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 tothe 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, Chevy Chase, Maryland 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.