Knowles, Edward

Knowles, Edward       1885 August 22nd        Bemerton

Shocking Suicide of Sir F Bathurst’s Agent

A shocking discovery was made at Bemerton heath this (Friday) morning, Lord Pembroke’s gamekeeper discovering the body of a man who had shot himself. The unfortunate deceased turned out to be Mr Edward Holdsworth Knowles, who only two months ago accepted the position of Estate Agent to Sir Frederick Bathurst. He had been missed from is lodgings at 97, Exeter-street since Tuesday evening, when he went out, as he said, to spend a few hours with a friend. There was nothing whatever to reveal the motive for the shocking act.

The inquest was held at the “Half-way House,” Wilton-road, this (Friday) afternoon, by the Coroner for the district (Mr R A Wilson) and a jury, of whom the Rev. S H Lushington was foreman.

The first witness called was Mr Hamilton Fulton, solicitor, of Salisbury, who said : I have seen the body, and I identify it as that of Edward Holdsworth Knowles. He was agent to Sir Frederick Bathurst, and resided at 97, Exeter-street, Salisbury. I was frequently in the habit of seeing him on Sir Frederick’s business; the last time I saw him was on Tuesday afternoon, when he was with me between one and two o’clock. At that time he was perfectly competent to manage the business of his position. He was in his usual mental condition – though he exhibited a depression that was unusual for him. He had been Sir Frederick’s agent for about two months. Perhaps, I ought to say, nothing was wrong in connection with his agency; his management was perfectly satisfactory, and Sir Frederick has been entirely content.

John Gasper deposed : I live at Quidhampton, and am gamekeeper to Lord Pembroke. I was going up the Bemerton heath this morning at about nine o’clock, when, immediately after I had entered the heath, I saw a man lying down. At first I thought he was asleep; but in touching him I found him dead, and then at once saw a revolver in his hand. He was lying on the left side, with the revolver fixed in his right hand, and pointing towards his head. Close by his side, on the left side, was a stick. One of the chambers of the weapon had evidently been discharged. There was no evidence of any struggle; all the evidence pointed to instantaneous death. I obtained two men to remain with the body, and I then proceeded to the police.

Mr Supt Stephens deposed : This morning, at half past nine o’clock, from information I received from the last witness, I accompanied him to Bemerton heath. About 15 yards inside of the wood I saw the body. Deceased was still on his left side with the revolver (a five-chambered one) in his right hand, his thumb being on the trigger. There were four chambers of the revolver still loaded, one having been discharged. The deceased was properly dressed; and I should say was laying down at the time the revolver was discharged, as there did not appear to have been the slightest struggle. There was not the slightest disarrangement of his clothing. I could see that blood had been flowing from the head and mouth; and on removing the body I found a quantity on the spot where his head had been. I had the body searched; and in his trouser pockets found £13 in gold and 11s 3d in silver and a tooth pick, in addition to six revolver charges. On one finger were two rings, and gold and silver one. There was nothing in writing in his pockets.

Thomas Jones, who lives at 97, Exeter-street, with his mother, said : The deceased lodged at our house, he having been with us about six weeks. I saw him last at nine o’clock on Tuesday evening. It was in the hall. Previous to that during dinner he said he was going to spend an hour or two with a friend. “If I go,” he added, “you will leave the lights and the door undone.” When in the hall he said nothing to me. I waited on him at dinner and saw that he made a good meal. I noticed nothing the matter with him beyond that he did not talk to me so freely as he sometimes did. His habits were quiet. He was a punctual man, and never out after ten, unless he went out to dine. He wrote two or three letters that evening, giving me one to post.

The Rev. W Savage, vicar of Burcombe, said : The deceased was my cousin by marriage. I have constantly seen him since he has lived in Salisbury, he frequently coming over to my house. I last saw him on Saturday afternoon in the street. I then had some conversation with him. He was a most moderate man. There was to be observed sometimes a nervous twitching in his eyes. His age was 30. Before he came here he lived with his father. He lives in Somerset, and is estate agent to Lord Ashburton. I had noticed nothing particularly in the demeanour of the deceased that would lead me to suppose that he would take away his life. Certain friends had told me of the great difference they had observed in him; and so great had been this difference that recently while travelling in a train a friend asked him if he were ill. I am certain there was no pecuniary difficulty; he was a man in comfortable circumstances, having private means besides his salary.

The Coroner said that though he would not say that every one who took his life was insane, yet here, in the absence of any motive whatever, the evidence pointed that the act was committed in a moment of temporary insanity.

The jury returned a verdict of “Committed suicide whilst temporarily insane.”

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