Item 3 - Draft petition of Charles Griffin to the House of Commons against Lord Leigh

Identity area

Reference code

Crewe MS/3


Draft petition of Charles Griffin to the House of Commons against Lord Leigh


  • 1849 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 volume (41 x 34 cm), containing 24 leaves. Half-bound.

Context area

Archival history

The armorial bookplate of Robert, Earl of Crewe, is pasted inside the volume.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The petitioner alleges that murders were committed at Stoneleigh Abbey and elsewhere to conceal facts in connection with Lord Leigh’s right to his peerage and estates. Having published these allegations in a book, he is being prosecuted by Lord Leigh, a man of great influence, for libel. He prays the House to investigate the allegations, to take measures to ensure that he may defend himself fully, and to allow him to present his case at the bar of the House.

(It is unclear whether this petition was actually presented. On the spine of the volume is stamped ‘Petition to Parliament against Lord Leigh’.)



[In the margin:] Mr Osborne

To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled

The Humble Petition of Charles Griffin of Leamington Priors in the County of Warwick Attorney at Law


That one Sir Thomas Leigh Knight who was Lord Mayor of London in the time of King James the first acquired considerable estates including those of Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire and Adelstrop in Gloucestershire

That he left the Adelstrop estates to his eldest son Rowland alleged to be Ancestor of Chandos Baron Leigh now in possession of both the Stoneleigh and Adelstrop estates

That the said Sir Thomas Leigh left his Stoneleigh estates to his third son Thomas who was created a Baronet by King James the first and whose Grandson and family representative Sir Thomas Leigh of Stoneleigh Baronet was by King Charles the first created Baron Leigh of Stoneleigh in Tail Male on the First day of July 1643—

That this first Lord Leigh had a son John who died an Infant, as second son Thomas created a Knight who died in 1670 in his Father’s life time but became Ancestor of the four subsequent and only other Lords Leigh

That such first Lord Leigh had also a third son Charles who left no male issue and a fourth son Christopher

That Thomas eldest son of the said Sir Thomas Leigh Knight and Grandson of the first Lord Leigh became the second Lord Leigh

That this second Lord’s eldest son Thomas was born in 1682 and the inscription on a Coffin in the Ancient Vault of the Lords Leigh of Stoneleigh appeared to show he died in 1685 but no Register of his Burial has been discovered

That Edward the second son of the second Lord became the third Lord

That Edward the first son of this 3rd Lord died in his Father’s life time and Thomas the second son of the third Lord became the fourth Lord.

That this Thomas the fourth Lord had a first and second son each named Thomas who died Infants a third son Edward who became the fifth and last Lord and by different mothers two Daughters

That this Edward the fifth and last Lord died unmarried in 1786 leaving a Will giving his Stoneleigh and other estates in several counties to his sister and half sister and their Issue for certain limited estates with remainder to the first and nearest of his kindred being male and of the name and blood that should be living at the determination of the previous estates in Tail with remainder to his own right heirs

That both the sisters died without Issue the last Mary the sister of the whole blood in 1806 leaving four Wills and Codicils in her handwriting and three alleged Wills or Codicils not in her handwriting by the first of which latter dated in December 1786 she professed to give all the estates of her said late Brother to the Reverend Thomas Leigh of Adelstrop and after him to his Nephew James Henry Leigh Esquire and his first and other sons in Tail male whose first son was Chandos the present Lord Leigh born in 1791 with other limitations

That in the two last of the said Testamentary Documents in the handwriting of the Honourable Mary Leigh there is no direct reference to the three Wills of earlier date which are not in her handwriting

That the first of such 3 Wills not in the Honble Mary Leigh’s handwriting is Dated in Decr 1786 a few months after her Brother Lord Edward’s death and as above stated in favor of the said J. H. Leigh Esqre and his first and other sons in Tail male—

That the second the said Wills dated in 1788 disposes of the said Honourable Mary Leighs Leasehold estates and gives certain Legacies—

That your Petitioner has been told by a vehement partisan of the family now in possession of Stoneleigh that the Honble Julia Judith Leigh wife of the said James Henry Leigh visited the said Honourable Mary Leigh at Stoneleigh, at Cheltenham and in London yet the said Chandos now Lord Leigh who was prospectively entitled by the Will of the Honble Mary Leigh to her vast estates though a youth of 15 years of age at the time of her death has sworn that he never became acquainted personally with the said Honble Mary Leigh his alleged most liberal benefactress by the gift of estates now worth nearly if not exceeding £50.000 a year by means of which he obtained his present Title of Baron

