The Civil Crocodile

I found this story in The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, July 24, 1880 (Issue 858). It reads:

“Some six weeks ago a lively young crocodile contrived, one night, to effect its escape from Josepha Choikowa’s travelling menagerie . . . and all the efforts made to discover its hiding-place in the neighbouring brooks and ponds proving fruitless, its proprietress after three days’ search gave it up as irretrievably lost, and departed on her further professional rounds.

“A month later the smith of Salosu [? digital copy of paper unclear], a village not far . . . was strolling home towards evening through the rain, when he suddenly espied lying, in a huge puddle on the high road, what he took to be a drunken man, with the charitable intentions of extricating the recumbent one from so miry a bed, he perceived to his astonishment that the object of his solicitude was the missing crocodile.

“Nothing daunted, he fastened a rope round the . . . scaly body behind its shoulders and led it along until he met a cart, into which, with the assistance of the driver, he managed to lift it. The crocodile made no resistance, but followed its captor as meekly as though it had been a tame dog tied to a  string. On subsequent examination it was found to have increased in size and weight during its spell of liberty, and to be, for a crocodile, in excellent health and spirits. What it was fed upon while roaming about the country, and how it had kept out of the cold during the chilly nights of May and June, are still mysteries to its owner, who has joyfully recovered possession of her truant.

 

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Regency Slang – Section A

I found this list of vocabulary and slang from The Regency Assembly Press, here. I’m only picking a few excerpts, so visit their site for the full list.

A Crush–A very successful party where there is no room to circulate.

A Trifle Disguised–Slightly drunk.

Abbess, or Lady Abbess–A bawd, the mistress of a brothel.

Abigail–A lady’s maid.

Abram–Naked.

Abram Men–Pretended mad men.

Ace of Spades–A widow.

Accounts, or To cast up one’s accounts–to vomit.

Acteon–A cuckold, from the horns planted on the head of Acteon by Diana.

Adam’s Ale–Water.

Admiral of the Narrow Seas–One who from drunkenness vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite to him.

Alderman–A roasted turkey garnished with sausages; the latter are supposed to represent the gold chain worn by those magistrates.

Ale Post–A may-pole.

All Nations–A composition of all the different spirits sold in a dram-shop, collected in a vessel into which the drainings of the bottles and quartern pots are emptied.

Altitudes–The man is in his altitudes, i.e–he is drunk.

Amen Curler–A parish clerk.

To Amuse–To fling dust or snuff in the eyes of the person intended to be robbed; also to invent some plausible tale, to delude shop-keepers and others, thereby to put them off their guard.

Amusers–Rogues who carried snuff or dust in their pockets, which they threw into the eyes of any person they intended to rob; and running away, their accomplices (pretending to assist and pity the half-blinded person) took that opportunity of plundering him.

Anglers–Pilferers, or petty thieves, who, with a stick having a hook at the end, steal goods out of shop-windows, grates, &c.; also those who draw in or entice unwary persons to prick at the belt, or such like devices.

Ankle–A girl who is got with child, is said to have sprained her ankle.

Ape-Drunk–Very drunk.

Ape-Leader–An old maid or spinster–Their punishment after death for failing to procreate, it was said, would be to lead apes in hell.

Apothecary–To talk like an apothecary; to use hard or gallipot words: from the assumed gravity and affectation of knowledge generally put on by the gentlemen of this profession, who are commonly as superficial in their learning as they are pedantic in their language.

Apple Dumplin Shop–A woman’s bosom.

Apron String Hold–An estate held by a man during his wife’s life.

Arbor Vitae–A man’s penis.

Ark Ruffians–Rogues who, in conjunction with watermen, robbed, and sometimes murdered, on the water, by picking a quarrel with the passengers in a boat, boarding it, plundering, stripping, and throwing them overboard, &c.

Arrah Now–An unmeaning expletive, frequently used by the vulgar Irish.

Article–A wench–A prime article–A handsome girl–She’s a prime article (Whip Slang), she’s a devilish good piece, a hell of a Goer.

Athansian Wench, or Quicunque Vult–A forward girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her.

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The Mystery of Jerome

I found this story on Futility Closet’s blog here.

“On Sept. 8, 1863, two boys discovered a legless man struggling on the beach at Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia. Coughing violently and suffering from exposure, he appeared to be in his late teens or early 20s, and he seemed unable or unwilling to respond to their inquiries.

