Triphook, Maria

Triphook, Maria         1884 April 26th

A shocking case of suicide occurred in Salisbury on Saturday. In the earlier part of the morning, Maria Jane Triphook, wife of John Triphook, a carpenter, living in the Green Croft, appeared to be in her usual health, and her husband and her three lodgers observed nothing in her appearance to lead them to suppose she meditated the violent act which afterwards resulted in death. Two hours later a neighbour saw her and then she appeared even more communicative and brighter than usual. When her husband came home at twelve to dinner, he was surprised not to see the dinner laid on the table. A letter, too, lay on the mat, where it had evidently been thrown by the postman, who had been unable to make anyone hear. The neighbours, he found, knew nothing of his wife. On going upstairs he saw the bedroom door shut, and his dog lying watchful-like outside. A dull noise fell upon his ear, and on entering the room he found his wife lying partly under the bed, with a considerable quantity of blood by her side. With maniacal determination the poor woman had, with an ordinary table-knife, cut her arm almost in twain at the elbow joint, made another deep cut at the wrist and a third close to it. What induced the act there was nothing to show. Perhaps the fear of a premature death – induced by the knowledge that she suffered from an inward tumour – brought on the fit of madness in which she committed it. For some time she had been in a state of considerable despondency and weakness. And now, perhaps, it had its ultimatum in the impulse to the unholy act.

The inquest was held at the Council Chamber on the afternoon of the same day, before Mr G Smith (city coroner) and a jury (of whom Mr W Lane was foreman).

The first witness called was the husband, John Triphook. He said : I last saw my wife alive at half-past eight. I returned home from my work to dinner at about ten minutes past twelve. Usually I find my dinner ready, but now I saw none on the table, while a letter addressed to a lodger was on the door-mat, which was an equally unusual thing. I at once called out for my wife – thinking she might be upstairs; but no one responded. I went to a neighbour’s to inquire for her, but they said they had not seen her. I then went upstairs. Outside the bedroom door I saw the dog; inside I saw my wife lying partly under the bed; and I fancied heard a groan. I saw blood about, and I immediately called assistance. I saw Dr Kelland driving past and I asked him to come in. About two months ago my wife was ill, and she was then attended by Dr Darke; but she apparently got pretty well but not quite well. Latterly she seemed somewhat despondent, which resulted, as I thought, from weakness. Only last week I took her for a drive in the hope of cheering her. I have no idea what could have induced her to take her life. I and my wife lived on the best of terms for the past sixteen years. She was either 45 or 46 last birthday.

Mr James Kelland, surgeon, of Salisbury, said that on examining the deceased he found three wounds on the left arm, the largest of them being in the front of the elbow joint, the other two being in the front of the wrist. The artery was divided at the elbow joint, the wound on the wrist nearer the hand being equally dangerous. Death would have resulted from either if she had not received help. She was breathing slightly and had a pulse when he first saw her. He was shown an ordinary table-knife, and it was evident the injuries had been inflicted by it. The poor woman bled to death. The wounds were, it was apparent, intentionally and self-inflicted. The wounds must have been inflicted quite an hour before he saw her; the bleeding had ceased and the blood had coagulated.

Mrs Elliza Kelloway, a neighbour of Mr Triphook’s, deposed that she was called by him to come to his assistance. She found Mrs Triphook lying on the floor, her arm being in a pool of blood. She saw that the arm was cut in three places. She saw her alive at half-past one on the previous day in the garden; and spoke to her about a fortnight before. Latterly she had appeared to be in better health than before. She could suggest no reason for her committing the act. She did not, however, think she had been in such good spirits lately as formerly. The husband and the wife always seemed to her to live on the best of terms. She had never heard the deceased make use of any threat to do away with herself.

Mrs Ann Lawrence, a widow, also a neighbour of Mr Triphook’s, said that she saw Mrs Triphook alive between ten and eleven that morning. She made it a practice to go and see her at about that hour every morning. At that time she appeared the same as usual in bodily health, and quite cheerful in spirits. She did her work in her usual manner. The deceased had, however, been low and desponding since her last illness. She showed no intention of taking her life. She and her husband always lived on good terms. On Triphook calling her that morning she went upstairs and saw the deceased. She was still alive and was lying in a pool of blood. The deceased, she knew, was suffering from a disease which weakened the constitution. The deceased had three lodgers living with her – two males and a female, the latter of whom left for work at eight and the former at nine.

The jury returned a verdict of “Committed suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity,” the Coroner having previously expressed the opinion that he thought they could come to n other conclusion.


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