That notwithstanding the above assertion of the said partisan of Lord Leigh’s family your petitioner can prove that though the said Honble Mary Leigh usually resided three months in each year at Stoneleigh Abbey not one of the present Lord Leigh’s family ever visited her at Stoneleigh during a period of ten years commencing about 1789 or 1790 three or four years after Edward the fifth and last Lord’s Death although the alleged Will of the Honble Mary Leigh in their favor was dated some time before in December 1786 and two Codicils also in their favour in 1788 and 1791

That independently of the said want of reference by the Testamentary Documents in the handwriting of the said Honble Mary Leigh to those not in her handwriting your Petitioner has become acquainted by the unexpected and unasked for statement of a most uncompromising partisan of Chandos the present Lord Leigh of the new creation with a fact quite irreconcileable with a belief in the said three Wills having been fairly obtained from the said Honble Mary Leigh but which fact it would be highly imprudent to name till the said partisan is publicly examined on Oath

That by one of the said Wills in the handwriting of the said Honble Mary Leigh the residue of her personal estate had been given to Lord Craven but subsequently by the third of the said three Wills not in her handwriting and dated after that Nobleman’s Death equally between the said Revd Thomas Leigh and Mr Joseph Hill who had been Lord Edward’s and was her own Solicitor and who was also up to the time of his death in 1811 the solicitor of the said Revd Thomas Leigh himself—

That it has been asserted that the said last Lord Edward Leigh was in so bad a state of mental health about 1768 the year after he made his Will that it was deemed advisable by the said Joseph Hill his Solicitor and also Auditor of accounts Daniel Graff his House Steward and other friends to search for and take care of his most valuable Papers and he was found a Lunatic by a jury assembled at Stoneleigh Abbey in Jany 1774 under a Commission of Inquiry

That on the said Honble Mary Leigh beginning the third Will in her own handwriting made in 1794 after all the three not in her handwriting although the pretended Will of Decr 1786 professes to be expressly intended to go “so far only as concerns all the freehold and copyhold estates late the property of (her) my late Brother Edward Lord Leigh” she having in the preceding August made another Will in her handwriting as to her personal estate thereby having two Wills she begins such third Will with these words “I add this as a Codicil to my Will_” not Wills {1} in the plural as would naturally be expected

That the pretended Wills of Decr 1786 as to the freehold and copyhold estates and of 1788 as to certain Leasehold Estates and other matters are attested by the names only without the addresses or other designations of the three Witnesses

That Daniel Graff one of the witnesses to the Will of Decr 1786 is one of the parties who had in 1768 taken possession of all the last Lord Leigh’s papers on pretence of his Lunacy 6 years before he was found Lunatic

That Mrs Elizabeth Graff the Widow of said Daniel Graff the Witness gets by the Will of 1788 not in Testatrix’s handwriting £50 a year for life although she was by the first Will in the Testatrix’s own handwriting entitled to other Legacies of £200 and £300 besides

That neither of the said Wills of Decr 1786 and 1788 not in Textatrix’s† handwriting Appears to be witnessed by an Attorney nor by any Attorney’s Clerk and that the Will of 1791 also not in Testatrix’s handwriting is not witnessed at all although she knew by two previous Wills if really executed by her that Witnesses were thought expedient if not necessary

That the said Will of 1788 appears to be a strange mixture of professional and non-professional modes of expressions as might be expected in the case of a fraudulent Will substituted for a real will with garbled extracts from it

That in particular one Legacy to a person named in the Will of 1788 coupled with the Declarations to your Petitioner by the said partisan in reference to that Legatee lead in Your Petitioner’s view to very serious doubts of the Authenticity of the said three Wills not in the Testatrix’s handwriting and to the belief that the said Legatee was privy to some fraud in respect of such Wills.

