Franz Müller.

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the hat found in Muller's box was a hat made by them; that
it had been cut down an inch and a half and sewn together
again, but not in such a way as a hatter would have done it;
a hatter, they said, would have used gum. They stated that
it was their custom to write the name of the customer for


whom the hat had been made on the band of the hat inside
the lining. This part of the hat had been cut away from the
hat found in Miiller's box. Muller was remanded from Monday,
the 19th, to Monday, the 26th of September. That day, at
eight o'clock in the morning, he attended the last sitting of
the coroner's inquest at the Hackney Town Hall, when the jury
returned a verdict of wilful murder against him. From
Hackney he was taken to Bow Street at eleven o'clock, and
at the end of the day's hearing Mr. Flowers committed him for
trial at the Central Criminal Court. No evidence was called
on behalf of the prisoner. The magistrate asked Muller if he
had anything to say. He answered, " No, sir, I have nothing
to say now." Throughout the proceedings Muller had appeared
cool and collected, only betraying anger on one occasion during
the evidence of Matthews, the cabman.

The Sessions at the Central Criminal Court opened on
Monday, 24th October, when the Recorder, Mr. Russell Gurney,
advised the jury to bring in a true bill against Franz Muller.
This they returned on the following Wednesday, and on the
next day, Thursday, the 27th, Muller was put upon his trial.
The presiding judges were the Lord Chief Baron, Sir Frederick
Pollock, and his son-in-law, Mr. Baron Martin two of the most
distinguished judges on the bench. In these more leisurely
days a law officer of the Crown did not disdain to conduct the
prosecution in a sensational trial for murder. On this occasion
Sir Robert Collier, Solicitor-General, led for the Crown with
a very strong team of assistants at his back. First and fore-
most among them was Serjeant Ballantine, one of the most
popular advocates of the day, noted more particularly for his
great skill as a cross-examiner. His juniors were Mr. Hardinge
Giffard, Mr. Hannen, and Mr. Beasley. The first of these is
now Ihe Earl of Halsbury, ex-Lord Chancellor of England,
and the only survivor amongst the distinguished lawyers who
took part in Miiller's trial. Mr. Hannen had been appointed
recently junior counsel to the Treasury, or, in legal slang,
" Attorney -General's devil." He was soon to be raised to high
judicial office, and is best known to history as President of the
Divorce Court for more than twenty-five years, and of the
Parnell Commission in 1888.

Serjeant Parry led for the defence. His tact and skill as

Franz Muller.

a verdict getter, his great powers of persuasion with a jury,
made Parry one of the most popular and successful advocates
of his time, whilst his kind and genial nature had rendered
him no less popular as a man. Mr. Metcalfe and Mr. Besley
were his juniors, the latter, until a few years ago, a well-
known member of the Old Bailey bar.

Needless to say, the Court was crowded throughout the
trial. The Lord Mayor Lawrence accompanied the judges on
the bench. Muller is described as pale and anxious, following
the proceedings closely and communicating frequently with
his solicitor, Mr. Beard. Sir Robert Collier opened the case
for the Crown in a short and business-like speech. He sug-
gested that Mr. Briggs had been attacked while dozing in the
corner of the carriage, and that the weapon with which the
deed had been done had been undoubtedly Mr. Briggs 's walking
stick " a formidable weapon, large, heavy, with a handle at
one end." As motive for the crime the Solicitor-General
suggested a sudden desire that had come over the murderer
to possess the gold watch and chain which stood out conspicu-
ously on the waistcoat of his victim. He attached great
importance to the hat found in the railway carriage " If you
discover with certainty," he said, " the person who wore that
hat on that night, you will have the murderer, and the case
is proved almost as clearly against him as if he was seen to
do it." He showed how by his dealings with pawnbrokers
and others, commencing from the exchange of Mr. Briggs 's
watch chain with Death, the prisoner had become possessed of
about 4 5s. in cash with which, on the Wednesday following
the murder, he had bought his passage to America. He
dealt with the evidence as regards the two hats, the one found
in the carriage, which he would prove to have belonged to Muller,
and the other found in Muller 's box in New York, which he
would prove to have belonged to Mr. Briggs. " Mr. Briggs,"
concluded the Solicitor-General, " is robbed and murdered in
a railway carriage ; the murderer takes from him his watch
and chain, and takes from him his hat. All the articles taken
are found on Muller ; he gives a false statement of how he got
them, and the hat left behind is the hat of Muller." If these
circumstances were proved by witnesses, then, in the opinion of
the Solicitor-General, a stronger case of circumstantial evidence
had rarely, if ever, been submitted to a jury,


