Imagine my shock on receiving my great great great great grandfather’s death certificate to find that he had hung himself. According to the certificate he had ‘hung himself with a hempen cord in his own dwelling house being lunatic’. He was a joiner and there had been no sign in the census of anything untoward.
My first thought was that he had been unemployed and unable to support his family. In 1851 at the age of sixty-four he had three unmarried daughters at home, Elizabeth, Hannah and Ellen whom were all cotton spinners, a grandson Edmund, along with his wife Violet. I searched for an article on his death in the British Newspaper online archive with no luck but a search of the 19th Century newspapers available through the State Library of Victoria found an article on the inquest into this death.
‘ROCHDALE AND MIDDLETON
SUICIDE-On Monday evening, Samuel Schofield, joiner, Oldham road, put an end to his existence by hanging himself with a clothes line, near the entrance of the cellar at his own residence. He had been in a desponding state of mind in consquence of being out of employment.-An inquest was held on view of the body on Tuesday, and a verdict of “Temporary insanity” returned’.
How terribly sad that he had committed suicide due to unemployment. It gives an insight into how difficult times were for our ancestors during this period.
Samuel was the father of Ann Schofield who married John Collier at St Chads church, Rochdale on August 18, 1839. They left from Liverpool on board the Salsette in 1840 arriving in Melbourne on January 2, 1841 with their six month old son, Francis. Their second son Samuel, known as Sam, was born in a tent on the banks of the Merri creek, Port Philip in 1842. He was my great great great grandfather. I wonder if and when Ann heard the news that her father had taken his own life. She had named her second son for her father.
I ordered Samuel Schofield’s death certificate through the General Register Office of the UK’s pilot scheme for historical birth and death certificates. They can be ordered for £6 online. Recently the link to download them has been arriving within the week. A huge improvement on waiting for certificates to arrive by mail.
Samuel was buried four days later on March 18, 1853 at St Chads, Rochdale. He was sixty-six years old.
As usual I’d love to hear from you if you are also related to anyone mentioned here or have anything to add. Sources are available by contacting me.