A case of mistaken identity in a tunnel, or a very adept thief?


Mr Richard Chorley of Seymour Place , Bryanston Square (an elegant address in Westminster) was traveling back to London on the Paddington train from Taunton. At Bristol a respectably dressed young woman seated herself next to  Chorley and ‘leant against his side’.

As the Great Western train entered a tunnel shortly after Bristol Mr Chorley had placed his handkerchief on his knee. It was early in the morning (about 4 o’clock) and much of the carriage was asleep. When the train emerged from the tunnel the handkerchief was gone, someone must have taken it and Chorley suspected his neighbour.

Her name was Miss Maria Williams and Chorley asked her directly if she had removed it. She denied it but on arrival at Paddington he handed her over to the authorities to be searched. Nothing was found but he was convinced she had something to do with the theft.

The next day Chorley and Miss Williams were in the Marylebone Police Court where he charged her with sealing his property. The railway had its own police and one of them (Chillman, No’ 13) appeared to give his evidence of having searched her to no effect. Miss Williams told the court that there were ’25 to 30′ persons in the carriage she and Chorley has shared, so anyone of them might have taken his item.

She protested her innocence and complained at the way she had been treated, as well she might. The magistrate discharged her but she hinted darkly that she might be seeking compensation for the trouble she had suffered at Mr Chorley’s hands.

[from The Morning Chronicle, Friday, August 22, 1845]

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