The first witnesses called were those concerned in the finding
of Mr. Briggs and the medical gentlemen who had examined
his body. It was with the appearance of Death, the jeweller,
that the real interest of the case began. Death was clear
that it was Miiller who had brought him Mr. Briggs's
chain on the llth of July, which he had valued at 3 10s.
Miiller said that he would prefer to take another chain in
exchange instead of money, upon which Death gave him a gold
chain worth 3 5s. and a 5s. ring to make up the balance. The
chain he had put into a box identical with that which the
prisoner had given to Matthews' little girl. In cross-examina-
tion it was suggested to Death that Miiller had been to his
shop in the previous year, but Death and his brother were
positive that they had neither of them seen the prisoner
before the llth of July.

Mrs. Blyth, Miiller's landlady, gave evidence as to the
prisoner's movements at the time of the murder. In cross-
examination she bore testimony to the quiet and inoffensive
disposition of the prisoner. She said that owing to an injury
to his foot, Miiller was wearing a slipper on one foot the day
of the murder, and she admitted that he had spoken of going
to America some fortnight before the murder of Mr. Briggs.
Her evidence was supported by that of her husband.

Mrs. Repsch, the wife of a German tailor, a fellow-workman
with Miiller, gave important evidence. Miiller had been at
their house the evening of the murder, and had left them about
half -past seven or eight o'clock. On Monday, the llth,
Miiller had shown Mrs. Repsch the chain which Death had
given him in exchange for that of Mr. Briggs. He had told
her what was not true : that he had bought it in the docks.
She noticed that he was wearing a different hat. Miiller said
he had bought it for 14s. 6d., upon which her husband had
remarked that it looked more like a guinea hat. She recol-
lected the hat which Miiller had been wearing previous to
thia. To the best of her belief it was the hat found in the
railway carriage. Cross-examined, Mrs. Repsch said that she
particular!/ remembered this hat because of its peculiar

John Haffa, a journeyman tailor, and friend of the prisoner,
deposed to having pawned his own coat on the Wednesday before

Franz Muller.

Miiller sailed for America in order to help his friend to buy
his passage ; but in cross-examination he admitted that before
the 9th of July he had seen Muller in possession of a sum of
money sufficient to have paid for his passage.

On the second day of the trial the Crown commenced by
calling evidence as to the exact financial position of Muller
immediately before and after the murder. It then appeared
that in June Muller had raised 3 by pawning a gold watch
and chain at the shop of a Mrs. Barker, in Houndsditch. On
Monday, the 1 1th of July, he got from Death in exchange for
Mr. Briggs's chain a gold chain valued at 3 5s. This he
pawned on the Tuesday for 1 10s., and with the money so
obtained he took his own watch out of pawn from Mrs.
Barker's. By borrowing 1 from a man of the name of
Glass he redeemed his own chain also, which he had left with
Mrs. Barker. Glass and he then pawned this watch and chain
a second time with Messrs. Cox, of Princes Street, Leicester
Square, for a sum of 4. This pawn ticket Muller sold to
Glass for 5s. ; thus Muller had altogether 4 5s., and it was
with this sum that he had purchased his passage to America.
If Muller were the murderer of Mr. Briggs, he had perjured
his soul for the paltry sum of 30s.

The evidence of Jonathan Matthews, cabman, was awaited
with some excitement. His severe cross-examination at the
Police Court by Mr. Beard had led to the expectation that the
defence might seek to prove Muller's innocence of the murder
by suggesting Matthews as having been the guilty man. But
Serjeant Parry was wise enough not to adopt so dangerous a
course. His cross-examination was directed entirely to damage
the credit of Matthews as a trustworthy witness. Matthews
identified the hat found in the carriage as one with a peculiar
striped lining, which he had bought for Muller at his own
request at Mr. Walker's, in Crawford Street. Serjeant Parry
showed that on the question of his purchases of hats Matthews'
statements at the trial differed materially from those he had
made before the coroner and the magistrate, and he questioned
him pointedly as to what had become of his own old hats,
particularly the one which he had bought at Mr. Walker's,
the one to which Muller had taken such a fancy that he had
asked him to get him another like it. At the Police Court


Matthews could give no account of his movements on the night
of Mr. Briggs's murder. Now he said he had made inquiries,
and had found that he had been on the cab-stand at Paddington
station from seven to eleven o'clock. Matthews adhered to the
statement that he knew nothing of the murder until the 18th
of July when he saw near his cab-stand the bill offering a
reward for the apprehension of the murderer. He denied that
it was a desire to receive the .300 reward that had prompted
him to give his evidence against Miiller.

