Eastern Province Herald 1866 - 3 - July to September
Tuesday 3 July 1866
BIRTH at St.John’s River on the 22nd May 1866, the wife of Mr. F.J. HUGHES of a son.
DIED at St.John’s River on the 27th May, the infant son of Mr. F.J. HUGHES.
DIED at Port Elizabeth on 1st July, Edward John, only son of John and Julia O’GRADY. Aged 2 years and 3 months.
Nathaniel RANDELL, an old soldier of the 91st, was found dead on Saturday in William’s Hotel, Strand-street. The District Surgeon made a post mortem examination of the body and found that death resulted from apoplexy. He was buried the same day by Constable WEIR, also an old 91st man.
Information reached King William’s Town last week respecting an attempted murder at or near the Komgha. From some cause not yet made public, a Creole, surnamed THOMAS, late of the Frontier Armed Mounted Police, attempted to murder a Kafir woman by shooting her through the head. The unfortunate victim, we hear, was still lingering when the messenger left the Komgha, but there was little chance of her recovery. A warrant has been issued for the apprehension of the culprit.
Friday 6 July 1866
Mr. John Thomas LACEY, of this town, has passed his examination as a chemist and druggist and had received the usual licence.
The saddest news of all connected with the recent disasters off the coast came to us on the 27th ult by the Sailor’s Friend. She spoke HMS Swallow, from China, off Recife, and learned that two vessels – one the Stalwart and another, supposed to be the Agincourt – had foundered. And that the Swallow had on board the captain of the Stalwart, his wife, and thirteen of the crew. Two other boats with the rest of the crew of the Stalwart, however, were missing, but one has since been heard of.
ANOTHER OF THE STALWART’S MISSING BOATS
On the morning of the 20th ultimo, about eleven o’clock, three men and a boy, weary and wet, came to Mr. S. DELL’s farm, Lesseyton, Waterloo Bay, in the Peddie district, and implored shelter, food and assistance as shipwrecked sailors. Mr. BROWN, who is in charge of the farm, seeing that succour was needed, at once received them in their house. The men then told their tale, which proved indeed to be a sad [one]. They said that they belonged to the ship Stalwart, Capt. WILSON, bound from Bombay to Liverpool with a cargo of cotton. When the vessel was about  miles east of Cape Recife, she came within the influence of the most terrible storm, and was much beaten about and injured. On Friday she foundered. Before she went down, the Captain, his wife, and crew took to the boats, three in number. The men stated that they, with eleven others, were in the long boat, which was placed under the charge of the mate. They kept well in company until the moon went down. They then lost sight of each other. The current drifted the boat along the [coast], and for four days the unfortunate men were tossed about on the sea, with very little to eat or drink. None of the fellows knew anything of the country they were [passing] and all of them considered that it might be as dangerous to land as to remain at sea. At last they were drifted into Waterloo Bay, where the mate begged the men to make an attempt to get to shore. They, however, declined to do so, fearing both the surf which they saw, and the savages whom they did not see. So they still kept onward. At last, however, thirst overcame their scruples, and they turned the head of the boat to the shore and pulled in. They got so near the land that they thought themselves safe, and thanked God, so the men said, for their good fortune. Hardly had they done this, when a heavy roller fell upon the boat, swamped it, turned it over, and threw the crew into the terrible surf. Of the fifteen only four got to land – three men and a boy. The boy was thrown upon the sand insensible, and it was some time before he at all recovered. The poor fellows, after looking in vain to see if any more of their companions could be saved, went off reluctantly over the sand towards the bush, which they were at first afraid to enter. At last, summoning courage, they pushed on, but were again alarmed as soon as they saw the natives in the fields. When, however, they sighted Mr. DELL’s house they felt relieved, and when they met Mr. BROWN at the door, they had no longer any fears. This was their story. As a matter of course the unfortunate men were well entertained and cared for. A messenger was at once despatched to the civil commissioner at Peddie, who immediately went down, accompanied by Field-cornet LLOYD, to Waterloo Bay. No trace of the remaining part of the boat’s crew could be seen, although most careful search was made until Tuesday night. There can, therefore, be no longer any doubt of the fate of the eleven men – they were all drowned. What has become of the third boat is not known
