The Hanged Man

My researches led me to seek the family of William & Elizabeth Day and their children, among who would be Frederick Day (my great great grandfather) who I knew was born in Ruckland, Lincolnshire, in1822. I had a copy of the marriage record (in 1845) for Frederick & his bride Elizabeth.

Fredericks residence at the time of the marriage was Nettleton and this therefore seemed a likely place to look for his parents at around the same time. I found Elizabeth and two of her sons in the 1851 census living in Nettleton. She was a widow at the time.

Going back 10 more years I found her again in Nettleton but this time she was living with her husband William (who was an agricultural labourer) and their 20 year old daughter Charlotte. I was curious. How and when had he died. I found an entry in the death registers for a William Day in Nettleton in1842. It had to be my William so I sent for a copy of the death certificate.

Soon the certificate arrived but at this point the mystery and my curiosity deepened. The cause of death was given as "Hanged himself in a fit of temporary derangement" and the informant was given as Mr Marris, Coroner.

The following document is a copy of a page from the index (to the various inquests he conducted) that the coroner kept. The penultimate entry is for William Day. Of interest to me were the causes of death recorded. In addition to several child burnings and miscellaneous drownings, was one poor soul who was struck on the head by the beam of a steam engine and one “visitation of God”. I assume that this simply meant they had no idea as to the actual cause of death.

Also of interest is the fact that the very next inquest (following that of William Day) was for another man who also “hung himself in a fit of temporary derangement”.

Why had these men, and particularly my William, hanged themselves? I have drawn a blank with any further record of the inquest in Lincoln Archives and have been unable to find a report of the death or inquest in the local paper.

I have run out of ideas to solve this mystery. If you think you can help please Email me at


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