10:00 PM, 28 October 2013
In a case that would have intrigued the Baker Street detective himself, the great great uncle of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch was accused of murdering a young friend while aged just 14, back in 1893, RadioTimes.com can reveal.
Harry Ventham was charged with stabbing Frederick Betteridge following a row while the two were gathering nuts and blackberries on a lonely country road one Sunday afternoon near the Hampshire village of Michelmersh.
Betteridge was left bleeding to death with a knife lodged in his chest but Ventham, a relative on Cumberbatch's mother Wanda Ventham's side, was acquitted after the jury found that the unfortunate victim had died by accident.
According to the official verdict, Betteridge ran against the actor’s ancestor and sustained the fatal wound by his own devices.
Henry Ventham was tried for murder at the Hampshire Autumn Assizes at Winchester in November 1893.
A local newspaper account in the Hampshire Advertiser on Saturday 18 November was headed ‘The Romsey Stabbing Case’ and related how Henry and Frederick had been on a Sunday afternoon expedition to gather nuts and blackberries. The prosecution alleged there was a row between them and Henry stabbed his friend to death with a knife.
Mr Ventham was defended by a barrister called Bullen, the Recorder of Southampton, on the instructions of the judge, Mr Justice Hawkins. His story, supported by a third boy, was that there was no quarrel but that Frederick Betteridge suddenly ran against him and the knife went into him.
A jury accepted Henry’s version that it was an accident and found him not guilty of both murder and manslaughter. The Hampshire Advertiser concluded its report with the comment: “His Lordship…was quite content with the view they had taken of the case (applause in court).”
The revelation, uncovered by researchers at leading family history website, findmypast.co.uk, focused on Cumberbatch’s maternal line revealing that his great great uncle Henry was part of a family of farm hands.
READ MORE HERE: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-10-28/sherlocks-benedict-cumberbatch-had-a-murder-mystery-case-in-his-own-family