On Monday last about one o’clock pm, a boat, with fifteen people in it, in attempting to land about four miles east of the Fish River mouth, struck on a rock, capsized end over, and eleven out of fifteen perished. The four survivors state that they belonged to the ship Stalwart, an East Indiaman, of 1,221 tons [burden…] that in the late heavy gale – which they describe as terrific – the vessel was swamped, [but], being laden principally with cotton, kept up for a long time. At length, however, on her evidently beginning to settle down, she was abandoned on Friday afternoon, the 22nd inst. The Captain, Martin WILSON, with twelve others, went in the life-boat, five others in the jolly boat, and the chief mate, MADERSON, with fourteen in the pinnace. The latter - which is the one so unfortunately wrecked – parted company from the others during the night following. After suffering fearfully from hunger and thirst, they sighted land on Sunday evening, but being afraid to land in the dark, lay until the following morning. They came near in shore to the west of the Fish River mouth, but were afraid to try the breakers there: they accordingly proceeded along the coast until they came opposite Lesseyton, and attempted to land there, with the above-mentioned disastrous and mournful consequences. The high state of the tide and a heavy swell running at the time must have prevented their seeing the rocks, as they passed by some most advantageous landing places. On Wednesday eight of the bodies were washed up, and were buried the following day at Longridge Chapel of Ease, by the Rev. J. ALANS. The other three bodies have not yet been recovered. The body of the chief mate was among those found. Field-Cornet LLOYD, Mr. E.H. DELL, Mr. BROWN, and others resident in the neighbourhood, were exceedingly active and prompt in carrying on the search and providing for the survivors. The police, too, under Sub-Inspector J. SURMON, rendered invaluable assistance. The Civil Commissioner, Mr. EDYE, and staff, besides a few gentlemen from Peddie, went down on the day following the disaster. The names of the four survivors are John BLODGETT Cook, Peter [PAIRTSON], Peter JOHNSON and John STAADER. Mr. E.H. DELL informs us that two bodied were washed on shore on Friday, and one on Saturday, the latter being that of an individual from Bombay, named [DE QUATERNS]. These are in addition to the eight bodies found on Wednesday. Two of them were identified as Thomas TOBIN, of Wexford, and Jacob POLLEN. They were all buried in one grave.
[Transcriber’s note: There follows a brief report of the incident from E.H. DELL, with no new information, as well as a report of the loss of another ship from Bombay, the Alfred. An online crew list from 1863 for the Alfred shows that the survivor, John BLODGETT, was a cook on the Alfred at that time, so despite the punctuation his name was not John Blodgett COOK.]
BIRTHS AND DEATHS
CHIAPPINI, Mrs. A.L., 17th June, of a daughter, at Humansdorp.
HUGHES, Mrs. F.J., of a son, at St.John’s River.
IMPEY, Mrs. George Jun., on the 20th June, of a daughter, at Port Elizabeth.
JACOBSOHN, Mrs. Moritz, on the 19th, of a son, at Port Elizabeth.
FLETCHER, Joseph, son of Mr. J.A., on the 20th June, at Port Elizabeth.
HUGHES, infant son of Mr. F.J. HUGHES, on the 27th May, at St.John’s River.
NORTON, Edward, on the 31st March, at Camden Square, London.
O’GRADY, E.J., on the 1st July, at Port Elizabeth.
STOREY, William, on the 10th June, at Port Elizabeth.
ANOTHER OF THE “STALWART”’S BOATS
Their arrival in Algoa Bay on Board St.Tug “Albany”
Ten Days on Bird Island
The fine little steam tug “Albany” returned to port last night from a cruise. She called at Bird Island, and there found the missing boat’s crew of the unfortunate ship “Stalwart”. They had been on the Island ten days, and the Lighthouse-keeper treated them as hospitably as the means at his disposal would admit. Capt. JOSS placed them on board his vessel, and they were landed here this morning. As we are just going to press, we cannot give a detailed account of this gallant little band of seamen. The men are loud in their praise of the treatment they received at the hands of Capt. JOSS.
Friday 13 July 1866
DIED on the 5th July at Middleburg, Lucy, wife of Dr. COWARD.
DIED at King William’s Town on Monday the 9th instant, George IMPEY, aged 71 years.
DEATH OF MR. GEORGE IMPEY SENR.
