Vere St. Leger Goold

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Vere St. Leger Goold
Le Petit Journal - 25 August 1907, Vere St. Leger Goold.jpg
Cover of Le Petit Journal, No. 875 from August 25, 1907
Full name Vere Thomas Goold
Country (sports)  Ireland
Born (1853-10-02)2 October 1853
Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died 8 September 1909(1909-09-08) (aged 55)
Île du Diable, French Guiana
Highest ranking No. 2 (1879, Karoly Mazak)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
Wimbledon F (1879)

Vere Thomas "St. Leger" Goold (2 October 1853[2] – 8 September 1909) was an Irish tennis player. He quickly faded from the game and took his own life on Devil's Island, where he was serving a life sentence for murder.


Vere Goold was born into a wealthy family.[3] In his early life he apparently had boxing skills as well as tennis skills. In June 1879 he became the first Irish tennis champion after defeating C.D. Barry, 8–6, 8–6 in the final. Later that summer Vere tried his luck at the third edition of the Wimbledon Championships and made it all the way to the All-Comers final in which he was defeated by Reverend John Hartley, 2–6, 4–6, 2–6.

A few months later he competed in the first open tournament held at Cheltenham. He again reached the final and lost, this time to the famous William Renshaw, in a closely fought match, 4–6, 3–6, 6–5, 6–5, 4–6. He wasted a 4–1 lead in the final set.

After an illness he failed to defend his Irish title in 1880, losing out in the Challenge Round, again to William Renshaw 1–6, 4–6, 3–6. St. Leger's career went downhill and he disappeared from the tennis scene by 1883.[4]

Personal life and murder conviction[edit]

Vere Goold's life after 1883 was wasted on drink and drugs.[5] One day he was asked by a relative to pay a bill at a dressmaker's shop in the Bayswater section of London that was owned by a Miss Marie Giraudin. This French lady (from most accounts) was not beautiful but could charm people when she wanted. It was not too difficult for her to charm Goold, who was from a prominent Irish social family. The accounts of the case are not always in tandem, but she had been married twice before, and she was a woman of very expensive tastes. Apparently she did not care how she got the money to pay for them. Unfortunately Vere Goold was not from the wealthy portion of his family, and whatever prospects he had were long gone. The dressmaker's shop was not a real success, especially as Mrs. Goold apparently borrowed money from many of her customers.

In 1891, Goold married Marie Giraudin. The couple quickly descended into debt. They moved to Montreal, Canada in 1897 where Marie had a dressmaking establishment before moving to Liverpool in 1903 to manage a laundry business.[6][7][8]

In 1907 Mrs. Goold convinced Vere Goold to go to Monte Carlo to try their luck at the casino. She thought she had a winning method for the gambling tables. They took with them her niece, Isabelle Giraudin. They also used the titles of "Sir" Vere and "Lady" Goold, which they claimed they were entitled to use. According to Charles Kingston the system did not work, but Leonard Gribble's account suggests that it worked for at least a couple of days or a week. However, soon the Goolds were without funds. They met a wealthy Swedish woman, Emma Levin, at the Casino, the widow of a Stockholm broker. Mrs. Levin already had a parasitical "friend" named Madame Castellazi, but soon the widow had Mrs. Goold as well. The two "hangers-on" detested each other, and finally had a public dispute in the Casino. This got into the social columns at Monte Carlo, and Madame Levin decided she had to leave the city because of the publicity.

At this point the sources on the case are at variance again. Either Marie Goold or her husband Vere Goold borrowed 40 pounds from Madame Levin, and she wanted it repaid. Kingston makes it seem that when confronting Marie Goold the widow saw what a dangerous person the latter was. Gribble suggests that the demand to Vere Goold for repayment played into Marie Goold's scheme to murder the widow for the purposes of theft (of her cash and jewellery). On 4 August 1907 Madame Levin went to their hotel to collect the debt before she left Monte Carlo. Madame Castellazi was waiting for her at Madame Levin's hotel, and when she did not come by midnight she went to the police. They went to the hotel of the Goolds. Vere and Marie Goold had left for Marseille, but they left Isabelle behind (explaining that Mr. Goold had to see a doctor there). Blood-stains were found in the suite, as well as some items such as a saw and a hammer with blood on them. Also Madame Castellazi recognised Madame Levin's parasol.

