Poetry and tragedy
1840 – Lines Written on the Mound at the Back of the Treago Arms, St. Weonards
How hath my childhood lov’d to sport upon
A rude fantastic hillock at the back
of our old mansion; round its rugged top
The lofty firs would bend them to the breeze –
And oft at fall of day, with boding sound,
Would cause a terror to my childish heart,
And make me leave the spot in pallid haste,
As my fix’d eye would rest upon some tomb
Within the ancient churchyard close beneath.
How doth maturer age e’en now delight
To stand upon that haunt of early days, and think
On those lov’d forms which glided round me thn
As in a fairy vision! Oh childhood!
Thou happiest, purest portion of our days,
Why wilt thou not remain? they very act
Is friendship, love, and unity – no guile,
No coldness – but all fervor and delight –
Religion’s purity is in each thought;
And feelings such as fail in later years
Are then in bright development – each eye
Is beaming with parental love, so oft
Forgotten in the worldly strife, which draws
Us on in after life – corrodes our hearts,
And freezes up our nature’s noblest warmth.
Yes, all those thoughts possess my soul whene’er
I cast my eyes upon that rustic mound.
1855 – Concealment of Birth at St. Weonards
An inquest was held following the discovery of the body of a new born child which had been buried in St. Weonards.
William Jenkins stated that he saw Lucy Gwatkin in a meadow with a spade in her hand at around 11 o’clock in the morning, and when talking to his mother two months later it became clear that Lucy had been obviously pregnant until that time and then appeared not to be. This was verified by several witnesses.
William’s mother then became concerned and went to the spot that her son had described, where helped by a hedger she searched until two flat stones were found barely covered by some leaves, underneath which they could see the toes of a child. They immediately called for help.
It transpired that Lucy had consistently denied being pregnant, despite her growing size, and it was thought that Daniel Johnson was the father as he had frequently visited Lucy – however Daniel said that it wasn’t him and he wanted nothing to do with it.
On the morning that the child was found buried Lucy was apparently ill in bed, but nobody heard her crying out as if in labour – however when she got up she looked thin and unwell. She still denied that she had been pregnant and said that there was no baby.
Post Mortem on the child
The post mortem was carried out by Mr. John Morris of Hereford, and he said that the male child was a full term fine child weighing 7lbs 8oz, and was 18 inches long. He was of the opinion that the child had not lived for long after birth, but that he had breathed because the lungs floated in water showing that air had entered the cells. Although he conceded that it was slightly possible that delivery was incomplete because babies could take a breath before arriving in the outside world.
There was too much decomposition on the body to determine whether there were any signs of violence but Mr. Morris did not think that the child had died from loss of blood. The umbilical cord had not been tied off.
The jury returned a verdict of Found Dead on the child, and added that Lucy Gwatkin was the mother of the child and had concealed the birth.
1891 – Fatal Accident at St. Weonards
In April 1891, Mr. James Embry a 59 year old farmer of Villendra, St. Weonards, left his house and took an unbroken two year old colt into a nearby field where he mounted it without a saddle.
The colt went quietly for a little while then suddenly bolted; after some 100 yards the horse stumbled into a ditch and threw Mr. Embry to the other side. The accident was seen by a lad who was in the field at the time, and he ran to help but found the poor man unconscious, so he rushed to the house for help.
James was carried into the house and Dr. Doig of Ross was sent for, but all medical assistance was to no avail and James never regained consciousness. He left a widow and six daughters.
1910 – Tragic Suicide at St. Weonards
Mr. John Evans, aged 54, of Moor Farm, St Weonards had been missing from his home for nearly two weeks, during which time no stone had been left unturned in the search for him.
Sadly his body was found in Darren Wood Garway, two miles from his home; he had hung himself with a handkerchief looped over a hazel sapling.
At the inquest, John’s eldest son John Edgworth Evans, said when he had last seen his father he seemed to be suffering from a bad cold and was rather unwell, but did not appear to be depressed. He said that he had no financial difficulties and was a deeply religious man, however some 7 or 8 years previously he had had a period of depression.
It transpired that a short time before his death, John had visited some friends and whilst away had consulted Dr. Stevens of Cardiff, who was a specialist in nervous diseases. Dr. Stevens confirmed the visit and said that John was very depressed with no obvious cause, and also that he felt that his state of mind was affected.
After further witness accounts, the Jury concluded that the deceased committed suicide during a period of mental aberration, brought forward by excessive religious zeal on a constitution very much run down.
In other words, suicide whilst temporarily insane.