That on Inspection of the said Wills in Testatrix’s handwriting leads in your Petitioner’s judgment to a still more serious doubt of their† authenticity of those not in her handwriting from certain peculiarities not yet advisable to be made generally known—

That an old servant of the said Honble Mary Leigh declared on his Death bed that the Letters written by the said Honble Mary Leigh making enquiries for her late Brother’s heir were never sent but suppressed by some one about her leading to a suspicion of Bribery from some quarter

That the said Honble Mary Leigh made it a subject of constant regret that she could not discover the person who was to take her property after her

That though the said Daniel Graff removed to live at Norwich and died there the said Elizabeth Graff his wife who got such a handsome additional Legacy by the Will of 1788 not in Testatrix’s handwriting continued to reside constantly with the said Honble Mary Leigh

That there existed in Stoneleigh Church up to the month of April 1811 nearly five years after the Reverend Thomas Leigh took possession of the Stoneleigh and other estates a monument to the Honble Christopher Leigh fourth son of Thomas the first Lord Leigh shewing his marriage with a Miss Cotton the Birth of their four Children Mary[,] Catherine, Roger and Ferdinand the marriage of the said Roger and the Birth of his Children Robert and James the said Monument also shewing a second marriage of the said Christopher Leigh with Constance Clent and the birth of their son Thomas and the Death of Christopher in 1672 two years after his second marriage the existence of such monument on the South Wall of Stoneleigh Church being attested by Fifty to Sixty witnesses now living and the words thereon by several of such witnesses leading to the supposition there are still lineal male descendants of the said Honble Christopher Leigh and as such entitled to [the] Ancient Barony of Leigh of Stoneleigh from 1786 and under the said Will of Edward the fifth Lord to his vast Estates from 1806

That in the year 1810 a Committee consisting of Stoneleigh Ratepayers including the Revd James Roberts the Curate added to Mr Richd Darley not a Ratepayer the Steward of the Revd Thos Leigh ordered part of the south wall of Stoneleigh Church to be taken down and rebuilt

That instead of taking down a part where the wall bulged out only the Northern half of the bulge and the straight part beyond it were taken down and that Northern part of the bulge has been actually rebuilt in a similarly bulging shape

That Mr Jasper Palfrey one of the sd Parish Committee in his examination before the Committee of the House of Lords which sat in 1828 and 1829 on George Leigh’s Claim of the Ancient Barony of Stoneleigh in answer to a question Why he ceased to act as one of the Parish Committee replied “Because Mr Darley and Mrs Leigh (Mother of the present Lord Leigh) had been there after we had met at our regular meetings and she would go and order every thing different and I said at one of our meetings that what we ordered was not attended to and I could spend my time better than in coming here”

That witnesses (one still living) proved before the said Committee of the House of Lords that the sd Monument to Christopher Leigh was taken to Stoneleigh Abbey and that it appears probable from several other circumstances that that was true—that other witnesses are believed by your Petitioner to be now living who could prove the same fact

That the said Monument can also be proved by a living witness who knew it well when in the Church to have been for some time concealed at a place distant from Stoneleigh in the Custody of a confidant of the Honble Mrs Julia Judith Leigh—

That there are strong presumptive proofs that the said Monument or some other was ultimately buried under the New Bridge built over the Avon in Stoneleigh Park

That there are buried in the old Vault at Stoneleigh built by Thomas the first Lord Leigh in 1665 the four last Lords Leigh four Ladies Leigh and eighteen other members of that family (26 in all) including probably also the first Lord Leigh between the years 1670 and 1786 not one of whom would appear to have been honoured with any Monumental Record by their descendants in Five generations not even the one to whom they were all indebted for their Title—

That Edward the third Lord Leigh caused to be erected to the Memory of his Lady’s Ancestors a Monument now existing in Fillongley Church expressing that he did so erect it in a pious regard to their memory yet apparently without extending that pious regard to his own Father or Mother or his Great Grandfather the first Lord the founder of the Title of Baron all buried in the very Parish he lived in.

That your Petitioner believes living witnesses will prove the existence in Stoneleigh Church Chancel up to 1811 or thereabouts of many monuments of the removal of some to Coventry, of the burial of others in the Park and in the Bridge, and a partisan of Lord Leigh has attested to your Petitioner and others that he saw the faces of others chipped off

That by a Letter sent by your Petitioner to Lord Leigh on the 24th of October last your Petitioner offered with a little permissive assistance from his Lordship to prove exactly how many monuments there had been formerly in the said Chancel and firmly believes he can do so—

That in the year 1812–1813 and 1814 the said Bridge in Stoneleigh Park was built by the said Revd Thomas Leigh who died the 26th day of June 1813 and by James Henry Leigh Esquire who succeeded him in the possession of the Estates—

That at the time it was common talk amongst the workmen at their meals and ever since rumours have been current that murders had been committed at that Bridge and the neighbourhood

That in the year 1844 John Leigh a claimant of the said Title and estates with upwards of 30 other persons broke into Stoneleigh Abbey on pretence of asserting John Leigh’s claim and were at the ensuing Warwick Assizes sentenced to various terms of imprisonment

