18 Oct 2011 01:44 UTCTue 18 Oct 2011 - 1:44 am UTC
A book claims that American, John Baird Bryan, was jailed in Britain in the late 1930s or early 1940's (before Sept. 1942, when he returned to the U.S.) and was cast out as an undesirable alien. Bryan, a grandson of American politician William Jennings Bryan, was said to have known state secrets related to FDR and Churchill and was killed in 1943 as a result. However, we cannot find primary document information that corroborates any of that. Some broadcasters in the U.S. did call for an investigation into Bryan's death. He had been living in London in 1942 [and longer, we think]at Rowe, White, and Co.at 4 Lloyd's Avenue. We don't know what R,W,+ Co was. He was an actor, poet, and writer. Any primary sources to him would be appreciated.
18 Oct 2011 12:32 UTCTue 18 Oct 2011 - 12:32 pm UTC
Thank you for your question here on Uclue.
I have found limited information on his activities while in the UK, but what I have found I hope is of interest.
He was using the name John Baird Bryan by 1922, but I have also looked the aliases of John Bryan, John Owen, John Baird Owen and Bryan Leavitt.
He arrived in the UK on 13 November 1936. According to the ship’s manifest he described himself as author and actor. The address given was c/o Thomas Cook (which you may know, is a travel company).
I cannot find any definite reference to his activities in the UK. I have tried many databases, including the telephone directories, and several newspaper archives. There is, however, references on one newspaper archive which could be checked. Unfortunately, because it is a subscription site I cannot access it. A search on
reveals hits on a “John Bryan” for the period 1936 – 1944 in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Yorkshire Post, and Action.
The name appears across three of the titles for 15 January 1941, but I think this can be eliminated as the 'Scotsman' archive shows this may refer to the award of medals.
The other references may be worth investigating, I will leave that with you to decide. The site’s pricing policy is confusing and cost depend on the titles you are interested in.
Bryan arrived back in the US on 9 September 1942 on the S.S. Hilary which sailed from Scotland. The manifest shows him as John B. Bryan. Address in US: The Cedars, Alderson. W. VA. Note, he is shown as a third-class passenger. Does this indicate he had fallen on hard times, or as deported person the passage was paid by the UK government?
Also on the manifest is Ian Ross MacFarlane, first-class passenger, who disembarked at Halifax. Address in US: Braddock Heights. MD. Their meeting is mentioned in Bryan Clough’s book State Secrets: The Kent-Wolkoff Affair. So this corroborates that part of the story that they were on the same ship.
Both these manifests can be found on Ancestry.com, a subscription website.
As for Rowe White. Row White and Company Limited, 4 Lloyd’s Avenue, London, controlled British investments in tea growing plantations in India. Listed as merchants and tea company secretaries, the company was founded in 1890, and was registered as a limited company in 1906. Telephone number in 1941 was Royal 3341
Source: Google Books including : Southern India: its history, people, commerce, and industrial resources
In case it comes up at a later stage, one director of the company in 1943 was Mr. Henry Victor Russill
Source: London Gazette
The chairman was David Erroll Sinclair
Source: Times Obituary, Jan 15, 1944.
What Bryan’s connection was to the tea company, I cannot ascertain.
I speculate that if Bryan did meet Tyler Kent, then it may have been in prison. Further off-line research into this is hampered by the need for confirmation that Bryan did indeed go to prison and where and when convicted.
I believe I have exhausted the on-line UK archives for the period, but my fellow researchers never surprise me and may pop-up with something else.
Do not hesitate to ask for clarification of any part of this research.
19 Oct 2011 09:54 UTCWed 19 Oct 2011 - 9:54 am UTC
>>passenger air records are available in Britain for 1942.
I not aware of any. I've searched The National Archives but cannot find any reference to them. I note that the Ancestry records for post-war entry into the States do include arrivals by air, but not during the war.
You could inquire at the British Airways Heritage Collection, the email link is at the bottom of this page. They may be able to confirm if the records are still in existence and where they are.
British Airways took over from British Overseas Airways Corporation which started the first transatlantic service in 1940.
Sorry to hear the UKpress site is not working properly, but I now understand you may have received information on some of the articles in that archive relating to the publication 'Action'.
19 Oct 2011 15:18 UTCWed 19 Oct 2011 - 3:18 pm UTC
>>We are wondering if maybe there is some kind of Owen connection to the tea company, but we haven't been able to discern that online, and that is purely speculative.
This may well be the connection which makes it seems that it was a c/o address in London. Google Books snippet view only.
Rubber Journal Vol 87
"Ruth Bryan Owen, was a successful plaintiff in an action against Lady ( F.dmee) Owen, widow of Sir Theodore Charles Owen, ... Mr. Reginald Altham Owen, a one-third share in the tea and rubber estate known as Marokona Estate. "