Gray, Cecil

Gray, Cecil      1919 March 7th        Downton

Sad Sequel to Influenza Attack

Following an attack of influenza and the knowledge that his workmen on his farm were also ill, Mr Cecil Gray, of Middle Wick Farm, Downton, committed suicide sadly on Monday morning. Much sympathy will be felt with Mrs Gray in the tragic death of her husband. He leaves also two young children.

An inquest was held by the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan) on Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs Kate Gray said her husband was 35 years of age and had been suffering from influenza for a week. He was in bed from Monday, February 24th till Wednesday, February 26th, and did not leave the house till Sunday, when he took a walk round the farm. He came into the house again about 12 o’clock, when he said he was “done up.” He did not leave the house again that day and when they went to bed he seemed fairly bright, except that he was a little worried about the farm work, as nearly all his men were ill. He was talking about the illness of the baby and of the men. She told him he would soon be quite well again and not to worry. He said, “You can see a bright side to it, but all I can see is a dark cloud. I wish the earth would open and let me down.” The light was kept burning in the bedroom. About 1.30am her husband wanted to go downstairs to get a bottle of milk for baby, but she told him she would do that as soon as baby had gone asleep. She went off to sleep herself and did not hear her husband leave the room, but she was awakened by a noise, and got up and called Charles Elliott who was sleeping in the house. They both saw her husband lying on the floor of the pump house with his gun near his feet. He kept his gun in the passage and it was usually loaded. She had never heard her husband threaten to take his life.

Charles Elliott, of Charlton All Saints, said he was helping Mr Gray on his farm during the illness of his men. He last saw Mr Gray alive on Sunday morning when he seemed fairly bright, but kept worrying about so many of his men being ill and that there was no one to see to the cattle. Early Monday morning he was awakened by a noise which sounded like a bucket being knocked over and he went downstairs with Mrs Gray. He saw Mr Gray in the pump house lying on his back and a crook walking stick was round the trigger of the gun. Mr Gray had never said anything to him about taking his life.

PC Gough, stationed at East Harnham, stated he went to the farm about 10am on Monday morning. It appeared that Mr Gray must have stood facing the copper with the butt of the gun lodged on the copper, and the stick was apparently used to push the trigger. He found nothing on the body to throw light on the matter.

Dr Whiteley, of Downton, said he was called to the farm and he arrived there about 3.45am. Death must have been instantaneous. He examined the body later and fund there were extensive injuries. The back of the skull, the upper and lower jaws were fractured, and the injuries were apparently self-inflicted.

A verdict of death while of unsound mind was returned.

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