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Subject: [RYLAND] Edward Croft Ryland, b. 1828
Date: 21 Jan 2003 16:19:26 -0700

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Surnames: Ryland, Croft
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When Octavius Ryland was transported from England to prison in Australia in 1852, prison records described him as a 52-year-old widower with two children, but did not name the children. Octavius was the brother of the barrister and legal author Archer Ryland. http://boards.ancestry.com/mbexec?htx=message&r=rw&p=surnames.ryland&m=250

Those children were Edward Croft Ryland, christened 10 December 1828 at St. Giles, Camberwell, London; and Charlotte Harriet Croft Ryland, christened 17 August 1831 at Saint Giles. (from parish registers)

The 1880 census for Manhattan, New York, lists Edward Ryland, 50, born in England, and his wife Elsie Ryland, 23, likewise born in England. His occupation is listed as Commercial Traveler, and hers as Journalist.

Edward, too, had brushes with the law in England and later in America, as related in two articles in the New York Times from 1882. Genealogy became central to the story as it developed, so the articles contain good information that is hard to find anywhere else. Some may feel that reprinting these pieces is airing unsavory "dirty laundry," to no credit to the Ryland family reputation. It seems to me that our job is to uncover history, not whitewash it, wherever it may lead. All families have members who brought discredit upon themselves, the Rylands certainly fewer than most. The family's reputation will survive the rare miscreant. Besides, it all happened a very long time ago.

New York Times, April 28, 1882 (page 8)


Edward Croft Ryland, aged 54; his reputed wife, Elsie, aged 25; and Charles Crawford, alias Palmer, were arrested early yesterday morning, at No. 13 Varick place [see Note 1], by Sergt. Edward Slavin, of Inspector Byrnes's staff, and Central Office detectives [note 2]. Later the officers, at No. 42 Watts-street, arrested W. B. Woodman, an accomplice of the other prisoners, who were identified in a scheme to alter forged checks and raise the amounts of genuine ones.

The principals in this band are the Rylands, who are pronounced cockneys.

The usual plan was for the woman to go a tradesman who had a bank account, after banking hours, and pretend that she had a relative in financial distress in some other city, and that she was desirous of sending a small amount by mail. She usually succeeded in obtaining the tradesman's check in exchange for her money. Then her husband, with chemicals and inks, changed the amount to a larger one, and Crawford or Woodman went to the bank and cashed the check.

In this way on the 20th inst., they robbed G. S. Duncan, grocer, of No. 1,525 Third-avenue of $159.50, on a check for $6, which he gave the woman on the representation that her mother in Philadelphia had urgent need of the money. The check was "raised" to $165.50.

A check of Sheridan Brothers, No 290 Eighth-avenue, was altered from $5 to $25. After swindling Sheridan, one of the band went to his bank -- the Sixth National -- and obtained a check-book. This was on the 5th August last, and on the 6th, on a forged check made by Ryland, drew $75 from the account of Sherman Brothers.

When the arrests were made, the detectives seized at Ryland's chemical preparations for erasing ink, many inks of different colors, checks on several banks, and a number of letters. These letters compromised the members of the gang, as they contained numerous and business-like references to their nefarious transactions and showed that they had operated in "raised" and forged checks in Philadelphia, Washington, and New York.

There was also evidence that the woman pretended to be a newspaper correspondent, and as such sought an interview at the St. James Hotel with Senator Jones, of Nevada [note 3], and masqueraded as a literary person, as there were a number of manuscript poems and sketches of theatrical plots among her papers, but her style betrayed her incompetency.

The prisoners were remanded at the Tombs Police Court, and will be arraigned there to-day. They have been identified with the transactions with Mr. Duncan and Sheridan Brothers.

Edward Croft Ryland came to America eight years ago. It is asserted that he left England after he had served a term of imprisonment for forgery. For a year he led a precarious existence and was arrested in Brooklyn for breaking open a letter-box. For this offense he served two years in prison. Shortly after his release he attempted to cash a forged check for $500 at the Second National Bank, was convicted, and had served two years of a sentence of five years in State prison, when he obtained an order for a new trial. He was brought to New York, bailed, and escaped further punishment.

For several years he has lived within a stone's throw of Police Head-quarters. He said he was employed in a confidential capacity by the Bradstreet Company.

