New South Wales Police Force
Regd. # ‘Q’ 6372
For the purposes of this website ‘Q‘ represents those Police joining between 1862 ( commencement of NSWPF ) – 23 February 1915 ( Commencement of NSWPF current numbering system )
Stations: Goulburn, Araluen, Braidwood Lock Up Keeper – Death
Awards: No find on It’s An Honour
Service: From 13 April 1892 to 15 November 1895 = 3+ years Service
Born: ? ? 1870 – Wallsend
Died: Friday 15 November 1895
Cause: Suicide – Firearm – Service issue – right temple
Event date: Friday 15 November 1895
Event location: Braidwood Lockup Keepers residence
Inquest date: Saturday 16 November 1895 during the afternoon
Funeral date: Sunday 17 November 1895
Funeral location: Graveside service by Rev. J.S. Dobson
Buried at: Braidwood General Cemetery, Uabba Rd, Braidwood, NSW
There are 2 entries in the Braidwood General Cemetery index both with the same date of death. 1st is Constable John Howard, age 24, C of E, Headstone. 2nd is John Howard, age 24, C of E, Unmarked.
The following article appeared in the South Australian Register of 16 November, 1895.
SUICIDE OF A CONSTABLE – Sydney, November 15.
Constable John Howard shot himself at Braidwood in unusual circumstances today. He was the plaintiff in a slander case against A. Graham and claimed £200 damages. Damages amounting to a farthing were awarded, and Judge Fitzhardinge remarked that according to the evidence the plaintiff had no character to lose. Howard at once returned to the barracks and shot himself.
At the time of his death the constable was stationed at Braidwood.
Queanbeyan Observer (NSW : 1894 – 1908; 1910 – 1915), Tuesday 19 November 1895, page 4
SUICIDE OF A CONSTABLE AT BRAIDWOOD.
A shocking tragedy occurred at Braidwood on Friday, when Constable John Howard shot himself through the right temple with a police service revolver.
Howard was the plaintiff in a slander action against A. Graham, which was heard at the District Court on the same morning ; £200 damages were claimed.
A large amount of evidence was taken, and the Judge gave a verdict for the plaintiff, with one farthing damages without costs.
His Honor explained that, although there was no truth in the particular slander complained of, he must find for plaintiff. Yet the evidence of another witness, who admitted certain matters in connection with Howard, was such that he could not give damages.
After the case Howard walked out of the court, and went to the police barracks. There he met the black tracker in charge of the constables’ room, and told him to tell his wife the result of the case.
Howard apparently shot himself immediately afterwards.
On the black tracker‘s return with the message from Mrs. Howard to her husband to come to her, he found the constable lying on the floor with the revolver beside him. Death was instantaneous.
Howard had charge of the lockup, which is about seventy-five yards from the scene of the tragedy.
The affair has created quite a sensation.
Howard leaves a widow and two young children.
Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser (NSW : 1863 – 1947), Tuesday 19 November 1895, page 4
A CONSTABLE SHOOTS HIMSELF.
A painful sensation was caused at Braidwood on Saturday by the suicide of Constable John Howard under peculiar circumstances.
At the District Court, before Judge Fitzhardinge, Howard had sued a local resident for alleged slander, claiming £200 damages.
During the hearing of the evidence some disclosures were made against Howard‘s character, and his Honor commented adversely on his conduct.
A verdict for plaintiff for one farthing damages without costs, being returned.
Howard immediately left the courthouse, walked to the barracks, a short distance away and apparently took a loaded six chambered revolver from the armoury, and fired it into his temple, blowing out his brains, and dying instantly.
The deceased had sent the black tracker, who saw him last, on a message.
The tracker returned in a few minutes, and found Howard lying on the floor dead, with the revolver beside him.
At the inquest a verdict of suicide was returned.
Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), Tuesday 19 November 1895, page 4
Constable John HOWARD shot himself at Braidwood, N.S.W. under unusual circumstances on Friday.
