The Story That Came Too Late

A personal interlude.

My Wife’s grandmother was born Adeline Hosgood in October 1911. She was often asked throughout her life where her first name originated from.

Adeline did not know, she always replied that it was someone her father had once met and he had liked the name.

This is the story of how Adeline got her name.

[I]T BEGINS IN MANCHESTER at the Tivoli Theatre on 3rd April 1911. Appearing on stage was Flo Dudley, a 33-year-old widow from Ilford. In the audience was a London businessman, Edward Hopwood aged 45. The two met after the show and there was an instant attraction between the two, which may have been helped by Hopwood not only splashing money on Flo but telling her she had the leading part in a stage play he was putting together.

They became lovers and soon the talk was about marriage, but there were problems. Flo was Roman Catholic, and Edward was a Protestant – he was also married with three children, something that Flo was unaware of. Hopwood paid off any contracts of employment that were outstanding for Flo as he did not want her appearing on stage anymore.

The romance did not last, at least not from Flo’s viewpoint. She told her sister that Hopwood was always accusing her of infidelity and calling her vile names. The pair parted but Hopwood was not prepared to see the woman he had allegedly spent £1,000 on just walk out of his life.

Hopwood knew that Flo regularly commuted between Liverpool Street Station and Ilford, to the home of her sister in Balfour Road. He employed several staff members at the station, a wine waiter, a porter, a bell ringer, etc to follow her home.

In September 1912 Flo received a telegram from Jim Kelly a long time friend who was a tobacco manufacturer and also a High Sheriff of Dublin. The reply paid telegram stated that he was currently in Southampton but would come up to London on his way back to Dublin. Flo agreed to a meeting at the Holborn Viaduct Hotel. The telegram was in fact from Hopwood and he was planning a fatal showdown with his ex-lover.

On 28th September Flo found herself in the Holborn Viaduct Hotel (City Thameslink and Fleet Place House now occupy the site) and was confronted with Hopwood. According to him, she knew the telegram was his all along and called him “an old rascal”. The two remained at the hotel until a quarter to midnight, then a taxicab was hailed for them to take them to Fenchurch Street Station.

The driver of the motor cab was Charles Matthews. He would later testify that he heard no arguments in the back of the cab and as there was no light, nor a rear view mirror he could not see what was going on. As the cab drove down Fenchurch Street, just past Cullum Street, Matthews heard three distinct bangs and a woman screaming. Fearing that he had lost three tyres he immediately pulled over. Walking around the cab he could see nothing amiss but as he opened the nearside door the woman fell into his arms, she was covered in blood. He pulled her over to a shop front, number 138. The woman told him to be careful as the man had a revolver and that she needed to get to hospital.

Back then, policemen walked the beat, and within seconds of the shots ringing out, three City policemen converged on the scene. As one of them approached the cab Hopwood put the gun to his own head he fired twice but neither shot proved fatal. One of the policemen then reached in and took the gun from Hopwood’s grasp.

Hopwood and Flo were both taken to Guy’s Hospital, where Flo was pronounced dead. Matthews was told to take his cab round to a police station then situated in the Minories. There were three bullet holes in the cab, two in the canvas roof and one through the rear window. There was also a lot of blood. After 45 minutes he was allowed to take his cab away, the police were finished with it.

At his subsequent trial, it was heard from Hopwood’s secretary, John Travers Hosgood, (my wife’s great-grandfather), that the writing for the telegram from Southampton was Hopwood’s. He also confirmed that Hopwood was married with three children, one of them a daughter, named Adeline; he had even named his own daughter after her. Edward Hopwood was found guilty of murder and was executed on 29th January 1913.

Adeline Oyler, nee Hosgood, died in June 2001. She was never aware of her nominal link to the taxicab murder that shocked London, it was the story that came too late.

CabbieBlog-cabThis is not a sponsored post. Sean Farrell has written this Guest Post for CabbieBlog. Sean collects information about the history of the London cabbie and its ancient trade. Should you have or require information, Sean can be contacted via the Contact Page

Featured image: A 1912 Unic Taxi Cab

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