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The Washington times. [volume] (Washington [D.C.]) 1902-1939, September 10, 1922, SUNDAY MORNING, Image 57

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1922-09-10/ed-1/seq-57/

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Why the Bogus "Lord de Freyne," Convicted of a
Cruel Murder, Must Go Crazy Once a Day
or Run the Risk of Being Taken
from the Asylum and Hanged
"True, who is clever at most games of skitl and chance,
may be watching a close cAtfys match with Jcebn interest,
when he will break into a fit of raging < madness as
the Broadmoor keepers come to take his daily record."
Ronald True, the Bogus
"Lord de Freyne,"
Convicted of a Brutal
Murder in London, but
Sent to a Lunatic
Asylum.
LONDON, Aug. 25.
NO man in the world,
perhaps, fincts himself
in such a terrible pre
dicament as Ronald True,
who used to call himself
"Lord de Freyne" in San
Francisco, and is, in fact, the
son of Annabelle, Dowager
Lady de Freyne.
True was found guilty in London re
cently of the brutal murder of Gertrude
Yates, a girl of the bohemian world in
London, and sentenced to be hanged. He
beat his victim to death in a very shock
ing manner and stole her jewels, which
were of high value. He appealed to the
Criminal Court of Appeal and his sen
tence was promptly confirmed.
But after his conviction experts de
tected signs of insanity in him and by
order of the Secretary of State for Home
Affairs he was removed to the great Asy
lum for the Criminal Insane at Broad
moor. His escape from death aroused a
storm of indignation and the public pro
tests almost endangered the Government,
and Secretary Shortt will retire, it is said,
from political life.
But in the asylum True is doomed to a
punishment which many would regard as
worse than death, for he is under the con
stant and closest^kind of surveillance by
the medical attendants and expert ward-,
ers, who, unless he acts as a lunatic, will
report him as having recovered his sanity.
In that event he- is not discharged as
cured and restored to liberty, ai would be
the case in America, but is recommitted to
prison by warrant of the Secretary of
State, to fulfill his sentence. And the
sentence passed upon him after trial and
conviction was to be hanged by the neck
until he was dead. Thus Ronald True will
always have before him, by day and by
night, the shadow of the gallows.
English law is very explicit on this
point. Under the Criminal Lunatics Act
of' 1884 it is distinctly laid down that
should a prisoner detained in an asylum
for the criminal insane be at any time
afterward certified as sane?that is to say,
as cured?he must be recommitted" to
prison by warrant of the Secretary of
State for the Home Department, to com
plete his sentence, which in True's in
stance is the capital sentence.
Reliable reports suggest that True is
now aware of the necessity of acting in
an insane manner.
It has even been stated that Mr..True's
wife?she is his third and an American?
.lives on the comfortable sum she realized
by betting against the noose of death be
ing drawn around her husband's neck.
\Chen he was first taken to the asylum,
some indignation was aroused by his cal
lous and cheerful conduct. He arrived in
a private motor ar with his handcuffs
concealed under a fashionable motoring
coat and joked loudly with his attendants.
He was at first placed in the so-called
"gentlemen's block at Broadmoor, where
criminal lunatics of good social posi
tion and quiet behavior are lodged. Here
he had many privileges. Instead of din
i??g with the ordinary inmates in the mid
dle of the day, off tinware, he with other
occupants of the gentlemen's block, was
allowed to dine in the evening, off porce
lain, the meal usually comprising a soup,
a roast, aP least two kinds of vegetables
and a swelt, after which he used to enjoy
a game of bridge.
He is a splendid bridge player and a
very entertaining companion, having a
supply of good or exciting ?tories from
his experiences as an aviator in the war,
r member of the Northwest Mounted Po
lice and a stock raiser in Canada.
Moreover, he was allowed to wear his
own fashionable clothes, instead of crimi
nal convict garb. He expressed himself
as being quite happy and comfortable, and
enjoyed to Ihe utmost the beautiful
grounds of the asylum.
Then some one, from within or with
out, seems td have called his attention to
the fact that his sentence was merely a
suspended one, and that in the event of
his being reported as cured he would have
to pay the penalty of his crime.
True then became violently insane and
had to be removed for a time to the re
fractory ward. Since then there has
never been a day when he has not shown
symptoms of violent insanity, so that it
would be difficult to send him to the gal
lows.