“As the villagers nursed him back to health they found him angry and gloomy by nature, keeping his identity to himself. Rumors began to circulate: He was a Civil War veteran, a pirate, a spy, an exiled Habsburg, a murderer, a mutineer. His soft hands seemed to suggest high birth, but he had been found with only a tin box of hardtack and a jug of water, and he spoke neither English, Spanish, French, Italian, nor Latin. His legs had apparently been amputated by a skilled surgeon. As all attempts to communicate with him were unsuccessful, he came to be known simply as Jerome, after a response he had mumbled when asked his name.

“That’s the whole story. For the next 50 years Jerome was lodged with various local families, maintaining his silence despite endless inquiries from curiosity seekers. His identity was never discovered. When he died, finally, on April 15, 1912, theHalifax Morning Chronicle wrote, ‘The people in this vicinity have given up the solving of the great mystery that closed today in death, thus ending one of the greatest secrets that ever occurred on this continent.'”

According to Wikipedia, when he was found and was taken in by a local family, he got tired of being relentlessly questioned by neighbors–so he began growling like a dog at people to show his displeasure. He was taken in by a Baptist community, but since he “looked Mediterranean”, the family decided that Jerome was a Catholic, so they shipped him off to a French community nearby. The government of Nova Scotia also voted to give Jerome a stipend of $2 per week for his upkeep.

He never really spoke for the rest of his life, nor seemed particularly capable to understand speech. Some speculate that this is due to a rough backstory–if he can’t be made to speak, he can’t be made to explain anything–while others have speculated that he was suffering from some sort of brain injury that had damaged his language center. We’ll never know.

 

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Workman’s Compensation

I first saw this story on Futility Closet’s blog here. The original source was the General Evening Post, 30th January 1790.

“A fellow at Windsor, who lately ate a cat, has given another proof of the brutality of his disposition — an instance too ferocious and sanguinary, almost, to admit of public representation.

“He was at a public-house at Old Windsor, one day in the course of last week, and, without apparent cause, walked out of the house, and with a bill-hook severed his hand from his arm. His brutal courage was strongly marked in this transformation; for the inhuman monster made three strokes with the instrument before he could effect his purpose, and at last actually made a complete amputation. He asigns [sic] no other reason for this terrible self-attack than his total disinclination to work, and that this step will compel the overseers of his parish to provide for him during the remainder of his life.”

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The London Monster

Have y’all heard about this thoroughly odd criminal case from 1788-1790? The London Monster was a criminal assaulter who got his jolliest from piquerism, or the pricking, poking, or stabbing of other people with sharp objects (knives, needles, pins, etc.)

An artist’s rendering of the London Monster in 1790, based on the reports of alleged victims.

In 1788, a variety of reports came from people from mostly wealthy backgrounds: a strange man followed them around, shouted obscenities, and then stabbed them in the buttocks. According to Wikipedia, ‘Some reports claimed an attacker had knives fastened to his knees. Other accounts reported that he would invite prospective victims to smell a fake nosegay and then stab them in the face with the spike hiding within the flowers.’

More than 50 victims came forward over the course of two years, some of whom had slashed clothing and/or serious wounds when help arrived. Of course, the attacker was always long gone before anyone else approached.

It is speculated whether or not the attacker ever existed, or if the attacker only confined himself to a few victims, with the rest being self-inflicted or faked ‘copycat’ attacks. In part, this is because people soon realized that the London Monster tended to attack beautiful young women. Women therefore began attacking themselves, or claiming that they were attacked, to get sympathy or praise for their beauty.

Unsurprisingly, a large reward was offered for the Monster’s capture. Women started wearing pots and pans underneath their skirts to protect them from pricking. It quickly turned all kinds of Crucible up in here, with people accusing others or falsifying attacks to point the finger at people they didn’t like. The fear of the Monster became so endemic that some men even founded ‘No Monster’ clubs and began to wear pins and badges on their coats to show women that they were not the Monster, and that women could come near them safely.

Yeah, because the Monster totally wouldn’t use that to his advantage or anything.

In 1790, a 23-year old man, Rhynwick Williams, was arrested on suspicion of being the monster. A woman named Anne Porter identified him as a man who had pricked her. Her boyfriend followed Rhynwick Williams, grabbed him, and forced him back to Anne Porter for identification. She fainted upon being brought face to face with him, which was good enough evidence for her boyfriend.

