In the second half of the nineteenth century, Victorian England was enthralled by the case of the Tichborne Claimant. In 1866, a butcher from the rural Australian town of Wagga Wagga arrived in London claiming to be the missing heir to the Tichborne Baronetcy and its accompanying fortune. The case quickly generated interest and the claimant drew fervent support from the general public and adamant detractors from England’s high society. The civil and criminal trials that followed were the longest trials in British legal history and remained so well into the twentieth century. The courts eventually rejected the claimant’s petition and he was found guilty of perjury. Even with the trials over and the claimant behind bars, the debate surrounding his true identity remained on the tip of every tongue in London.
Tarlton Law Library is fortunate to have a large collection of materials related to the Tichborne Claimant including newspapers, broadsides, fiction, and film. For more on the fascinating case visit http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/exhibits/spotlight/tichborne/ or stop by the Special Collections Department.