CATISFIELD Ancient and Modern --- 1890:
The End of Colonel FRANCIS EDWARD BRACE - His rather rapid SUICIDE, INQUEST & FUNERAL.
ANY MORE INFORMATION GREATLY APPRECIATED
Catisfield Lodge rear recently
Drawing by Richard Frankland of Catisfield House
Rear of Catisfield House
Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Edward Brace:
But most likely at the Lodge
A FAREHAM SENSATION -- SUICIDE OF COLONEL BRACE
Portsmouth Evening News Monday 21 April 1890
Transcription edited for spelling and clarity DG 1/2022<
A painful sensation was caused in Fareham this morning by the circulation of a rumour that Colonel Brace, well-known in sporting circles throughout the county and beyond it, had committed suicide by shooting himself with revolver. Unfortunately, the distressing news proved, on inquiry, to only too true.
Colonel Francis Edwin Brace, son of a former Magistrate for the county, lived at Catisfield House, Catisfield. About a quarter-past six this morning the housemaid in his employ was downstairs about her early morning work, when she heard the report of a firearm apparently proceeding from her master's bedroom overhead. In alarm the girl ran to Miss Brace, the Colonel's daughter, who at once hurried to ascertain what had happened.
Miss Brace looked into her bedroom, and was horrified see him lying on the floor, apparently dead, with blood flowing from his mouth. She closed the door, and ordered a doctor to be sent for.
Dr. Case was soon summoned from Fareham, and on his arrival not long afterwards he pronounced life to be extinct, the deceased apparently shot in the mouth, the bullet passing through the roof into the brain.
In the meantime Constable Harfield, of the County Constabulary, being informed of what had happened, went to the house. Colonel Brace was found lying on his back the floor of his bedroom, dressed only his shirt, and slippers. The bedclothes were disturbed, as though he had slept in the bed last night
The deceased, whose legs were extended straight from his body, had his right arm across his chest, and the hand still grasped a six-chambered revolver, the forefinger and thumb being pressed against the trigger.
On examination, the revolver was found to contain a ball cartridge in one chamber, while the remaining five were empty, although one of them had been recently discharged. The appearance of the body pointed clearly to suicide, and there were no signs of a struggle having, taken place in the room, beyond that the carpet was a little kicked up where deceased fell.
Colonel Brace was 52 years of age and he leaves a widow and three children -two sons and a daughter.
The County Coroner, -Mr. E.Goble, has been informed of the sad occurrence, and an inquest will be held tomorrow morning at Catisfield House.
So far as at present can be ascerained, the motive which could have induced Colonel Brace to commit so determined .an act remains a profound mystery. The deepest sorrow is expressed in the village of Catisfield at the distressing occurrence, Colonel Brace been very popular among his neighbours,
He is spoken of as a kindly and generous gentleman, from whose door no. deserving applicant was ever turned away unassisted. To the poorer class of his neighbours he was affable and hospitable, and at many a semi--public dinner and tea have they enjoyed a pleasant and sociable hour or two at his expense.
An ardent cricketer, he was frequently to be found playing for the Fareham and Sarisbury Clubs, and he encouraged the lads of the neighbourhood to acquire proficiency the national game by placing at their disposal an excellent cricket-field on his own estate, where he would often join them at play.
The deceased was for many breeder of racehorses, and this connection he will be principally remembered as the breeder of .Mr. J. Hammond's St. Gatien, which made such a sensational finish with Harvester for the Derby in 1881. Only two or three months ago Colonel Brace sold his brood mares, but we understand that he did not altogether give up the breeding of horses, as he kept one or two young animals in stables.
His military title appertained to him as Lieutenant-Colonel of- the Essex Militia. Formerly he lived in Essex for some years, while keeping the family residence in Catisfield. About two months ago Colonel Brace had an attack of epidemic influenza, and after getting about again he experienced a relapse. Since his recovery from the second illness, it is said, he has seemed low.spirited and "not himself." Excepting his daughter, no member of the family was with him in the house this morning, when he was understood to be dressing to catch an early train to London.
Mrs. Brace, who has not lived at Catisfield House for several years, was in another part of the country, and his two sons were also from home, one of them being in Australia.