Williams swore that he didn’t do it, although he admitted that he had once approached Porter; he didn’t touch her, however, and he had an alibi for the times of the other attacks. In the panicky climate–and especially with the Bow Street Runners catching all sorts of grief for not apprehending the Monster for two years–Williams was brought to trial. One supposed victim admitted at the trial that she had faked her attack, and there was little evidence to convict Williams. In light of this, he was granted a second trial.

The second trial was no better, though, and he was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison. The Monster’s attacks continued (although lessened slightly) while Williams was in prison. Many speculate that Williams was not the Monster, and some even suggest that the Monster didn’t exist at all–it was all hysteria.

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Edward Fitzgerald, 7th Duke of Leinster

Do you guys want another story about a debauched aristocrat? Of course you do! I’ve been reading Marcus Scriven’s Splendour & Squalor: The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties (2009), and have discovered the rather remarkable, decadent life of Edward Fitzgerald, 7th Duke of Leinster (1892-1976). All quotations will come from that book.

As he lived through the 1970s, his life is generally outside my usual range of focus (the long nineteenth century). However, he got up to plenty of nonsense before the first world war, so he counts!

In no particular order, a few facts about his life:

-As a boy, he attended Eton (naturally). “Amongst the personal possession he kept in the ottoman in his room at Eton were a number of live snakes” (14).

-One incident at his family home when he was a teenager, “he disturbed his family – assembling for breakfast on an austere winter morning – with the sound of repeated gunfire, which was seemingly coming from the rookery at the side of the house . . . . Everyone rushed out and saw Eddie shooting into thin air. They said ‘What the hell are you doing?’ Eddie said, ‘I’m just keeping my hands warm.'” (14).

-His two best friends were a pair of aristocratic brothers, one nicknamed ‘Whisky’ Cole and the other Horace de Vere Cole. They used to love to gamble with each other. Horace Cole once bet Edward that “he could lie down in the street without attracting a crowd“. Edward accepted the bet, and then promptly lost when Horace curled up underneath a parked car where no one could see him. (23).

-Horace Cole was a notorious practical joker and achieved notoriety by “inspecting the Home Fleet at Portsmouth whilst in the guise of an Eastern potentate” (endnote 17, p. 351).

-Edward also once gambled the equivalent of three-years’ income (£3,000) that he could drive from London to Aberdeen in fifteen hours or under. Though it would only take about eight or nine hours by modern standards, in the 1910s, this was a hugely difficult feat with unreliable cars and one-track roads. “Driving an open-top Rolls – and accompanied by a wolfhound”, Edward managed the drive in only thirteen hours (despite taking two seriously wrong turns on the way). In winning the bet, he also got “vehement condemnation in the House of Commons for recklessness, as well as attracting the attention of at least one local constabulary. Summonsed for failing to produce his license, he notched up two speeding fines the following week” (38).

-Edward was very close with his mother’s sister, Cynthia, who attempted to protect him from the worst of his follies over the years. She rarely succeeded. “During his courtship [with his first wife May], largely conducted in fashionable restaurants, Edward found that his evenings were prone to a pattern of sabotage, with Cynthia sending notes to him from another table. Later, on his return from a voyage to New Zealand and Honolulu (intended, by the family, to distract him from his unsuitable finacee), Cynthia was waiting for his ship to dock in Liverpool. Assisted by Desmond [Edward’s older brother], she marched him straight on to a train, before he could see his fiancee or his friend, Captain ‘Whisky’ Cole, both of whom had also been waiting for him” (19).

-May was also on the train that Aunt Cynthia had shoved Edward on. He managed to sneak away from his aunt for a few minutes to visit May’s compartment “and assured her that he would see her that night. He kept his word, arriving at her house in dishevelled stat after dark; he had, he said, been locked into his bedroom at the FitzGerald house in Belgravia, but had escaped by shinning down a drainpipe” (25).

-When he first met May, who was a chorus girl, Edward was largely attracted to her because “he sensed [she] was a girl to break rules with” (24). He later said, “May was more than pretty. She was tiny, dark, and looked like an angel. Other people envied my being with her, and that pleased my vanity. I saw her again and again. I was fond of her, she liked me. Her interest flattered me. She was gay, too, and adorable. But . . . I was not in love with her” (24-25).

-Edward largely married May because he was stubborn and his family kicked up a fuss. Edward said, “I would probably not have married her if my family had not acted as they did” (25). But they tried to stop him seeing her, so he had to get REVENGE, even at the expense of his and May’s own happiness. Their marriage was not a happy one.

