Eliot Victor Pringle (1887 - 1934)
Eliot was the first child and only son of Edward Reginald Pringle and Agnes Hulbert, known to his family and friends as "Victor" or "Vic".
— "Morning Post" Friday, 11 November 1887, page 1:
PRINGLE.– On the 10th inst., at Ayton Castle, Ayton, N.B., the wife of Reginald Pringle, of a son.
— "Wellington College Register: 1859-July 1905" T. Hunt, 1906, page 250:
Pringle, Eliot Victor, 12, (Pearson's, 1901-1903) son of R. Pringle, Esq.
Address: Oakfield, Hawkhurst
— 1911 England Census (Military, Not Stated, India, 143 of 2905):
Lieutenant in the Infantry — On Leave in England.
It is from here on out that Victor Pringle's story begins to resemble an Agatha Christie novel! Details of his mysterious disappearance and final return were published throughout the UK — but always with slightly different facts. Even though the beginning a few of the following articles seem repetative, each one sheds a little light (or shadow) on the case.
— "The Western Times" Monday, 21 Nov 1921, page 4:
£250 Reward for News of a Missing Officer
A reward of £250 is offered for information that may lead to the discovery of Capt. E. Victor Pringle, late 60th Rifles, who has been missing since October 31. It is feard that he may be suffering from loss of memory as the result of a motor accident.
Capt. Pringle, who is 35 years of age, is 5ft. 11in. in height. He has clear-cut features, grey eyes, and hair turning grey. When last seen he was wearing a light grey tweed suit, grey Homburg hat, and overcoat, and carried a gold-topped malacca cane. Messrs. T. Goddard and Co., 10 Serjeant'-inn, E.C., will be glad to receive information as to his whereabouts.
— "Hampshire Advertiser" 26 Nov 1921, page 9:
CLUE TO MISSING OFFICER
The latest clue as to the whereabouts of Captain E. Victor Pringle, late 60th Rigles, who has been missing since October 31st, comes from Lyndhurst, where a somewhat mysterious guest stayed at the Stag Hotel for more than a week, and left on Thursday last.
Upon seeing the paragraph which appeared in the Press on Saturday giving a description of the missing officer and announcing the offer of a reward of 250 pounds for information that might lead to his discovery, the suspicion of Mr. Harris proprietor of the Stag Hotel, was aroused that the stranger might be the missing Army captain.
Mr. Harris told our representative that a man answering the description of Captain Pringle came to the hotel about a fortnight ago, and gave the name of Smith. During his stay he started to grow a beard.
He appeared to be well supplied with money, for he purchased a motor-cycle from the Imperial Motor Works, and paid cash. After using it a few times, he sold it. He left the hotel on Thursday, saying he was going to Southampton.
An employee at the Stag, a maid, says that she saw a name on the man's collar which she thinks might have been "Pringle".
Captain Pringle's description is as follows: 35 years of age; 5ft. 11in. in height; clear-cut features; grey eys, and hair turning grey. When last seen he was wearing a light grey tweed suit, grey Homburg hat and overcoat, and carried a gold-topped malacca cane.
— "Nottingham Evening Post", Friday, December 2, 1921, page 3:
Anonymous Letter to His Wife.
A Descendant of William Pitt.
The mysterious disappearance of Captain Eliot Victor Pringle, late of the K.R. Rifles, who has been missing since October 31st, is engaging the attention of Scotland Yard. Special inquiries have been made at all the ports and aeroplane depots in an endeavour to trace him, but without avail.
His disappearance was referred to a fortnight ago, when it was announced that a reward of 250 pounds had been offered, and that he might be suffering from the effects of a recent motor accident.
Since then the mystery has been deepened by the receipt by Mrs. Pringle of a letter signed "X." and stating that her husband was quite safe, and by the delivery at his club of a note signed "J.B. Johnson," asking for his letters.
Mrs. Pringle yesterday said that her husband and herself met with a taxi-cab accident on October 29th. She was injured, but he was not. He had, however, had a bad accident in 1914 when he was home from France on leave, his spine being injured, and he had never recovered from that.
"I think," Mrs. Pringle added, "that this second accident affected him, and that his disappearance is caused by loss of memory. I cannot account for an anonymous letter which I received about a week ago. It was sent through the post addressed to me at the Junior Carlton Club and sent on to me. In it the writer said that my husband was quite safe and would return about Sunday, and asked for my address. The letter was signed "X." On Sunday a rough-looking man took a note to the club. It was signed "J.B. Johnson," and asked that the bearer should be handed my husband's letters, but of course that was not done. I have no idea who the writer could have been."
Mrs. Pringle further stated that at the time of the disappearance of her husband she was in great pain as a result of the accident. "This distressed him very much," she said, "and on the day he was last seen his nerves seemed overwrought, and he said to my niece, "I can't bear to see her suffer so." I cannot think of any possible motive for his disappearance. It is a complete mystery. The request made by a "J.B. Johnson" for his letters at the club baffles me, as I know of no such man."
