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Charles Bravo death and inquest

Charles Bravo died in questionable circumstances in 1876 that led to two hearings that caused a sensation in 1876 London

Horrible Murder
– Part 1 of the mysterious and unsolved killing of Charles Bravo

shadowsflyaway January 18, 2017

This now almost illegible tombstone is the only visible reminder of one of the most notorious and still unsolved murder cases of the 19th century. It ruined reputations, destroyed great families and most of the chief suspects lie in unknown, unmarked graves such was the shame in being connected with it.

It’s the last resting place of Charles Delaunay Turner Bravo who died of antimony poisoning on 21 April 1876 aged 30. It took him nearly 3 days to die an agonising death as the poison was so lethal. The memorial was erected by his sorrowing mother who died a year later of grief. I first saw it on a guided tour of West Norwood when the guide indicated it and mentioned the name. It’s now set back from the path and jostles for space with the other memorials and monuments that have grown up around it as if hiding it. In fact I had to wait until the winter die-back to be able to avoid the clinging embrace of long barbed tentacles of brambles and have a closer look. I could just about see his name on the memorial but the stone surround that was originally around it has long since collapsed. This is the story of one of the notorious cases of the 19th century set against a background of money, womens rights or lack of them, and society’s punishment for those who transgress the rules.

It began on the night of 18 April 1876 after the Bravo household had retired for the night at the Priory on Bedford Hill near Balham. At this time it was surrounded by fields and all would have been quiet. Suddenly the night was disturbed by Charles Bravo, the head of the household, shouting ‘Florence! Florence! Hot water! Hot water!’ before collapsing and vomiting. Two doctors were then called to the scene and so events began. He had, as was his custom, drank water from his jug before retiring but on this night someone had added 30-40 grains of antimony, a deadly poison which is derived from tartar emetic. Antimony has no taste in water and is an unusual method of killing someone. It began by eating its way its way through his intestines which virtually disintegrated and his stomach. After 3 days his central nervous system began to fail and Bravo knew that he was dying. He managed to make a will in his wife, Florence’s favour which was witnessed by one of the doctors and the butler before being pronounced dead at 5.20am on 21 April.

It was a long and painful death and the post-mortem gave the cause of death as ‘heart failure from the effect of the poison on his central nervous system’. Incredibly it was first considered to be a suicide but I would have thought that there are far less painful methods. However the police soon decided that it was murder and soon began looking for suspects. These were:

Florence his widow: She and Charles had married on 7 December 1875 at All Saints Church Kensington and it has been rumoured that she may have already been pregnant as the marriage was brought forward and she had a miscarriage very shortly afterwards. It hadn’t been a happy marriage as she had already fled to her parents after 3 months alleging domestic abuse. She had had quite a colourful and somewhat provocative life prior to her marriage. Florence had been widowed before after her first husband, Captain Alexander Ricardo died in a Cologne hotel room of alcoholism in 1871 after 6 years of marriage. She had persuaded him to give up his Army career and he struggled to establish another one before taking to the bottle. However he left her £40,000 which was a huge sum when the average working man earned £30 p.a.

Unusually for the time, she was now an independently wealthy woman and soon established her own household at The Priory. She met Dr James Manby Gully when she took the ‘water-cure’ at his hydrotherapy clinic in Malvern. He had known her family for over 30 years and was the celebrity doctor of his day with several famous clients including Tennyson. He was in a miserable second marriage to a Mrs Kibble who was 17 years older than him and from whom he was legally separated. Nevertheless he and Florence embarked on a scandalous affair which made them notorious throughout the neighbourhood. Gully took a house on Bedford Hill Road, Orwell Lodge, which was conveniently near The Priory for secret trysts. As a result Florence was ostracised by local society as people refused to call. However she considered Gully to be ‘the cleverest man I have ever met.’ But she still yearned to be part of society again and after Gully performed an abortion on her the affair ended.

