Moat Farm Murder

EADT 1903




Samuel Herbert Dougal, late master of the Moat Farm, Clavering, appeared (for the third time before the County Magistrates at Saffron DOUGAL. Treasury (who are conducting this prosecution), Samuel Herbert Dougal, late master of the Moat Farm, Clavering, appeared (for the third time before the County Magistrates at Saffron Walden on Thursday morning on a charge of forgery. The prisoner, it is alleged by the Treasury (who are conducting this prosecution), forged a cheque £28 13s., payable to J. Heath - a fictitious personage according to the Treasury counsel—bearing the date August 28th, 1901. and purporting to be drawn by Miss Camille Holland, a lady about 60 years old, with whom Dougal lived at various places in ths South of England, including the lonely farmhouse standing on a stretch of barren moorland near Clavering. Miss Holland left Moat Farm after about three weeks’ residence there, and since that date (about May 20th, 1899), she has not been seen, despite the efforts of the police. The mystery of her disappearance remains at present unsolved. The arrest of Dougal, who was well known in Essex, and the startling story told at last week’s hearing of the charge against him have created no little excitement among the people of the county.

When Dougal alighted from the Cambridge train at Saffron Walden on Thursday morning the quiet little wayside station wore an air of unusual animation. A considerable crowd had assembled to witness his arrival, but there was no hostile demonstration. Dougal, with head erect, walked through an avenue of open-mouthed rustics to the vehicle which stood outside the station waiting to convey him and his two guards to the Court-house. The crowd outside the Court awaiting admission began to gather quite early in the morning, and when, just on the stroke of half-past ten, the doors were flung open there ensued a somewhat undignified rush along the narrow stone-paved corridor to the public gallery, where the most favoured places were, curiously enough, captured by women and young girls, who eagerly craned their necks to catch a glimpse of Dougal as he took his seat in the dock.

Mr. Seward Pearce again appeared on behalf of the Treasury, and Mr. Arthur Newton defended.

The first witness was Mr. Ashwin, accountant at the Piccadilly branch of the National Provincial Bank, who (re-called) produced a cheque of the last withdrawal from Miss Holland's account. The cheque was dated September, 1902. On January 29th 1903, there was a payment into the account of £1,587, and in September of the same year, £940 was paid into the account. A month later, £67 was adde to the account. On November the 20th of the following year £546 was paid into the account, and in September 1901, the account was augmented by a sum of £1,454. These five cheques were drawn by Messrs. W. H. Hart and Co. in favour of Miss Holland. Taking the other side of the account (continued witness), I find that the first payment out in the name of Dougal was on December 5th, 1898. After that, various withdrawals were made. In January, 1899, £200 was paid out to Messrs. Rutter, land-agents. In April, one payment of £1,350 was made to Messrs. Harrison, and one of £300 to Messrs. Saville. On the 8th June£30 was withdrawn for "self" the money being paid in £5 Bank of England notes, numbered from 63,070 to 63,075. On 9th October £30 was again withdrawn for "self" the £5 notes with which the payment was made being numbered 29,197 to 29,202. Again, on 6th October, a similar amount was withdrawn for "self" the numbers of the notes being 26,808 to 26,813. Then came a recital of withdrawals from Miss Holland's account in favour of Dougal. These commenced on 31st October, 1899, with a withdrawal of £670, followed at various timed by withdrawals £100, £64, £550, £100, and £1,400. These sums, said witness, were afterwards paid into Dougal's account at the Birkbeck Bank. Witness afterwards produced a bundle of documents containing specimens of Miss Holland's handwriting and signature.

Can you tell me the date of Miss Holland's last visit to the Bank?
It was on 19th September, 1898. She called about some stock business.

Witness said he did not himself see her, and Mr. Newton therefore objected to his evidence on this point. No one at the Bank, said witness, remembered seeing her during that visit.

Mr. Pearce did not pursue the matter further, but proceeded to refer to a letter sent by Miss Holland to the Bank on the 29th May, 1899.

The letter was produced by witness, who said it was written in the third person, and asked for a cheque-book.

In the ordinary course of business, would the cheque-book be sent to the address given?
Yes. The address given was Moat Farm, Quendon, Essex. Although he did not send it, witness said he was prepared to swear that it was sent.

Mr. Newton: If the witness cannot say where the cheque-book was sent, I object to this evidence.

Mr. Pearce replied that if the prosecution was limited to such evidence as Mrt. Newton suggested, it would be impossible in a case of this kind to bring home the offences to the prisoner.

The Magistrate: If the book was sent by the bank, we must assume it went to the correct address.

Mr. Newton: With great respect you mustn't presume anything. The fact of the book having been sent to the address must, I submit, be proved.

Ultimately both parties were satisfied that the record of witness's evidence should stand: "I know the cheque-book was sent, but I did not see the address."