It is our painful duty to record the death of Mr. G. IMPEY, which sad event took place this morning (Monday) at four o’clock. Mr. IMPEY was well known here, and universally respected as a good citizen and an upright man. He has for upwards of four years been suffering from a paralytic stroke, which confined him to the house, and for many months to his bed, which sufferings he bore with exemplary and Christian resignation and patience. He has been a resident in this colony about twenty-two years and of King William’s Town for upwards of seven years, and was the Manager of the British Kaffrarian Bank. During the early part of his career he took an active part in public affairs, and was always esteemed for his thorough independence and adherence to principle. Those who knew him best will most regret his death, and we are quite sure we but express public feeling when we add that his removal from a world of suffering, while it cannot be a source of sorrow, has excited general sympathy. To his widow and surviving relatives we tender our heartfelt sympathy in the hour of their distress. Mr. IMPEY was, in every sense, “a good man and true”. He did his work during his day and generation, and has “gone to his reward”. His remains will be interred tomorrow morning. – Gazette.
DIED at his residence, Hill Street, on the 11th instant, Mr. Geo. CHICK, aged 70 years.
A correspondent writes us from King William’s Town, under date 7th July, as follows: A rather sudden death took place here yesterday morning. Mrs. NESBITT, who, though ailing for some time, had not excited in the minds of her friends any serious apprehension, partook of her breakfast yesterday (Friday) and almost immediately afterwards expired. Mrs. NESBITT is mother of Mr. R. NESBITT, formerly in the Commissariat at Port Elizabeth, and now an officer in the Mounted Police Force. She leaves behind three sons in this country, one of whom had only left her three weeks before on a visit to some friends.
Tuesday 17 July 1866
BIRTH on the 13th, Mrs. August BAUMANN of a son.
Friday 20 July 1866
MARRIED on the 14th July at St.Paul’s Church, by the Rev. Samuel Brook, B.D. McGILL to Fanny E.M. WILSON, both of Port Elizabeth.
DIED at Port Elizabeth, 14th instant, Mr. Johan Georg DU TOIT, aged 41 years.
ROBBERY OF THE BANK AT ALIWAL NORTH – SUICIDE OF MR. BERGMAN
Soon after the arrival of the mail on Wednesday morning it was rumoured that the Aliwal North branch of the Frontier Commercial and Agricultural Bank had been robbed of a large amount of cash and bills. The following letter, from a correspondent at Graham’s Town, gives us the particulars so far as yet known. Mr. CRAVEN, formerly of the Port Elizabeth Bank, was absent on leave at the time this unfortunate affair occurred. Under date Graham’s Town, 17th July 1866, our correspondent writes as follows:-
Graham’s Town, July 17, 1866Great excitement here today amongst the directors and shareholders of the Frontier Bank, in consequence of a report having been received from the Clerk of the Peace at Aliwal, by the Clerk of the Peace in Graham’s Town, to the effect that, on one day last week, the branch of that bank at Aliwal had been entered by some burglars, and the whole of the contents swept away – money, notes, drafts, bills &c. It appears that the Manager is absent on a two weeks’ leave of absence, and the charge of the institution is left in the hands of the clerk. These appear to be the only persons on the premises, so that when one is away, the other is left alone. It is supposed that the clerk must have left for tiffin, or to consult with the referees about some transaction, and in the hurry of going off, failed to lock the safe, and only secured the front door. On his return the robbery was discovered. It is said that all the notes and cash are gone – amounting to about £5,000. There was £1,000 in gold. No doubt the parties who committed the robbery have been watching the premises, and not failed to note the time each day when they were left in a comparatively unprotected state.
SUICIDE OF MR. BERGMAN
The following brief resume of this sad event is from an authentic source. It appears that on Friday last the Aliwal Branch of the Frontier Bank was robbed to the extent of £15,000, that is in bills about £10,000, in gold £1,100, and remainder in Fron. Commercial and Agricultural Branch Bank notes, and notes of other banks. The robbery was effected in the absence of the acting-cashier, who had gone to dinner, and was not discovered till closing time. When the bills, notes and money were found missing, the referees of the bank, Messrs. SAUER. HALSE and BERGMAN, were called in, and they decided to send for some police from Thorntons Camp, which was at once done, and a rigorous search was instituted, commencing with the houses of the referees. After the police had unsuccessfully searched the house of Mr. BERGMAN, a private individual found two small pieces of promissory notes in BERGMAN;s water-closet. This clue led to further investigation, which resulted in the discovery of nearly all the missing bills in the closet, of course torn and soiled, but they were washed and identified. In another closet some bank notes of those missing were found, torn in halves. The gold and foreign notes have not as yet been discovered, but very little doubt is entertained that they will be found. The corporal of police on duty went to apprehend BERGMAN, and found him sitting in the drawing-room between his wife and another lady. BERGMAN, on being told that he was a prisoner, said, “I must put on another coat before I go out”, and went to his bedroom and changed his coat. When he came into the lobby he said to the policeman, “I don’t think this coat will do”, and returned to his room, fastening the door. Within a second a shot was heard, and, the door being forced open, the unfortunate man was found lying at the foot of the bed, bleeding profusely from a pistol-shot wound in the head, with a revolver lying close to his right hand. Dr. ZIERVOGEL was summoned, and went into the room within two or three minutes of the fatal act. He found that the shot had entered the right temple in front part, and had [scraped by the posterior border of the …. bone]. Life was not extinct: gasping continued for a few minutes and then this dreadful tragedy closed. The funeral took place on Monday last. – Cradock Register.
