Woodlands, William

Woodlands, William            1879 November 22nd

The suddenness and uncertainty with which Death claims its victims have again been strikingly illustrated within the last few days by the demise of Mr William Woodlands, an alderman and magistrate of the borough, who was found dead in his sitting-room early on Sunday morning. The sad event was not — , and, in fact, not at all anticipated; for although of late an increased failing had been noticed, Mr Woodlands appeared in is usual state of health on Saturday evening, and it was only on the previous Monday that he seconded the proposition that Mr Hicks should occupy the civic chair during the ensuing year.

In fact, still later even than that, he, on Friday was present at a meeting of the Board of Guardians – a body of which he had been a member for a number of years, and took part in the proceedings. The deceased gentleman, who had reached the fine age of 79, was a native of Downton, where he first commenced business. He, however, remained in that town for but a comparatively small period, preferring, doubtless, the more energetic and business-like influence of our ancient city, in which he succeeded in establishing a wide connection as a currier. That, however, about seventeen years since, he disposed of to Messrs Ware Brothers, devoting himself to a rapidly increasing malster’s business, and to agricultural pursuits.

A bachelor, he of late lived a quiet, country life at his private residence, at Milford, taking a quiet interest in our local affairs, and appearing but little in public before his fellow citizens. Though Liberal in politics, he did not take an active position in political life in Salisbury. He was first returned to the Town Council in 1848; and eleven years later he was elected unanimously by his colleagues to the office of Mayor. In 1865 he was made an Alderman; and four years later he was placed upon the commission for the peace of the city, and since that period he had been a fairly regular attendant at our city sessions. Bluff in the execution of all the duties connected with these offices, independence and honesty were his characteristics, and firmness and discretion were always well combined in his magisterial capacity. He never was what may be termed a “long-winded” speaker, but his remarks were usually forcible if brief, and if, not abounding in argument, were eminent of the speaker’s opinion.

In addition to being connected with the Council and Board of Guardians, he also served the offices of churchwarden for both the parishes of St Thomas and St Martin; of late years, however, he was in the habit of attending Divine service at St Edmund’s church.

The inquest was held at the residence of deceased, on Monday morning, by Mr R M Wilson (coroner), Mr James Read, who was a colleague both on the Bench and in the Corporation, being foreman of the jury. The following evidence was adduced,

Sarah Bundy said she was housekeeper to the deceased. He appeared to be in his usual good health on Saturday evening, and went to bed about half-past ten o’clock. He came down stairs on Sunday morning at ten minutes before eight, and said to witness, “Don’t send me in any meat for breakfast this morning.” About half past eight, on going into his room with his letters, she found him lying on his left side on the floor. His feet were close to the bars of the grate, and she said, “Lor, Sir, you will burn your feet.” As he did not answer, she turned up his head, and found that he was dead. She immediately called her fellow servant, Alice Bailey, and the groom. His face was very dark, but there was no external bleeding. He had made no complaint of illness recently. Witness never heard him complain of being faint or giddy.

Alice Bailey said she was a domestic servant, in the employ of the deceased. He had made no complaint to her of illness. About eight o’clock on Sunday morning she went into his sitting room with his tea and toast. He asked if his letters had come, and she replied that they had not, but that his breakfast was ready. He said that he did not want much that morning; but he generally made a very good breakfast. She left the room, and did not see the deceased again until she was called by the last witness. He was then lying dead on the floor.

George Batt, police constable, Fisherton, said he had been informed by the deceased’s brother that he was between 78 and 79 years of age.

The jury found the deceased died by the Visitation of God – from an attack of apoplexy.

It is believed that the funeral of the deceased will take place at Downton on Saturday.

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