The Body In The Cylinder (Liverpool; 1945)

JamesWhitehead

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That's a wonderful mystery!

I am intrigued by the mention of the illegible diaries found with the body. If they are preserved, which is unlikely, modern techniques, used on ancient documents, could succeed in throwing some light on the case. :thought:
 

EnolaGaia

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One thing occurred to me ... The body was determined to have been sealed inside the cylinder circa 1884 or 1885, and the deceased was claimed to have been anywhere from 25 to 54 years old.

T. C. Williams and his wife had a son in 1859. The son would have been circa 25 years old as of 1884 / 1885. The article makes no mention of the possibility the corpse might have been the son rather than the father.
 
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catseye

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One thing occurred to me ... The body was determined to have been sealed inside the cylinder circa 1884 or 1885, and the deceased was claimed to have been anywhere from 25 to 54 years old.

T. C. Williams and his wife had a son in 1859. The son would have been circa 25 years old as of 1884 / 1885. The article makes no mention of the possibility the corpse might have been the son rather than the father.
And that's a good, and very expensive, suit. Wouldn't he have put it in hock if he'd been someone in financial difficulties? At least to get enough money to disappear with...
 
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brownmane

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It is interesting that one theory presented was that he used someone else's body to fake his own death, but this doesn't seem credible as why leave it with a train ticket? I wonder if he'd been caught by his creditors (possibly loan sharks?) trying to leave via train and they somehow put him into the cylinder. This too seems iffy as the coroner (circa 1945) did not believe that his death was due to violence..
 

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EnolaGaia

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I noticed some points in the compiled news articles (linked above) that don't exactly match the exposition cited by the OP.

RE: T. C. Williams' Son

According to the Evening Express of 31 August, 1945:
The Coroner said Inspector MORRIS had been in formed that Mr T. C. Williams had a son born in 1859

Dr FIRTH said it was the body of a man between the ages of 30 and 50 and it was not reasonably possible to believe that it was the son of T. C. WILLIAMS.
(Dr. Firth was not the coroner. He was Director of the Home Office Laboratory, Preston, and presumably involved as a forensic consultant.)

According to the Evening Express of 19 July, 1945:
Dr Charles Victor HARRISON, senior lecturer in pathology at Liverpool University, said the cranium was broken in the region of the left middle ear, but there was no reason to think it had been caused by violence.

He thought the body was that of an adult man, about 6ft in height, and more than 25 years of age but not more than middle aged, and that it had been lying there for a long time.
This would seem to rule out - or at least increase doubt about - my suggestion that the corpse may have been Williams' son.

RE: The Railway 'Ticket'

The alleged 'ticket' from a railway has been taken as a possible clue, because folks can't imagine why (e.g.) a getaway ticket might have been left planted on a substitute corpse.

As it turns out, there was a document from a railway, but it wasn't a ticket. The sole reference to any rail-related item found on the body is as follows:
There was also a London North Western railway advice note dated June 27th 1885, and what appeared to be an undated bill head of T. C. WILLIAMS and Co, Leeds St, Liverpool.
(Emphasis Added)

An advice note is a notice sent from a supplier or vendor to a customer, typically used to advise the customer an order has been fulfilled and / or shipped. I can't locate anything indicating such 'advice notes' were issued in relation to personal ticketing for rail passage.

It would appear the claim the corpse had a ticket for rail passage is erroneous.

RE: The Cylinder Itself

As I understand the newspaper articles, the cylinder itself was never clearly identified. It seems multiple people suggested it might have been a former ventilation shaft, but its original purpose and provenance were never established.
 

catseye

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My question would be why would he have an undated bill head from his own company? Especially if he was trying to disappear/die without being identified? It's 'Mysterious Death 101' to not have any identifying material about your person, and carrying one of his own bills would be bizarre, unless his memory was failing and he needed it to remember his name.
 

Krepostnoi

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My question would be why would he have an undated bill head from his own company? Especially if he was trying to disappear/die without being identified? It's 'Mysterious Death 101' to not have any identifying material about your person, and carrying one of his own bills would be bizarre, unless his memory was failing and he needed it to remember his name.
Although, if the body isn't actually his, it's quite a good way of throwing people off the scent.
 

catseye

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Although, if the body isn't actually his, it's quite a good way of throwing people off the scent.
I don't think it's him. I think people have been led to false conclusions by the bill and by the mystery of T C Williams not appearing to have a death certificate or grave. I think TC ran off abroad and this man is someone else. Mind you, it should be possible to DNA test the remains, and, since he had a son, there may well be living relatives to cross match with.
 

