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1909: Suicide through grief in Cuckfield

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 24 September 1909


Mr. G. Vere Benson, coroner for East Sussex, held an inquiry on Friday afternoon, at the Talbot Hotel, Cuckfield, into the circumstances attending the death of Mr. Henry Peacock King, aged 70, of Vine House, Cuckfield. Mr. Duke was chosen foreman of the jury.

—George King, brother of the deceased, said he lived at Cowfold, but it was nearly two years ago since he saw deceased. He was widower, and by his first wife had two children. He had none by his second wife. He had been ailing for long time. George Elliott, plumber, of Cuckfield, said the late wife of deceased was his mother. Deceased had had very bad health. Rheumatism subjected him to awful pains. Some time ago he had influenza. Deceased was very much attached to his late wife, who died a year and nine months ago. He had never been the same man since her death. He used to get depressed. Witness had never heard him threaten to take his life. He had nothing on his mind as far as witness knew.

— By the foreman : One of deceased's sons had recently visited him, but he did not believe the visit caused the deceased any trouble.

—Elizabeth Ann Cook said she last saw deceased on Wednesday afternoon. He had a shed in the garden which he used as a workshop. Deceased used to spend his evenings at home reading. At 8.40 p.m. he called out '' good-night '' to her from his room. He seemed much depressed at times.

— Arthur Hawks, tailor, of Vine House, deposed to finding deceased's body on Thursday morning in a garden at the back of the house. It was lying between two rows of beans under a plum tree. The throat was cut, and close by was a blood-stained bread knife. Deceased was quite cold and his clothing was wet with rain. Deceased had no money troubles. His bed had not been slept in on Wednesday night.

—The Coroner remarked that evidently deceased made away with himself on Wednesday night. In deceased's jacket pocket was a photograph of his wife, and on the back was written, 44 I am lost without you, died January 24th, 1908." There was also letter written in rambling style. He did not propose to read the whole of it as it made statements concerning people which they had better not go into. There was also reference to insurance matters. Extracts were read by the Coroner, as follows :— 44 Now dear friends, I cannot put up with the 4 weary ' any longer. I hope you will look after my daughter and daughter-in-law when I am gone. God bless them all, dear brothers, sisters, friends. God bless them all for ever. I can bear it no longer. My dear wife made me so comfortable. Oh, my time has come. Good-bye all. Lord have mercy on my soul. I am worried to do it. Good-bye all for ever. H. KING."

—P.C. Day, stationed at Cuckfield, said he was called to Vine House at 8.40 a.m. on Thursday. Dr. Wells also came and saw the body, but he could only say that death had taken place some hours previously. Tied up in deceased's pocket was £10 11s. 6d. The bread knife produced lay on the right hand side of the body.

PC Day c 1890

—The jury returned a verdict of Suicide whilst suffering from temporary insanity, brought on by ill-health and grief.”



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