The only way that she could be admitted back into society and be reconciled with her parents was through marriage. She and Charles were introduced by Mrs Cox, her companion who knew his family. There has been a suggestion that he was a fortune hunter and certainly no gentleman would have considered marrying someone with her reputation. It was a marriage that proved to be a disaster.

Mrs Jane Cox – She was a widow with 3 young sons at school and was employed by Florence as her ‘lady’s companion’ at The Priory. Mrs Cox had married in Jamaica and had returned to England after her husband had died. She had been privy to Gully and Florence’s affair and local shopkeepers had refused to serve her. She had jet black hair and an olive coloured complexion which had led to rumours that she had ‘coloured blood.’ She was facing dismissal by Bravo who was on a mission to reduce household expenses and she was poor to say the least. She didn’t want to be unemployed and destitute. There was also her behaviour during Bravo’s protracted death agonies. She told one doctor that he had swallowed chloroform whereas Bravo recovered consciousness long enough to refute this and instead claimed that he’d taken laudanum due to pain in his lower jaw. Mrs Cox then confused matters more when she told the second doctor, Harrison Royes Bell, that Bravo had also told her that ‘I have taken poison don’t tell Florence.’ One wonders if Bravo was in any fit state to confide this and it sounds as if Mrs Cox was trying to create a cover-up. She had also received a bottle clearly marked ‘Poison’ from Dr Gully after he’d vowed never to speak to her again.

Griffiths – the coachman – He had already been dismissed by Bravo two weeks before the wedding and as a result had lost his tied cottage. Griffiths had been heard making drunken threats in the Bedford Hotel on Bedford Hill in which he claimed that Bravo would be dead within a few months. He kept antimony in the coach house to which the entire household had access. A series of very insulting anonymous letters were received at The Priory over Christmas in which Charles was accused of being a fortune hunter and these stopped after Griffiths took a job in Kent.

Dr James Manby Gully: He was never a serious suspect although if Bravo had died then perhaps his affair with Florence could resume. He publicly denied any involvement in the murder.

And what of Charles Bravo himself?

He was born in 1845 and was the only son of Augustus and Mary Turner. Augustus died when Charles was small and Mary married a wealthy merchant, Joseph Bravo, who was 15 years older than her. He’d made his money from fruit and tobacco and was well-off. After studying at Kings College, London Charles was called to the bar in 1868 and took on his stepfather’s surname when he was 23. But he wasn’t well off and was merely ‘jogging along’ on £200 p.a. This wasn’t the life that he craved.

Both he and Florence had something that the other wanted – she had money and he could give her respectability. Florence confessed all of her affair with Dr Gully pre-marraige and Charles admitted that he had supported a woman who had had his child in Maidenhead for 5 years.

But money was already an issue between them prior to marriage as Florence had invoked the right to keep her fortune after marriage. Until 1870 this would automatically have gone to Bravo but now women could keep any assets they brought into the marriage as long as a legal settlement confirming their intention to do so had been ratified in court prior before the union had taken place.

When Charles discovered this he had threatened not to go through with the marriage so she compromised by giving him The Priory’s lease and its furnishings, make her will in his favour and in return she would retain control of her money. Already he seemed to be after her money and displaying his domineering, ruthless side. However Bravo was determined to be in charge and decided to reduce household expenses by dismissing staff which Florence hated. It was also a subtle way of controlling her by getting rid of a support like Mrs Cox and her horses which she loved. The first inquest was held on 28 April 1876 and concluded that Charles had died from the effects of poisoning but did not know who administered it. This was considered unsatisfactory. The stage was now set for the second 5 week public inquest which would change the lives of Florence, Dr Gully and Mrs Cox forever.

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

__________

References:
• Death at the Priory: Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England, James Ruddick, Atlantic Books, 2001
• Dr Gully, Elizabeth Jenkins, Michael Joseph 1972  https://www.realcrimedaily.com/murder-at-the-priory-the-mysterious- death-of-charles-bravo-realcrimefriday/  *no longer on line
• http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2650651.stm
• hhttp://blueborage.blogspot.com/2014/01/living-in-house-with-famous-victorian.html

Part 2 – ‘Her lean and senile seducer’ – the second Charles Bravo inquest and its aftermath

On January 25, 2017 By shadowsflyaway

The second inquest began on 11 July 1876 and lasted 5 weeks. It was a public sensation and finally ended Florence’s doomed attempt to regain her place in respectable society. Only men and boys were allowed into the inquest as the details revealed were considered to be so shocking.

