This headline heralded one of the strangest stories we ever came across in our researches. We can do no better than to quote the Thame Gazette of April 19, 1892:

“One of the most curious incidents which ever came to the notice of the inhabitants of this village has been brought to light during the last few days by the appearance of a man named Thomas Wise who was supposed to have been buried in Milton churchyard about two years ago.

About 1857, Wise, who was previously a well known character in the village, enlisted in the army and 18 years ago came home of furlough (leave of absence). After this little was known concerning of him until about five years ago when the relieving officer informed The Wises of Milton that their relative was an inmate of Thame Workhouse.

An aunt, who had brought Wise up from an infant, found him paralysed and dumb. He was admitted in 1889 and could not speak but somehow had let it be known that he was Thomas Wise of Great Milton. He died in the workhouse on 8 June 1890, his body buried at Milton.

At 2 o’clock in the early morning of last Saturday Mr Alfred Wise of Great Milton heard a knock at his door. He looked out and saw a stranger who told him he was his nephew Tom. Mr Wise, having informed the visitor that he was supposed to be in the grave, went downstairs and let him in.

He had been working as a sailor on the White Star line. His return home has been the topic of the village and has been the subject of many congratulations similar to the following: “Holloa, old man, they didn’t put you down very deep!”

No one has any information of the identity of the man who impersonated Wise at Thame.