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  • Charles Bravo: Choose Your Own Verdict

    Interesting site. You get to vote for who you think killed Charles Bravo

    http://www.coldcasejury.com/case01/reading.asp

  • #2
    Yes, Belinda, it does look interesting. Have you downloaded it? Mrs Cox would get my vote every time!

    Comment


    • #3
      Good to see that the Bravo Case can still attract interest. For my money, Florence Brave was very lucky not to be charged with her husband's murder, as her previous husband had died in rather strange circumstance, in which it was whispered that poison was involved. Personally, I'm inclined to think that it was an accident, because Charles had been dosing himself for some time with laudanum for toothache, felt ill as a result, and took tartar emetic in the belief that it would induce vomiting - which it won't, or so I understand.

      On a personal note, after the case Jane Cox moved to Birmingham where she took rented accommodation in Handsworth, in the same road in which I was born. I read in a local paper years ago that her house was still being pointed out as "the murderess's house" long after she had moved again. It was demolished in the 1960's.

      Graham
      We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rosella View Post
        Yes, Belinda, it does look interesting. Have you downloaded it? Mrs Cox would get my vote every time!
        She got my vote

        Comment


        • #5
          Oddly, I was just thinking about this case today and my chief suspect had always been Mrs. Cox. My epiphany today though (and my apology if someone alse has brought it up) was that perhaps Bravo planned to murder his wife and inherit her assets and collect on her insurance, if she had any. Possibly, Bravo then intentionally poisoned himself first which he thought would remove him from suspicion and throw it on someone else in the household. Perhaps, he gave himself what he thought was a significant but nonfatal dose and it turned out to be a little beyond that level. I think this scenario would fit with what Bravo said and did after he became ill.
          This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

          Stan Reid

          Comment


          • #6
            Interesting thread. A number of years back I was planning to write an article in THE RIPPEROLOGIST on the Bravo case (one of the subsidiary figures is Sir William Gull - an attending physician on the dying Charles) which I considered one of the big three mysteries of Victorian England with Whitechapel and the Tichborne Claimant affair. However, after putting together some of the ideas I developed a kind of writer's block and state of depression that I still have to some extent. Since that time I have only published a book review if anything.

            I have two theories to work with, and they don't point at Florence and Jane Cox, nor Florence's lover Dr. James Manby Gully. They look at Charles Bravo's step father Joseph Bravo (though not as a suspect, precisely), and at a hitherto unknown party in this case who may have been an acquaintance (even a friend) of Charles - Henri Pineux, a.k.a. Henri de Tourville, a fellow member of Middle Temple, a social climber (like Charles), and a murderer (serial killer - in a variety of ways).

            Joseph Bravo was an interesting figure, and has always been painted (in retelling the Bravo Poisoning) as an avenging angel mourning his stepson and seeking to finger Florence with Gully as the murderers. Indeed he is the one who hires the great solicitor George Lewis to be his weapon against them at the second inquest. It was Lewis' deadly questioning of Florence, Mrs. Cox, and Gully that exposed the affair between the Doctor and Charles' wife, and gave a huge motive for murder (though not enough to clinch it with the coroner's jury).

            What is not realized is Joseph found Charles a trial and hardly an asset - well not totally. Joseph had married Charles' mother Mary Bravo, and had to accept Charles as the price for his wife. You see, Joseph had made money as one of a pair of wealthy trading brothers in Jamaica, and came to England in 1866 to establish himself in English society. Problem was this: he was of Jewish and Italian descent (neither all welcome in upper class England) and also was dark-skinned due to African-Jamaican ancestry as well (one of his white forebears had married the descendant of a slave). He had the cash, but had to make social entry by covering his "deformities" with a white family. Hence his wife Mary (whom he did love) and his son Charles. There were also two Bravo daughters with mental problems.

