A most painful sensation was created at Washford just after 1 o’clock on Tuesday by the news that James Thorne Bellamy, a porter employed at the GWR  station had been found dead under circumstances which left no doubt that he had taken his own life. The deceased left his home at Lower Washford to go to his work at the usual hour without anything strange being noted about his manner and throughout the morning he carried out his usual duties without arousing in the mind of the station master Mr.T.Reed or others with whom he came into contact the slightest suspicion of anything amiss. He also attended to the signal box duties prior to and after the arrival of the 12.09 train making the necessary entries in the time book, and after the train had cleared Blue Anchor announced to Mr Reed his intention of attending to the goods in the yard. About three quarters of an hour later, James Lewis, a carter, in the employ of Mr.T.Evered was going through the station yard when on passing a covered van, the doors of which were wide open, he noticed signs of blood, and on looking in, he saw Bellamy lying in the van. He, at once, informed Mr Reed and together they made an examination. They found the deceased in a corner lying in a pool of blood which had evidently come from a long cut below the left ear, while close to his right hand was a blood stained razor. Having first made sure that Bellamy was dead,  Mr Reed sent for the police and doctor Graham was communicated with.  Within a few minutes, the doctor and PC Tomkins and PC Harris arrived but all that doctor Graham could do was to confirm the opinion that Bellamy was dead and had been so for some little time. The circumstances all went to show that the act was of a very premeditated character as prior to committing it, the deceased had taken off his collar and tie and placed them within his cap and also turned back the collar and front portion of his shirt. The carotid artery as well as the jugular vein were severed.
When about 18yrs old, Bellamy entered the service of the Great Western Railway Company at Washford and had remained there ever since. A period of something like 23yrs, he being 41 at the time of his death. During that time he had proved a most reliable servant and as the local station served such an extensive district he was well known to  passengers as well as residents in that area. He leaves a widow and two children, a boy and a girl, just in their early teens and a sincere sympathy is felt for them on every hand in the great sorrow they have so unexpectedly had thrust upon them.


The inquest was held at the reading room on Thursday, shortly after midday before Mr.T.Foster Barman coroner for West Somerset. Mr  Wittington being chosen foreman of the jury. District inspector Stevens was present on behalf of the GWR Company and PC Howard carried out the duties of the coroner’s officer. The first witness was Thomas Reed, station master at Washford, who gave evidence of identification and said the deceased was formally a porter at the station, he resided at Washford and was about 41yrs of age, 22 or 23yrs having been spent in the service of the company. He had noticed no change of late in Bellamy who was of a quiet disposition and somewhat reserved. He was also a sober, very hard working man. So far as his accounts at the station were concerned, everything was in order and he (witness) had been authorized by the companies district auditor had been going through the accounts at Washford this week to say that everything was absolutely in order, there was nothing deceased parents who apparently died before he came into the neighborhood. There was however, nothing mentally wrong with Bellamy so far as he new. He last saw the deceased alive after the arrival of the 12.09 train on Tuesday but noticed nothing unusual in his manner or appearance. About 1’oclock as near as he could remember, James Lewis came to his office and informed him that Bellamy was lying in a truck, together they proceeded to the truck, they found Bellamy lying on the left side of the truck with his throat cut, and quite dead. There was blood in the truck and some had peculated through the floor. He also saw a razor (produced) lying in the deceased’s right hand on which there were bloodstains. Dr.Graham and the police were communicated with and the body was afterwards removed to the deceased’s home at the request of his wife. There were two children, a boy and a girl. Dr Graham deposed that he had professionally attended the deceased whom he knew very well during the last 3 years, but not lately, and in his opinion Bellamy was the last man he would have expected to commit such an act. Having described the nature of the wound which on the outside was 3inches in length he said the injuries were of such a character that death must have taken place within 2 or 3 minutes. He knew the family well and so far as he knew the deceased and his wife were a very happy couple. Some 3 yrs ago Bellamy had a slight attach of influenza which however left none of the usual after effects of this form of illness and he had appeared to be alright ever since. There seems to be no cause of any kind why he should have taken his life and apparently it was done in a fit of temporary insanity. He remarked upon the fact that Bellamy had that morning, taken with him in his pocket, a razor, a thing that he did not normally do. Mr.J.Frost, a juror, said his brother could explain the possession of the razor. Mr.W.H.Frost another juror stated that he had known the deceased for a great many years and prior to his marriage, Bellamy lodged with him for 8 yrs. At that time he was in the habit of often taking his razor to the station and shaving himself while there. While lodging with him, Bellamy had often remarked to him that as he had not time to shave he would do so at the station and he had accordingly taken his razor with him. The coroner asked the witness if he knew anything about the deceased’s parents. Mr. Frost said he believed the deceased’s parents went to America many years ago there were 3 children of whom the deceased was the eldest. The mother died abroad and the children were