Mischievous, Malevolent or Mad? Cyril James MacIntosh
Mischievous, Malevolent or Mad? Cyril James MacIntosh.
Cyril James MacIntosh was perhaps one of the most frequent prisoners in gaols all over the eastern side of Australia. His remarkably habitual career as a celebrated bogus doctor graced Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Known by at least seventeen aliases and with at least forty charges to his name, the question remains: was he simply mischievous, malevolent or completely mad?
Known Alias: Cyril McIntosh, James Thomas Fletcher, Dr. Fletcher, James Fennett, Thomas Fennett, Dr. Fennett, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Fletcher Fitzgerald, James Leo, James Leo Anderson, David Hardie, David Hardy, John Thomas Fraser, George Arthur Sampson, Morgan Lane, Dr. Morgan Lane, Dr. Gillespie, John Thomas Fletcher and of course Cyril James MacIntosh!
Native Place: Queensland
Year of Birth: 1887
Height: 5 ft 7 inches (170cm)
Weight: 11 stone 2oz (71kg)
Marks: Scar centre of forehead; scar right eyebrow; large mole under right ear; operation scar right side of stomach;
It was very difficult to figure out what exactly to call Cyril James Macintosh. With seventeen known aliases and no doubt many more that lie undiscovered, we thought best to call him what he was most commonly known as. Even that statement is borderline; his convictions were so numerous, and over such a vast area it is practically impossible to find them all. We will do our best to pick some of the more fascinating stories amongst his lifetime of crime and outline them here.
Cyril James Macintosh was born James Thomas Fletcher in Brisbane, Queensland in 1887. It was here that he would have his first run ins with the law.
James Thomas Fletcher
On February the 19th 1908, James Thomas Fletcher entered Mrs Macdonald’s boot shop adjoining the Royal Bank. He approached the counter and asked if Mrs Macdonald could oblige him with a blank cheque. She refused and sent him to the bank. A short time later Fletcher returned and said that the banker had told him he could obtain a cheque from anyone he knew. Again, Mrs Macdonald refused. He returned a while later in an exasperated state stating to Mrs Macdonald that he must have the cheque before 5pm at the latest and the bank was closed. Mrs Macdonald relented and presented a blank cheque.
Earlier, Fletcher and two of his friends had checked into the Transcontinental Hotel; of course, they had no money to pay for the lodgings, which necessitated the need for the heist on Mrs Macdonald. Fletcher returned to the hotel in the afternoon and presented the cheque, but by then, it was no longer blank. The cheque was made out for £10 sterling and made out to cash for John Thomas Fletcher. The cheque was cashed by Arthur Earl. Quite casually, Fletcher told him to deduct a weeks board and also the bill for his young friends who were leaving soon. Earl made the deductions and handed over £7 and 11 shillings in cash. Earl later saw Fletcher in the hall with his young friends and their luggage; Fletcher stated that he was just seeing them off. Of course, he didn’t just see them off, he went with them as far as Dalby.
Fletcher was later arrested in Dalby posing as the travelling millionaire. Appearing before the bench, Fletcher admitted that he had forged and uttered a cheque, and falsely misrepresented himself. He was sentenced to two years hard labour. The sentence, however, was suspended, and he entered a bond to be under good behaviour for £100.
Fletcher however, did not remain on good behaviour. He was sentenced in November 1908 for consenting to an act against the order of nature or an unnatural offence. This was the legal term for having engaged in a male homosexual act. Fletcher was sentenced to six years imprisonment; his counterpart, four years, both received sentences with hard labour. Whether or not Fletcher was a gay man is not known. This was his only sentence on such an offence of the time. Indeed, Fletcher did seem to have a very quiet social life. Very little evidence is available, however, to confirm his sexual preference.
Fletcher couldn’t behave himself in prison, therefore, he was sentenced to an additional four months for breach of the prison rules! He was released in September 1913.
Fletcher would continue with his mischievous ways, repeatedly in and out of prison in Brisbane for a range of offences relating to fraud, uttering and false pretences.
Thomas and James Fennett 1915
We next hear from him in Sydney, New South Wales, where again he misrepresented himself and fraudulently obtained the use of a motor car. This time, he is registered in Long Bay Gaol as Thomas Fennett. Everything about his description matches with James Thomas Fletcher apart from the fact that he had also added more marks – a tattoo on his right forearm – J.F. above S.H. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to six months prison with hard labour.
No sooner had he been released, he appeared a second time at the gates of Long Bay Gaol. This time, for an additional eight months for false pretences. Subsequently, he was sentenced for a further 6 months under the name of James Leo Anderson.
The “Doctor” at war?
Even in this honourable role, Fletcher misrepresented himself as a medical student or a dentist. Thankfully the army seemed to have seen sense and not made him a medic. In the infantry, Fletcher was wounded in action in France. However, his life of crime was not over, even in the military he could not obey the rules. Fletcher was court martialed three times for various offences all relating to dereliction of duty or not obeying orders. Seems typical doesn’t it? Eventually, the Army had had enough of Fletcher and discharged him home. His file held at the National Archives has a remarkable 140 pages.
Home for only six weeks, he was again in trouble and was lodged in the Long Bay Gaol. This time, using the alias James Leo Anderson. He would go on to serve the next five years with hard labour, bouncing in and out of Long Bay under James Leo Anderson, Cyril McIntosh and David Hardy (or) Hardie.
An extensive career
This list of names, sentences and time served for Cyril McIntosh simply goes on and on and on. Into the late 1920s he was in trouble in Victoria, again, for posing as a licensed medical practitioner, for fraud and false pretences, and obtaining the use of a motor vehicle and lodgings by fraud.
In the early 1930’s, MacIntosh reappears in Queensland. This time, passing himself off as Dr. Cyril McIntosh, he again passed himself off as the good “doctor” looking for rooms to practice from. Again, he obtained these under false pretences and was sentenced twice for six months with hard labour for each time. In the late 30s and into the 40s, he appears in numerous courts in Adelaide and Tasmania, this time as Dr. Morgan Lane.
This man’s remarkable career of crime goes right up until his death as Cyril James McIntosh in McMahon’s Point, New South Wales in 1960. Something must be said for Cyril James McIntosh and his many aliases; while he was not a registered medical practitioner,
there is no doubt he believed himself qualified. There are many stories of the good “doctor” having helped people in situations of peril or sickness and even tragedy. So, while his crimes were illegal, he never did harm to another person. In fact, some would go as far to call him a hero in the truest sense of the word.
Perhaps the Truth in describing the career of McIntosh said it best…
“Truth” in various states has exposed McIntosh time and time again. But exposure means nought to the man. He doesn’t resist the inevitable arresting hand of the police force. He “goes quietly” and quite genially.
He has been in gaol so many times that gaol has no terrors for him. “Inside” he is a good and obedient prisoner and makes every use he can of the penitentiary library. But his career of imposition has been so long maintained that he can now be regarded as utterly incorrigible and thus the question arises whether Mcintosh is mad.
He certainly is not normal.
Doctor” MacIntosh, Fletcher, Anderson, Hardy, Lane etc. is certainly one of the more interesting characters I have had the privilege of researching. A fascinating man. The question of his sanity is one that comes up time and time again in the court records. His career is so long it is simply impossible to do it justice in these pages. So, if you have the time, search the newspapers on Trove and read for yourself the fascinating antics of this bogus character.
This Sunday at Boggo Road Gaol is our monthly Prisoner Tour. Come along, get locked up, and hear from one of our former prisoners Wayne Weaver what life behind bars was really like! Tickets are selling fast, you do not want to miss this! You can book your tickets here
This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here