WILLIAM JACKSON - EUGENE HAMBURGER
ROBBERY OF PEARLS.
About 12 o'clock noon on the 13th January, an attempt was made by William Jackson, a jeweller, late of 407 Park-road, Hockley, near Birmingham, to murder Eugene Hamburger, a wholesale jeweller, of 26 Woodridge-street, Clerkenwell, by shooting and stabbing him, in the top chambers of 33 Holborn Viaduct. It appears that on the morning of that day Mr. Hamburger, a tall and powerfully-built young man of 22, was passing along the Holborn Viaduct, carrying a bag containing diamonds, pearls, and rubies, of the value of upwards of Â£2000, when he was accosted by a customer of the firm named William Jackson, a jeweller, late of 407 Park-road, Hockley, near Birmingham, but since residing with his wife and three children in Spencer-street, Clerkenwell, and invited to show a parcel of pearls, if he had any for sale. Jackson's previous transactions with the firm not being creditable, Mr. Hamburger at first demurred, but ultimately he asked the man where the pearls could be shown him. Jackson pointed to a large new block of buildings on the station side of the Viaduct and replied, "At my office, just here." He proceeded to the building, and they entered an empty office, when Jackson slammed to the door, and, turning upon young Mr. Hamburger with a pistol, shot him in the head from the back. Mr. Hamburger instantly turned upon his assailant, and a desperate struggle ensued. Jackson declared that he wanted money, and money he would have. Finding that the pistol-shot did not take effect, Jackson drew a formidable dagger from his left side pocket and made a terrific plunge at Mr. Hamburger's right eye. The blade entered just below the eyeball and passed through the flesh, under the skin, to a point close upon the ear. Mr. Hamburger again retaliated seized the back of the dagger with his left hand, and another struggle followed. Fortunately he managed to prevent the man from again stabbing him, although his hand and fingers were nearly severed by the force with which the blade was withdrawn. In fact all the arteries were cut, and the hand was rendered utterly useless. Mr. Hamburger struck Jackson a forcible blow with the butt end of the pistol, and inflicted other injuries to the head and face, and moreover he managed to secure both the pistol and dagger, which he placed in his bag, already saturated with blood, and made his way into the street. Then he hailed a cab and drove home, a distance of about three-quarters of a mile. The services of Dr. Henry Franklyn, of St. John-street, Clerkenwell, a gentleman who had had considerable experience in the treatment of gunshot wounds in the Crimean war, were immediately procured, and he at once saw that the patient was in imminent danger. Dr. Franklyn deemed it advisable to call in further surgical aid, and he and Dr. Morrant Baker then came to the conclusion that a bullet had lodged between the dura mater and the skull. An operation with the object of extracting the bullet will have to be performed, and it is not at all improbable that erysipelas may supervene. Mr. Hamburger remained conscious, and gave the doctor an account of the manner in which he was attacked, and of the desperate struggle he had with his assailant. He said that he had opened his bag and was about showing the pearls, when the pistol was discharged. The blood from the wound gushed into the bag, but fortunately he retained his senses and made a grasp at the pistol, which he secured. A hatchet in a bag was found by the police in Jackson's offices, in Holborn. The man is still at large. He is described as from 20 to 30 years of age, complexion fair, face thin and pale, hair dark and curly. On Wednesday a photograph of the man was shown to Mr. Hamburger, and he at once identified it as that of the would-be murderer.
Source: Evening Post - 26th March 1878
THE HOLBORN DIAMOND ROBBERY
An entirely new aspect is given to the so-called Holborn mystery by the result of the inquest hold on Tuesday at Falmer. The facts of this strange case will probably still be fresh in the memory of the public. On the afternoon of Tuesday week last Mr Eugene Hamburger, a diamond and jewel merchant, was walking over the Holborn Viaduct, when he met a man named Jackson, whom he had known for come time, but of whom, as it now appears, he did not entertain a very high opinion. Jackson, it seems, suggested what is commonly called a "deal," mentioning that he should like to buy a parcel of pearls; and Hamburger, not suspecting any danger, accompanied him into a room up several flights of stairs in one of the large buildings situated on the Viaduct. No sooner had the chamber been reached than Jackson suddenly made a murderous assault upon his companion. He fired at him with a pistol and attempted to stab him with a dagger. A desperate struggle ensued, but fortunately for him, Mr Hamburger escaped. A bullet from the pistol of this would-be assassin was lodged in his head, and his hand and fingers were cut through to the bone in an ineffectual attempt to seize and hold the double-edged weapon with which his life had been attempted. Being, however, the more powerful man of the two, fan got the best of his assailant, and managed to make good his retreat. Although he had a considerable amount of valuable property about him, he was not robbed, and there is now no reason to believe, as was at first supposed, that plunder was Jackson's object. The motive of the attack, indeed, appears to have arisen from some bad feeling entertained by Jackson towards his intended victim, yet the cause of his animosity, so far as it has been explained, is hardly enough in itself to account for so terrible a crime as that which he attempted. Mr Marcus Hamburger, in a letter which we publish elsewhere, declares that there was no quarrel between his son and the deceased, and that the statement of the latter that the former libelled him is utterly false. He admits, however, that his son, having had dealings with Jackson, had not been able to give a favourable reply to the question put to him in the trade as to whether Jackson's credit could be trusted, and it is possible that this circumstance rankled in the mind of the latter. Nevertheless, a desire to avenge a real or imagined wrong, does not seem to have been the sole cause of this tragedy, especially when the sequel to the struggle in the house on the Holborn Viaduct is considered.
