Captured by brigands Monday 6th July 1874
Ransom demand is delivered
Arthur returned Tuesday 14th July 1874
Arthur recounts his ordeal
Mining map Linares region
On the 3rd, Arthur had been on his way by horse (attended by his Servant carrying rifles) to pay the Miner's wages.
It is now 5 o'clock and no more news of Arthur. The last we heard was that before yesterday, an Englishman was sent on a donkey surrounded by armed men.
Arthur set out from El Centenillo with his Foreman to go to Carolina with the accounts for the last month. At half a league from the Mine they were suddenly surrounded by men armed with breach loading carbines. Two of them on each side of Arthur and two others took charge of the Foreman and two men placed themselves behind. It was therefore impossible to move; the first two men said:
"Do not alarm yourselves; it is only a question of horses. You must therefore dismount."
"Very well, we will dismount."
The others then took their watches and told them they must go to the Chief. They made and answered several signs such as whistling from different heights. After a short time, the Foreman was made to stop, and Arthur was led on further off.
He was made to sign a letter in which we are told that as our fortune amounts to £1,000,000, we can quite afford to give £40,000. We are told that if we did not comply, Arthur will be shot. We are told that we must keep the affair secret; if not, Arthur will be shot.
They then told us that the money must be sent by a man dressed in a black jacket and trousers and white hat. He must ride a white mule and carry a red handkerchief. If the man does not know the road he may be accompanied by one guide.
The road they are to take is carefully laid out; it leads close to El Centenillo and for a time the road goes round about and zig-zags near El Centenillo. Then it goes further north into another Province and finally a good distance from the Mine so that it would take several days to get there, particularly as they are only allowed to travel from sunrise to sunset.
As you know it is so hot now, the men cannot travel all day. This arrangement will allow the robbers to seize on the money whenever they find it convenient. They also told us that if someone else siezes the money, we will have to replace it.
I forgot to say that when Arthur read the paper he said:
"What you ask is impossible, my brothers have not got that money. You must therefore do what you like."
They then asked him his name and who were his relatives in Linares.
Shortly before the Foreman left, they suddenly came on half a dozen Anienos [is this Spanish for workers?] with a lot of donkeys. These men were stopped and turned back. On doing this, they found that the load carried by the donkeys was in the way; they therefore ordered the load to be thrown off.
Whilst this was being done, one of the Anienos managed to get away and as soon as he could, took to his heels. He was seen and told to stop or his donkeys would be killed. The man however never took any notice and got away and told the news at the Mine Centenillo.
Our Foreman made the robbers observe that we could not be held responsible for the news spreading; they answered that they would keep that in mind but still we must not break the news to the Authorities.
They asked Arthur and the Foreman whether they wanted their watches back. Arthur answered:
"Do as you like."
Upon which, the watches were returned.
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The letter, being signed by Arthur, was given to the Foreman who was told to deliver it. At this, the Foreman said:
"Well, you might give me my pony for the distance is great."
They consulted and then said:
"Take the black horse, also for he will be restless and give trouble."
The Foreman passed by El Collado and came to Linares with Henry at 3 o'clock. I arrived at Linares at 7 o'clock; I was then told what had happened after which we informed Helen and Fanny, not giving all the details.
Henry sent for a man from Carolina who knows the path through the mountains. This man arrived in the night. Herman collected £1,000 in gold and the man from Carolina accompanied as Guide another man we had sent for.
They started at 18 o'clock on the 4th. Since then we have not heard of them. The Authorities have offered their services.
A Minister of Gobernacin has said that everything must be done and no expense spared to get Arthur out of the hands of the robbers.
We have begged the Authorities not to take any steps which may put Arthur in danger. You may picture to yourself in what a state we are in, starting at every noise, always fancying that the quadrupeds that pass our home are bringing Arthur, but always disappointment.
We have telegraphed to another man Sopwith [this may be Thomas Sopwith Junior], telling him to inform Eugene carefully so as to not alarm Mother. We were obliged to do this for it will be in the Times before this. I hope no foolish person will rush with the account to Mother.
In case the robbers are not satisfied, we are sure they will not harm Arthur, but will send word that more money is expected. Now everyone knows what has happened, we will easily find any money we may require. The difficulty is to find gold.
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You will have seen by my telegrams that Arthur is restored to us. I intended writing yesterday, but in the morning at 5.30, we received a letter from one of the persons in the Sierra who had been told to send any information he could obtain, whose letter made us all feel very uncomfortable.
He intended to say that the money had been delivered, that the robbers were satisfied and that they would at once go for Arthur and release him. He worded the letter in such a way that we could not make out whether the money was in the hands of the robbers or not, though we supposed so. Then he went on to say that Arthur could not be released for four or five days.