-“He doled out a cascade of jewellery, not to May, but to the programme girls at the theatre, considering this an appropriate way to reward them for taking billet doux to May backstage. The charm of the technique was slightly lost on the FitzGeralds when they learned that Edward’s gifts were family jewels. May retrieved them – and kept them” (25).

-On the day of their wedding, the marriage caused an absolute sensation–a young rich duke, marrying a chorus girl?!?! The paparazzi followed them everywhere and they had to leave the registry office by a side entrance and climb over two walls in order to get to the street and escape the press. Edward said, “May was game for anything. She clutched her bouquet in one hand, her handbag in the other while I called her over” (26). They they jumped in a taxi and avoided the following press cars by urging the taxi driver to make a dangerous U-turn.

-After their wedding, Edward loaded May up with booze to soothe her nerves, told her he wasn’t about to waste money in getting them a hotel, and dropped her back off at her house, while he went back to his family home. She didn’t see him for the next two days, after which point he showed up spontaneously at her door and said, “Come on, I’ve got the [honeymoon] tickets. We’re going.” (27).

-“During the brief, hopeless marriage that followed, Edward showed himself at his worst: callow, selfish, inconsiderate. The honeymoon in Canada, for example, was arranged solely with his interests in mind – an amalgam of property deals, fishing and moose-shooting. Most of it was spent at a lakeside hut of spartan purity, almost unfurnished except for an iron bed marooned in a room with wooden floorboards and wooden walls. Supplies were brought in periodically by motor-boat” (26).

-He refused to introduce May to his family. She ultimately met them once, and it was a very tense afternoon.

-May once asked him “if she would soon be taken across to Buckingham Palace to be presented to the Royal Family. Edward [replied] that he had made ‘sufficient fool’ of himself by marrying her without needing to give anyone the opportunity to comment” (27).

-Edward and May quickly overspent their income and were forced to give up their flat and move in with May’s grandmother for a while.  Soon after, they found a pet-shop “whose owners proved gratifyingly accommodating. They produced a lemur . . . and fifteen monkeys in time for the move …. Unfortunately for May’s grandmother, the monkey phase, although beginning to peter out, continued when May and Edward took refuge with her …. The Brixton bathroom coped as well as it could with eight monkeys (seven having been returned to the pet-shop), but was eventually not equal to the struggle, and was abandoned. ‘The smell,’ May recalled, ‘was simply terrible’. A chimpanzee, procured for £50, followed. Edward dressed it in red trousers, jersey and hat, and insisted that it ate with them, whether in Britxton (where it had its own high-chair) or at the hotel or restaurant where they were having dinner. It, in turn, was succeeded by snakes – his old Eton favourite – which were given the run of the couple’s room … ‘and then a fox cub which, at Edward’s insistence, May carried under her arm when walking down Regent Street” (27-28).

-May became pregnant in 1913, The night before she gave birth, “Edward had decided that his wife should accompany him to the boxing at the Ring in Blackfriar’s Road” (28). She gave birth the next morning at 6 a.m. to a little boy named Gerald. Edward immediately got into a car and ran away.

-Gerald’s birth signaled the end of his parents’ marriage. When they split up, Edward insisted that Gerald be taken away from May and raised by Edward’s Aunt Adelaide in Ireland, as it would be a more stable upbringing than either of them could provide the boy. Part of May’s alimony included a clause that she was never to see Gerald again. Edward almost never visited Gerald, to the point that when they were forced to meet years later, they were almost complete strangers to each other.

-About five years after the divorce, when Gerald was about nine or ten, May killed herself by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.

-At this point, Edward got really into racing cars, “an activity from which he derived unusual pleasure, perhaps because of his impregnable indifference to the terror of his passengers” (29).

-It goes without saying that Edward got into an enormous amount of debt in order to pay for his fun and carefree lifestyle. Like many rich wastrels, his incessant spending jeopardized the family estate. He became acquainted with an aristocratic moneylender named Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley, with whom Edward made the following deal (to the horror of his estate’s trustees): Mallaby-Deeley agreed to pay off all of Edwards debts (the equivalent of £16.4 million in today’s money), and Mallaby-Deeley would also pay Edward an allowance of £1,000 per year for the rest of his life. In return, Mallaby-Deeley would receive all the income from all of Edward’s estates (and all estates entailed to the dukedom)–worth roughly £50,000 per year (at the time), as well as the right to use the great houses whenever Mallaby-Deeley wanted. Of course, Edward forgot to account for inflation. £1,000 a year was a lot of money in the first decades of the century, but it eventually became barely enough for him to survive on. (36) In later years, he tried to “supplement his annual £1,000 allowance by polishing stair rails” (54), although he frequently forgot to show up to work.