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I don't think it's him. I think people have been led to false conclusions by the bill and by the mystery of T C Williams not appearing to have a death certificate or grave. I think TC ran off abroad and this man is someone else. Mind you, it should be possible to DNA test the remains, and, since he had a son, there may well be living relatives to cross match with.
Yes when I was reading it I thought DNA might be able to help.
 

EnolaGaia

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Here's another trove of data on Thomas Cregeen Williams (TCW), from a genealogical forum:

https://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=300305.0

Some tidbits from the multi-page thread ...

RE: The Son

- The son (Thomas L. C. Williams; TLCW) was apparently born in 1857, not 1859. The birth was registered in the 4th quarter of 1857.

- The son was listed as 23 years old, in his parents' household and a 'commercial traveller' in the 1881 census.

- The 1891 census shows TLCW living in Leeds and being an insurance agent.

- TLCW is listed at the same address and with the same vocation in 1901. He died in 1919; buried in Harehills cemetery.

RE: The Wife (Actually Wives)

- TCW was married twice, and both wives were named Elizabeth.

- The 1st wife (Elizabeth Lea) died in 1878. TCW married Elizabeth Wood (possibly a cousin) in 1879.
 

EnolaGaia

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Also from the RootsWeb thread ...

There's a bit of evidence indicating the corpse was indeed TCW which wasn't mentioned in the materials cited earlier.

The corpse was wearing a signet ring containing a green stone with red flecks and an 1859 London hallmark. The description of the stone indicates it was bloodstone. During the 1945 investigation an elderly man came forward to claim TCW had worn such a ring.

In Terry Cooke's book he mentions a gold bloodstone signet ring found with the body, hallmarked London 1859. He relates that during the 1945 police investigation an 80 year old man came forward and said that he used to live in Leeds Street, and when he was a lad he would tease TC Williams by opening and closing his shop door (so as to ring the bell) and then running away. On one occasion Williams caught him and beat him round the head - which is when he saw and felt the signet ring.
https://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=300305.18

STORY SOURCE (Cited By Poster): Scotland Road by Terry Cooke (1987).
 

eburacum

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In a railway context, advice notes are sometimes documents which accompany the shipment or wagon, perhaps carried in the wagon itself, or clipped to the outside in a safe place. It could be very loosely described as a ticket, but a ticket for the carriage of goods rather than people.
 

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Yes when I was reading it I thought DNA might be able to help.
It did say that althougj he did have a son, no relatives were able to be traced, so DNA is a bust, the signet ring is the interesting thing, it was described as having an unusual multi coloured stone, i also wonder if the diarys are still being held in a box somewhere
 

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It did say that althougj he did have a son, no relatives were able to be traced, so DNA is a bust, the signet ring is the interesting thing, it was described as having an unusual multi coloured stone, i also wonder if the diarys are still being held in a box somewhere
The genealogy websites have a lot of DNA on their databases, I’m sure some murderers have been traced that way. Surely he has some family out there and there is the son.
 

catseye

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It did say that althougj he did have a son, no relatives were able to be traced, so DNA is a bust, the signet ring is the interesting thing, it was described as having an unusual multi coloured stone, i also wonder if the diarys are still being held in a box somewhere
It wouldn't need to be an immediate relative though, a cousin or thereabouts would be good enough, in fact any familial connection would go towards proving it was TCW.

I'm a bit suspicious of the 'ring with the very identifiable stone that was apparently only known to a child who used to visit the shop', it's a bit Scooby Doo for me.
 

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My supposition is that it is not TCW. Part of the reason being that the item id'd as a "train ticket" in OP is now not a train ticker. I am leaning towards it being another body planted to make it appear to be TCW. The things left with the body are strange imo. Why would someone who may have been hiding in a steel cylinder have diaries, business papers, postcard etc on his person? These seem very convient to be used to quickly identify someone. If they were important documents to me, and If I were hiding out until I could get somewhere else and was in a tight cylinder, my personal belongings would be in a case somewhere to safely take with me.

The other odd thing is why no one (wife or son) questioned or called police to ask where TCW had gone. Even if they were in on a scheme for TCW to leave the area, you would think that they would have expected to hear from him in some manner to let them know he'd arrived. When they hadn't heard from him, you would think that they would look into it. I think the family may have known where he was and that he wasn't dead.
 
