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Arthur Orton plays the starving pavement artist?
Researched by Philip Battle, using source material from the British Museum.
DISCRIPTION: A fat man (Arthur Orton) seated begging on a pavement with a placard around his neck reading “I am starving”; on the flags in front of him is a model of Tichborne Hall, and drawings of lawyers as devils and slogans about the Tichborne case.
Wood-engraving: satirical print, one of six prints relating to the celebrated affair of Arthur Orton, the ‘Tichborne claimant’. In the collection of The British Museum.
Orton was an imposter who claimed to be the missing heir Sir Roger Tichborne. The trial lasted 188 days and the judge, Sir Alexander Cockburn, took 18 days to sum up. The jury eventually found Orton guilty of perjury on 28 February 1874.
The English butcher Arthur Orton (1834-1898) alias Thomas Castro, known as the ‘Tichborne Claimant’, came to Australia in 1852, moving from Hobart to Gippsland and then to Wagga. He met Sir Alfred Joseph Tichborne, 11th baronet, and on his death in 1866 he persuaded the widow of the 10th baronet that he was her eldest son, Roger, who was in fact lost in the Bay of Biscay in 1854.
Invited to England in 1866, he brought a court action against the 12th baronet as the ‘Tichborne Claimant’. The case collapsed after 102 days in court, and Orton was sentenced to 14 years’ hard labour for perjury. Released in 1884, he confessed his imposture. His story was made into a 1999 film directed by David Yates, featuring Stephen Fry and John Gielgud.