            Mary accepted Joseph as he offered her and her children financial security, but she insisted that Joseph help set up Charles in society too. So Joseph made Charles a gentleman, paid for his legal training, and was planning to finance a political career for him. However he and Charles did not really like each other. Charles was a snob resenting his step-father, and Joseph realized that. It was Mary's motherly concerns about Charles that forced Joseph to accept the latter's less attractive habits.

            They were quite unattractive. In his desire to shine on his own (i.e., not depend on step-papa for cash when he needed it) Charles plunged into the stock market. Joseph was against stock purchasing. He had built his fortune on land and trade in Jamaica, and he felt they were far more secure than trying to depend on the rise and fall of stocks. Indeed at the time of Charles' death there had been a major argument between the two about Charles' habit. An offshoot was that Charles was also a thief. He manipulated his mistress and her sister (yes, Charles was also an adulterer) to give them their cash for "investment" - only he put the money under his name and invested it, and lost it. I told you he was quite unattractive.

            I am not trying to build Joseph up as the killer (though if I worked at it, it would not be too difficult), but rather wanted to show the exact relationship. It also is tied to another point concerning Joseph and his London residence.

            Joseph's London house actually is still standing - it is (ironically) the Israeli embassy in London. Originally, when Joe bought it, it was the final home of William Makepeace Thackeray. Now that Thackeray, the novelist, should have his home end up in Joseph Bravo's hands is highly odd. Thackeray disliked 1) social climbers, and 2) foreign sorts - especially Jews and people of African descent. In his best known novel, "Vanity Fair", he combines the two in a young woman, from the plantations of the Caribbean, whom the older Mr. Osborne tries to make his son George marry. In the last completed Thackeray novel, "The Adventures of Philip" he has a Anglo-African run for office, delivering a speech with verbal slips that disparage his background. With such a background how would Joseph end up owning Thackeray's home?

            It turns out we have to look at an incident in 1865 that led to Joseph Bravo moving to England to settle, and getting involved with the Thackeray family.

            In 1865 abolitionists in the U.S. always pointed with pride at the British Empire for peacefully ending slavery throughout it in 1833 just at the time that William Wilberforce - the leading abolition figure in the empire - died. It took the British nearly sixty years of intense legal struggle to do this - because those wealthy plantations in the Caribbean and rest of the empire (India, Ceylon, etc.) depended on slave labor. Also the merchant classes in ports like Liverpool, who depended on the trade from those plantations to help their wealth, were putting up roadblocks to abolition. But come it did in 1833, and this was like a beacon to people like William Lloyd Garrison, and later Frederick Douglass, in comparison to the "hypocrisy" of the U.S. tolerating slavery for decades until the Civil War. Indeed, Douglass went to England in the late 1840s, and was treated as celebrity there. He considered settling there.

            He didn't. No reason is given but I hazard to suggest one. The British ended slavery in 1833. They didn't end bigotry towards people with dark skins. Douglass probably did notice that while he was a celebrity, most Anglo-Africans were third class citizens. Also, the planters figured out how to avoid the loss of slavery. They regarded the reform as basically abolishing the right to own people as property. But one could pay the same people "cooley wages" and they would still be in their "proper sphere" of life. This was precisely what happened. England and her empire had developed a prototype for the "Jim Crow" which eventually took over in the U.S. following the attempt at Reconstruction (see, we at least tried in the post-Civil War years).

            So Garrison and Douglass, once the 13th Amendment and it's brother amendments were passed after the Civil War, concentrated on bettering the African-Americans in the post war world. But they would have been blind not to have noticed what was going on in Jamaica in late 1865. The acting governor of Jamaica (he was technically Lieutenant Governor) was Edward John Eyre, a distinguished Australian explorer, and formerly Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand. Eyre faced a crisis when a member of the Jamaican assembly led a protest against certain laws that led to public disturbances (mass meetings mostly, though some got out of hand). Eyre probably over-reacted, and declared martial law, which led to the use of troops and many drum head courts and executions (including the member of the assembly). He had supporters in this from the merchant and planter class, including the Bravos.