That upon that occasion your petitioner learnt that one George Shaw had repeatedly confessed in Lancashire that he had been a party in committing murders at that Bridge about 30 years before and in abstracting a monument from Stoneleigh Church Chancel and burying the same in Stoneleigh Park as also a brass plate that came off from such monument and of the subsequent history of which plate your petitioner has received some strongly confirmatory intimations—

That upon that occasion also your Petitioner first heard from an eye witness named William Faxon of the laying of a stone and something on the foundation of the said Bridge that he believed was a stone and something which rattled like metal all wrapped together in a mat and which was so laid by the present Lord Leigh and called the foundation stone as also from the same witness that the next morning he found blood oozing and frothing up from the earth of that foundation which earth he had left the night before quite firm and hard and shovelled away some of such blood by the direction of a young man there and on walking back found part of the earth sink under him and cause bloody froth to ooze up again in the same place as before when he easily slid his spade into the earth there and was then sent out of the foundation by the said George Shaw who with the s[ai]d Young man were the only other persons there

That your Petitioner also heard at various times rumours that Mrs Smallbone of Kenilworth formerly Sarah Silk Spinster who for many years (from about 1790) was servant at Stoneleigh Abbey knew of some very wicked transactions there but which she would never acknowledge until about July 1846 when she began to confess what she knew and in the following November your Petitioner was requested to take her examination (she being then confined to her bed) as to several crimes Your Petitioner had been informed she had confessed to other she had assisted in

That though she then uttered some sentences which appeared quite coherent with the conversation carried on by her bed side as to these transactions and pertinently answered some questions Your Petitioner abstained from taking her examination on such serious matters considering in her then weak state he might not obtain an accurate statement from her

That your Petitioner then took the examinations of two females and long after that of another female to whom she had confessed her participation in several murders on account of the Monument at Stoneleigh Abbey and Bridge

That the said George Shaw about that time came to Kenilworth about two miles from Stoneleigh Abbey and was examined by your Petitioner as to the murder by himself and several others of two men named Billinge and Forbes at the same Bridge when building by his loosing the winch supporting a large stone and letting it fall so as to crush them the said George Shaw also stating that they were murdered because they talked about the Monument

That your Petitioner then also took a short examination of the said person who shovelled the blood at the Bridge as to that circumstance and some others

That your Petitioner has also received Information of another person who saw the said William Faxon (unnoticed by him) shovelling the blood as aforesaid

That your Petitioner received Information of another person now living having been concerned in the murder of William Blissett by shooting him near Stoneleigh Abbey and that the said William Blissett was buried secretly in Stoneleigh Church Yard at Midnight

That in November 1846 Your Petitioner took the examination of another person as to a conversation he had with the said person concerned in shooting Blissett when such last mentioned person said on being informed all was known “Then I’m done for I’m done for ever”

That your Petitioner was also informed that one Rich[ar]d Barnett who had been long absent from the neighbourhood was a witness of the said Murder and Burial of Blissett

That your Petitioner being consulted on these matters an application was made under his advice by himself and another in November 1846 to Sir George Grey then and now Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Home Department to Investigate and take the requisite proceedings on account of the distance of time when the alleged offences had been committed the rank of parties in various ways connected with or benefitting by the above stated Transactions—their connections by Marriage intimacy and otherwise with the local Authorities and various other reasons

That Sir George Grey read such examinations as to the conversation in relation to the Shooting of William Blissett and that of George Shaw down to a particular point when he folded up the papers and returned them referring the applicants to the Magistrates in the County notwithstanding all the arguments that were used against it

That your Petitioner then placed all the Papers he possessed before a Magistrate in Warwickshire who would not interfere unless in conjunction with other Magistrates and professed to disbelieve the statements made though so well attested by several living witnesses

That the Prosecuting parties were discouraged and returned home into Lancashire

That the said Mrs Smallbone died in about one month and George Shaw in about two months after

That about December 1847 the said Richard Barnett went voluntarily from Cardiff in Wales to Manchester to disclose what he knew of the murders at the Bridge—the removal of the Monument to Christopher Leigh and of nine coffin plates in 1811 from the Old family Vault in Stoneleigh Church

That his examinations and various other Information being placed before Messrs Whitehurst Q.C. Bodkin and Clarkson Barristers at Law they advised a prosecution for Murder against the present Chandos Baron Leigh and William Wood and an application for taking down the said Bridge and that charge & application were made by Mr Pollock Barrister at Law on behalf of James Leigh as Prosecutor on the 6th day of May last at the County Petty Sessions held at Warwick before 4 Magistrates (a Brother of Lady Leigh being the husband of a sister of one of such Magistrates)—