Crawford, alias Palmer, is the companion in crime of Charles Fisher, alias Palmer, alias Herman, who was arrested in New York for forgery in 1878, and who recently betrayed his confederates, Bush, Miller, and Lawrence, at Chicago. Ryland was their confederate and Crawford and Ryland when they were arrested were planning a grand coup, Fisher having given Crawford blank checks on Colgate & Co., the New York bankers, to which he had Government stamps printed at the Graphic establishment. [note 4]

Of the antecedents of Woodman the Police know little, but he proves his associations with Ryland and his complicity in his crimes in his letter, and he cashed the "raised" checks of G. S. Duncan on the North River Bank.

After the man Ryland had been locked up the attention of the detectives was directed to the following advertisement published on Sunday:

IN CHANCERY, ENGLAND -- Charlotte Harriet Croft Ryland, or heirs, legatees of will of Thomas Fullerton Warren, are entitled to (pounds) 18,125.11s.8d. Address Henry M. Walker, No. 319 Broadway, New-York.

Ryland, when asked if he was related to the person of that name in the advertisement, said he had a sister, Charlotte Harriet Croft Ryland, and had taken steps to secure the legacy if entitled to it. He had not any definite knowledge of Thomas Fullerton Warren, but believed the money to have been obtained by the sale of West Indian property. He had not heard of his sister Charlotte for 20 years and believed her dead.

He visited Mr. Walker, but closed negotiations when that gentleman named $22,000 as his terms for securing the legacy, and went to ex-State Senator Luke V. Cozans, who has the matter under consideration. As a proof of his good faith in the matter, Ryland exhibited the following affidavit from Col. J. H. Mapleson [note 5] with whom he (Ryland) said he went to school in England:

"Recognition. Edward Croft Ryland by James Henry Mapleson, of the Academy of Music, New York City, City and County of New York. James Henry Mapleson of the City and County of New York, doth depose and say: I have known Mr. Edward Croft Ryland, late of London, England, and now residing in New York City, for several years. He is the son of Mary Ann Ryland, deceased, late of Newington, Surrey, England, and brother of Charlotte Harriet Croft Ryland. J. H. MAPLESON

Sworn before me, this 24th day of April, 1882. Wolfgang Kuffner, Notary Public, City and County of New-York.


New York Times, June 4, 1882 (page 10)



Mr. Peter Mitchell, the lawyer, yesterday sent documents to England to show that Edward Croft Ryland, who was recently convicted of forgery and who is now in the City Prison, is the lawful heir to an estate valued at nearly $100,000 in England, and as such is entitled to take possession through his attorney at this time.

Ryland is said to be the originator of some very clever check-raising devices. His wife, Elsie, was also recently convicted as an accomplice, and is also in the City Prison. Another accomplice, William Woodman, has been sent to state prison for ten years and six months.

Ryland, his wife, Woodman, and one Charles Crawford were arrested for forging and altering a check calling for $165.70. Crawford became a witness for the District Attorney, and testified that Elsie Ryland procured a check for $6 from George S. Duncan, of No. 815 Third Avenue. The figures in this check, Crawford said, were raised to $165.70, and Woodman altered it. He (Crawford) received $65 as his share of the proceeds, and becoming frightened over the transaction, told the story to the District Attorney.

Lawyer Mitchell asked for a separate trial for Ryland, and the prisoner was tried before Judge Gildersleeve and convicted upon the testimony of Crawford. The lawyer demanded a new trial on the ground that the testimony of the accomplice was not corroborated, and Judge Gildersleeve set aside the conviction.

Mrs. Ryland was tried before Recorder Smyth and convicted, and the lawyer expects to secure a new trial for her on the ground that she is not guilty of forging or uttering the check. The lawyer insisted in his argument for a new trial that she could only be found guilty, if at all, of being an accessory before the fact.

Just after his arrest Ryland learned that his sister had died in London and left an estate of which he is the only lawful heir and next of kin. In his affidavit, which was sent to England yesterday, he says that his name is Edward Croft Ryland, and that he was born in Maidstone, County of Kent, England, Oct. 26, 1828. His father's name was Octavius Ryland. He has never seen or heard of his father since about 1850. Then his father was in London, and he (Edward) heard rumors that he went to Australia and died there.

