Charles Macdonald raised his family on the small Island of Croulin ("Crowlin") off the coast of Applecross in the early 19th century, he, his wife Mary MacKenzie, and six of their children are there as one of six families in the 1841 census.
Like many Highland farmers he supplemented his income with fishing from small boats, probably with brothers or other relatives. He must have been good at it, as he was hired on as a merchant mariner, progressing in time to being a ship owner himself. At least two of his sons, Donald and John, became fish curers, being paid by other fishers to prepare their catch for shipment to market.
By the late 1870s son John, born 1830, was a fisherman and curer at Ullapool, a town established on Lochbroom to encourage the fishing. He married 14 February, 1878 to Margaret Matheson, a woman fourteen years his junior, from a fishing family long at Ullapool.
John and Margaret had their home on Shore Street, convenient to the docks and his fish curing business. John's brother Donald was similarly set up at Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye, also a fish curer.
Shore Street, Ullapool, 2006
John and Margaret had only one child, Mary Marjory Macdonald, born 8 June, 1884 at their home on Shore Street. Young Mary likely received a good education at Ullapool, newspaper advertisements in the 1890s looking for school teachers at Ullapool specify a knowledge of French and German an asset. Customers of Mary's father John included Ministers, school teachers, and fishery officers. Probably she had journeys to visit her uncle Donald on Skye, a youth though not wealthy by today's standards, was more privaledged than other fisher's daughters.
In the 1891 census Mary was a six year old scholar with her parents at Point Street, Ullapool.
At eleven years of age, in 1895, she lost her mother Margaret, death registered as of "tubercular disease of the spine suffered six months", early at 48 years.
Four years later, 1899, John died at his brother Donald's home at Kyleakin. Fifteen year old Mary was resident there at the time, possibly they had moved there during her father's decline. John did not leave a will, so young Mary was declared heir and executrix as next of kin. Not being then of legal age, her uncle Donald was declared "curator bonis" on her behalf, and as such executor of John's estate.
Kyleakin, Skye (from old post cards)
The estate of John was declared by Donald to be £1,730 in 1900, equal value to £158,500 in todays money, such conversion are variable depending on issues such as value of assets opposed to value of labour, see discussion at http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/ppoweruk/ That source has conversions based on other criteria that put the inheritance almost as high as a million pounds! Regardless, it was a very substantial sum. To give some context, advertisements to hire female teachers in the Highlands at that time suggested yearly salary of £60 to £80. Mary looks to have spent some of her inheritance on an impressive memorial stone to her parents in the Mill Street burial ground, Roddie Macpherson has a photograph and transcription of the stone on his website at http://gravestones.rosscromartyroots.co.uk/picture/number1618.asp
Mary's inheritance might not have been the full £1,730, as though much of it was money in bank, a large portion was sums owed by fifty one people in Ullapool that might have proved difficult for Donald to collect from Kyleakin. A 1914 article says Mary received £1100. Possibly sums were spent on her behalf by her uncle and that was her total on gaining majority. Newspaper articles note she lost much of her inheritance to a bad investment.
Mary was clearly well educated at Ullapool, an education that looks to have continued at Inverness where she appears in the 1901 census as a 16 year old Scholar, boarding with a Kinnaird family. Another of the four boarders was 17 year old Jessie Munro daughter of another merchant family at Kyleakin. The archivist for the Inverness Academy reports that Mary was a student there in the 1900/1901 term, along with three other girls from Kyleakin. Later newspaper reports note Mary lived partly by teaching till her twentyfirst birthday in 1905, that was probably as a "pupil-teacher" at Inverness or possibly elsewhere in the Highlands.
Inverness Royal Academy
In 1905 Mary went to the continent, spending time in Germany, France, and Switzerland. One of the newspaper articles notes "Early in life she became companion to a lady in society, and after that she obtained several positions of a similar nature. In this capacity she travelled widely, staying at the best hotels." Another article notes she: "went to France and Germany to learn the languages and earn her living as a teacher." Reportedly she became fluent in French and German, and from her youth at Ullapool would have had at least some knowledge of Gaelic.
It was an exciting time to see Europe, in Paris she likely saw exhibits of new works by Picasso and Matisse, she later became known as an artists model, perhaps she modelled for some of the great artists of the early 20th century. Among interesting people at Paris she might have met was another artist's model, a Dutch girl "Margreet" Zelle MacLeod, who became an exotic dancer, executed in WW1 as "Mata Hari".
She returned from the continent in 1910, and appears in the 1911 census as a 26 year old unmarried Journalist, "M. Marjory Macdonald", lodger at 16 Maddox Street, Hanover Square, London. She was one of four lodgers, one of the others there was 22 year old waiter Allin Gratwohl from the Aargau canton of Switzerland. That area was home to the spa city of Baden, and it is possible Mary met Allin there, though equally possible is they simply met when taking lodging in the same house. Regardless of their relationship, it would have given Mary a chance to practice her German language skills.
Till 1913 she "had a lucrative post as secretary to a large firm of London jewellers". That company was "Bellinger & Co. Jewellers", Rathbone Place, London. As a jeweller and manufacturer much correspondance would be expected to the continent, and Mary's language skills were no doubt usefull in her position. Principal of the company, Carl Nicolas Bellinger, was from St.Petersburg in Russia, it is not known which languages he would have been familiar with. Working for a jeweller must have increased Mary's knowledge of gems.
Her known crimes began mid June while still employed by Bellinger with three robberies at two private Clubs in London, the Lyceum and the Halcyon.
Mary suddenly left Bellinger's employment 8 August, 1913, the newspapers speculate because of a love affair, though her sudden departure may have been as her criminal career was interfering.
Lyceum Club, 138 Picadilly, London, a prestigeous Club for women of arts and letters. 13 June, 1913, Mary stole £13 worth of jewellery there, returning for another theft 8 March the next year.
Ben Wyvis Hotel, Strathpeffer, where crimes were committed.
From where Mary Marjory Macdonald stole a charity donation box.
Strathpeffer Station, photographed 28 July, 1913 by J.B.Sherlock,
from the collection of John Alsop.
Strathpeffer Station, today the "Highland Museum of Childhood." Upon arriving Mary was greeted on this platform by the local constable, alerted by police at Dingwall. During discussion on the platform the collection box for "the Commercial Travellers' Widows' and Orphan's fund" she had just stolen from the dining room of the National Hotel at Dingwall fell from her clothes.
Leaving sometime after August to Scotland, where she committed several robberies at hotels around the Strathpeffer spa. She also spent sometime seven miles from there at the larger town of Dingwall. Leaving Dingwall on a Thursday night in October she took the train back to Strathpeffer and found waiting to meet her at the station was a constable. Fast action and communication on the part of the police, as the journey was only ten minutes. Unfortunately in course of conversation the collection box for "the Commercial Travellers' Widows' and Orphan's fund" she had stolen from the National Hotel fell from her clothes in front of the officer. 14 October the Sheriff gave her a sixty day sentence for larceny.
By mid January the next year, 1914, she was back at London, continuing her robbery spree, targetting at least nine more up scale hotels and private clubs with whose ways she had become familiar. At least twice she brought jewels to Attenborough Pawnbrokers to sell.
1 Lower John Street, Golden Square, site of Attenborough Pawnbrokers in 1914, a century later it is a "food & wine" shop.
Mary pawned a gold guard here 23 February and a pendant 6 April. Likely the pendant was inscribed, as she gave an alias name of "Elsie Hope", and she had stolen it from Mrs. Isabel D. Hope.
Detective Inspector McPherson on finding the pendant was pawned five days after report was circulated remarked to the Attenborough manager; "it seemed rather useless for the police to give information about stolen property", and the manager replied, "I wonder you do it, then, wasting your time."
Grosvenor Hotel, scene of at least two jewel robberies in 1914 by Mary Marjory Macdonald.