It is stated that he has been known to
show the keenest interest in a difficult
chess game, whfn all of a sudden he
would start tearing his hair and uttering:
maniacal shreeks. Was this behavior due
to a sudden fit of insanity or because he
realized that a keeper was watching him
and that it was time to get in the daily
asylum record as mad?
It must be remembered that judge and
jury were perfectly convinced that True
was fully responsible for his actions and
that there were no mitigating circum
stances. It is true that he was shown to
be a drug fiend and a degenerate, but
these are not regarded as mitigating cir
cumstances. It was only after his convic
tion and when he was confronted, so to
speak, by the spectacle of the scaffold
and of the noose, that he gave wav to fits
of insanity, which may have been feigned,
or which may have been caused by the
stoppage of the drugs to which he had
become more or less of a slave.
On this being reported to the Secretary
of State for the Hqme Department, he
causal Ronald True's condition to be ex
amined by a commission of three experts,
two of them former directors of the
Broadmoor Asylum, and the third, Sir
Maurice Craig, recognized as the fore
most alienist of his day in the British
Isles. They reported to the Home Secre
tary that whatever Ronald True may have
been at the time of the murder, he was
undoubtedly irresponsible and insane when
they exdWiined him. On the strength of
this report, the Home Secretary, who acts
in the matter in the name and in behalf of
the King, ordered a reprieve of the execu
tion and a suspension of the sentence, by
virtue of the law of the land, which has
been in existence for some four centuries,
according to the terms of which "an in
sane man cannot be sent to execution."
When the public learned that this re
fiulsive murderer was escaping the gal
ows while similar clemency was refused
to a poor addle-headed pantry boy, the
report was circulated that TrueV escape
was due to the influence of his charming
Gertrude Yates, Beaten to Death
in Her Flat by True, Who
Then Stole Her Jewel*.
mother, who at one time bore the title of
"Lady de Freyne." It was this story of
high-placed influence that embarrassed
tho Government.
Ronald True's family history is, in fact,
quit^ romantic. His birth certificate
shows that he was born in 1891, at Chorl
ton-Upon-Medlock, a suburb of Man
chester; that his father's name was Wil
liani Thomas True, once a prominent
artist and bohemian, and that his mother
was Annabel True, formerly Angus, a
native of the little Banffshire town of
Rothes. What became of William Thomas
True is not known. But in 1902 Captain
William Alexander, of the Royal Fusiliers,
obtained a divorce from his wife in the
Ijondon courts, her maiden name being
given as Annabel Angus, and named the x
Hon. Arthur' French, oldest son of Lord
de Freyne, a fellow officer of Captain
Alexander, as the corespondent. The
Frenches are a very ancient Norman-Irish
family. On November 18 of the same
year Lieutenant French was married at a
registry office at Edinburgh to the divorced
Mrs. Alexander, who gave on that occa
sion her name and antecedents as Annabel
Angus, daughter of the keeper of a small
inn known as the Seafield Arms in the
Banffshire town of Rothes. She Also
served as a "barmaid" for a time.
On learning of the marriage, Arthur
French's father stopped his allowance, and
bereft of resources he and the former
Annabel Angus soon parted, he making
his wav to America, while she, aslhe Hon.
Mrs. I^rMich, became very well known in
London bohemian circles. She was in
those days a very beautiful and fascinat
Ronald True, When on Duty as an Aviation In
structor in America.
ing woman, with chestnut hair, fresh com
plexion, blue eyes and a good figure.
Arthur French made hip way to America,
enlisted in the Eighth Infantry of the
United States Army at'Fort Slocurn in
1905, afterward servf><f as sergeant of
the Twenty-third Infant^ in Manila, and
eventually, after receiving an honorable
discharge from the United States Army,
settled down to live on the island of Min
danao, the largest of the Philippine group,
as a storekeeper, with a native domestics
establishment of his owif.
In 1913 Arthur French, succeeded
through his father's death to the peerage
? &i fifth Lord de Freyne. But as no prop
erty accompanied the * title, Lord de
Freyne remained at Mindanao. Mrs.
