Fraudsters and Charlatans: A Peek at Some of History's Greatest Rogues
In 1817 a young woman of exotic appearance was found wandering near Bristol. She spoke in a language that no one could understand except, seemingly a Portuguese sailor. He claimed that she was a Sumatran princess from the island of Javasu. Princess Caraboo, as she was known, became a national celebrity and lived in a grand style, entertaining many distinguished visitors. A few weeks later, however, she was exposed as Mary Baker, the daughter of a cobbler from Devonshire. Mary's deception is one of several intriguing stories of nineteenth-century fraudsters brought to light in Linda Stratmann's entertaining look at some of history's greatest rogues. From bankers who forged share certificates, ruining hundreds of small investors, to 'Louis de Rougemont' whose tales of high adventure branded him The Greatest Liar on Earth', these riveting tales of true crime expose the seedy side of life in which corruption, avarice and scandal hold sway.
have been offered ‘ample funds . . . by several wealthy women’, the consideration in return being marriage. The lawsuit he had lost he described as ‘a skirmish’,32 and announced his intention of returning to England to continue the fight. Gradually his funds were exhausted and his dreams became wistful thoughts of what might have been. He remained in Oakland, working as a carpenter and janitor. By 1937 he was living in a rooming house at 723 Sixth Street, blind and existing on a pension. He died
Ibid. 21. ‘London and Globe Finance’, Financial Times, 10 January 1901, p. 3. 22. Ibid. 23. ‘Globe Meeting’, Pall Mall Gazette, 10 January 1901, p. 4. 24. ‘Chat on Change’, Daily Mail, 5 January 1901, p. 2. 25. ‘The Money Market’, The Times, 23 May 1901, p. 4. 26. ‘British America Corporation (Limited)’, The Times, 4 June 1901, p. 3. 27. Ibid. 28. Ibid. 29. Ibid. 30. Ibid. 31. ‘The Whitaker Wright companies. Further Revelations’, The Times, 31 July 1901, p. 13. 32. Ibid. 33. Ibid.
1,500 acres, and included a deer park, woodlands, dairy farms and cottages. It was an ideal setting in which a mysterious feral girl could wander at will. On the evening of 3 April Mary arrived, tired, hungry and footsore, and knocked on the door of the first house she came to, the home of the village cobbler. Given some bread and milk, Mary mimed with folded hands against her cheek that she wanted to sleep, but the cobbler’s wife was not happy about admitting her to the house, and took her to
distressed state of mind had induced him to do so. To Cochrane’s astonishment he then launched into a tale of woe, saying that his last hope of obtaining an appointment in America had gone, that he had no prospects but only debts he was unable to pay. He hoped that with Cochrane’s approval he could at once board the Tonnant, where he could find honourable employment exercising the sharpshooters. Cochrane, still reeling with relief that his brother was not dead, was more inclined to be sympathetic
hard as it seemed, he refused again. Sadleir clapped his hand to his head and exclaimed: ‘Good God, if the Tipperary Bank should fail, the fault will be entirely mine, and I shall have been the ruin of hundreds and thousands.’32 On being told that a deed he had given as security for an earlier loan was about to be registered, he became even more agitated. Wilkinson’s firm had previously advanced large sums to Sadleir, but the balances had become so large that they had asked for security. This had