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The Grove, Sawston Road, Stapleford

History of the Grove

1901 OS map


Dr Harris, of the Grove, Stapleford, was peculiar. Opening with the 5th of February this year, when the trap delivered his baggage for the first time in Stapleford, Dr Harris seems to have carried on in
high style by virtue of sheer audacity and bounce, driving about in a trap that did not belong to him, with a horse for which he had not paid and driven by a servant, who by some rule contrary to that
generally governing such persons was content apparently to work without wages. Their orders were for the “best of everything” and local tradesmen – for a time – regularly deposited their goods at the Doctor’s door and came away sweetly hoping for a day of reckoning. Some of them tried the reckoning without getting anything, others got more than was wanted of the wrong kind of settlement

When you mention the name of Dr Harris to the head of the firm of Hunnybun and son, coachbuilders of Cambridge, his genial face beams. On 24th February Harris bought a governess car, neglecting, however to pay over the shekels. Within a week he came back with the cart and exchanged it for a phaeton. But Messrs Hunnybun are “canny” men. They sent a man with a polite note to the Doctor stating that the wheels of the phaeton they found were not altogether right in some small detail, would the Doctor allow them to rectify the fault. The faulty wheeled – and unpaid for – phaeton revolved on those wheels to Sidney Street, and never rolled back again

(from Mike Petty Stapleford Scrapbook)

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal – 10/9/1897

SERIOUS CHARGES OF FRAUD, At the West London Police court last Friday, Mr. Rose proceeded with charges preferred against Theophilus Turner, a doctor medicine, of 34 Talbot Road Bayswater, and Ella Macdonald, who had been known as Lady Macdonald, residing in the same house, for incurring debts and liabilities with a number of tradesmen, with intent to cheat and defraud – Mr Colbeck prosecuted for the Treasurer; and Mr Pierron defended.

Mr Colbeck said the fraud would prove to be one of some magnitude. If it were necessary he could trace a period of 25 years during which the man had pursued a career of crime. In order to carry out their frauds it was necessary to take a house of respectability in a district of some standing. Consequently Dr. Turner took a house in Clarendon Road, Notting Hill, and while there he obtained goods from a local tradesman, and never paid for them. he represented himself to be a doctor in practice. he was afterwards traced to 34 Talbot Road, a house with a rental of £75 a year, and obtained possession of these premises in this way. He approached Mr Whiteley, who had the letting of the house, driving up to his establishment, as was his custom, in a carriage, and asked to be allowed to inspect some houses. He selected the one in Talbot Road and gave as references “Lady Hamilton” of Hampton Lodge, Doddington Oxford, and a Mrs Smith of 3 Bethel Road, Stoke Newington. “Lady Hamilton” wrote stating that she had known Dr Turner for some time, that he was a man holding a responsible position, and would be a desirable tenant. he was given possession of the houser, and while there carried on a system of fraud.

Mr Rose: Were the references true ones?

Mr Colbeck said he would be able to prove that they were entirely false. he could produce witnesses from almost every county in England top prove the connections and associations of both of the prisoners. The same story would be told – house after house was taken, debt after debt was contracted, and no tradesmen were paid. She had been known as Lady Graham and Lady Hamilton, while the man had been posing as the Rev.W.Turner, first as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, and secondly as a clergyman of the Church of England; and he not only posed as such, but acted as such in church, although he had never taken priest’s orders. When the first quarter’s rent of the house in Talbot Road became due, he was found negotiating for the rental of a residence. The Grove, Langley, near Slough, with a rental of £75 a year, and three acres of ground. The negotiations fell through because the references were not satisfactory. When he was arrested he had in his possession a diploma belonging to Dr H G B Harris, who died in 1892, and if necessary he (Mr Colbeck) could call Theophilus B Turner, a medical gentleman. the Prisoner dropped the initial “B”, and with Dr Harris’s diploma and been able to perpetuate a number of frauds. He (Mr Colbeck) would challenge Mr.Pierron to prove that the woman was lady Macdonald or that she was any other than Mrs. Craig and he plain Frederick Henry Turner.

Mr Pierron said he made the statement at the express instruction of the female prisoner, and if it was incorrect he must express his regret.

Mr Colbeck said he only supposed that Mr Pierron was carrying out his instructions. It was his intention to formulate charges against the prisoners for taking on different horses.

Alfred Crichton, who carried on the business of jeweller in the name of CrichtonBrothers, at Old Bond Street, was called, and stated that on the 6th August last the male prisoner drove up to his shop in a carriage and asked to see some diamond rings.he represented himself to be a doctor of medicine, and alluded to a conversation which took place between them on the roof of an omnibus some time ago and mentioned that he was a customer of the Kensington shop. He selected a ring worth £20 and witness allowed him to have it on credit, he promising to pay in September, when his money would become due. Witness was not impressed by the prisoner driving up in a carriage, and allowed him to have credit by his representing that he was a customer.

An assistant to Frederick Holland, grocer of Holland Park Road, spoke to an account being opened at the shop by Dr Turner, for “Lady MacDonald.” he spoke of her always as her Ladyship. The money for the supply of goods was never paid, although repeated applications were made. Eventually, Dr Turner showed the caller the door, and threatened to send for a policeman.

Other evidence having been given of duping tradespeople, another remand was ordered.