17 January, 1914, she stole a diamond ring, value £80, from a house in Endsleigh-gardens. In February and March she stole jewellery, bags, and their contents, from the Ladies’ Park Club, the Lyceum Club, and the Halcyon Club. (As noted above, she had already done thefts at the Lyceum and the Halcyon in early 1913 as well).
17 February she stole jewellery and other property, value £34, belonging to Mr. Luis Alberto Cariola, Acting Consul for Chile, at the Grosvenor Court Hotel, Davies-street, Berkely-square.
Luis Alberto Cariola, Acting Consul for Chile,
prominant politician and newspaper publisher in Chile.
28 March she stole jewellery worth over £200, the property of Mr. Christopher Hope and his wife Isabel, at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria;
The next night, 29 March, she stole jewellery and money from the room of a visiting Australian agriculturist, William Ross Munro, at the Langham Hotel. She was found by George Murrells, night porter there, to be wandering the halls, she claimed to have been overcome with illness, a thin excuse it would seem, though she was set free.
Not slowed down by her near capture, next night, 30 March, she was committing robbery at the Mandeville Hotel.
6 April she was pawning some of the jewellery at Attenborough's Pawnbrokers.
As it became clear rooms at the Langham had been robbed the night she was found wandering the halls she was sought out and arrested at 6:30 p.m., 8 April, charged 16 April. At trial she was described as "a charming woman who always managed to dress smartly, and who was helped in her exploits by her engaging personality, she is a woman of exceptional intelligence." Along with crime she looks to have continued an interest in art, noted at trial as serving as a model for three weeks before her arrest, and in later reports as "an Associate of Arts of the London University."
On being arrested Mary was charged before the police magistrate, Alfred Chichele Plowden. His autobiography written a decade before ("Grain or Chaff?"), shows him to have been a sympathetic and wiity man, as seen in his remarks to witnesses at Mary's arraignment. Mary was then formally charged with three crimes and held for trial at the London Sessions.
Detective-Sergeant Bex who arrested her found her to be wearing some of the stolen jewellery. In custody she was locked up in Holloway Prison, and while there was examined by a Doctor who declared her fit for trial though of a neurotic nature. Noted to have "influential friends", who vouched for her, and offered to keep her in a house for a year, she was set free into thier care, with threat of a year's imprisonment if she re-offended.
Langham Hotel, London, where Mary was found wandering the halls, and discovery of several thefts there the next day led to her arrest.
Holloway Prison, where she was sent.
It is interesting that during her several stays at Holloway Prison prominant Suffragettes such as Emeline Pankhurst were also held there, I wonder their opinions of each other, several of her robberies were at Women's Clubs in London frequented by Suffragette leaders. During her stay at Holloway in 1918 a fellow prisoner, Constance Markievicz, was elected as the first female Member of Parliament, though as an Irish Nationalist did not take her seat, perhaps Mary and Constance would greet each other in Gaelic in the prison. Constance was an artist and did several paintings while in Holloway, perhaps Mary posed?
A year later, 24 February, 1915 she is again arrsted. 3 March, described as "a typist and artist’s model", she was again before Mr. Robert Wallace, K.C., at the London Sessions, the same judge who had set her free into care of her influential friends homes a year before. Again she was pleading to stealing jewellery and other goods, including a bag from the Christian Scientist church, Curzon-street. It was stated that it was plain she should be under restraint, to which she agreed, saying then she would go straight.
Robert Wallace, K.C., 1907(wikipedia)
As Chairman of the County of London sessions
he convicted Mary in 1914, then again in 1915.
15 October, 1917, she had a close escape. That night she visited three rooms in a row at Almond's Hotel, in the first two rooms the guests awoke and she with reassuring words had them go back to sleep, it appears wealthy women staying in hotels then did not find it unusual for maids or servants to wander through their rooms in the night. In the third room Mrs Phillips awoke to see the figure of Mary in the dark and taking her to be her French maid addressed her in that language, Mary replied in flawless French, saying there had been an air raid and a machine had gotten through, but all was fine now and it was time to sleep.
London suffered several air raids in WW1,
from airships such as this illustration, and later from aeroplanes.
Mrs Phillips realized it was an imposter and raised the alarm, Mary fled. As the clerk and staff rushed up the main stairs she escaped down the rear, though like a criminal Cinderella she lost a slipper stuck in the hotel floor mat. That slipper was later found from maker's mark to be loot from an earlier robbery at the Waldorf Hotel, Aldwych. Missing a shoe, but with over £1,120 of stolen jewellery, she disapeared into the night.
Press and police theorized the crimes were by a gang of American hotel crooks who had hired a French maid for the capers. A £100 reward was posted. Within two weeks Mary was arrested, the police tipped off by a pawnbroker where she took some of the jewels. At trial she claimed illness and asked that a taxicab be used to transport her to Holloway Gaol while she was under remand. 23 November at Bow-street Police Court she was sentenced to nine months' hard labour (three consecutive three month sentences), if she served the full time she would have been freed August 1918.
Waldorf Hotel, Aldwych,
from which Mary stole a gold watch and chain, property of a gentleman, and a quantity of jewellery,
along with clothing including a pair of slippers, belonging to the wife of a diamond merchant.
She lost one of the slippers a few weeks later in the escape from Almond's Hotel.
Bow Street Police Court, as it looked in 1895(wikipedia)
Mary may not have served the entire sentence, an article below describes a theft about 10 June, 1918 at a private flat in Ashley Gardens, London, of a fur coat and jewellery, with evidence the police note of a woman being present at the robbery, quite similar style to her other crimes.
August 1918 at Marylebone Police-court she was charged with stealing jewellery from a private hotel in Queen's Gardens, Bayswater, and the Empress Club, both in London, and was sent to prison for another twelve months' hard labour.
23 October, 1919, she was again convicted for several thefts at Bailey's Hotel, South Kensington, London, valuable jewels belonging to visitors were found in her possession. The trial was at Westminster Police Court, where she was sentenced to twelve months hard labour, the magistrate noting that if she had gone to the Sessions she would have had penal servitude instead.
Around Christmas, 1921, she left London and went to Brighton, apparently she had been busy before the move, later admitting to four thefts at the Express Club and Brown's Hotel, both on Dover Street, she brought £1,000 worth of stolen jewellery with her to Brighton. Two of the crimes in her prison record were noted as stealing 7 December, 1921 a bracelet, a string of pearls, and other articles worth £5/15/- from Margueritte Waycott, and "on or about 21 Dec., 1921" a fur coat worth £125 from Loe Ethel Besserer.
Brown's Hotel, London, scene of crime December 1921,
before her departure to Brighton
16 January, 1922, at Brighton, she stole a fur coat and other articles worth £1,008 from Clara Simon.
18 March, 1922 she was arrested for thefts at two Brighton hotels. The 1925 article notes of her 1922 arrest;
"she was caught through the astuteness of a maid at the Royal York Hotel, Brighton. This chambermaid having seen Macdonald enter several rooms, asked her who she was. Macdonald said she was looking for a cloakroom, and the maid, with commendable cunning, offered to show her the way. She ushered the unsuspectlng prisoner into a room, locked the door, posted a guard outside, and rushed for the police."
26 June she was convicted for those crimes and sentenced to three years, sent to Walton gaol in Liverpool with a scheduled release date of 25 June, 1925.
Freed 21 August, 1924 "on licence" ahead of the end of her sentence she immediately returned to her life of crime. November that year she was caught at the Hyde Park Hotel, again discovered by an hotel employee, a valet. Although "her well-to-do friends have come forward, willing to take charge of her for treatment in a psychological clinic" she was then sentenced by the Westminster magistrate to completion of her previous sentence and an additional twelve months. At trial she was declared by Scotland Yard to be the most expert female "Raffles" in the country, the "Queen of Hotel Thieves."
Advertisement 1924 for the Hyde Park Hotel,
Mary was captured here in November that year.