The County Coroner (E. Goble, Esq.,) held an inquest this morning, at Catisfield Lodge, Catisfield, near Fareham, relative to the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Edward Brace, who committed suicide there Monday morning, by shooting himself through the head with revolver.
Mr. Stephenson, Superintendent of the Fareham Division of the Hants Constabulary, watched the inquiry on behalf of the police.
The Coroner, after swearing-in the Jury, said they had been called together to inquire concerning the death of Colonel Brace, who was 52 years of age. He knew the Jury were all well acquainted with the deceased, that it was a matter of extreme regret to everyone of them that his death should have occurred in the manner that would be depicted to them.
The facts were very simple-too simple he was afraid; and he felt quite sure the Jury would have no difficulty whatever arriving at a verdict.
The Coroner then detailed the circumstances of the suicide, telling how Mrs. Major, the housemaid, heard the report of a firearm proceeding from Colonel Brace's room as he was dressing, and how she called Miss who ran upstairs and found her father lying on the floor.
Miss Brace locked the door of the room and sent for assistance, and on the arrival of Dr. Case from Fareham Colonel Brace was found to be dead. Mr. Goble added that he proposed to call in evidence first those who saw Colonel Brace lying dead his room, and then it would be for the Jury to say if they considered that evidence sufficient, without putting Miss Brace through the painful ordeal of giving evidence. He thought that in all probability they would consider the proposed evidence sufficient.
He understood there would also be medical testimony in regard to the state of deceased's mind at the time that this dreadful act was committed.
A Victim of Delusions.
Mr. Francis Charles Osborne Brace, a lieutenant of the Army, now ou half-pay, and at present living at 18, Vere-gardens, London, W., identified the body as that of his father, who was Lieutenant-Colonel of the 3rd Battalion of the Essex Regiment and a Justice of the Peace for the county of Hants.
Witness had seen his father frequently of late, and had noticed a change in him during the last few months. Deceased had been very much depressed, so much so that it had been necessary maintain constant supervision of him. Witness last saw him on the day before Good Friday, in Loudon, and he was then better than he had been for some time, but was still very depressed. Witness had heard deceased threaten to commit suicide.
Q. Was there any cause that you knew of for depression on his part? -A. believe there was something on his mind, but I don't know what it was.
Q. Not money matters ?-A. No. He had very curious delusions.
Q. Will you tell us what those delusions were -A. One was that he was ruined. Another was that this house was not his own.
Q. -It was not considered necessary to have a man to look after him? A. -He was not always so bad to necessitate his being placed under restraint. No medical officer would take the responsibility.
Witness continued that he was stopping in Sussex on Monday and was telegraphed for, but until he arrived Portsmouth six o'clock in the evening he did not know what had occurred.
The Suicide Described.
Matilda Major, a widow, stated that she had been in the service of Colonel Brace as house-maid about sixteen mouths. She had known him altogether about twenty - one years. During the last few months she had noticed great change in the deceased. He was very much depressed just before Christmas, and that depression had continued, with some variation, up to the previous day. He returned home from London mid-day on Sunday, and afterwards went over to the farm and about the grounds. He announced his intention of going to London by train the next morning.
Witness called Miss Brace at quarter to six in the morning, and she went and called her father After this Miss Brace went across the farm to call Hill, the coachman, leaving witness the house with instructions to see that deceased was ready in time. Witness heard deceased come from the lavatory and walk across his room. Then she heard the report of firearm, followed by the fall of a heavy body in the room, which was just above where she was at the time.
She ran across to the farm, and met Miss Brace, whom she told of the occurrence. Miss Brace ran upstairs, followed witness, and after looking into her father's room Miss Brace locked the door, saying he was lying on the floor dead. They sent at once for Mr. Payne and a doctor. Witness was so alarmed that she could not have gone into the room before calling Miss Brace. the previous evening deceased's manner had been about the same as usual. He talked "all sorts of rubbish," and walked about twirling his handkerchief.