The robbers gave assurance that Arthur was well, they also said that as long as any strangers remained in the Sierra, they would not let Arthur go; as we thought they ought only to be too glad to part company with Arthur, we found all this very suspicious. On saying this to the Governor he also appeared alarmed.
About 10 we received another message, this time from the man who took the money. This was more reassuring as he stated that he had given the money and they had told him to go back to the Mine and we will put the prisoner on a road, which will either lead him to the Mine, or to one of the Stations of Ciudad Real Railway.
At about 12 o'clock we got another message saying Arthur had arrived, and as soon as we had telegraphed to England, we let our principal friends know the news. Everyone of them showed how pleased they were. People in the streets and houses kept stopping us.
I had my dinner at 1.30 and then set off to El Collado so as to accompany Arthur back. The letter had said he would be there a little after 3. I had therefore to ride fast for fear of missing him, as there are several roads from El Collado to Linares.
Once at the Mine, we had to wait until past 6 o'clock. We again began to wonder what all this delay meant. However, when Arthur arrived, we forgot all our troubles. He had never intended to get to the Mine as early as the message had said, for he had to rest during the day.
We could not start for Linares at once, for Arthur was tired and hungry. All this time my head was beginning to ache and when Arthur was ready, I was obliged to remain behind, not being able to bear the least movement.
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When they took Arthur, they had to repeat several times the order for him to dismount. He was trying to find out whether he could escape by making a rush, but he soon convinced himself that it was no use, for they had placed themselves in front and behind and were ready with their guns.
They took the donkey drivers prisoners as I informed you, but soon released them and gave them money. After resting at a short distance from where they took Arthur, they started for the Province of Ciudad Real. They went on until 2, and rested one hour and a half, and then went on to 9, rested again, then continued their journey and arrived at their destination in the morning.
Their quarters were in the woods, no hut or cave, but just the brushwood for shade. You may fancy that the heat was great. Arthur had always four robbers near him. In the day one of them slept, the others watched. At night three slept and one kept watch. Whenever they put their rifles down, they took out the charge. One was always with his gun in his hands.
The first day they told Arthur that if the money did not arrive they would shoot him. To this he answered:
"Very well I am in your power. You will oblige me by letting me know a short time before hand."
They also wanted him to write letters asking him to send the money, but he told them that he would not write anything of the sort. He had signed the first letter and that was enough.
After the first day they did not threaten Arthur any more; on the contrary they told him that he need have no fear. I suppose they saw that it was no use to try to intimidate Arthur so as to write urgent letters.
They gave him good food and wine. They wanted to know why he drank so little. He told them he would not drink because if he did so he would probably give them a bit of his mind and they would not find it agreeable. They said:
"You may say all you like. We know what we have done and will not take offence even if you insult us."
However Arthur said that it was no use and would not drink.
They moved him once from the first place but did not take him very far. They cleared a place in front of his quarters of the brushwood and stones so that he might walk about. All the time, he had a man watching him. He only saw seven of the brigands, although they informed him they were 15 altogether.
When they told him he was free, they gave him one of our mules and one of them accompanied him during four or five hours. On leaving him, the fellow said:
"Go straight on and you will find a house."
Arthur went on and at least came upon some men who had been working during the day and were going to pass the night. He went up to them and remained until morning, when he set out for our Mine where he arrived at 10 o'clock morning. On parting with him, the robbers were very polite and told him that if ever he wanted to accompany ..... had only to let them ..... they would take care nothing happened to him.
They gave him 600 peseta for his travelling expenses. They also gave gave him back the gun they had taken from the Foreman. The gun was not loaded when they returned it.
The first day Arthur noticed that the loaf of bread they gave him had a name. He tried to appear indifferent but took care to fix the name in his memory. Afterwards, the bread came without name. One day they had brought something in a paper and the paper was thrown on the ground. Arthur tried to read from where he was but before he could make anything out, one of them took up the paper and burnt it.
He remembers their faces well. They were good looking men and some of them of good height and strength. Arthur had once asked to look at one of the rifles. They gave it to him but first took out the cartridge. They also said they were only robbing the Spanish Government and begged his pardon for having troubled him so much.
When Arthur wrote to us, he took care to put on the address Provincia-de-Jaen; this was to show that they had taken him out of the Province of Jaen.
As you may imagine, everything is being done to find out the thieves. A lot of people of Sierra will be arrested.
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Additional information added here by Robin Pike, September 2021.
The author of the above is not given, but may be Arthur's brother 'Adolphe' Adolphus Henry Haselden (1834-1878).
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