Her death is registered as 2 October, 1926 at the St. Marylebone Infirmary, London, of "Acute Myeloblastic Lukaemia", age noted as 35 years, though civil registration of her birth shows her age was 42. I wonder if the illness might have been connected to that which took her mother's life at age 48. Though the major part of her life she had been a hotel thief, she maintained her character to the end, with occupation on the death registration noted as "Ladies Companion".
Signature from 1911 census
The following are a selection of transcriptions I have done of various images of old newspaper articles that refer to Mary Marjory Macdonald. Though most are from British papers a few were widely copied and republished around the world, so some of the following may look repetative, but I have selected these as each adds some bit of knowledge.
The right hand side of this column is partially obscurred. Although the young woman is not named in the article, I think it was undoubtably Mary Marjory Macdonald.
HOTEL ROBBERIES AT
LADY VISITOR ARRESTED.
For some weeks past a series of thefts of jewellery and money from various hotels at Strathpeffer Spa has been causing some ???sation in the district. A quantity of valuable jewellery was discovered to be missing from the Ben Wyvis Hotel. A sum of money was also found to be missing from the Highland Hotel and also from one of the large boarding-houses. The matter was taken in hand by the local police, and strict watch was kept on these premises for some days. Nothing further transpired till Thursday, when it was found that the collection box for the Commercial Travellers' Widows' and Orphan's fund in the National Hotel at Dingwall was missing from its accustomed place in the dining-room.
Suspicion fell upon a stylishly-dressed young woman who travelled from Dingwall to Strathpeffer Spa by the last train on Thursday night. She was met on arrival by the local constable and questionned. It is alleged that in course of conversation the missing collection box fell from her person. It was at once taken possession of by the constable, and the young woman was thereafter conveyed back to Dingwall and lodged in the prison there.
She has been a visitor at Strathpeffer district the past two or three months, and it is stated that she comes from London, and is well connected. The Ross-shire police are now in communication with Scotland Yard.
There are rumours of some interesting developments in connection with the case.
On Saturday the young woman, who had previously emitted a declaration before the Sheriff, appeared at the Dingwall Police Court charged with the theft of the commercial travellers' collection box from the National Hotel, Dingwall. The magistrate remitted her to the Sheriff.
From: The Sheffield Evening Telegraph, England, 16 April, 1914, Page 3, Column 4;
AN ARTIST'S MODEL.
Woman Found Wandering
in Hotel Corridor.
CHARGES OF THEFT.
(BY OUR PRIVATE WIRE.)
Described as an artist's model, Mary Marjorie Macdonald, 28, of Judd Street, King's Cross, London, was committed for trial at Marylebone to-day on a charge of stealing money and jewllery, valued at £92, from a room at the Langham Hotel. Prisoner was also charged with stealing jewellery to the value of £194 from the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria, the property of Mrs. Isabel D. Hope.
George Murrells, night porter at the Langham Hotel, said that on 29th March, between 11 and 11.30 p.m, he was informed that there was a lady wandering about the corridor.
How was she dressed? asked Mr. Plowden.
Witness : The same as she is now, sir.
Then she wasn't walking in her sleep? (Laughter.) -- No sir. I asked her what number she was in, and she replied, "I am not stopping here."
Witness went on to say that he told her she had better come down to the office, and he took her down there. She said she was not well.
"That's all I know sir," witness concluded.
"It seems rather a wasted opportunity," Mr. Plowden remarked, "You find a lady walking about the corridor of an hotel at midnight, and you don't say anything to her at all."
The accused, when asked to cross-examine the witness, said, "I don't wish to ask any questions except to say I was very ill."
Sergeant Bex informed the magistrate that in spite of the fact that a very good description of the articles was given, one of them was taken in pledge five days later.
Percy John Gravett, pawnbroker's assistant, was called, and said he was employed by S. J. Attenborough of Lower John Street, Golden Square.
Mr. Plowden : You heard what the officer has said. How did you come to take the article into pledge after the warning you received?
Witness : The police say we had a notice about this pendant, but personally I didn't see it. I take it it was simply a detective who called in the usual way.
You knew who it was? -- Oh, yes.
Who received the warning? -- One of the assistants I suppose.
Mr. Plowden said the assistant who received the warning would have to attend court.
Witness stated that the pendant was pledged on the 6th April in the name of Elsie Hope. He advanced about £9 on it.
Mr. Plowden : What is it worth?
Witness : About £14 or £15.
Witness added that he took a gold guard in pledge from the prisoner on 23rd February last.
Detective Inspector McPherson stated that would be the subject of another charge. He said he visited the pawnbroker's and had a conversation with the manager, who refused to let the police have a description of a diamond ring and also a gold guard.
Mr. Plowden said he was very much surprised at difficulties being thrown in the way.
The Inspector added that he made the remark that it seemed rather useless for the police to give information about stolen property, and the manager replied, "I wonder you do it, then, wasting your time." (Laughter.)
A third charge was brought against the prisoner -- that of stealing valuables from the Grosvenor Court Hotel, the property of Mrs. Cariola, wife of the Acting-Consul for Chili.
After further evidence, the accused said she wished to plead guilty, but asked for a remand for a few days in order to make a statement.
Mr. Plowden informed her that there was no object in that.
"Do you wish to make any answer to the charge now," he asked, "or will you reserve your defence?"
The accused: I just wish to plead guilty now and make a statement afterwards. She was formally committed for trial.
From: The Evening Despatch, Birmingham, England, 17 April, 1914, Page 5, Column 4;
GIRL IN THE CORRIDOR.
ARTIST'S MODEL CHARGED WITH
Mary Macdonald, a well dressed woman, described as an artist's model, was at Marylebone yesterday committed for trial on three charges of stealing jewellery from West End hotels.
Two charges related to the Langham and Grosvenor Hotels. Yesterday a third charge was preferred of stealing from the Grosvenor Court Hotel a gold watch and chain, money, and other articles, to the value of £34, the property of Mrs. Cariola, wife of Mr. Louis Alberto Cariola, Acting Consul for Chili.
George Murrells, head night porter at the Langham Hotel, said that on 29 March, between 11 p.m. and 12.30, as the result of information, he found a lady walking about the corridor. She was dressed as she was in court. When asked for the number of her room the woman said: "I am not staying here," and witness asked her to come to the office with him. That was all the conversation.
In answer to the magistrate, prisoner said she did not want to ask any questions, except to say that she was very ill.
Evidence was given by Detective-sergeant Brex and a pawnbroker's assistant, and in reply to third charge prisoner said : "I shall plead guilty, and I want to ask for a remand for a few days in order to make a statement."
Mr. Plowden : There will be no object in that. The case is now complete.
From: The Monmouth Guardian (Rhymney) and Bargood and Caerphilly Observer, Wales, 17 April, 1914, Page 3, Column 6;
ROBBERIES AT HOTELS.
WELL-DRESSED WOMAN ARRESTED.
A smartly-dressed woman, aged about thirty, named Mary MacDonald, was charged at Marylebone, on Thursday, with stealing jewellery and money to the value of £92 from the Langham Hotel, and further with stealing jewellery valued at £212 at the Grosvenor Hotel. Mrs. Hope, a visitor at the Grosvenor Hotel, said that on the evening of March 28th she missed a pearl necklace, two rings, and a brooch from a drawer in her dressing-table. Detective-Sergeant Bex, who arrested the accused, said the woman was wearing the necklace, and two rings were found in her pocket. When charged with stealing the articles she said, "Yes." The accused told the magistrate she did not think she was responsible for her actions. The magistrate remanded MacDonald, intimating that in the meantime the condition of her mind would be inquired into.
From: The Bendigo Advertiser, Victoria, Australia, 18 April, 1914, Page 9, Column 7;
Mary Macdonald, 28, a fashionably dressed artists' model, was charged at the Marylebone Police Court yesterday with having stolen at the Langham Hotel, Portland Place, jewellery and money worth £92, the property of William Ross Munro, an Australian. Macdonald was committed for trial. The night porter at the hotel gave evidence that he saw the woman wandering about the hotel corridors.