Dr. G. H. Case, of Fareham, stated that he was sent for about half-past six on Monday morning, the messenger telling him that Colonel Brace was dead. Witness proceeded to Catisfield Lodge as quickly possible, and went into the deceased's room with Constable Harfield. Deceased was lying on the floor by the side of the bed: He was dead. There was a bullet wound the roof of mouth, and the bullet had passed into the most vital part of the brain, probably causing instantaneous death. Deceased had on his shirt, trousers, and slippers. Witness had known Colonel Brace for many years, but had never attended him professionally. He had not spoken to him since the end of last summer, and had been told that the deceased purposely avoided seeing him.
-Q. Do you know of any reason for that ? A. Because his mind was unsound, imagine. It was quite contrary to his usual habit.
A Paroxysm of Insanity.
Dr. Henry Rundle, of 11, Clarance-parade, Southsea, stated that he had known the deceased for eight or ten years. The first time witness saw him for any mental trouble was in March, 1888. After that he got very much better, and witness did not hear anything more of him until the early part of this year, when Mrs. Brace wrote to him about deceased's mental condition.
Witness saw deceased at that house about the middle of February, and found him very irritable and despondent, and unwilling to attend to his regular pursuits. He had a great aversion to seeing his friends, and witness was told he had threatened to commit suicide. Witness thought it wise to place deceased under supervision, and ordered two female nurses to attend him, at the same time giving instructions to keep firearms out of his way.
Colonel Brace's mental condition improved, and when witness last saw him, on March 8th, he suggested a change, and understood that arrangements were being made for deceased to travel with doctor and valet, or attendant. Witness had no hesitation in saying from his medical knowledge of the case that Colonel Brace had paroxysm of insanity, and that he was of unsound mind when he committed suicide. -In reply the Coroner, Lieut. Brace here interpolated that deceased had travelled for a fortnight by himself.
SUMMING-UP AND VERDICT.
The Coroner, in summing-up, said was very painful to have to carry out his official duties on this occasion, as he had known Colonel Brace for many years. Formerly he was in the habit of meeting him very often, but not of late, and this might accounted for by what had been stated in evidence. He was perfectly sure that Colonel Brace was one of the most kind-hearted men the neighbourhood, particularly in regard to looking after the poor; it was one of the great traits of his character, and it gave the speaker great pleasure to refer to it.
The case, as he had anticipated, was very simple. They had heard the evidence given most distinctly by Dr. Bundle, who had proved most clearly and satisfactorily that Colonel Brace was of unsound mind. It was an unfortunate thing, perhaps, that there had not been a little more supervision exercised over the Colonel's actions than had recently been given. It seemed great pity, considering what they now knew of his manner of living and his habits, that he should not have had a proper attendant or valet to look after him and never to have left him.
However, the Jury knew what a difficult thing it was for a family in such a case as this to arrange that there should be somebody in the house to look after person who was not found of unsound mind ; and they knew what a great difficulty there was these days of getting; medical men to certify that a person was really of unsound mind. It seemed to him that the law required some alteration in regard to this matter.
Thus, Colonel Brace had not been found of unsound mind, although everybody feared he was not exactly in his right mind, and that somebody should look after him; and, except with his own consent, it was impossible to have a valet or attendant to maintain the super vision that thought desirable. If he liked to object he was still regarded by the law master of his own actions. It was great pity that the Lunacy Laws were stretched to such a point that it became a matter of extreme difficulty for a medical man to give a certificate of insanity, that he might render himself liable to an action for false imprisonment.
The Jury, after a very brief consultation, returned a verdict of suicide while of unsound mind.
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Pages on Catisfield originally 'on the web' January 1996
This page originally on web Dec 2021
-- © Doug Glading ..... 1996-2021
The road through Catisfield, Hampshire was once a main route between Fareham
/ Portsmouth and the west. Samuel Pepys probably rode through it
on his travels as did Margaret of Anjou on her way from her wedding confirmation with Henry
VI at Titchfield Abbey at the bottom of Fishers Hill.
Once an independent hamlet, it has become adjoined to the town of Fareham.
It is part of two Conservation Areas, one of which protects part of the pleasant Catisfield Lane and the other covering the land going down to the Meon River and the historic Titchfield Abbey. The Meon is a very attractive little river which flows into the sea (the Solent in fact) less than 3 miles away.
More History See: Catisfield History site