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Interviews With Alfred Brierley And Florence's Mother

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Interviews With Alfred Brierley And Florence's Mother

Post by Karen on Sun 28 Feb 2010 - 4:34



LONDON, August 16.

The last move of the anserous herd of moist-eyed sentimentalists who are clamouring for the release of the estimable and much-wronged Mrs. Maybrick is not a particularly wise one, and will, I hope, thoroughly disgust all right thinking people. It consists in blackening the character of the murdered husband. The absolute foundationlessness of the stories that are circulated was ascertained long ago by the Messrs. Cleaver and Sir Charles Russell, who would, you may be sure, have gladly cross-examined on them at the trial had there been the faintest scintilla of evidence to back them up. That they should now be resurrected and spoken of authoritatively as "fresh evidence" is a ghastly scandal, and shows the utter folly and injustice of trial by newspaper.


Mr. Albert Brierley, whose name has been so prominently mentioned in connection with the recent trial, has (says the Liverpool correspondent of the "New York Herald") at length made a statement. It was prepared after consultation with his solicitors, and then placed in the hands of the Messrs. Cleaver, the solicitors to Mrs. Maybrick. Afterwards Mr. Brierley granted an interview in relation to the matter. Mr. Brierley is the senior member of the firm of Brierley and Wood, cotton importers, at 4, Old-Hall street, not far from the Exchange. He has been in business for 13 years in Liverpool, and has an irreproachable commercial standing. He is unmarried, and his residence is a suite of chambers at 60, Huckisson-street. Mr. Brierley, upon being informed that a statement was desired, said, "I have no statement whatever to make for the public." After a little discussion he said: "That I have done wrong in this matter I do not pretend to deny, but I cannot refrain from saying that a most injurious misconstruction and misinterpretation has been put upon my relations with Mrs. Maybrick, as unjust to her as it is unfair to myself. Our meeting in London was a grave wrong; but in this trial it has been magnified greatly to her injury and mine, and assumptions have been based upon it which are entirely unwarranted by the actual facts." Mr. Brierley is a tall, slender man of 38. His face is narrow and clearly cut, and he wears a light moustache and a light beard, clipped close and cut to a point below the chin. He spoke quietly, but with extreme earnestness. He was evidently under much excitement, and showed the effects of a mental strain running over many weeks past. Continuing, Mr. Brierley said: - "You may put my statement in the form of an interview, but understand clearly that it must not injure Mrs. Maybrick. That is the sole reason why I have been silent hitherto. I have been maligned, persecuted, and misjudged in every way. It has broken up my business, and will cause me to leave this city. But I am a man, and I have made no complaint. I only desire that the terrible misfortunes of a woman, whose treatment has been scarcely fair, may not be further increased through me." Mr. Brierley then proceeded to speak quite freely. Part of the time he sat on the corner of a large table in front of his desk, and at other times he walked about the room. He said, "Before the first proceedings against Mrs. Maybrick were initiated or talked of, I had arranged for a vacation in the shape of a tour about the Mediterranean. I had made my preparations without a thought that any trouble was coming to her, for I had no expectation or suspicion of any. This is evident by itself in the letter from me to her, which was quoted in court, in which letter I said I was going away. The last interview I had with Mrs. Maybrick was on April 6th. Between our meeting in London on March 21st and this interview I had seen her only once, and that was at the Grand National Meeting. I wish you would make a note of that, and let people judge how far those three meetings, long previous to Mr. Maybrick's death, justify the perpetual assumption all through the trial, and particularly by the judge, that she and I were on the closest terms of intimacy, and hand in hand, so to speak, in the whole matter. However, the moment that I heard that she was threatened with trouble I abandoned my trip. By way of a trifle, I may state that I already paid £50 as passage money, £35 of which I thereby lost. I simply mention that to show that it was my desire to stay and not to go. I was ready to come forward all through the trial, but was not called. Last year I met Mrs. Maybrick once or twice, but we were merely distant acquaintances up to last November. I had very few interviews with her, and the only time I was ever away with her was on the occasion of the visit to London. I decline to say who suggested that trip. I refer you to the evidence adduced in court. We had a distinct understanding that no meeting either in London or elsewhere away from home was ever to occur again. We parted in London as if we were never to meet again. It was distinctly understood that we were not to correspond. It was agreed that she should not write unless she got into some complications in consequence of our journey. If she did she was to let me know. I tell you this because I wish you to understand that the extent of our acquaintance and the depth of our intimacy has been most unwarrantably over-estimated, both to her injury and to mine. A few days after the Grand National - on April 6 - Mrs. Maybrick came to tell me about her husband beating her and dragging her about the room. It was brought out in evidence that that is the last interview I ever had with her." In conclusion Mr. Brierley said his statement would be forwarded by his solicitors to the Home Secretary.


