was a difficult one to pronounce so he had presumably decided to Anglicize it.  This is another good reason why some people had two names in the nineteenth century (and this continued into the twentieth century, especially in respect of immigrants fleeing from persecution in Eastern Europe and Germany). 

8. Arthur Dyer a.k.a. Arthur Brown

When he gave his evidence for the prosecution, he simply stated his name as 'Arthur Dyer'.  It only turned out in cross-examination that his real name was Arthur Brown. He doesn't seem to have had any good reason to call himself 'Dyer' so this was a false name and probably should be excluded from the list in truth.  


Any fair reading of the above reveals that not a single individual with an alternative name revealed that alternative name either without good reason (i.e. it being relevant to the proceedings and/or had already been mentioned) or at all, until it was extracted from then during cross-examination.  Of the surviving examples given by Kattrup of men using supposed alternative names, at least half did not volunteer their alternative name while the remainder evidently only mentioned it because it was relevant.  It’s certainly not evidence of men with alternative names generally stating both their names when ‘presenting themselves to the authorities’.  They don’t even all do it when standing in the witness box at the Old Bailey to give evidence!  Even less, I would argue, would they have bothered to do it (or even have thought of of doing it) while giving evidence at an inquest.

Anyone who wants to argue against this proposition, including the great expert himself, Gary Barnett, needs to produce actual evidence, not speculative opinion.  In the absence of that, it would seem that it is Barnett who has misinterpreted Kattrup's research.

And that was what was found when we looked under the Barnett. 

Lord Orsam
8 September 2019