YOUNG GIRL'S SUICIDE.
ST. ALBANS MILL WORKER ENDS HER LIFE ON RAILWAY.
REBUKE FOR CLANDESTINE TALK WITH MAN RESENTED.
“I hope you are going to forgive me for what I am going to do." That was the opening phrase of a letter which was found in the bag of Ethel Violet Mason, an eighteen–year-old girl who committed suicide on the London and North-Eastern Railway between Nast Hyde and Smallford. The girl, who was described as cheerful, was the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs William Mason, of 3, The Almonry, Lady Wootton's Green, Canterburv, and had been residing with her brother-in-law and sister, Mr and Mrs P. H. King, at 17, Springfield-road, Smallford, since Christmas, and had been employed at the Hosiery Mills, Hatfield-road, St. Albans.
At the inquest, which was held at the Town Hall. St. Albans, on Saturday, the Coroner (Mr Thomas Ottaway) said he did not think the letter which the girl had addressed to her parents should be made pub-lie as it was an unkind letter which contained certain statements which might not be true. The communication was handed to the Jury and to the brother-in-law, who stated, in reply to the Coroner's questions, that what the girl had said about his home life at his house was untrue. She had been rebuked by his wife for going downstairs, after the family had retired to bed, to talk to a man who was not known to Mr and Mrs Kent.
The brother-in-law said he regarded the rebuke as reasonable and justified. The Jury returned a verdict of “Suicide while of unsound mind.”
Evidence of identification was given by the girl's father, Mr William Mason, who said she was eighteen years old and had resided with his daughter and son in-law, at Smallford, and. during that time, she had been employed at the Hosiery Mills, St, Albans. Deceased had been away from home since Christmas. She was not a nervous girl, but she was excitable at times. She had not threatened to take her life previously, so far as he knew, and he had never had any trouble with her. She was obedient in every way.
A FATHER'S DISTRESS.
Asked if he knew deceased's writing and on being handed a letter, witness, breaking into tears, said the writing on the envelope was that of his daughter.
The Coroner said the letter, which was in the* same handwriting as that on the envelope, was addressed to “My darling Mother and Dad." and was signed "Eth." It began: "Just a few lines. I hope you are going to forgive me for what I am going to do." Then it made, certain statements which he (the Coroner) did not think ought to be made public. “I do not think lit is a kind letter," he added, " and there may be no truth in it.* The letter was passed to the jury for their perusal.
The Coroner handed three photographs to deceased's father, who said one was of the girl's mother, but he had not seen the other two before.
Percy Harold Kent, tailor's stockkeeper 17, Springfield-road, Smallford, said that deceased had been living with them since just after Christmas. Deceased seemed quite happy and had never threatened her life. On May 21st. she went to bed but before witness and his wife, who retired about 11 p.m. About 11.15 p.m., witness heard deceased go downstairs and the front door open, and deceased spoke to a man. His wife went down and rebuked deceased. He did not know who the man was.
The Coroner: Was the rebuke just and reasonable? - Witness: I think it was, quite.
Did she take it to heart much? - I don't think she did much. She seemed upset at the time about it. She did not seem to think there was much harm in It. Did your wife tell her unless she behaved herself she would have to go home? - Yes. What did she reply - She said, " All right, I will.”
Shown the letter which had been identified by deceased’s father, witness mas told to read it and, when he had done so the Coroner asked “You see what she says about her home life with you." Is that true?" - Witness: No. - Is there no justification for it at all? – Witness: None at all. A Juror: Were there frequent quarrels at your house between your wife and this girl? - Witness; I don't remember my wife and sister quarrelling at all. The Coroner: No quarrels between her and anybody else? - Witness: Not to my knowledge.
AT THE LEVEL CROSSING.
Leonard Richardson, horseman, 4, Greenfoot Cottages, Roe Green, Hatfield, said on Thursday he was working in a field adjoining the railway between Nast Hyde and Smallford. About 3.30 p.m. he raw deceased sitting just inside the gate at a point where a footpath crossed the line. She appeared to be writing, and he last noticed her just after 4 p.m. A train going to Hatfield passed about 4.30 p.m.
The Coroner: Was there anything suspicious about her conduct at the time? - Witness: No. She just sat there writing or reading.
Witness added that he left the field about 5.30 p.m., and. in consequence of what was said to him by a railway employee, he went to the crossing and saw the body, which he recognised as that of the young woman he had seen previously.
Ronald Berry, a L. & N. E. Railway porter, of 2, Bloomfield Cottages, Newtown, Hatfield. said he was travelling on the 5.5 p.m. train from Hatfield to St. Albans. Between Nast Hvde and Smallford, he saw the body of the girl lying on the ballast close to the footpath.
Charles Sidney Cox, L. & N. E. Railway ticket collector, 5, Railway Cottages. Hatfield, who was acting as guard on the train from St. Albans to Hatfield, said he did not notice anything on the line as he passed the spot in question.
George Myddleton Rickards. Locomotive Superintendent, L. & N. E. Railway, Hatfield, gave evidence of finding a small spot of blood on the leading guard iron in the front of the engine, about two inches from the bottom. He found the imprint of some material, probably serge, in the ducts of the guard iron.
P.c. Martin (Colney Heath), who went to the crossing later, said he found the body tying on the North-West side of the line, about four feet from the track and about nine yards on the Nast Hyde aide of the crossing. There was a black hat near her feet, a white handkerchief two yards from the body, and a blue leather handbag on the edge of the grass and ballast near the gate of the crossing on the North-West side of the line. He examined the ballast and the line, and he could not find any blood or marks except where her head lay. He removed the body to the St. Albans City Mortuary. He examined the handbag, and in it he found the letter and photographs which had been produced.
The Coroner: Were the injuries such as you would expect if she had been knocked down by an engine? - Witness: Yes, 1 think so.
In hl» address to the Jury, the Coroner said it seemed that the only difference between deceased and her sister was on the Tuesday night, when deceased was talking on the doorstep to a man. He thought the Jury would think that deceased wag properly rebuked for that conduct. With regard to the letter written by deceased and addressed to her parents, he thought, because of the evidence given that day, it was one which should not be made public. There were certain reflections in it which did not seem to be kind, and no good could be done or useful purpose served by making them known. On the back of a photograph of her mother and herself wan, “Dear, forgive me; I love you." On the back of another photograph, a postcard, wan, " Tell the boys to think of me sometimes." The Coroner added that the post-mortem examination showed nothing of the kind of thing which might be suspected in a ease of that sort.
The Jury, after a brief consultation in private, returned a verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity and the Foreman added that the Jurors desired him to express their deep sympathy with the parents and relatives of deceased.
The funeral took place on Monday, at St Mark's Church, Colney Heath, the Vicar (the Rev. A. Marchant) officiating, and the interment was in the Churchyard Extension In addition to the five mourners, a number of sympathising neighbours and friends attended. Included in .the wreaths was one inscribed “With deepest sympathy, from the employees of St. Albans Hosiery Mills.”
From the Herts Advertiser & St Albans Times, 31-May-1929.