Location: Sandy Bay, Nelson, New Zealand
Transcription of a Coroner's report dated 4 May 1922 about the suicide of Ellen Knight (Knight-12606).
New Zealand Coroner's Reports. Coroner's report, 4 May 1922 Agency J, Series 46, Item Ref COR 1922/467 Archives New Zealand, Wellington; NEW ZEALAND,
INFORMATIONS OF WITNESSES
INFORMATIONS OF WITNESSES severally taken and acknowledged on behalf of our Sovereign Lord and King touching the death of Ellen Jones at the dwelling house of Sidney Woolfe Sandy Bay in the Provincial District of Nelson on Wednesday and Thursday, the Third and 4th days of May one thousand nine hundred and twenty two, before James S?? Evans, one of the Coroners for New Zealand, on an Inquisition then and there taken on view of the body of Ellen Jones of Marahau Married Woman, then and there lying dead, as follows, to wit:-
being sworn, saith that I am the husband of the deceased Ellen Jones. She has been in good health up to 6 months ago when she had a nervous breakdown. [Margin Note: See J.22/400] She considered she was not doing her duty to her children and her work. In the beginning she never threatened to do away [Page 2 begins] with herself. About 14 years ago she had an operation for diseased bone in her head. The Dr said that if it was not done she would become insane and have to be committed to an asylum.
She went to the Nelson hospital for a week in January last. She went to be treated for nervous breakdown. She was bad then. I took her over. She could not settle there and the Dr gave her her discharge. I went in and brought her back.
She was a lot better than when she went in.
[Page 3 begins]
The reason I took her to the hospital was that she had threatened to do away with herself. At one time I came home and found a note from her to say I would find her in the river(?) beside the bridge. She returned with one of the boys. One(?) day(?) before(?) I took(?) her to the hospital she was meddling with the gun and the cartridge off and???? and said the gun had gone off and through the bedclothes.
I told the Dr when I took her to the hospital of these attempts.
[Page 4 begins]
After she came back from the hospital we had to watch her. She roamed about.
We have a neighbour about 3 chains away and another about 15 minutes walk.
We have five of a family. Oldest 17. a boy at home. Another boy 11. And a girl 10. All except the oldest and the youngest went to school.
She did not do her housework as she used to do before the attack and sometimes she would leave that to us.
After she came back she expressed the wish that she could die.
[Page 5 begins]
I worked about home and kept my eye on her that way. She wandered about a lot at ??????????y time and was a bit sensitive of the people about. The last time I saw her alive was at lunch time on the 1st of May. She got lunch ready and seemed more settled than she had been for a long time.
We went out after lunch and about 1/4; hours after we heard a shot at the house. The boy and I ran back and found her on the floor with the gun alongside of
[Page 6 begins]
her. I could see she was dead and a wound in her head. She had put some bread in the oven and left a note (produced) to say `Bread ready at 3 oclock'.
I found a bullet lying on the bed clothes.
I sent for the police.
None of her people have ever been in a mental hospital. I never heard of insanity in the family.
She used to say there was something pulling her and she could not stop still but went walk about.
[Page 7 begins]
The Dr said that if she did not improve I could bring her back.
He gave me no instructions or warning about her mental condition.
She had nothing to worry about to bring on the breakdown. We are not overflush of money but nothing to worry her about. Our domestic relations were of the best.
[Page 8 begins]
James William Jones S???? Saith. I a son of the last witness and of the deceased Ellen Jones.
Mother has not been in her right mind lately.
Sometime before she went into the hospital she fired off the rifle in the bedroom. I hid the cartridges after that.
Since she came out of the hospital she has often said she wished she was dead and out of the way. I have not known her to make any attempt to do away with herself after she came out of the hospital.
On the first May I had
[Page 9 begins]
lunch at home and???? ??? to work leaving her in the house. She seemed very bright that day. About an hour after we went out I heard a shot. My father and I went to the house and found mother in the bedroom dead with the rifle beside her and a gunshot wound in her head.
I did not hear her make any threat that day to do away with herself.
I kept my rifle in my bedroom, I hid the Ammunition ?????? the matress in my bed. I did not leave the rifle loaded.
[Page 10 begins]
Justin S?? McCarthy S?? saith I am a police constable at Motueka. In consequence of a report 9(?) ??? I went to Mr Jones house at Marahau.
I found the deceased Ellen Jones whose body is now in the front room lying on her back in the bedroom dead. There was a gunshot wound in her head apparently fired from the mouth and through the top of the head.
I made enquiries about the neighbourhood and found that deceased for some time
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had been in an unsettled state and wandering about.
I also ascertained that the deceased domestic relationship was good and that she and her family lived in good terms.
Signed J MacCarthy
Adj to Nelson Courthouse at 11am 4th Inst
Resumed 11am 4.5.22
David Collingwood Low S????
I am the Medical Superintendent of the Nelson Hospital.
Mrs Jones was admitted to the hospital on the 18th January last and discharged on 25th. When she came in she was very depressed suffering from Melancholia and had definite suicidal tendencies. I advised both her and her husband that she should be
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treated in the mental hospital.
I explained she could be a Voluntary Boarder and sent her to Dr Gray. She went but refused to sign as a Voluntary Boarder. This was between the 18th and 25th January. Her husband decided to take her home and look after her. I advised she was a mental hospital ??????. Her husband said he could look after her and was prepared to take her home. I was not treating her for anything physical. I think I merely rang up Dr Gray and told him her husband was taking her home before I discharged her.
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She improved to a certain extent and I took it for granted that her husband would be able to look after her.
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Theodore Gr?? Gray. Saith
I am a duly qualified Medical practitioner the Medical Superintendent of the Nelson Mental Hospital.
I saw Mrs Jones she was suffering from acute Melancholia very much depressed and was suicidal.
I endeavored to get her to enter the hospital as a Voluntary Boarder.
She would not do it. She was capable of signing a ????
She was definitely insane but had sufficient lucidity to understand the
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signing and the reasons for it. Her husband worked to put pressure on her to sign.
She was certifiable.
She had about a 40 per cent chance of recovering.
I don't remember if I knew of her attempts at suicide, but I know she was suicidal.
It would not improve her condition going ??? to an out of the way place.
The foregoing depositions of L Jones, J W Jones, J S McCarthy, Dr Low and Dr Gray
Written on 15 pages of paper, numbered consecutively
From 1 to 15, and by me fixed together,
Were taken and sworn before me at Nelson
On the 4th day of May, 1922
J S Evans
DOMINION OF NEW ZEALAND, TO WIT.
An Inquisition taken for our Sovereign Lord the King, at the house of Sidney Woolfe at Sandy Bay Nelson & at the Courthouse, of Nelson in the said Dominion, on the Third and 4th days of May in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty two, before James S?? Evans, Esquire, one of the Coroners of our Sovereign Lord the King for the said Dominion, on view of the body of Ellen Jones Wife of Lambert Jones, then and there lying dead:
and the said Coroner, having enquired, for our Lord the King, when, where and by what means the said Ellen Jones came to her death, doth find that the said Ellen Jones died at Marahau Sandy Bay Nelson on the 1st day of may 1922 from a rifle shot wound self inflicted while of unsound mind, I add as a rider that the deceased ought to have been under constraint, but for the reasons given in my Memo attached (which please see) I am not able to hold any particular person liable, or make any recommendation other than as in my said Memo.
In witness whereof the said Coroner has hereunto set and subscribed his hand the day and year first above written.
J S Evans
[ Handwritten parts are shown in italics. Uncertain words shown with ? - John Mayes, transcriber]