Mrs. Pringle mentioned that the captain and herself had been on a summer tour in their car through France and Italy and returned to London in July, leaving a certain amount of luggage at Paris. This luggage had not been claimed.
Capt. Pringle is a great-great-[great]-grandson of Wm. Pitt, Earl of Chatham.
— "Dundee Courier" 3 Dec 1921, page 5:
SEARCH FOR VANISHED OFFICER.
Strange Messages Delivered at Club.
The mystery of the disappearance of Capt. Eliot Victor Pringle, who vanished from Brown's Hotel on October 31, is likely to be cleared up shortly. It is stated that he has been seen frequently in the West End during the last few days. Yesterday, a taxi-driver called at Duke's Hotel, St. James's Place, where Mrs. Pringle is now staying, and stated that from the published description and photograph of Captain Pringle he believed he drove him from Paddington Station to Sydenham on Thusday afternoon. The captain, if it were he, had a companion with him. This information has been sent to Scotland Yard, and detectives are now following up the clue.
A reward for £250 for information about Captain Pringle attracted no response, and the police have not yet succeeded in tracing the man who delivered a not signed "J.B. Johnson" at Captain Pringle's club, the Junior Carlton, asking that letters for him should be handed to the bearer.
Neither are they any nearer to solving the mysterious message signed "X." which was sent to the same club telling Mrs. Pringle that her husband was alive, and would return to her in a taxi-cab if she would leave her address with the club hall porter.
— "Sheffield Independent" 3 Dec 1921, page 5:
TAXI DRIVER'S STORY OF MAN AND COMPANION.
There is still no definite news as to the whereabouts of Captain Eliot V. Pringle, late of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, who disappeared from Brown's Hotel, Cover street, London, where he had been staying with his wife, on 31 October, as already reported.
Yesterday a taxi-driver called at Duke's Hotel, St. James' place, where Mrs. Pringle is now staying, and stated that from the published description and photograph of Captain Pringle he believed he drove him from Paddington station to Syndenham the previous afternoon. The captain, if it were he, had a companion with him. This information has been sent to Scotland Yard and detectives are now following up the clue.
Seen by a Press representative yesterday afternoon, with reference to the taxi-driver's statement, Mrs. Pringle said, "I am aftraid I cannot attach any importance to the statement. The man said he saw the description of my husband in the paper and thought it was that of a gentleman whom he drove from Paddington to Sudenham the previous evening, but when he saw a photograph he said he did not think it was the same person, so I don't think there is anything in it."
— "Nottingham Evening Post", Monday, 05 December 1921, page 3:
MISSING CAPTAIN FOUND
OFFICER WHOSE MEMORY IS A BLANK.
Captain Eliot Victor Pringle, who disappeared nearly a fortnight ago, has been found at Cambridge. He was staying at an hotel there, and, recognising a photograph which had been published, the hotel proprietor communicated with the police.
The captain was in very ill-health, and was suffering from entire loss of memory, probably brought about by a shock. During his war service in the King's Royal Rifles he injured his spine.
He was taken to London on Saturday night, and was met at the station by his wife. He was much too ill to give any account of what had happened to him, and now lies in a nursing home.
A mystery attached to his disappearance by reason of the fact that a letter was brought to the Junior Carlton Club over a week ago by a working man. It was addressed to Mrs. Pringle, and when it was forwarded to her she found it stated that her husband was quite safe, and would return about Sunday. It was signed "X".
Captain Pringle is a descendant of William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham.
— "Gloucestershire Echo" 5 Dec 1921, page 5:
CAPTAIN PRINGLE COMES BACK.
Grows a Beard During His Month's Absence.
Captain E.V. Pringle, the Army officer who mysteriously disappeared from London on October 31, has been found. He returned to Duke's Hotel, St. James's-place, where his wife is staying on Saturday night. No explanation is given of his disappearance, but it is understood that he has been suffering from a nervous breakdown.
It will be remembered that the captain, a member of the Junior Carlton Club, vanished after parting on affectionate terms with his wife and promising to return by luncheon. Two days previously, he and Mrs. Pringle had been much shaken in a motor accident.
During his absence, Captain Pringle had grown a beard. This he was wearing on his return to Duke's Hotel. It is stated that he traveled to London by train from Cambridgeshire, where he has been staying for part, at least, of the period of his disappearance.
— "Dundee Courier" 6 Dec 1921, page 4:
MISSING OFFICER RETURNS.
A PROMISE WHICH WAS FULFILLED.
Mystery of Anonymous Letter.
The writer of a mysterious letter, who signed himself "X," has kept his word. Captain Pringle, who has been missing for about a month, and whose wife offered a reward of £250 for information as to his whereabouts, has returned.
