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THIRTY FOUR YEARS AGO.
TO THE PUBLIC.
My residence within a few miles of Stoneleigh Abbey, the frequent visits of the friends of one of the claimants of the Stoneleigh estates to the neighbourhood, and the examinations of several witnesses as to the missing monument to Christopher Leigh coming into my possession a few years since, first induced me to turn my attention to the evidence as to that monument in particular, and I soon satisfied myself as to its having existed, of its, having been sacrilegiously and fraudulently removed from Stoneleigh Church, and of the motives for such removal; and the opinion thus formed, has strengthened from time to time ever since. The suppresó sion of this evidence, the act of the agents of the then possessor of the Abbey, with the estates in four other counties, estimated at £90,000 a year, convinced me that. there was a claimant having a right superior to the then possessor, and that the latter, or his agents had not been very scrupulous as to the means of preventing that claimant establishing his right by law.
The opinion I formed that there was a person existing having a prior claim, was only an adopted opinion but I só adopted that opinion from those who had the best means of forming an opinion, and the strongest motives for acting npon it. The agents themselves of the possessor.
of the possessor, for that gentleman, the late Mr. J. H. Leigh appears to have left the entire controul of his affairs to Mrs. Leigh, and her chosen assistants, and amongst other things the sacrilegious larceny of monuments from Stoneleigh Church and elsewhere, in order to suppress that material evidence of the rightful owner's claim both to the peerage and estates.
Believing steadfastly in this sacrilege and fraud, knowing that four persons (two on the near approach of death) have confessed themselves guilty of murders in conjunction with some of the parties concerned in such sacrilege and fraud, and knowing how easily criminals slide down hill from one great crime to another still greater, especially when the latter is committed to hide the former from the light : I do not feel I am doing a very absurd thing in believing the main fact of the recent horrible disclosures, especially when I know there is still much more behind, a portion of which, the objections of Lord Leigh's Solicitor prevented from being made publicly known upon the recent judicial investigation.
The curiosity of the public as to this most mysterious case would perhaps not be a very powerful reason for publishing in a concise form the leading points of the claim to the peerage and estates, and of the alleged sacrilege and murder connected with it, but the public have an interest in the discovery of truth, and the administration of justice, and a right to know the pith of such a matter as this, and the press is
perhaps the only true safeguard of right and justice against so wealthy an individual as Lord Leigh has become by the possession of the property so strongly, and probably suspected to belong to another, and that whether there be or not a disposition to abuse the influence it necessarily gives.
I have considered myself as well qualified as any one else to undertake the present publication, from having been employed in defending four of the persons charged in 1844 with breaking into the Abbey: from having been the first on
that occasion to inform the claimant's friends of the legal bearings, and difficulties of his case, as depending on the statute of limitations, the construction of the will, and otherwise, of which they seemed never to have had any
idea suggested to them ; from having been employed in 1846 to nvestigate the present, and other criminal charges, and from having been employed in taking partial steps towards preferring some of such charges in a course advised by myself, not exactly identical with, but parallel to the one lately adopted under the advice of three Counsel, eminent for character as well as attainments.
I may add that I consider it to be an additional qualification for my assumed office of author, that I have long ceased to be Attorney for Mr. J. Leigh or his friends; that I am still out of pocket some money, and all my claims for trouble taken for those persons, and am consequently placed in some degree of antagonism to both claimant and possessor: a very enviable position, after the time and thought I have bestowed on the extraordinary investigations which an inherent love of justice, as well as professional duty has led me into.
I shall proceed First. To a statement of the origin of the disputed claims to these, vast estates, and to the ancient Peerage of Stoneleigh.
2ndly. To a partial statement of the claim made to the Peerage by the late Mr. Geo. Leigh, including the evid nce as far as regards the missing monument to the Honourable Christopher Leigh.
3rdly. To the origin of the present claims made by Mr. John Leigh, and Mr. Henry Leigh
4thly. To the attack made on the Abbey.
5thly. To the present charges, with such observations interspersed as may serve to illustrate any of the specified points, and