On 6th June, continued witness, another letter was received by the bank, enclosing a cheque for £25, and asking for payment to be made in £5 notes. This, after confirmation was received, was done, the money being sent to Dougal. Later, another cheque was sent in the same way; but, the signature not satisfying the bank, a letter was sent Miss Holland, calling her attention to it. The reply received from the Moat Farm was:- "The cheque to Mr. Dougal was quite correct. Owing to a sprained hand there might be some discrepancy in some of the cheques lately signed." This was considered satisfactory by the bank, and the money was paid over.

While witness was taken letter by letter through a bulky pile of correspondence which had taken place between the bank and its customer at Moat Farm, Dougal settled himself easily in the corner of the dock an yawned wearily once of twice, all the while tapping lightly with his fingers the desk in front of him.

The correspondence through which Mr. Pearce piloted the witness proved to be of a most voluminous character. Some of the letters produced were those written to the bankers, apparently by Miss Holland (for her signature was appended all the documents), requesting them to send to her at Moat Farm the certificates of the securities held for her by the Bank after April 30th, 1899. The last address of Miss Holland in possession of the Bank was, said witness, Moat Farm, Quendon, Essex.

Supposing you wanted to communicate with your customer now, what address would you use?
That address. After a moment's pause witness added: I don't know that that is right, for I suppose we should send any such communication to the Treasury. (Laughter.)

The Court adjourned for luncheon at this stage.

After the adjournment, Mr. Newton proceeded to cross-examine Mr. Ashwin. In your opinion (he asked), is the handwriting on the cheque for £28 15s. that of Miss Holland?
Witness: Yes.

Do you take the same view with regard to the whole of the other documents? -Yes. With the exception of two of the documents, that opinion was baed on an experience of 24 years in the banking work. All the cheques referred to in his evidence had been paid without demur. The endorsements on the five cheques drawn by Messrs. Hart and Company were, in his opinion, in the handwriting of Miss Holland. As the envelopes were now destroyed, it was impossible to say where the letters from Miss Holland to the Bank were posted. When Mr. Holland called at the Bank, he pronounced the signature on the £28 15s. cheque to be a forgery. Mr. Holland was also shown a number of documents, which included some actually signed by Miss Holland at the Bank itself. WItness's recollection was that Mr. Holland looked at the signatures of all the documents and pronounces them to be forgeries. Witness was not quite sure that Mr. Holland looked very carefully at the papers. Inspector Warden was with Mr. Holland, and he (the Inspector) said hey were forgeries.

Was that before he looked at them or after? (Laughter.)
Oh! He had seen them. Miss Holland varied her signature in her communications to the bank. Sometimes the manager was addressed in the first person and sometimes the third. The signature on the £27 15s. cheque was practically the same as that in the signature-book to which no one outside the Bank had access. Some of the signatures on the documents signed bu Miss Holland in the bank differed somewhat to the specimen in the signature-book.

Re-examined by Mr. Pearce: The letter in which Miss Holland said she has a sprained hand appeared to him to be with the signature perfectly genuine. The reason assigned for the somewhat laboured writing was, in his opinion, sufficient to account for any discrepancy that might exist. The letter dated 29th May, 1892, was the first received from her in the third person, and written in a strange handwriting. Witness was closely questioned as to his opinion of the handwriting on the £28 15s. cheque.

Are you certain Miss Holland, wrote that 28?
She could have written like that, I see no reason to doubt the genuineness of the writing.

Does it bear a stronger resemblance to the handwriting of Miss Holland than it does to that of the Prisoner? -Oh, yes. When Mr. Holland called at the Bank he waved aside as rubbish the documents shown him, saying they were all forgeries.

Mr. Isaac Newton Edwards, cashier at the Birkbeck Bank, Chancery Lane, London, said Dougal started an account there on 14th October, 1899, paying in £33. Sixteen days later prisoner paid in £6,700. This last cheque came from the National Provincial Bank. Witness proved that the other sums spoken to by the previous witness as as having been withdrawn from Miss Holland's account at the National Provincial Bank were paid into Dougal's account at the Birkbeck Bank. On the £28 15s. cheque, the endorsement "J. Heath" was like Dougal's handwriting. Witness produced a bundle of cheques with specimens of the prisoner's signature. On 5th March 1903, Dougal drew on his account to the extent of £305. Nine letters addressed to Messrs. Hart and Co. were down to witness, who declared them all to be in Dougal's writing.

Mr. Newton applied for the balance of £120, the proceeds of Dougal's estate to be handed over for the purposes of the prisoner's defence.

Mr. Reed, for the next of kin of Miss Holland, opposed the application. If, as was alleged by the prosecution, £2,284 had been withdrawn from Miss Holland's account. and placed to Dougal's credit, it was most unfair to grant the application.

The magistrate ordered £50 to be handed over to Dougal, who was remanded till Wednesday next.


Eastern Evening News 1903




Samuel Herbert Dougal, formerly of the Moat Farm, Clavering, Essex, was brought before the magistrates at Saffron Walden this morning for the tenth time. Dougal stands charged with the murder of Miss Holland on the 19th May 1899, and also with forging her signature to a cheque to the value of £28 15s. The villagers of Saffron Walden, when the prisoner arrived from Cambridge Gaol this morning, turned out in considerable numbers and indulged in some hostile demonstrations. There was some "booing" and one man on the platform of the station shouted "Hang him." Dougal maintained, however, a stolid demeanour, and walked with elastic step to the cab in which he was driven rapidly to the Town Hall.

