Sheppard, Charles

Sheppard, Charles             1888 April 14th

On Sunday afternoon, Mr Charles Sheppard, a cheese dealer, residing at 10, York Terrace, Devizes Road, a tradesman of long standing, and who, we understand, was contemplating retiring from business life, committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor. The inquest was held on Monday afternoon by the City Coroner (Mr G Smith), at the London Hotel, Fisherton, Mr Edward Brittan acting as foreman of the jury. The coroner and jurymen having viewed the body,

Frederick Fawson Lee, medical practitioner, was called. He said: Deceased’s brother came for me about quarter past two on Sunday afternoon. As soon as I collected a few things together I went to see him. I found him in a parlour downstairs seated in a chair with the front of his clothes covered with blood and two small drops on the carpet. I removed the clothes that were around is neck and saw a deep gash in his throat. There was no active bleeding at the time. With the assistance of Superintendent Mathews and Mr Yeatman we took him upstairs to bed. Mr Yeatman was there when I arrived, and Mr Mathews came some time after. On more careful examination I found there was a wound across the upper part of the neck, about five inches in length, and just below the lower jaw, severing the root of the tongue and the soft parts and exposing the back of the throat. As there was no bleeding going on I went to get a few things I required and also the assistance of Dr Wilkes, the case being so serious. We stitched up the wounds in the throat and put on proper dressings. I had been attending him for several days past for extreme nervous depression and restlessness, and he was in a very weak state of health. I remained with him till after six o’clock and also from nine up to the time of his death. I tried to feed him a little before eleven with some beef tea. It excited a little irritation and gurgling in the throat. He became slightly convulsed, and died, blood coming up into his mouth. I believe there was internal bleeding from the wound. I cannot tell how the wound was inflicted. There is insanity in the family. He was quite conscious from the first.

The Coroner : Is it your opinion that he committed this act whilst temporarily insane?

Dr Lee : Certainly ; without premeditation. It was a sudden impulse. I might mention that we were rather put to a pinch for water, it being turned off for some time on Sunday afternoon.

William Sheppard, of 170, Castle Street, brother of the deceased, said: I was at my brother’s house at 1.40 on Sunday afternoon. I visited him to see the state of health he was in, to report to my wife who is in the Infirmary. I remained with him about 20 minutes. I was sitting with him in the kitchen, conversing with him about the weather and different things. About five minutes to two he left that room and went into the front room. After he left I was conversing with his wife, and hearing an unusual sound I said, “What a noise Charles is making.” She replied, “That is nothing to me.” She, however, immediately left my presence and went into the front room and called for my assistance. I went into the room and found him in this wretched state in a chair. He had a razor in his hand. I took it from him and put it on the table. He never spoke a word.

Sup Mathews was next called. He said: About a quarter past two yesterday (Sunday) afternoon in consequence of information received I went to 10, York Terrace, Devizes Road. I found deceased in the front room down stairs. He was sitting in a chair with a large wound in his throat. Dr Lee was there with Mr Yeatman and others. I assisted Dr Lee to take him upstairs and put him to bed. I took charge of him while Mr Lee was absent. He repeatedly asked me to go down stairs and search the front room for some papers and money. He said, “Oh dear! what shall I do, I am sure they will take it all.” I did not leave him, as he continually tried to get at the wound. I left him in charge of one of the constables and Dr Lee. I found a white-handled razor on the table covered with blood, which I now produce. I have noticed Mr Sheppard for some time past and his manner was very peculiar. He was 65 years of age.

George Yeatman, working jeweller and silver smith, of Castle Street, stated that he had been a friend of the family for over 40 years. He had always heard of insanity in the family, but he could not give an instance of any one of them committing suicide before. Deceased’s father had been twice confined in a lunatic asylum; one daughter died in the asylum, and another had been in and was married after she came out. Two aunts in London had been in the asylum.

The jury were unanimously of opinion that deceased committed suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity, and returned a verdict accordingly.


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