A Liverpool correspondent telegraphs: - "John," I am informed, is the nephew of Miss Bailey, an old friend of the Baroness Von Roque. Miss Bailey is the lady who wrote to Mrs. Maybrick about the anxiety that her friends had felt when they found that she had not been staying at the Grand Hotel. It has all along been a mystery how Mrs. Maybrick spent the remainder of her time in London between leaving the Henrietta-street hotel and returning to Liverpool. This "John" is able to explain. When Mrs. Maybrick went up to London she arranged to meet him as an old friend. He was also an intimate friend of her brother, who has been dead some years. It was from "John" - who, as he stated in his letter, told his aunt the truth - that Miss Bailey learned that Mrs. Maybrick had not, after arriving in London, gone direct to her house. As soon as Brierley and she had left the Henrietta-street hotel she repaired to her aunt's and spent the remainder of the week there, and not with Brierley, as has been supposed. All this information has been given to the Home Secretary, and it was probably to it that Mrs. Maybrick referred when, upon being asked whether she had anything to say, why sentence should not be passed upon her, she faltered out something about certain evidence not having been given."


The non-appearance of Mrs. Maybrick's mother in the witness-box at the trial was rightly enough dropped upon by all lawyers as one of the weakest spots in the defence. The Messrs. Cleaver and Mr. Pickford, who got up the case, are at the head of their profession in Liverpool, and spent six weeks going over the evidence, and deciding what to lay before the jury. They knew better than anyone else how their not calling the Baroness Von Roque would be construed, and yet they decided against calling her. Obviously for some sufficient reason it was considered undesirable to risk her cross-examination. The Baroness has now elected to volunteer a statement. It hurls charges broadcast at Mrs. Briggs, the brothers Maybrick, and Nurse Yapp, but fails altogether to explain away one scrap of the terrible chain of circumstantial evidence against the prisoner.


The following is the statement of the Baroness Von Roque, the mother of Mrs. Maybrick. It was made verbally by the mother herself to a correspondent of the "New York Herald" at half past 11 yesterday morning, in response to a request made on Sunday last. The Baroness is a well-preserved woman, who looks to be 45 years old or older. Her hair is grey. She was neatly dressed in black, with a black embroidered cloak, and wore no jewellery. Her manner had the depression natural to the fearful circumstances in which she is placed. Her voice was low and firm, her words measured, and her mind perfectly clear. Her statement was as follows: -
"I make this public statement for one reason only - that is, that the basis upon which Justice Stephen and the jury conscientiously condemned my daughter to death was made up of only a part of many facts which should have been before them. It is only for the purpose of calling attention to a side of the case which has not been weighed by them that I speak to you.
"Mr. Maybrick died on Saturday. Up to the following Friday afternoon my daughter lay ill - prostrated and helpless, without a friend. She was surrounded by enemies whose bitterness I need not call your attention to, for it is in evidence. A nurse, the woman Yapp, whom my daughter had some months before reprimanded, and, as she wrote me, felt that she would be compelled to discharge, knowing or not knowing Mr. Maybrick's own use of arsenic, communicated her suspicions to Mrs. Briggs. Mrs. Briggs telegraphed Mr. Michael Maybrick. Mrs. Briggs was the moving agent in all that ensued. My daughter was satisfactorily convicted of murder before Mr. Maybrick died by Miss Yapp, Mrs. Briggs and Michael Maybrick, who was acting only upon the information, suspicions, and conclusions of these two women. Now, I respectfully suggest that Mrs. Briggs's actions, Mrs. Briggs's motive, and Mrs. Briggs's character are things that should be considered and have not been considered in this case.


"On hearing of Maybrick's death I went straight to Battlecrease. I met Edwin Maybrick in the vestibule of the house. I asked him at once why I had not been allowed to come before. He said they had all lost their heads; that Florrie was too ill to know anything, and that Mrs. Briggs did not know or had forgotten my address. He said, "I would never have believed one word against Florrie if it had not been that letter to Brierley." Now permit me to say that there was a great deal of surreptitiousness about that letter to Brierley. It was written with the knowledge of a woman who had already come to the conclusion, honestly or dishonestly, that my daughter was a murderess at heart. It was given to that woman to post, and that woman opened it. I may be Mrs. Maybrick's mother, but it looks to me, as if that very strange, and, very unnecessary letter, a letter so queerly and ingeniously compromising, that no other possible combination of words could have been equally harmful, was simply a trap, successfully laid and triumphantly executed. My daughter is not a woman of very much penetration. If you could see her you would not wonder at the ease with which she has been deceived. Kindly remember that Mrs. Briggs testified in Court that she advised my daughter to write to Brierley to get money enough to send some telegrams, and then walked straight out of the prison with the letter, and at once handed it to a policeman.


