Death of George Edward Hardwick(e), January 1924

The following are unexpugated transcripts of the reports in the Woking News & Mail of the suicide of George Edward Hardwick(e) and subsequent inquest held by Gilbert H. White, Coroner for West Surrey, in January 1924. George Edward Hardwick(e) was the father of George Henry Edward Hardwick, his only son.

Please be aware that these reports contain details which some readers may find distressing.



Woking Man’s Death

A sensational discovery was made at Woking on Wednesday morning, when Mr. George E. Hardwicke, of 45, Arthurs Bridge Road, Woking, was found lying in a pool of blood in a room at his house, and was removed to hospital in a very critical condition.

Hardwicke, who is 68 years of age, is a carpenter, who has lived in the district for many years. He is married, but for some time past his wife has been under treatment in hospital at Guildford, and during her absence Hardwicke has had a housekeeper to help in the house.

It was the housekeeper who discovered Hardwicke on Wednesday morning, and examination showed that his throat had been severely cut, and he also had a cut on the wrist. Presumably the wounds had been inflicted with a carving knife, which was found close by.

The injured man was at once conveyed to the Woking Cottage Hospital, where he was attended by Dr. R. Stafford Foss, and everything possible was done for him. His condition was very critical yesterday (Thursday), and his injuries are so severe that little hope is entertained for his recovery.

As we go to press, we learn that Hardwicke passed away at 7 o’clock last (Thursday) evening.

(Source: Woking News & Mail, Friday, February 22nd, 1924, page 5)




Housekeeper’s Distressing Discovery.

Worry due to his wife’s long absence from home, in hospital, was stated to be the cause of the suicide of George Edward Hardwicke, aged 68, a carpenter, living at 45, Arthur’s Bridge Road, Woking, whose tragic death was recorded in our last issue. Hardwicke was found at his home with his throat cut and an injury to his wrist early on Wednesday morning of last week. He was removed to Woking Cottage Hospital in a critical condition, and, despite every attention, passed away the following (Thursday) evening.

The circumstances attending the distressing occurrence were investigated at the inquest held at Woking Police Court on Friday by the West Surrey Coroner, Mr. Gilbert H. White, who sat without a jury.

Anticipating Wife’s Return.
Evidence of identification was given by Mrs. Gertrude Hutton, a sister-in-law of deceased’s wife, living at 10, Havelock Road, South Wimbledon. She said she was the widow of Mrs. Hardwicke’s younger brother, and had known deceased intimately for many years. She last saw him alive on Sunday, when witness visited the infirmary at Guildford to see Mrs. Hardwicke. Deceased was with his wife at the time.

Mrs. Hardwicke, the witness explained, was suffering from a fractured thigh as a result of an accident, and had been in hospital for 12 weeks. Witness had not visited Woking since the autumn, but she was at the Guildford infirmary just before Christmas. Deceased and his wife had no family, their only son having died on service during the war. Witness understood deceased had a housekeeper.

When witness saw deceased on Sunday he seemed in very good spirits indeed, because his wife was expected to leave the infirmary to come home on the following Saturday. Witness added that deceased had a sister who was in Kingston infirmary suffering from a poisoned arm, which had had to be amputated.

Housekeeper’s Discovery.
Mrs. Packham, deceased’s housekeeper, was then called. She said she had no permanent home, but had been living at 45, Arthur’s Bridge Road. She was a widow, and had acted as Mr. Hardwicke’s housekeeper since his wife went away in December. Witness had lodged there before this, and Mrs. Hardwicke asked her to look after her husband. Deceased had never complained, but said witness did very well for him. Except for a bilious attack on the previous Monday deceased had had good health. After going to the infirmary on Sunday he seemed very pleased at the prospect of his wife returning in a few days. Deceased was away from work on Monday and Tuesday on account of his bilious attack, but arranged to go to work on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday, about 6.15 or 6.30 a.m., witness heard deceased go downstairs as usual. He was in the habit of getting his own breakfast. As witness did not hear him about afterwards she went down about 7 o’clock and found him lying back in an easy chair in the kitchen. At first witness thought he had broken a blood vessel, as there was a quantity of blood on his clothing. Witness went for the assistance of a neighbour, and when she returned she saw a knife lying by deceased’s side. She added that Hardwicke seemed quite cheerful when he went to bed the previous evening.

‘I Was Worried About My Wife.’
Dr. Reginald Stafford Foss, who saw deceased at the Cottage Hospital on Wednesday morning, said he had a very severe laceration of the throat, which had destroyed the greater part of the larynx and also entered the gullet. He died from exhaustion and shock on Thursday evening. There was no doubt that the wound was self-inflicted. Deceased also had a wound in his wrist.
Insp. H. Rendell, of the Woking Police, said at 7.15 a.m. on Wednesday he visited deceased’s house and found him sitting in an armchair close by the fire suffering from a wound in the throat and wrist.

Witness sent for Dr. Foss, who advised the deceased’s removal to the Cottage Hospital. About 18 inches from deceased’s feet witness found a large carving knife covered with blood, and deceased’s hands were covered with blood also.

He was incapable of speech, but as he seemed anxious to convey something witness gave him a piece of paper and a pencil upon which he wrote the following:—‘I was so worried about my poor wife. God bless her. The woman I have is a terror.’

No Suggestion of Bad Treatment.
The inspector added that in the presence of deceased the housekeeper explained to him that she did not wish deceased to have some pastry the previous day.

The Coroner said there could be no doubt whatever that deceased took his own life, and there was little doubt that he was not responsible for his action at the time. There was no suggestion that he had been badly treated. The verdict would be one of ‘Suicide whilst of unsound mind.’

The Coroner asked Mrs. Packham if she was still looking after the house.

Mrs. Packham: Yes, but I want to get out. I suppose I can now?

Mrs. Hutton said she would be remaining for a day or two, and would be arranging for the funeral.

The Coroner remarked that it was a very sad case, with deceased’s wife in the infirmary. This would be a great shock to her.

Mrs. Hutton: I am just going to see her now.

(Source: Woking News & Mail, Friday, February 29th, 1924, Page 2)

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