Back to the Past with historian Ed Grimsdale
Poker became well known during Elections. Here’s Sir Robert Peel’s youngest son, the Liberal, Arthur W. Peel, referring to his prowess in 1865: “It was said of Dr Johnson that if his pistol missed fire he managed to knock you down with the butt-end; and so in the affair between my friend “Poker” and my enemy Murphy, if Langton does fail to inflict an incisive blow with the razor he will sure to deal a knock-out blow with that instrument, the name of which he bears so worthily.” (Laughter) Peel’s supporters knew that Langton had heckled Murphy, a rabid anti-Catholic rabble-rouser, a few days before in Warwick. So effective had been Langton’s retorts that fights broke out and Murphy sought refuge in the Warwick Arms
Two years later, Poker filled a hall at Leighton Buzzard despite there being “no bills to advertise the lecture”. Langton was giving forth on his favourite topic: universal male suffrage. Sadly, the Political Razor Grinder did not survive until 1918 to see his dream become law. Probably, he was the victim of his success at poker. The Luton Advertiser for 12th October 1872 takes up his story:
WINSLOW: […] Poker had been drinking during the morning, and he went into a chemist’s shop where he ordered laudanum, saying he wanted it for a horse that had taken suddenly ill. He then walked out of the shop, and immediately swallowed the whole. He was conveyed to Dr. Newham’s surgery, where every possible restorative was applied without effect […] and he was taken on a stretcher to the Union [Work]house in a dying state. An Inquest was held before Dr. Robert De’Ath [of Buckingham] when the jury returned a verdict of suicide while in a state of temporary insanity. The deceased was forty-six years of age.