From: The London Standard, England, 30 April, 1914, Page 8, Column 5;
WOMAN JEWEL THIEF.
SERIES OF ROBBERIES IN THE
CASE OF ARTIST'S MODEL.
An extraordinary story of a young woman's series of jewel robberies at West-end hotels and clubs was told to Mr. Robert Wallace, K.C., at the London Sessions yesterday. Wearing a valuable sealskin coat and describing herself as an artist's model, Mary Marjorie MacDonald, 28, pleaded guilty to three indictments, charging her with stealing on February 17 a gold watch and chain and other property, value £34, belonging to Mr. Luis Alberto Cariola, Consul for Chile, at the Grosvenor Court Hotel, Davies-street, Berkely-square; on March 28, a pearl necklace, two rings, and a diamond brooch worth £212, the property of Mr. Christopher Hope, at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria; and on March 29, a gold necklace, a pendant, a £5 note, and £3 in gold, of the total value of £92, the goods and money of William Ross Munro, at the Langham Hotel.
Mr. J. P. Grain (who prosecuted) said that the prisoner’s record was a very singular one. She was born at Ullapool, Ross, Cromarty. Her mother died when she was eight, her father when she was 14. Some of the stolen property was found in her possession at the time of her arrest, and other articles were recovered at a flat in which she lived in Judd-street, St. Pancras. Prior to her arrest she had been found wandering at 11.30 p.m. about the Langham Hotel. She explained to the night porter that she was not staying there, but had suddenly been overcome with illness. She was taken to the manager, but nothing being suspected she was allowed to go.
Detectíve-sergeant Bex said that after her father’s death the prisoner inherited about £1100, and went to reside with her uncle. An unfortunate investment did away with some of the money, and the prisoner lived partially by teaching until she was 21. She then went to France and Germany, and since her return in 1910 she had met many good friends, who had assisted her, but she had failed to take advantage of her exceptional opportunities. For three weeks before her arrest she acted as an artist's model.
LONG LIST OF THEFTS.
In addition to the charges in the indictment, the prisoner admitted the following robberies:—-
June 13, 1913, stealing jewellery, value £13, from the Lyceum Club.
August 1, 1913, jewellery, value £80, from the Halcyon Club, Cork-street, W.
August, 1913, a bag containing private papers, from the same club.
January 17, 1914, a diamond ring, value £80, from a house in Endsleigh-gardens.
February, a quantity of jewellery from the Ladies’ Park Club.
March 8, jewellery, value £10, from the Lyceum Club.
March 22, bags and their contents from the Halcyon Club.
March 28, brooch, value £30, from the Grosvenor Hotel.
And on March 30, jewellery, valued at £30, from the Mandeville Hotel.
Altogether, said Detective-sergeant Bex, the total value of the stolen jewellery was about £600, and some £490 worth had been recovered from the prisoner and the pawnbrokers with whom she had pledged it for substantial amounts. The doctor at Holloway Gaol had certified that the prisoner was of a neurotic temperament.
Sentence was postponed until next sessions, in order that the prison doctor might report upon the prisoner and her relatives might attend.
From: The Times, London, England, 14 May, 1914, Page 28;
THEFTS BY A NEUROTIC ARTISTS MODEL.
At London Sessions yesterday, before Mr. Robert Wallace, K.C., MARY MARJORIE MACDONALD, 28, described as a school teacher and Journalist, was sentenced for stealing jewellery from various West-end hotels. and clubs. It was said that the prisoner had stolen articles of the total value of £600 of which £490 worth had been recovered. She had influential friends, who did not know of her habits.
For the prisoner it was pleaded that she had been left an orphan at 14, and when 21 was left a legacy of £1,100, but had lost her money and had been engaged as an artist's model. She was very neurotic.
Mr. WALLACE, K.C., said ths prisoner would bound over for 12 months on condition that she entered and stayed in a home for that period, the alternative being 12 months' imprisonment.
From: The Register, Adelaide, South Australia, 15 June, 1914, Page 3, Column 9;
THE PASSING SHOW
LIFE'S LIGHT AND SHADE.
LONDON, Sunday, May 17.
-- Story of an Artist's Model --
A young artist model, a native of Ullapool, Ross-shire, named Marjorie MacDonald, was kindly treated by Mr. Robert Wallace, K.C., at London Sessions on Wednesday, after her conviction for stealing jewellery from London clubs and hotels. Thefts from the Grosvenor, Langham, and Grosvenor Court Hotels were mentioned in the charge. Their amount exceeded £200. Detective-Sgt. Bex stated that she was originally left £1,100, and went to France and Germany to learn the languages and earn her living as a teacher. Returning to London, she made many friends of good position, and they were amazed at her arrest The total value of the property stolen was £600, and some £490 worth had been recovered. The prisoner was wearing some, and more was found in her flat in Judd Street, St Pancras. Mr. Macpherson, M.P., now appealed to the Court for leniency. Two ladies had made arrangements that she should go to a home for 12 months. Mr. Wallace, K.C., said it would be a most unfortunate thing, at the beginning of her life, that she should be sent to prison. "But I have to be assured that she will stay in the home, because the alternative would be that she would have to go to prison for 12 months," he added. She gave the required assurances, and Mr. Wallace bound her over to come up for sentence if called upon.
Exploits worthy of a Raffles were admitted bv a girl burglar, who, orphaned at a tender age, inherited a small fortune, but lost part of it, and afterwards descended to crime. Describing herself as an artist's model, Mary Marjorie MacDonald recently pleaded guilty, to three indictments for stealing property from several London houses and hotels.
Mr J. P. Grain (prosecuting) said prisoner's record was a very singular one. She was born at Ullapool (Ross and Cromarty). Her mother died when she was eight, and her father when she was 14. Some of the stolen property was found in her possession at the time of her arrest, and other articles were recovered at a flat at which she lived. Prior to her arrest she had been wandering at 11:30 p.m. about the Langham Hotel. She explained to the night porter that she was not staying there, but had suddenly become overcome with illness. She was taken to the manager, but, nothing being suspected, she was allowed to go.
A detective said that after her father's death accused inherited £1100 and went to reside with her uncle. An unfortunate investment did away with some of her money, and she lived partly by teaching until she was 21. She then went to France and Germany and since her return in 1910 she had met many good friends, who had assisted her, but she had failed to take advantage of her exceptional opportunities. For three weeks before her arrest she acted as an artist's model. In addition to the charges in the indictment, prisoner admitted nine robberies. extending over a period of nine months. Altogether, said the detective, the total value of the jewellery stolen was about £600, and some £490 worth had been recovered from the prisoner and the pawnbrokers with whom she had pledged it for substantial amounts. The doctor at Holloway Gaol had certified that she was of a neurotic temperament. She had shown no signs of mental disorder during her detention, and was responsible for her actions. It was also proved that at Dingwall, Scotland, last year, she was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment on several charges of theft.
ROSS-SHIRE WOMAN'S LOST
JEWELLERY THEFTS IN LONDON.
Wearing a sealskin jacket, Marjorie MacDonald (28), typist, teacher, and artist's model, was charged at the London Sessions yesterday with stealing jewellery from residents at the New Century Club, Berkely Square, and houses at East Chapel Street, Mayfair, and Queen Street, W., where she stayed.
Detective-Sergeant Garrard reminded Mr. Robert Wallace, K.C., that he bound the woman over on similar charges in May last, prior to which she had undergone sixty days' imprisonment at Dingwall. The unfortunate part of her thefts, he said, was that she committed them in bedrooms, and suspicion fell on servants.
A voluntary worker mentioned that the woman had been in five homes since last May, and had been taught secretarial work. She was afraid prison would send her into the world absolutely broken. The prisoner, a native of Ullapool, Ross-shire, was said to have lost her mother when she was eight, and her father six years later. She lost a fortune of £1100 through unfortunate investments, and became an artist's model. She travelled in France, Germany, and Switzerland to learn languages, and was engaged as a teacher for some time.
