The Ardlamont Mystery

The Ardlamont Murder (also known as the Ardlamont Mystery), which took place in Argyll, Scotland, on 10 August 1893, gave rise to two high-profile court cases: a murder trial in Edinburgh, and a defamation trial in London the following year.

Alfred John Monson received the Scottish verdict of “not proven” in his High Court of Justiciary trial for the murder of Cecil Hambrough. Then, in 1894, he sued Madame Tussauds for libel and was awarded one farthing (the lowest possible amount at the time) in damages. The case established the principle of “libel by innuendo” in English law, and Monson v Tussauds Ltd has been used to draw up defamation laws in many countries since.

A notorious case at the time, the trial received renewed attention when it was noted that Joseph Bell, revealed as the inspiration for the popular fictional character Sherlock Holmes, had been called as an expert witness at the murder trial.

The Worcester College Library and Archives has provided an excellent account of the Ardlamont Mystery.

Alfred John Monson’s great-great grandson has contributed to this discussion forum where he states “it seems likely that Alfred did indeed move to South Africa under an assumed name, but we have no idea what what name was”. So there is no knowledge of what became of Alfred John Monson or when he died.

I intend to make a film on this Mystery. But meantime here are a few images:


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