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Sir George Burnwell was a dissolute playboy and gambler who became a friend of young Arthur Holder. Sherlock Holmes encounters him while investigating the theft of the titular object in "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet".

History[]

Alexander Holder first brings Sir George to Holmes' attention as a friend of his son, Arthur, whom he believes guilty of having stolen several valuable beryls from a coronet he was holding for a client. Holder points to his son's gambling debts as his motive for the crime, and blames Sir George's influence for corrupting his son. He accuses the older man of encouraging Arthur's gambling, and repeatedly bringing him back into disreputable company when he tried to leave. Sir George had visited the family several times recently, and while Holder admits he is handsome and charismatic, he insists the man is not to be trusted - a view which he says his niece, Mary, shares.

Holmes eventually determines that Arthur is innocent, and that the theft of the coronet was orchestrated by Sir George, with Mary's help. Sir George, a notorious rake, had seduced the girl, and they were secretly meeting regularly. Facing heavy gambling debts and looking for easy money, when Mary told him of the coronet's existence he at once convinced her to help him steal it. Arthur saw the transaction, and chased Sir George down to retrieve the stolen object. During the ensuing scuffle, a piece of the coronet broke, allowing Sir George to escape with three jewels while Arthur received the blame while trying to return the crown.

Holmes, having determined Arthur's innocence and surmised Mary's relationship to Sir George, tracks the villain down and confronts him in his home. Sir George attempts to threaten Holmes, but the detective draws a pistol which keeps him docile. Sir George admits to having fenced the three stolen beryls for a mere £600, and gives Holmes the name of the buyer on the promise that he will not be prosecuted. Holmes recovers the gems and returns them to Alexander Holder. Though Sir George flees with Mary to escape prosecution, Holmes is convinced that it is certain they will soon face just punishment for their crimes.

Description[]

Alexander Holder describes Sir George as a "man of the world... one who had been everywhere, seen everything, a brilliant talker, and a man of great personal beauty." In spite of this, he possesses a cynical nature and a complete lack of morality. Holmes calls him one of the "most dangerous men in England - a ruined gambler, an absolutely desperate villain, a man without heart or conscience."

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