Charlotte Dymond Facts

charlotte dymond debunked5 (Small)
For the text of the ballad of Charlotte Dymond, click
HERE.

All quotes are taken from the excellent write up about the story of Charlotte Dymond by accomplished crime writer Linda Stratmann.

Who was Charlotte Dymond?

She was an 18 year old domestic servant who was murdered on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, UK. Her partner, Matthew Weeks, was hanged for her murder in accordance with the law. She was found with her throat cut, having lain undiscovered for several days in a concealed ditch. Charlotte was around 18, an illegitimate child with black hair and pale skin. In addition:

Charlotte, ... was attractive and smartly dressed [and] was reputed to be a flirt.

When did she die?

Charlotte was killed on 14th April 1844. Her ghost is said to have been seen on 14th April in various years, wearing the clothes she was in the day she died.

Did Mathew Weeks indeed murder her?

Nobody witnessed the murder. There was a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence linking Matthew with her murder. His clothes were very muddy and were ripped, indicating a struggle with Charlotte in the muddy marsh.

Mrs Peter was surprised to find that Matthew’s blue stockings that he had worn the previous day were muddied up to the knees. It had rained on the Sunday but not, she felt, enough to get the stockings into that mess.* The mud, she observed, was like that found in the turf-pits on the moor.

He was seen walking out onto the moor with Charlotte and various eyewitnesses saw a couple matching their description (particularly Matthew’s limping gait) at various points walking on the moor thereafter. Matthew however returned alone, unable to account for her disappearance. He later fled to Plymouth where he was ultimately arrested.  Thereafter, Mathew changed his story at various times during police questioning.

Is it all that simple?

No. There are various theories surrounding the death. For instance, crime writer, Pat Munn, advanced the theory that she might have committed suicide, believing herself to be pregnant outside of marriage. A post mortem showed her not to be pregnant, though she was not a virgin either. In any event, there was no reason to suggest she thought she might be pregnant and, even if she had, it is a highly unusual means for someone to take their own life. There is also the suggestion that her lover, Thomas Prout, may have killed her although what motive he may have had remains unclear.

Why was suicide discounted?

The nature of the wound, principally. It was totally inconsistent with typical wounds inflicted by suicide and suggested the attacker came from behind:

The wound that had ended Charlotte’s life had been terrible indeed. It was eight and a half inches in length, starting on the left side of her neck and extending all the way around to the right. It passed two and a half inches below her ear and was two and a half inches deep. It was deeper on the left side, where the whole of the soft tissues were divided right down to the bone. The windpipe was completely divided, the oesophagus partly. The instrument had even gone between two vertebrae partially separating them. It was clear that great force had been used. The roughness of the sides of the wound meant that the instrument was unlikely to have been very sharp. [A local doctor] did not think it possible that she could have inflicted the wound herself.*

Was a love triangle the root of the motive for Charlotte’s murder?

In all probability, yes:

Charlotte and Matthew had been seeing each other, even before she came to work at Penhale. There was, however, a rival for Charlotte’s affections.* Thomas Prout, aged about 26 was a nephew by marriage of Mrs Peter, and lived some four miles away. Matthew had worked with Prout before, and they had not got on well together. A few days after Lady Day, Prout visited Penhale, and John Stevens overheard words between him and Matthew. Prout had said that he was thinking of moving to Penhale, and if he did, he would soon deprive Matthew of his girlfriend.*

The thought of losing Charlotte, coupled with the possibility of her infidelity, arguably drove Matthew to kill her.

Was the evidence against Matthew overwhelming?

Nobody saw the murder take place, but the circumstantial evidence against him was compelling.  The main points were as follows:

  • Matthew’s suspicious behaviour after returning to the farm (principally his failure to account for Charlotte’s whereabouts);
  • That his clothing was muddied and torn, indicating a struggle had taken place on the moor;
  • The fact he fled the farm when questioned by Mrs Peter;
  • That he was the last person to have been seen with Charlotte by witnesses;
  • Prints in the marsh by Charlotte’s body were felt to be a match with Matthew’s shoes; and
  • That he changed his story during police questioning.

Matthew was illiterate.  Whilst in jail, he was said to have dictated two letters.  One was to Mrs Peter and one was to his family.  The letter to his family detailed how he wanted his property to be dealt with after he died as well as containing an apparent confession.

