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How did Napoleon’s hair turn up in Sydney?

The Sydney Morning Herald has posted an article about the mystery of how thirty strands of Napoleon’s hair ended up in Sydney, Australia.

Genetic testing has never been carried out, but there are two historical facts in its favour.

Firstly, that Napoleon’s head was shorn in the moments after his death and locks were distributed.

Secondly, that a man mentioned in a letter that accompanied the lock, Captain William Crockat, was at the deathbed of the deposed emperor, and therefore would have had an opportunity to take a lock or two for himself.

The letter, from a Scotsman named Ned Todd, states he was given the hair by a woman:

“If I mistake not she said that her brother [Major Crockat] had himself cut the lock from the head of the illustrious dead.”

Ms Betteridge said she looked forward to the task ahead of discovering exactly how it found its way to Sydney.

“I don’t want it to be a fait accompli,” she said. “It’s nice to have a story that unfolds.”

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One thought on “How did Napoleon’s hair turn up in Sydney?

  1. Great story!

    When St Francis of Assisi was dying, relic hunters moved towards his still alive body, ready to carve off bits for their own religious fascination and profit. The city of Assisi had to send an armed escort, to carry the litter and the dying man back home with dignity.

    I don’t see anything different with a dying Napoleon, except there was perhaps less religious fascination. Relic hunters would have hovered around the dying man, with scissors in hand, ready to pounce.

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