The Goolds were in Marseille in a hotel (they were going to head for London). They had left a large trunk at the railway station at Marseille, and one of the clerks at the station named Pons noted it smelled of blood that was leaking out of the bottom.[9] The trunk was traced to the Goolds, and Pons confronted them. Again the details of the sources vary: Kingston says he wanted them to explain why it was leaking blood and come to the station to open the trunk up; Gribble says that Pons sought (and got) a small bribe to shut up about it. But either Pons told his superiors and the police of his suspicions (the Goolds said the trunk was full of freshly slaughtered poultry) or he talked too much and the story of the trunk got out. In any case, before the Goolds could leave Marseille they had to face the French police. The trunk was opened and the remains of Madame Levin found.

Vere Goold apparently loved Marie Goold deeply—he confessed that he was the murderer.[10] However the relative strengths of character of the two came out in the course of the trial,[11] which attracted great attention.[12] Marie Goold was sentenced to death, and Vere Goold was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island.[9] But Mrs. Goold's sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.[13] It did not do either of them much good. Vere Goold committed suicide on 8 September 1909, within a year of arriving at Devil's Island.[14] Marie Goold died of typhoid fever in a Montpellier jail in 1914.[7][15]

In popular culture[edit]

The murder case of Vere St. Leger Goold is the subject of a theatrical play called Love All.[16][17]


  • Bud Collins "Total Tennis: The Ultimate Tennis Encyclopedia" (2003 edition, ISBN 0-9731443-4-3, Sport Media Publishing Inc.) See page 771.
  • Leonard Gribble "Adventures in Murder, Undertaken by Some Notorious Killers in Love" (New York: Roy Publisher, no date), p. 76–85: Chapter VIII: "Duet in Monte Carlo".
  • F. Tennyson Jesse "Murder and its Motives" (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co,m Inc. – Dolphin Books, 1924, 1958, 1965), p. 26, 65–67: Introduction: The Classification of Motives (p. 65–67 deal with the concept of "murderees").
  • Charles Kingston "Remarkable Rogues: The Careers of Some Notable Criminals of Europe and America" (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head; New York, John Lane Company, 1921), p. 79–93 Chapter VI: "The Monte Carlo Trunk Murderess".
  • 'Chilosa' (pseud.,) "Venusberg : the Syren city ; with it's [sic] sequel – Ten years after / by Chilosà." London : Holden & Hardingham, [1913]. pp 186 – 205 'L'Affaire Goold.'
  • Michael Sheridan "Murder in Monte Carlo" Poolbeg Press Ltd (20 May 2011), ISBN 978-1842234716


  1. ^ Mazak, Karoly (2010). The Concise History of Tennis, p. 7.
  2. ^ Stacey, Pat. "A gloriously gruesome tale". Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Doherty, James. "The Irish Gentleman Convict Who Nearly Won Wimbledon". The Wild Geese Today. GAR Media LLC. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Murder off the Grass Courts". AELTC. 
  5. ^ "A Murder in Monte Carlo". The Tennis Space. 
  6. ^ "Untitled" (PDF). The New York Times. 9 August 1907. 
  7. ^ a b "How Ireland's first Wimbledon hero died a convicted killer". 
  8. ^ "Light on the Lives of the Vere Goolds" (PDF). The New York Times. 10 August 1907. 
  9. ^ a b "Goods Guilty of Murder" (PDF). The New York Times. 5 December 1907. 
  10. ^ "Untitled" (PDF). The New York Times. 14 August 1907. 
  11. ^ "French Police Find Flaws in Man's Confession of the Killing of Emma Levin" (PDF). The New York Times. 18 August 1907. 
  12. ^ "Notes of Foreign Affairs" (PDF). The New York Times. 3 December 1907. 
  13. ^ "Mrs. Goold Escapes Death" (PDF). The New York Times. 12 February 1908. 
  14. ^ "The Irish murderer of Monte Carlo". 1 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "The Monte Carlo Horror.". Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954). Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 11 January 1914. p. 9. 
  16. ^ "Chatting with CheeryWild Productions | Love All". 18 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Love All". Irish Theatre Magazine.