Crime Doesn’t Pay

I’m dividing my writing time between a perhaps overly ambitious family saga, “Ravensgill” – conceived as a trilogy but who knows how many tomes it will actually fill and a work of non-fiction, current title “The Uncertain Coast”. Probably I should focus on one or t’other but then I’ve never been someone who takes much notice of “should”.

The thing is I like the mix and I flatter myself that what wits I have are kept honed by the variety of fact and fiction, research and imagination.

The Uncertain Coast is a joint venture with a photographer friend and documents the lost and disappearing villages of the eroding Holderness Coast in East Yorkshire. We fossick up and down the coastline digging out (sometimes literally) the stories of people who made their mark on this landscape and the places they lived.

I have already introduced you to Drogo, alleged wife murderer and East Yorkshire big-wig back in the days of Billy the Conq. Now perhaps, you should meet Adam Alvin, aged 25, man servant, lover and priest killer.

In 1708 Adam was a man going places;an opportunist with an eye for a fortune. He declared his love for Mary Sinclair the eldest niece (and heiress) of his boss, the Rev. Enoch Sinclair. She returned his affections and our Adam decided that something must be done about Uncle Enoch since the Rev. was proving an obstacle to both his leanings for lucre and his love. The something was murder – carried out with the connivance of both Mary and her younger sister who also shared Sinclair’s household.

The deed done, the three of them put it about that the Rev. Sinclair had gone visiting on horseback. Later his horse was found, fully tacked up but sans rider. Despite an extensive search no trace of the Reverend was found. The marriage of Adam and Mary took place soon after these events.

However, the locals were a suspicious lot and, Adam, Mary and nameless younger sister all fled to London to escape the gossip. They lived there for 4 years – probably waiting for a loud knock on the door at midnight.

When the younger sister was taken ill, fatally so as it turned out, before expiring her last she ‘fessed up about the murder and the knock on the door finally came.

Rev. Sinclair’s body was recovered from a ditch near the house and Adam and Mary arrested and tried in York. Mary was acquitted but Adam was sentenced to hang. During the preaching of the condemned sermon Adam loudly declared his innocence. Scarcely had he done so when the preacher, a Mr Mace, dropped down stone dead. Not one to miss an opportunity, Adam shouted out that the hand of God had shown itself in support of his innocence and almost convinced the congregation that it was so. However, sanity returned the following day and Adam was hanged, confessing his crime at the very last.

The church, the vicarage and the village Owthorne where the dastardly deed was done have long given themselves up to the sea and the murder of Rev. Enoch Sinclair is merely a footnote in time.

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