Archibald Douglas and the trial of Annie Cheetham


On 30th October 1874 at Southwark Court, a trial started of Annie Cheetham. (An appropriate name!)

It appears that Archibald Douglas, described as a baker of Egham advertised in June 1873 for a housekeeper in Christian World, and engaged Annie Cheetham at a salary of £15. She apparently received letters with black borders, she informed Archibald that her husband was recently deceased, and she was to inherit £8500. It appears she may have persuaded poor Archibald to become engaged to her. At a later stage she disappeared. She seems to have got lodgings in hotel in Lambeth without paying, making claims about the wealth of her husband, and making excuses instead of paying. She got a quantity of drapery from Mr Hunt a Draper of Egham, (apparently being attired in a dress made from this fabric during the case!), this being obtained  in the belief she had inherited £8500 from her mother. She approached Mr Oades of the Egham builder’s, and got £250 worth of carpentry work done on the shop.

The information was gathered from three articles in The Times, 30.10.1874, 7.11.1874 and 14.11.1874. She was remanded at the end of each hearing.  Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper of 10th Jan 1875 carried the information that she was convicted at the last Surrey Sessions. The Chairman described her as a clever and accomplished swindler’. She had also obtained jewellery by deception.

The Calendar of Prisoners for Surrey reports that she was found guilty of defrauding William Hunt, but was not tried on the charge of unlawfully obtaining building materials and workmanship from Charles Oades.

Annie was sentenced to 12 months hard labour, the case in December being 'respited' or deferred until the quarter session on 5th January 1875 for sentencing. However this was no deterrent; she was convicted of several later crimes with a very similar modus operandi, and it appears was also convicted in Plymouth in 1877 for a similar offence. She went under the alias of Annie Hastings Snell or Julia Snell.

5.1.1875 Newington Defrauding Mr Hunt. Not tried on case against Mr Oades. 12 months hard labour
27.6.1882 Exeter           

False pretences twice before convicted of crimes within the meaning of prevention of crimes act (Annie Hastings Smythe married victim Mr John Snell Mar quarter 1882 in Newton Abbot district). First count was obtaining £1 from David Wood at Highweek on or about 3.7.1880

Second count was Obtaining by false pretences three dresses and other articles, value seven pounds, with intent to defraud, at Tormoham March & April 1882.

Charge of obtaining by false pretences from John Cornish Watson was dropped due to no evidence.

3 days on first indictment

Five Years on second indictment

19.10.1888 Plymouth      Misdemeanour (obtaining goods by false pretences after previous conviction for misdemeanour) 18 months
17.10.1890 Plymouth       Obtaining goods by false pretences. Stealing £10/4/10 from James Dimham 12 calendar months + 3 years police supervision
30.6.1892 Devonport      Obtaining food by false pretences after a previous conviction for a similar offence. 6 previous convictions. 1 month hard labour

Firstly, if Archibald was a baker , then this must have been the premises of John Simmonds, and Archibald’s aunt Elizabeth Ann Simmonds née Boyce. This is where Archibald was working at the time of the 1871 Census, John Simmonds died in 1871 and Elizabeth Ann in 1873. However Archibald does not remain in this business, perhaps it was not left to him, or he may have lost money due to the activities of the appropriately named Mrs Cheetham

By the 1881 Census Archibald is a domestic servant at Beaumont College, a Catholic establishment, situated between Egham and Old Windsor, so his fortunes seemed to have taken a down-turn. And in 1891 he is a servant in Richmond, lodging with the Wilder family. In 1901, he seems to be missing from the Census completely, yet in 1898 he was living in Mortlake, and writing to his brother Frederick, enquiring about the prospects of a job. He mentions that he is desperate and will not be able to pay his rent.

Archibald never married and died in Jan quarter 1924 in Brentford district. He was remembered by a member of the family who died in 2010.

Archibald was the 4th child of James Douglas and Martha Boyce.


Annie Cheetham/Annie Hastings Snell/Julia Snell/ Annie Martin was listed among habitual criminals in a list after 1893. She was serving 5 years in Aylesbury prison for fraud. She is described as follows: - lobe of rt ear slit, and small birthmark thereon; no teeth. Height 5' 1". Fresh complexion. Hair brown turning grey, Blue eyes, born 1838.





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