Both Florence and Mrs Cox spoke of Bravo’s controlling and bullying nature which was countered by family and friends who described him as good-natured and happy.

The affair between Florence and Dr Gully became public knowledge because of the inquest and the papers of the day revelled in it while ostensibly taking a moral high ground. The fact that she had enjoyed it and that it had been common knowledge throughout the area enraged the public and she was soon being pilloried. Much was made of its adulterous nature and the disparity in their ages – he was 67 to her 25. The Times dubbed Gully as her ‘lean and senile seducer’ whereas in fact he was described as being charismatic with Charles Darwin calling him ‘a friend.’ He was quickly discounted as a suspect as he had not been anywhere near the scene at the time.

Florence was questioned repeatedly about the affair until she finally broke down and tried to demand that the Coroner protect her from what she called ‘the impertinent’ cross examining.

‘I refuse to answer any more questions about Dr Gully!’ she shouted at one point to Joseph Bravo’s solicitor. ‘This inquiry is about the death of my husband and I appeal to the jury as men and Britons to protect me.’ Dr Gully described the persistent questioning as ‘a gross impertinence’ and publicly denied any involvement or knowledge of Charles’ murder. Gully was now looking at the very likely destruction of all that he had built up – his good name, his practice and his clientele. The novelist George Eliot, who had been one of his patients, had described him as a ‘quack’. But Gully was very advanced for his time in his use of mesmerism to induce sleep and clairvoyance to diagnose internal conditions. These ideas may seem a little quaint to us today, as X-rays replaced clairvoyance, but they did indicate the way in which medicine might go. He had had a huge practice at Malvern between 1842-1871 but the inquest ruined him.

Joseph Bravo’s solicitor attempted to salvage Charles’ reputation by trying to prove that he had known nothing of Florence and Gully’s affair whenhe had married. Otherwise he would have been revealed as a mere fortune hunter who saw a wealthy widow with a dubious reputation as easy prey. But to no avail – Florence’s pre-nuptial confession proved otherwise.

The Times, somewhat sanctimoniously, declared the affair as ‘the most disgusting exhibition to have been witnessed in this generation.’ It was as if Florence and Gully were on trial and that Charles’ murder was a sideshow.

But the inquest was against the background of the role of women in Victorian society and Florence had been a rebel. At the time women had no rights and were expected to be only domestic goddesses; sexless, devoted to others and with no other outlets in their lives. However, thinkers such as William Acton thought differently and Gully himself saw womens neuroses as an unconscious response to the pressures of their lives and wrote ‘all these pressures are worsened by their boredom and lack of sexual satisfaction.’ This was very advanced for the time.

Florence, by contrast, ran her own household and managed her own financial affairs. She was independent of her parents and so could make choices which might have been denied to other women. She had been estranged from them when she left Ricardo and during her affair with Gully and seemed willing to accept this as the price of having her own life. However, her desire to be accepted into society again via marriage to Bravo was to bring about her downfall.

Middle-class Victorian women were fascinated by the sensational murder trials of the day and there were several prominent cases featuring wives who were accused of murdering their husbands or lovers – for example, Adelaide Bartlett, Madeline Smith and Florence Maybrick. They saw their own situations reflected in these women who had been driven to take action to take control of their lives.

At the end of the inquest the jury’s verdict was:

‘We find that Charles Delaunay Turner Bravo did not commit suicide, that he did not meet his death of misadventure, that he was wilfully murdered by the administration of tartar emetic. But there is insufficient evidence to fix the guilt upon any person or persons.’ The jury were all male and may have thought that a woman couldn’t be a murderess or there just wasn’t enough hard evidence to enable them to point the finger at anyone. No-one was ever charged with Charles Bravo’s murder although there has been much speculation even to this day.

