Lewis, Edward

Lewis, Edward         1916 October 22nd               Fonthill Gifford

Rector’s Son Shot

A sad discovery was made on Sunday morning in the glebe field at Fonthill Gifford, the son of the rector of the parish being found dead with a gun by his side. The incident is all the sadder because it is the second fatal accident which had occurred in the Rector’s family recently, his daughter having been killed in a bicycle accident.

Mrs S M Sheldon, of Bath, said that Edward Radcliffe Lewis was her brother, and was 31 years of age. He lived with his father at Fonthill Gifford Rectory, and returned from a visit to Chicksgrove on Saturday. He did not stay in the house for the night, and on Sunday morning she went to look for him. Something attracted her attention across the glebe field and she found it was her brother’s body. A gun was by his side. She did not know of any worries that he had, and he was of a cheerful disposition.

Annie True, the housemaid at the Rectory, said Mr Lewis arrived there at 3.30 on Saturday afternoon. He was as cheerful as usual.

Dr A H Baker, of Tisbury, said that he was called to the Rectory on Sunday morning, and arrived about 10 o’clock. He found the body in the glebe field, and was of the opinion that Mr Lewis had been dead for several hours. A gun was by his side parallel with the body, the barrel pointing to his head as though it had slipped out of his right hand. It was a hammerless gun, with two exploded cartridges in it. There was dirt on one corner of the butt, and the corner fitted an impression in the ground. He noticed no string or anything else which was likely to have been used to fire the gun. There was one hole in the coat and two in the shirt. The gun must have been fired close to the body, though there was no sign of a burn in the coat. There were two shot wounds in the body, one in the heart and one just below the ribs. The exit of one discharge was in the left loin and it was difficult to understand how that wound could have been inflicted if Mr Lewis had been standing up. Mr Lewis had had trouble with his spine and had lost one eye.

Police Constable Randolph also spoke as to the position of the body, and said that the watch on Mr Lewis’ wrist had stopped at twenty minutes to one.

The jury retired to consider their verdict, and on returning the Foreman said that they were unanimously of the opinion that death was accidental. They were also convinced that Mr Lewis himself was the cause of the accident, and that there is no other person concerned in it. The jury also made a sympathetic reference to the accidental death of Mr Lewis’ sister some time ago, and expressed their sympathy with the bereaved family, and in this the Coroner concurred.

 

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