French,, nee Angus, thereupon assumed
the title of "Lady de Freyne," but was
repudiated as such by the nobleman of
Mindanao, who had married her. He ad
mitted that he had been married at the
Edinburgh registry offiice after the Alex
ander divorce case, but Insisted that the
union was invalid, on the gronnd that she
had not beqAfrec to w&d Captain Alex
ander. She then instituted proceedings
for a divorce against him, thus asserting
(0) 1922, by America? Weekly, lac. Or?A Britain Ritht* Rmwv?i
Annabel le Angus, the Dow
ager Lady de Freyne, Who
Made a Heroic Struggle for
Her Son Ronald True'* Life.
her status as his
lawful wife. For
some reason or
other these proceed
ings, instituted in
1913, were dropped.
In the following
yeftr,, on the out
break of the war,
Lord de Freyne sold
his store on Min
danao, rid himself
* of his native entan
glements and hur
ried home to Eng
land.
- Enlisting in the
ranks of tty? .army,
he rose rapidly to a
captaincy of the
South Wales Bor
derers, and fell
fighting at the front
in France early in
1915. His peerage
passed to his half
brother, now mar
ried to one of the
twin daughters and
heiresses of the
Dublin multimillion
aire, Sir John Ar
nott. In spite of
this, Ronald True,
son of the former
Annabel Angus,
after deserting from
the Canadian
Mounted Police, as
sumed the title of
Lord de Freyne and
was posturing a s
such when arrested
and convicted of forgery at Alameda, in
California, in the latter part of 1915.
It is a remarkable fact that whereas
some of the "peerages" and standard
works of reference mention the former
Annabel Angus as widow of the fifth Lord
de Freyne, withotit giving her address, #
others ignore her existence altogether. *
But she is known as Annabelle, Lady de
Freyne. She still retails much of her
youthful charm. She has married a
fourth husband, a man of wealth and re
sponsibility, who has generously enabled
her to pay Ronald True an allowance and
also to defray the expose of his defense.
There are actually three Ladies de
Frpyne. They are Annabella, Lady de
Freyne, who is Ronald True's mother;
Marie, Lady de Freyne, and the Lady de
Freyne, wife of the present peer. The
second Dowager, Marie, Lady de Freyne,
has been distressed by persons assuming
that she was ?he mother of Ronald True
and expressing sympathy with her.
Broadmoor has sometimes been described
as "The Murderer's Paradise" and by
others as Great Britain's "Bastille," and
is undoubtedly one of the greatest and
most interesting institutions of the kind
The British Home Secretary, Who
, Saved True's Life by Sending
Him to an Aaylum After Hi*
Conviction and Will Retire, It
I* Said, from Political Life.
?
in existence, with accommodation for sev
eral thousand inmates of both sexes, every
one of whom is an insane criminal
Broadmoor stands not far from Wel
lington College, on a plateau, in?the midst
of the sandy pinewoods of Berkshire, sur
rounded by beautiful grounds.
The vast majority of the inmates are
known as "the King's pleasure lunatics."
These are offenders who have perpetrated
crimes and who have been found "guilty,
but irresponsible." This is a form of ver
dict unknown in the United States, where,
if an offender is pronounced insane he is
held to be legally innocent because irre
sponsible. Thus, the New York jury that
was called upon to determine the fate of
Harry Thaw when placed on trial for the
murder of Stanfprd White having found
him insane, had no alternative but
acquit him. His insanity being thus
legally established, the presiding judge
was able to commit him to Matteawan as
a dangerous lunatic, but only until pro
nounced cured.
When an English jury finds a prisoner
"guilty but insane," the judge commits
him t?v the Secretary of State for the
Home Department, who issues an order
for his transfer to Broadmoor, to be de
tained there "during the King's pleasure."
It is very rare, indeed, that a homicidal
maniac thus committed ever recdvers his
liberty, even if cured. He pannot be freed
by any judicial process, but only by the
warrant of the Secretary of State for the
Home Department, acting in the name of
the sovereign. A murderer who has been
declared "guilty, but insane"?that is to
say, to have been demented when he per
petrated the crime?remains always guilty
and a criminal in the eyes of the law,>an<!
as such never recovers his or her ci\il
rights.
It is assumed that such cases are beyond
cure, and since the King is theoretically
and in point of law the guardian and the
trustee of all lunatics, he or she is held
there "during the King's pleasure." But
in the case of Ronald True, who was held
sane by the judge and jury which convict
ed him of the murder of Gertrude Yates,
he is held at Broadmoor not during the
King's pleasure, but only until he is de
clared cured of the insanity developed
after his trial and conviction; and on the
report of his recovery he will have to face
th?> fulfilment of his suspended sentence?
"to be hanged by the neck ufttil you arc
dead."

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