Aftermath:

Florence sold the Priory and parted with Mrs Cox. She died less than 2 years later at Southsea where she was living under the name of Florence Turner. She died of alcoholism although the verdict at her inquest was ‘Death by Misadventure’. Florence’s exact burial place at Challow is unknown.

Florence’s family of wealthy Scottish landowners were utterly ruined, both financially and socially, by the scandal.

Mrs Cox died in 1913 aged 90 from ‘exhaustion’. She returned to Jamaica after inheriting an estate and properties there valued at £7000 which was a large sum at the time. She returned to England and was buried in Hither Green Cemetery. However, her grave is unmarked although the plot is registered. She had received death threats during the second inquest so maybe someone thought that she knew more than she was saying.

Dr Gully survived Florence by 5 years and died on 5 March 1883. He stayed in Orwell Lodge near the Priory with his unmarried sisters. But Susanna, his daughter, refused to have anything more to do with him. The Malvern Clinic closed in 1913 and is now a hotel. Dr Gully’s grave location is unknown as he was buried in secret.

Mrs Bravo (Charles's mother) supervised the building of a large stone surround over Charles’ grave at West Norwood and died a year later of grief.

Griffiths the coachman was quickly discounted as a suspect and faded from events.

Now only Charles himself still has a tangible reminder of this case which continues to fascinate. But the inscription is now almost unreadable and, from the path, appears blank. It’s as if everyone involved with the case just wanted to vanish from the world, such was the scandal, and eventually even Bravo’s stone may vanish into thick, encroaching vegetation or fall by subsidence leaving no reminder of him.

My own theory is the one proposed by Professor Mary Hartman in which she proposes that Bravo’s death was a tragic accident. Florence was recovering from a second miscarriage and a third pregnancy could have killed her. Charles, however, wanted to resume marital relations as soon as possible as he wanted an heir and this determination does indicate a ruthless streak in him. Florence knew where the antimony was kept and may have slipped it into his water jug to make him unwell so as to avoid having sex with him. Unfortunately on this occasion she got the dosage wrong as 3-4 grams were sufficient to make him ill and he’d taken 30-40 grams which was 10 times the lethal dose. It was noted that Florence seemed extremely agitated on the night of 18 April 1876 as events unfolded – did she suddenly realise what she’d done? Nine years later Adelaide Bartlett used chloroform to avoid conjugal relations with her husband and it may have been a common method employed by wives but not usually with such lethal results.

I visited The Priory prior to writing this post and in Florence’s time it must have appeared very imposing. At the time of Bravo’s murder it would have been surrounded by fields and on its own plot but now it seemed to be almost cowering between the newer houses and car parking that have sprung up around it and the unappealing line of large rubbish bins lined up in front of it. The Priory’s white walls and battlements contrasted with the blue sky as I tried to imagine the chaos and terror on that April night in 1876 as Bravo lay there, dying in extreme pain, in the shadowy candlelit rooms.

It was a tragic event for all concerned and one can only hope that they all now rest in peace.

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated.

__________

References:
• Death at the Priory: Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England, James Ruddick, Atlantic Books, 2001
• Dr Gully, Elizabeth Jenkins, Michael Joseph 1972 https://www.realcrimedaily.com/murder-at-the-priory-the-mysterious- death-of-charles-bravo-realcrimefriday/
• http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2650651.stm *
• http://strangeco.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/a-pearl-among-poisonings- mysterious.html *
• http://murderpedia.org/female.B/b/bravo-florence.htm
• http://blueborage.blogspot.com/2014/01/living-in-house-with-famous-victorian.html

* These sites are no longer available


Below is a record of a legal precedent arising from the Inquest(s) into the death of Charles Bravo.

Aug. 5, 1876.J THE LAW TIMES. [Vol. XXXIV., N. s.-849

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION.

