Michael Maybrick Speaks Out

Posted: November 23, 2009 in The Non-Rippers
LONDON, August 26.
THE "Herald," which has been simply indefatigable in interviewing everyone connected with the Maybrick case, managed to hunt up Mr. Michael Maybrick on Tuesday last, and beguile him into talking. His account of the occurrences at Battlecrease House tallies, you will observe, exactly with Mrs. Briggs’s and Alice Yapp’s, and directly contradicts the Baroness Von Roques. Like everyone else who knew James Maybrick intimately, his brothers scout the idea of his having been an arsenic eater. The "Herald" says: –
No one is waiting more anxiously the decision of the Home Secretary relative to Mrs. Maybrick than are Mr. Michael Maybrick and Mr. Edwin Maybrick, brothers of the man for whose death she stands condemned to be hanged. They are living quietly at a pretty little cottage on the outskirts of the village of St. Helen’s, Isle of Wight, where they went immediately upon the conclusion of the trial at Liverpool. "Nothing would please me more now," said Michael Maybrick, when called upon by a reporter, "than to hear that the Home Secretary’s decision is that Mrs. Maybrick shall go free." Mr. Maybrick declined at first to be interviewed or to say anything for publication, but upon being told that reports had been sent from Liverpool reflecting severely upon him, he changed his mind and talked freely. "What are the reports?" he asked. Being told that one was that he had known Alice Yapp before she entered his brother’s household, and that he had put her there to be a spy upon Mrs. Maybrick, he replied: "There is not a shadow of truth in such a report. I never knew or heard of her until long after she was engaged there, and I do not think I ever spoke a word to her until I was summoned to my brother’s bedside shortly before he died. I never even knew her name until this trouble came. Why should I want to have a spy upon Mrs. Maybrick, I should like to know? It has been published I never liked her – that I avoided her house, and said once that I would never darken her door again. All this is untrue. My relations with her were always pleasant. She has come to me time and again for money and one thing and another, and she always got it.
"Only three weeks before my brother died – the day after she was with Brierley in London, in fact – I took her to dine at the Cafe Royal, in Regent-street, and took her to the theatre. Does that look as if I disliked and distrusted her? I never spoke but once harshly to her, and that was when I told her I had grave suspicions of poisoning in my brother’s case. I was excited at the moment, and spoke harshly, but I tried instantly to remove the effect of the words by telling her that she was not strong enough to care for my brother, and ought to have help. I did nothing against her. My sole desire was to save my brother’s life, not to get her or anyone into trouble. Since his death my chief desire has been to save his good name for the sake of his children. For their sake I hoped she would not be convicted, and am now anxious for her release." Being told of the report that his brother’s clothes had disappeared mysteriously, owing, it was thought, to the pockets having contained evidence of the deceased being an habitual arsenic user, Mr. Maybrick remarked, "That is nonsense. His clothes were in the hands of the police for two or three weeks after they took hold of the case. They searched them thoroughly, and no such evidence was found. The reason that the clothes did not figure in the trial was, I suppose, simply because they contained nothing that was thought to have any bearing one way or another. The clothes are now at my brother’s office. They are not even locked up. Anyone can examine them. There was no concealment at all." The reporter next asked, "Do you not think that your brother used arsenic?" to which Mr. Maybrick replied, "No, I do not." I am as sure he didn’t as I am of anything, almost. If he had used it I would have been certain to know of it. I was with him for weeks sometimes, up in Scotland, three years ago, for instance, often sleeping in the same bed with him, and I never saw the slightest indication of his using arsenic. On the contrary, he was very particular about his medicine, and in caring for his health.
"He was not a man to use poison. Besides, he was always very confidential with me, told me everything, and he would have been sure to tell me if he had any habit of that kind. The chemist, Heaton, who said he sold him pick-me-ups, was simply mistaken in the man, that’s certain. He did not know his name, you remember, but recognised him from a newspaper cut. That cut was unrecognisable as a likeness. When shown my brother’s photograph Heaton said, "Yes; he looked like that, only whiter." Now my brother was scarcely grey at all, and he did not have the pale complexion arsenic-users are understood to have. If he used arsenic he must have bought it somewhere. Where did he get it? He used to buy medicines of McGuffie in Castle-street, and Clay and Abraham in Bold-street, Liverpool, and of John Bell, in Oxford-street, in London. If they should say they used to sell him arsenic I would think it might be true. No member of the Exchange in Liverpool has been found who ever saw my brother even go into Heaton’s shop, although it was right across the street." In conclusion, Mr. Maybrick said, "My brother died, I am positive, in absolute ignorance of his wife having been unfaithful, and without a suspicion that he was poisoned. As I have said, I only hope, for the children’s sake, that Mrs. Maybrick may be released. If she should be, I suppose she will go with her mother. I have not yet given much thought to the custody of the children, in case there is no change in the sentence. Being the trustees of the property, my brother Thomas and I will have to provide for them, and I should suppose would be given the custody of them. They have not been told of the trouble at all, and are not in charge now of Mrs. Briggs or Miss Yapp, as has been said."
Dr. Lawson Tait, the well-known Birmingham surgeon, in a letter on the Maybrick case says: – "Personally I have not the slightest doubt that the charge of the judge and finding of the jury were perfectly just. I was concerned in the conviction of the most notorious prisoner of this century, and have ever since taken the greatest interest in such cases. The evidence to me is as clear as possible, and for anyone to say that there is a difference of medical opinion in the matter is mere nonsense. The witnesses who appeared for the defence were such as, unfortunately, the condition of the law and the practice of our courts permit, and very little of what they are pleased to express certainly can be regarded as evidence at all. If the petitions are to be considered as a discussion of capital punishment, I can have respect for them; but whilst capital punishment remains on the penal code of our country, surely nothing can justify it more than a woman who, under a pretence of nursing a sick husband, should help him into his grave by nefarious practices.
Source: Te Aroha News, Volume VII, Issue 409, 9 October 1889, Page 4
Note: Why did Dr. Lawson Tait give his opinion about both the Ripper case and the Maybrick case? Why did he speak so badly of women in general? His theory on Jack the Ripper was also derogatory towards women. Interesting questions that one must think about.

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