"I hope young men will take a warning by me and not put too much confidence in young women, the same as I did; and I hope young females will take the same by young men. I loved that girl as dear as I loved my life; and after all the kind treatment I have showed her, and then she said she would have nothing more to do with me. And after this was done, then bitterly I did lament, thinking what would be my end. And I thank the judge and jury too, for they have given me no more than was my due."

He is also said to have dictated a separate confession in which he explicitly admitted the murder.  However, Linda Stratmann suggests this ‘confession’ could have been bogus as the style of writing and vocabulary used was considerably more sophisticated than that used in the letters.

However, as Matthew was illiterate, nobody really knows whether the letters and separate confession were authentic. 

Why did Charles Causley write the ballad?

Good question. While it’s impossible to know the precise reason why Causley wrote the ballad in1974/1975, we can certainly speculate. Firstly, Charles Causley was himself Cornish and the story of Charlotte Dymond and her subsequent haunting by her ghost on Bodmin Moor have become firmly ingrained in Cornish folklore. Given the nature of the story, it is likely Causley felt moved to do so by pure tragedy of the tale. The final stanza of the ballad hints towards his personal opinion as to the culpability of Matthew in which he is regarded as being as much a victim as was Charlotte. 

This is less to do with the fact Causley believed Matthew was innocent of Charlotte’s murder but rather that Matthew’s low intelligence and ill-fortune in life made him more susceptible to be struck by a jealous rage at the thought of Charlotte with another man. The ballad also suggests that Causley believed the naive and dim-witted Matthew may have been exploited by the police.

     N.B. * My emphasis.

Comments

  1. It's all very sad that she died but I think it's worse that Matthew murdered her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah i agree

      Delete
    2. NO IT MUST HAVE BEEN SUICIDE!!!

      Delete
  2. who was Mrs Peter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The woman who owned Penhale Farm and the employer of Matthew Weeks and Charlotte Dymond

      Delete
    2. I know it's late, but Mrs. Peter was the owner of the farm that Charlotte Dymond was a 'slave' of. This farm is called: Penhale Farm. She loved Charlotte very much and was devastated when the news of her death came out and, most probably, blamed herself because Charlotte had just came out of her job hours.

      Delete
  3. I did work about this at school. It was freaky. My class thought snipers killed her. They have no idea what the word "History" means.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL MY class thought the exactly the same

      Delete
    2. How would snipers get her?

      Delete
    3. There was a slit in her throat snipers could not do that.

      Delete
    4. There was a slit in her throat that snipers could not have done.

      Delete
  4. Kayleigh - that's hilarious! :-) I think your class had many more issues than just ignorance of history if they thought snipers somehow slashed the throat of Charlotte Dymond.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey, it might be too late but who was the Judge that judged that the murder was commited by Matthew?
    if you know..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His name was Patterson.

      Delete
    2. Those the ballad have repetition

      Delete
    3. Patterson was is name. - Sorry if it's already said!

      Delete
  6. i am doing about this subject in school and personally i thing Mathew and Charlotte had a argument and Mathew went off leaving Charlotte on her own then some one else killed her and when she did not come home he went to look for her and found her dead and he said hre was guilty because he thinks if he did not leave her it would not have happened

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, I think somone else murdered her, and the stockings were muddy coz he knelt next to her in grief over her death in his absence

      Delete
    2. oooo 0.0 thanks

      Delete
    3. Why did Matthew kill Charlotte? Is there a reason? Or did he just do it because he is a bad person?...

      Delete
  7. thanks i needed that for my english homework

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes. so do i!

      Delete
    2. Same!!! it was so useful!!

      Delete
    3. who is charlotte second boyfriend

      Delete
    4. Was Charlotte in love with someone else

      Delete
  8. Doin it in school now and hav to write own opinion essay in the information I hav researched matthew said that he hear mrs peters say that she would kill her if she ever came home again after she dropped some china

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anon - Really? Where did you find that information?

    ReplyDelete
  10. thanks for the help for my homework

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. same here. we're also doing other ballads like 'frankie and jonny' and 'the story of lefty and ned'

      Delete
    2. Same! We did the Ballad of Lefty and Ned... The teacher asked me how it made me feel and I just sat that frozen, like, I dunno!