That such charge and application were both dismissed but without any reasons being given for their decision—

That your Petitioner had nothing to do with this proceeding except attending to produce the Confession signed by George Shaw

That the refusal of the Magistrates to direct a search in the said Bridge at the part pointed out by the Witness Barnett and Lord Leigh’s subsequent neglect to do so himself as also to inspect the Old Vault in Stoneleigh Church whence Barnett swore he had taken the 9 Coffin plates in the presence of the Honble Julia Judith Leigh Mother of the present Lord Leigh and whence the same Lady took the Coffin plate of the Honble Christopher Leigh in the presence of a living witness have been the subject of almost universal astonishment throughout the neighbourhood

That in this case in Warwickshire every stone of a mere piece of Luxury the Park Bridge is held sacred where persons are actually sworn to as murderers of victims there concealed while in Norfolk in the Case of Rush charged with the Murder of the Jermys on mere suspicion only the poor man’s house in Law called his Castle in ransacked throughout, the wainscotts being pulled down, the flues opened, the floors ripped up and nothing spared either indoors or out to find merely the instruments of destruction

That this difference has led to the very general conviction that if all men are equal in the eye of the Law they are not all equal in the eyes of the Law’s Ministers and that equal justice has been grievously evaded in one of these two cases

That the Coroner who was afterwards applied to having also refused to act has much tended to strengthen this Conviction

That the Conviction was so strong on your Petitioner’s mind that justice had not been done that Your Petitioner in July last published a book entitled “Stoneleigh Abbey 34 Years Ago” containing a narrative of the events in this very awful matter and a list of the charges and suspicions with a view to eliciting the vast mass of Information which your Petitioner believed and has since become absolutely certain exists not only in the neighbourhood of of† Stoneleigh but in various parts of England and even in places abroad—

That in such Book your Petitioner has spoken of and to Lord Leigh with as much courtesy as the nature of the case could possibly admit and in a temperate candid and not unfriendly manner appealed to him to fully evince his innocence, to vindicate the Character of himself and family, and satisfy the public by concurring in the fullest most searching investigation

That your Petitioner had also this further reason for publishing his said Book that Mr George Jones Lord Leigh’s Attorney and Son of George Jones alleged to have assisted in some of the alleged murders had told your Petitioner if he believed in the asserted crimes (which he did and does beyond all question or doubt) it was your Petitioner’s duty to society to prosecute the Criminals—

That your Petitioner replied to Mr Jones that he had not money who rejoined he would find money but on your Petitioner expressing his readiness to proceed at once Mr Jones annexed a condition to his finding money that your Petitioner should first disclose to him the evidence

That your Petitioner at once refused money on such conditions—

That in 1844 a few days before the breaking into the Abbey as aforesaid a Gentleman passing over Chessford Bridge on the Avon on the Road from Leamington to Kenilworth and not far below the Bridge in Stoneleigh Park took up the said Richard Barnett covered with dirt and blood who stated he had been there waylaid and beaten by 4 men

That the said Richard Barnett was not again found till his voluntary appearance as aforesaid at Manchester 3 years and a half after his disappearance although his family were known and your Petitioner and another Gentleman travelled many miles in search of him

**That the said Rich[ar]d Barnett died at his Lodgings at Westhoughton near Wigan Lancashire on the 15th day of July last within 3 months after his having been examined before the Magistrates at Warwick and under circumstances of violent suspicion that immediately arose in that neighbourhood that he had not died a natural Death

That it appeared on the Coroner’s Inquest the said Richd Barnett had been from home drinking on the Monday Tuesday and Wednesday preceding his death as to which no evidence was required but the declarations of the deceased to the man and wife with whom he lodged at Westhoughton whose evidence also shewed he had taken only a little beer on the Thursday and Friday, preceding his death in bed, early on Saturday morning—

That the Surgeon who made the post mortem examination stated he took out the stomach and gave it to a Chemist to analyse it the only evidence of such analysis produced or required notwithstanding the public suspicions being a letter from such Chemist

That the Surgeon stated the appearances of the Stomach were such as might have been produced by acid yet nevertheless expressed a confident opinion the cause of Death was the liquor taken on Monday Tuesday and Wednesday above two days before the decease as to which time there was no evidence of excessive drinking excepting that deceased was rather the worse for liquor when he came home on the Wednesday night and complained of Head ache—

That John Willcox the second Witness called on the said charge of the 6th of May has since stated to your Petitioner that he told the said Rich[ar]d Barnett (the 1st Witness) on his leaving the Box that he Barnett would not live 6 months.

