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DEATH OF MR. PARKINSON., Lyttelton Times, Volume XIX, Issue 1069, 7 February 1863
DEATH OF MR. PARKINSON.
On Wednesday last it rumour was generally circulated throughout Chrislciuirch than an assignim*!,. to his creditors had been made by .Mr. John Town,, end Parkinson, auctioneer :uid commission agent of Caversham .Mouse. Subsequent events show tf iat that rumor was without foundation, hut it nud effect of bringing down upon the unfortunate man a large number of importunate creditors, to whom h" gave an assurance on Wednesday evening that thi-n-port of his insolvency and assignment, was untruo" and that his property was sufileie.ot to meet ail claims upon him; and strove to strengthen this.statement by a forced gaily of manner before company" Early on Thursday morning, the town was startled by the intelligence that Mr. Parkinson was dead and that he had destroyed himself with strychnine' An inquest was held the same night, at thede'eeasf-d's residence, and from the evidence then taken, and from other reliable sources, we gather facts to'furnish the following history of the case:—
Mr. Parkinson wa3 one of the earliest settlers of Canterbury, and for many years carried on business in Lyttelton as a butcher, auctioneer, and general commission agent. A few years ago, he made an assignment to his creditors. "Having, during a period of general depression, attempted to force sales of stock, and accepted bills largely which were not taken tip by the drawers, he fell into difficulties About the same time, he made extensive purchases of grain, which he shipped to Wellington for sale, there having been a good market there. There was a sudden change—prices fell seriously; and this speculation eventuated ruinously to Mr. Parkinson Since that time, he has had an uphill struggle; but having great confidence in himself and the rising fortunes of the province, he added to his business of auctioneer and commission agent the proprietorship of Caversham House, which, during the past vear he has remodelled, enlarged, and rather expensively furnished as an hotel and boarding house. To accomplish this, he got into debt to a considerable amount, bills for which have now become due, and found him unprepared to meet them. This we gather from the fact that amongst the papers shown at the inquest as having been taken from the pockets of the deceased were a large number of writs. This exposition will make what follows intelligible.
Mr. Parkinson had a wife and four children, besides whom there were in the house on Wednesday, a barman named McLachlan, a gentleman named Morgan, an aged female domestic, and other servants connected with the stabling department. For several days Mr. Parkinson was observed by the barman to be very inattentive to business, and disordered in his manner; this was more particularly remarked after visiting Lyttelton on Tuesday. Whilst in Port he wrote a letter to Mr. Day, of the firm of Heywood and Co., a copy of which was read at the inquest. It bears internal evidence of the agitated mind of the writer, who complains of some harshness on the part of Mr. Day, in obtaining judgment for immediate execution against him for the amount of a dishonoured check. On Wednesday, Mr. Parking was informed of the current report as to his having made an assignment, and became much excited. He wrote an advertisement, which he sent to be printed at the ' Standard' office, offering £20 reward for the discovery of the 'scoundrel' who originated the report. He bore up cheerfully in the presence of his wife, who had not the slightest idea of his being in financial difficulties; and indeed he assumed a joyous air before company the same night; though to Mr. Baldwin, of Colombo street, he manifested considerable excitement, and said if he could find the originator of the report he would shoot him. Some time after 11 o'clock, on Wednesday night, he closed the establishment, McLachlan, the barman, being the last person who saw him. At that time he exhibited nothing remarkable in his manner.
For some time Mrs. Parkinson has been in illhealth, and slept in a room apart. A few days ago, she was left without a cook, and had to superintend the kitchen arrangements. She awoke a little after five o'clock, thinking she had overslept herself, and was on her way to call Mr. Parkinson when she found the doors open, and Mr. Parkinson astir. He appeared quite rational, made some remark about the earliness of the hour, and observing that his wife looked ill, advised her to go again to bed, and said he would see that breakfast was properly provided. She retired to his bedroom, and sat reading the ' Home News ' a little while, when Mr. Parkinson returned from below, having gone down on some business, and said "Annie, you look ill and tired; go to bed again;" he kissed her, and she then went to her own bed, and fell into a doze. About halfpast six .the barman came in, and Mr. Parkinson handed him the keys, betraying nothing remarkable in his manner, and then went into his bedroom. A little after seven o'clock McLachlan says —"I heard an awful noise above me, and ran upstairs. The deceased was laid on the bed shaking in spasms. He opened his eyes, and said " Oh, McLachlan, I've poisoned myself." The barman at once alarmed the household, and ran for Dr. Prins. Mrs. Parkinson was aroused by her daughter saying " Mamma, father has poisoned himself." She ran at once to her husband, who seemed pained and vexed that she had been informed of the truth, and he said to her: " It is done; I have taken poison," and in reply to a question from her, said that he had taken strychine. She ran to a medicine chest, got out a bottle of antimonial wine, and tried to get some into his mouth, but his jaws were convulsed, and his teeth clenched. She entreated him to try and swallow the emetic; to live for her and their children's sake,— without avail, as death was already approaching, and actually ensued in about 10 minutes. Dr. Prins was present when he died, but could do nothing to avert tlie fatal event, as the patient was pulseless and dying when that gentleman arrived. When in extremes, the unhappy man said he had bought the strychnine of Mr. Brookes, on the 15th Jan., to poison rats; and that some papers would be found under his pillow which would show why he had taken the poison. These facts were all proved in evidence, and Mrs. Parkinson further testified that a fortnight ago her husband informed her that about 10 months ago he had attempted to poison himself with laudanum, but had failed; he expressed his sorrow at having contemplated so wicked an act, and prayed that he might never again be so tempted; but he said " I was weary and tired of life."
Several letters and memoranda were produced, written by the deceased on the night of the 4th and following morning, whicli we refrain from publishing. Tluj' consist of prayers on behalf of his family, and a few lines to his wife and children, and one or two friends. The verdict of the jury was, that deceased died from the effects of strychnine administered by his own hand, lie being at the time of unsound mind., t
DEATH OF MR. PARKINSON., Lyttelton Times, Volume XIX, Issue 1069, 7 February 1863
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