Benedict Cumberbatch's distant relative was involved in the curious case of the knife and the nuts

We know that Benedict Cumberbatch is a man of many parts. Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit, to name a few.

Turns out one of the great man’s ancestors on his mother’s side was tried for murder at the tender age of 14.

Farm hand Henry Ventham (great-great uncle on the side of Wanda Ventham, Benedict’s actress mother) was accused of stabbing a 12-year-old friend after a row while they’d been out picking nuts and blackberries back in August that year.

However, a witness, Albert Luffman, the third boy on the expedition, insisted there’d been no quarrel – Frederick Betteridge had accidentally fallen on his friend’s knife.

The jury accepted this account and the great man’s ancestor’s name was cleared – with no help from Sherlock. But isn’t it curious how life imitates art?

This story was uncovered by family history researchers on findmypast.co.uk. Debra Chatfield, a historian from the website, says: ‘It seems there was a dark horse in Benedict’s family tree.

‘His great-great uncle was not convicted of murder of manslaughter, but it just shows how many curve balls history can throw at us.’

A ‘skeleton in the ancestral cupboard’ only makes Mr Cumberbatch even more intriguing. Can’t help but wonder how the Sherlock star would have handled it…

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