Benjamin Bathurst

Benjamin Bathurst, 1784-1809

I came across this name in a book by Charles Fort. If you have read any of his writing you know that he doesn’t spend too much time on a subject. He may have invented “just the facts, ma’am”. Unfortunately most of what he writes is gleaned from newspaper articles written at the time, so “the facts” are debatable.

The article in question states that Benjamin Bathurst “walked around the horses, and disappeared.” That statement alone is loaded with questions. In my brief research I discovered many things. I discovered that their was a book titled “He Walked Around the Horses”, by H. Beam Piper, 1948. Not only that, according to Wikipedia, Benjamin Bathurst was mentioned in at least ten written works from 1924 through 1992, mostly science fiction. All had made much of the strange disappearance.

So briefly, who was Benjamin Bathurst? He was a British diplomat sent on a mission to Emperor Francis I of Austria in 1809. He was the son of a powerful politician that actually ordered him on the mission. On his way back to England his carriage stopped in the evening at a small village near Hamburg, Germany. He was traveling with an assistant under disguised names. It was about 9:00 pm, so even though the horses were ready, they were considering if they should spend the night at the inn. Going outside, Bathurst was slightly ahead of his assistant and went around the horses to enter the carriage. When the assistant entered the carriage, Bathurst was gone.

A massive search was immediately started. Nothing was found. The river was dredged, woods were scoured. Several days later Bathurst’s expensive coat was found in the home of a woman who worked at the inn, she probably lifted it after he was found missing. A month later his pants were found in the woods three miles north of the inn. It had a letter to his wife in a pocket, mentoring that Bathurst “was surrounded by enemies”. According to some reports there were two bullet holes in the pants, but no bloodstains.

England, Austria, and Prussia were all at war with France, and the French border was not that far away. Napoleon was suspected of having sent a detachment of troops to capture Bathurst. In a meeting withBathurst’s wife. He denied knowing anything about it. This was still a big newspaper story at the time, and was covered by many newspapers in Europe. The story continued to be fresh in 1854 when a mysterious skeleton was discovered buried in a stable near the inn. Bathurst’s wife apparently went to see if it was her husband. Nothing more was written on the visit.

The latest research brought out that Bathurst had been commited a year earlier with a mental breakdown due to stress from being a diplomat to Sweden. There were some letters that suggest Bathurst was having some sort of outbursts in the carriage, saying that enemies were after him. It included that Bathurst had physically shaken his assistant by his coat lapels. Perhaps the letter was written to his wife to puff up his trip abroad. Or perhaps Bathurst had really seen French agents stalking him.

The studied research does suggest that he was murdered by someone who disposed of the body in some way. Because we don’t know exactly what happened we can suppose all sorts of possibilities, even if the “possibilities” are completely in the realm of science fiction

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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