The Surgeon and the Poisoner

Claudius Galen WHEELHOUSE, towards the end of his eventful life, filled his “retirement” hours serving the people of Filey in a variety of ways – JP, magistrate, and chairman (I think) of the Lifeboat Committee. He was also a churchwarden at St Oswald’s, Filey (Today’s Image). His compassion for humankind, or “peoplekind” if you prefer, was probably instilled into him as a child, but an early, and very public, demonstration of it occurred in 1856. Aged thirty and building his career and reputation as a surgeon, he added his name to a petition, pleading that the life of “The Leeds Poisoner” should not be taken by the hangman.

Your petitioners…humbly pray that your most gracious Majesty will be pleased to spare the life of…William Dove.

Claudius and about twenty other citizens were of the opinion that:

…if persons of such unsound and defective intellect as…William Dove are to suffer the extreme penalty of the law, the effect upon the public mind will be most injurious, and will tend more than any other cause to bring capital punishment, under whatever circumstances imposed, into general odium and disrepute.

They seem to have believed that locking him up for the rest of his life would be “the most just and adequate punishment”.

The woman who sent her armies to slaughter people in the hundreds of thousands was unmoved, and a large crowd gathered in York on Saturday, 9th August, to watch “the drop”. A novice hangman added a certain amount of extra drama to the terrible occasion but William was eventually dispatched. He didn’t struggle much.

His family was, apparently, of “the Wesleyan persuasion” and he had been attended by several religious gentlemen in his last days. He had admitted his guilt but, from my reading of the case thus far, he didn’t seem to care for his wife much. I doubt they diagnosed “borderline personality disorders” 150 years ago but that section of the DSM-5 would be my first port of call in an attempt to understand the wretched fellow.

Poor Harriet JENKINS. She had met and married the handsome northern man of limited, but independent, means in Plymouth in the summer of 1852. She was from a good family. A  clergyman brother was also a professor of mathematics in Madras, and her mother and sister, traveling up from Devon to look after her, crossed the letter announcing Harriet’s death. A saving grace, perhaps – there were no children born to the unhappy couple.

You will find the Poisoner and his victim on FamilySearch Treeand there is a lengthy PDF of the inquest, trial and execution online that can be freely downloaded.

 

A Little Known Soldier

Edward Sydney WARD is publicly remembered in three places in Filey. His death in France is noted on the headstone of his grandparents and Aunt Emily in St Oswald’s churchyard.

WARDedSyd

If the War Memorial in Murray Street is honouring his sacrifice it omits his middle initial and misspells the family name.

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The plaque in St Oswald’s that lists the men of this parish who laid down their lives for their country in the Great War honours Edward Ward of the 5th Yorkshire Regiment.

His existence in the CWGC Index is sparely recorded.

1916_WARDedsyd_cwgcIndex

The 5th Yorks (Alexandra) Battalion War diary is, as one would hope, more forthcoming, telling us that Ted was seriously wounded by a bomb while helping to guard a trench on September 18th; he died the following day. It notes that he was moved from his grave in Bottom Wood, Fricourt, to Dantzig Alley British Cemetery after the Armistice. This all too brief account has a photograph and some family information that points us in the right direction, though giving his age as 20 doesn’t confirm what we know from the St Oswald’s headstone.

It says he was born in Leeds. That is what the Census enumerator was told in 1901 and 1911 when, aged 7 and 17, he was living first at 1 East Parade, Filey with grandparents Edward and Rebecca WARD and then at 2 West Parade with the recently widowed Rebecca. In 1911 plain “Edward Ward” was working as a “Grocer’s Vanman”.

The War Diary informs us that Ted “was the nephew of Mrs Dove, 29 Cambridge Street and had been brought up from early age by his grandmother, Mrs E. Ward, of Filey. Shortly before the outbreak of war they came to reside in Bridlington, young Ward having secured a position at Messrs Ouston’s (grocers), King Street, Bridlington.” Mrs Dove was, I’m almost certain, Ann Elizabeth née WARD, Mrs E. Ward’s daughter. (Rebecca died in May 1919 at 29 Cambridge Street, Bridlington.)

Though some pieces are falling into place I cannot find a record of Edward Sydney’s birth. It is frustrating not being able to calculate his relationship to Ronnie Dove  (last Friday’s post). It should be easy, but of 64 Edward WARDs born in England in the four years 1893 to 1896, the GRO Online Index offers the births of only two registered in Leeds – Edward Laurence in March 1894 and Edward Arthur in December 1896. A third, plain Edward, was registered in Bramley in September 1896.

So, a young man who died for his King and Country at the age of 20 or 22, can’t yet be placed fairly and squarely with his forebears on the FamilySearch Tree. “The system” gave him an ID five years ago.

ESWfst

The picture is much the same on Filey Genealogy and Connections but Kath does have a record of baptism for him – in 1910 – with a note stating, “An adult when he was baptised. No other information given!”

Grandfather Edward John, who took part in “the Baltic, the China, the Crimean and the New Zealand wars”, is a little more connected here.

Today’s Image…

…was taken this morning on my first stroll along the promenade in ten days, grateful (as you may imagine) to have reached old age.