Monday, April 08, 2013



A shocking tragedy has been committed at Midhurst, in the Taranaki district, writes the Wellington correspondent of the Melbourne Age. Humphrey Hancock, a widower, forty-one years of age, first stabbed his daughter, a girl of twenty, in the back, and then cut her throat, afterwards committing suicide by throwing himself down a well. Maria Hancock kept home for her father and brothers and sisters after her mother's death, which took place two years ago. Father and daughter quarrelled about five weeks ago over the latter "frizzing" her hair. Her father threatened to cut her hair off, and her brother had to interfere to prevent its being done. There was another quarrel the evening before the tragedy over a photograph of herself and two lady friends, which she missed from her box. She asked her father if he had taken it, and he replied "No." She then said that no one else would go to her box, and her father retorted, "Then you call me a liar" and struck her. The daughter, then spoke of leaving home and going to service. He told a young woman who was visiting the house that his daughter would never go into service, and advised this young woman to leave next morning, as there would be a row. After the young woman left the tragedy was committed. A letter was subsequently found addressed by Hancock to his eldest son, hoping he would forgive him for his rash act, but Maria called him a liar, and said she would leave him, so he made up his mind for both to leave together. He could not stand that his brain was turned. He added directions as to where his will would be found, and as to the bills which were to be paid; that his body would be found down the well, that they were not to go in mourning for himself or his daughter, as they were not worth it, and that he was to do certain things with his life policy. The evidence at the inquest showed that Hancock had been peculiar in his manner for some time, and had remarked that he believed that he would go mad. The girl he murdered had always been kind to him, and had once before refused to leave her father, brothers, and sisters. It was evident from all the surroundings of the case that Hancock's mind had been unhinged for some time, and the Jury returned a verdict that he committed the crime, and then took away his own life, whilst suffering from insanity.

A SHOCKING TRAGEDY. (1898, July 12). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 7. TROVE

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