Jefferis, George

Jefferis, George          1887 March 12th            Fordingbridge

Inquest at the Infirmary

On Wednesday afternoon an inquest was held at the Infirmary by Mr George Smith touching the death of George Jefferis, who was admitted into that institution on February 21st, with his throat cut, and died on Monday last. Mr John Sutton was foreman of the jury. The Coroner said he had made some inquiries as to the previous state of the health of the deceased, and believed they would find that he committed this act whilst of unsound mind.

Mrs Jefferis, widow of the deceased, said that the latter lived at 1, Brook Terrace, near the church, Fordingbridge. He was a fishmonger. Since Christmas he had been suffering from illness and had been attended by Dr Clifton, of Fordingbridge. Dr Clifton did not tell her what he was suffering from. Deceased himself told her that he thought it was due to his liver and indigestion. Dr Clifton told that he could go away or be taken away if he liked; but the next day he was better. Dr Clifton knew he was low spirited. Latterly there had been opposition in business and deceased did not seem to have strength to battle against it. He used to tell her that when his head was bad he did not know what he was doing. Witness kept a sharp eye on him because she knew he was not safe. A man slept in the house at night to look after him, but he was not there in the day time. On Feb 21 she missed him, and on making search found him in a closet with his throat cut. He spoke, she thought, but she could not distinguish what he said. She at once sent for Dr Clifton, who arrived in three or four minutes. Dr Clifton got him into the house washed the wound, got a conveyance, and brought him into Salisbury as quickly as possible. Deceased used to saying when his head was so very bad that he felt he could do anything. He used to say he felt as though he had two heads. The evening before he committed the deed his head was bad. The pain came on suddenly sometimes. Witness had spoken to him several times in the Infirmary. He wrote on a piece of paper that he could not help it; if he had not two hands he should not have done it. Deceased was 47 years of age.

Israel Shearing, a chimney sweep living at Fordingbridge, said he had known the deceased 25 years or more. About 13 years ago he had a bilious complaint and indigestion and was very low. From then up to Christmas he seemed pretty well; he was always cheerful. On the Sunday week after Christmas some children came to witness and asked him to keep deceased company. Witness did so. Deceased was then ill in bed. Witness asked him what was the matter, and he said he was very low and as weak as water across the chest. He called to see him daily until the 14th of February. He was ill the whole of that time. Deceased wanted him to sleep there, giving as his reason that he was afraid he should do himself some injury. Witness slept there from the 14th to the 17th of February. He seemed much better when witness slept there. He said that he felt then that he would not injure himself. On the 18th witness sent to know if he could do without him as he had to be off early in the morning, and he replied that he could. On the following Sunday morning he seemed worse. On Monday they made an appointment to go for a drive at quarter past 12, but at 10 minutes past 12 witness heard that he had cut his throat. Witness then went to his house and found that it was correct. Dr Clifton and witness came with the deceased to the Infirmary.

Levi Stephenson Luckham, house surgeon at the Infirmary, said the deceased was brought there on Monday, the 21st of February. Witness met him (accompanied by Dr Clifton) at the door, and admitted him at once. Deceased was in a state of collapse, being almost pulseless, and on examination witness found a large wound across the front of the neck. It had just escaped the larynx (wind pipe). It had severed the root of the tongue, except a bit on each side. Witness at once sent for Mr Wilkes (the surgeon for the week), and the wound was sewn up. Deceased lingered from that day until last Monday, when he died suddenly after witness had been trying for 20 minutes to feed him. The first night he was at the Infirmary he wrote a long letter to the nurse. It must have pained him a great deal to take food. Witness thought that he rather preferred to die than otherwise.

The letter written to the nurse was produced. It was not read out but was handed round to the jury.

A verdict of suicide during temporary insanity was returned.

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