Edwards, Montague

Edwards, Montague               1919 March 14th

City Motorist’s Fate

Tragic Discovery on a Road in Somerset

While motoring from Monmouth to Salisbury on Saturday Mr A F Edwards, a partner in the firm of Messrs Edward Brothers, motor engineers, of Salisbury, discovered the dead body of one of his brothers, Mr Arthur Montague Edwards in a motor car near Woolverton (Between Frome and Bath), his head having been shockingly injured by gun-shot.

An inquest was held on Tuesday by the Coroner for the District, Mr Mackay, without a jury. Mr F H Trethowan, of Salisbury, represented the Mr Edwards’ family.

Alexander Frank Edwards, of 43, Wain-a-Long Road, Salisbury, stated that his brother, Montague, lived at 56, New Street, and was 36 years of age. On March 8th they were travelling in separate motor cars from Monmouth to Salisbury, each without a passenger. His brother had not been in good health, having had a nervous break-down, but he was much better and was in good spirits when they left Monmouth at about 8.50am. They stopped at Gloucester, Stroud and Bath for refreshments. After leaving Bath witness went ahead, turning round occasionally to see that his brother was coming. He did not wish to keep far from the other car as he had no spare wheel or jack. About three miles from Beckington he waited for his brother and asked him how the car was going. He replied, “Tophole.” Just before going into Beckington he waited for his brother again, and, as he did not come, he turned back, thinking he might have had a puncture, or trouble with the car. He took the wrong turning but eventually got on to the right road and reached his brother’s car at about 3.40pm. He shouted, “What’s up?” The engine of the car was going and his brother was apparently kneeling on the running boards with his head in the car under the hood, which was up. At first he thought his brother was looking in the gear box, which was under the floor boards, but then he saw he was shot through the head, and was dead. He could not say exactly where the gun was, though it was near him. He thought the butt was on the floor boards and the barrel was over one shoulder. He knew his brother had two guns in the car, one of his own, and the other belonging to another brother. He also knew he had some cartridges. He had often known him to use a gun when driving a car, and shooting was his chief amusement. When a car came along driven by Mr James Udell he asked the driver to get a doctor, and he went to Beckington for the purpose. Witness followed, but as a doctor could not be found he went to the Post Office to telephone to Salisbury. When he returned to the spot he found two constables, and the car and body had been moved. His brother had no financial trouble or family worries, and was generally cheerful and good tempered. He certainly had never threatened to take his life.

Answering Mr Trethowan Mr Edwards said his brother was not at all secretive, and was always willing to talk abut any small trouble. He had all the tools in his car, so it was necessary to keep in touch with him during the whole of the journey.

PC Hillier, stationed at Beckington, deposed to being called by Mr Udell at about 4.45pm, and returning to the spot in his car. The body was between the front seat and the front part of the car with the feet resting by the toes on the running boards. The door of the car was open and he was in a stooping position as if he was doing something to the inside of the car. His left shoulder was against the steering pillar and the right rested on the side of the seat. His head was on the floor. The butt of the gun was near his head, resting against his shoulder and the bar of the steering pillar. He found a spent cartridge in the left barrel of the gun.

In cross-examination, witness said he did not notice any particular object in the car which might have caught the trigger, but there might have been such.

Dr W G Evans, of Beckington, said he had examined the body. He found the frontal bones of the skull smashed, and the brains blown away. The charge evidently entered the right temple and went across to the other side of the head. At the time the cartridge exploded, the muzzle of the gun was not more then six inches from the temple, and in his opinion the gun was in a horizontal position.

Mr Trethowan pointed out that it was almost impossible for the gun to be in a horizontal position in view of the fact that both Mr Edwards’ head and the gun were found inside the car.

The doctor and the coroner and Mr Trethowan then went to make another inspection of the car. It was suggested that possible the gun might have been picked up and removed before the witness found it, and was placed in the position in which he found it by a third party.

The Coroner, continuing the inquest, said he would like to hear evidence from the other brother who had been frequently in the company of Mr Montague Edwards.

Fitzroy Probyn Edwards, of 21, Milford Street, Salisbury, said he knew his brother often took a gun with him when driving a car. He used to shoot a good deal in the neighbourhood of Salisbury, as he had many friends who had shooting. On several occasions, before he went to Monmouth, he knew he had stopped the car and shot at a rabbit, hare, or pigeon, and when they were going down to Monmouth about five weeks ago he stopped the car and shot at some partridges. He missed and got back into the car, but shortly afterwards had another shot. While in Monmouth his brother was quite cheerful, and they went to theatres, whist drives, etc. He always seemed happy.

The Coroner returned a verdict to the effect that Mr Montague Edwards was killed by a shot from a gun, whether fired intentionally or accidentally there was no evidence to show.

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