Rev. Dyson became the friend and confidante of a well-to-do
grocer named Edwin Bartlett. In the 1880s, Bartlett was
married to a young woman, of part-French ancestry named
Adelaide de la Tremoille. What exactly happened is based
on how much truth you give to the story that came out
later in court. Adelaide and Dyson apparently began an
affair, which (if Adelaide is to be believed) was blessed
by Edwin, who believed he was not going to live long.
In actual fact, although he was a hypochondriac, he did have
terrible teeth problems. To cut to the chase, on Dec. 31,
1885, Edwin went to sleep in the Pimlico flat he and
Adelaide lived in. He never woke up. An autopsy discovered his stomach full of liquid chloriform. The
chloroform was purchased by Rev. Dyson.
There is a volume on the trial in the Notable British Trial
series. Adelaide Bartlett stood trial for the poison murder
of her husband. Rev. Dyson decided to cooperate as a witness for the prosecution. But Adelaide was superbly
defended in court by a great English barrister, Sir Edward
Clarke (who later would defend Oscar Wilde). He managed
to convince the jury that there was enough doubt whether
Adelaide (with the help or just using the Reverend) poisoned
her husband, or if the eccentric Edwin killed himself either
on purpose or accidently. Adelaide was acquitted. She may
have eventually moved to the United States (a novel by
Julian Symons, SWEET ADELAIDE, suggests she moved to
Connecticut, and died in the 1930s).
Rev. Dyson left the scene after the trial was over. An
interesting addendum, concerning Dyson's fate, which I tried to learn more about some years ago. The criminal
historian, Richard Whittington-Egan wrote a biography
about William Roughead, another criminal historian of the
1910 - 1950 period. The book is called WILLIAM ROUGHEAD'S
CHRONICLES OF MURDER (Moffat, Scotland: Lochar Publishing,
1991). Roughead usually wrote about Scottish crime, but
he occasionally wrote about English cases, and one essay
was on Adelaide Bartlett. Roughead got mail back from his
readers. One letter appears at the end of a section dealing
with the Bartlett case (p. 205).
"107 West Underwood Street,
December 20, 1939
My Dear Mr. Roughead,
I have jus finished reading your book MURDER AND MORE
MURDER with a great deal of pleasure. On page 238 you
speak of writing about the Adelaide Bartlett case....I am
very much interested in this particular case - especially
in George Dyson. You probably do not know that he came to
America directly the Bartlett case was over. He changed his
name and had a most interesting career and became a very
well known man. I think the story of what happened to George Dyson was more interesting than the Bartlett case.
He was to the end a brilliant and also a sinister person.
Mrs. Belloc Lowndes knows the whole story and is deeply interested. I would probably neverh have known that George
Dyson was the well known man in New York except the fact that he married my sister, a young and beautiful creature, and she died six years after her marriage quite mysteriously. George Dyson was twice her age when she married him - against all wishes of her family. We did not
know anything about him at that time - and only three yeard ago did I know the true facts. My mother, shortly before she died, told me and I have all the proofs - a letter from
my sister's lawyer, a photograph of George Dyson in his clergyman's robes and many other facts that are almost
unbelievable. If you would be interested in writing this
as a sequel to the Bartlett case it would make startling
news - because as I have said he was a very well known
man in New York. Knowing what I do now I am sure my sister
did not die a natural death. If I had only known at the time of her death in 1916 I would have had a thorough
investigation. My mother was too heartbroken about it all
and did nothing - it is indeed a strange world! She sent me the TRIAL FOR MURDER OF ADELAIDE BARTLETT and I can
picture George Dyson telling his story and giving away the
woman who loved him. Of course he was guilty too. Knowing
his ambitions for power and money he would not hesitate.
Mrs. Charles A. Mason."
The "Mrs. Belloc Lowndes" mentioned is Marie Belloc Lowndes,
who wrote novels based on famous crimes. Her best remembered one is "THE LODGER" about Jack the Ripper.
She was the sister of the writer/polemicist Hilaire Belloc.
I attempted to see if a Mrs. Charles A. Mason ever lived
in Chevy Chase, Maryland, but never got any success in my
inquiries. As for checking up on the social register of
New York City for 1911 and 1916, I really could not find
any marriage that quite fit the description in the letter.
Of course, the letter may be a hoax, but it was a very
complex one if it was meant to be one.
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