It will be seen from a telegram received this morning that the gold and notes were found under the sofa.
[Transcriber’s note: A further lengthy description of the robbery and suicide, taken from the Graham’s Town Journal and containing a plan of the bank, was published in the edition of 24 July. The information is largely the same, except that the suicide’s name was written as BERGMANN, which would seem to be correct according to his Death Notice.]
Tuesday 24 July 1866
HERBERT McCORMACK, who, it will be remembered, became an inmate of the Hospital in consequence of sustaining a severe fracture of the skull, and who underwent a difficult surgical operation, was, we are glad to state, discharged last week convalescent.
We have to chronicle the death of Mr. SPENGLER, of the Board of Executors, who died suddenly on the 15th inst, at his residence, from apoplexy. He had had several fits recently, so that the melancholy event was not altogether unexpected. Mr. SPENGLER was comparatively a young man. – Argus
MRS. ANN JONES, the widow of the late Mr. R.J. JONES, and the mother of a large family, ranking among its members several of the most influential citizens of Cape Town, died at her residence, Mowbray, on the 14th inst, in the sixty-seventh year of her age. The funeral was largely attended.
Friday 27 July 1866
MARRIED on the 25th instant at Cape Town, by the Rev. J. Rabinowitz, Joseph BENJAMIN, of Port Elizabeth, to Rachel, third daughter of M. HARRIS Esq. of Austin Friars, London.
BIRTH at Uitenhage on the 23rd instant, Mrs. Wm. A. OXENHAM of a daughter.
DIED at Port Elizabeth on the 25th inst, at his late residence, Castle Hill, George Edward JOSEPH Esq, late of Somerset East, aged 63 years and 5 months. The Funeral will take place tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at half past three o’clock. Friends are respectfully invited to attend.
Timothy LEE, Undertaker
Port Elizabeth, July 27 1866
DEATH OF MR. G.E. JOSEPH
It is our melancholy duty to record the demise of another old colonist, George Edward JOSEPH Esq., J.P., of Somerset. Mr. JOSEPH arrived in this colony in 1819, and, after a short sojourn at Cape Town, proceeded to Somerset East, where he resided until the year 1853. During that period he had realized a large fortune by a system of untiring industry and honesty, and his name throughout the Eastern districts became widely known and respected. Previous to leaving this colony for England, in 1857, he became the “sleeping” partner in a firm in this town, which collapsed during the financial crisis in 1865, shortly after Mr. JOSEPH’s return to this country. He was at this time, and for years previous, a confirmed paralytic and invalid, having totally lost the use of his left side. The shock produced upon his system about a month ago, with reference to his liabilities, and the consideration of the future of his family, produced fatal consequences, which resulted in his decease last evening, so that one more of our Eastern pioneers has gone to his last home, and, we may add, with general regret and commiseration. Requiescat in Pace.
Tuesday 31 July 1866
DIED at Port Elizabeth on the 30th inst, Richard Henry, infant son of Mr. T.S. ATKINSON.
Friday 3 August 1866
THE LATE MR. HUTCHINS
We regret to learn that Mr. HUTCHINS, the first manager of the telegraph office in Graham’s Town, had suddenly died at Natal. He was much esteemed by all those who had any intercourse with him.
DEATH OF MR. J.P. TERN
By the Saxon intelligence has been received of the death of Mr. J.P. TERN, who was for many years a resident in this colony. Mr. TERN died in France of disease of the liver.
We are sorry to hear that the young man named BURDON, who lately met with a severe accident, from an explosion of fireworks at Victoria West, is not yet considered out of danger.