      Delete
    3. Is it just me or does it seem like 'frankie and johnny' ,'lefty and ned' and 'the ballad of charlotte dymond' are in the coriculum

      Delete
  11. doing this story at school

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sammmmeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!

      Delete
  12. did this subject in drama with my class lots of people googled it.i think it is a sad story and i am so annoyed that just cause another man loved charlotte he killed charlotte not thomas prout. unbelievable!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, isn't it tragic that anyone was killed - regardless of their gender?

      Care to have another go at reformulating your thought?

      Delete
    2. But why did anyone kill her anyway? The question for my English homework is 'Why was Charlotte killed?' and I'm really confused because it doesn't say it in the poem!

      Delete
  13. lol copied and pasted for drama homework thanks a lot

    ReplyDelete
  14. Harry, I hate to say it, but "you're only cheating yourself".

    Tut tut.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ty needed it for my English work

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am doing this in drama and i find matthew incredibly incessant even if he did there must have been some sort of blood trace down his cloths. In my opinion i think it was charlottes mother because she may have been jealous of all the attention charlotte got after she left her . Or it could have been tom who knows ever since we started this in drama i have made it my job too find the real murder. Thank you for your help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon - how's the hunt for the 'real murderer' going? We're three years into this investigation of yours and I haven't heard anything in the press.

      If you don't come up with something soon, I think the investigation should be closed down. ;-)

      Delete
  17. I need that for my English home work aswell but I didn't answer all the questions

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, make sure you answer them all next time. ;-)

      Delete
  18. do u know who was the hangman of matthew?

    ReplyDelete
  19. What is the repetition word .....several times to emphasis...

    ReplyDelete
  20. thanks needed this for english homework, has there been evidence that the ghost of charlotte dymond exists?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - a number of so-called sightings from all kinds of different witnesses down through the years. Pat Munn makes reference to them in her book which I reviewed - http://lawactually.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-charlotte-dymond-murder-by-pat-munn.html

      I summarised some of the ghost sightings in bullet point form in that review. That might be useful to you. (No need to thank me: I'm here all week, folks). ;-)

      Delete
  21. All of our class thought Charlotte was a prostitute because of what she wore and Mathew got very jealous and upstet because he became attached to her and she never loved him back so then he resorted to killing her. Literally everyone thought this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I assume that's 'literally' in the modern sense of the word.

      To be clear, there has never been any suggestion that Charlotte was a prostitute (i.e. that she charged money to provide sexual services), but she was reckoned to be pretty and reputed to be a flirt. Perhaps your class thought she was a 'prostitute' in that sense. After all, 'literally' everyone thought it. ;-)

      Delete
  22. I have loved learning about charlotte dymond in drama we acting out what we thought happened this was a very intresting subject...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Every one thinks in my class that charlottes mother killed her because she gave birth outside of marriage and threatened to kill her...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Replies
    1. Utter rubbish. But it's nice to have a novel theory. Keep 'em coming Ollie. ;-)

      Delete
  25. who examined he body

    ReplyDelete
  26. where was the location of the vicims body

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In a moor in cornwall

      Delete
  27. This really helps with my drama

    ReplyDelete
  28. My friends thought pokemon killed her...... well done ._.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HOW COULD POKEMON KILL HER???

      Delete
  29. I like the suicide theory! :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. we r doing this at school as well and she died exactly 160 years before i was born to the day

    ReplyDelete
  31. guess what in school we did work about it and charlotte cheated on him she was a GOLDDIGGER she did did not actually care about him thats the real reason he killed her so some of this is a lie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm all for a free and frank exchange of views, but there's no real evidence to substantiate that, Tate.

      I'm glad you're enjoying the experience of learning about the Charlotte Dymond mystery, but you shouldn't assume that your class has struck upon the correct answer simply because you've 'done work about it'. Hundreds of thousands of other school kids have 'done work about it' too over the years. So have numerous historians. One inescapable fact remains: we'll never truly find out what happened to Charlotte all those years ago, but we can all enjoy (if that's the right word) learning as much as we can about the circumstances surrounding the mystery, and advancing views as to what we each think might have happened. But let's have a bit of less of "my idea is right so yours must be wrong".

      And finally, a plea to everyone who leaves comments. Please, please, please: try to use a bit of punctuation - it's really tricky to read your comments without it. Come on: your English teachers will be proud of you!

      Delete
  32. how can you say LOL and NICE work your evil

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts