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CHESHIRE LADY'S SAD END. ♦ EVIDENCE OF MR. ASHTON. AN OPEN VERDICT. The adjourned inquest on Mrs. Bryan, whose body was found on the L. and N.W. Railway line near Tring, on September 3, was interesting on Wednesday because of the evidence of Dr. Bryan, the husband, and of Mr. Harold Ashton, the lover. There were, however, no facts elicited which justified the jury in coming to any definite conclusion as to the cause of death, and so the inquiry ended with an open verdict. The case has been closelyfollowed locally because of the deceased lady's connection with Hes- wall. The guard of the train in which Mrs. Bryan travelled, in answer to a question by Mr. Hep- worth, who appeared for the executors oi the deceased, said the train slowed down to about 15 miles an honr at Roade, and it would be possible for an expert to jump off the train, but it would be a jump in the dark. A guard named McGregor, who was asked the same question, replied, Only a fool would jump off a traia going at 15 miles an hour.' Mr. Haines, platform inspector at Northamp- ton, was closely questioned by Mr. Phillips, who represented Dr. Bryan, but persisted that it would be possible for a person to get out on the footboard and close the door again before jump- ing off. He did not think it would be possible for a man to leave the carriage at Northampton without being observed in the half minute that elapsed before the discovery was made. Inspector Smart, detective sergeant in the employment of the London and North-Western Railway Company, produced the articles found in the compartment. Among them were a Nuttall's Dictionary and two hymn books. Dr. John Morgan Bryan, the husband of the deceased lady, was then called. He said he was married 12 years ago. His wife was 17 when he married her, and he was over 40. In 1893 there was some trouble between them. The Coroner: Were you to blame for that trouble or was she ?—I was. Afterwards she left him for a short time, but sinee her return they had lived on the best of terms. Do you know Mr. William Harold Ashton ? —I am sorry to say I do. I made his acquaint- ance, I think, a year last Christmas. A strong friendship was struck up between Mrs. Bryan and Mr. Ashton, which afterwards ripened into an attachment. About a year ago the doctor became acquainted of the terms on which they were. Previous to that time Mr. Ashton was a reporter at Northampton. Later he left that situation, ostensibly to better his position. Is it not a fact that about the time he left your wife made an attempt on her life ?-No, I do not look at it in that way. She was subject to a very weak heart, and was in the habit of taking strychnine as a tonic and pick-me-up. Was it administered by your advice ?-Yes: but I am sorry to say she used to help herself sometimes and take a few drops of solution. I had warned her against doing it. I think she took a few more drops than she meant to do. That was a year last August, before the de- parture of Mr. Ashton. She was very unwell. Between then and the end of July this year was she in the habit of stopping away from home a good deal ?- Yea. Northampton did not suit her. She was never well there. Dr. Bryan, continuing, said he always knew where his wife was, and was always in constant communication with her. There had never been any question of separation between them. When she left for Eastbourne they parted on affectionate terms, and he received a letter next day, also in affectionate terms. He had never seen Mr. Ashton after the latter left Northampton. He was aware that his wife had been in communication with Mr. Ashton, and he had endeavoured to stop it. She did not go with the intention of meeting Mr. Ashton. In the first letter she wrote there was net a word about Mr. Ashton. Was there anything about separation in the letter ?-No, I don't think ao. I must press you on that point.—My memory is not good now, but so far as I recollect there was nothing about Mr. Ashton. Did the letter shew that she was in a dis- turbed state of mind ?-l really now do not recollect. A letter was here handed to the doctor. The Coroner Do you still think there was no question of separation between you ?-I do not think she bad said anything about it, but she may have done. The coroner read the letter, which was written by Dr. Bryan in answer to one from his wife, beginning I don't know how to act.' It was dated September 1, 1897, and read— Your letter card just received. You say you don't know how to act. I will tell you. Come back when you leave Eastbourne to your home. Nothing is known. There is no necessity to separate. You will have peace here if you can get rid of morbid fancies.—Ever your husband. I want to know the state of mind in which you imagine your wife to have been when you received the letter to which that was a reply. There must have been some question of separa- tion between you, surely ?—Her mind was dis- turbed with regard to Mr. Ashton. I received several letters from her while she was away. The last arrived on the morning after her death. A letter was next read from Mrs. Bryan to her husband:— I am a little uncertain whether I get back to- night or to-morrow. Mrs. Ashton came here and insulted me. You have always proved my best friend, and I am deeply grieved to have pained you. I will explain everything when we meet. I was misled, that is all, and before God I am sorry let me send yon one word of love, and believe it. I am sorry I did not go to Devon with Amy. Give her my love. I expect I shall be back before this letter arrives.—With love, yours, HILDA. Further examined, Dr. Bryan said he had never seen the umbrella found in the train before. He was sure it did not belong to his wife, and it was not his property. He wrote to Mrs. Ashton the day that Mrs. Bryan left, I and asked her to try and influence her son to put an end to the acquaintance. William Harold Ashton was next called. He I said he lived at 11, Electric Avenue, Brixton. His home was at Spaldwick, Hunts. He was a journalist employed in London. He left Northampton for London on November 9 last year. He first made Mrs. Bryan's acquaintance about two and a half years ago. He could not say when the friendship ripened into attach- ment. It might have been a few months after their first acquaintance. He believed Mrs. Bryan became equally attached to him. He was 23 years of age, and had at Northampton frequent opportunities of meeting her. He left Northampton in November last year, and he believed Mrs. Bryan was very much cut up. The day on which she took an overdose of strychnine was that on which he had told her he was going to London. Did she, when she found you were leaving Northampton, threaten to commit suicide ?— On that evening she said a lot of incoherent things. I could not say whether she did or did not. He met her when she was staying at Catford, and they discussed what was the right thing for her to do. She said she would go back to her husband, at any rate for a time, to see whether she could stand it. She was very unhappy at home. Was there any question of separation ?—She wanted to get a separation, and had written to her husband on the subject. Mr. Ashton received a telegram from her on the night of her death telling him to meet her at Charing Cross. He could not do so, and she called at his office. She was more than usually quiet. She told him his mother had been to see her, and she was going home that night. Did she say why ?-Yes, she said she could not ruin my life, and she could not break her mother's heart. Mr. Phillips You are a friend of the husband as well as the wife ?—Yes. I know him very well indeed. And he never horsewhipped you ?-No. By Mr. Coles: Dr. Bryan had asked him to take her out, and said he would be pleased if he would cheer her up a bit. A Juror desired to know whether the inter- course was platonic or illicit. The Coroner seemed a little puzzled at the question, but said it did not bear upon the inquiry in the least. He did not think it necessary that Mr. Ashton should answer it. At the same time, if he chose to take the oppor- tunity of answering it, he might do so. Witness did not respond to the offer. Mrs. Ashton (mother of the last witness), who was next examined, said she knew nothing of the attachment between her son and deceased till she received Dr. Bryan's letter. She went to Eastbourne and saw Mrs. Bryan. She said she came from Dr. Bryan and from Harold, and implored her to leave Harold alone. Such a close friendship between them was injurious to Harold and to her. Mrs. Bryan got very angry when she told her she was so much older than Harold, which she then thought was true. Mra. Bryan said if she heard from Harold's own lips that he wished the friendship to be ended, it should end. While Mrs. Ashton was there a telegram arrived which very much upset Mrs. Bryan, who said, however, that it was not from Harold. After Mrs. Ashton got home a note came from Mrs. Bryan. It read If you have misjudged me I forgive you. God does not judge as men judge. I go back to Northamp- ton to-day." In the end the jury found a verdict that there was no evidence to shew how Mrs. Bryan came by her death.




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