            Eyre returned to England in 1866, and promptly was the center of a controversy. Half of England supported him as a firm pillar of the empire, who put down a dangerous revolt. These included figures as different as the Earl of Cardigan (of Crimean fame) - whose brother-in-law commanded a naval flotilla that assisted Eyre, Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle. But others condemned Eyre as a murderer who should be put on trial, including John Stuart Mill, Thomas Huxley, and Charles Darwin. An actual effort was made to bring Eyre to trial for murder (which eventually failed). The controversy lasted until 1868.

            Thackeray had died in 1863. He was quite proud of his wonderful mansion in London, but it actually had eaten up most of his capital. His three daughters had the house as a major asset, but something of a white elephant. It had to be sold for them to be able to properly split up the estate.

            Thackeray's youngest daughter was married to Leslie Stephen, the literary figure who would help create the Dictionary of National Biography. His brother was the up and coming barrister (and future Jurist) James Fitzjames Stephen. In 1867 the anti-Eyre group had briefly hired Fitzjames Stephen to help bring the ex-Lieutenant Governor to trial. But the more he studied the case, Fitzjames Stephen came to feel Eyre acted properly. He quit and joined the pro-Eyre group. And there he met that transplant from Jamaica, Joseph Bravo.

            I strongly feel that this was how Bravo ended up purchasing Thackeray's mansion as his London home. Certainly an odd path for this connection, with Fitzjames Stephen being catalyst between his brother and sister-in-law (and her two sisters) and Bravo for the purchase of the mansion.

            I shall cease at this point - I'll tackle the odd career of Count de Tourville later.

            Jeff

            Comment


            • #7
              Of all the books I've read on the Balham murder I do like Bernard Taylor and Kate Clarke's 'Murder at the Priory' best.

              I don't know that relations between Joseph Bravo and his stepson were based on dislike, Jeff. Admittedly Joseph, a rather conservative person, didn't care for his stepson's gambling on the Stockmarket, and he, together with his wife, didn't like Florence much. However, he later stated, with regard to Charles Bravo, the stepson who had adopted his surname, and his possible suicide.

              'I brought him up from a child and I educated him. He was a man of great intellectual attainments. He was an Oxford man. He took an interest in all things and we debated everything. He was very level-headed and composed. He was always a man of the highest spirits. He was a very courageous man. He always held the theory that a man who took his own life was a coward. I spoke to him that morning, as he lay dying, and I asked him if he had poisoned himself. He told me most emphatically that he had not.'

              Admittedly, Joseph did not want the disgrace of a suicide in the family, but I don't believe that the above statement is all hyperbole. Charles Bravo's zest for life was noted by all who knew him. Joseph had no son and undoubtedly when he died his fortune would ultimately be shared between his stepson and stepdaughters, one deaf and dumb, and one intellectually challenged. I've never read anything that would lead me to believe that Charles Bravo behaved like a snob to his stepfather or that there was great dislike between them.

              Incidentally, didn't Charles agree to give up his mistress at the time that Florence agreed never to see Gully again? I don't believe Charles was going off to see her during his brief marriage to Florence. Admittedly, charles had a great love of money, which undoubtedly played a huge part in his marrying Florence. However, she had other motivations too, including a desire for respectability after the Gully affair. I do think they were fond of each other, all the same, and I believe that Jane Cox had method, motive and opportunity at her disposal. In my view she'd grown to hate Charles Bravo.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Rosella View Post
                Of all the books I've read on the Balham murder I do like Bernard Taylor and Kate Clarke's 'Murder at the Priory' best.

                I don't know that relations between Joseph Bravo and his stepson were based on dislike, Jeff. Admittedly Joseph, a rather conservative person, didn't care for his stepson's gambling on the Stockmarket, and he, together with his wife, didn't like Florence much. However, he later stated, with regard to Charles Bravo, the stepson who had adopted his surname, and his possible suicide.

