Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Today -100: December 3, 1914: Of war credits, presidents, and legitimacy suits


The Reichstag votes $1.25 billion in war credits and adjourns for three months.  The only no vote was socialist Karl Liebknecht’s and the rest of the SPD should be ashamed of itself.

South Africa captures rebel leader Gen. Christiaan De Wet.  It seems that automobiles are better than horses in a chase.

Zapata and Pancho Villa confer, and guess what, they both support different people to be president.

Austrian troops finally occupy Belgrade, which will make a nice present for Emperor Franz Josef for his 66th anniversary as emperor.

The Slingsby legitimacy suit opens in London.  I’ll admit I just clicked on this story because of the glorious phrase “Slingsby legitimacy suit,” but it turns out to be darned interesting. Charles Slingsby, a former lieutenant of the British navy married to an American and living in San Francisco, inherited money and lands in Yorkshire from his father, as did his heir – £100,000 – except his heir died at or soon after birth and so he adopted a child and passed it off as his natural son, or at least that’s the accusation being made by his brothers.  Follow-up: In February 1915, Judge Bargrave Deane, possessor of the most magistratey name in all England, ruled that the baby-substitution story was a fabrication.  He thinks the child (Teddy) looks like his parents, complete with his father’s “peculiarly shaped jaw.”  The judge called in his friend, the sculptor Sir George Frampton, who noticed Teddy’s odd-shaped left ear, which looks like his mother’s.  He’s a funny-looking kid, is what the court is ruling here.  Further follow-up: in 1916 the Court of Appeals overturned Bargrave Deane’s ruling, coming to the conclusion that the evidence that Mrs Slingsby had advertised to adopt a baby while supposedly pregnant (the theory now seems to be that there was never a legitimate baby, and to be fair, there does seem to be a lot of evidence for it, although the other Slingsby brothers were spreading around an awful lot of money in the New World bribing witnesses, so I’m not really sure).  In December 1916 the House of Lords refused to hear the appeal, noting that it was sorry to fuck over Slingsby (now serving again in the military) and his funny-looking bastard child.


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