Fleming, Annie

Fleming, Annie         1883 July 21st

On Saturday morning, a sad case of suicide occurred at Fisherton. Mrs Fleming, a comparatively young woman, and the wife of Mr W C Fleming, of the “Victoria” hotel – appeared strange in her conduct, she was low and despondent and refused intercourse with anyone; and in consequence it was deemed advisable that she should remain in her bedroom. Her dinner was taken to her by a Mrs Cooper, who was attending her, the knife and fork being left by the side of the plate. Mrs Cooper, after leaving it in her room, went down stairs. But a few minutes later, someone was heard descending the stairs, and the unfortunate woman then presented herself to her family with her throat severed to the length of three inches, the blood streaming from the wound and with the bloody dinner knife clenched in her right hand. The poor creature dropped on the stairs; and strong efforts had to be used to keep her hands from the wound. Her only explanation of her insane act was “I was miserable.” No less than three doctors saw her – Mr Darke, Mr Coates and Mr Gordon; but they could do nothing. There could be no doubt that an insane impulse had prompted her to the act. Once before she had attempted to take her life.

The inquest was held at the inn on Monday morning before Mr G Smith (city coroner) and a jury (of whom Mr C Clements was foreman).

The first witness called was Mr Darke. He said that early on Saturday morning he received a letter from Mr Fleming requesting him to call and see his wife. He went to the house but learning that there was no immediate necessity he went to fulfil another pressing engagement. Before he could call again, he was sent for – between one and half-past – to come to the house, and on doing so he found the deceased lying at the bottom of the stairs with a wound in her throat. Her hands were being held by a man to prevent her getting at the wound. He examined the wound and he found the windpipe had been wounded, that the blood vessels had been wounded and that there was no breathing. No steps were taken to close the wound. Mr Coates and Mr Gordon also saw her. The wound in the throat was certainly quite sufficient to cause death; and was, indeed, the actual cause of death.

In reply to the foreman, Mr Darke said that judging from what he had heard and what he had seen on previous occasions he should certainly say that the deceased was not in her right mind.

Emma Cooper, wife of George Cooper, of 2, Railway-terrace, who acts frequently as charwoman at this house, said that on Saturday the deceased expressed an inclination for a walk, and in consequence she went out for one. They went to her house in Railway-terrace, and then as she repeated a request to go up to Harnham-hill, she – fearing from her state of mind that she might do something to herself – locked her in the house while she went first to ask Mr Fleming. She was at the time as she continued in a very low and despondent state. However, they went home; and it was thought better Mrs Fleming should remain upstairs, she (witness) staying with her. When the dinner was served downstairs she went and brought deceased’s up, placing the plate with the knife and fork by the side – on the edge of a chest of drawers. She then went down for her own dinner, leaving the deceased just inside the bedroom door. She had not been downstairs five minutes when someone was heard descending the stairs. The little boy ran to open the door at the foot of the stairs, and his immediate cry of fear roused them all up. They then saw the deceased with her throat severely cut, and clenching the knife, which was covered with blood, in her right hand. Mr Fleming at once endeavoured to get the knife from her, whilst she ran for assistance. Mr Darke himself arrived within ten minutes; and the other medical men came almost directly.

By the jury : The deceased’s condition had required her to be kept upstairs. She did not, however, remember her having her meals up there before. She had heard that the deceased some three or four months before tried to do away with herself by throwing herself into the river at the mill.

A juror : Do you think you did right in leaving a knife and fork on the plate as you did? Well, I never dreamt of such a thing.

The foreman : It was a very unfortunate act of thoughtlessness.

Mr Supt Mathews gave evidence as to being sent for on Saturday to come to the house, and to taking possession of the body and putting it into a room, the key of which he took charge of. He produced the dinner knife, which he received from Mr Cooper.

Mrs Read, wife of Mr P Read, a neighbour of Mr Fleming’s, gave evidence to the effect that on hearing a noise in Mr Fleming’s on this morning she ran in. She bent over the deceased and asked her what made her do it. She replied, “I was miserable.” She then tried to get her hand up to her throat, but was prevented.

The jury returned a verdict of “Committed suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity,” and decided to give their fees to the dispensary.

FreeBMD gives age of deceased as 30 – Ed.

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