He was plaintiff in an action for slander against A. Graham, and claimed £200 damages. Damages amounting to a farthing were awarded.
Judge Fitzhardinge remarking that according to the evidence the plaintiff had no character to lose.
Howard at once left the court, sent a message to his wife announcing the result of the case and shot himself.
At the inquest the following letter, written by the deceased just before he died, was read :
“To My Darling Wife, Children, Mother, and all at Home. – I cannot face the world after what has come out today. Forgive me for what I am about to do. Good-bye to all. J.H.”
A very high character was given to the deceased by his superior officer, and no complaints have ( says the Argus ) ever been made against him here.
Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW : 1881 – 1940), Saturday 16 November 1895, page 2
Suicide of a Constable at Braidwood.
BRAIDWOOD, Friday. – A shocking tragedy occurred here to-day, when Constable John Howard shot himself through the right temple with a police service revolver.
Howard was the plaintiff in a slander action against Albert Graham ( a local resident ), which was heard at the District Court this morning; £200 damages were claimed.
A large amount of evidence was heard.
His Honor explained that, although there was no truth taken, and the Judge gave a verdict for the plaintiff, with one farthing damages without costs, in the particular slander complained of, he must find for plaintiff. Yet the evidence of another witness, who admitted certain matters in connection with Howard, was such that he could not give damages.
After the case Howard walked out of the court, and went to the police barracks. There he met the black tracker in charge of the constable’s room, and told him to go and tell his wife the result of the case.
Howard apparently shot himself immediately afterwards. On the black tracker‘s return with the message from Mrs. Howard to her husband to come to her, he found the constable lying on the floor with the revolver beside him. Death was instantaneous.
Howard had charge of the lookup, which is about seventy-five yards from the scene of the tragedy. The affair has created quite a sensation.
Howard leaves a widow and two young children.
[ Deceased was stationed in Goulburn about two years ago, and married a Miss McKenzie, who was employed at Bryant’s Hotel.] –
An inquest was held this evening by Mr. J. W. Bunn, the coroner, on the body of Constable Howard.
The jury returned a verdict that the deceased shot himself while temporarily insane.
In his pocket was found the following letter written previous to his committing the rash act :- ” To my darling wife and children, mother, and all at home. — i cannot face the world after what has come out to-day. Forgive me for what I am about to do. Good.bye to all. – J.H.”
A very high character was given him by his superior officers, and no complaints were ever made against him during the four years he was in the police force.
It was mentioned in the evidence that deceased was of a very sensitive disposition.
He was a native of Newcastle, where his parents reside.
Braidwood District Court – Slander
Tuesday 19 November 1895
Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), Friday 22 November 1895, page 4
Constable John Howard, who shot himself at Braidwood on Friday, was a native of Wallsend, where his parents still reside.
Prior to joining the police, a little over three years ago, he assisted his father, who is a dealer, and was also a member of the 4th Regiment.
He had an unblemished record, and in a measure owed his appointment to the police force to the excellent recommendation given by ex-Sergeant Grennan ( Regd # Q 1350 ), the officer then in charge of the Wallsend station.
The officer under whom he served also gave him a very high character, stating that no complaints were ever made against him during the time he was in the force.
At the inquest which was held by Mr. J. W. Bunn, the coroner, the jury returned a verdict of suicide while temporarily insane.
The following pathetic note was found in the deceased’s pocket : ” To my darling wife and children, mother, and all at home. I cannot face the world after what has come out to-day. Forgive me for what I am about to do. Good-bye to all. J.H. ”
Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW), Thu 21 Nov 1895,
The Funeral of the late Constable Howard.
The funeral of Constable Howard took place on Sunday afternoon last. No better indication of the esteem in which the deceased was held in the town
and the deep sympathy which was felt for his widow and children in their terrible bereavement could be found than the large attendance which assembled to pay their last tribute of respect to his remains.
