Depression : Pathetic Letters
Mr. A. W.
Rawlison, Coroner for West Sussex, held an inquiry yesterday at Ye Olde
House at Home, Broadwater, into the circumstances attending the death of
William Grinyer, jun, whose death we reported on Monday.
2, Northbrook Cottages, Broadwater, said - I am a labourer in a gentleman's
garden. The deceased, William Grinyer, was my son. He had
not been at home for a very long time; for these last two months, anyway, he
had no settled place of abode. He came and saw us occasionally.
He left Broadwater on December 16th last seeking for work. He was 41
years of age last birthday and was a gardener by occupation. On
December 21st my wife received the following letter from him:-
My darling Mother,
Just a line to bid you all good-bye. I cannot see you again on earth,
and I cannot expect to meet you in Heaven. Everything on earth seems
against me through being out of work and short of money. I hope you
will spend a merry Christmas. Do not think of me. By the time
you get this I shall be no more. Kiss my dear sisters for me, and tell
them not to trouble, and believe me your broken hearted son, Will.
By the time you get this I shall be at the bottom of Tribe's pond at the
Three Arches. Let Walter's little Willie have my Bible.
brother's name was Walter. Sometimes deceased would go away for
a week or more. This was the only intimation witness had had that he
make away with himself. At the time he left home he had been out of
work about five weeks. He said he had searched the place over, and was
dull because he could not succeed in getting employment. Witness saw
very little of him, as deceased usually came home when he was out.
Tribe's Pond was between Brighton and Falmer. Witness saw deceased in
Inverness-road, Brighton, on December 23rd at his mother's nephew's house.
Until witness mentioned the letter, his son made no reference to it, but he
said he was almost out of his mind when he wrote it. He said he should
not come home until after Christmas. Witness thought the fact of his
being out of work and drink caused deceased's low spirits. That was
the last he saw of deceased until the latter came to Broadwater on January
4th, about 9 p.m. He stayed the night, and went away next morning in
search of work. He looked very strange, and was "almost cut up" with
the severely cold weather. He said he had come along the sea front
from Brighton. Deceased was at home again on Friday evening, and
stayed the night. On Saturday morning, between six and seven, witness
last saw deceased, just as he was going to work. Deceased had been in
the habit of drinking, and drink was his downfall.
By the jury -
Deceased was not married as far as he knew.
The Foreman - I
hear that he slept in the open air, is that so?
Witness - I don't
really know, sir. All we could get out of him was that he slept in
The Coroner - was
there any reason for him to think he could not get shelter at home if he did
Witness - Well, he
knew we couldn't give him shelter. He slept the nights he was at home
in a chair by the fire. He could always have good food when he liked
to call in for it.
wife of the last witness and mother of the deceased, said she received the
letter already read on December 21st last. Her husband went to
Brighton three days, and said he had seen his son the last time, but could
not persuade him to come home. When deceased did come home he stayed
two nights. She was anxious that he should remain, as he seemed so
anxious and "gone". Deceased left in search of work on Friday, January
5th, and returned in the afternoon saying there was nothing going on at all.
He did not go out night. Deceased could always have plenty of food at
any time, and was made heartily welcome. He went to Worthing again to
look for work on Saturday. Proceeding, witness had asked him how he
could be so unkind as to send her such a letter, and he said "Oh, I'd gone
mad." Deceased said nothing else regarding the matter, and made use of
no threat as to doing away with himself. He left at nine on Saturday
morning, and that was the last time she saw him alive.
Sompting, gamekeeper, said he saw a man about seven on Saturday night in
Clarman Dean-lane. He thought it was deceased, but could not say or be
sure. Witness came down the road and spoke to deceased, saying "Good
night." Grinyer never replied, so witness said, "Well, you're
not very cheeky", and passed on. The man was walking at the time, but
on looking round witness saw he had stopped. Witness went to
Broadwater and mentioned to P.C. Smith that he had seen a man
loitering about, as he thought the man was up to no good. He went back
to the spot with Smith a few minutes before nine, and found deceased
hanging to a tree by the side of the lane, about fifty yards above the spot
he had seen the man previously. He was cut down at once, and appeared
to be dead, and they brought the body to Grinyer's father, the
constable recognising it.
By the Jury -
Witness could not say that the man he met was identical with the deceased.
The feet of the body were about three inches from the ground.
Smith, Broadwater, spoke to finding deceased hanging from a whitethorn
tree close inside the iron fence, on the left-hand side, which he had
climbed over. Witness cut the body down, and found the man quite dead
and cold. A pocket-book and comb were the only articles he found on
the body. There was no money on him. The following writing was
in the book on a couple of pieces of rough paper:-
I am dead and gone now. I can lead this life no longer. I have
asked God to forgive me, but I cannot expect forgiveness. Tell my dear
mother and sisters not to worry about me. The cursed drink has been my
ruin: my brain is almost turned. I owe lots of money about, but
I have asked God to pay my debts, which I know he will, but indirectly.
I know I am not prepared to meet my Maker. I wish I had never broker
the pledge. I was all right while a teetotaler, and I have wished a
thousand times I had never broken it. I know there are plenty who will
talk about me when I am dead and gone, but my case be an example to them.
I hope you will all try and forgive me - I am, at present William Grinyer
("The Wi'd Wheel").
the rope which was around deceased neck. The tree was nearly close to
the fence, and he could have thrown himself off the fence.
Mr. Frank Hinds,
physician and surgeon, Worthing, said he was called to see the deceased on
the Saturday night. He learned from the constable that the man had
been found hanging cold and stiff, and on Sunday he went and saw the body.
Deceased was well nourished, and there were no wounds or abrasions anywhere
on the corpse. There was a mark of the rope around the neck, the
running part of the noose being on the left side of the neck. He
attributed death to strangulation by hanging. He could form no
judgement as to the time deceased had been hanging.
The Coroner briefly
summed up, and the jury returned a verdict of "Suicide while temporarily
From the 1881
93 George Street,
Grinyer, Head, Mar, 27, Keeper of The Royal George Inn, born Portslade,
Servt, Unm, 30, Genl Servant, born Lamberth, Surrey
Servt, Unm, 23, Genl Servant, born ...buck, Buckinghamshire
Servt, Unm, 23, Domestic (Inn), born Littlehampton, Sussex
Street, Broadwater, Sussex
Grinyer, Head, Mar, 63, Ag Lab, born Sompting, Sussex
Grinyer, Wife, Mar, 52, born Broadwater, Sussex
Daur, Unm, 15, Scholar, born Patcham, Sussex
Grinyer, Daur, 12, Scholar, born Patcham, Sussex
Chitty, Lodger, Unm, 29, Platelayer, born Climping, Sussex
Neither William and
wife Frances seem to have been recorded in the 1901 census.
The birth of a
Walter Grinyer was registered in the second quarter of 1861 in the
Steyning registration district. I could not find Walter Grinyer
in the 1881 census, unless he was 19 year old William Granger, a
Carpenter, born in Patching, Sussex and lodging in the home of George
Dove at Hartington Terrace, Portslade.
The 1901 census
Grinyer, 39, Carpenter & Joiner, born Preston, Brighton
41, born Portslade, Sussex
Grinyer, 12, born West Kensington, Middlesex
Grinyer, 11, born West Kensington
Grinyer, 11, born West Kensington
Grinyer, 6, born West Kensington
Grinyer, 3, born West Kensington
Grinyer, 2, born West Kensington
The death of
William Grinyer aged 41 was registered in the first quarter of 1894 in
the East Preston registration district.
(I have no known
connection to any of the above.)