From the ‘Annals of Bristol in the nineteenth century’ by John Latimer, editor of
the Bristol Mercury, 1858-83.
A mysterious affair, under which no doubt lurked a villanous murder, caused great
excitement towards the close of the year. On the afternoon of the 6th of December,
a man named Charles Jones, about eighty years of age, who pursued the business of
a money lender, was seen to enter the yard of a beerhouse called the North Somerset
Railway Arms, in St.Philip’s Marsh, kept by one Nathaniel Ramsden. Jones was never
seen or heard of again. In the yard of Ramsden’s house was a lime-kiln and furnaces,
used by the occupier in his business of a lime dealer and tar distiller. Ramsden
owed the deceased about £330, of which Jones had been endeavouring to obtain payment
for some time, and Ramsden was in diffulculties and had just been made a bankrupt.
On the 8th of December Ramsden called on Jones’s agent and man of business in the
city, and produced a paper, purporting to be a receipt signed by the deceased for
£340, alleging that he had paid £10 too much and was to receive it back again. Jones’s
agent, however, intimated his belief that the signature was not genuine, thereupon
Ramsden went off, carrying the paper away with him. When questioned by the police,
Ramsden asserted that he had paid the money to his creditor, but two of the persons
said by him to have been present at the transaction deposed that they saw no money
pass. A careful search was made of the premises, but no trace of the body could be
discovered; and it was generally believed that it had been burnt in the lime-kiln.
Ramsden left the country a few months later, and the affair has ever since been wrapped
in impenetrable mystery.