That the said John Willcox appears to have been in dread on that occasion his evidence beginning to vary when he had spoken of a glove (stained with something) which he picked up many years before near the river in Stoneleigh Park and kept it many years & which Glove he showed to another person now living stating he picked it up at the Bridge in Stoneleigh Park when it was being built and where he had just before seen murders committed and that the stain on the Glove was blood

That your Petitioner at the end of his said Book advertised one Guinea reward for each place of residence or burial of 5 persons alleged to have been murdered without receiving any communication in reply and in his said Book suggested also that Lord Leigh’s Wealth would enable him to adopt the same course—

That your Petitioner has never heard of more than two of such 5 persons living or being dead elsewhere than in Stoneleigh.

That as to one the Large City he is alleged to have died at is too far off for your Petitioner to spend money and time in going to make enquiries there

That as to the other Billinge your Petitioner has made very full observations in his said Book but has since discovered that one fact alleged in the statement there given of William Billinge is a wilful falsehood and that the statements of the said William Billinge are a gross fraud and imposition endeavoured to be practised not only on the Public but as your Petitioner thinks to be possible on Lord Leigh and his Attorney Mr George Jones also—

That at the last Warwick Assizes your petitioner was indicted by Lord Leigh for a libel on him in publishing the said book and a true bill found

That before such Bill was returned into Court the Prosecutor and his son now 24 or 25 years of age came through the Grand Jury Room into the Grand Jury gallery in the face of the Court and remained a considerable time both shaking hands with and talking to several members of the grand Jury

That notwithstanding your Petitioner tendered the Bail since accepted he was about three hours after in the centre of the Court arrested he being there attending to business

That the arrest was made by the Stoneleigh Inspector of Police who had not read his Warrant and that by the direction and under the personal superintendence of Mr George Jones Lord Leigh’s Attorney who twice refused to listen to your Petitioner although your Petitioner was required by the Warrant of Mr Justice Pattison to give to the said Mr Jones 48 hours notice of Bail

That the said Mr George Jones also caused the said Inspector of Police to take your Petitioner through several streets unnecessarily and with a view as your Petitioner has no doubt to procure him to be incarcerated in the Warwick Hole which had been twelve months before complained of to Sir George Grey Her Majesty’s Secretary of State as being in a very disgraceful state without any remedy having been applied—.

That your Petitioner had in his said book offered to pay the expense of opening the vault of the old Peerage family which was bricked up and a new one built for the family

That your Petitioner made this offer with a view to test the truth of the general testimony of the Witness Barnett by the truth or falsehood of that as to the Coffin Plates and which offer his Prosecutor has not dared to accept

That by letter of the 4th of October last your Petitioner informed Sir George Grey of what had taken place again alleging the many murders but without obtaining the courtesy of an acknowledgment of its receipt from that gentleman

That on the 24th of October last your Petitioner by letter to Lord Leigh asked his Lordship to consent to the removal of the Bridge on your petitioner collecting a subscription and depositing sufficient money to guarantee its restoration the only reply to which was a Certiorari removing the indictment to London compelling your Petitioner at considerable expence to renew his bail and to plead there—

That though your Petitioner has as he trusts and believes a sufficient defence under the plea of Not Guilty without evidence he has nevertheless pleaded from the feeling principally of public duty as well as that of personal prudence that the parts of his book charged as libellous are true and for the benefit of the public although he thereby subjects himself to the Prosecutor’s expences of the issue on such plea if found against him

That your Petitioner pleaded such plea trusting to public feeling or some other accident to enable him to produce his one to two hundred witnesses in proof of such plea knowing well that the main fact were true and that if he should be convicted it would be to the everlasting disgrace of the Law or of its Administration and of the people of England and being unwilling to believe that a man who had honestly fairly openly and in a candid and not uncharitable spirit endeavoured to elicit the vast mass of hidden evidence in this case by publicity and simply with a view to public justice would be by his fellow men left undefended—

That the Prosecutor has endeavoured ineffectually to induce the Court of Queen’s Bench to strike out your Petitioner’s plea of truth and thus prevent the proof of he real incontestible and most awful facts on the Trial but was met by the decided opinion of that Court that the Plea was good and an answer to the Indictment—.

