|When writers dressed to impress - Baroness Orczy|
Most of the stories in The Old Man in the Corner - The Teahouse Detective by Baroness Orczy involved court cases the man in the corner attended.There was a case of particular interest to me in the book. The Dublin Mystery involved allegations of the forgery of a will, the death of the maker of the will, Millionaire Brooks and the murder of the solicitor who prepared the will all in the same day.
The older, Percival, was “good-looking, more so than his brother; he, too, rode, danced and talked well”. He had an “infatuation for Maisie Fortescue, a lady of undoubted charm but very doubtful antecedents.”
The previous will had bequeathed the business of Mr. Brooks to Murray with £2,000 to be paid annually to Percival from the business and the remainder of the estate to be divided equally between the sons.
There was a civil trial over the will which found forgery of the will when both witnesses to the will said the signatures upon the presented were not their own.
(Were it today there would have been experts who analyzed the handwriting to provide their opinions on whether there was forgery and potentially who had actually filled in the will and made the signatures. In the early 1900’s there were experts in handwriting analysis but I am not sure if they appeared in English courts. Then, as now, experts were not always reliable. In 1894 Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of espionage partly on the evidence of Alphonse Bertillon, a man who was allowed to give his opinions on handwriting though he was not a handwriting expert.)
A subsequent criminal trial of Percival for forgery failed when it was shown Percival had the will he presented for probate for less than half an hour before he gave it to his solicitors and that Mr. Brooks had confided to two people before he died that he had given the new will to Mr. Wethered.
Orczy, Baroness - (2020) - The Old Man in the Corner - The Teahouse Detective