Article in The Standard newspaper on Friday 27th November 1936





Upset because Wife had taken out summons




“Obviously this man was upset by the fact that his wide had taken out a summons against him, and apparently quite justifiably.  That, however, has nothing to do with me.  What I have to do is bring in a verdict, and it will be one of death from inhaling gas while temporarily insane.”


Thus remarked the Oldham Borough Coroner (Mr J L Watson) at the close of an inquest, held on Monday afternoon, on Joseph Graham (30), a general labourer, of 3 Turnings, Walk Mill, Chadderton.  The Coroner added that no blame was attached to the wife.  Mr H C Riches (Messrs Lees and Riches) appeared for the widow. 


Norah Graham, the widow, said they were married in December 1928 and soon afterwards her husband began to drink too much.  About five years after the marriage he went home very drunk and wet and contracted pneumonia.  After recovering he continued to drink. She did not remember any complaints by him of pains in the stomach.  He had been ill through drinking.




In Friday November 13 he went home drunk and was quiet in his manner, speaking to some unseen person.  She remained with him until the following.  At 10:10pm that day he had not returned home and she stayed the night at a friends house.  Her husband, when under the influence of drink had threatened her.  On the following day he returned home drunk.  She was afraid of him and went to her sister’s house.  Later she informed him of her intention to commence proceedings against him with a view to securing a separation order. 


He pleaded for another chance but she was unable to grant this request.  She was terrified of him when he in drink.  On Wednesday of last week she asked him what he was going to do, as it was her intention to leave the house if he did not do so.  She suggested that he should go to his mother’s house.  He did not want to go there, saying he had spent somebody’ money, but did not say to whom the money belonged.  He had not worked for twelve months, having got money as a result of the means test.  She had worked until twelve months ago. 


In reply to Mr Riches, she said she was very reluctant to commence proceeding against him.  About a month before Oldham Wakes she had to seek police protection.  Every thing would have been all right had he given up the drink.  He was all right when sober.  There was one child of the marriage.


Mary Alice Unsworth, 5 Sussex Street, Oldham, mother of the deceased, said he went to her house on Wednesday in last week.  About six o’clock on Friday morning she was unable to light the gas and when she went to the meter she him dead.  His head was resting on the meter box and his mouth near a gas tap.  The Coroner said he had left a note stating “Cannot stand pain in stomach.” 


Witness (ie Mary Alice) stated he had not complained of having had such a pain.




Doris Cartwright, daughter of the previous witness, said her brother seemed to be all right when she last saw him alive on Thursday night.  He was to sleep on a couch.  Deceased was upset through his wife having taken out a summons against him.  In reply to Mr Riches, the summons was not served before he died.  PC Willingham, who was called to the house said the body was on a couch under the window.  It was a penny in the slot meter and the gas was spent.  The note produced was on the table in the living room.  Mr Riches on behalf of the widow expressed her grief at the occurrence. 





What does this tell us?


It doesn’t tell us anything about his height and, disappointingly, there are no photographs. 






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