Miss Charlesworth’s Compliments

Found 11 January 1909, Wexford Bay, County Wexford.

In a tightly-corked mineral bottle:

To the press, police, and public of Ireland. Miss Violet Charlesworth presents her compliments and hopes she has not caused them any worry. Her journey from Cork to Rosslare has been very pleasant indeed, and she hopes to visit Ireland again soon. Au Revoir. This bottle was thrown through the porthole as our fine steamer was passing the great Tuskar Lighthouse. How powerful are these lights. –V.G.C.

Violet Gordon Charlesworth was a 24-year-old fraudster who, in January 1909, faked her own death in order to escape huge debts. Charlesworth had obtained tens of thousands of pounds from numerous sources by falsely claiming to be an heiress who would receive a £100,000 estate on her 25th birthday. With that date approaching, she faked her death by pretending to fall from her motor car over a cliff and into the sea at Penmaenmawr, Conwy, Wales.

Newspapers reported various apparent sightings of Charlesworth after her death, at Holyhead, Anglesey, boarding a steamer for Ireland, in Bray and then Wexford. Detectives at nearby Rosslare regarded the message as a hoax. By the end of January, Charlesworth had been found, alive and well, in Oban, Scotland. She was charged with conspiracy to obtain money under false pretences, and sentenced to five years’ hard labour.

[Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 13 January 1909]

Author: Paul Brown

Writes about football and history. Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, The Guardian etc. Latest book: The Ruhleben Football Association. Twitter: @paulbrownUK

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