Lawrance, Frederick

Lawrance, Frederick                1920 May 14th               Amesbury

Officialdom’s Victim

Authorities Censured by Coroner’s Jury

On Monday evening the body of Frederick William Lawrance, aged 49, an ex-Marine, was found near Stonehenge Road, Amesbury, with the throat cut. An inquest was held on Wednesday at the Board Room at the Workhouse before the South Wilts Coroner (Mr F H Trethowan) and a jury, of which Mr Swayne was chosen foreman.

James Lawrance said that Lawrance was his brother, and was discharged from the Marines in July, 1919, and had since lived with him. Shortly before he was discharged he fell down the hatchway of a ship and injured his head. He was kept under medical observation for some time, but was eventually discharged, and was granted a small disablement pension for six months. At the end of that time it was stopped. After leaving the Navy he had a stroke which partially paralysed his left side and affected his left arm and leg. In March he went before a medical board but was not granted any pension, the doctors saying that his present state of health was not caused by the injury he received in the Navy. He appealed, and was to have gone to Bristol on Tuesday for another examination. His service pensions, after 25 years’ service, including five years’ war service, was only 8s 9d a week, which was only about a third of what it should have been. He was greatly worried about his pension, and also about the medical board, because when he was trying to explain his case to the doctors they told him to “shut up.” He had written about his pension several times, but all he had received from the authorities was a post card to say that his case was under consideration. Since March 25th he had heard nothing. His friends advised him to wait, as the pension authorities were busy, and no doubt in time his case would have been attended to, but owing, no doubt, to his present state of health he did not seem to grasp it. He was very quiet and reserved, but he had never been heard to threaten to take his life. On Monday, he went out just after dinner, and as he did not come back to tea, as was his custom, they began to get anxious, and he went to look for him, and reported the matter to the police, who advised him to look in a field near West Amesbury where his brother was in a habit of going. There he found him lying face downwards with a wound in his throat, and a blood-stained razor close by. He was quite dead.

PC Beard deposed to removing the body to the mortuary. On searching it he found 3d in coppers and a post card addressed to Mr and Mrs Lawrance in his writing, stating, “I had to do it. I am in serious trouble. I know it will break your hearts, and I am sorry for you. I leave you everything, such as it is. F W Lawrance.”

In answer to a question, Mr Lawrance said he knew of no other trouble except the pension.

Stanley Frank Dibben, who worked for his father at the King’s Arms Inn, said Lawrance came to the house on Monday morning and had two drinks, but was quite sober, although he seemed very strange in his manner.

Dr J L D Lewis, of Amesbury, said that death was due to a deep wound in the throat, which had been self-inflicted. Death would result in a very short time.

The Coroner, in summing up, said that Lawrance’s mind, in his poor state of health, could not stand the worry about his pension.

The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide whilst of unsound mind,” and added that in their opinion his state of mind was caused by the treatment Lawrance had received from the authorities on the matter of his pensions (both disability and service); and also by the treatment he received at the medical boards.

The Coroner remarked that he quite concurred with all the jury said.


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