Gordon Fitzgerald is my wife’s 3rd cousin. His parents are William Edward Fitzgerald and Emily Wilkinson. Their common ancestor is Martha Espley – my wife’s 2x great grandmother.
Gordon was born in Burnley, Lancashire. His birth is registered in the June quarter of 1928. At some point in the mid to late 1930’s the family moved to Warwickshire. In the 1939 Register they are living at Perrywood Road, Birmingham.
Gordon does not appear in the 1939 Register – he died in a tragic accident the previous year. The following article is from the Midland Daily Telegraph of 7 December 1938 (image taken from http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).
BOY’S BATHROOM PRANK
Hanged After Reading Strip Cartoon
At an inquest, in Birmingham, today, on a ten-years-old boy, who was found hanging in the bathroom, the theory that he was experimenting after seeing a strip cartoon in a boys’ periodical was put forward. The boy was Gordon Fitzgerald, of Perry Wood Road, Great Barr, Birmingham.
A magazine, which the father said his boy read occasionally, was produced in court. It contained a strip cartoon showing one of the characters with a lasso drawn tightly round his neck.
An illustration of how the string was fastened round the boy’s neck proved that it could not have got there by accident.
Mr Fitzgerald said that the boy must have put his head into the loop, deliberately leaving a very narrow margin of safety, and, when he tried to draw his head out of it, pulled the loop tight and increased the pressure around his neck.
Returning a verdict of “Death from misadventure,” the Coroner (Dr W H Davison) said that there was nothing suspicious about the case. The boy’s death was the result of a childish prank, probably stimulated by something he had read.
Perhaps this is a 1930’s example of what we regularly refer to today as the negative and dangerous influence of social media on young children.