MAJOR MILES CHARLES CARISTON SETON
AUSTRALIAN ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
13TH JANUARY 1919 AGE 44
BURIED: BROOKWOOD MILITARY CEMETERY, UK
Well I certainly didn't expect this when I looked up this curious inscription. Mind you, it wouldn't be quite so curious if it wasn't set out like this, this is probably how it was meant to be: 'Ung loy - ung foy - ung roy'. But it would have been even clearer without the dashes. It's the Seton family motto and it's in Old French and means, 'One law, one faith, one king'.
However, that's not what I didn't expect. Major Seton died on 13 January 1919. I assumed it would be from wounds or influenza but it wasn't. Seton was murdered by a fellow officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Cecil Rutherford, as The Times reported on 15 January:
"Late on Monday night Major Miles Charles Cariston Seton, CB, Australian Army Medical Corps, was shot dead in the drawing room of the house of his cousin, Sir Malcolm Cotter Cariston Seton, CB, in Clarendon Road, Holland Park, W. Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Cecil Rutherford, DSO, RAMC, (TF), was charged at the West London Police Court yesterday morning with causing his death."
The murder caused a sensation and events were closely followed in the press. Rutherford, who had shot Seton eight times, made no attempt to escape and waited patiently for the police to arrive at which point he was arrested. Two weeks later an inquest concluded that he should be sent for trial on a charge of murder.
Rutherford came to trial in April and pleaded 'not guilty'. The jury heard that Seton had become very familiar with Mrs Rutherford and her children, and that Mrs Rutherford wanted a divorce. Throughout the trial her reputation was constantly protected, the story being that Rutherford believed that Seton was turning his children against him. Rutherford was found not guilty but insane and was sentenced to be detained at His Majesty's pleasure in Broadmoor.
Undoubtedly Rutherford's war record, both his DSO and the fact that he had been buried alive by a shell, as well as a family history of insanity, told in his favour. He was released after ten years and spent he rest of his life abroad in Canada, Vienna, Persia and South Africa where he died in 1951.
Seton was buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery and his sister, Isobel, chose his inscription. He may not have died as a result of the war but anyone serving in the armed forces of King George V, who died between 4 August 1914 the 31 August 1921 from whatever cause - including murder - was deemed to be a casualty of the war and entitled to a war grave.