The gathering was representative of every interest in the community. Not alone in this direction did public feeling find expression, but numerous wreaths and crosses were forwarded by many people in the town whose pulse had been deeply moved by the distressing circumstances under which the deceased met his
Mr. Howard, senr., who resides at Wallsend, in the Newcastle district, where he is in business, and a sister and two brothers of Mrs. Howard were the chief mourners.
They arrived in town on Saturday morning, and, as may readily be imagined, were deeply shocked at the distressing nature of the tragedy which had cast such a gloom over the town.
The coffin was borne to and from the hearse by two of Constable Howard’s late comrades, who by the way selected the site for the grave in the Church of England portion of the cemetery.
The Rev. J. S. Dobson conducted the service at the grave in a most impressive manner, and at its conclusion briefly addressed the large assemblage, referring to the exceptionally sad circumstances under which they had met together, and expressing his warmest sympathy with the heart-stricken widow and fatherless children in their sad bereavement.
The rev. gentleman dwelt warmly on the circumstances which led to Constable Howard’s death. He said he owed his death to the vile breath of slander, which had blasted more reputations and caused more misery and heartburnings than could ever be repaired.
He earnestly exhorted those present to keep their tongues from lying and slandering and their minds from evil thinking, in other words, he said, people should mind their own business.
If every one of them, he added, had every one of their little errors and sins they had committed placarded on their backs or proclaimed from the housetops, there were none who would not hang their heads in shame. The rev. gentleman went on to refer to the deceased as a capable and zealous officer, a man who always did his duty, however unpleasant it might be to his feelings, fearlessly and intelligently, and had earned for himself not only the respect of his superior officers, but the esteem of all respectable townsmen.
He had made a mistake-and all were liable to make mistakes-but he would say to them in the words of our Blessed Master when He was rebuked by the multitude for speaking words of comfort to the adultress, “Let him who is himself without sin cast the first stone.”
The stone at the grave was a most impressive and pitiful one.
The widow of the deceased utterly collapsed, and during the course of the church service and Mr. Dobson’s subsequent remarks, numbers of women wept freely, while tears bedimmed the eyes of not a few of the male portion of the large crowd, whose hearts were touched by the inexpressibly sad circumstances under which John Howard parted with this life.
The members of the deceased’s family must have derived a large amount of satisfaction-if indeed it is possible to experience such a feeling under circumstances of such a melancholy character-from the fact that they unquestionably had the heartfelt sympathy of the large crowd assembled round the grave.
Goulburn Herald (NSW : 1881 – 1907), Monday 18 November 1895, page 2
SUICIDE OF CONSTABLE HOWARD.
IN addition to the particulars given in our last, we gather the following details from the Braidwood Dispatch.
The action in the district court tried on Thursday before his Honor Judge Fitzhardinge was brought by deceased, John Howard, constable of police, stationed at Braidwood, to recover from Albert Graham the sum of £200 damages for slander.
Mr. Ross for plaintiff and Mr. Davidson for defendant, who pleaded not guilty and justification.
The slander consisted of statements alleged to have been made to the effect that the plaintiff had pulled a girl about and that he had had to square the matter with her father for £10. In her evidence the girl denied that this had occurred, and plaintiff also denied it.
Statements in relation to plaintiff’s conduct towards other girls came out in evidence, but formed no portion of the charge of slander.
One of these girls, aged sixteen, admitted that Howard had seduced her; this he denied.
The judge in giving his verdict said he was quite satisfied that the evidence of the witnesses in Araluen as to the statements Graham made concerning plaintiff and the girl Casey were substantially correct.
Nothing had been shown in the evidence that defendant’s statements were true, and consequently it could not have been in the public interest for Graham to retail this spicy gossip to a meeting of ladies in Araluen.
He consequently had to find a verdict for plaintiff.
