Causes of Death

#52 ancestors 52 weeks  – week 43

In 1891 John REED is again in the newspapers [1], he had committed suicide. Yet was this the cause of death? The newspaper reports tell us that John committed suicide by a gunshot wound to the head [2]. This is not substantiated when you first read the Inquest Report [3].

shot him self
It appears doubtful he shot himself [4]
The initial report from the Finlayson states that from the initial examination of the body that the doctor did not believe that John REED shot himself as there was no residue from the gun on the body [5]. a number of depositions were taken by Finlayson including that of John REED’s son John Henry REED [6]. John Henry’s deposition tells us the John REED was a 67 year old brick layer who moved to Melbourne and was estranged from his second wife [7]. John REED had moved to Melbourne sometime after being committed for trial and been found not guilty in 1886 [8]. John Henry stated that he had seen his father on the night of the 13th of March and his father had been a little at a loss as he had not found any work and this was playing on his mind, he also agreed that his father had a revolver like the one that was found. While John Henry had no reason to think his father would commit suicide, he also had no reasons to suspect foul play [9].

A postmortem examination was undertaken to further determine the cause of death, as while there had been no residue on the body from the gun, there was no signs of a struggle as John REED was found lying on his back on an Australian Colonial Sofa with his right hand resting on a chair [10]. From this further examination the doctor believed that John REED had committed suicide. He believed that REED had rested the gun in his hand on a chair that was about one and half to two feet away from his head and for this reason there were no residue marks on the body from the firing of the gun [11].

why no marks
Part of the Doctors Statement [12]
The findings of the Inquest was that John REED took his own life while of an unsound mind [13].

inquest findings
Inquest findings [14]

John REED’s daughter Margaret Ann REED had married Edward Waller LOADES in 1875 [15], by the turn of the century both Margaret and Edward fathers had committed suicide [16].

 

[1] A DETERMINED SUICIDE. (1891, March 16). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201461072

[2] ibid

[3] Victoria Crown Law Office. VPRS 24/P0  unit 577,  item 1891/328. Proceedings of the Inquest held on the Body of John REED at South Yarra, 16th March 1891.

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

[6] ibid

[ 8] State Records of South Australia. Register of prisoners committed and tried Adelaide Gaol from 1839. GRG54/24. Register of Prisoners – Adelaide Gaol GRS 2414 17 I 11 Sep 1885 – 3 Jan 1889, REED, John, image 98 of 271. accessed https://www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/online-records#Courts 14th October, 2018

[9] Victoria Crown Law Office. VPRS 24/P0  unit 577,  item 1891/328. Proceedings of the Inquest held on the Body of John REED at South Yarra, 16th March 1891.

[10] ibid

[11] ibid

[12] ibid

[13] ibid

[14] ibid

[15] Family Notices (1875, December 16). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), p. 4. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40080286

[16] CORONER’S INQUESTS. (1888, November 24). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), p. 32. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160785284

 

 

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