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. FRIGHTFUL TRAGEDY NEAR WINDSOR

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FRIGHTFUL TRAGEDY NEAR WINDSOR On Wednesday afternoon Mr. Rupert Clarke, the coroner for Berkshire, opened an inquiry at the Fox and Punchbowl tavern into the deaths of John Richard Cook, aged forty-two; Mary Ann Cook, aged nine; Agnes Josephine Cook, aged five; Eugene Cook, aged four; and Louisa Elizabeth Cook, aged two years. The jury having been sworn, with Mr. George Allen, churchwarden, as foreman, proceeded to view the bodies, the child Mary Ann only having died on Tuesday night about twelve o'clock.. Mr. Superintendent Reece watched the case for the police, and the inquiry, for more spaoe, was taken at the workhouse, when the following evidence was taken:- Joseph Brant said he was a gardener, and brother- in-law to the deceased man, John Richard Cook, who had been a hairdresser. The witness spoke to the ages of the deceased, as above given. He saw Cook weekly. Cook's wife died on; the 17th of July. Witness last saw Cook alive on Monday evening week, and they had something to drink together. Witness saw the child Mary Anne on Friday, who came to witness's house. Since his wife's death witness had not had much conversation with him, nor'did he seem an altered man. Witness had never seen Cook in- toxicated. Cook had scarcely had any employment since the death of his wife, and only jobbed about since he left Slough, about four years ago, when he was bankrupt. Prior to her death the family were principally supported by'the wife's exertions as laun- dress. Witness had heard that he had something regularly from Eton College. The Rev. Mr. Blunt: I think he had about £ 20 a ^By the Jury: There had not been any marked alteration in Cook's manner since his wife's death. Caroline Amelia Brant said she was the wife of the last witness, and sister of Cook's late wife. She knew the family, and thought that they principally lived since his wife's death on the subscriptions of the gentry in the neighbourhood. Witness had not seen Cook to have any conversation with him till she met him on Saturday evening in Sheet-street, Windsor. About half-past eight on Friday evening, the child Mary Ann came to witness's house and said, Aunt, I want to speak to you. Father has sent me to borrow two candles." Witness lent her one, and asked how her sisters were. The child said not very well, and repeated that answer on the question being again put. That was the last time witness saw her until Sunday afternoon about a quarter-past four. The child could not then speak at all. Witness did not know any of the relations who could give any in- formation as to Cook's doings during the week just past. He was a kind father, and there did not seem to be any difference since his wife's death. The Coroner said he should be glad to have any in- formation.. 1 The Rev. Mr. Blunt, the vicar, said that he had 1 undertaken to receive subscriptions for the benefit of Cook and his family, and during his (Mr. Blunt's) absence, Mr. Harwood, the curate, had given orders for necessaries, which had been supplied. On one of those orders Cook had written other things, and that had given rise to a bad feeling on Cook's part, because Mr Harwood had rebuked him for such conduct. George Lovell, No. 26, said he was constable in the Berks constabulary, stationed at Old Windsor. He knew the deceased man Cook and the children. From information he received he went to Cook's cottage, and upon getting there heard a man named Wyatt say that none of Cook's children were about, nor Cook himself. Witness knocked at the door about ten minutes past two, but not receiving any answer he went round to the back door, and also knocked three times. Ultimately, not getting an answer, he went to the front door again, and knocked loudly; after which he looked through the window, and saw a bed on the floor, and, as he faneied, a child lying on ft. Witness called a man named Temple, who was standing in the road, and said, I'm afraid it's a case with them. He went round again, and got in at the back window, aiad there saw a pail with a quantity of blood in it. He should think there was half a gallon. The razor produced was found on the mantelshelf. It was tied! tightly with tape, so that it should not shut or push back. There were blood and black hair on it. There wa3 not any trace of blood on the floor. He went into the front room, and there covered over were the three dead bodies of children. (The witness was so much affected that for some time he could not proceed with his evidence.) Witness called Temple in, Mid, making further search, they found up-stairs the child Mary Anne on the bed. In the next room he found Cook on the bed, with his throat cut: there was a handkerchief and cloth tied round his neck, as if to stanch the blood. The child Adelaide was lying by his side with a bandage round her throat, so that he supposed her throat was cut also. Cook could speak, and said, For God's sake, Mr. Lovell, give me some water, for I am parchod with thirst! Rub my belly. rub my belly I" Witness made a search, and found three bottles that apparently had contained laudanum. There was other poison besides. He died about a quarter past seven on Sunday. He frequently asked for cold water before Mr. Pearl arrived. The child Mary Ann died on Tuesday morning at half-past twelve o'clock. I Mr. Herbert Reece said he was inspector of police ,e for the division, and on being called to Cook's cottage, found the bodies of the deceased man Cook and his children. That was about four o'clock. He saw Cook upstairs vomiting a black fluid. Witness said, What have you been doing, Cook; taking poison ? and Cook said "-Tes. Mr. Pearl asked if he had been taking vitriol. Witness looked round the room, and on the drawers saw the bottle produced, about half full of oil of vitriol. There were three phials with laudanum in them. In a basin at the foot of the bed where the child Mary Ann was lying there was a quantity of tea with oil of vitriol in, or other strong