Day: March 29, 2020

Sunday’s Obituary – Olive Mary Kitching (nee Atkin)1891-1956

Olive Mary Atkin is my wife’s 4th cousin 2x removed. Her parents are Edwin William Atkin and Ann Gostelow. Their common ancestors are David Gostelow and Mary Dawson – my wife’s 5x great grandparents.

Olive was born on 15 October 1891 in Friskney, Lincolnshire.

On 20 April 1920 Olive married Frank Kitching. They had three daughters over the next five years:-

Joyce Edith
Margaret Olive
Gwendoline May

Frank’s occupation was a “miller and baker”. In the 1939 Register (taken at the outbreak of WW2) the family were living at The Mill, Friskney, Lincolnshire.

All three daughters married between 1947-1951.

By the end of 1956 their lives would be changed by two tragedies.

The following story is from the Skegness Standard of Wednesday 4 July 1956 (image from http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

HUSBAND’S TRAGIC DISCOVERYSkegness Standard - 4 July 1956

THOUGHT WIFE WAS IN BED: HE FOUND HER DEAD

FRISKNEY INQUEST VERDICT

A story of mental ill-health, aggravated by the tragic death of her daughter, was revealed at the inquest on Friday on Mrs. Olive Mary Kitching, aged 64, of the Mill, Friskney, who was found hanging from the foot of a bed at her home on the previous Tuesday night.

A verdict of “Suicide while the balance of her mind was disturbed” was recorded by the Spilsby Deputy Coroner (Mr. J.C. Walter), who heard how the husband, Mr. Frank Kitching, the local miller, returned home at 10.30pm, thinking his wife was in bed, and had his supper and undressed for bed before making the tragic discovery.

Evidence of identification was given by the husband, who said that when he left home at about 6.25pm on Tuesday his wife seemed all right and in her usual state of health. He retuned home at 10.30pm and saw the evening paper on the mat inside the door.
He read the paper whilst having his supper, his wife having apparently gone to bed.
At about 11.15pm he went upstairs to bed and did not bother to switch on the bedroom light, but got undressed first. Just before getting into bed he noticed that his wife was not in bed, so he looked in the other rooms for her.

“Was Very Upset”

Switching on the light in the back bedroom he saw his wife hanging from the foot of the bed by a scarf which was round her neck.
He lifted her up, untied the scarf and laid her on the floor. She was cold and stiff and he realised she was dead. He telephoned for a doctor and also for Mr. Clow, a neighbour.
Mr. Kitching told the Coroner his wife had had a mental illness some fifteen or twenty years ago. She got better but was very upset again last year when they lost a daughter in tragic circumstances.
She seemed to get over that but the previous Thursday she had told him “I believe I have got that depression coming again.”
She seemed to improve, however, and he thought it would be all right to leave her. She had no physical illness and was very active for her age.
She often went to bed early if he was going out and left him to get his own supper and he thought nothing of it when he returned home that night and found she had gone to bed.

Doctor’s Evidence

Dr. Mary Margaret Trayers, of Wrangle, said she was called to the house at 11.40pm and found Mrs. Kitching in the back bedroom, lying on the floor with a pink scarf round her neck. She formed the opinion that she had been dead about five hours.
In her mouth was a small green handkerchief, which she removed with P.C. Welch’s assistance. There was a mark round her neck caused by the body having been hanging from the bedpost.
Replying to the Coroner, Dr. Trayers said deceased’s feet were not on the floor. The body was almost in a stooping position with the knees bent.
The Coroner asked if one would lose consciousness quickly if there was anything round the neck, and the doctor replied “Yes, and the handkerchief would accelerate that.”

Sleeplessness

She said she had twice attended Mrs. Kitching for depression and sleeplessness. A year ago it was arranged that she should enter a mental hospital as a voluntary patient, but she improved so much that eventually she did not go.
The body bore no marks of violence except that round her neck, and death was due to asphyxiation.
Frank Bentley Clow, produce merchant, of Bentley House, Friskney, said he received a telephone call from Mr. Kitching and ‘phoned the police. He had known Mrs. Kitching for 40 years and she suffered from depression after he daughter’s death. He had never heard her threaten to take her own life.
Another neighbour, Sidney Brant, wheelwright and undertaker, of “Sunniholme.” Friskney, said he had known deceased for fifty years and she had at times suffered from depression and had recently withdrawn from public life.
P.C. Welch said the scarf round Mrs. Kitching’s neck had been knotted to form two loops. She appeared to have dropped back.
Although he searched the house he could find no note.
The Coroner said it was evident that deceased had taken her own life whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed.

So a very said story indeed – bit it left me with an unanswered question. What were the tragic events that lead to the death of Frank and Olive’s daughter?

Further research revealed that their daughter Margaret Olive had married Terence Rogers in 1947. I discovered the following article in the Cheshire Observer of Saturday 28 May 1955 (image from http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

NO TRACE OF HANDBRIDGE WOMANCheshire Observer - 28 May 1955

Who Has Been Missing Since 10th May

There is still no trace of 32-years-old Mrs. Margaret Olive Rogers, of 19 Eaton Avenue, Handbridge, who has been missing from her home since 7.15am on Tuesday, May 10th.
Mrs. Rogers’s description is as follows: Height, 5ft. 3in.; slim build; pale complexion (looks ill); operation scars on front of throat; fair hair and blue eyes.
She was wearing a light green skirt and blouse, a black cardigan, a grey belted overcoat, nylon stockings, and red, flat-heeled shoes.

I couldn’t find any other newspaper reports about the disappearance.

Sadly I was able to find an entry in the National Probate Calendar which confirms that Margaret Olive was last seen alive on 10 May 1955 and her dead body was found on 31 May 1955 at Cheese Wharf, Sealand Road, Chester.

National Probate Calendar

A very sad story indeed for this Sunday Obituary post.