The Tichborne Claimant
A Victorian SensationBook - 2006
The extraordinary case in 1874 of the Tichborne Claimant generated the longest trial, to that point, in British legal history. Was the stout man claiming to be the vanished Sir Roger Tichborne really who he said he was; or was he Arthur Orton, a butcher from Wagga Wagga in Australia? Was he the public school educated rightful heir to a landed estate or an ill-educated fraud? Why, if he was a fraud, had the dowager Lady Tichborne recognised him? And what was the truth about his tattoo?
The trial mesmerised the British public and led to furious debate, to the extent that several newspapers were devoted entirely to the case and a Tichbornite candidate won a seat in Parliament. The case divided the nation along political, religious and social lines, and the campaign for justice for the Claimant proved a focus for political activism between the defeat of the Chartists and rise of the Labour Party.