HC Deb 12 July 1877 vol 235 cc1172-4

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the Coroner's Inquest held on Friday last, on William Arthur Gibbs, a boy of twelve years of age, a scholar of Christ's Hospital, who, according to the verdict of the Coroner's Jury, committed suicide while in a state of temporary insanity; and, whether it is proposed to institute any investigation into the circumstances under which that child was driven into a state of insanity by the cruel treatment to which he appears to have been subjected?


Mr. Speaker, everyone must deeply regret the occurrence that took place at Christ's Hospital, and no one more so than those who have the management and care of that School. I must demur to one statement in this Question—namely, that which implies that there was cruel treatment, because that assumes that which has not yet been proved true. That is the material part of the case. The Coroner's Jury were asked by the Coroner whether the deceased destroyed himself from fear of punishment, or if they thought that ill-treatment was the cause they were to say so; otherwise they were to find a verdict of temporary insanity, and they found a verdict of temporary insanity generally, and not either of the other causes. However, the authorities of the School have already made a thorough investigation into this matter; and, so far as I can learn from that investigation, in their opinion what has happened was owing very much more to the peculiar temperament of the boy himself than to any cruel or harsh treatment to which he was subjected. With that good feeling which, I am quite sure, will always characterize any body of persons who have the well-being of a school of this magnitude at heart, the managers have placed themselves unreservedly in the hands of the Secretary of State on the point as to whether any other inquiry ought to be instituted. Upon that matter I have not the slightest hesitation as to what course should be pursued. I think it most desirable for the interests, not only of the public, but of the School itself, that an investigation should take place; and I want now only to bear my testimony to the candid way in which the Governors of the School have come forward to promote any inquiry which may be made.


said, the father of the boy, who was quite un- known to him, had forwarded to him a copy of a letter from the master of the school at Hertford, where the boy was formerly educated, giving him the highest possible character.