The tragedy lurking in family research

David Payne
David Payne
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FROM time to time, family tree research will unearth parts of our past with a tragic twist.

It happened for Hartlepool man David Payne whose studies showed the sad demise of one of his ancestors called Robert William Payne.

It’s the latest in a long line of stories which David has shared.

Chris Cordner reports.

TRAGEDY befell Robert William Payne in 1890.

The year had barely started. It was New year’s Day when he shot himself with a revolver.

It was down to David’s investigations that he found details of the story in the pages of the Northern Daily Mail, the predecessor of the Hartlepool Mail.

David said: “Robert William was born in Hartlepool in 1866. He is shown on the 1881 Census as living at home at Cleveland Street and working as an assistant in the family grocer’s shop.

“Tragedy unfortunately befell Robert William as he shot himself with a revolver on New Year’s Day 1890.”

A report on this incident was reported in the Northern Daily Mail of January 3, 1890.

Under the headline of “Strange Affair at Hartlepool’’, it read: “Considerable excitement prevails in Hartlepool, owing to the fact that a young man named Payne – whose mother keeps the Lord Clifton Hotel in Cleveland Street – was admitted into the Hartlepools Hospital suffering from two bullet wounds behind one of his ears.

“The case is at present shrouded in mystery, as Payne refused to disclose any details of the incident.

“The injured man, we understand, was until recently employed by the Hartlepools Steam Tramway Company as a conductor. The bullets have not yet been extracted.’’

David said: “He unfortunately died due to his injuries at his home at the Lord Clifton Inn, but not until some two months later on March 18 1890.

“The cause of death on his death certificate was given as ‘a Pistol shot wound caused by himself. Temporary Insanity.’ His occupation at the time was given as a driller at Marine Works.

“The coroner held an inquest on March 19, 1890 and this was also reported in the Northern Daily Mail of March 20, 1890, as follows

“At the inquest last night on the body of the young man Payne, who shot himself under mysterious circumstances on New Year’s night, the jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity. No motive could be assigned which caused the unfortunate young fellow to take his life.’’

The story of Robert William Payne is the latest that David has shared with us. He has provided us with information on his family tree for more than a year.

His rich and varied history shows his great-great grandfather, Charles Howard Measor, married Dorothy Leeming in 1842 at St Hilda’s, in Hartlepool.

The Leeming family were living in Hartlepool before 1798 when, according to the Universal British Directory of 1793-1798, Hartlepool was a town that had ‘neither trade or manufacture, excepting fishing’.

David’s great uncle, Harry Measor, was a noted rugby union fullback for Hartlepool Rovers.

And another relative William Measor had five children, with four dying before they reached adulthood.