                'I brought him up from a child and I educated him. He was a man of great intellectual attainments. He was an Oxford man. He took an interest in all things and we debated everything. He was very level-headed and composed. He was always a man of the highest spirits. He was a very courageous man. He always held the theory that a man who took his own life was a coward. I spoke to him that morning, as he lay dying, and I asked him if he had poisoned himself. He told me most emphatically that he had not.'

                Admittedly, Joseph did not want the disgrace of a suicide in the family, but I don't believe that the above statement is all hyperbole. Charles Bravo's zest for life was noted by all who knew him. Joseph had no son and undoubtedly when he died his fortune would ultimately be shared between his stepson and stepdaughters, one deaf and dumb, and one intellectually challenged. I've never read anything that would lead me to believe that Charles Bravo behaved like a snob to his stepfather or that there was great dislike between them.

                Incidentally, didn't Charles agree to give up his mistress at the time that Florence agreed never to see Gully again? I don't believe Charles was going off to see her during his brief marriage to Florence. Admittedly, charles had a great love of money, which undoubtedly played a huge part in his marrying Florence. However, she had other motivations too, including a desire for respectability after the Gully affair. I do think they were fond of each other, all the same, and I believe that Jane Cox had method, motive and opportunity at her disposal. In my view she'd grown to hate Charles Bravo.
                Well, to be fair, my ideas of what happened are how I read the facts. I don't trust statements about how people publicly will insist on getting along with others, especially when they died due to odd circumstances, and Joseph Bravo beat his breast too much here. But that's my take.

                The last book on the Bravo Case I read was James Riddick's "Death at the Priory", but I also read "How Charles Bravo Died" by Yseult Bridges, and "Suddenly at the Priory" by John Williams. I haven't read Taylor and Clarke's book. Riddick was actually able to track down what happened to Jane Cox (who died in 1917 back in Jamaica). His view (and the general view) is that Florence was the guilty one (Jane is seen usually as the secondary leading suspect).

                Joseph apparently wrote a sharp letter to Charles about his speculation and spending habits prior to Charles death. Curiously it was overlooked by the authorities that one of the first things Joseph did after Charles died was to retrieve the letter. Obviously Joseph did not want anyone to see that matter.

                Again I don't think Joseph planned to kill Charles or was involved at all, but that "friendly loving" just doesn't seem real. The key was Mary - Charles was the gleam in her eye, and Joe had to please that. People don't realize too that Mary's health began to collapse soon after Charles died (she would die within a year or so - I believe before Florence did). Joseph died in 1882, his estate being left for the upkeep of the surviving children of Mary.

                Charles did make that agreement about dropping his mistress in return for Florence dropping Gully. I don't know if he actually kept his word (but keep in mind, it's less than likely Florence kept her's). By the way, the mistress and her sister were making trouble about their lost investment money.

                Charles appears not to have been well liked by his neighbors in Balham either. Earlier in the afternoon of the day he got ill, Charles went for exercise by going riding. The horse bolted and raced for a considerable time around the lands of the area with Charles holding. He apparently was yelling for assistance from his neighbors, and nobody assisted him. Finally the relaxed and Charles returned home, but he was exhausted from that dangerous ride.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Graham View Post
                  Personally, I'm inclined to think that it was an accident, because Charles had been dosing himself for some time with laudanum for toothache, felt ill as a result, and took tartar emetic in the belief that it would induce vomiting - which it won't, or so I understand.
                  Tartar emetic is quite effective at causing vomitting, but the margin between vomitting and being poisoned is small enough that it's not really used for that anymore, since there are much safer methods available.
                  - Ginger

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ^ Though, if it was an accident why didn't Charles say so? Heaven knows he was questioned enough about what had happened while he lay dying, the doctors from Dr Gull down, his stepfather, his cousin. Nobody held out any hope for him so he knew he was finished.

                    Why not just say "It was a dreadful accident! I took some tartar emetic to make me vomit.' ? At least it would remove the horror of a suicide in the family, a theory which remained a suspicion among the doctors for some time.

