Parish: St Benet’s
We know that this family were buried in two graves, in the St. Benet’s area of the Cemetery, but no monuments have been found.
Adelina Schule (c.1878 – 21 February 1913)
Albert Paul Schule (1857 – 5 April 1913)
Nathalie Augusta A M M H Schule (1904 – 5 April 1913)
Albert Henry G R O Schule (1906 – 5 April 1913)
The family died in tragic circumstances in Cambridge. Their deaths were subject to an inquest, and the following had been pieced together from newspaper archives and inquest reports.
Albert and Adelina (known as Lina) were maybe Austro-Hungarian, but sometimes they also referred to themselves as German, and there was some thought that Albert was actually Polish. Albert had moved to Germany as a boy and enlisted in the Prussian army, and then fought in the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871). He was made a Captain in the army and was said to have been awarded the Iron Cross. He was injured however in the war and sustained an injury to the eye/nose from which he was said to have never entirely recovered. He then worked as a land surveyor ‘until misfortune and very serious illness ruined him’.
He moved to England c.1890 and lived in Cheltenham from 1905 to at least 1907. Both children were born in Cheltenham, and Albert was known as Captain Shewell whist he was there. Whilst in Cheltenham ‘Captain Schule always wore a frock coat. In spite of his long residence in England he spoke English very brokenly. All with whom he had dealings certainly got the impression that he had seen better days’. Lina was said to have been small and slight in build and spoke slightly better English than her husband. She told neighbours ‘that in her native land she was well-connected…she and her husband also stated that they had suffered great losses through property of theirs in Austria being destroyed by fire’. The family left Cheltenham having reportedly got into considerable financial debt.
They then moved to Cambridge in the summer of 1908, where they hoped that Albert would be able to earn a living giving German lessons and turn their fortune. However arriving in the summer period proved to be a mistake, as Albert was unable to teach and they lost further money. They then decided to run a lodging house with additional german lessons from a house in Glisson Road. This business venture was also a disaster, as the rents were set too low and the uptake on german lessons was disappointing – the result being that they lost money on the academic year 1908-1909.
They then took a house at 32 Panton Street which they aimed to run as a University Lodging House. In 1911 the family were at Panton Street and Albert was noted as being a retired army pensioner and teacher of languages/mathetmatics. At first they did well, but from 1910-1912 there was a slump in the viability of Lodging Houses across Cambridge which again forced them to rethink their circumstances. Friends persuaded them to take a smaller house at 82 Regent Street which they rented from Samuel Rickard from September 1912 onwards. Albert continued to do some teaching – including at the Perse School, but it was not enough to keep them financially afloat and the family were said to be struggling.
By January 1913 Albert ran an advert in the Cambridge Independent Press which read: ‘Lessons in german conversation and reading, either singly or in class, under guarantee of efficiency. For beginners the learning of the language is made easy and interesting by an improved practical method. Perfect Pronounciation. Individual attention. Moderate fees – particulars by application to Mr. Schule, 82 Regent Street, Cambridge’.
Lina died in childbirth in February 1913, and the cause of death was said to be ‘obstructed labour and exhaustion’. Her baby was delivered still born at 2am and the two doctors in attendance left at 3am, leaving Lina with midwife Nurse Edwards. Albert then rushed into the room and declared that it was too hot so opened the windows. According to him Lina was semi-conscious and said ‘they have murdered me’ and he then applied ‘viltalising fluids’. Nurse Edwards later testified that Albert had given Lina a capsule/powder which he had semi-forced to her to take through gritted teeth. Nurse Edwards said that Lina had then visibly declined and died twenty minutes after taking the substance. Albert remained convinced that she had died as a result of the choloroform.
Albert was a committed Spiritualist and believed that ‘the spiritual life was the life that mattered; he was on earth for a short and unimportant period only’. He believed that Lina’s soul was hovering around the family and took the children to Mill Road Cemetery very often. On 5 April he killed both children before taking his own life. When found all three were lying on a bed together, fully clothed except for their shoes which were neatly laid out. He had written letters to friends telling them of his intention and that he was seeking to reunite the family. He wrote a very long letter to the coroner laying blame at the doctors and nurse who had attended his wife in February.
Pinned to the wall behind the bodies was a note which read ‘I forbid every medical man to interfere with my or my children’s body, and I trust that the last will of a broken man will be respected A.P. Schule’. He left a letter to the police on the dressing table which started ‘To the Police – Grief, indignation and despair at the unnatural, horrible death of my wife has broken down my already intensely suffering constitution and at last over thrown my mind. I cannot stand the terrible strain any longer, so I depart this life taking with me my dear children…’. The inquest returned a verdict of murder/suicide while temporary insane.
The funeral took place at Mill Road Cemetery on 8 April 1913. An anonymous benefactor paid for the funeral service, and two to three hundred people attended to the ceremony. Nathalie Schule was buried with her mother, and Albert Snr and Albert Jnr were buried in a separate grave.
By Claire Martinsen