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My supposition is that it is not TCW. I am leaning towards it being another body planted to make it appear to be TCW. The things left with the body are strange imo. Why would someone who may have been hiding in a steel cylinder have diaries, business papers, postcard etc on his person? These seem very convient to be used to quickly identify someone. If they were important documents to me, and If I were hiding out until I could get somewhere else and was in a tight cylinder, my personal belongings would be in a case somewhere to safely take with me.

The other odd thing is why no one (wife or son) questioned or called police to ask where TCW had gone. Even if they were in on a scheme for TCW to leave the area, you would think that they would have expected to hear from him in some manner to let them know he'd arrived. When they hadn't heard from him, you would think that they would look into it. I think the family may have known where he was and that he wasn't dead.
We dont know what was written in the diarys it may have been vital information that he needed to start his new life, they were reported to be indecipherable, so may have been written in code, if that was the case, why leave them on a stooge body, also we dont know that the wife didnt report her husband missing, the body was discovered 60 years later and im sure missing petsons reports were not a high priority or even recorded in great detail in the late 19th century, the train ticket is the clincher for me, you would not leave a getaway train ticket on a stooge body surely
 

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We dont know what was written in the diarys it may have been vital information that he needed to start his new life, they were reported to be indecipherable, so may have been written in code, if that was the case, why leave them on a stooge body, also we dont know that the wife didnt report her husband missing, the body was discovered 60 years later and im sure missing petsons reports were not a high priority or even recorded in great detail in the late 19th century, the train ticket is the clincher for me, you would not leave a getaway train ticket on a stooge body surely
If you review the extral information added by Enola, the train ticket is not a passenger ticket. I just editted my post to add this tidbit.:)
 

EnolaGaia

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... the train ticket is the clincher for me, you would not leave a getaway train ticket on a stooge body surely
It wasn't a passenger's ticket that was found on the body - it was an advice note from a supplier to a customer. The latest-dated documents found on the body are consistent with TCW's having continued to transact business a year or more after bankruptcy proceedings had been initiated. I don't know how UK bankruptcy processes worked in the late 19th century, so I don't know if (like today) he could have continued to run his business up to the point everything was liquidated for his creditors. The two bankruptcy documents we have suggest no creditors had come forth to claim proceeds from liquidation as of 1885.
 

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It wasn't a passenger's ticket that was found on the body - it was an advice note from a supplier to a customer. The latest-dated documents found on the body are consistent with TCW's having continued to transact business a year or more after bankruptcy proceedings had been initiated. I don't know how UK bankruptcy processes worked in the late 19th century, so I don't know if (like today) he could have continued to run his business up to the point everything was liquidated for his creditors. The two bankruptcy documents we have suggest no creditors had come forth to claim proceeds from liquidation as of 1885.
I just reread the original documents and yes it does say a document found on him was an advance note for rail cargo but in the initial story it clearly drecribes a train ticket to London, now im no expert but your common or garden copper in the 40's would recognise a train ticket as described, 'other documents' as described could have contaoned the advance rail slip mentioned, im pretty sure i couldnt and neither could your common or garden copper tell you what a rail advanve slip looked like, so im summising that they are 2 different items
 

EnolaGaia

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I just reread the original documents and yes it does say a document found on him was an advance note for rail cargo but in the initial story it clearly drecribes a train ticket to London ...
The account that calls it a ticket is a later derivative from the documentation to which I linked earlier, which represents the original news stories from the time the body was discovered. The 'ticket' attribution is the version representing subsequent twisting of facts, not the other way around.
 

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Maybe 'docket' would be a better word than ticket?

And why would anyone wanting to escape their life write their daring plan in code in diaries? He could have just put them in a safety deposit box or a left luggage locker at the station and just kept the key. And anyone going bankrupt doesn't really have much scope for an escape plan - 'get to USA, make new life' doesn't take up a lot of paper.
 

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The account that calls it a ticket is a later derivative from the documentation to which I linked earlier, which represents the original news stories from the time the body was discovered. The 'ticket' attribution is the version representing subsequent twisting of facts, not the other way around.
Fair point well made, i withdraw that part of my argument your honor, but i stand buy the rest hehe
 

EnolaGaia

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The original news stories don't mention the diaries were indecipherable because they were in code. The implication is that they were unreadable because they were embedded within / infused by the body's decomposition products (adipocere), and some of them weren't in readable condition once extracted from that waxy material.

Edit to Add: The involvement of adipocere comes from the RootsWeb thread, where member Purlin states that info came from book extracts a cousin had sent. Unfortunately, Purlin wasn't advised as to the identity of the book from which they came.
 
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