A new fact Serjeant Parry elicited as damaging to Matthews'
good character, though it cannot be said that it told very
heavily against his credibility as a witness in this particular
instance. In 1850, at the age of nineteen, Matthews had
undergone twenty-one days' imprisonment for theft. He had
been at that time conductor of a coach at Norwich, and had
absconded from his situation, taking with him in his box a
bit, a spur, and a padlock belonging to his employer.
Matthews preferred to describe this incident as a " spree,"
which, he said, had been construed harshly into an act of
theft, and he protested that the things had been put into his
box " unbeknown " to him. He had never been in trouble
since. Severe as was the cross-examination of Matthews, in
the judgment of those who heard it, it had not shaken the
weight of his evidence in any material degree.

Mrs. Matthews gave evidence as to the jewellers' box given
by Miiller to her little daughter. In cross-examination she
admitted that she had known of Mr. Briggs's murder on the
Monday following, though her husband would appear to have
known nothing of it until the 18th of July.

One fact came out unexpectedly in the evidence of Walker,
the hatter, and his foreman. They stated that the lining in
Muller's hat, which Matthews had bought for him at their shop,
was very peculiar in character, and had not been used by them
in the lining of more than two, or, at most, three or four

The evidence of the police officers who had arrested Miiller
in New York was followed by that of Mr. Briggs's son and
his hatter, Digance. Mr. Thomas Briggs identified both the
watch and hat found in Muller's box as having belonged to his
father. Digance said that as Mr. Briggs had found his last

Franz Muller.

hat a little too easy on the head, he had placed a piece of
tissue paper inside the lining ; some small fragments of this
tissue paper were remaining in the band of the hat when found
in Muller's box.

It was half-past two when Serjeant Parry rose to make his
speech for the defence. He spoke for two hours and a half.
It was the only speech then allowed by law, and the Serjeant
complained with some reason that, though he was about to
call evidence for the defence, he was forbidden to sum up his
case to the jury, a privilege that would have been accorded
him if he had been engaged at nisi prius " in some miserable
squabble between a hackney cab and a dust cart." By the
Act 28 Viet. cap. 18, section 2, " Denman's Act," passed in the
following year, the grievance alluded to by the learned Serjeant
was removed.

The Serjeant commenced by dealing with the evidence that
had been called for the Crown. He warned the jury that,
though they might be satisfied that Muller had had a hat
similar to that found in the carriage, they must not therefore
assume that the hat found in the carriage had necessarily
belonged to Muller. He deprecated warmly any intention of
accusing Matthews of the murder. At the same time, he
suggested that the hat found in the carriage might just as
well have been Matthews' as Muller's. Matthews he described
as an entirely unreliable witness, actuated solely by the desire
to obtain the 300 reward, and proved in one instance to have
lied deliberately before both magistrate and coroner.

As regards Mr. Briggs's hat, he commented on the fact that
the prosecution had called no witness to prove that, on the
day of his death, Mr. Briggs was wearing such a hat as that
found on Muller. Muller's false statement as to the way he
had become possessed of the watch and chain he attributed to
the fact that the prisoner had bought them at the docks under
circumstances which must have convinced him that he was
buying them from some person who had obtained possession
of them in a suspicious way. He pointed out, and very justly,
that no blood-stained clothes had been found on Muller, and
that the evidence given to prove that he had changed or got
rid of some of his clothes after the murder was highly incon-
clusive. He scouted the idea that a slight and by no means