Jackson, after his ineffectual attempt to murder, put an end to his life by suicide. On Sunday morning, at about half-past 11, he made his appearance at the Swan Inn, Falmer, about half way between Brighton and Lewes. He had a glass of ale, and announced his intention of coming back at or about midday for lunch. This he did, and after lunch he left the house. A little later, the report of a pistol was heard in the parish churchyard, and some persons who were close by, hastening to the spot, found the body of the deceased lying in the footpath, with a wound from a pistol bullet in his left breast, immediately over the heart. Death, must have been almost instantaneous. Upon him was found a long, rambling letter giving his own version of the struggle between himself and Mr Hamburger, and making some sort of attempt at an explanation of the strange mystery in which he himself had borne so conspicuous a part. The epistle was addressed to his "friends, his dear parents, and his sisters," and assured them in it he had decided to put an end to his existence, and release them however painful of the contemplation of his awful condition. "There are many keepers about here," the document proceeds, "and I shall wait for one, seize his gun from the corner of a public-house, and shoot myself." After a little more vague rhapsody of this kind, the letter goes on to describe the deadly combat between the deceased and Hamburger as a fair duel." There had been so this strange story runs–" a long and severe quarrel he had libelled me, and I was determined to be avenged. I drew part of the powder from the cartridge, and did not think it would kill. I asked him which he would have, the dagger or the pistol and he said the dagger. I threw it to the other end of the room, and when ho rushed to pick it up I fired. I then closed with him, and, after a terrible struggle, wrested the dagger from him and threw him off." There can be little doubt that this extraordinary statement is no representation of the exact facts of the case. It is the tale of a madman, and the mental aberration by which it is guided and dictated becomes painfully apparent as we proceed. "My life," the wild and incoherent letter runs, "has been a misspent one, but I do not think it has been a wicked or unkindly one. My worst passions were roused in my last interview with Hamburger, and the issue is only too much to my disadvantage. I have been backward in the world all my life, and it was hardly to be expected that I should die a natural death. I am determined to die, and await my end with impatience. I have not heard a single gun fired, and it is now 12 o'clock.... Englishmen have died by the bullet, and, if there is any difference, it is more brave to die by rabbit shot." I hope," Jackson concluded, "that Hamburger will get well but do not consider I shall have his murder on my soul if he dies." In a pocket-book found upon the deceased there was written a long statement to the same effect, ending with a request that after his death he might be buried at the place where he was christened. These documents, in themselves, would be evidence of insanity, but other evidence was forthcoming. A friend of the unfortunate man deposed that he had known him for some time that he was temperate in his habits, but strange and eccentric that he had often complained of severe pains in his head that he was in no want of money that he was in the habit of going armed and that he had frequently talked about his having been grossly insulted. After all this it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the assailant of Mr Hamburger was not altogether responsible for his actions. We may even go further, and say, although the jury were of opinion that there was no evidence to show what was his state of mind, that the deceased was decidedly insane and attempted to murder Mr Hamburger in a fit of temporary mania. We know what homicidal mania is, and how people who in all other respects behave reasonably will suddenly and without the least provocation, take life, or attempt to take it, as recklessly as a Malay running a-muck under the influence of opium or Indian hemp. On the other hand, it is doubtful, to say the least, whether at present we know the whole of this strange story. According to the evidence of Chief Inspector Harnett, the deceased bore an excellent character, while Mr Hamburger himself would seem to have been of the contrary opinion. It may very well be that Mr Hamburger did the dead man an injustice which, in his peculiar mental condition, had a greater effect upon him than it would have had on a perfectly sane person. We have no right, of course, to assume that anything of this kind was the case but, at the same time, the circumstances strongly point to some such conclusion. We may, indeed, almost take it for granted that when one man makes a desperate attempt to murder another, unless he is indeed an actual maniac, there will be more in the matter than meets the eye at first sight. We may admit that Jackson was mad, but we must also own that there was, at any rate, a very considerable method in his madness. It is evident that he intended to kill Mr Hamburger, and that, failing in the attempt, he resolved to kill himself. All we know is, that he was more or less insane, while his wrongs, such as they may have been, were perhaps of a nature which can never be explained now that he is dead. For the rest, this shocking affair serves to remind us how easily, even in the centre of a great city like London, a murder may be not only planned and attempted, but actually achieved. It is a common notion that in lawless parts of the world for instance, in the more turbulent of the South American Republics, on the fringe of civilisation in California, in Greece, in the southern parts of Italy, and on the frontiers of our Indian Empire the life of the traveller is exposed to perils unknown in populous and well-governed countries. It may be doubted whether this is really the case. In spite of the boasted activity of our police, it is certain that strange things occur in London. Mr Hamburger has escaped with his life but it is perfectly possible that his enemy might have murdered him and eluded the grasp of justice. Such things have happened before, and it is sad to think that they ore only too likely to happen again.
Source: Timaru Herald - 28th March 1878
This William Jackson is not to be confused with William Henry Jackson, who coincidently was working at Spencer Street, Clerkenwell at around the same time.