Friday 10 August 1866
BIRTH at Port Elizabeth on the 9th August, Mrs. E. Brooke SMITH of a daughter.
DIED at Uitenhage on the 8th inst, Emma Lardner, born GREENWOOD, the beloved wife of Mr. Wm. A. OXENHAM.
Tuesday 14 August 1866
BIRTHS, MARRIAGES AND DEATHS
BAUMANN, Mrs. August, on the 13th July, of a son, at Port Elizabeth.
HENRY, Mrs. J.R., on the 1st August, of a daughter, at Port Elizabeth.
OXENHAM, Mrs. Wm. A., on the 23rd July, of a daughter, at Uitenhage.
SMITH, Mrs. E.B., on the 9th August, of a daughter, at Port Elizabeth.
BENJAMIN, Joseph, to Rachel HARRIS, on the 25th June, at Cape Town [sic].
McGILL, B.D. to Fanny E.M. WILSON, on the 14th July, at Port Elizabeth.
ATKINSON, Richard Henry, on the 30th July, at Port Elizabeth.
CHICK, Mr. George, on the 11th July, at Port Elizabeth.
COWARD, Lucy, on the 5th July, at Middelburg.
DU TOIT, John George, on the 16th July, at Port Elizabeth.
IMPEY, George Senr., on the 9th July, at King William’s Town.
JOSEPH, J.E.. on the 25th July, at Port Elizabeth.
OXENHAM, Emma Lardner, on the 8th August, at Uitenhage.
[Transcriber’s note: The marriage certificate for Joseph BENJAMIN and Rachel HARRIS shows that they were married on 25th July and not June]
We regret to hear that Henry, third son of Mr. D.E. HOBSON, residing near Graaff-Reinet, met with an accident from the explosion of an old gun, which resulted in his death.
Friday 17 August 1866
DIED at Uitenhage on the morning of the 15th inst, Frederick George William, eldest son of the Rev. A. STEYTLER. Aged 2 years,  months and 5 days.
Uitenhage, Aug 16 1866
Friday 24 August 1866
MARRIED at Humansdorp by the Rev. W.F. Heugh, on the 26th July 1866, Mr. James CROCKART to Miss Winifred CLARK
Humansdorp, 20th August 1866.
MARRIED at Emerald Hill, near Port Elizabeth, on the 23rd instant, by the Rev. Geo. Renny, Jas. GORDON Esq. to Mary Isabella, youngest daughter of John MILLER Esq. M.L.A.
DIED at Uitenhage on the 19th instant, at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr. J. MOSEL, Elizabeth, widow of the late Matthew SAUNDERS Esq, of Leonard’s Brook House, Avening, Gloucestershire, aged 76 years.
MARRIED on the 23rd instant, by special licence, by the Rev. Mr. Mackintosh, at the residence of Adolph BEREND Esq, Louis BRAMSON Esq, to Miss Hedwig SANDER. No cards.
Friday 31 August 1866
Queen Street, Port Elizabeth
(Over Birch’s Clothing Establishment)
Begs to inform the Public that he has commenced business on his own account, and will be happy to do any work with which he may be favoured, at the lowest possible charge, and with despatch.
Friday 7 September 1866
BIRTH at Port Elizabeth om the 4th instant, Mrs. Henry James TRAILL of a son.
Tuesday 11 September 1866
We regret to learn that Mr. Jas. ALCOTT, member of the Divisional Council of Bedford, met with a serious accident a few days ago, while inspecting some of the roads in the division, resulting in the breaking of his leg. The accident, we hear, was entirely due to the bad state of the roads.
Friday 14 September 1866
BIRTHS, MARRIAGES AND DEATHS
TRAIL, Mrs. H.J., on the 4th Sept, of a son, at Port Elizabeth.
BRAMSON, Louis, to Miss Hedwig SANDER, on the 23rd August, at Port Elizabeth.
CROCKART, James, to Miss Winifred CLARK, on the 26th July, at Humansdorp.
GORDON, James, to Miss Mary Isabella MILLER, on the 23rd Aug, at Emerald Hill.
JOHNSON, John, to Miss Caroline Sarah BLENCK, on the 28th August, at Port Elizabeth.
STEYTLER, Frederick George William, on the 15th August, at Uitenhage.
SAUNDERS, Elizabeth, on the 19th August, at Uitenhage.
