Glyngarth, Menai Bridge LL59 5QP, UK
Margaret St & Regent St, Marylebone, London W1B 3AP, UK
29 Boulevard des Capucines, 75002 Paris, France
Buckingham Gate, Westminster, London SW1E 6PD, UK
16 Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 1BE, UK
11 Exhibition Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2HE, UK
Le Treport Military Cemetery Le Treport, Departement de la Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France
Maurice Salis Schwabe (October 14, 1871 - September 30, 1915) introduced Oscar Wilde to Alfred Taylor in 1892. Schwabe was both Taylor’s former schoolmate and Lord Alfred Douglas’ lover, and was sent abroad to Australia by his family for fear he might be implicated in Wilde’s queer network during the trials. Schwabe regularly invited gentlemen like Wilde to meet younger lads at tea parties hosted at Taylor’s Little College Street flat, a social event, deemed suspect for men by the last quarter of the XIX century. The discovery in 2011 of some passionate and uninhibited love letters from Lord Alfred Douglas to Schwabe made headlines and shone a spotlight on Schwabe's role in the Wilde affair.
Maurice Salis Schwabe was born on October 14, 1871, the son of George Salis-Schwabe (1843–1907), a British army officer, calico printer and Liberal politician, and Mary Jaqueline James, daughter of Sir William Milbourne James, Lord Justice of Appeal. Maurice's siblings are: Sir Walter George Salis Schwabe (born 1873), K.C., sometime Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Edgar William Salis Schwabe (born 1875 in Ireland), Gladys Mary Salis Schwabe (Born in Prestwich 1878) and Rhoda Jaqueline Salis Schwabe (born in Ireland 1885). Gladys married British businessman Paul Crompton and died with him and their six children in the 7 May 1915 sinking of the RMS Lusitania. Maurice went to Marlborough College in April 1886 at the age of 14. He left three years later in March 1889.
It has been said that Oscar Wilde met Maurice Schwabe through Robbie Ross and occasionally asked him to dinner, chiefly to listen to his gossip. Later evidences suggests that Ross may have not been responsible for introducing Schwabe to Wilde. Maurice's grandparents owned a magnificent property known as Glyn Garth on Anglesey between the Menai Bridge and Beaumaris. Many of their famous and influential friends were entertained there. In a sale of manuscripts at Bonhams in London in 2011 there was an autograph of Oscar Wilde dated January 3, 1885, Glyn Garth. However they came to know each other, the first occasion on which Schwabe is noted as being with Wilde was at the opening of Lady Windermere's Fan on February 20, 1892.
Soon after introducing Oscar Wilde to Alfred Taylor on September or October, 1892, Schwabe picked up a charming 17 years old at the Knightsbridge roller skating rink. Freddie Atkins was an occasional actor with a winning grin, a vulgar but sprightly personality and extensive experience in entrapment and blackmail. Working with an accomplice named James Dennis Burton, Atkins would go to the public urinals and other notorious pick-up spots and get someone to take him home at which point Burton, claiming to be his uncle, would barge in and demand money for his silence. Atkins became a regular at Taylor's rooms and brought a new friend into the mix, the attractive, fair-haired young man named Alfred Wood. Wood was an unemployed clerk, new to prostitution and blackmail. Douglas entertained him (or was entertained by him) in Schwabe's rooms. After the encounter, a copy of a letter from Wilde to Douglas, stolen by Wood, ended up in the hands of Robert Henry Cliburn, a blackmailer. Admist all of this sexual adventure Lord Alfred Douglas was falling in love with Schwabe. In one of his letters to Schwabe, Douglas wrote, "I love you as much as I did at Bournemouth & Oxford, more." There is also evidences that Taylor and Schwabe introduced Wilde to Sidney Mavor and later to Fred Atkins. Accoding to Wilde's testimony, this last meeting took place in Schwabe's rooms in Margaret Street, off Regent Street. There was then a dinner, at Kettner's or the Florence, Wilde claimed not to remember, hosted by Schwabe. The next day Wilde had lunch with Atkins at the Café Royal and asked him if he would like to accompany him to Paris, acting as his secretary. Wilde explained at the trial that he had taken Atkins as a favour to "a very great friend of mine," and although the jury was not told the name of that friend, it was Maurice Schwabe.
Wilde and Atkins travelled to Paris on November 21, 1892; they had stayed at 29 Boulevard de Capucines, a discreet hotel where Wilde had stayed before. Schwabe arrived on November 22 and the following morning, Atkins found him in bed with Wilde.
