Cemeteries and graveyards, full of love, betrayal, tragic deaths, murder, and suicide. What will you find?

Friday 28 February 2014

Flashback Friday - War Grave - Private George Eaton - A Battle with Depression

**Originally posted 16th January 2013**

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them".

George Eaton was born in 1859 in Hurley, Berkshire to Thomas, an agricultural labourer and his wife Sarah Herbert.

George first appears on the 1861 Census aged 2, living with his parents and siblings in Hurley Berkshire. Ten years later in 1871 George and his family are still living in Hurley, at 8 Lady Place, Ashley Hill.  Joining the family is George's aunt Mary Ann Herbert, who is listed as servant domestic (invalid). 

It seems that in 1871 George served time at her majesty's pleasure for poaching pheasant eggs.

On 12th August 1871 the Reading Mercury reported:

"George Eaton of the parish of Hurley, was summoned for having on the 12th May last, at the parish of Hurley, unlawfully taken from a nest nine pheasants' eggs, on land in the occupation of Sir G. East.  It appeared from the evidence that after the offence was committed defendant left the neighbourhood and kept out of the way until 5th August.  The case was now clearly proved, and he was sentenced to a fine of 2s. for each egg, and 10s. 6d. costs or one month's imprisonment.  Committed." 

In 1881 George is working with his father and elder siblings as an agricultural labourer.

In 1884 George married Harriet Pickett.  Their first child, a daughter Alice was born in 1885, closely followed by Ann in 1887.  Their first son George William was born in 1889.

In 1891 the small family can be found living at 6 Long Acre, Maidenhead, Berkshire, where George is now a bricklaying labourer.  By 1901 George and his family had moved to Tyrells Buildings in Maidenhead, where George is listed as a ground works labourer.  Catherine aged 9, Thomas aged 6, Benjamin aged 4 and John aged 1 have joined the family.  George and Harriet's youngest child Robert was born in 1904.

It seems however that George was plagued with depression, which at one point caused him to attempt to take his own life, for which he served a week's imprisonment at Reading Gaol.  The Slough Windsor and Eton Observer reports on 15th September 1906 -

"The Case Of Attempted Suicide

At the Maidenhead Borough Police-court on Friday George Eaton, a resident, was charged on remand with having cut and wounded himself with a razor, intending to kill and murder himself.

The Magistrates' Clerk explained to the Bench that the Governor of Reading Gaol had written to the effect that he was of the opinion the suicidal attempt was a feint, and that there were no signs of insanity in regard to the prisoner.

Police-constable Hay said that he was stationed at Maidenhead.  On the 30th August he had received information that the prisoner had cut his throat.  In company with Police-constable Barr he went to Denmark-street and found that the prisoner had gone out.  He went in search of the prisoner and found him in a field on the other side of the Furze Platt, on the way to Cookham.  He asked him what he was doing and he said, "Nothing."  He noticed a razor sticking out of his pocket; it was in the condition in which it now was (with blood upon it).  Prisoner's throat was covered in blood.  He examined the prisoner's throat, but found no serious cut.  He eventually got him into the road, when he "turned up rough" and said he wanted to go on to the Thicket to finish the job.  They were obliged to handcuff the prisoner; they had no trouble with him after that.  Eaton said several times on the way to the station that he would "finish it off" some time, but he was in a dazed condition, and did not seem to know what he was doing.

Mr Cox:  Was he sober?- Yes, sir.
Had he been drinking
No, I think not, sir.  He was in a dazed state.

The Magistrates' Clerk (to the prisoner) What did you do this for?
Prisoner:  I do not know anything about it; I have been ill.
When you came to your senses did you know what you had done?- No.

Mrs. Eaton, mother of the prisoner, told the magistrates that on Monday when her son came home she said that he was ill, and he looked it.  He was very much depressed.  She advised him to see Dr. Montgomery.

The Magistrates' Clerk:  Do you think he will do this kind of thing again?
Mrs. Eaton:  No, sir.  He thought he was going to lose his father and it upset him.  He looked so funny when he came to me on the Monday that I thought he was "going off" like some other members of the family.  He has never threatened his wife; it was only what people had said about him.

Prisoner's wife, a most respectably-dressed woman, was in court with a baby in her arms, but was not called.

The Mayor (to Mrs. Eaton sen.):  After what you say, if you will keep an eye on your son the magistrates are disposed to dismiss the case.
Mrs. Eaton:  Thank you, sir.

Prisoner afterwards left with his wife and mother."

In 1911 the family had moved to 78 Reform Road where George is listed as a domestic gardener. 

Sometime after the out break of World War One, George enlisted with The Royal Berkshire Regiment.  I have been unable to locate any War Service Records for George. 

Before his death on 26th July 1915 in Hampshire at the age of 56, George was treated at Netley Military Hospital in Hampshire.  Netley Hospital boasted the first purpose built military asylum where men suffering from severe psychosis and Shell Shock were treated.


  1. Replies
    1. Possible, although I am not entirely sure. It is also possible he was treated at Netley Hospital in Hampshire.

  2. Is the person who created this blog still keeping an eye on it, if so please answer my comment as I have further info on George, I.E. Family links and a smal amount of military history.


    1. Beneath Thy Feet5 January 2016 at 16:52

      My apologies, but if you comment as Anonymous sometimes Blogger considers your comment spam. Also you will not be notified of any replies I leave.


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