His mother's name was Mary Ann Ryland (nee Muggeridge). She died in 1855 or 1856 in Newington, London. Edward Ryland further says that he had a sister, Charlotte Harriet Croft Ryland, who was born December 5, 1830, on the Isle of Wight. He had heard nothing of her for 20 years until he recently learned that she was dead. He saw her last in 1862 in Baker-street, London. She went to Jamaica in 1858, and returned to England in 1859. His parents had no other children, and if his sister is dead and left no lawful issue, he is the only heir and next of kin.

Henry Skipper Ryland, a lawyer of the firm of Clark, Woodcock, & Ryland, of No. 14 Lincoln's Inn Field, London, is a cousin. Henry's father, Septimus Ryland, was a brother of Edward's father, and Septimus's wife, Matilda, was a sister of Edward's mother. Aspley Pellott, who was a member of Parliament, was married to the sister of Edward's uncle, Robert Mendham Evans, who was married to Emma Muggeridge, a sister of Edward's mother. Robert Mendham Evans has sons living in Borough, London, and are top merchants.

Edward Ryland further says in his affidavit that he is well acquainted with Col. James Henry Mapleson, and has known that gentleman for over 40 years. They attended school together at Brixton Hills Terrace, in London, and Col. Mapleson was a visitor at his mother's house, where his sister (Charlotte) resided. That was in Newington, London. Edward also says that he met Col. Mapleson when the latter was lessee of Her Majesty's Theatre in London, and has repeatedly met him during the past few years.

Edward recollects, he adds, that when he was 12 years of age there lived in Portland-square, London, three elderly maiden ladies, who were somewhat related to the Rylands, but he does not recall exactly how. He also recollects the fact that his father sent him to them for some money.

Edward says that he has known William F. Howe, the lawyer of this City, for about 30 years: that he knew Mr. Howe both in England and in this country. He is also acquainted with William R. Best, a fish salesman in Billingsgate market in London, and says that Mr. Best was well acquainted with his mother and sister. He had known Mr. Best for 25 years.

He is acquainted with the Rev. Dr. Josiah Irons, Prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and that clergyman was well acquainted with his mother and sister. [note 7] He had known Dr. Irons since he (Edward) was 10 years of age. He is acquainted with Richard Hayward and Julia Hayward (nee Best). Mr. Hayward is a fishmonger near Chapham Canon, London, and he was acquainted with Edward's mother and sister.

In concluding his affidavit, Edward Ryland says that he has an uncle, Charles James Muggeridge, a hop merchant doing business at Borough, London. He is a brother of Edward's mother, and knew him and his sister from infancy. The family takes the name of Croft from his great grandfather, Sir Archer Croft, Baronet.

Lawyer Mitchell thinks that this affidavit will make it clear to the Court in Chancery in London that his client is the rightful heir, and says that the data furnished in the affidavit ought to be sufficient to satisfactorily aid any investigation. Accompanying the affidavit is one made by Col. J. H. Mapleson, who declares that he is well acquainted with Ryland, and knows him to be the person he assumes to be. Mr. Mitchell has a power of attorney to act for Ryland and his wife in procuring the estate for them.


1. Varick Place was in Greenwich Village. It is now known as Sullivan Street.

2. Thomas Byrnes (1842-1910), legendary New York policeman who served as Chief of the New York Detective Bureau from 1880 to 1895.

3. John Percival Jones (1829-1912), Republican Senator from Nevada 1873-1903. If Elsie Ryland was merely posing as a journalist, the reason for this interview is not clear.

4. At that time, the two-cent tax stamps on checks were printed directly on the checks. The Graphic Company of New York was one of the largest suppliers of such imprinting. The stamps were not used after the tax was repealed in 1883.

5. Mapleson, a noted Hungarian-born operatic impresario in London and New York, who was friends with Gounod and Verdi, debuted "Carmen" in New York in 1878. "Colonel" was a courtesy title.

6. William F. Howe (1821-1900), the most flamboyant and skillful defense attorney in New York. He is still known as "Father of the Criminal Bar."

7. William Josiah Irons (1812-1883), had been curate of St. Mary in Newington when Edward Ryland was a small boy. At St. Paul's, he served as a Prebendary or canon, assisting in services and in operations of the cathedral. He wrote many hymns and translated theological works.

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