Mr. Pearce was again prosecuting on behalf of the Treasury, and Mr. Newton defended. Dougal shook hands cordially with his solicitor, who asked, "Are you pretty well?" "Yes," said the prisoner, with a smile, "I'm very well."

The first evidence submitted to-day was given by Mr. Thomas Henry Gurrin, Holborn Viaduct, London, the well-known handwriting expert. He had, he said, examined the whole of he documents in the case.

And you have compared the proved handwriting of the prisoner and Miss Holland?  -I have.


You have examined the cheque, value £28 15s? -Yes, and I am of opinion it is not in Miss Holland's handwriting.

Are you of opinion that the writing on the cheques is that of the prisoner?  -I am. It is an imitation of Miss Holland's handwriting. The signature, "Camille C. Holland, the attestation of Mr. Joseph Bell, an Essex magistrate and the words "Saffron Walden, September 27th," on the declaration produced were, he continued, in prisoner's disguised handwriting. All the letters which he displayed in Court purporting to be signed by "Camille C. Holland" were, in witness' opinion, in the handwriting of Dougal.

Are you of opinion that none of the original documents purporting to emanate from Miss Holland after May, 1899 are in her writing?  -Yes, I am.

Mr. Newton - Do you form your opinions simply by the characteristic of the writing or by surrounding circumstances, such as the history of the case?  -Oh, dear no, not by the history of the case, purely characteristics of the writing.

Witness, proceeding, said he had given evidence in hundreds of cases, sometimes he was called baby the Treasury, and sometimes by the defence. His opinion as against other handwriting experts was a ties upheld, and sometimes it was not.

Does not the signature of Miss Holland on the cheque closely resemble her signature in the bank signature book?  -I cannot say it closely resembles it. It is certainly an imitation.

Replying to further questions by Mr. Newton, witness said he had mixed up the admittedly genuine documents and those alleged to be forgeries, and had afterwards sorts them out with the greatest ease. In his letter of instructions from the Treasury, no history of the case was given. He knew the cheque was the subject of the charge, but he did not know which of the other documents were alleged to be forgeries.



George Mold, boot and shoemaker, Edgeware Road, London, said Miss Holland was a customer of his between 1884 and 1898. On the 7th January, 1897, Miss Holland ordered a pair of boots from him. He took particulars of the order and measurements. The boors were delivered a fortnight later to Miss Holland at 42, Cornwall Rod, Bayswater. The boots found on Miss Holland's body were handed to witness, who said his brand, "Mold," was on the waist of the right boot. The boots were lined with curly lambs wool, and he saw traces in those boots of the wool.

Are those the boots you made for Miss Holland in 1897?  -I am sure of it. On 23rd August, 1898, he measured Miss Holland for another pair of boots. She was then living at Elgin Crescent, Bayswater. When she came to his shop on 23rd August she was wearing the boots he had previously made for her.

Are the boots produced which were found in the Moat House those you made for Miss Holland in 1898?  -Yes, they have my stamp on them, and they are also lined with lamb's wool. He produced in court the last on which he made the boots, which were size 2½. 

The witness also handed up a stamp with which all his goods were marked. Shown a photo by Mr. Pearce, witness, unhesitatingly pronounced it that of Miss Holland.

Mr. Newton - I suppose lamb's wool is used frequently to line boots?  -Very rarely. There was no peculiarity or deformity in the boot.

Mrs. Wiskin, a previous witness, was positive as anything on earth that Miss Holland's boots were made in France?  -They were not.

It has also been sworn to that she wore size 3?  -No, she did not.

Re-examined  -He had not seen Miss Holland since August, 1898.

Miss Lucy Pittman, assistant-postmistress at Quendon, said she now found that letters posted in London later than half-past five or six could be delivered at the Moat Farm by the first post the following morning.

Mr. John Turtle, overseer in the inland section at Mound Pleasant P.O., London, said letters could be posted at St. Martin's le Grand up till 10.45 p.m. for delivery to the Moat Farm by the first post in the morning.

George Maylan, chief clerk I the time table department of the Great Eastern Railway department, was responsible for the working out all train times of the system. The Great Eastern was the only line running to Stanstead, Essex. There was a train from Audley End at 5.41, which arrived at Stanstead at six o'clock and Liverpool Street at 10.46. That was the last train up to London. The last train from London to stop at Stanstead left Liverpool Street at two minutes past ten.

Police-superintendent Daniels, stationed at Saffron Walden, was called to prove that the boots made by Mr. Mold in 1898, and which he had identified, were found in the Moat House, at Clavering. Witness had searched the house for a revolver, but had not found one.

Sergeant Howlett said he had measured the distances from the Moat Farm to various places. The distance from Moat Farm to Audley End Railway-station was over four miles, to Newport Railway over three miles, to Stanstead Station over five miles.