-“It was an exercise in futility: by 1936 Edward had notched up his third bankruptcy, owing £139,233. As usual, he was borrowing at fearsome rates of interest. One creditor lent £50, but later claimed £3,075; another demanded £10,000 in repayment for a £2,000 loan” (40).

-Edward then met a conman named Gilbert Marsh, who talked Edward into going to America to woo American heiresses. It was quite stylish, from the 1870s onward, for American girls to gain aristocratic titles and rejuvenate ramshackle estates with their influx of cash. When Edward landed a rich wife, he’d pay off the men who funded his trip. There were several prospective brides: “an Egyptian woman with a weakness for all-in wrestling . . . . Margaret Brown, a widow who was much older than him . . . Mildred Logan, another widow . . . who had seven Rolls-Royces – one for each day of the week” (42). He proposed to Mrs Logan, who was attractive and athletic. However, Edward sensed that she wouldn’t let him get away with his previous lifestyle, so after being engaged to her for several months, he took a bit of a vacation away from her in New York and ended up proposing to another young woman he had known for three weeks, who had no money and was already married to someone else. Her name was Rafaelle van Neck, and she accepted his proposal despite her still very-much-alive husband. I’m not sure if her husband died soon thereafter, or if she divorced him, but she and Edward soon married.

-His marriage to Rafaelle was just as disastrous as his marriage to May. They were plagued by money worries and by Edward’s absolute need to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. “They moved seventeen times in three years” (44). He deserted her several times, leaving her stranded while he went to have adventures and party.

-“Edward’s taste for avoiding things, combined with his appetite for pepping himself up with new female acquaintances, soon finished off the marriage” (45). One day he and Rafaelle were having lunch and she asked him if he was sure he wanted to move to a new house; if so, she would sign the lease that day. He said yes, he was sure. She went off and signed the lease, only to receive a letter shortly thereafter . . . from the husband she had just left in the dining room an hour before. He had apparently taken his dogs and his car and fled the house. He was leaving her, but couldn’t be bothered to say anything at lunch. (45-46).

-Not too long after, he met another former chorus girl (who was seven years older than him) named Denise Orme (called Jo). Jo was a celebrated beauty whose figure was so astonishing that (years later) when her granddaughter walked in on her having a physical examination with a doctor once, she was absolutely stunned by her grandmother’s breasts. Jo was exactly the sort of person Edward needed. She was great fun and had a remarkable talent for keeping easily bored people entertained. She had been married before and wasn’t in a huge rush to be married again. She was also extremely good with money and managed to save Edward from himself on several occasions.

-After several years together, Edward eventually married Jo. Unmarried, their relationship seemed to work. Married, he instantly went back to philandering. He would make up for it by resorting to petty theft to provide Jo with presents. Eventually he met a woman named Yvonne Probyn, but she was more conservative than the other women he was used to and she refused to be just a good time on the side. He liked Yvonne enough to ask Jo for a divorce, but Jo refused. So Edward talked Yvonne into getting pregnant because Jo “would never stand in the way of a child.” (52). Jo, however, felt that being a duchess was something she had earned for putting up with all of Edward’s shit, so she did refuse a divorce. Edward an Yvonne’s son Adrian was born out of wedlock in 1952 (52-53).

-Jo finally got sick of Edward’s shit when he scammed money from her in 1956, especially because he had kept Yvonne as a mistress on the side. They separated but remained married until Jo’s death in 1960.

-After Jo’s death, instead of marrying Yvonne and legitimizing their son, as he had promised to do, he proposed again to his second wife, Rafaelle, who was smart enough to refuse him. Five years later, he married a waitress named Vivien, who was another long-term girlfriend. Their marriage lasted until his death about ten years later.

 

-He became very unkempt as he got older, to the point that many people refused to believe he was a duke.  “He looked like a gamekeeper . . . . he favoured ‘filthy old corduroys and a sloppy old jersey‘, and was often, remembers one of his step-granddaughters, ‘mistaken for the gardener’. By the 1950s, he occasionally varied his ‘terribly scruffy’ appearance by favouring ‘hideously old fashioned clothes, double-breasted [suits] with huge lapels'” (22).

