Saturday, May 12, 2012

WHO MURDERED LITTLE FRANCIS?

Constance Kent.

Middle-class Samuel Kent was married to Mary, his second wife and former mistress, and they had a child called Francis.

At the same time, Samuel was having a relationship with Francis's nursemaid Elizabeth Gough.

Samuel's daughter, Constance Kent, confessed to a priest that, at the age of 16, she murdered three-year-old Francis.

Samuel Kent

Constance and her brother William were children of Samuel Kent's first marriage.

Constance had a very close relationship with her brother, William Saville-Kent, whom some suspected was involved in the murder of Francis.

William Kent.

There were questions over the honesty of 'the confession' and whether or not Samuel had played a role in forcing the confession.  When the confession was made, Constance was a pupil at a Roman Catholic school.  Reverend Arthur Wagner, the principal of the school, gave the authorities Contance's "handwritten confession". (Constance KENT.)
 
Constance spent 20 years in jail.

The murder of Francis took place in England, in 1860.

In the period 1840-1860, there had been 5 'cut-throat murders' in the area where Francis lived. (Constance KENT.)
 
"Constance emigrated to Australia early in 1886 and joined her brother William in Tasmania, where he worked as a government adviser on fisheries. 

"She changed her name to Ruth Emilie Kaye and trained as a nurse at the Alfred Hospital, Prahran, Melbourne, before being appointed sister-in-charge of the Female Lazaret at the Coast Hospital, Little Bay, in Sydney. 

"She worked for a decade at the Parramatta Industrial School for Girls from 1898 to 1909, was domiciled in the New South Wales country town of Mittagong for a year, and was then made matron of the Pierce Memorial Nurses' Home at East Maitland." 




In The Guardian (Review.), Ian Rankin has written about Kate Summerscale's book on the murder of little Francis: 

"The murder of a small boy at Road Hill House shocked Britain and was a cause célèbre... Dickens was intrigued by it, Wilkie Collins and others borrowed from it...

"On the morning of Saturday June 30 1860, Saville Kent, aged three years and 10 months, was found to be missing from his bed at Road Hill House, on the edge of the village of Road (these days renamed Rode), on the border between Wiltshire and Somerset. Before long his body was discovered by servants..."

Whicher

For Scotland Yard detective Jack Whicher, "the prime suspect was Saville's half-sister Constance, aged 16 at the time...

"One particular story in Constance's past suggested to him that she might be leading a double life. 

"Four years previously, she had run away from home accompanied by her brother William. Before leaving, she had gone into the same outdoor privy (where Francis was found dead) to change into a boy's clothes, cropping her hair at the same time." 

Whicher believed Constance was jealous of her younger sibling. 

Whicher was widely criticised by the media and retired from the police.

Much of the media believed that Samuel Kent and Elizabeth Gough had murdered Francis after he had seen them in bed together.

"But in 1865, a year after his retirement, Constance walked into Bow Street magistrates court to confess to the crime." 

~

1 comment:

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