Watts, George

Watts, George           1914 Aug 21st        Wilton

Worried by the War

Old Age Pensioner Commits Suicide

An inquest was held at Wilton Workhouse on Monday afternoon concerning the death of George Watts, aged 72, a retired brewer’s drayman, of 40, Northam Street, Southampton, who was found ill by the roadside at Ugford on Saturday night, and died in Wilton Workhouse Infirmary on Sunday morning.

The South Wilts Coroner (Mr F H Trethowan) presided.

George Watts, of Southampton, stated that his father, who lived with another son at Southampton, had been pensioned off by his firm, and was also an old age pensioner. On Friday he left his house without stating where he was going, and as he did not return the family caused enquiries to be made as to his whereabouts. On Sunday they received a message from the police that he was at Wilton Workhouse. When he last saw his father he seemed to be in his usual health, but he had had a lot of worry about a son who was suffering from epileptic fits. The son was not responsible for his actions, and the father was made responsible for him. He had never threatened to take his life. The witness added that he knew of no insanity in the family.

George Daniels, chemist, of Wilton, in the employ of Mr Page, stated that Mr Watts came to the shop on Saturday afternoon at three o’clock and asked for some spirits of salts. He asked him for what purpose he required them, and he replied, “Cleaning.” He warned Watts that it was a dangerous poison and according to law must be put into a poison bottle. He seemed perfectly sensible and sober. Mr Page’s address label was placed on the bottle and he supplied him with three-pennyworth of spirits of salts and charged him a further penny for the bottle. About two teaspoonfuls were now missing from the bottle. Spirits of salts were often supplied for the purpose of household cleaning, and a purchase excited no suspicion, although, personally, he always asked what purpose it was required for.

PC Hull, of Burcombe, stated that on Saturday at about 8pm, he was called to Ugford and found the old man lying by the side of the Shaftesbury road there. He was wet through, and complained of pains in the chest, and seemed to be suffering badly. He found a bottle containing spirits of salts by his side. He could tell the man had taken spirits of salts and gave him an emetic of olive oil, and he seemed to be in less pain. He asked Watts why he took the stuff, and he replied, “I have been worrying about the war, and am tired of my life.” He was taken to Dr Straton’s surgery and afterwards to Wilton Workhouse. During the night he said he had had a lot of worry about his son who was subject to fits ; and he also stated that he did not know what he was doing when he took the poison.

Dr Straton stated that Watts was brought to his surgery at 9 o’clock on Saturday evening. He stated that he had taken spirits of salts and an antidote was at once administered. His mouth and throat were charred by the poison, and the injuries were consistent with the amount of fluid missing from the bottle. Watts was taken to the Workhouse Infirmary and he saw him next morning. He asked Watts why he had taken the poison, and he said he was worried about his son, who was an epileptic. He asked him also why he went in the direction of Ugford, and he replied that his people had lived at Compton Chamberlayne. He said he felt tired of his life, and did not see his way out of it. The throat was considerably injured by the corrosive poison, and he died as a result of these injuries. Two teaspoonfuls of spirits of salts would cause death in from eighteen to twenty-four hours. The administration of olive oil was the best thing the constable could have done.

Mrs Brown, the matron of the Workhouse, gave evidence of the death, which took place in her presence at 8.45 on Sunday evening.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst of unsound mind.

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