muscular young man such as the prisoner could in three minutes,
the time taken by the train to go from Bow to Hackney Wick
station, have murdered, robbed, and thrown out of the carriage
a man 5 feet 9 inches in height and weighing 12 stone. The
crime, he contended, and he was going to call evidence to prove
it, must have been the work of two men. Nor would he accept
the Solicitor-General's suggestion that Mr. Briggs'a stick had
been the weapon with which the crime had been committed.
"A pair of shears," he said, "had been taken out of the
pocket of the prisoner; he did not suppose that even now the
Solicitor-General would suggest that the murder was com-
mitted with them." A curious comment on this statement is
contained in a letter written to the Times two days after
Muller's execution by Mr. Toulmin, the surgeon who had made
the post-mortem on Mr. Briggs. In this letter Mr. Toulmin
expressed the opinion that the " tailor's shears found on Muller,
some 13 inches or 14 inches long, and weighing about 2 Ibs.,
was the only instrument he knew of that might have inflicted
the wounds found on Mr. Briggs," and he quoted the statement
of a journeyman tailor to the effect that a tailor who did not
take away his shears every day from his workshop would very
quickly lose them.

Serjeant Parry said that he should call as the first witness
for the defence a Mr. Lee, a respectable gentleman who had
given evidence at the inquest, but for some reason had not
been called by the Crown. Mr. Lee would say that he had
seen Mr. Briggs in a compartment of a first-class carriage at
Fenchurch Street station on the night of the 9th July; that,
knowing him, he had said "Good-night" to him, and that
he had then seen two men sitting in the carriage with him.
The Serjeant said that he should further prove an alibi; he
would prove that between nine and ten o'clock on the night
of Mr. Briggs's murder Muller had been at a house in James
Street, Camberwell. He would also call an omnibus conductor,
who would swear that about ten minutes to ten on the Saturday
night a passenger had got on to his omnibus at Camberwell
Gate, wearing a carpet slipper on one foot. He was not
prepared to swear that the passenger was Muller, but it had
been proved by the prosecution that, owing to the injury to
his foot, Muller was wearing a slipper on that night, and, if

Franz Muller.


he were at Camberwell Gate at ten minutes to ten, it was
clear that he could not have left Fenchurch Street by the 9.60

At the conclusion of the learned Serjeant's speech the Court
adjourned until nine o'clock on Saturday, the 29th November,
when Mr. Thomas Lee, the first witness for the defence, was
called. Mr. Lee swore that he had seen Mr. Briggs sitting
with two other men in a first-class compartment of the 9.50
train from Fenchurch Street on the night of the murder. He
swore that he had said " Good-night, Mr. Briggs," to which
Mr. Briggs had replied, "Good-night, Tom." He could not
swear to the prisoner being either of the men. Mr. Lee was
positive and unshaken on the main point of his evidence, in
spite of severe cross-examination. When asked why he had
not made his statement to the police until more than a week
after the murder, he answered that it was because he thought
it unimportant, and knew what a bother it would be. " I
have something to do," he said; " I collect my own rents "
a frame of mind which the Chief Baron, with some reason,
declared threw general discredit upon Mr. Lee's views and

After some evidence that the cutting down and stitching of
hats was a usual method of procedure in the second-hand hat
trade, the defence proceeded with the proof of the prisoner's
alibi. This rested on the evidence of a girl of the unfortunate
class, and that of the man and woman in whose house she
lived. Muller had formed an intimacy with the girl Eldred,
and, according to the evidence of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, with
whom the poor girl lodged, Muller had called at their house
in Camberwell at half-past nine o'clock on the night of the
9th July. The girl Eldred was out, and Muller had remained
talking to Mrs Jones for five or ten minutes, after which he
had left. If the evidence of Mrs. Jones was absolutely correct,
then Muller could not have reached Fenchurch Street from
Camberwell in time to have caught the 9.50 train. But the
prosecution suggested that her evidence was not strictly correct.
It had been proved that Muller had left his friend Haffa at
Jewry Street at eight o'clock that night. If he had gone
straight from there to Camberwell he would have reached there
about nine, the hour at which he must have known the girl


Eldred was in the habit of going out. If that were so, he
would then have had plenty of time to get on an omnibus to
Fenchurch Street, possibly arriving at that station at the same
time as Mr. Briggs. The character of Mr. and Mrs. Jones did
not help their credibility, and the Solicitor-General dwelt with
almost undue vehemence on the little reliance that was to be
placed on the clock of a brothel; it is difficult to see why the
veracity of a clock should vary according to the character of
the house in which it stands. The girl Eldred, whom the Chief
Baron described as a pathetic figure, heard and seen with great
compassion, had evidently done her best to save the life of the
young man, and, as* she left the Court, Miiller looked at her
with an expression of sincere gratitude.

