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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Murder & Suicide

In a quiet and overgrown corner of the churchyard is a weather worn gravestone
 
Buried in the grave are four people, though the only legible name is James T Barber

Buried here on 8th April 1909 are James T Barber aged 37, his wife Emily Constance aged 35 and their two children, Edgar James aged 11 and Winifred Constance aged 10.
The following article from a local newspaper tells a horrific story.

"13th April 1909
An inquest into the deaths of an entire family concluded in Oxford.
On 5th April, the grocer's shop in Oxford owned by James Thomas Barber remained closed long after it should have opened for business. There was no sign of Barber and his wife and family, who were eventually found dead in the living quarters attached to the house. Eleven year old Edgar James Barber lay in the kitchen, a puncture wound in his throat and severe injuries to his forehead, apparently inflicted by a hatchet. Mr Barber was found in bed, still dressed in his night clothes, with a deep stab wound in his throat. His thirteen year old daughter, Winifred, was badly bruised and had two neck wounds, while Mrs Emily Constance Barber had fatal injuries to her throat.
 Since the premises were securely locked, all the evidence suggested that Mrs Barber had killed her husband and children before committing suicide and a note was found in her handwriting which read, "Refer to Miss Morgan, Tubney, Abingdon", directing whoever found the bodies to contact Mrs Barbers sister.
 The motive for the murders was unclear. Mrs Barber was known to have been upset over the death of her brother and had written to Miss Morgan saying "My head is so bad I do not know what to do."
 At the inquest, a private detective Edwin Bullivant testified that Mrs Barber had consulted him in May 1906 with suspicions that her husband was having an affair. Bullivant followed Barber several times but had never found any evidence to substantiate his wife's suspicions - now he told the inquest that Mrs Barber had threatened to kill her husband if she ever caught him being unfaithful, adding that she would also kill her children as she couldn't bear to leave them behind."

Although this happened over a hundred years ago, it still makes me shudder to read this sad story today.

On a lighter note - I am not sure that if my better half did away with me, that I would want to be entombed with her for all eternity!


6 comments:

Tess Johnson said...

It does seem rather spooky that the murderer and the victims are buried together.

Shammickite said...

Crikey, what an awful story! Interesting to know that the wife did it, as I would think that's very usual. There have been a number of instances here of the husband or boyfriend killing the family, in fact one just very recently. It makes me shudder and brings tears to my eyes to even imagine what happened. What a sad gravestone.

sousca said...

On the 14th March 2006 another death took place in this churchyard. The man concerned died after a run in with the police.
The full story never came out, perhaps I will write about it in a future post.

Anonymous said...

James T Barber was the brother of my Grandfather

Stuart Barber

sousca said...

Than you for your comment.
A tragic story indeed. I suppose it must have been retold through your family over the years?

Anonymous said...

It's a fascinating, but a sad story which I found about by chance. I only found out about it, when my sister found newspaper cuttings from 1909 which
my dad had been hiding. My family never spoke about it. I'm visiting the graves in Oxford tomorrow morning with my sister and my father and then we are meeting other relatives who still live in the Kings Sutton area.