acid. Witness asked the little girl if that was the tea her father gave to her, and she said yes. Witness asked when he gave it to her, and she said on Friday, she thought at dinner-time. She was quite conscious at the time, but replied in a very low tone. In the room where the father was lying he (Mr. Reece) found a quantity of clothes saturated with blood. Downstairs were two memorials or petitions on the table. He had seen the child Adelaide upstairs, and had her removed to the Windsor Infirmary. Witness also found a letter from the Rsv. Mr. Blunt, stating that he would take charge of and apply any subscriptions that might be given. There was also an agreement between Mr. Clarke and Cook with reference to a projected benefit at the Windsor Theatre, dated 7th September, 1864. The second memorial was a counterpart in substance of the George Hailey, polioe-cons-table 55, Berks constabu- lary, said that he accompanied Mr. Reece to the cot- tage of Cook, and there found some papers. There is a letter addressed to Mr. A. Cook, Foot Barracks, Mess-waiter," and another to Rev. Mr. Blunt, Old Windsor." There are three pieces of paper with pencil writing on them. The writing is in the following words :—Whoever finds this piece of paper please to go direct to my brother, at the Foot Barracks, and tell him what has happened to us. Ask him to go to my brother servants at Colleg, and ask them to speak to Mr. Harrison about our coffins, and ask my brother servants to follow us to our graves; tell them I shall btf greatly oblig to them if they will do me this last reI" qnest for me. Tell them I am miserable and unhappy, and I cannot get anything to do to support my children. Since I have lost my wife I have been miser- able and unhappy. I can scarcely keep in my right senses; my brains wonders; I am sure I cannot be in my right sences. I have prayed to the Almighty God to forgive me all my sins I have committed through life. I am sure if the gentlemen of Eton Colleg knew in the way I am paid they would pitty me, and they would bury us at their own expense. Pray tell them no and not lett us be buried at the parish expense. "J.COOK. "Please to send for Mr. Pearl; tell him I wish him to see us, and I pray he will not cut and hack us about, as he can see the cause of all this. If I could have got any employment that would not have happened; Taut I am so involved in debt that I cannot get any peace of mind, for every one is troubling me for money daily is the cause of'all this, and I am truly sorry it is not 'in my power to pay them. I pray every one not to speak disrespectful of me now I am gone. Had my poor wife lived this would not have happened. I can say we loved each other dearly, and we loved our children dearly. I have praid that my dear wife's sale is gone to heaven, and I pray the Almighty will receive our souls into the kingdom of heaven. l ain growing weak and my brain wonder. I pray God to forgive me. Good bye every one. God bless every one." The following was written on part of a supplement of the Bucks Advertiser, No. 1,093, vol. 21, the date being cut off, the day of the month being only left, so far showing it was December :—" Thursday, Sept. 20, 64.—I am quite tired of my life and not a friend in the world to speak to. If I speak to the clergyman I am treated with the greatest disdain, and what for I do not no. I am accused o that by them that I am not gilty o althoe they acouse me. If my poor wife was alive, poor dear, she would exonerate me from all I am accused of by them. The wicked people may talk but God above no all my poor dear wife visit me nightly and pray for me to leave the wicked world and come to her and bring the children with me, for she is sure I have enough to contend with them. She sais come to me while there is a vacancy by my side, for she is sure that Mr. Blunt would allow you to be buried by my side, and the children by hers. I have spoken to Mr. Harwood, but he is no gentleman, for he will not give a poor man a fair hearing. He would make a bad judge. I told him on Monday morning last that I wished to say something to some gentleman, then I should be happy, but still accused me, and would not give me a hearing. I have prayed heartily for my forgiveness, which I hope God Almighty will be pleased to forgive me.—JOHN COOK." The following letter addressed to his brother was also produced:- "My dear brother Alfred,-I hope you will come and see me. Give my love to my sisters, tell them I would have come and seen them, but I was to Heart Broken to see any one, for I no I have not a friend in the world to speek to of any comfort. Please send word to my brother Charles, and tell him I wish him to come to me directly, for I wish to see him directly, for to make all arrangements as reguards our funne. rells. I hope and trust that Mr. Harrison will make our coffins, and my brother servants will attend. I hope my fellow-servants will do all they can so that we might not be buried by the parish expense. Mr. Vaughan, Mr. Holderness, Mr. Whitfield, Mr. Carter, Mr. Westbrook, Mr. How&s, Mr. Shaw, Mr. James, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Long, Mr. Gardner, I forget your name. I humbly and pray you will be so kind as to petition to the college so that we might not be buried by the parish. My brain wonders, my poor dear wife is with me now and teaching me wat to wright. I pray do not disapoint me at my funeral there good souls. God Almighty will reward you all for your kindness. I must now conclude with a very heavy and haking Heart almost driven to madness.