Mr Wallace said her sad history as related last May showed that she was absolutely unable to keep from crime unless she was under strict discipline. He bound her over to next sessions if a home was found for her.
The Prisoner -- With a little more restraint I think I can go into the world again an honest woman. I regret what has happened, and thank you for your kindness.
GIRL’S SAD HISTORY.
PREFERENCE FOR BEING
At London Sessions yesterday a well-dressed girl of 28, Marjorie Macdonald, a typist and artist’s model, pleaded guilty to stealing jewellery and other goods, and sentence was postponed so that it might be ascertained whether a home could be found for her.
Mr. Grain, for the prosecution, said that £60 worth of property was taken from the New Century Club, Berkely-square, and other property was taken from an address in Mayfair where the prisoner was staying. It had been stated that the prisoner was bound over previously, and had been in various homes. She had lost her parents when very young, and had also lost a fortune of £1,100 through bad investments. She travelled through Switzerland, Germany, and France, and had friends of high social position. Whilst in the home she behaved well, but when she was alone she seemed to have no self control.
A detective said that there were three other thefts from the club, and a bag found in the prisoner's possession had been stolen from a Christian Scientist Church, Curzon-street. Suspicion had fallen on other people. All the property had been recovered.
Mr. Wallace, K.C., said that the prisoner's history was a sad one. It was plain that she should be under restraint.
The prisoner said that she believed that she could go straight if under restraint.
There have been surprising developments in connection with the jewel robbery on Monday night at Almond's Hotel, Clifford-street, off New Bond-street, says the "Daily Express" today, and the police are faced with a problem that seems to embrace several recent hotel robberies, and to point to a gang of expert American cracksmen as the thieves. A slipper found at Almond's Hotel after the flight of the suspected "French maid" has been traced to its owner by the imprint of the maker's name inside it. The person to whom it belonged, was neither Mrs Harold Phillips, whose jewels were stolen, nor the woman who stole them. It was the property of the wife of a wealthy diamond merchant, who for months past lived at another West End hotel.
The identification of the slipper by the shoemaker who made it led to an interview with the diamond merchant's wife, who also identified it as hers. On her rooms being searched it was found that, in addition to a pair of slippers, she had lost other articles of wearing apparel and a small quantity of jewellery.
A STRIKING CO-INCIDENCE.
By a striking coincidence, on the day when her rooms were entered she was dining out with friends and was wearing at least £20,000 worth of jewellery. The dinner, therefore, was intrumental in cheating the thieves of a large haul. A plauseible theory is that the "French maid" who escaped with Mrs Phillip' jewellery from Almond's Hotel purposely kicked off the slipper and left it on the door-mat with the object of casting suspicion on its real owner, and so retarding the detectives in their investigations.
There is little doubt that a plot so skilfully planned and daringly carried out was hatched by several cunning brains, and that the nimble and quick-witted French maid was selected to bring off the coup.
No arrest has yet followed the theft ten weeks ago of £20,000 worth of jewellery belonging to Mrs Cameron-Richardson, who was occupying a private suite of rooms at Charing Cross Hotel. The jewellery taken in this case, as in that of Mrs Phillips, included a valuable pearl necklace.
The suspected gang of American hotel "crooks" includes two men known to masquerade in officers' uniform. Their escape from the country in present conditions will tax their ingenuity to the utmost.
From: The Liverpool Echo, England, 31 October, 1917, Page 1, Column 6;
CINDERELLA THIEF: AN ARREST.
The London "Star" learns that a woman has been detained in connection with the series of jewel robberies from London hotels. It will be remembered that a jewel thief left her slipper behind after carrying off a rope of pearls from the bedroom of Mrs. Harold Phillips at Almonds Hotel on October 15.
DARING ROBBERIES FROM
Detective's Amazing Story
in Court To-Day
Of What Accused Woman
Revealed to Him.
The story of the jewel robberies from the Waldorf Hotel and Almond's Hotel, Clifford Street, W., in which a lost slipper provided a clue, was told to-day at Bow Street.
May Mary Macdonald (33), of Raphael Street, Knightsbridge, was charged before Mr. Garret with stealing and receiving articles valued at £1154, the property of Netta Elizabeth Levy and Mrs Harold Phillips of Rutland Gate, S.W.
A slipper was found outside the room at Almond's Hotel where the robbery was comitted. This, it is understood, has been identified as a part of the property stolen from the Waldorf Hotel.
Accused, a good looking young woman, was wearying a navy costume and pink felt hat.
Detective-sergeant Collins said that on Tuesday at 3 p.m. he received a communication from a Great Queen Street pawnbroker. On going to the place he saw the accused disappearing into Kingsway. He followed her, and stopped her in High Holburn. She accompanied him to the pawnbroker's where Mr Raper handed her a gold watch inscribed "Lorna." Outside he said he should arrest her for the unlawful possession of the watch. She said, "Must you do that?" and he replied "That is the only way."
What Was Found in Trunk.
On the way to the police station she remarked, "You have been very good to me up to now, and if you are kind enough to take me to the place I will show you more things." He asked, "What sort of things?" and she replied, "If you don't care about coming that will be the end of it. I only want to give some assistance."
He went with her to Raphael Street, where, in a back bedroom, she unlocked a large trunk and produced a dressing-case in which was the pearl necklace referred to in another charge.
Witness added that there were several charges. He took possession of a lot of jewellery, and at Bow Street the woman, indicating several of the articles, said to Divisional Detective-Inspector Ashley:- "These things are from the Waldorf and a hotel in Curzon Street."
Wearing Stolen Articles.
Miss MacDonald, witness added, was carrying the beaded bag referred to in the charge, and was wearing a set of silver fox furs, while upon her were found a gold watch, a platinum chain with diamond pendant attached, and a gold neckchain.
A remand was ordered. Although the accused said, through the gaoler, that she was feeling ill, the Magistrate declined to allow her to be taken to Holloway in a taxicab unless the doctor ordered it.
At Bow Street Police Court yesterday, before Mr Garrett, May Marjorie Macdonald, 23, of Raphael Street, Knightsbridge, was charged on remand with stealing from Almonds Hotel, Clifford Street, a pearl necklace and other jewellery valued at £1114 10s, and also with stealing a platinum pendant set with pearls and other articles of jewellery from the Waldorf Hotel.
The prisoner was arrested after trying to pledge some of the jewellery.
Mrs Harold Phillips now stated that on October 15 she was staying at Almonds Hotel, and about 11 p.m. was awakened by a noise in her bedroom. Thinking that it was her maid moving about, she asked what was the matter, but received no reply. Witness then sat up in bed, and saw a strange woman leaving the room.
The woman had very much the appearance of the prisoner, but she could not swear to her identity. The witness afterwards missed her dressing-case containing the jewellery, which she now identifified, and all of which had been recovered.
Detective-Sergeant Squire said that when formally charged the prisoner replied:- "Yes, it is quite true. You have all those things back, I am sorry I have given you so much trouble."
It was intimated that there would be a further charge preferred, and the prisoner was again remanded.
At Bow-street Police Court, May Marjorie MacDonald (33), was sentenced to nine months' hard labour on several charges of stealing jewellery, including a rope of pearls and other articles, valued at £1,140, belonging to Mrs. Harold Phillips, which were stolen from Almond's Hotel, Clifford-street, Mrs. Phillips is the wife of Colonel Phillips, of Belton.
THOSE STOLEN PEARLS.
DRAMATIC SEQUEL TO HOTEL
Two recent jewel robberies from London hotels had a dramatic sequel, a young woman, bearing a Scottish name, being arrested in Holborn, by Chief Detective Inspector Ashley and Detective Sergeant Collins, of Bow street.
The woman protested her innocence, but discoveries made in the house where she was living justified the detectives in detaining her. The police found in her rooms a rope of 200 pearls, the property of Mrs. Harold Phillips, wife of Colonel Phillips. The pearls had been stolen from Almond's Hotel, Clifford street, off New Bond street, on October 15. A reward of £100 was offered for the recovery of these pearls.