                    Ruddick concludes that Jane Cox was not the murderer because she and her children were to receive an inheritance from her aunt in Jamaica. That isn't strictly true however. Jane and eldest son John were going to inherit all this boundless wealth.

                    If that was the pressing interest to go to Jamaica Mrs Cox doesn't seem to have been keen to answer the call of her ill and aged aunt. She put off her leaving again and again. Nor does her fortune appear to have lasted. A later census shows her then 16 year old youngest son, who was living with her, was an unemployed clerk.

                    In truth of course, there isn't a skerrick of evidence that would have stood up in court against Mrs Cox (or anybody else). However, her lies about that evening, Charles Bravo's shout of distress, (was she deaf?) and the opportunity she had to pop a sachet of Tartar emetic in his drinking water make Jane Cox no. one suspect for me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by belinda View Post
                      Interesting site. You get to vote for who you think killed Charles Bravo

                      http://www.coldcasejury.com/case01/reading.asp
                      Belinda - thank you for visiting the site. I'm the author. Just finishing the second book in the Cold Case Jury series, called Death of an Actress. It does not quite have the depth of mystery as the Charles Bravo case, or indeed the ripper, but it is a great story, involving sex and death on the high seas!

                      Antony Matthew Brown
                      Author Poisoning at the Priory
                      www.coldcasejury.com
                      Last edited by ColdCaseJury; 10-08-2015, 08:33 AM. Reason: Added name block

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Graham View Post
                        Good to see that the Bravo Case can still attract interest. For my money, Florence Brave was very lucky not to be charged with her husband's murder, as her previous husband had died in rather strange circumstance, in which it was whispered that poison was involved. Personally, I'm inclined to think that it was an accident, because Charles had been dosing himself for some time with laudanum for toothache, felt ill as a result, and took tartar emetic in the belief that it would induce vomiting - which it won't, or so I understand.

                        On a personal note, after the case Jane Cox moved to Birmingham where she took rented accommodation in Handsworth, in the same road in which I was born. I read in a local paper years ago that her house was still being pointed out as "the murderess's house" long after she had moved again. It was demolished in the 1960's.

                        Graham
                        Hi Graham,

                        Tartar emetic is a powerful emetic - just a few grains will induce nausea. The accident theory - which you can vote for on the Cold Case Jury site, BTW - was propounded by Yseult Bridges, as you know. There are problems with her theory, which I expound in my book. One of them, however, is that Charles Bravo was an expert on medical jurisprudence, and would have known the correct dose. Rather, his calling out for hot water (a weak emetic) is consistent with him thinking he had swallowed laudanum. I also cover this.

                        Antony Matthew Brown
                        Author Poisoning at the Priory
                        www.coldcasejury.com
                        Last edited by ColdCaseJury; 10-08-2015, 08:34 AM. Reason: Removed typo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sdreid View Post
                          Oddly, I was just thinking about this case today and my chief suspect had always been Mrs. Cox. My epiphany today though (and my apology if someone alse has brought it up) was that perhaps Bravo planned to murder his wife and inherit her assets and collect on her insurance, if she had any. Possibly, Bravo then intentionally poisoned himself first which he thought would remove him from suspicion and throw it on someone else in the household. Perhaps, he gave himself what he thought was a significant but nonfatal dose and it turned out to be a little beyond that level. I think this scenario would fit with what Bravo said and did after he became ill.
                          Stan - Yseult Bridges advanced the he-was-poisoning-Florence theory in her 1956 book. There is little evidence for it, in my view. Not least, because it does not explain Mrs Cox's behaviour. You can vote for the accident theory at the Cold Case Jury site, however, if you are still convinced.

                          If you are right, it was a poetic justice: he planned to kill his wife but ended up killing himself!