Tuesday 18 September 1866
MARRIED on the 19th instant by the Rev. S. Brook, William Henry BIRCH to Jane Ann THOMPSON, only daughter of Robert THOMPSON Esq, both of Port Elizabeth.
Inspector SURMON, of the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, we regret to state, died on Thursday morning, after a lingering illness. Deceased was a very efficient officer, and rendered good service during the Kafir wars. He will be much missed. His remains were interred in the Church of England burial ground, Graham’s Town, on Saturday last.
A poor old European woman named BENNET died in extreme poverty on Sunday last, and was buried yesterday by direction of the Civil Commissioner.
Tuesday 25 September 1866
BIRTH at Port Elizabeth on the 23rd instant, Mrs. Frank HOLLAND of a son.
DIED at Southampton, immediately [after] her arrival from South Africa, [A…], the beloved wife of Mr. David [DUOVID], [late] confectioner at Port Elizabeth, leaving a husband, two children and a large circle of friends to mourn her decease. Friends at a distance will please accept this intimation.
Port Elizabeth, Sept 23 1866
We regret to record the death of Mr. J. PETERSON of the Commercial Exchange, King William’s Town.
Friday 28 September 1866
FRIGHTFUL TRAGEDY NEAR VAN STAADEN’S RIVER
SUICIDE OF MR. ASPEY AFTER POISONING FOUR OF HIS CHILDREN
TWO CHILDREN DEAD
Yesterday morning the town was thrown into a state of the utmost excitement by the news that an officer in the employ of the Government, as overseer of roads, had committed suicide, after having administered poison to four of his children, two of whom were reported to have died from its effects. All manner of rumours were afloat as to the cause which led to this wholesale destruction of human life. Having heard, however, that Mr. Advocate BARRY, with Dr. CAMPBELL of Uitenhage, had been called to the agonising scene, to render assistance, we waited upon the former gentleman, who very kindly put us in possession of the following particulars:-
“About ten o’clock on the morning of the 26th inst (Wednesday), while on my way from Humansdorp to Port Elizabeth, in company with Dr. CAMPBELL, of Uitenhage, we stopped at the toll-bar on this side of Mrs. CADLE’s. Mr. Justice DENYSSEN, the Registrar, and Mr. AYLIFF, the Interpreter, were stopping there at the time, they being on their way to Uitenhage. Presently a man came up and said, “I hear Dr. CAMPBELL is of your party, gentlemen?” Being answered in the affirmative, he added, “Because someone near here is very ill, and I would be glad if the doctor would go and see him.” I said, “Who is it?” “Mr. ASPEY”, he replied. Mr. Justice DENYSSEN then suggested that Dr. CAMPBELL should take one of his riding-horses in order to go as quickly as possible to the spot. This suggestion was adopted, and I mounted another horse and accompanied the doctor. After riding about a quarter of a mile from the toll, we came to the house, which is situated slightly to the right-hand side of the road leading from Mrs. CADLE’s to Port Elizabeth. As soon as we rode up, we were met by poor Mrs. ASPEY. Her distress of mind was too great, and too [sacred] for me to attempt to describe. Poor woman; I saw that something dreadful had happened, and instinctively, as it were, dreaded the revelation that was to follow. I shall never forget her piteous look, or the agony of expression, which preceded the words: “My poor husband! My poor husband! He killed himself from too much love for his poor wife!” I saw there was no time to be lost. My worst fears were realized, and to enter the house was but the work of a moment: and there, in a room on the right-hand side, as I entered the front door – which room I subsequently ascertained was Mr. ASPEY’s office – I saw the body of a man lying at full length on his back, with a large quantity of blood surrounding the head, through the temple of which I could see two holes, from which the brain protruded. It was a dreadful and sickening sight. The whole frontal bone seemed to be loose. The doctor quickly followed me, and after examining the body of the wretched man – who was then groaning, and slightly moving his limbs, in the greatest agony – at once pronounced that there was no chance of his recovery. How shall I describe the scene? The right hand of the body was raised towards the head, the left hand was lying to the left side on the floor; near the body was a revolver with four chambers loaded and capped, the fifth chamber was unloaded; it had done its fearful work. On a table, which was standing near a window, was a quantity of blood, soiling here and there some foolscap paper. There was an inkpot near, but it contained no ink. But amidst the blood and paper there was a half-sheet of pink notepaper, on which was written, in ink, these words: “My poor Betsy! Oh you are my poor Betsy!” This, as I learned afterwards, was his wife’s name; and I have reason to believe that the words were written in an adjoining room – the dining-room – where I found, on a case, which had evidently been used for writing purposes, an ink-pot with pen and ink. On this case was a Bible, opened at the Psalms. In the office too, just mentioned, I saw upon the table on which the pink notepaper was found, and very near to it, the Book of Common Prayer, and it was open at the General Thanksgivings, beginning with the words: “We bless Thee for our creation”.