Reported by M. W. McKELLAR, J.M. LlTILY, and R, H. AMPHLETT, Esqrs., Barristers-at-Law.

-----

June 19 and 26.

REG. V. CARTER.

Coroner--Rejection of evidence--Open verdict

Further evidence after verdict--Melius inquirendum.

Where a coroner rejects evidence which he ought to have admitted, and the jury return an open verdict, the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court has jurisdiction to order the coroner to re-open the inquiry.

Such jurisdiction will not be exercised unless the court can see that to do so will further the ends of justice.

The inquiry will be before a new jury.

An inquest was held on the body of B. [Charles Bravo], and nine witnesses were examined. One of these, C. [Jane Cox], deposed that B. had told her· that he had taken poison. The coroner rejected evidence of a doctor who stated that he had attended the deceased throughout his illness, and had material evidence to give. The jury returned a verdict that deceased died of a poison called antimony, but that there was no evidence to show how such poison came into his body.

C. afterwards stated that B. had before his death stated the reason for which he had taken poison. The doctor whose evidence had been rejected stated that B. had denied suicide. The Solicitor to the Treasury having taken the statements of C., of the doctor, and of about thirty other· persons, some of whom had, and some of whom had not given evidence at the inquest, deposed that such persons could give further material evidence, and that further· material evidence would be forth­ coming from other persons upon a new inquiry.

Held, that the inquisition ought to be quashed, and a inquirendum awarded before the same coroner and another jury.

This was a rule calling upon the defendant as and being one of the coroners for the county of Surrey to show cause why a writ of certiorari· should not issue to remove into this divisional court all and singular inquisitions taken by or before him at the house called the Priory, in the parish of Streatham, in the said county of Surrey, on the 25th April last, on view of the body of Charles Delauney Turner Bravo; and why the said inquisitions and the proceedings thereon, when returned, should not be quashed and set aside, and why a better or new inquiry should not be directed to be held, and oral evidence taken either before the coroner or commissioners, and either before the same or a fresh jury; and on view of the body or without view thereof, as to this divisional court should seem fit ; or why the court should not direct such steps to be taken as to reopening the inquiry or holding a new inquiry as to the court should seem fit; on the ground that there had been a miscarriage of justice and misconduct or mistake on the part of the said coroner, and on the ground that material evidence was rejected, and that material witnesses were not examined, and the inquiry closed prematurely, and the coroner's depositions were incorrect, and that material evidence had since been discovered, and that the inquiry was incomplete, and the verdict of the jury imperfect and inconclusive, and the in­quisition bad in law on the face of it.

The above rule had been drawn up on reading the affidavits of A. K. Stephenson, S0licitor to the Treasury, R. T. Reid, F. H. M'Calmont, G. John­son, H. R. Bell, and W. H. Pollard, and certain exhibits annexed to such affidavits respectively. The effect of such affidavits and exhibits was as follows:

The deceased, who was a barrister, was taken ill upon the 18th March about 9.30 p.m., and died on the 21st of the same month. The inquest was held on the 25th, and afterwards by adjournment on the 28th, when it was concluded. The jury returned an open verdict, and the· inquisition terminated as follows:

The said jurors now here say upon their oaths that the said C. D. T. Bravo on the 21st April, by taking of a poison called antimony, became mortally sick and distempered in his body, of which said mortal sickness and distemper he did die, and the jurors aforesaid upon their oaths aforesaid do say how or by what means the said poison came to be taken by the said C. D. T. Bravo we have no sufficient evidence proved to us. From the depositions furnished by the coroner, it appeared that the following witnesses were examined at the inquest:

Mr. Bravo, step-father of the deceased.

Mrs. Cox, who had been living in the house of the deceased as companion to his wife, deposed that as soon as she went to the deceased upon his being first taken ill, he said he had taken poison : but, although she saw him continually until his death, he did not explain to her, or in her hearing, how he came to take the poison; also that he and his wife lived on good and affectionate terms.

Amelia Bushell, lady's maid, deposed that the deceased was conscious to the last, and did not account for his illness to her or to anybody in her hearing.