-I am yours, J. COOK." The'letter to the Rev. Mr. Blunt was as follows:- I have tried hard to get in your good favour, but I find there are too many against me, and you, rev. sir, give way to the idol tales, and will not believe the truth, as Mr. Harwood has accused me a great many times of that I never have be guilty of. I have asked Mr. Harwood the favour to give up his author, so that I might bring them to justice to exonerate mys-self of all these idol tales. I am sorry to say there are a great many in the parish that are found of finding faults with others instead of looking to them- selves, for the sake of getting in favour themselves. Look, rev. sir, at the thing in thp right; see the thing. yourself before believing idol people talk. My brain wander, forgive me if I say anything wrong; there are many people in this parish are guilty of telling the greatest untruth ever herd. I hope, rev. sir, you will forgive me writing to you in this way. My poor dear wife comes to me nightly and wishes me to come to her and bring the children with me, for she sais she knows I have a great deal to contend with to support them. She is with me now; she sais,' Come, come to me and bring the children with you, for I am sure the Rev. Mr. Blunt will alow you to buried by my. side, and the children by the side of you; pray come quick, before some one else takes your place by the, side of me.' I hope and pray to God that the Rev. Mr. Blunt will grant me that favour to be buried by the side of my wife and my children by the side of me; it is my wife's nightly request.-I am your humble; servant, J. R. COOK." The Coroner said the letters and papers found would; largely assist the jury, and he proposed to take the; medical evidence, when perhaps a decision would be, come to. Mr. Pearl said: I am a medical practitioner at. Windsor, and was called to the deceased on Sunday afternoon about four o'clock. His beard was elottea, with blood, and his right arm and shoulder covered with blood. He vomited constantly dark acid matter, and complained of great pain in his belly. Remedies were administered, and at six o'clock I asked h.m when he cut his throat and the child's, Adelaide, and: he said-he did it the night before, below stairs, and Irhey had been bleeding into a pail nearly all night. I then asked him when he gave the other children poison,, and he said, I never gave them any poison at all; it was the oldest child did it." He said, when he out the second child's throat he had worked himself up to a pitch of madness. He made his answers quite rationally. A post-mortem proved that he died from the effect of some corrosive poison, and vitriol would give exactly such appearances. I have made a. post- mortem of the child Agnes Josephine. There were no marks of violence, but the front of the body was quite green, and beginning to decompose rapidly. There ■mavn marts over the rest of the body. Internally "VoL' "do there was no morbid appearance in the organs of the body. There was no odour of poison, certainly not vitriol, but the effect of the presence of opium or some other poison might pass away. The child did not die from any natural cause.. The' Coroner summed up, and the jury ultimately found "That the deceased children we-re destroyed by their father, John Richard Cook, and that he alters wards destroyed his own life, but in what state or mind he was in at the time there was not sufficient evidence to determine." evidence to determine." The Funeral of the Murderer and his Victims. On Friday morning, at nine o'clock, the funeral of the murderer and suicide, John Richard Cook and the four murdered ohildren, Mary Ann, Agnes Josephine, Eugenie, and Louisa Elizabeth, took place at Old Windsor. The dreadful nature of the circumstances in connection with the deaths of the sufferers at. tracted a large number of persons, notwithstanding the early hour fixed for the performance of the sad and mournful ceremony. The bodies of the father and children were placed in neat elm coffins, bearing suitable inscriptions, and were furnished by the parish, at the expense of which the funeral was carried out. The friends and relations of Cook and his children having assembled at the cottage at Old Windsor- green, the scene of the murder and suicide, a funeral procession was formed, the body of Cook, with the coffin covered with the usual pall, being carried first on the shoulders of four of the undertaker's men. Next came the four little coffins containing the bodies of the poor children (each covered with a snow-white cloth), and borne on the shoulders of eight young men seleeted from the village. These were followed by the relatives of the deceased in black, the Police-constable George Lovell, who discovered the murder, also taking part in the procession, which was followed by a large number of villagers and spectators. It was a sad and touching spectacle which the mournful procession presented as it wound along the road on the bright autumn morning, on its way from the cottage so lately the scene of such an accumula- tion of horrors to the Old Windsor Churchyard, where the remains of Cook and his children were to be interred. The churchyard is about a mile from the house of Cook, and was reached about half-past nine, when the body of the murderer was taken through the west door into the body of the church, the coffins containing the bodies of the murdered children being taken round the church to the great door on the south side of the building, where the Rev. J. Blunt having pre- viously met the procession, commenced reading the Burial Service, the coffins being also placed in the body of the church while the service was continued. On leavintr the church the coffin containing the body of Cook was taken to and placed in a grave or hole which had been dug in an. obscure corner at the west extremity of the churchyard, near the wall which separates the graveyard from the road. Here it was deposited without any ceremony, while the four little elm coffins of the girls were placed in one common grave, over which the remainder of the service was performed by the vicar, the relatives and crowd stand- ing round and listening attentively, while many an eye was wet at the remembrance of the shocking fate which had cut short the lives of these four poor innocents. Towards the conclusion of the service the vicar briefly but earnestly, addressed the crowd around the grave,'after which the crowd of villagers and specta- tors left the churchyard, apparently much impressed with the address they had just listened to.

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