                          Antony Matthew Brown
                          Author Poisoning at the Priory
                          www.coldcasejury.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mayerling View Post
                            I have two theories to work with, and they don't point at Florence and Jane Cox, nor Florence's lover Dr. James Manby Gully. They look at Charles Bravo's step father Joseph Bravo (though not as a suspect, precisely), and at a hitherto unknown party in this case who may have been an acquaintance (even a friend) of Charles - Henri Pineux, a.k.a. Henri de Tourville, a fellow member of Middle Temple, a social climber (like Charles), and a murderer (serial killer - in a variety of ways).
                            Jeff, a great post, with some interesting facts. But if Joseph Bravo or Henri Pineux were involved, they must have been in league with Mrs Cox "on the inside". Otherwise, how to you account for her lying? Lie she must have done because, if Charles was murdered, he would never have said to Mrs Cox "I've taken poison for Dr Gully, don't tell Florence." And why should she lie, unless she was involved? I explain this pivotal logic in my book.

                            Antony Matthew Brown
                            Author Poisoning at the Priory
                            www.coldcasejury.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post
                              Jeff, a great post, with some interesting facts. But if Joseph Bravo or Henri Pineux were involved, they must have been in league with Mrs Cox "on the inside". Otherwise, how to you account for her lying? Lie she must have done because, if Charles was murdered, he would never have said to Mrs Cox "I've taken poison for Dr Gully, don't tell Florence." And why should she lie, unless she was involved? I explain this pivotal logic in my book.

                              Antony Matthew Brown
                              Author Poisoning at the Priory
                              www.coldcasejury.com
                              Thank you for the complement. I never really finished the work on it, which has been kicking about for years, but when I began to gather it I got into an emotional funk about writing that I still have.

                              Basically, Pineux (as "Comte de Tourville") had gone to the same inn of court as Charles did, and that is how is how they knew each other. Pineux is one of the most fascinating underwritten serial killers of the 19th Century that I know of - most of what I read of him is from essays in books by the likes of Charles Kingston from the days of the "potted" crime story books in the 1910s - 1940s. Neither Roughead nor Tennyson Jesse nor Bolitho nor Pearson tackled him, nor did Dilnot. None of the first raters.

                              He fascinates me because (unlike Cream or Deeming or the Ripper or Chapman) he varies his methods from victim to victim. He shoots his mother-in-law ("accidentally" she commits suicide shooting herself in the back of the head). He poisons his first wife. He tries to burn his infant son to death in a large house fire. He throws his second wife off a mountain height (features about him and this murder pop up in Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" including the foreign "titled" villain, Baron Gruber). He is basically a fortune hunter (which may have given him entry to Charles' friendship - a community of interests there). But I was having problems documenting it. Once de Tourville was really notorious in 1876, after his second wife's death, anyone who knew him did not mention it openly. By that time (though) Charles had died. My suspicion was that de Tourville may have "advised" Charles regarding poisoning Florence, but in reality doing it in such a way that Charles would be killed instead. Then, provided no problems regarding the murder of the second Mrs. de Tourville arose (as unfortunately for him they did), he'd be comforting Florence - and paving the way to get her and her fortune for himself.

                              It is an intriguing theory, but I don't know if it could be proven.

                              Joe Bravo was not involved in the murder - he was just having his hands full of Charles and his inane speculation schemes. But he knew that if the police found that letter he sent to Charles it would put him in a bad light, and he did not want that. He did want to push the blame on Florence with or without Gully and Mrs. Cox. This was to comfort the distraught Mary Bravo, who would be pining away for the dead son she loved. Had it been up to Joe on his own, he'd have buried Charles and that would have been that.

                              There was more to the article as planned - I wanted to get into Gully and his water cure place at Malvern, with it's deluxe clientele like Charles Darwin and George Elliot. But I discovered as I looked into that an entirely separate subject - how in the 19th Century a number of doctors connected to spas and watering institutions were involved in homicide cases. Two in particular were in Gully's period of operations: Dr. Thomas Smethurst and Dr. Edward William Pritchard. This part of the research had little to do with the Bravo Case as such but it was an interesting sidelight in terms of social history.

                              Good luck on your second book, which I suspect is that 1948 "porthole" case.

                              Jeff

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