He and his wife had been staying for some time at Brown's Hotel in Dover Street, and after his disappearance Mrs. Pringle went to Duke's Hotel, a quiet hotel in a cul-de-sac off St. James' Street. Some time ago she received a letter, written in pencil, and bearing the Paddington postmark. "Madam," it said, "your husband is safe, and will return to you. If you will give me your address I will telephone for it to the hall porter, and I will start your husband in a taxi.— X."
This promise was dramatically fulfilled when Captain Pringle arrived at the hotel in a taxicab. He was obviously ill, and it is understood that he is going to a nursing home in the course of the next day or two.
Mrs. Pringle was prostrate with the anxiety of the past few days, and unable to see even her most intimate friends. Her theory all along was that her husband had been detained against his will, probable suffering from loss of memory.
— "Edinburgh Evening News" 6 Dec 1921, page 2:
LONDON CLUB MYSTERY.
ANOTHER LETTER FROM "X."
The discovery of Captain Eliot Victor Pringle, who disappeared from the Junior Carlton Club, London, on October 31, has not solved the mystery of the letter signed "X." This was sent to Mrs. Pringle a fortnight ago, telling her that her husband was safe, and would return to her in a taxican "about Sunday," if she would give her address to the club porter.
Nor is it known where Captain Pringle has been doing the five weeks he has been missing. He was found at Cambridge on Saturday, and brought to London. Meanwhile, another letter arrived yesterday from "X," and inquiries are still being made with a view to tracing the writer.
— "Ballymena Weekly Telegraph" 17 Jul 1926, page 2:
SOUGHT LOST HUSBAND TO DIVORCE HIM.
Now Changes Her Name.
Story Behind Announcement.
A remarkable story lies behind a legal announcement made on Monday. A notification has been published in the "London Gazette," that Mrs. Eileen Pringle, at present residing at Claridge's Hotel, London, has renounced the use of her surname, Pringle, and is assuming the surname of Aldam. A most unusual circumstance is that the deed poll cites as the reason for the change of name "Having divorced my husband."
This legal notification recalls the circumstances of the mysterious disappearance of Captain Eliot Victor Pringle, late of the 60th Rifles, in 1921, a great-grandson of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham.
The story given in the "Evening Standard" begins with the publication of an advertisement on November 10, 1921—
"Missing.— £250 reward for information leading to the discovery of the whereabouts of Captain E. Victor Pringle, late 60th Rifles. It is feared he is suffering from loss of memory after the shock of a motor accident. Last seen 31st October. Aged 35."
Then followed a descriptions of Mr. Pringle. On December 2, 1921, it was announced that the disappearance of Captain Pringle was engaging the attention of Scotland Yard, and that special inquiries had been made at all ports and aeroplane depots in an endeavour to trace him, without avail.
Mrs. Pringle issued a statement that her husband and herself met with a taxi-cab accident on October 29, 1921, and that she was injured, but he escaped. He had, however, had a bad accident in 1914 when he was home from France on leave, and he had never recovered from that. She thought that the second accident affected him and caused the loss of memory.
PAID £250 REWARD
In November, 1921, she received an anonymous letter, sent through the post, addressed to her at the Junior Carlton Club. This stated that her husband was quite safe and asked for her address. Some weeks after Captain Pringle was seen at a little public-house just outside Cambridge. The landlady recognised him by his description and gave information to a police officer. The officer spoke to Captain Pringle and established his identity, and he was restored to his wife. On January 6, 1922, the reward of £250 was paid.
Subsequently, we are informed, divorce proceedings were instituted by Mrs. Pringle against her husband and a decree was granted on March 8, 1926, to Mrs. Pringle by the civil tribunal of Grasse, Captain Pringle then being domiciled in France. Captain Pringle has since remarried.
— "The Times" Monday, May 28, 1934, page 1:
PRINGLE.— On May 20, 1934, at Marienbad, Captain E. Victor Pringle, 60th Rifles. He is survived by his widow, Alys Anthony (nee Scott).
— In August 1952, Alys Scott Pringle died at her home in Cannes. She was listed as the widow of Captain Eliot Victor Pringle. To make things even more interesting, I then found a newspaper clipping that was published in 1956, four years after Pringle's second wife, Alys, died. It reads as follows:
"Eliot Victor Pringle, of Assington Hall, Assington, in 1912, Captain in 60th Rifles until 1919 and member of Junior Carlton Club until 1933, who was last heard of in Switzerland in 1933. Would any relative or person who knew this gentleman kindly communicate with Lawrance, Messer & Cole of 16, Coleman-street, London?"
Inexplicably, there is actually a record of probate for Eliot Victor Pringle in the "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar" which reads as follows:
Pringle, Eliot Victor of Genthod Canton of Geneva Switzerland died 20 May 1934 at the Golf Hotel Marienbad Czecho-Slovakia Administration (with Will) London 15 October to Alys Pringle widow. Effects 1037l. 2s. 4d. in England.
So, back in 1934, Pringle's estate was actually granted to his widow. Why were they trying to locate him in 1956?