belching, farting, twitching and drooling

Arthur Orton, (also known as Tom Castro) was born in London in 1834. Obese, near illiterate, unabashedly belching and farting at will, afflicted with a twitch and a tendency to drool, he emigrated to Australia where he found work as a butcher in Wagga Wagga.


His letters homeward at this time show Orton as fond of dogs and children and affectionate towards his Wapping girlfriend. Other evidence suggests heavy drinking, and he appeared before magistrates for minor trade malpractices.

image found here

In January 1865 he married Mary Ann Bryant, a second generation Australian, already a mother. Later that year, encouraged by a local solicitor, William Gibbes, he responded to world-wide advertisements seeking one Roger Tichborne, heir to an ancient Hampshire baronetcy. Roger evidently had drowned off South America in 1854, but his grieving mother refused to accept this, hence the advertisements. Orton decided to claim to be Roger.


Consequently, he returned to Britain late in 1866, to begin a period of fantasy. Apart from Roger’s mother, the Tichborne family disputed the claim and commenced a civil action against him.

The whole matter could have been resolved in an instant. Roger Tichborne had tattoos on both arms. Athur Orton had none. Inexplicably, nobody thought to ask the Tichborne claimant to bare his arms.

Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper

Also, Roger had been born in Paris and spoke French as his first language. Arthur was educated at Wapping and spoke with a pronounced Cockney accent.

A sensation occurred in the courtroom when a Dr Lipscombe, described as Sir Roger’s personal physician, gave evidence of a rare physical defect, that, he said, distinguished Sir Roger. The young aristocrat, he said, had an abnormal penis. It regressed, like a horse’s, into his body. The claimant, Arthur Orton, had that same abnormality.

image found here

Orton’s previous sweetheart was also called to the stand. She gave evidence that in the course of their courtship she had become acquainted with his penis, and she recalled at times it did indeed regress into his body.

Despite this ‘evidence’ Orton was charged with perjury and sentenced to fourteen years’ gaol in March 1874. Drink, food and lechery helped to sustain him: his weight rose to twenty-seven stone (171 kg). His very appearance seemed to change from that of a colonial rough to a debauched gentleman. When a popular movement developed in his favour, he responded as a true demagogue.

Released from prison in October 1884, Orton argued his case before the public as a music-hall turn. Drink and women were still major interests, and in his last years he was kept by publicans and their clients. He died in London on April Fool’s Day, 1898.

The costs of a moderate funeral were borne by the undertaker, and 5,000 people went to the cemetery, with many more lining the route to pay their respects.

The Claimant was buried in a pauper’s grave, without a headstone, but the coffin carried, with the permission of the Tichborne family, a plate which read ‘Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne’.

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 7:45 am  Comments (42)  
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42 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh I love these stories that you find on our behalf! Reading the Gimcrack after work is so much more interesting than a novel.

    I wonder why there were two less-noblesse surnames: Orton and Castro?

  2. Thoroughgoingly bonkers; another celebration of the glorious absurdity of human nature!

  3. A small detail in the last press clipping. It says that Sir Anthony Tichbourne was Privy Chamberlain to the Pope?

    Does that mean he was the household officer in charge of the Pope’s toilet? What stories he could tell!

  4. He sounds like quite a catch, but I’m going to stick with my original choice for desert island companion.

  5. I was born illiterate, unabashedly belching and farting at will, afflicted with a twitch and a tendency to drool. And have progressed only slightly since.

    • haha Me too.

      • I can tell 😉

  6. savory character

    For some reason this brings back a memory of something I read, perhaps it was from one of those Artaud rants I read years ago, maybe Burroughs, about a guy who could fart arias. He would use a chair as a sort of mute. He eventually committed suicide, saying that nobody understood his art.

    Someone out there might know what I’m vaguely remembering.

    • life is so weird – while looking into something completely different, I found this:

      • this seems to be rather well-known, so you probably already know about it — I think the story I heard might have been a different individual

      • I did know about Le Petomane, but I think you’re right about it being someone else who used a chair as a mute.

  7. It’s amazing how Castro managed to be believed for more than a nanosecond. Still it;s a great story, Ah Romper Stomper. My favourite part of that film was seeing Hando’s skinheads getting the cap beaten out of them!

  8. NB getting the cap beaten out of one is worse!

  9. Whole lotta hot air

  10. “Obese, near illiterate, unabashedly belching and farting at will, afflicted with a twitch and a tendency to drool

    Why can’t i find a man like that?

    • I have one, daisyfae, come and get him, sweetie …

      • Seriously hilarious. If I ever wrote in initialisms this would be the day I succumbed to ROFL

  11. ‘In the course of their courtship she had become acquainted with his penis’

    “Penis meet Sweetheart”

    “Hello Penis, how are you?”

    “Very well thank you”

    “Been anywhere interesting?”

    “That depends how you look at it”




  12. Orton found a wife?!?! It is a man’s world, innit?

    • I’d say she was anosmic, blind and desparate.

  13. I wonder if his penis had to be hypnotised before it could regress?

  14. How on earth did he think he’d get away with such an obvious fraud? The heavy drinking must have addled his brain.

  15. This is so close to being a cock and bull story.

  16. Mmm… that’s a tasty picture of Crowe. 🙂

    Almost banishes the incomprehensible picture of Orton having a girlfriend in all his belching, farting, twitching, drooling glory.

  17. I remember seeing Romper Stomper and thing it was a pretty messed up movie.

  18. I remember seeing Romper Stomper and thinking it was a pretty messed up movie.

  19. There was a young fellow from Sparta
    Who was a phenomenal farter.
    He could fart anything
    From “God Save the King”
    To Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”

    There’s farting at will and then there’s true artistry.

  20. Gawd, where are the corsets, I feel a retraction coming on!

    The King

    • I’ve heard rubbing butter on the offending object will solve that problem

  21. OK, To start with the title of this article only describes what males were put on this earth to provide.
    Now, on to the penis:
    “It regressed, like a horse’s, into his body.”
    I challenge any gent to refute that he does not resemble a “button on a fur coat” when the temperature hovers anywhere near freezing or below.
    Such is life.
    On a warm, balmy day though………………….
    Well I’ll leave that to your imagination ladies.

  22. Another great British export.

    • Yes, we’ve got plenty of those down under…..

  23. If I had quadruplets, I’d name them after this post.

    • oh my Lord… and you’re a child psychiatrist….

  24. I do hate a passive regressive sort of chap.

  25. “she had become acquainted with his penis”-too funny. sounds like a very weird penis indeed.

  26. I really need to go back in time

    • What would you do Malach?

  27. A regressive penis.
    Now that is a scary prospect. lol

  28. I do like a butcher who drools – it gives the meat so much flavour, don’t you find?

  29. “…unabashedly belching and farting at will…”

    You say this like these are bad things?

  30. Nothing about a penis should ever regress. Not if I can help it.

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