The recent sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerton, whose name has been mentioned as the probable Liberal candidate for Mid-Devon at the next election, has cast a gloom over the county. Though Sir Charles had resided at Baskerton Hall for a comparatively short period his amiability of character and extreme generosity had won the affection and respect of all who had been brought into contact with him.
Sir Charles, as is well known, made large sums of money in dog training. While it is unusual that he would choose such a profession given his family’s history with carnivorous canines, it is refreshing to find a case where the scion of an old county family which has fallen upon evil days is able to make his own fortune and to bring it back with him to restore the fallen grandeur of his line.
The circumstances connected with the death of Sir Charles cannot be said to have been entirely cleared up by the inquest, but at least enough has been done to dispose of those rumours to which local superstition has given rise. According to his doctor, there is no reason whatsoever to suspect foul play.
In spite of his considerable wealth, Sir Charles was simple in his personal tastes, and his indoor servants at Baskerton Hall consisted of a married couple named Barrymore, the husband acting as butler and the wife as housekeeper. Their evidence, corroborated by that of several friends, tends to show that Sir Charles’s health has in no way been impaired as of late. Dr. Mortimer, the friend and medical attendant of the deceased, has given evidence to the same effect.
It is obviously of the utmost importance that Sir Charles’s heir should settle at the Hall and continue the good work which has been so sadly interrupted. Had the prosaic finding of the coroner not finally put an end to the romantic stories which have been whispered in connection with the affair, it might have been difficult to find a tenant for Baskerton Hall. It is understood that the next of kin is Mr. Henry Baskerton. The young man when last heard of was in America, and inquiries are being instituted with a view to informing him of his good fortune.
“Yesterday morning, Sir Charles had declared his intention of going to town for a ‘private meeting.’ My wife and I knew this to mean he intended to travel into London where he, on occasion, met with an escort. He was a Batchelor with few vices, and my wife and I looked the other way on this matter. He took a cab to the city and returned in the same cab much later last evening.
“After preparing for bed Sir Charles went out for his nocturnal walk, in the course of which he was in the habit of smoking a cigar. He had obtained a new cigar while in the city and seemed interested to try it. He never returned.
“At twelve o’clock, finding the hall door still open, I became alarmed, and, lighting a lantern, went in search of my employer. The day had been wet, and Sir Charles’s footmarks were easily traced down the alley. Halfway down this walk, there is a gate that leads out onto the moor. It was at the far end of it that I discovered his body.
“I first called Dr. Mortimer, who was kind enough to come right away, despite the late hour. The Doctor inspected the body, concluded Lord Baskerton must have died of cardiac arrest, then suggested we call the authorities.
“My wife was very upset, and so I tended to her inside the house while Dr. Mortimer notified you.”
The Police Statement of Mr. B. Barrymore