That the Prosecutor’s Attorney then made an affidavit that he could not safely proceed to a full and fair trial unless your Petitioner were required to give certain particulars very great part whereof were your Petitioner believes already more accurately known to the Prosecutor or might be by searching in the places your Petitioner and his witnesses are prepared to indicate on the examination taking place under his inspection—

That on such affidavit a Summons to shew cause (instead of a Rule to be heard in open Court) was obtained and heard before Mr Justice Erle in Chambers who after consulting with the other Judges decided against the application

That notwithstanding the said affidavit of Mr George Jones and the said decisions your Petitioner has received Notice of trial
That your Petitioner has Examined one and heard of more living eyewitnesses to some murders, living eyewitnesses to the blood at both ends of the bridge who did not see the murders, several witnesses tot he confession of several murders by a person now living who still walks about in broad daylight though his confessions are as notorious as the existence in 1811 of the monument to Christopher Leigh

That two sculls have been dug up under Stoneleigh Abbey Walls in the Fountain Court where Mrs Smallbone confessed two victims were buried while she held the light—

That another scull has been dug up in the Bell-court there where George Shaw confessed a man he murdered was buried

That the person who dug up this last scull has had notice to quit and has also received a very bad character from a principal tenant of Lord Leigh on his application to share in some of the charities but a very good character from the same tenant before the Warwick Board of Poor Law Guardians when an endeavour was made to persuade him to emigrate—

That a whole human skeleton was dug up about 6 years ago in a soft bank about 200 yards from a place called “The Grove” and the employer of the digger endeavoured to persuade them it was the bones of a horse and the said George Shaw stated to a living person 2 or 3 of many victims were buried in a bank near the back of the Grove—.

That it has been a tradition ever since the year 1823 that the said James Henry Leigh Esqredid not then die and the said Mrs Smallbone confessed that she assisted in sealing up a piece of wood in a sheet to represent his body

That your Petitioner has heard from very different quarters of four persons who saw the said James Henry Leigh Esqre many years after October 1823 when he is said to have died

That the only person your Petitioner has been able to meet with who asserts having seen the said James Henry Leigh dead named a certain fact connected therewith in one way while the wife of another who was ill and who is alleged also to have seen him after death told your Petitioner her husband had always stated that fact in the very opposite way—

That your Petitioner believes he shall be able to prove several facts shewing that the said James Henry Leigh deliberately prepared for his absence from Ston[e]leigh up to the very morning of his alleged decease—

That the new vault at Stoneleigh to build which some still undecomposed bodies were removed was completed before the alleged death of said James Henry Leigh whose coffin was nevertheless taken to Adelstrop to be buried though his Widow was some years after buried in the new Stoneleigh Vault

That the only allegation made by your Petitioner in his Book as to Lord Leigh was that he was conscious of some great wrong done by some one in whom he felt a deep interest without endeavouring to bring that wrong to light a consciousness also deeply felt by your Petitioner at that time

That your Petitioner is abundantly confirmed in the truth of such allegation by the subsequent conduct of Lord Leigh in many particulars—namely

By his appearing with his eldest son in the Grand Jury gallery before the said Bill of Indictment had been returned apparently for the purpose of intimidating your Petitioner by an exhibition of his great personal influence

By his retaining the four Counsel most eminent for eloquence on the Midland Circuit including the three senior Counsel—

By his causing your Petitioner to be arrested without the least pretence of any necessity for so doing after Bail had been tendered—

By his endeavouring to get your Petitioner incarcerated in the Warwick Lockup commonly called “The Hole”

By his employing Mr George Jones alone as his Attorney a young gentleman of little experience of a hasty and unsteady temper, the son of the George Jones who has been stated on oath and in the confessions of several accomplices to have been concerned in suppressing the monuments and in the murders and so employing him in a case involving his Lordship’s vast estates—his character and that of his family

By the great endeavours recently made by himself and family to exhibit an appearance of great personal influence and popularity in Leamington and the neighbourhood by every means except that of endeavouring to elucidate the apparently mysterious case—

By his endeavour to induce the Court of Queen’s Bench to strike out your Petitioner’s special plea and thus prevent your Petitioner giving proof of facts—

By his endeavouring also to cripple your Petitioner’s defence by requiring a great number of particulars

By his refusal to agree to a search for 2 monuments buried in the Park—for a monument in the Abbey cellar—for the Coffin plates in the old vault—for certain particulars of the monument in the chancel—for the body of William Blissett, the infant’s coffin and other things in the church yard—for the things buried in the mat under the bridge and for the many bodies buried in the bridge and around the Abbey—

