Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another Hill End / Tambaroora death report

This is a longer report published in a NZ newspaper of a suicide at Hill End.

West Coast Times (NZ) - 13 December 1872, page 4

DEATH FROM AN OVERDOSE OF CHLOROFORM
(From the Sydney Empire)

An inquest was held on the 2nd ult., by the coroner of Hill End, on view of the body of Margaret Wilson, a servant in the employ of Dr. Carroll. The evidence of William James Dive combined with that of Dr Carroll himself, was sufficiently indicative of the cause of death.

William James Dive deposed: I am a servant in the employ of Dr Carroll. On Thursday afternoon last, about 6 o'clock in the evening, I was outside the residence of Dr Carroll minding the baby. The deceased, whose body I have just seen and recognized as that of Margaret Wilson, her maiden name being King, was working in the kitchen; a few seconds afterwards I saw her pass from the kitchen to the house which immediately adjoins. From thence she went to her bedroom, and directly  afterwards she came out again, and staggered against the doorpost. I was at that time only five yards from her. I asked her what was the matter, she replied "nothing." She again went into her own room and laid down upon the bed and called me in. I went in. She said "Give me your hand". I did so. She said then to me, "William, I've poisoned myself; I've drunk a bottle of chloroform ; comfort my people at home as well as you can ; do me a favor, go up to the factory (alluding to the soda-water factory at Cahill's adjoining), and tell George that I have poisoned myself." I went up, saw George, and asked him to come down. I did not deliver her message to him until he seemed to hesitate in going, when I did tell him, and he then came with me. I went into the room of the deceased again. At that time she was scarcely able to speak. I found during my absence she had moved from the bed, and was then lying on the floor. I left some one to mind the baby, and I went up to town in search of the doctor, whom I found and told of the circumstances, and he was at his residence a few minutes after I returned. The deceased has told me at different times that she would think nothing of poisoning herself, or blowing her brains out. I believe she told me that she was separated from her husband ; that he was very foolish for living apart from her, as she would have done everything that laid in her power to make him comfortable. I know that deceased frequently went up to see George Higgison at the soda-water factory. I am not aware the deceased had anny money or other property except her clothes.

Walter John Carroll, deposed: I am a duly qualified medical practitioner, residing at Hill End. I have seen the body of Margaret Wilson, known to me as Margaret King, now lying at my residence. She has been in my employ during the last four months. She was about twenty-one years of age, and I believe a native of Sydney. I have always understood the deceased was married and living apart from her husband. She was usually of a cheerful disposition, but now and then subject to fits of depression of spirits. On Thursday evening last, returning from Bald Hill, I was met by William Dive (my servant), and in consequence of what he told me I got my horse and galloped home. On arriving I found the deceased lying on her back under the verandah, near her bed-room door. She was insensible. In consequence of what I was told I went into my own room, and found the bottle I now produce, in which I usually keep chloroform, had been partially emptied of its contents. Fully two ounces of chloroform must have been taken from it. I employed the usual remedies, with the assistance of Drs O'Connel and Sam. On her return to consciousness, in about three hours, I asked her why she had done such a dreadful act. She said "Oh, sir, don't blame me - I'm broken hearted." In presence of Constable Gallagher I have examined the effects of deceased. I found a purse containing 10s in silver, a small quartz specimen which had rolled round it a half sheet of note-paper. The document marked A, now produced, is that paper.

On one side was written upon in a hand-writing which I recognise as that of the deceased, and, as well as I can decipher it, runs as follows:-
"Hill End, October 24, 1872,
My dear Mother, - I have tried to forget my trouble, but in vain ; I get down more every day ; I would like to die ; my dear mother, do not fret about me. I have made up my mind to shoot myself. I have done my best to get my husband to do right, but you know that he would not, and he has broken my heart. I never can live and hear it any longer ; my dear mother, do not think of me ; I cannot bear to write any more ; so good-bye, God bless you all
Loving child,
MARGARET KING."

Deceased was aware that I have a revolver which she could have got at, and which was usually loaded ; I also found another letter, dated October 30, 1872, and directed to Mrs R. Clemesha, William-street, Redfern via Sydney ; the document I now produce, and marjed B, is that letter ; it is signed Margaret King, and is also in the handwriting of the deceased. It was writtein in a much more cheerful tone than the one marked A. I had never any suspicion that the deceased intended to take her life. The following is the letter:-
"Hill End, Tambaroora,
Oct. 30, 1872.
My Dear Sister, - I was so glad when I got your letter to-night, as I have been so down-hearted, and your letter has made me feel happy again ; for a kind word from a dear sister seems to have softened the dreadful pain. I am glad that Robert and the dear little children are all well, and I hope, dear sister, that you will get over your troubles all right ; I would very much like to come to Sydney, but I must wait a while before I think about that. I have made up my mind not to take a house as I think I would be very lonely. On last Friday morning I started at half-past five o'clock for the town of Turon. It is a very pretty pace, it is like a little valley.. It is covered with mountains. I got into the Turon at 12:30 a.m., and stayed at the hotel until 3 p.m., and started home. It took me three hours to come up the hill. I thought I would not live to get to the top - my leg was very sore the next day, but I am all right now. My dear sister, you ask me not to think it rude you asking me for 1 pound. I did not think so. If I had the 1 pound I would send it immediately. I will send it to you as soon as I get it. We had a thunder-storm yesterday. It rained very heavy, and it was blowing very cold here. I went down to the town last night, and just after I started it rained very heavy. The 'O.F.' are going to have a picnic. The Dr and Mrs are both going, and I shall have to be nurse to-morrow. I was asked to go to a ball, but cannot go as I have not got a dress. I would like to go very much. My dear sister,  can tell you no more news, as I am very tired. I have been ironing all day, so I say good night. With best love to all believe me to be
Your affectionate sister,
MARGARET KING"

Verdict - "That death was caused by the deceased, Margaret Wilson or King, taking an overdose of chloroform whilst in a state of temporary insanity."

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Notes:

The marriage of Margaret King to James Wilson in Sydney in 1871 can be found in the NSW BDM indexes:
170/1871 WILSON JAMES KING MARGARET SYDNEY

Her death was registered but obviously her parents were not known of at the time:
6754/1872 WILSON MARGARET AGE 21 YEARS DIED HILL END TAMBAROORA

The sister she writes to, 'Mrs. R. Clemensha', married in 1860 in Sydney to Robert Clemensha, supported by details in the letter:
761/1860 CLEMENSHA ROBERT KING SARAH DIM SYDNEY.

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