# 37030

FEARNE, William (photographer) (attributed)

[TICHBORNE CASE] T. Castros butcher’s shop, Wagga Wagga. The famous Tichborne Claimant.

$150.00 AUD

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[Title from printed caption]. Wagga Wagga, NSW : Hunter Bros., [ca. 1904]. Lithographic postcard (after an original photograph), 87 x 137 mm; recto inscribed by the sender ‘All good wishes from the Sackville Tribe’; verso with undivided back, mailed from Wagga Wagga to Brisbane with postmark dated 22 December 1904; in very good condition.

The photograph reproduced on this rare early postcard apparently ‘… depicts the supposed butcher’s shop operated by the infamous Tichborne Claimant, Tom Castro. In fact, it was a business that was dressed to look like a butcher’s shop by enterprising commercial photographer William Fearne.’ (Museum of the Riverina)

Trove locates no examples of this postcard in Australian libraries. 

The case of the Tichborne claimant produced two of the most celebrated British trials of the nineteenth century. In 1865 the false claimant in the case, an impostor called Arthur Orton who was living in Wagga Wagga under the name Tom Castro, claimed that he was in fact the English aristocrat Sir Roger Tichborne, who had supposedly been lost at sea (in the ship “Bella”) ten years earlier. Although the massive inheritance had passed in the meantime to Sir Roger’s younger brother and nephew, Sir Roger’s mother, the Dowager Lady Tichborne, refused to believe that her elder son was dead. It was in response to Lady Tichborne’s persistent enquiries for confirmation that her son might still be alive that Orton made his claim to the Tichborne baronetcy through a lawyer. In spite of the fact that he bore little resemblance to Sir Roger and could not speak a word of French (Sir Roger was fluent), Lady Tichborne paid for his passage back to England in order to be reunited with him. Bizarrely, she accepted him as her son, as did several of Tichborne’s old acquaintances. Orton was duly given an allowance of 1000 pounds a year. However, following Lady Tichborne’s death in 1868, a group of family members and friends of Sir Roger began to seriously challenge the claimant’s identity. It was discovered that his real name was Arthur Orton, and that he was a butcher’s son from Wapping. In 1871, after a 102 day trial to determine his true identity, Orton was charged with perjury, and in 1874, after another marathon 188 day trial, he was found guilty of this charge and sentenced to 14 years’ hard labour. In his penurious final years, he gave a full written confession, which he strangely later retracted before his death in 1898.