George Harrison, surgeon, deposed that the deceased was first treated for collapse, but afterwards had symptoms of labouring under an irritant poison.

[The inquiry was at this point adjourned.]

Mary Anne Kieber, servant, deposed that the deceased did not make use of the word poison in her presence.

J. T. Payne, physician, deposed that the post-mortem examination taken by him showed antimony to have been the cause of death.

H. R. Bell, surgeon, and cousin of the deceased, deposed that the deceased said that he had taken laudanum for neuralgia, but did not otherwise explain his symptoms.

T. Redwood, professor of chemistry, deposed to antimony having been the cause of death.

F. H. M'Calmont, barrister, and friend of the deceased, deposed that he was a most unlikely person to commit suicide.

Certain notes, taken by Mr. Reid, who had attended the inquest, but not professionally, at the request of the stepfather of the deceased, varied from the depositions taken by the coroner.

The following was the affidavit of Dr. Johnson:-
I professionally attended the late C. D. T. Bravo during the illness of which he died, having visited him on five separate occasions in two days in the month of April last past. I saw him first on Wednesday, the 19th April, at about 2.30 a.m., with Mr. Royes Bell, Mr. Harrison and Dr. Moore. I saw him a second time on the same day, at about 3 p.m., in company with (to the best of my recollection) the same three gentlemen. I saw him the third time on the following day (Thursday), at about 9 a.m., in company with (to the best of my recollection) the same three gentlemen. I saw him the fourth time on the same day (Thursday), at about 2.30 p.m., in company with Mr. Henry Smith, surgeon, of Wimpole-street, and the above-mentioned Mr. Royes Bell. I saw him the fifth time on the same day (Thursday), at about 6.30 p.m., with Sir William Gull and the abovementioned Mr. Royes Bell. I did not see him again alive, but was informed that he died on the following day, Friday the 21st. I was present at the post mortem examination made by Dr. Payne. On the morning of Friday, April the 28th, about 10 a.m., being the morning of the day on which the adjourned inquest was appointed to be held, Mr. Campbell, sen., the father of Mrs. Charles Bravo, the widow of the deceased, called on me at my house, and said to me that he had been advised by Sir William Gull to come to me, or words to that effect. Mr. Campbell, sen., said to me, as near as I can recol­lect, the following words : "The question is, what ver­dict shall we get; I can get a verdict of suicide in five minutes." I said, "How?" He said, "By repeating Sir William Gull's opinion." I said, "Well, it may be suicide, but, so far as I can see, there is no evidence to show it, and the only possible verdict is an open one, that he died by antimony." I added that I thought of going to the inquest. He said he hoped that I would not go, or he thought I had better not go, and that he would telegraph for me whether I should come or not. I received no telegram, but I went to Balham that afternoon, and attended the adjourned inquest about 4 p.m. I was present when Mr. Royes Bell was giving his evi­dence. I heard Mr. Royes Bell, in giving his evidence, mention my name and state a conversation which had passed between myself and the deceased (Mr. Charles Bravo) with reference to taking poison. The conversa­tion stated by Mr. Royes Bell was a portion only of what had passed between me and the deceased, and it was that portion which occurred immediately after I had heard Mrs. Cox's statement that the deceased said that he had taken poison. I heard Mr. Royes Bell tell the coroner that I had said to Mr. C. Bravo, "Mrs. Cox tells us you have taken poison," and that I asked. him (Mr. C. Bravo) what the meaning of it was, and that he (Mr. C. Bravo) admitted taking laudanum, and that I said to him (Mr. C. Bravo) "That won't do," or "That won't explain your symptoms." The coroner said, "Dr. John­son is not here, I suppose," upon which some person in the room said, "Yes, Dr. Johnson is here." I heard Mr. McCalmont give his evidence, after which the coroner was apparently about to close the inquiry, when I heard one of the jury say that the jury were in a state of doubt, and would be glad to have any assistance, or words to that effect. Upon this I got up from the other end of the room where I had been sitting and stepped forward to the table and said to the coroner, " My name is Dr. Johnson, I have seen Mr. Bravo several times, and I wish to give evidence." To the best of my recollection I also told the coroner that I had had several conversations with the deceased (Mr. C. Bravo) on the subject of his illness and its cause, but I cannot now undertake to repeat the exact words I used to the coroner in telling him of these conversations. The coroner said, "We don't require any further evidence; it is quite un­necessary to examine you." I have made a statement to the Treasury Solicitor of facts within my knowledge, and I should have been prepared to give evidence of these facts had I been examined by the coroner.

