On May 14 1936, the charred and unrecognisable body of a young man was discovered by farmers after haystack fire in Stadhampton.

The body was identified as Thomas Patteson Moss, a Canadian undergraduate student at Balliol College. Moss’s remains were able to be identified by his leather belt, which had his name inscribed on it.

21 year old Moss was just weeks away from graduating when he died, with plans to return to Canada and pursue a law career.

The exact reasons for Moss’s death, or why he was even in Stadhampton, remains a mystery to this day.

An edition of The Ottawa Evening Citizen from May 16 1936 stated: ‘Police believe that death may have been accidental but there is suspicion of foul play’.

Who was Thomas Patteson Moss?

Moss was born on January 8, 1915, he came from an affluent and successful family and he lived in a large house in Toronto.

His father, John H. Moss, was a well-know barrister.

Patteson attended Trinity College School in Port Hope and in 1931 travelled to Marlborough to continue his education at Marlborough College, before later being accepted at Oxford University.

How did he die?

Moss’s death has remain a mystery for 85 years. Some believe it was suicide, others say it was an accident while historians also argue it could have been murder.

Autopsy of Moss’s body found no traces of drugs or alcohol in his system but a bottle found near his body lead to subscriptions of poisoning, even though no evidence of such a substance was found.

Fragments of burned straw were found in his airways, which suggested he was alive when he died.

Some believed he could have been beaten unconscious and left for dead but no injuries were found at all.

The best theory was that Moss fell asleep in the field and was asphyxiated and burned as he slept. However, this still leaves the question of how the fire started unsolved.

How is Moss remembered?

A wooden seat in the corner of the Fellows’ Garden in the Garden Quad at Balliol College is inscribed with Moss’s name in memory of him.

The Balliol College Archives state that Moss’s death ‘probably murder, remains an unsolved mystery’.