With regard to the question of the damage which plaintiff’s character had sustained by the publication of this scandal, he regretted that he had no hesitation in coming to the conclusion from the evidence of the girl Carlon, which was to be believed and which had to be forced from her, that plaintiff had no reputation.
Though he would have to find a verdict for plaintiff he would allow only one farthing damage, without costs.
The following are the particulars of the tragedy itself :
The court was occupied till about half-past eleven o’clock bearing the suit. After the judge gave his decision Howard walked to his quarters at the lockup at the rear of the courthouse.
His wife, who had been suffering great mental anxiety over the case, was lying on her bed taking a rest. Howard sat down beside her. They commenced talking about the case, Howard informing her that the case had gone against him and that he was surprised at the result.
Howard, taking hold of her hand, kissed it, and getting up kissed her face. He then walked out, Mrs. Howard being under the impression that he had gone back to the courthouse. Instead of that he walked to the barracks, some sixty yards away. On Joe Alick, the blacktracker, following him into the room a minute or two subsequently, he found Howard sitting on the corner of the table in the room. Alick spoke to him about the case, and Howard asked him to go and see how his wife was getting on. Alick saw Mrs. Howard, who asked him to go back and tell her husband she wanted him. Alick on his return was horrified to find Howard lying on the floor, apparently dead, with a revolver beside him.
He rushed out and told Constable Clemensha ( most probably Constable Wordsworth CLEMESHA # ‘Q‘ 4655 ) of the occurrence.
Dr. Llewellyn, who happened to be passing was called in and found Howard was dead.
He had evidently taken one of the revolvers from the stand, and placed the muzzle against his right temple, pulled the trigger, and blown out his brains. The bullet entered the temple passed clean through his head and lodged in the wall at the back of him. Death must have been instantaneous.
The following note was found in his waistcoat-pocket:— To my darling wife, children, mother, and all at home, I cannot face the world after what has come out today. Forgive me for what I am about to do. Good-by to all. J.H.
The writing gives a fair indication of the great mental struggle which must have been agitating his brain, an it was not written in nearly so good a hand as he usually writes.
The news created a profound sensation throughout the community.
When the judge was giving his verdict, it could readily be seen that deceased felt his position, keenly-being a sensitive and impulsive man he naturally would-but when he walked out of the Court he did not present the appearance of a man who was going to meet his doom.
The only reasonable assumption is that he became temporarily insane after leaving his wife, and hastily decided to take the course he did.
Universal regret was expressed for Mrs. Howard and her two children, of whom all those who are in a position to know join in saying he was very fond.
The terrible agony Mrs. Howard suffered on hearing of the dreadful occurrence may be more readily imagined than described — also was almost demented, and could not be pacified till she had learned all there was to know.
Howard had been stationed at Braidwood for about fifteen months, coming from Araluen. He was a most painstaking officer, assiduous in the performance of his official duties, courteous and obliging to everyone.
Sub-inspector Langworthy ( possibly William – # Q 1291 ) says that a more zealous officer he had never had under him.
An inquest was held on Friday before the coroner, when a verdict of suicide while laboring under a temporary fit of insanity was returned.
Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW : 1881 – 1940), Tuesday 12 May 1896, page 4
At the Small Debts Court, on Wednesday, Mrs. Howard, widow of the late Constable Howard, was summoned by Malone Brothers for 30s, coach hire for four passengers to and from Araluen, for which defendant’s husband was alleged to be liable, and through him defendant as executrix of the estate.
A verdict was given for the amount, with 10s costs.
The amount of the claim was defrayed immediately afterwards by a subscription list.
New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), Tuesday 10 April 1894 (No.218), page 2355
THE Bench of Magistrates at Araluen have this day appointed Constable John Howard Bailiff of the Small Debts Court at that place, vice G. Taylor, deceased,— from 2nd instant.
WILLIAM CLARKE, P.M.,
Pro Bench of Magistrates.
Araluen, 2nd April, 1894.