Williams, Miss Mary – 1936

Goytrey Spinster’s Death

‘Nothing to Live for’ at age of 76

Body Found in Canal 19th January 1936

The tragic story of a 76 years old Goytrey spinster’s death was related to Mr W Daunsey, coroner, who sat without a jury at the Goytrey Arms, Penpellenny, on Saturday

The enquiry concerned the finding of the body of Miss Mary Williams, of Bedfont, Goytrey in the Monmouthshire Canal, about half a mile from her home on Friday morning.

Cousin Finds Note

Miss Rachel Wilks, Phoenix Cottage, Goytrey, cousin of the deceased said that she saw her cousin fairly frequently but had not done so for about nine days before the previous Wednesday. At times deceased’s mental condition had not been all it might be, but when she met her near the Penpellenny railway bridge about 6.50 on Wednesday evening she appeared to be normal. Witness asked deceased where she was going but she did not reply and made a similar inquiry of witness. After advising deceased to be careful of traffic when walking along the road she left her, and on the following morning learned that she was missing. On going to her house she saw a light burning and thinking deceased might be ill, got a man to force the house open. The house was empty, but inside she found a note which the coroner read as follows:

“To be opened by Miss Rachel Wilks, she is to look after everything.

Tell Charlie to get the people together and take care not to give himself trouble

Goodbye everybody. Forgive. I could not bear it longer. I hope Dorothy

I hope she will come to live in my house.”


Former Suicide Note

The Coroner: Did you know of her having attempted to take her life with Lysol? Yes I did. I was with her first that day.

Did you know she had said she was sick of life? – She had not said it to me recently.

James Williams, labourer, Parc-y-Brain Farm, Goytrey, said he went to the canal road bridge at 8.30 on Wednesday and saw her lying face down in the water. He caught hold of the clothing with a rake and drew the body, which was quite stiff and cold, to the bank.

Dr T. MacAllen, Pontypool, said that deceased had been a patient of his for a considerable number of years – probably 13 or 14. During that period generally speaking her health up to 12 or 18 months ago was fairly good. Since then her mental state had not been what one would expect it to be and she suffered from fits of depression. About 13 months ago she took Lysol with the intention of ending her life but did not take enough of it. She told witness she was sick and tired of life and had nothing to live for. She was not, however, certifiable. He last attended her about six months ago when she had a kind of seizure or a slight attack of apoplexy. At times her mind was quite normal.

Mentally Unsound

He examined the deceased body on Friday but found no evidence to suggest poisoning or violence. He came to the conclusion from the external signs that death was due to asphyxia by drowning and that deceased was not in a sound mental state at the time.

The Coroner said there seemed to be very little doubt but that deceased entered the water with the intent of taking her life and that there must be a verdict of ‘Asphyxia by Drowning.’ He had not the slightest doubt that she was not mentally stable at the time.

P.S. Cotterell, Pontypool and P C Taylor, Little Mill, attended the enquiry on behalf of the police.

Many of the older inhabitants of Usk will remember Miss Williams as housekeeper for the late Dr Campbell of Ty Cornel, Usk


For any comments or suggestions regarding this item please use the Contact tab at the top of the page.