ROBINSON, William Arthur

Private William Arthur Robinson
6472 & 203108 West Yorkshire Regiment

William Arthur Robinson was born in 1875 at East Leake, Nottinghamshire the son of John Robinson a farm labourer born in Lincolnshire and his wife Ann. In 1891 the family was living in Bulwell, Nottingham at Albert Street but by 1911 had moved to Swineshead, Lincolnshire, by which time William had married and had left home. William had siblings John H. and Fanny Louisa.

In 1904 William married Sarah Eliza Bowman in Hertfordshire. Their first child Mary Ann was born in Herts., daughter Dorothy Gladys in Melton Mowbray, Leics., John William in Somercotes, Derbys. and by 1911 they had moved to Edward Avenue, Jacksdale and a further child, not yet named and only 5 days old had been born in Jacksdale. Further children followed:- Florence in 1913, Evelyn in 1915 who was christened at St Mary’s, Westwood in September, father’s occupation noted as ‘soldier’ and also Arthur in 1918.

William’s military records do not seem to have survived but from his daughter’s christening we know he was serving in 1915. He was also listed as absent from Edward Avenue, Jacksdale in 1918/1919, serving with the West Yorkshires. His Medal Rolls Index Card records that he was a recipient of the Victory and British War Medals.

William died in 1922, aged only 46 and his tragic tale is recounted in a local newspaper:-

‘Jacksdale Soldier’s Dementia.Strange Inquest Story. Threw Live Coals On Bed And Turned On Gas. An extraordinary story of an ex-soldier’s attempts at suicide was told to the Notts. County Coroner (Mr. H. Bradwell) at the County Asylum, Radcliffe-on-Trent, on Saturday, when an inquest was held on the body of William Arthur Robinson, 46, labourer, of Jacksdale, who died in the institution on May 9th.
The widow, who is left with six children, said her husband rejoined the forces in August, 1914, as a reservist, and served through the war without being wounded. Once he was gassed, but did not report it. After his demobilisation without a pension, he could do very little work owing to ill health. This had continued for nearly three years, and he often became low-spirited, and would refuse food, saying he wanted it for his children.
About two months previously he had attempted to commit suicide by turning on the gas and throwing the hot coals from the fire all over the place. He was attended by a panel doctor, and went to the Basford Infirmary, but only stayed there for a week, leaving at his own request. On Friday, April 28th, when she returned from shopping, having previously left him in the house with the children, she looked round, but could not find him, and noticing that the paraffin bottle was empty, she called in a neighbour, who found her husband in the pantry. On May 1st he was removed to the asylum. In reply to the Coroner, the widow said that after his first outburst he was attended by Dr. Boreham, who told her he would have to be put away if he got into any more of those tantrums. He, however, appeared to get better. She added that when found, her husband’s clothing showed no signs of having being burnt, and there were no matches to be found anywhere about him. She at first thought the burns were due to his having drunk some of the paraffin.
The Coroner observed that it would have been much better had deceased been brought to the institution sooner.
A graphic story was told by a neighbour, Mrs. Lizzie Wilde, who said she was called in by deceased’s wife on several occasions. About two months ago, when called by Mrs. Robinson, she went into the house, and saw deceased going about in his shirt. He had pulled the gas bracket down, and the room was full of gas. He had also scooped hot coals out of the grate with his hands, and thrown some of them on the bed, which was burning, and all over the place. Even a kettle of boiling water had been thrown off the fire. On the day when Mrs. Robinson went to Eastwood shopping, deceased told the children to go out and play, and stop for an hour and three-quarters. When Mrs. Robinson arrived home they looked for deceased and discovered the pantry door fastened from the inside. Gaining an entry, they saw deceased lying on the floor, his clothing saturated with paraffin, and suffering from extensive burns. He had used a clothes line to tie the handle of the door to the shelf, and it also looked as if the rope had been round his neck. This witness also said that there was no sign of deceased’s clothes been on fire. The Coroner remarked that it was extraordinary how deceased came by the burns, unless he took his clothes off, and put them on again.
Dr. Lloyd Jones (medical superintendent) said when admitted deceased did not seem to know what made him attempt to commit suicide. He was suffering from extensive burns on the buttocks and gradually got worse. He could not account for the burns in any way, and in reply to the Coroner, witness said he did not think it would have been possible for deceased to strip himself, put paraffin on his body, and set fire to himself in that way. Death was due to toxaemia, arising from the burns. The Coroner, observing that it was a most remarkable case, returned a verdict of death from toxaemia, arising from burns self-inflicted by deceased, who was of unsound mind at the time.’

1922 May 19th. Ripley and Heanor News.

William is buried at Westwood, St. Mary’s as is his wife Sarah who died in 1947 aged 63 years.