A sad case

Hertfordshire Mercury, 10th October, 1914


On the Tuesday afternoon, Dr Ethelbert Collins, coroner, held an inquest at Hadham Police Station reporting the death of Mrs Elizabeth Bigmore of High Street, Much Hadham, who committed suicide by hanging herself the previous day.

Herbert Bigmore, a bricklayer, husband of the deceased, said that she was 38 years of age.  He last saw her alive at 5.15 a.m. on the Monday, just before he went to work.  The witness had said to his wife, who was in bed, “How are you this morning?” and she replied “I feel pretty fair”.  He then asked her if she would like him to stop for anything, and she said “No mate, I shall be alright”.  The reason he asked the question was because her head had been very bad the day before.  His wife had been in the Stortford Union Infirmary for 7 weeks owing to her head.  She came home on the Saturday week before her death and had, for the last few days, been very low spirited.  She always did her housework, and had never threatened to do away with herself.  He knew of no reason that caused her head to be bad.

He received a telegram at 1.15 p.m. on the Monday that said “Come home at once”.  He returned home immediately and found his wife lying on the bed, and heard how she had met with her death.

Mrs Emily Farnham, of Parnell Cottage, Much Hadham, said that she went to Mrs Bigmore’s house on the Monday at about midday, and asked one of the little girls what she was crying for.  The child said that she could not find her mother.  The child also stated that she had been upstairs but could not get into her mother’s bedroom.  The witness then went upstairs and tried the door, but could also not get into the bedroom.  After calling out, she broke through the glass panel above the door and found Mrs Bigmore hanging by the door.  She fetched a police officer who came and burst open the bedroom door and cut the body down.  There was a piece of rope around the neck, and it was attached to a nail by the side of the door.  Mrs Bigmore was quite dead, but her body was not cold.  The witness had known the deceased for many years, and had noticed lately that she had been quiet in the head, low spirited, and depressed.

Mary Ann Turner deposed that at about 11.00 a.m. on the Monday, she had been to Mrs Bigmore’s house that was next door to her own, to ask how she was, and had found her in the front room suffering much with her head.  The deceased had said that her head was so bad that she thought that she was going out of her mind, and that her brain seemed to be gone.  She had also said that she was sure they would have to take her to an asylum as she did not know what she was doing.  The witness had fetched a pail of water for the deceased, who said “I will go and lie down and rest”.  The witness told her to do so, and to make herself as cheerful as she could.  The witness had left the house just before 11.30 a.m.  The deceased had 5 children, 4 of them at home.

Police Constable Gooch deposed to finding the body as described by Mrs Farnham.  The witness tried artificial respiration without avail, and then sent for Dr Barker who came and pronounced life extinct.  Dr Barker said that when he arrived, deceased was quite dead.  Her face was quite pale and there was no foaming at the mouth.  In answer to the Coroner, Dr Barker said that he had last seen the deceased a week ago when she had had slight tonsillitis.  She had been depressed and morbid, and exaggerated her complaint.  He believed that she had been suffering from slight melancholia.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst of unsound mind.

The sad event has evoked much sympathy throughout the village for the deceased’s family.

This page was added on 16/02/2015.

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