By his omission to advertise for the missing men whose names are given

That your Petitioner in fact endeavoured also to point out a method of reconciling his Lordship’s innocence of the crime charged against him on the 6th of May with the general truth of Barnett’s testimony

That your Petitioner cannot but feel there is a deep confirmation in all these circumstances of your Petitioner’s impression of a consciousness on the part of his Prosecutor of some wrong done by some one in whom his Prosecutor feels an interest and that that consciousness is the real cause of the said prosecution and especially of the harsh and unfair conduct therin towards your petitioner above detailed and also a deep confirmation of a statement made in your Petitioner’s letter to his Lordship of the 24th of October last to the effect that his Lordship appeared to rely on his power to crush your Petitioner by his wealth and influence rather than to trust to the truth and justice of the Case—

That your Petitioner though under indictment has felt and still feels the fullest justification in carrying out by all the means in his power the principal object of his Book—vizt—investigation and the accumulation of evidence and which he confidently and conscientiously avows he has sought to do by public Lectures and otherwise and with the best effect—

That your Petitioner can scarcely expect a fair trial in Warwickshire amongst the numerous family connections of Lord and Lady Leigh and their vast number of dependants and parasites in esse and in posse—

That nevertheless it is next to impossible for your Petitioner to take his 100 to 200 witnesses elsewhere to defend himself in having done a duty legally incumbent on him as a member of society according to the English Lawyers and to Mr George Jones Lord Leigh’s Attorney and morally incumbent on him according to the Philosophers

That it is also impossible for your Petitioner to make his full defence even at Warwick by producing even the great number of witnesses in that neighbourhood saying nothing of many important witnesses at a distance and some not yet seen by your Petitioner without pecuniary assistance your Petitioner and his family being entirely dependant on his professional business which has already severely suffered through the exertions of the parasites of his Prosecutor—

That your Petitioner is also placed under serious difficulties from the impossibility of inducing some very important witnesses to speak out very many of them from themselves or their relations being dependant on Lord Leigh or on the charities of Stoneleigh and Ashow which are also much or entirely under the controul of his Lordship his family his dependants or connections and from the fear of personal injury for speaking the truth the wife of one witness who had told your Petitioner he had seen two murders at the Bridge having since told your Petitioner she wished her husband not to speak as Barnett and others had suffered for speaking the truth

That a law enabling the Courts to direct a Jury to be empannelled from Middlesex or other distant County away from local and personal influence to try a Case at Warwick or elsewhere where local or personal influences prevail or where an examination of particular localities (as in this Case) is desirable and wherever there are numerous witnesses would your Petitioner believes be a beneficial addition to the present Law

Your Petitioner therefore most humbly prays that your Honourable House will for the sake of public justice and in vindication of the outraged laws of the Country and in consideration of the great influence of the rank and wealth of Lord Leigh the great difficulty and even impossibility of inducing many important witnesses to speak out from the reason before stated, from the great distance of time at which the events referred to took place and the consequent diminution of evidence by death and otherwise and the expensive nature of what remains be pleased to cause the most full and searching enquiry to be made into all the circumstances above detailed or connected therewith and cause all living criminal parties to be prosecuted

And your Petitioner further most humbly prays that your Honourable House will originate such measures as may secure to your Petitioner the means of defending himself fully in the said prosecution instituted as your Petitioner verily believes to prevent a full enquiry into the many crimes committed at Stoneleigh 34 years ago and thereby vindicate public justice

And your Petitioner also further most humbly prays that your Honourable House will permit your Petitioner to be heard at the Bar of your Honourable House by himself or by his Counsel on the several matters above detailed and in favour of the several prayers of this his Petition

And your Petitioner will ever pray &c

[Signed] Chas Griffin

124 Warwick Street
Leamington Priors
Attorney at Law.


Words written in a large hand are in bold type.

{1} The space after ‘Will’ and the ‘s’ of ‘Wills’ are each underlined three times.

† Sic.

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    For further information see:

    Charles Griffin, Stoneleigh Abbey Thirty-Four Years Ago, 1848

    Report of the Trial for Libel, the Queen, on the Prosecution of the Right Honourable Lord Leigh, v. Charles Griffin, 1849

    James Hibbert, The Stoneleigh Abbey Case: a Report of the Trial of Charles Griffin, Esq., 1849?

    Judy Stove, The Missing Monument Murders, 2016

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