Schwabe travelled to Australia and New Zealand sailing on March 1, 1893. By the time of Wilde's arrest in April 1895, he had returned to England. Together with others who feared they would become involved in the case, Schwabe left for Europe. Schwabe was the nephew of Frank Lockwood, the prosecutor in Wilde's second criminal trial. Lockwood mentored Schwabe's brother Walter (the second son of the family after Maurice) in law. Maurice passed the preliminary examination of the incorporated law society in 1892. Maurice went on to be a con artist. Walter went on to be a respected attorney, mostly on financial matters related to the stock market rather than trial work. One of Walter's best friends in the profession was F. E. Smith who was one of Lord Alfred Douglas's legal nemeses. He even wrote a satirical poem about him.
In 1905, Schwabe was sharing a Buckingham Gate flat with a man called Baron von Koenig, described as "a business partner of Mr Schwabe in some business, something to do with a gold mine." Baron von Koenig was Rudolf Stallmann (sometime spelled Stallman), a man of many aliases. He came from a wealthy family of Berlin jewellers. Stallmann would go on to have a long and notorious career which would involve theft, confidence tricks and espionage. Beginning in 1906, Schwabe was a "company promoter." Schwabe's enterprises bought patents and promoted the companies to investors who bought stocks in the ideas. Only one of these ventures, a penny arcade funded mostly by Schwabe family members, seems to have ever paid dividends, and that one did so for less than a year. Around this time Schwabe moved to 16 Park Lane with his brother. It was described as "one of the smallest houses" overlooking the park. Small, of course, is relative. It had double drawing and dining rooms, a study, ten good bedrooms, well-lighted offices and one bathroom. They also shared this residence for a time with a certain Count de la Ramée. There it was said "a certain kind of people of the third sex, allegedly high society, was meeting" and "orgies of an indescribable character were celebrated."
In 1907 General Schwabe died and left Maurice £2.000 as his share of the estate. The same year Schwabe went into the penny slot machine business with Montagu Alexander Pyke, Lucky to his friends. Pyke was the son of a wealthy London jeweller who had spent time in the South African gold country. After his association with Scwabe, Pyke would convert shops into motion picture halls and become Britain's "cinema king." Schwabe and Pyke founded "Gaiety Amusements Ltd" and rented space on Paris Street where they opened an arcade. In 1908 Schwabe launched a new venture called the Ozonization Syndicate. Schwabe's partners were John McLeod Murphy and Leslie Noel Watney. Pyke was among the investors.
In the 1911 census, Maurice Salis Schwabe is living at Flat II, 11 Exhibition Road, Kensington. At the same address is Sydney Stoeger, 22, a pianist and two valets, Louis Sironi, 24, and Henry Bootes, 19. Apparently Maurice Salis Schwabe changed his surname to Shaw, and having reached France in July 1915 became transport officer for the battalion. He was then "selected for service on the Staff and acted as Intelligence officer" before dying of wounds received in action. "The General" apparently wrote "Although fully qualified to act as Transport officer, Lieut. Shaw was wasted there on account of his exceptional ability". There is good reason to believe that Schwabe/Shaw did serve as an intelligence officer because there is strong circumstantial evidence that he was involved in intelligence before the war. He was named wounded casualties in the unit War Diary on 26 Sept. Lieutenant Maurice Shaw of the 12th Bn. HLI was wounded at Loos on 25 September 1915, and died at Le Treport on 29/30 Sept. following, aged about 44.
His business partner, Archibald Walker, wrote in his diary "“Shaw dies of a wound taken in the great advance. The bullet struck the hip, passed through the abdomen and out of the lung, tearing both badly.” Walker was notified of Shaw's death on September 28, and recorded it in his diary, and added the description of how he died two days later. The official record says Shaw died on September 30, so my guess is that he was mortally wounded on the 28th and finally died on the 30th. Lord Alfred Douglas, cited in Leon Lemonnier's La Vie d'Oscar Wilde (1931), said that Shaw/Schwabe was killed "by a party of Germans who had just surrendered and mistook him for a traitor because of his name and his perfect German". Schwabe is buried under the name Maurice Shaw in Plot 1, Row E, Grave 4 in the military cemetery of Le Tréport in northern France.
According to his papers, Maurice Salis Schwabe died in a car crash in Scotland in 1921. He is commemorated on two war memorials relating to Llandegfan on the Menai Straits, where his family had a sort of gothic mansion at Glyn Garth.
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