It will be convenient to set out here the coroner's affidavit filed after the rule had been served upon him.

I was elected one of Her Majesty's Coroners for Sur­rey in the year 1836, and since that time I have never taken a holiday or been absent from my duty either from sickness or any other cause, and no complaint has ever been made against me in respect of any of the many thousands of inquiries held by me during the forty years that have elapsed since my said election.

Previous to the inquest on the body of Charles Delauney Turner Bravo, deceased, I had no know­ledge whatever of his family or relations, or of the family or relations of his wife, or of any member of either family.

The said inquest was conducted by me throughout in an orderly and regular manner, and simply with a view to advance the interests of justice, and in conducting the same I was influenced by no personal interest or corrupt motive.

To the best of my belief, the depositions taken by me and signed by myself and the foreman of the jury contain all the material evidence given by the witnesses before me, and to my knowledge no evidence was omitted that had any real bearing on the case.

It was not suggested to me during the said inquest that the deceased gentleman came to his death by any foul means, and I saw no reason to suspect any one of having caused his death, and I did not consider that by any further adjournment of the inquest or otherwise any evidence could or might be obtained as to how the poison came into the body of the deceased.

I have read the affidavits and statements of Dr. Johnson and Mr. Reid, and the statements of Mrs. Cox and Mrs. Charles Bravo, and if, before the close of the inquest, my attention had been called to the material facts therein stated, I would have again adjourned the inquiry.

In summing up the evidence, I drew the attention of the jury to the medical testimony, and also to the fact given in evidence by Mrs. Cox that the deceased had admitted to her that he had "taken poison," but I in­formed the jury that it was for them to say whether the poison was administered by the deceased himself or by others, or taken by accident.

After Mrs. Cox's evidence that the deceased had confessed to her that he had taken poison, I regarded the case as one of suicide, but from subsequent statements made by Mrs. Cox and others, I feel that further inquiry is necessary, and humbly submit to any order this honourable court may think fit to make.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department had requested the solicitor to the Treasury to "make all possible inquiry into the cause of the death of Mr. Bravo, and to take such further steps therein as he might be advised." The Solicitor to the Treasury, or persons acting under his direc­tions, took down in writing, statements made either voluntarily or upon request by thirty-four persons. The voluntary statement of Mrs Cox was to the effect that the deceased had admitted to her having taken the poison himself and on purpose, and had privately told her the reason for his having done so. The thirty-four statements were made exhibits to the affidavit of the Solicitor to the Treasury, and such affidavit concluded as follows:

I say that from the statements and other documents, copies of which are annexed to my affidavit, and also from information I have received which does not appear in any of these statements or documents, I believe that some of the persons who have made statements to me could, if they chose to do so, make further statements which, in my judgment, would be material, either as going to the credit of such persons, or as bearing upon the circumstances attending the death of the deceased and that if a further inquiry were held on which such persons could be compelled to attend and give evidence upon oath, further material evidence, which was not before the coroner's jury at the inquest holden on the 25th and 28th days of April last, would be forthcoming.

The Attorney-General having obtained a rule as above, which rule was served on the coroner, on the widow of the deceased, and on the step­ father of the deceased,

Parry, Serjt. (with him R. Burleigh Muir, and Macnamara), for the coroner), showed cause, and admitted that the coroner had committed an error of judgment in refusing to hear the evi­dence tendered by Dr. Johnson. He read the affidavit (set out ante) of the coroner, who was absent through illness, and referred to Reg. v. Bunney, I Salk. 190; s.c. nom. Reg. v. Bon­ney, Carth. 72; Reg. v. White, 3 E. & E.1860.