Light was also thrown on a more recent robbery at the Waldorf Hotel, Aldwych, by the recovery of a gold watch and chain, the property of a gentleman, and a quantity of jewellery, belonging to the wife of a diamond merchant, who were both staying at the Waldorf.
The slipper dropped at the door of Almond's Hotel has also been identified as the property of the lady residing at the Waldorf.
It will be recalled in connection with the robbery from Almond's Hotel that Mrs. Phillips awoke about midnight and saw a young woman leaving the room with a dressing-case, containing the pearls and other valuables, under her arm. Some of the staff noticed a young woman in the hotel. She spoke with a French accent, and they believed that she was in the service of one of the newly-arrived guests.
A pale-faced and neatly dressed young woman, whose left shoe slipped off, Cinderella-like, as she was scurrying off to avoid capture, was recently "wanted" by London detectives for committing three daring robberies from bedrooms in a West End hotel. After raiding two other occupied bedrooms in Almond's Hotel, Clifford Street, New Bond Street, and stealing a few articles of jewellery and a fur, she entered the room of Mrs Phillips, the wife of Colonel Harold Phillips, secured jewellery stated to be worth £1120, and managed to get clear away in the midst of an alarm raised by the robbed women. The thief was not staying in the hotel. She wore a blue coat and skirt, a small round hat, and a brown fur. In the first bedroom she entered she went to the dressing-table and removed one or two articles of jewellery. The occupant of the room, a woman, was asleep, but the presence of the intruder awakened her.
"Is there a raid on ?" she asked dreamily.
"It's all right now," answered the thief calmly. "Only one machine got through. You go to sleep again."
Thus lulled to a sense of safety by a woman she thought was one of the servants, the visitor went to sleep again.
Then the thief entered the opposite bedroom and again disturbed the sleeper (also a woman) as she was walking away with a fur.
"Who is that?" exclaimed a voice from the bed.
"It's quite all right," replied the thief reassuringly. "Go to sleep again," and she left this second room without arousing suspicion.
Her third and most successful escapade was in the room two doors away, occupied by Mrs Phillips. She went to the dressing-table and pocketed several articles of jewellery, including a pearl necklace, and from a wardrobe she took a handbag. Then Mrs Phillips awoke and saw the moving figure. She has a French maid, and asked in French : "Is that you, Marie ?" The thief was equal to the occasion. She replied in French : "Don't worry. It's quite all right."
Mrs Phillips's suspicions were aroused ; she jumped out of bed as the intruder flitted through the doorway, and, seeing that her jewels had gone, cried aloud that she had been robbed.
The manager heard the alarm and as he ran up one flight of stairs he saw a young woman hurry along the corridor and descend the other flight. At that time he had no idea what had happened, and when he learned from Mrs Phillips that she bad been robbed the woman thief had vanished out of the front door. In her hurried flight her left shoe heel caught in the rubber door-mat and the shoe came off. She did not stop to retrieve the shoe, and it is now in the possession of the police.
The jewels stolen from Mrs Phillips's room include a necklace of 188 graduated pearls, with small ones alternating ; a square-faced platinum watch with diamonds round the face ; a green enamel shamrock brooch set with diamonds ; a gold cigarette case with "M.P." on the outside and "Mercedes" inside ; and a long platinum chain.
The only clue the police have is the thief's lost shoe. The thief is believed to be a woman of good education, and she may be French -— she spoke good French to Mrs Phillips -— and it is just possible, judging by the readiness of her reply, that she knew that Mrs Phillips had. a French maid. In each case the bedroom doors had been left unlocked -— a fairly common custom since air raids began.
Though the female thief in this article is not identified, the "modus operandi" was that of Mary, and around the same time (17 August) she did do a robbery across Kensington Park at Queen's Gardens. If it was her, she must have been released before the end of her last sentence. (The "carriage clock" referred to in this article would have been quite portable, about five or six inches high.)
JEWEL RAID IN A FLAT.
VALUABLE ROPE OF PEARLS AMONG
THE MISSING ARTICLES.
A mysterious theft of jewels, including a valuable rope of pearls has been reported to the London police.
Mrs. Temple Best, of Ashley Gardens, S.W., dined out with friends on Saturday evening. Her servants went to bed and were not disturbed. When Mrs. Best returned to her flat she found her bedroom in confusion and her jewel cabinet rifled of its contents. The missing valuables include:-
A string of pearls, by Tiffany, of New York.
A silver carriage clock, with monogram "F.T.B." engraved on it.
A sable coat.
A gold card case, set with rubies and sapphires.
A pearl and diamond bracelet.
Three rings, set with diamonds and pearls, one having a particularly fine pearl in the centre.
A gold chain-bag, set with pearls and diamonds, and a number of articles of smaller value.
The result of investigations by the police suggest that admission to the flat was secured by use of a false key and that a woman was present during the robbery.
At Marylebone Police-court on Saturday, Mary Macdonald was charged with stealing jewellery from a private hotel in Queen's-gardens, Bayswater, and the Empress Club in Dover-street, London, W., and was sent to prison for twelve months with hard labour.
Macdonald is the woman who stole a valuable collection of jewels from bedrooms in Almond's Hotel, London, W., last November, and who in her hurry to get away left her slipper on the street doormat.
A police-officer told the magistrate that she was an expert hotel thief, and had been convicted several times before.
She has committed many robberies in hotels and clubs in London, and her success has been due to her impudence and the fact that she always looked so "ladylike" in a sealskin coat lined with grey satin. When she alarmed a lady whose bedroom she rifled at Almond's Hotel she calmly told her victim (in French): "Everything is all right. It's only an air raid, and one has got through."
From: The Evening Post, New Zealand, 26 November, 1918, Page 9, Column 4, headed "WOMEN IN PRINT.";
Mary Macdonald, dressed smartly in a fawn coat and skirt, a white hat, and white gloves, who appeared at Marylebone Police Court, London, on Charges of stealing jewellery from a private hotel, was sent to prison for twelve months with hard labour. She stole jewels (including a £975 pearl necklace) from bedrooms in Almond's Hotel, and in her hurry to get away left her slipper on the street doormat. She was born in Cromarty thirty years ago. She received a good education, is an Associate in Arts of London University, has travelled in France. Germany, and Switzerland, and speaks French perfectly. She has committed many robberies in hotels and clubs in London, and her success has been due to her impudence and the fact that she always looked so "ladylike" in a sealskin coat lined with grey satin.
[ The same article, with minor changes, appears in the Singleton Argus, New South Wales, Australia, 31 January, 1920, Page 1, Column 1, it is titled there "WOMAN HOTEL THIEF. Life of Crime." ]
LOST A LEGACY.
LINGUIST'S LIFE OF CRIME.
An educated woman named Mary Macdonald, whose accomplishments include the knowledge of several foreign languages, has, according to the police, become an expert hotel thief.
She was found in Bailey's Hotel, South Kensington, where she had been heard trying the bedroom doors at night time. Arrested as an intruder, valuable jewels belonging to visitors were found in her possession.
At Westminster Police Court yesterday Detective-Sergeant Templeman gave her history. He said she had been a teacher and an artists' model. A legacy of £1100 left her had been lost through unfortunate investments. Among the many convictions against her was one for the robbery of a £950 pearl necklace.
Macdonald, who had lived in France, Germany, and Switzerland, was sentenced to 12 months' hard labour, the magistrate saying that, if she had gone to the sessions, she would have had penal servitude.
From: The Sunday Post, Glasgow, Scotland, 19 March, 1922, Page 2, Column 2;
DISCOVERY OF STOLEN
A sensational arrest of a stylishly-dressed and well-educated woman has been made at Brighton.
Mary Marjorie Macdonald, aged thirty, a lady's companion, was charged to-day with stealing on or about January 16 a sable minx coat, valued at £1000, the property of Mrs Clara Simon, of London, who was at that time staying at the Hotel Metropole.
