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The stolen body of an Earl

The body of the late Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, which was feloniously stolen from the vault beneath the private mortuary chapel at Dunecht, in Aberdeenshire, has been discovered and restored to the possession of his family. Our readers will recollect that, in December last, when the outrageous and sacrilegious theft, at whatever time it had been perpetrated, became known, we gave several illustrations of Dunecht, the chapel, and the vault. The late Earl had died at Florence, in December, 1880, and his body had then been brought home for interment in the sepulchre which he had provided, adjacent to his residence in Aberdeenshire. Eleven months had elapsed before the vault was found to be empty. The police detectives and others specially employed were unable to get any clue to the detection of the malefactors, and the family declined to offer a money reward, lest the example should be an encouragment to similar crimes. A man named Soutar, belonging to the neighbourhood, a ratcatcher, some days ago came forward to confess that he helped others to bury the body in a copse or plantation, though he denies having taken any part in removing it from the chapel vault. Search was made and the ground opened, at the spot which this man pointed out, and which is shown in a Sketch sent by a local correspondent to this Journal. There the late Earl's body was found, as the ratcatcher had said, and was reverently taken up and carried back to the chapel. It is to be finally deposited in the old family mausoleum at Haigh Hall, Wigan, in Lancashire. Soutar has been committed for trial, and there is now some hope that his statement, with other evidence, may yet lead to the apprehension of the more guilty persons. The Queen has sent a message to the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, expressing her satisfaction that the body of his father is recovered.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2256—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 29, 1882, p.122

Body of the Earl found