[COCKBURN, C.J.-There has been no verdict here.r The coroner has dismissed the jury. Reg. v. White (ubi sup.), no doubt, decides that the coroner cannot of himself re-open an inquiry, but the question is whether the court cannot direct him to do so.] It cannot be said that justice has been defeated by the coroner, who acted with perfect bona fides, whose bona fides is still unimpeached, and who now submits in everything to the directions of the court.

The Attorney-General (Sir J. Holker, Q.C.) with him the Solicitor-General (Sir H. Giffard, Q.C.), Poland, and 0. Bowen for the Crown.-This in­quiry has been conducted in a most unsatisfactory manner, and there has been no real conclusion at all, but a miscarriage of justice. [COCKRURN, C.J. - That may be, but I doubt whether there is any precedent for the granting a new inquiry on the ground of a mere error of judgment on the part of the coroner.] From Michael Barclee's case (2 Siderfin, pp. 90, 101), it would seem that there is. In that case a new inquiry was ordered on the ground that both sides had not been heard, after a finding of felo de se, before six of the old jurors and six new ones, and Glyn, C.J. said that the inquiry might have been held before him inasmuch as "each Chief Justice of England is Chief Coroner of England.". [COCKBURN, C.J. -- There was a perfect finding in that case, so that it is distinguishable from the present, in which the finding is imperfect. If we order an inquiry before a new jury, exhumation will be necessary to satisfy the technical requisite of the law that all inquests must be supervisum corporis. This is a requisite which ought to be made unnecessary by the Legislature, but until that is done, we must be governed by the law as it is. FIELD, J.-In R.v. Bunney (1 Salk 190), it is said that a new inquiry before special commissioners is held not super visum corporis, but upon affidavits]. He also referred to Anon., 12 Mod. 112.

Sir H. James, Q.C. and Biron, for the widow, and Grantham, for the stepfather of the deceased, were not heard.

COCKBURN, C.J. - I  am of opinion that the rule ought to be absolute to quash the inquisition, and to direct the coroner to hold a new inquiry before a fresh jury. I do not think the same jury can entertain the question again. The jury were discharged by the coroner, and were therefore, functi officio. As we quash the inquisition, this will involve the very painful necessity of an exhuma­tion of the body, inasmuch as the inquest must be super visual corporis according to law. The course which we now take is most in accordance with legal precedents. But I wish it to be very distinctly understood that a new inquiry will not be granted in every case of an open verdict, but only in the case where the court sees that some practical end may be gained. Ordinarily, the court will take care not to increase public excitement by a further public investigation. But the present case is one of a mysterious character, and the coroner rejected evidence which might have thrown light on the cause of death. Heaven for­bid that we should suggest that the death was caused by either murder or suicide. It might have been caused by accident. It will be for the jury to say what the cause of death was, and the evidence of Dr. Johnson may assist them in forming a conclusion. The rule, therefore, will be absolute.

MELLOR and FIELD, JJ. concurred.

Rule absolute.
Solicitor for the Crown, The Solicitor to the Treasury.

Solicitors for the coroner, Morrisons.

The rule was drawn up as follows: "Upon read­ing the affidavit of William Carter, and upon hearing counsel on both sides, it is ordered that a writ of certiorari issue to remove into this divisional court all and singular inquisitions taken by or before the said William Carter, one of Her Majesty's coroners for the County of Surrey, at the house called the Priory, in the parish of Streatham, in the said county of Surrey, on the 25th day of April last, on view of the body of Charles Delauney Turner Bravo. And it is farther ordered that the said inquisition and the proceedings thereon when returned be quashed for the insufficiency thereof, and that the said coroner have leave to hold a fresh inquest on view of the said body, and before a new jury."


Linked toHutchinson Royes Bell; Florence Campbell; Charles Delauney Turner Bravo

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