The case was again proceeded with on Tuesday, when William page, of the White Lion Hotel, Banbury, deposed that in May last the male prisoner called at the hotel with three ladies. he wanted a brougham to go out shopping and a good luncheon. he with the ladies drove in the carriage for an house and a half and returned and had luncheon, for which he never paid. he said he was “Dr Turner” of Doddington, and would pay in a few days.

Henry Flowers, a butcher, of High Street, Banbury, proved having parted with several joints of meat to Turner, who drove to his shop in a carriage, and represented that he was going to take Ascot House, Hempton Lodge not being large enough for his requirements.

Mr George Codgins, solicitor and clerk to the Doddington justices, produced the depositions of proceedings at the police court at Doddington, when Turner was proceeded against for fraud, and for an assault upon Mr Bolton, a grocer.In a cross summons for an assault against Bolton, Turner was sworn and said he was an MD of Brussels, and a MRCS of St George’s London. The woman was called as a witness on his behalf. She then described herself as “Elise Hamilton, widow of Sir George Hamilton,” a judge in India. She stated that she had known Dr Turner for several years. Witness saw the prisoner later at Hempton Lodge and drew his attention to the name Theophilus Turner in the medical register. He replied that he had not been registered for 20 years, that he was not in practice, and his wife had private means. he had though about taking Ascot House a short distance away, but he could not go there as some one had been saying things about him. he also stated that he had “Lady Hamilton” staying with him; he was expecting “Lady Graham” and another lady of title.

Gertrude Poole, of Queen’s Road, Notting Hill, in whose house the prisoners lived for a few days in the early part of June, said she heard the man speak of the woman as “Lady Hamilton.” Witness knew Turner three years ago.

Mr Colbeck: As the Reverend Turner? Witness: I think so, but cannot remember. he wore clerical attire at that time.

Mr E Moore, owner of 34 Talbot Road, which was let to Turner, said one of the references he received was from ‘Lady Hamilton” who wrote stating that he Turner was a desirable tenant. In July last Turner called upon him snd said he was “Dr Harris” from Dr Turner, and came to complain of the sanitary arrangements of 34. talbot Road, adding that two lady patients had left in consequence. He inquired the name of the medical officer of health, and witness supplied him with the information, Dr Duffield. The man thereupon replied. “Oh yes, I was at college with him.” [Laughter.]

Other evidence having been given another remand was ordered.

The prisoner Turner has been identified as being the same person who, as Dr Harris, took up residence early this year at The Grove, Stapleford, and contracted depts with various tradesmen in Cambridge.

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal – 24/9/1897


At the West London Police Court Wednesday, Mr. Rose proceeded finally with the numerous charges of fraud preferred against Theophilus Turner, aged 69, alias Dr. Turner and the Rev. Mr. Turner, and the woman Ella Macdonald, who was known as Lady Macdonald, Lady Hamilton, and Lady Graham.

Their operandi, it will remembered, to take large houses in London and in various parts country, to drive up to business establishments in well-equipped carriages, and obtain goods on credit. They never, it is alleged, paid any rent, and the various tradespeople were also defrauded out of their money.

Mr Colbeck again prosecuted for the Treasurer: and Mr H Pierron represented the prisoners.

Witnesses on this occasion were called to prove the identity of the prisoners.

Mr. Theophilus Bryett Turner, MRCS, late of Charing Cross Hospital, and residing at 7 Warminster Road, South Norwood, and whom the male prisoner had impersonated, said he (witness) was qualified in 1869, and thought he was the only Theophilus Turner. [Laughter.]

Albert Joseph Martin, clerk to the medical school of St George’s Hospital, negatived the prisoner’s representation that he was a doctor of medicine of that institution.

Mr Robert Long, Mayor of Newbury Berks, said he had known the male prisoner since a boy, his name being Frederick Henry Turner. he called upon witness twenty years ago, and then left a visiting card, on which was printed his name, the Rev. Dr Turner.

Emily Craig, a widow, identified the female prisoner as Harriet Ada Craig. Witness and the prisoner married two brothers. Since the prisoner’s widowhood, witness had allowed her £12 a year.

Mr Colbeck: You do not know of her since the death of her husband having become Lady Hamilton or Lady Macdonald?

Witness: No.

Evidence was next given to show how the man obtained the medical diploma, belonging to the late Mr. Henry George B. Harris, M.R.C.S., which was in his possession on the occasion of his arrest. It was proved that after Mr. Harris’s death the prisoner drove up in a carriage and pair to 28, York Street, Portman Square, where he (Mr Harris) had lodged, and saw Mrs Rush, the landlady. He represented himself to be a relative of the late Mr Harris, and asked to be allowed to have his deeds and belongings. She parted with the things, he giving her a written undertaking to pay her £20. She had not received a penny of that money.

The many letters produced and purporting to be written by Lady Macdonald, Dr Harris and Dr Turner were sworn to be in the handwriting of the prisoners.

Mr Rose committed the prisoners for trial.


At the Old Bailey, Theophilius Turner, describe as a surgeon, who in the spring resided at Stapleford Grove as Dr Harris and did business with several Cambridge tradesmen, and Ella Macdonald, stated to be well connected, were indicted for conspiracy. The female prisoner at once pleaded guilty but the male prisoner waited until the case had been opened and evidence called before admitting his guilt

(Mike Petty – Stapleford Scrapbook)


George Albert Short, 24, living on own means, b London

Lily Ethel, 21, b Herts

Ethel June, 6 mos, b Stapleford

George Short, father, 70, living on own means, b London

Eliza, mother, 55, b Herts

Ada Gibb, servant, 21, b Castle Camps


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