Michael Scott Stephen’s elder brother, Francis, was the only member of the Stephen family to be interviewed by the Police. He was two years older than Michael and was a solicitor, then residing  in Putney.He was questioned very briefly at the trial and at rather greater length at the inquest. This is from the inquest.

Coroner “Where did he live?”

FS  “I can’t say. I don’t know. I believe he had rooms somewhere’

(The coroner’s officer, interposing, said he believed he had rooms in Brompton Road.)

FS  “Yes, that may be so. I know he had rooms round there, somewhere.”

Coroner  “Had Your brother any occupation?”

FS  “I dont think so, lately.”

C  “Had he had one?”

FS  “Yes, he was a dress designer in Paris.”

C  “When did he give that up?”

FS  “It is very difficult for anybody to say that.”

C  “Was he right-handed or left-handed?”

FS  “Right-handed.”

C  “How was he supporting himself? Was your father making him an allowance?”

FS  “I think my father had ceased making him an allowance.”

C  “Do you know when?”

FS  “My father ceased to make him a regular allowance at least two years ago – I think it was when he went to Paris as a dress designer. That would be about three years ago. Whenever he was in  financial difficulties he was helped out by my mother I think.”

C  “Did he apply to you for money too?”

FS  “Yes.”

C  “Did you lend him any?”

FS  “Not during the last nine months.”

C  “I suppose you got tired of lending him money?”

FS  “Yes. He did not have a great deal from me, but I got tired of it.”

C  “Do you know anything of the relationship which existed between him and Mrs. Barney?”

FS “Yes”

C “What was it, Mr.Stephen?”

FS  “When I last saw him it was about that. I asked him and Mrs. Barney to come to my office, and I told him that my father did not approve of the association. My brother was very angry, so I  just asked them to leave my office.”

C “Your father wanted them to separate?”

FS “Yes. They tried to give us the idea that they would get married when she got divorced, and we pointed out that this was not the best way of setting about it.”

C “Did he become abusive or did she, or both?”

FS “He more or less said “Don’t be so tiresome” or something like that. She rather tried to restrain him.”

C “He got impatient?”

FS “Yes, we left it at that.”

C “You ordered them out of the office?”

FS “I asked them to leave.”

C “Were they living together then?”

FS “He denied it at that interview, but I had a different impression but no grounds, except that when I wanted to speak to him I telephoned to her address in William Mews.”

C “What sort of physique had  your brother?”

FS “He was very delicate.”

What were his habits as regards alcohol?”

FS “I cannot say that I know.”

C “He was in no position to marry?”

FS “Not without a job.”

C “How tall was he?”

FS “About 5 foot 9.”

C “Do you know whether he possessed a revolver?”

FS “I have never heard of it.”

C “Had you any letter from him recently?”

FS “No.”

C “Your communications ceased six months ago?”

FS “Yes.”

There is a difference between this statement and the court one regarding Michael’s physique. In court Francis says that Michael was physically strong but in poor health – he also answers a question by agreeing that he would be considered good-looking. Given that the prosecution case depended heavily on Elvira’s supposed jealousy and the unlikelihood of a woman wrestling the gun off a man – it may be that Francis had been briefed accordingly.

Why does Francis switch to the plural in describing what happened  at the office? Had Michael and Elvira been summoned at the request of the father? If his father had already disowned Michael, as is often suggested, why was he so worried about his son’s relationship with Elvira? If Michael was already firmly established as a wastrel then what did it matter that he was living off the income of the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in London? Was this just good old middle-class respectability (with a touch of Scottish puritanism) or was Elvira’s reputation already a matter of concern? Incidentally, why was Elvira even there? It does have something of the the appearance of a “family crisis” meeting.

The other point worth noting is that it is Elvira who tries to calm Michael down. This runs counter to any other anecdote about Elvira’s general behaviour and possibly gives some credence to the notion that there was more than one volatile person in the relationship.

After his brief moment in the public eye, Francis Richard Stephen continued his career in the law. I’m not absolutely sure but I think he was a solicitor in Nairobi after the Second World War moving to Somerset in the 1960s.If he is the same Francis Richard Stephen who died at Bath in 1995 aged 90 then he had a much longer and, hopefully, less troubled life than his unfortunate brother.

 

 

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