Melancholy Suicide at Truro


A very painful feeling was created in Truro yesterday upon its becoming known that the body of Mr Henry Nicholas Triebner, who since December 1877, has been managing clerk to Messrs Nankivell and Co., wine merchants, had been found floating in Pencalenick Pond. It appears that about half past ten o’clock a labourer named William Harvey was passing the pond when he observed the body of a man floating on the surface. He at once gave information to Sergeant Penbertby, of the County Police, who obtained assistance and brought the body ashore, when it was found to be that of the deceased, who was only partially dressed, his coat, waistcoat and hat, together with his stick and basket being found on the north side of the pond and some distance from the road. The deceased had evidently walked into the pond and deliberately drowned himself in about four feet of water. After the body had been removed to the Ship Inn, St Clement’s, the pockets were searched, and in a pocket book a leaf which had been torn out was found, bearing these words in pencil, “Bless my precious wife. God have mercy upon my soul: I am mad with awful sin, but I die faithful to my wife.” A purse, bills, and some other articles were found, but no money. The cause of the sad act is only too easy to trace. The deceased was under notice to leave Messrs Nankivell’s employ, and on Saturday the principal partner, Mr H. H. Ley, discovered that the deceased had been appropriating the moneys of the firm and taxed him with the crime. The deceased admitted his guilt, and Mr Ley at once discharged him, telling him that he would communicate with him as to further steps he might take. This was early in the afternoon, and it is surmised, that instead of going to his home at Trennick Cottage, the deceased wandered about until the evening when he put an end to his life in the manner described, his watch having been found to have stopped at five minutes past seven.

An inquest on the body was held last night, before Mr John Carlyon, Coroner, when evidence of the finding of the body was given and bore out the facts as stated above, the witnesses being Sergeant Penbertby, William Harvey, William Hill, and John Simons.

Mr Hugh H. Ley was called, and deposed that the deceased was engaged by him in December, 1877. Witness received a letter from Falmouth early on Saturday morning in deceased’s hand writing apologising for his absence from business a few hours. and stating that certain creditors were pressing him, among whom he mentioned Messrs Criddle and Smith, and also that he wished to see his solicitor regarding his wile’s property. On going down to the office he called his traveller, Mr Rogers, and told him that he had received the letter, and asked if he knew anything about deceased’s affairs or money matters. Mr Rogers replied that he had heard of the deceased owing certain sums. Witness then made up the cash book, and found it correct to the date. Mr Rogers then said he thought there was something wrong in the waste book, and on examining it, witness found that moneys in the waste book had not been duly entered into the cash book. He then looked at the accounts in the ledger and found in one account an item which had not been entered in the cash book. He had the books brought into his private room, and when the deceased, in a few hours, came to the office, witness called him and asked him if he could account for the discrepancies, adding “if the money has not been entered in the cash book what has become of it?” Deceased replied “I have taken it.” Witness then asked again it he had taken any other sums; and deceased answered “Yes, for I have been pressed for money,” Witness said “are you prepared to make a statement,” and deceased replied that be was not without going through the books. Witness then said “Very well, take your hat and leave the office at once and I will communicate with you.” Deceased then left.

In answer to question from the jury witness stated that he did not notice anything wrong in deceased’s accounts before that day. He identified the writing upon the scrap of paper as that of deceased, but it was very shaky. Yesterday he put the matter in the hands of the police. Deceased returned by the mid-day train from Falmouth on Saturday. The basket found near the body was the same deceased took away with him from the office. He saw deceased standing near the door of the County Court Office a few minutes after he left the office. Witness had given deceased nine weeks notice to leave from the 6th of June and knew him to be applying for another situation.

The copy of a letter, addressed too Messrs Criddle and Smith, asking for time in order to pay his account, and which was found together with a large number of other papers and bills in the deceased’s basket, was read to the jury.

The Coroner said no doubt the notice to leave had preyed upon deceased’s mind.

At the close of the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of “Suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity.”

The Royal Cornwall Gazette

1 August 1879, page 5

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