The evidence of the omnibus conductor as to his passenger
wearing slippers was quite valueless.

The Solicitor-General exercised his right to reply. He
dealt very severely with the evidence that had been called
for the defence, and reiterated the great strength of the case
that had been made out by the Crown. At half-past one the
Chief Baron commenced his charge to the jury. It occupied
a little more than an hour and a quarter. Though scrupulously
fair and dignified in tone, it was decidedly unfavourable to
the prisoner. It was clear that the learned judge was power-
fully impressed by the strength of the circumstantial evidence
against the prisoner. Miiller listened to the charge with
painful anxiety. The jury, who declined the offer of the Chief
Baron to read through to them the whole of the evidence,
were only absent from the Court a quarter of an hour, when
they returned with a verdict of guilty. Baron Martin, as the
junior judge, passed sentence of death. " I have no more
doubt," he said to Muller, " that you committed this murder
than I have with reference to the occurrence of any other event
of which I am certain, but which I did not see with my own
eyes." At the conclusion of the sentence the prisoner was
understood to say, "I should like to say something; I am
satisfied with the sentence which your lordship has passed. I
know very well that it is what the law of the country pre-
scribes. What I have to say is, that I have not been con-
victed on a true statement of the facts, but on a false state-
ment." As he left the dock his firmness gave way, and he
burst into tears.

Franz Muller.

No sooner had Muller been condemned to die than the
German Society, which had defended him, made strenuous
efforts to obtain a remission of the sentence. A memorial was
prepared for presentation to the Home Secretary, Sir George
Grey. Even the King of Prussia and some of the minor German
potentates had telegraphed to the Queen asking her to inter-
vene and save Miiller's life.

Certain German newspapers had gone the length of suggesting
that it was the war in Schleswig-Holstein, and the impotent
rage of the English aristocracy arising from that nefarious
transaction, that were tying the noose round Muller's neck.
Punch waxed very sarcastic over these insinuations, and made
them the subject of the following verses :


The German who clapped when the Diet dared draw

Execution to deal on the Duchies,
Howl against execution awarded by law

To Muller in Calcraft's stern clutches.
Can the reason that Vaterland thus makes black white,

Prom applause to abuse shifts its song,
Be that our execution was provably right

And their own as demonstrably wrong?

The execution had been fixed for Tuesday, the 14th of
November. On the 10th of November the German Society
presented their memorial to Sir George Grey. They relied,
among other things, on a story of a parcel which had been
thrown from a cab into the bedroom of a Mr. Poole at
Edmonton, breaking his window at two o'clock in the morning
of Sunday, the 10th of July. Mr. Poole had followed the cab
with a view to obtaining compensation for the damage done to
his window. There were four men inside the cab, one without
a hat, and wearing a handkerchief round his head. The
parcel that had been thrown contained blood-stained trousers.
But the matter resolved itself into nothing more than a
foolish spree. The memorial also included a statement of a
Baron de Camin, ^ho said that he had seen a blood-stained
man on the Embankment between Bow and Hackney Wick
station on the night of the 9th of July. Muller had,


since hie confinement, made a statement to the effect that
he had bought the hat found on him at Mr. Digance's shop, but
Digance and his shopman, when confronted with Miiller in
Newgate, failed to recognise him. On the 8th of November
Mr. and Mrs. Blyth, with whom Miiller had lodged, and who had
evidently become rather attached to the young man, made a
declaration at Worship Street Police Court that Miiller had been
wearing the same hat on the Sunday as he had been wearing on
the Saturday, the day of the crime. They said that they had
not seen the hat produced at the trial, but were sure that it was
not his hat. These efforts to save Miiller were not allowed to go
without reply. An attempt was made, but fruitlessly, to
connect Miiller with the murder, in 1863, of Emma Jackson,
a woman of light character, killed in a house of ill-fame in
George Street, Bloomsbury. The unfortunate girl had been
found dead about four o'clock on the afternoon of the 10th of
April. No clue was ever obtained to the murderer, though
there were people living in an adjoining room, and almost

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