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Thwaites, Walter William (1814–1888)

When the information reached Bowral last Saturday evening of the suicide of Mr. W. W. Thwaites, at Parramatta, the residents were horrified at the terrible ending of the old man who had carried on business in different parts of this district as a photographer during the past three or four years. Monday's Daily Telegraph gives the following report of the inquest held on the body of deceased:—

The Parramatta coroner, Mr. J. E. Bowden, held an inquest at Rowlinson's Commercial Hotel, Parramatta, 0n Saturday morning on the body of the man Walter William Thwaites, who was found lying dead in a pool of blood, with a revolver at his side, at his residence, Wigram-street, Harris Park, near Parramatta, the previous afternoon.

Dr. Phillips deposed to making a post-mortem examination and finding a wound in the mouth, passing upwards. On opening the skull he found the bullet produced, which fitted the chamber of the revolver found near deceased; he had no doubt the wound was self-inflicted.

Alice Thwaites, daughter-in-law of the deceased, said that he was 73 years of age and had been married 52 years; deceased was very much dejected lately in consequence of a letter he received from Sir Henry Parkes offering deceased and his wife a home for life, but declining to give him an appointment on account of his age; upon receiving the letter, between three and four months ago, deceased sold off everything he had at Kangaroo Valley, where he was doing fairly well in business, and came to Parramatta; deceased then ascertained that the home Sir Henry offered him was in the George-street Destitute Asylum, and the home proposed for his wife was in the Newington Asylum; deceased refused to go there, and has been very dejected since, the breaking up of his home having ruined him; about a month ago deceased wrote about making away with himself, but at the end of the letter spoke more hopefully, and no notice was taken of the matter; deceased's wife left home to reside with witness the day before the body was found.

Further evidence was given by some of the neighbours that deceased was in very distressed circumstances and almost starving. Deceased was anxious that his wife should find a home, and on one occasion said, "It's no use both of us starving together." Deceased had been in communication with Lady Carrington with reference to some proposal for the founding of cottage homes. In his possession was found a letter from Mr. Wallington, private secretary, thanking deceased for his "courteous and kind suggestions for Lady Carrington's information," and stating that her Ladyship much appreciates the proposals, but "fears that it would be a matter of some difficulty to start such an institution without a great deal of thought and consideration, though Lady Carrington cannot but think the idea a very good one.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide while labouring under temporary insanity.

The following paragraph, appeared in yesterday's S. M. Herald:—The attention of the Premier has been directed to a statement made by Mrs. Alice Thwaites, at an inquest touching the death of her father-in-law, Walter William Thwaites. Mrs. Thwaites deposed that the deceased, who was 73 years of age and in very poor circumstances, had been much dejected of late in consequence of a letter which he received from Sir Henry Parkes, offering him a home for life in the poorhouse at Parramatta, in response to an application for an appointment in the public service. Sir Henry Parkes stated that he never knew there was such a man in existence, and that no communication of any kind ever passed between them.

Original publication

Citation details

'Thwaites, Walter William (1814–1888)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/thwaites-walter-william-19346/text30800, accessed 7 December 2021.

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