While Dr. CAMPBELL was still examining the body of the unfortunate man, my attention was directed to the children, and on again going in to the dining-room, I saw a little child in convulsions. She was called Chrissy. I was concerned very much at the sight; it was very pitiful; but I ordered the poor child to be laid upon the bed. While this was being done, another very interesting-looking child, about ten or eleven years of age, named Mimmie, fell back under the effect of spasms. I immediately called out for Dr. CAMPBELL, who came instantly. Looking upon the contortions and convulsions before me, I involuntarily exclaimed, “This reminds me of the agony said to have been endured by PALMER’s victim, COOK. The poor creatures must be labouring under the effects of strychnine!”, which the doctor at once pronounced to be the case. The backs of their bodies were bent to a half-circle, the eyes were glaring as if ready to burst, and free themselves from their sockets, their faces were distorted, while the curved bodies were supported only by the heels and the back of the head. Every muscle seemed strained, and the sight was appalling in the extreme. “Doctor”, said I, “Have you a remedy for this pain?” “Yes,” he answered, “but as we have no antidote here, we must do the best we can. See if you can get me some sweet oil and luke-warm water.” Without another word, I was in the saddle, and on my way to Mrs. CADLE’s, where I procured some oil, with which I returned, and leaving it in possession of the doctor, at once made off at full speed, in order to overtake Mr. Justice DENYSSEN and his party. This I did, within a mile or a little more of the house. I told them briefly of the sad occurrence, and requested them to inform the District Surgeon and Magistrate of Uitenhage o what had take place.
On my return to the house, I found my servant as instructed had boiled some water; and then, under the guidance of Dr. CAMPBELL, and with the assistance of Mrs. CADLE, who soon afterwards arrived, I gave the children doses of oil and warm water, until they vomited freely. During this time, however, the doctor was endeavouring to reduce the effects of the spasms by every remedy at his disposal. While we were thus engaged, I was horrified at seeing yet a third child (Susan) fall at my side, with symptoms similar to those of her sisters. We placed her upon the bed beside them. Poor thing! She seemed, if possible, to be suffering even more acutely than the others. The same remedies were applied in her case, and our exertions on behalf of the poor children redoubled.
While this was going on, I heard from another of the children, named George, that their father had, just before our arrival, himself partaken of, and given to him and his three sisters, some gruel from a basin. The children did not like it, but their father insisted that they should [take] it, and even put it into their mouths by means of a spoon. Suddenly the poor child’s face […… illness], and even while I was speaking with him, he too was seized with those horrible and poison-engendered spasms: though the symptoms were not so violent as in the other cases. He was instantly subjected to the same treatment as the others. He vomited immediately, and more freely than his sister, and though frequently attacked with convulsions, rallied sooner than they. Poor Mimmie suffered much; and while we were administering the remedies poor Susan died in a convulsive fit. I ordered the body to be removed into an adjoining room, and continued to render the doctor any assistance in my power. Presently little Chrissy – the youngest, and between two and three years of age – seemed slightly to rally. The poor little thing took willingly the remedies offered to it; but, after a time, she had another fit more violent than the first, in the course of which she died, and her corpse was placed beside that of Susan’s. Strange to say, shortly before her death, Chrissy told us that she felt much better.
Our whole attention was now directed towards Mimmie and her brother George, and to our surprise and joy, Mimmie rallied and George got better. So that after being with the children four hours and a half, we had the satisfaction of thinking that two at least, out of the four, had been saved.
About two o’clock a mounted policeman from Uitenhage arrived, stating that Mr. INNES, the Magistrate, and Dr. DYER, the District Surgeon, were coming on. At half past two o’clock, or a little before three, Dr. CAMPBELL and I left for Port Elizabeth, hoping to meet Mr. INNES and Dr. DYER on our way, and about one mile from ASPEY’s house we saw them at a distance. We rode up to them, and informed them of all the circumstances of this dreadful case, and they proceeded onwards with all speed.