-“A girlfriend (later his fourth wife) was made aware of this when Edward took her out for dinner on her birthday in the 1950s. The restaurant staff, noticing his unkempt appearance and tired suit, had initially been disinclined to believe that he was a duke; he retaliated by ignoring his plate and eating his food straight from the serving dishes” (21).

-“At the age of seventy-three, he was asked why he had married so often. ‘Four? It’s not so many for my age,’ he replied, still the schoolboy hoping to shock” (21).

-One of Edward’s step-granddaughters remembers attending with Edward a talk and slide show given by an ornithologist. When the talk was over and the ornithologist asked if there were any questions, Edward asked loudly, “Do you have blue tits?” (21). Because he was always a giant child.

-In 1975, a year before his death, he decided to take up his duties in the House of Lords–something he had never done in all his time as a peer. He announced that he would attend sessions two or three times per week and would even speak occasionally on (bafflingly) “whales, porpoises, animals, that sort of thing” (59). He assumed they would pay him to speak, and that there would be money in making speeches. He attended Lords precisely once, and never made a speech–about porpoises or otherwise.

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Josslyn Victor Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll

I’m reading Marcus Scriven’s Splendour & Squalor: The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties (2009), and boy do I have a fun story for you today.

At the end of the book, Scrivens includes an endnote (no. 2, p.349):

‘Edgar Vincent (1857-1941), 1st and last Viscount D’Abernon . . . was ambassador in Berlin from 1920 to 1926. His private secretary for his first two years in post was Josslyn (‘Joss’) Victor Hay, later the 22nd Earl of Erroll, who subsequently resigned from the Diplomatic Service, embraced (and, possibly, renounced) National Socialism, settled (perhaps not the right word) in Kenya, where he was horse-whipped outside Nairobi railway station by Major Cyril Ramsay-Hill (whose wife he later married) and was murdered on 24 January 1941.

WE HAVEN’T HAD A GOOD HORSEWHIPPING ON THIS BLOG IN SO LONG

But sheezus that is one jam-packed endnote.

Like most good aristocrats of his time (1901-1941), his family was distinguished but impoverished. Also like most good aristocrats, he got kicked out of Eton.

Joss was supposed to follow his father’s footsteps into diplomacy (Joss had passed the Foreign Office exam, after all), but that was quickly shot to shit in his early twenties when he met and fell in love with Lady Idina Sackville. She was married at the time and almost a decade older than Joss. 

Idina had previous form, too. About four years previously, she left her first husband, Captain Euan Wallace and married Captain Charles Gordon. I’m unclear whether she left Euan for Charles, but she married Charles almost the red-hot second her divorce was clear, so it’s possible.

This brings us to four years later, when she met Joss and presumably left her second husband for him. They had one daughter and their marriage lasted for seven years before they divorced. Apparently she left him because he had accumulated a great number of debts and was swindling her. Joss married again almost instantly and, again, true to form, Idina was also remarried (to husband number four) shortly after the divorce. Marriage to husband number four lasted for eight years and ended in divorce.

And then (sing it if you know the words) within the year she was married to husband number five. Their marriage lasted seven years before they divorced (there was no husband number six lined up, however, and she died nine years after that).

ANYWAY, BACK TO JOSS

He and his second wife lived in Kenya amongst a group of wealthy expats known as ‘The Happy Valley Set‘. They were known for their exceptionally debauched lifestyle–they were hard-drinking, drug-taking, promiscuous, debt-riddled, the whole shebang.

In the mid-’30s, Joss joined the British Union of Fascists and became a super fanboy of Hitler. It goes without saying that he was also a rabid anti-Semite. Charming.

In 1939, his second wife died (I’m not sure how). But within the year, Joss was having an affair with Lady Diana Broughton, the wife of Sir Jock Delves Broughton, Baronet.

Sir Jock (I’m sorry, that is the most ridiculous name. It’s like you’ve asked middle schoolers to write a play about the Middle Ages) found out about his wife’s affair with Joss. Shortly thereafter, Joss was found shot dead in his car. Sir Jock was the prime suspect and was arrested for the murder. However, there were no witnesses to the murder, the evidence they had on Sir Jock didn’t really stand up in a court of law, and Sir Jock’s barber was the foreman of the jury and therefore not exactly impartial.

He was acquitted of the murder, but committed suicide a year later.

Meanwhile, Joss’s 15-year old daughter, Diana, whom he had with Idina, inherited his earldom  and became the 23rd Countess of Erroll (in one of the rare instances where a title and estate passed through the female line). She died young, as well, at age 52, but the cause of her death has never been revealed by the family.

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