"I believe I know that James Maybrick died a natural death. I believe that these two women, ignorant of all the private circumstances, ignorant of Mr. Maybrick's extensive use of arsenic, came to the conclusion that my daughter was poisoning him, and did everything they could to build up their case. The idea is simply absurd, to begin with, that you can poison a man with arsenic who has been using arsenic for 11 years, without his knowing or suspecting it. Mr. Maybrick knew his own constitution perfectly well. He has been experimenting on it with drugs ever since I knew him. He was a deep student of medicine from a personal standpoint. If there was one man on earth who would have scouted the idea that anybody could poison him with arsenic without his knowledge, it was James Maybrick, and he would say so if he stood here today. My daughter said in her statement that she put a white powder in the meat juice at his request. That is perfectly true and the Home Secretary will see that it is true. She made the same statement at the beginning in her first interview with her solicitor. She said the same thing to me. She has said it all the time, and she has never varied, and there will be no difficulty in proving this to anybody's satisfaction. She also said to me, "Why, Mamma, if they had only told me what they suspected - if I could only have taken them over my own house and shown them everything, there would have been nothing needed to be explained; but they would not let me do this. They did all the searching, and I was already a prisoner and in bed."


"But this is anticipating my story. I left Edwin and went up to my daughter's room. In the hall in front of her door were two policemen on guard. I went in and found a police-inspector sitting within two feet of her. She was in bed. There was also a nurse in the room. I saw both the nurse and the Inspector with pencils prepared to take notes, and I spoke to her in French. I think my mother or any other woman would have done the same thing. I said, "What on earth does all this talk about fly-papers mean?" Edwin had told me of the fly-papers. She said, "Cosmetics, of course." I said, "Why have these people taken possession of your house in this way?" She answered, "Mamma, you have no idea how I have been treated by the Maybrick brothers. Mrs. Briggs has made all the trouble."


"Who is Mrs. Briggs?"
"Mrs. Briggs was a very intimate friend of Mr. Maybrick. He had known her long before he met my daughter. He permitted her to visit the house most freely. She is a woman about forty-five years old, who has been divorced from her husband, though she obtained the divorce on account of his conduct, and there was nothing in the proceedings to reflect on her. Mrs. Maybrick told me this. Mr. Maybrick was an intimate friend of her father, Mr. Janion, and has been on close terms of friendship with the Janion family all his life. When Mr. Maybrick married my daughter he was a man of forty-three or four and she was a girl of eighteen. Mrs Briggs from the outset was a potent factor in the household. She kept a general eye upon affairs. Mrs. Briggs had unmarried sisters, and I have no doubt that the opinion prevailed that if Mr. Maybrick's taste had been all that it ought to have been, he would have married a Miss Janion. Miss Gertrude Janion, her sister, has been known for a long time in their circle to be smitten with Mr. Brierley. Miss Janion, through Mr. Hughes, the husband of another sister, caused the quarrel between Mr. and Mrs. Maybrick at the race grounds. He was inspired to do this by Miss Janion, because Mr. Brierley had taken Mrs. Maybrick to the Grand Stand to see the Prince of Wales, and Miss Janion was left alone on the coach. I am not dealing in trifling gossip in this matter; I am showing you states of mind and motives which bear directly on this case. When the reconciliation took place, or before it Mrs. Briggs told Mr. Maybrick all that she knew about Mrs. Maybrick's relations with Mr. Brierley.


"My daughter, lying prostrate, was robbed of everything she might have needed to substantiate her case, if she had the mental grasp to understand her position. The pill-box containing Mr. Maybrick's private store of arsenic only turned up at the trial. It had been kept back. Who knows what else has been kept back? Does the judge know? Do the jury know? Where are Mr. Maybrick's clothes? Have they been examined for arsenic? Have the pockets been examined? Of all that belonged to my daughter, of all the presents that had been given her, of all that she needed to save her life, all that she got back was a dressing wrapper, which was valuable because it was stained with arsenic."


If any of your readers conscientiously doubt the justice of the verdict in the Maybrick trial, let them read "Labby's" masterly analysis of the evidence in "Truth" for August 15th. Before its irresistable logic and robust common sense even the most sentimental sympathiser's doubts must crumble into dust.

Source: Te Aroha News, Volume VII, Issue 411, 16 October, 1889, Page 3

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