The Dineley Family and the 'Ruby' Tragedy

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Historical Studies
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The Dineleys of Peopleton, near Worcester, produced in the 18th century some notable and strange characters. Thomas Dineley, early in the last century, was a traveller and artist. His eldest son succeeded to a baronetcy as Sir John Dineley, while the second son entered the navy and won distinction, and became captain of the Ruby man-of-war. Sir John's only son died before his father, and as the two brothers had quarrelled, Sir John announced his intention of adopting a nephew as his heir. Therein lies the cause of an ill-fated affair which came to be known as the 'Ruby' Tragedy'
The Ruby was stationed at Bristol, and on January 18th, 1741, a mutual friend knowing of the ill-feeling between the two brothers, and desiring to make a reconciliation, invited both to dinner. The plan appeared to go well, both men conversed amiaby, and they left in company, apparently on friendly terms, but on the way the baronet was seized by a party of the Ruby's crew. The Captain told bystanders that the man was a lunatic. Sir John was taken aboard the Ruby and strangled by two seamen, with the Captain keeping watch. The Captain succeeded to the baronetcy, but retribution was not long delayed for the murderers and their employer were hanged on 4th April, 1741.