August 5th – Samuel Deverall ex mayor and tradesman of Abergavenny found hanging in the rear of his branch shop at Pengroesoped.
Incredulity, succeeded by consternation, was occasioned in Abergavenny and the neighbouring villages of Llanover and Pengroesoped on Wednesday afternoon when it was reported that Mr Samuel Deverall, an ex-mayor of Abergavenny, and one of the most prominent tradesmen in the town, carrying on a grocery business in Frogmore street, had been found hanging a barn at the rear of his branch shop at Pengroesoped.
The deceased gentleman cycled out from Abergavenny in the morning and arrived in Pengroesoped shortly after 9 o’clock. He was engaged in the shop and taking orders outside during the forenoon, and then appeared to be in his usual good spirits. About two o’clock, however, he could not be found, and soon afterwards his lifeless body was discovered by a pensioner named Aaron Prosser hanging by the neck from a beam in the French barn at the back of the shop. Prosser informed the manager Mr Wallace Woodward, who, hurrying to the rear, found Prosser’s information to be true.
He at once cut the body down, and sent word to Police-constable Power of Llanover. From investigations made by the officer it seems that Mr Deverall must have climbed to the top of the hayrick and divested himself of his coat, which was found lying with his hat on top of the rick. It is believed that the deceased must have been hanging for about half-an-hour. The body was taken to the shop. So far as can be ascertained there could have been no motive For the rash act, as Mr Deverall was always a most businesslike man, and as recently as last Tuesday week presided at a meeting of Abergavenny grocers and urged the formation of a local trade association. The news of his death was a great shock to his wife and family, and deceased’s two brothers in Penarth were also acquainted of what had happened.
Mr Samuel Deverall occupied the position of mayor of Abergavenny in 1907-08, being the ninth mayor. He has been chairman of the Abergavenny Liberal Association, and has also taken great interest in the Congregational Church. He was superintendent of the Sunday School, and also the presiding deacon. While Mayo he was president of the Abergavenny Eisteddfod. He was born near Gosport, Portsmouth, on 3rd October 1864, his parents being master and mistress of the Naval School.
Since his year of office Mr Deverall had been defeated at the poll in a contest for a seat on the Abergavenny Town Council, But as far as can be ascertained he had no serious trouble at the present time to prey on his mind. Only as recently as last week he was one of the most prominent speakers at a meeting which was held at Abergavenny for the purpose of forming a local Grocers Association, and as a matter of fact it was he who proposed that the association should be formed.
He was a member of the North Monmouth Liberal Executive, and was a regular attendant at meetings of this body. He was universally respected and admired throughout the whole district on account of his keen and businesslike manner, combined with a genial and generous spirit. He leaves a widow and two sons.
The inquest was held by Mr J. R. Walford at the Pengroesoped Coffee Tavern on Thursday morning.
Margaret Bowen, who Lives at Oak Cottage, Goytrey, stated that she had had business transactions with the deceased for the last 20 years. Witness last saw him alive about 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, when he called at her house for an order. He had cycled from Abergavenny, and on arrival at witness’s house, he remarked that it was very close. Usually when Mr Deverall called at her house he shook hands with her when he arrived and departed, but he did not do so when he called on Wednesday. In the course of conversation he remarked, at the same time drawing his hand across his forehead, “I have a dreadful pain this way.” Mr Deverell appeared to be in a hurry and to be excited. After taking witness’s order, he said “Good-bye,” and then left. That was a last time witness saw him alive.
Aaron Prosser, who resides at Boat House, Llanover, an aged pensioner, stated that he discovered the body of the deceased in the old Dutch barn. Witness had known Mr Deverall for many years, and as he was proceeding to Mr Deverall’s shop on Wednesday afternoon he noticed that a man with hanging by a rope in the barn. He at once proceeded in the direction of the barn, and on seeing that it was Mr Deverall suspended from the rope he immediately ran to the shop for assistance. He was quite dead.
Wallace Edward Woodward was has acted as manager of Mr Deverall’s shop at Pengroesoped for the last four years, deposed that Mr Deverall often visited Pengroesoped in connection with his business. Only on Monday last Mr Deverall arrived at Pengroesoped and personally superintended the harvesting of his hay .On Monday Mr Deverall appeared to be in good health and spirits, but he was somewhat disappointed with regard to the quality of the hay. Witness did not see Mr Deverall alive on Wednesday, but early in the afternoon he received a communication from Aaron Prosser, in consequence of which he immediately proceeded to Mr Deverall’s barn. There he saw him hanging by a rope from a beam, and witness noticed that his feet were on the ground and that his knees were bent. Witness lost no time in cutting him down and in releasing the rope from his neck, but he was then quite dead.
The Coroner (to witness): In your constant contact with Mr Deverall have you ever noticed anything depressed or peculiar about him?–He hascomplained of pains in the head. He was subject to them.
Dr Lloyd, Abergavenny had known the deceased for some years. He had enjoyed fairly good health, but he had suffered from epilepsy, and persons who were so affected often complained of severe headaches. Persons who suffered that way sometimes had their minds unhinged and they sometimes developed suicidal or even homicidal, tendencies in an exceptional degree. Witness had made an examination of the body, and he came to the conclusion that after fastening the rope around his nech, he had thrown himself off the hayrick. His neck was fractured, and one of the strands in the rope which was found around his neck had been broken. Mr Deverall had suffered from post-epileptic mania, and witness was of the opinion that at the time he died his mind was unhinged.
Percy Charles Deverall, brother of the deceased, who resides at Penarth, stated that the deceased was 44 years of age. His family were aware that he was suffering from epilepsy.
The Coroner: Do you know if his financial position was such as to trouble him?–He had no financial troubles, none at all.
Has he left any writing you can in any way connect with his death?–We have not come across anything so far.
The Coroner, in summing up said it was exceedingly sad that Mr Deverall’s life should have terminated in the way it had done. There was no doubt that his life-long complaint of epilepsy had affected his head, and it seemed that while suffering from temporary insanity he took his life. He (the Cooroner) was certain that the jury would join in expressing sympathy with the widow and relatives of the deceased.
The foreman of the jury: Certainly.
The jury returned a verdict of ”suicide during temporary insanity.”