Friday, January 21, 2022

James William Lumsden - The Fraudster, a.k.a. "Wigs"


The album into which this image is pasted contains a note in pencil directly above the mugshot that reads,

"James William Lumsden "Wigs", oft.-convicted Aberdeen thief and fraudster. Obtained goods by writing fraudulent letters".

Every "good" criminal needs a nickname and "Wigs" is a particularly great one. How he came by this moniker becomes apparent when reading the report of his trial in the Aberdeen Daily Journal of the 11th October 1904, under the headline "The Extraordinary Frauds in Aberdeenshire", 

"Before Sheriff Robertson at Aberdeen yesterday, James William Lumsden, joiner, of no fixed residence, was charged with nine different acts of fraud committed in Aberdeen and in Peterhead, Fraserburgh, and other parts of the Buchan district. The frauds consisted in getting articles by means of false letters and of getting board and lodgings by plausible but untrue statements to landladies, whom he succeeded in duping. A number of previous convictions were recorded against Lumsden, who pleaded guilty".

"Mr. J.B. Rennett, advocate, who appeared on the accused's behalf, stated that there was one charge to which the accused did not plead guilty".

"The Fiscal (Mr. Thomas MacLennan) - That is the charge in regard to the wig; but the fact is that the man was wearing the wig when he was apprehended. (Laughter)."

"Mr Rennet - it is the charge in regard to obtaining clothes from Mr. Henry Gray. The Fiscal - I am prepared to accept that. The Sheriff - Eighteen months' hard labour".

The scanty personal details that the report provides about "Wigs" mean that it has been impossible to identify him with any certainty in the 1901 census. However, it is quite possible that he is the James Lumsden, a joiner, born "about 1855 in Tarves" living at 7 Lemon Street, Aberdeen, with a wife and three children.


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