Accused was detained by Mr Harry Preston at the Royal York Hotel, and handed over to the police. She had been seen on the third floor of the hotel, and was stopped when about to leave.
At an address in Brighton given by the accused a search, it was stated, revealed a large quantity of jewels alledged to be the proceeds of robberies at other hotels in the town.
When charged she is stated to have said -- "That's right! I will assist you all I can. I really don't know where I got all the property."
The accused, who was remanded for a week, although described as a lady's companion, is stated to be a highly-educated woman, and to be able to speak several languages fluently.
Mr Harry Preston, of the Royal York Hotel stated to-day that yesterday he received information that a strange woman was on the third floor.
He went into the lounge, and saw the woman coming downstairs.
I at once detained the woman, added Mr Preston. She said, "I am not a thief."
A woman, who is alleged to have got away with over £5000 worth of jewellery from Brighton hotels during the past six weeks, has been arrested as a result of the smart detective work of a chambermaid.
The woman, who gave the name of Mary Marjorie Macdonald, aged 30, was remanded in custody on Saturday for a week on a charge os stealing a sable mink coat worth £1000 from the Hotel Metropole, and the Chief Constable intimated that further charges involving some thousands of pounds worth of jewellery and valuables relating to half a dozen hotel robberies would be added at a later stage.
According to information in the possession of the police, it is alleged that the woman, who is pretty, smartly dressed, and well-spoken, entered hotels in the afternoons and walked upstairs to the second and third floors. She then visited room after room, collecting jewellery from cases on the dressing-tables and, donning a fur coat, left the hotels unsuspected.
Whenever she encountered any of the hotel staff she excused her actions with the remark, "I am looking for the cloakroom. Can you assist me?"
This remark was addressed to the chambermaid of the Royal York, whose suspicions had been aroused by the woman's entry into several rooms.
Having shown the woman into the cloakroom on the first floor, the girl rushed downstairs and informed the hall porter. The police were communicated with and the woman detained by Mr Harry Preston, the proprietor, still protesting her innocence. She was taken to the police station.
It is alleged that jewellery taken from the bedrooms in the hotel had been cunningly hidden under chairs and tablecloths in her rooms and that the stolen fur coats were also found in her rooms.
When charged by Detective-Inspector Taylor, she said, "Yes, thats right. I will assist you. I really don't know where I got all the property from."
From: The London Daily Mail, England, 27 March, 1922, Page 7;
FAR AND NEAR.
NEWS BY WIRE AND AIR
Hotel Jewel Suspect.-- At Brighton on Saturday Mary Marjorie Macdonald, 30, was charged on remand with stealing a fur coat valued at a £1,000 from the Hotel Metropole, belonging to Mrs. Clara Simon. She was now further charged with stealing jewellery valued at £2,000 from Mrs. Flora Maud Falk, an American visitor staying at the Royal Albion Hotel, and jewellery valued at £300 from Grace Ellen Boxall, also from the same hotel. Detective-Inspector Taylor said that other cases would probably be brought, and the woman was again remanded.
From: The Evening Telegraph and Post, Dundee, Scotland, 7 April, 1922, Page 7, Column 2;
With Theft of Fur Coats
From Various Hotels.
An extraordinary story of a pretty young woman's visits to half-a-dozen Brighton hotels was told at the local Police Court today, when Mary Marjorie Macdonald, aged 30, said to be a lady's companion, appeared on eight charges of stealing fur coats and jewellery worth nearly £4,000.
Macdonald, a smartly-dressed and well-spoken woman, is an accomplished linguist, speaking French and German fluently.
The thefts, which began from Christmas, and extended over three months, seem to have been carried out in a most daring manner.
The largest haul was one of £2,500 worth of jewellery from the Royal Albion Hotel on February 15.
Evidence given suggested that Macdonald visited the Salisbury Hotel, and stole a fur coat worth £60, and that she also stole a £1,000 fur coat from the Metropole a few days later.
Jewellery and Fur Coat Disappear.
According to the statements of the witnesses, in most of the cases where a bedroom or a sitting-roon door had been left unlocked, Macdonald walked in during the afternoon and helped herself.
Mrs Florence Falk, an American, said she left her case containing £2,000 worth of jewellery lying on her bed, and when she went up to dress the case had disappeared.
Mrs Clara Simon, of London, who was staying at the Hotel Metropole, said she left her £1,000 fur coat in her bedroom, the door of which was locked, while the adjoining sitting-room was left unlocked. A few hours later the coat had disappeared.
At the Royal York Hotel a woman, said to be Macdonald, was seen by a chamber maid visiting bedrooms on the third floor. She explained that she was looking for the cloakroom, but the girl, whose suspicion was aroused, gave the alarm, and the woman was detained and handed over to the police.
What Detective Found.
Detective-Inspector Taylor said when the woman was arrested she gave a local address. He went there, and in a little back room occupied by Macdonald he found nearly all the jewellery and coats which had been stolen from various hotels. When told of the discovery Macdonald said, "I will help you all I can, but I really don't know where I got all the things from."
She was sent for trial at the Quarter Sessions.
From: The Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazzette, Tuesday, 27 June, 1922, Page 7, Column 4;
Though the article notes Mary employed by Bellinger & Co. Jewellers to "August 8th, 1918" I think the year was a typographical mistake and should read as "1913", as noted in other articles, principal of the firm, Carl Nicolas Bellinger, died died 25 April, 1914, it is not known if the business continued after then.
GAOL FOR EXPERT
REMARKABLE CAREER OF A
A lady's companion, slimly built and smartly dressed, Mary Margaret Macdonald, aged 30, who was described by the police as a most expert hotel thief, was at Brighton sent to three years' penal servitude for hotel thefts at Brighton, jewellery and property, value nearly £4,000, being involved. Similar thefts in London were taken into consideration.
For the defence it was urged that Macdonald was left an orphan at the age of eight.
In passing sentence the Recorder (Mr Boxall) said she was a danger to the community.
A remarkable career was disclosed. It was stated that she was an Associate in Arts of the London University. She has travelled in France, Germany, and Switzerland, and speaks several languages -- French fluently.
The police record shows that prior to August 8th, 1918, she was employed for a short time as secretary to Messrs Bellinger and Co., jewellers, Rathbone Place, London, leaving suddenly of her own accord. She had also been a lady's companion at Finchley.
On October 14th, 1913, at Dingwall, she was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment for larceny. Since then she had been before varios magistrates on five different occasions. In addition, she admitted having stolen a chain-bag and key from Argyle Mansions Hotel, Brighton, and property worth £20 belonging to Mrs Crittall, of Hyde Park Terrace, from the Grand Hotel, Brighton.
There were also four cases in London against her of stealing goods, including a gold cigarette-case and other articles worth £30 from the Express Club, Dover Street, and a three stone diamond ring, worth £150, and other jewels, worth £365, from Brown's Hotel, Dover Street.
In Macdonald's possession when arrested were a diamond bracelet, three-stone diamond ring, gold signet ring, and a sardonyx brooch, value £400, the owner of which has not been traced.
A University woman with an arts degree, who speaks several languages and has travelled in many countries, Mary Margery Macdonald, a lady's companion, was at Brighton yesterday, sentenced to three years penal servitude.
She was described as the most expert woman hotel thief known to Scotland Yard, and she pleaded guilty to seven charges of stealing valuables and jewellery worth £4,000. They included a £1,000 fur coat, two other fur coats, and a dressing-case containing jewellery worth £2,000.
Remarkable evidence of her methods was given. She walked into big hotels in the afternoon while visitors were out, and collected jewellery from the bedrooms. Several times she walked openly out of the doors unrecognized in a stolen coat. On occasions when she was met by one of the hotel staff she explained that she was looking for the cloakroom. Her capture was due to the vigilance of a chambermaid, whose suspicions were aroused by seeing Macdonald enter several rooms. Although she strenuously asserted that she was an ordinary visitor, Macdonald was eventually handed over to the police, to whom she confessed. In a room where she was staying jewellery worth over £5,000 was found in boxes and drawers.