brought up by relatives. The deceased by his uncle, the sub-postmaster at washford with whom he resided until he fell out with his uncle. The coroner said, was he of a funny temper? Mr.Frost thought not, generally speaking Bellamy seemed jolly enough though at times he was a bit sullen. Bellamy resided with Mr Frosts mother-in-law previously to residing with him. The coroner internated that he didn’t think it was necessary to call James Lewis as the station masters evidence was as to finding of the body was quite sufficient. The foreman remarked that it would not be out of place to say in fairness to the deceased that the reason that he sometimes shaved at the station was because those employed there had so much to do. He did not know another country station where the staff had to work so hard. Going frequently too and from the station as he did he often noticed how hard the men had to work and in his opinion Bellamy had a little overdone it as people often said in such cases, he was run down. Bellamy was of a most cheerful disposition, constantly at work and seemed to be the very man for the position. District inspector Stevens contended that there was no question of overwork in the matter there was sufficient in the post the deceased occupied to keep a man fully employed but nothing to necessitate overwork in any shape or form. He should like to add that the deceased was an honest and much valued servant of the company and had been offered promotion on several occasions but invariably declined expressing a wish to remain at Washford. He had been with the company service for upward of 23yrs and performed his duties to the complete satisfaction of those in authority over him. Mr Stevens had been his inspector for over 2yrs and always found him very cheerful.

The Verdict:-
The coroner in summing up said there seemed to have been no accounting cause why
the deceased should have taken his life and there was nothing to indicate that he had anything to worry him. It had been suggested that he might have been overworked but everyone was more or less under conditions of overwork nowadays. District inspector Stevens “he had never made any complaint with respect to being overworked!”
The coroner, continuing, said it might be that the bad weather got on the deceased’s nerves but there was nothing to suggest that he was out of his mind at the time. On the contrary he appeared to be as perfectly sane as any of those present could be said to be. He didn’t think that the jury would be justified in finding that Bellamy was of unsound mind when he took his life and yet it might be supposed by some that a man could not be in his senses when he took his own life. He would leave the matter to the jury.
Afterwards he added that if the jury could not see their way to return a verdict one way or the other they should return an open verdict by saying that the man killed himself by cutting his throat but whether he was of unsound mind when he did it there was not sufficient evidence to show. There might be some cause of which the jury were not aware some mental weakness of which they were ignorant and he thought the best way of dealing with the matter was  as he had suggested, they might return a verdict of felo de fe which some people thought an unpleasant verdict but they would not be justified in returning a verdict of temporary insanity unless they had evidence that the deceased was of unsound mind. This they had not got. Mr J.Frost asked Dr.Graham whether he thought that the man would be of sound or unsound mind when committing such an act. Dr.Graham said it would be quite impossible for any medical man to say, The coroner pointed out that if the jury acted as he had suggested they would not commit themselves one way or the other. Mr Frost supposed that if in the advent of such a verdict being returned the deceased’s dependants would be cut off from any privileges they might otherwise receive he thought that the jurors under all circumstances should give the widow the benefit of the doubt. The coroner said the jury were not there to assist people in obtaining money to which possibly they were not entitled and really they had no right whatever to do so. He thought that that point would probably come out during them being sentimental, they had taken an oath and he was going to rub this into them to find a true verdict but to find a verdict that the deceased was of an unsound mind was not in conformity with their oath and you must tell them so perfectly frankly supposing that the insurance office were to refuse to pay on the grounds that the man had taken his own life whilst of sound mind the jury would not look very well if called upon to give evidence on the point but would look very foolish indeed. The jury verdict was not going to turn the scale one way or the other, if the insurance company decided that the man was of sound mind and refused to pay the verdict of the coroner’s jury was not going to bind the insurance company. In reply to the foreman the coroner repeated that an open verdict would not influence the insurance company one-way or the other. After a brief consultation on the part of the jury, the foreman announced that all the members save one were agreed upon an open verdict. The coroner: If you are not agreed I tell you what happens, I bind you over to come up at the next assizes and the judge will deal with the matter. You will all have to come up at the next assize at your own expense and listen to what the judge tells you. Mr. Frost (the dissenting juror)”It is apparent to every man that if a man cuts his throat he would not be of sound mind. The coroner: That is nonsense. Mr.Frost: If he was troubled about money or other things it would probably be a deliberate act.  Further consultation took place among the jury and eventually the foreman announced that all were agreed upon an open verdict. The coroner: Quite right!
The jury then formally returned a verdict to the effect that James Thorne Bellamy killed himself by cutting his throat with a razor but whether he was or was not of unsound mind at the time he so killed himself there was not sufficient evidence to show.