City stockbroker Arthur Ballantine was a meticulous man. When he went to spend a night at the Golden Lion Hotel in St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, on November 2nd, 1857, he took a bag containing £234 with him but first wrote the number of each banknote in his pocket book.
While he was in the bathroom the bag, which also contained some of his clothes, was stolen, and the police were called.
Another guest at the hotel had just checked out. He was Christian Sattler, 37, a Frenchman, and only five days earlier he had been released from Wisbech Prison, where he served three months for theft. Sattler was thought to have committed a number of robberies in Europe, and when a chambermaid found one of Mr. Ballantines shirts left in his room he was suspected of having stolen the stockbrokers bag of money.
The following day Sattler went into a pawnbrokers and bought a watch for six guineas, offering a £20 note from a wallet bulging with banknotes.
Thats a lot of money youre carrying there, observed the pawnbroker.
My father sent it to me from Glasgow, Sattler replied.
But the pawnbroker, who had heard about the hotel robbery, decided to call the police after Sattler left his shop.
Detective Sergeant Charles Thain, 45, was sent to track down the Frenchman, but in London he was told that Sattler had left the country. Following the trail, Thain went to Hamburg, where he arrested the fugitive.
Late on November 20th the detective and his prisoner boarded the ferry Caledonia to sail to England. When the officer had to leave their shared cabin for 15 minutes Sattler broke open Thains travelling trunk and took out the pistol Thain had confiscated from him.
Sattler fired at the detective as soon as he returned. The bullet went through Thains chest and the sound of the gunshot brought other passengers running. The ships American seamen wanted to lynch Sattler and throw him into the sea; instead, he was chained to a ringbolt on the deck.
When the Caledonia docked at St. Katharines Dock, London, Detective Sergeant Thain was rushed to Guys Hospital, where he died from his injury on December 4th, 1857.
Christian Sattler was tried at the Old Bailey in January 1858, found guilty of murder, and hanged on Monday, February 8th, 1858, outside Newgate Prison, before a crowd described as unusually small.