I should say that, before we left the scene of this dreadful tragedy, Mrs. ASPEY had been removed to Mrs. CADLE’s hotel. The poor woman stated that her husband had been very much depressed for some time past at the reduction of his salary as a public servant. It appears that ASPEY had been for many years employed in the convict department, and had, immediately before his death, held the office of Superintendent of Roads at Van Staaden’s River, at a salary of about £300 per year; lately, however, from some cause not explained, he had been offered a minor appointment on the proposed Ruyterbosch Pass, near Mossel Bay, at a salary of about £150 per year. This, together with some losses in sheep, appears to have affected his mind. He threw up his official appointment in disgust, and was about to remove to the Free State, his wife having formerly been a resident at Philippolis. I learnt that he was passionately fond of his children, and seemed to fear poverty for their sakes.
I was informed also, that about a month ago Mr. ASPEY spoke to Mr. William MARSH, an overseer of convicts at Van Staaden’s River, on the subject of suicide: and that, in answer to some queries on the subject from the former, MARSH said that a man who committed suicide must be a coward. ASPEY thought a brave man alone could do it. I heard also that in the course of another conversation on this subject with MARSH, ASPEY instanced the case of BERGMANN’s suicide in support of his theory.
I should mention that, in answer to a question, Mimmie told me that her father had some time previously had some poison in the house, which her mother had thrown into the fire.
On the morning of the day on which he shot himself, it appears that deceased was met by Mr. NEWTON, Mrs. CADLE’s son-in-law, coming from a kloof in the direction of the road leading to Mr. PERKIN’s place. He spoke to Mr. NEWTON, shook hands with him, and asked, “How are all at Mrs. CADLE’s?” NEWTON replied. “All are well,” and inquired, “How in all your care?” ASPEY replied, “Quite well, thank you. I want you to take a message to Mr. PERKINS.” To this NEWTON suggested, “You had better go down to Mr. PERKINS with me in the wagon,” ASPEY answered, “No, you will do it just as well. Tell Mr. PERKINS I won’t be away for another three weeks. He must charge me for the time I stay in the house.” NEWTON then left him. This was about eight o’clock in the morning, and he saw deceased return in the direction of his house, which was not far off. It appears that Mr. PERKINS was ASPEY’s landlord, and that the message referred to the occupation by ASPEY of the house in which the suicide and murders were committed.
From a statement made by Mimmie it would appear that on his return to the house, and while the deceased was giving the gruel that he had made to the four children, that the elder sister, a little girl aged about thirteen, asked her father to allow her also to take some, but that her father said “No: get away: you are not to have any.” After the gruel had been administered, ASPEY went up to his wife and said, “I have poisoned the four children, and there remains but you, our eldest daughter, and the baby. I am unhappy for your sake, and I shall commit suicide.” The deceased then immediately left the dining-room, in which this conversation is said to have taken place, for his office, and before Mrs. ASPEY could recover from her alarm, she heard the report of a pistol, and a dull hollow sound, as of one falling on the floor. To her horror, on proceeding to the office, Mrs. ASPEY found the body of her late husband in the position in which it was when we arrived. When we left, Mrs. ASPEY was at Mrs. CADLE’s.
A basin, out of which the gruel had been taken, and in which there was still some dregs, together with the spoon, was ordered by Dr. CAMPBELL to be handed to the Magistrate and District Surgeon on their arrival.
The house was denuded of all its furniture, with the exception of one or two beds, plainly indicating that Mr. ASPEY was about to leave.
On my arrival in Port Elizabeth, I went to Mrs. MATTHEWS and ordered three coffins to be immediately sent out.”
When Dr. CAMPBELL left, he believed the two little sufferers – Mimmie and George – to be out of danger; and this, he bids me say, is to be attributed in a great measure to the prompt assistance rendered by Mr. Advocate BARRY. From the above touching narrative, will appear that, but for the timely and opportune arrival of Dr. CAMPBELL in the neighbourhood, all four children must have fallen victim to the mad act of their father.
From other sources we gather that some few days since deceased came to town and transferred a sum of £500, deposited in the Standard Bank, from his own to his wife’s name, in order that she might have no difficulty in drawing it out; and that, when he was about to commit suicide, he informed her of the circumstance.
We hear from a gentleman who passed the house late last evening that the two children were much better.
[Transcriber’s note: Although the name of the deceased is clearly printed as ASPEY throughout this account, it is clear from the Death Notice that the deceased was actually George APSEY, son of the 1820 settler of the same name.]