Detective-Inspector Taylor said that Macdonald was an Associate of Arts of London University, and spoke French perfectly. She had travelled many countries, including France, Switzerland and Germany, and had been employed as secretary to a large firm of London jewellers until 1913, when she disappeared. Before coming to Brighton at Christmas she operated in the West End, and over £1,000 worth of jewellery stolen from London hotels had since been recovered, in addition to a large quantity of goods still unidentified.
Counsel for the defence, describing Macdonald as "This poor woman," said she had a bad start in life, having been left an orphan when eight years old. She had become familiar with languages, and she had friends of good position, who even now were willing to give her a new start.
The Recorder, however, said she was a cunning thief and a danger to society.
Described as the most expert woman hotel thief known to Scotland Yard, Mary Macdonald, a university graduate, and much travelled linguist, was sentenced to three years' penal servitude on seven charges of stealing valuables worth £4000, including a fur coat worth £1000 and jewellery worth £2000. She displayed extraordinary audacity, entering the rooms in the absense of the visitors. She once walked out wearing a stolen coat. She gained an expert knowledge of jewellery as secretary of a London firm. Jewellery valued at £5000 was found in her room.
From: The Musswellbrook Chronicle, New South Wales, Australia, 30 June, 1922, Page 1, Column 1, the column is titled "Sidelights";
Mary Macdonald, holder of a University degree, was sentenced to three years imprisonment at Brighton, England, for hotel thefts. Scotland Yard authorities described her as the cleverest hotel thief they had encountered. Jewels valued at £5,000 were found in her room.
Mary Marjorie Macdonald (30), lady's companion, pleaded guilty at Brighton Quarter Sessions to stealing from various Brighton hotels articles of clothing and jewellery valued altogether at nearly £10,000. In each case, it was stated, the prisoner gained access to the bedrooms of guests staying at the hotels. The bulk of the stolen property was found in her possession whe she was arrested, together with some jewellery stolen from West-end hotels.
Detective inspector Taylor reported that the prisoner was a native of Cromarty, and had received a good education. She was known as one of the most expert hotel thieves in this country. There were four thefts in London which the prisoner admitted, and desired that they be taken into consideration.
The Recorder passed sentence of three years penal servitude.
From: The Ottawa Journal, Canada, 10 January, 1925, Page 13;
IS GIVEN CREDIT
FOR DARING WORK
Scotland Yard Calls Her
Most Expert Crook Known.
ASSOCIATE OF ARTS
OF LONDON VARSITY
Disappointment in Love
Affair Starts Her
LONDON. (By Mail). - The female "Raffles," Mary Marjory Macdonald. sentenced to 12 months detention, is a highly-educated world-travelled woman, who took a desperate plunge when forsaken in a love affair. Her career since then has been one long series of daring and clever robberies. She is considered by Scotland Yard to be the most expert female "Raffles" in the country, Mary Marjory Macdonald, the "Queen of Hotel Thieves."
Thls apparently trivial incident in the records of crime recalls the amazing career of this charming and good-looking crook, who. ever since 1919, when she received her first sentence of imprisonment, has lived a life of persistent crime --and this despite an education which enabled her to become an Associate of Arts of the London University and the opportunities of lucrative employment which came to her during her early life.
A charming woman who always managed to dress smartly, and who was helped in her exploits by her engaging personality, she is a woman of exceptional intelligence.
On the present occasion, when she was caught in a bedroom at the Hyde Park Hotel, she had only just been released from a sentence of three years penal servitude, passed upon her at Brighton for a long series of hotel thefts, when $25.000 worth of jewellery was discovered in her box at the hotel where she herself was staying.
Caught By Valet.
A valet at the Hyde Park Hotel chanced to hear the sound of drawers being opened in a certain room at the hotel, and entering the apartment was astounded to find the place in darkness. When he turned the light up he found Macdonald standing near to an open drawer. She said she had made a mistake in the number of her room, but it was discovered that she was not staying at the hotel.
Geoffrey Gush, solicitor, on behalf of Macdonald, urged that she was not a criminal in the ordinary sense. Some years ago she was examined by a specialist and found to be suffering from some peculiar neurotic condition.
When she recently stole a fur coat and valuable brooch from the Curson Hotel she went next day to a restaurant and left the property in a chair, hoping that in this way it would get back to the owner. Nevertheless she was ordered to complete the remainder of her last sentence in addition to serve a further term of twelve months.
There is a touch of pathos in the story of this comparatively young woman, for when she was only eight years of age she was left an orphan dependent on the kindness of friends and relatives for her upbringing.
Early in life she became companion to a lady in society, and after that she obtained several positions of a similar nature. In this capacity she travelled widely, staying at the best hotels.
Then she obtained a lucrative post as secretary to a large firm of London jewellers, remaining with them until 1913, when she suddenly disappeared. There is little doubt that the reason for her disappearance on this occasion was a love affair, and it is possible that her downfall was due to its effects.
Worked Daring Schemes.
Deserted and lonely, she took the plunge by stealing a valuable fur coat from the little hotel at which she was staying.
After this there was nothing this frail-looklng little woman would not dare. She would enter the restaurant of an hotel, order dinner, and while sitting at her meal would note the jewellery worn by those staying at the hotel. Having selected those persons wearing the most valuable jewellery she would wait till they rose and calmly follow them to their rooms as though she herself were a guest.
Having noted the number of a particular room she would return to the hotel next day in the early afternoon, and after watching her victim depart hurry up to the room, force the door or open it with skeleton keys, and ransack the place. Over and over again she has had the audacity to ask for the key of a room as though she were its occupant.
She was sentenced In 1917 and 1919, each time for the same sort of offence, beginning over again immediately upon release.
Between January and April, 1923, she committed the amazing series of thefts at Brighton hotels which brought her a term of penal servitude.
Eventually she was caught through the astuteness of a maid at the Royal York Hotel, Brighton. This chambermaid having seen Macdonald enter several rooms, asked her who she was. Macdonald said she was looking for a cloakroom, and the maid, with commendable cunning, offered to show her the way. She ushered the unsuspectlng prisoner into a room, locked the door, posted a guard outside, and rushed for the police.
From: The Western Star and Roma Advertiser (Toowoomba, Queensland), 21 February, 1925, Page 5, Column 3;
THIEF WITH DEGREE.
VARSITY WOMAN TURNS TO
An accomplished linguist and a woman with an Arts Degree of London University, Marjorie Macdonald, aged 36, was declared at Westminster Police Court recently to be an expert and daring jewel thief (says the London "Daily Chronicle").
She had been released from prison on license, and appeared on a charge under the Prevention of Crimes Act.
Macdonald was found in a visitor's bedroom at the Hyde Park Hotel, and subsequently confessed to the theft of a fur coat and jewellery from another hotel. This property she left at a restaurant, and it was recovered by the police, though the owner has not been traced.
Detective-sergeant Seales, of the Brighton police, said that in June, 1922, Macdonald was sentenced to three years' penal servitude at Brighton for 13 robberies from hotels.
She was described by another detective as a most daring hotel thief. She was well educated, and an Associate of Arts of London University. She specialised in jewel robberies, and had been many times convicted.
For the defence Mr. Geoffrey Gush said Macdonald was not an ordinary criminal. A specialist had found her to be suffering from some peculiar neurotic condition.
When she stole a fur coat and valuable brooch from the Curzon Hotel recently she went next day to a restaurant and left the property on a chair, hoping that in some way it would get back to its owner.
The Magistrate: Do you mean that she goes about committing hotel robberies to show how easily it can be done?
Mr. Geoffrey Gush: She labors under a curious sort of mentality, and her well-to-do friends have come forward, willing to take charge of her for treatment in a psychological clinic.
The magistrate said the woman was a danger to society. She was a criminal who would have to complete the remainder of her sentence, in addition to a further term of 12 months' imprisonment under the Crimes Act.
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