I’ve been fortunate that the historical researcher Keith Skinner has been generous enough to provide me with some rather interesting Maybrick-related bits and pieces of information he has gathered over the years. One such item is a rather intriguing photograph with the curious caption at the footer that states, “Maybrick caught stealing watch!”


Using the DeOldify Artificial Intelligence engine, I was able to optimise and colourise the above photo to what is below:


That is the initial question most people would ponder, especially when you throw in the intrigue of the Maybrick watch. It almost certainly is not James Maybrick. Whilst the man does resemble James, it is highly unlikely to have been taken in the 1850s / 1860s when James was in his late teens / early 20s. Also, the clothing to me, particularly the style of the hat, looks to be early 20th century.

What does the photo tell us?

It is clear this is not a Maybrick really being caught in the act of stealing a watch. To me, it would appear to be two friends either re-enacting an event they both know or simply staging a jape for the camera. However, what if it was re-enacting a known event? That could present a rather interesting scenario. It’s unlikely we will ever know the true meaning.


Burrell Family Album (1932)

The photo is taken from the Walton Robert Burrell collection. Local photographer Walton Burrell was born in 1863 and died in 1944 and had taken over 20,000 photographs. He was particularly well-known in the area of Bury St Edmonds.

The collection captures life in West Suffolk during the first quarter of the 20th century. The collection is interspersed with images of rural life around the time of the First World War, alongside photos of soldiers recovering in the local field hospitals or passing through the area.


The short answer is that I do not know. I believe the photographer was interested in the military, which means I think this Maybrick must have been a member of the services, so I believe it is:

Herbert was born in Edge Hill near Liverpool in 1893. His parents were John Maybrick (a pilot and cousin to James) and Elizabeth Ellison. He joined the navy in 1914, aged just 21, and served as an Able Seaman until 1920 (SN: MERSEY Z/2210). He spent part of his later life as a stationer and died around May 1958. He was also the father of Brian Maybrick.

It is possible it could be WILLIAM MAYBRICK (1878-1924), Herbert’s older half-brother who also served in the military (SN: 270052).

We even have a third possibility with THOMAS LEONARD MAYBRICK (1885-1915), who was James Maybrick’s nephew. He was a Lance Corporal in the 17th Battalion who was killed in action in France (SN: 23628)


Perhaps there was a known event within the family that a Maybrick stole a watch, and it was an inside joke of some kind? It is most likely just pure coincidence that a Maybrick staged a watch theft in the early 1900s when we have this modern curiosity of what is known as ‘The Maybrick Watch’.

Just another intriguing thread to add to the ever-growing tapestry of the Maybricks.


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