Jock Delves Broughton

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Sir Henry John Delves Broughton, 11th Baronet (10 September 1883 – 5 December 1942)[1] was a British aristocrat who is chiefly known for standing trial for the murder of Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll. The event was the basis of the film White Mischief.

Early life[edit]

Born at Doddington Hall in Doddington, Cheshire, Delves Broughton came into the baronetcy upon the death of his father in April 1914. He had married Vera Edyth Griffith-Boscawen on 8 July 1913; their daughter, Rosamond, married Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat in 1938. On the outbreak of World War I, as a captain in the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards, he was due to sail with his men, but was taken ill and had to be replaced.[2][3] He was forced to sell off most of the 34,000 acres (140 km²) of the family estate in the 1930s to pay gambling debts.[4] In the late 1920s and early 1930s, he was part of a consortium which owned the Ensbury Park Race Course in Kinson, Dorset, now a part of Bournemouth. In 1939, he was suspected of insurance fraud after the theft of his wife's pearls and some paintings, on which he claimed the insurance.[5] Months after he and Vera divorced, Delves Broughton married Diana Caldwell on 5 November 1940, and the couple moved to Kenya.

Murder trial[edit]

Erroll was found shot in the head in his car at a crossroads outside Nairobi on 24 January 1941. He and the Delves Broughtons were part of the so-called Happy Valley set living in Happy Valley, Kenya.

Erroll's former lover, Alice de Janzé, was initially viewed by the Happy Valley set as a suspect, but Delves Broughton - whose bride was very-publicly carrying on with Erroll - was arrested. He was acquitted at trial for lack of evidence, a conclusion that hinged on the identification of the murder weapon. Delves Broughton's pistol was a Colt with 6 grooves, and Erroll was killed by a bullet with 5 grooves. No pistol was produced by the Crown or by the defence. Delves Broughton claimed that two of his pistols, a silver cigarette case and 10 or 20 shillings were stolen days before Erroll's death.

Superintendent Arthur Poppy claimed that Delves Broughton had stolen the guns from himself to give the impression that he had no .32 pistol at the time. Additionally, the bullet that killed Erroll was fired by a pistol with clockwise rifling; Colts use anti-clockwise rifling. Another bullet fired at Erroll also had 5 grooves and clockwise turning. In 11 May 2007 Daily Telegraph, author Christine Nicholls described taped evidence she claimed was definitive proof that Delves Broughton killed Erroll.[6]

Aftermath[edit]

Delves Broughton was never accepted back into the Happy Valley set and returned to England alone, his wife having already taken another lover. In December 1942, a few days after his arrival, he was found dying from a morphine overdose at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. The inquest recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed, in relation to illness following a back injury from a fall, the official reason for his return to England.[7][8] The baronetcy passed to his son, Sir Evelyn Delves Broughton. After his death, Diana remarried twice, the second time to Thomas Cholmondeley, 4th Baron Delamere.

Delves Broughton's granddaughter, magazine editor and socialite Isabella Blow, also committed suicide.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Major Sir Henry John Delves Broughton, 11th Bt." The Peerage 21 August 2010
  2. ^ The Irish Guards in the Great War, Vol 1, 1914 - Mons To La Bassée, Rudyard Kipling
  3. ^ Obituary, The Times, 7 Dec 1942;
  4. ^ "Obituary: Isabella Blow" Daily Post, Liverpool, 10 May 2007
  5. ^ empty
  6. ^ Revealed: the White Mischief murderer, Judith Woods, Daily Telegraph, 11 May 2007 online
  7. ^ Inquest On Sir Jock Delves Broughton, The Times, 15 Dec 1942
  8. ^ Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, Christine Stephanie Nicholls, Timewell Press, 2005, ISBN 1-85725-206-3

See also[edit]

Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Delves Louis Broughton
Baronetcy of Broughton
1914–1942
Succeeded by
Evelyn Delves Broughton