What would drive a man to slit his own throat with a razorsharp cut throat razor on the 25th December 1862… John Kent was in such a state of despair that is exactly what he did.
MAGISTERIAL INQUIRY …. DEATH OF JOHN KENT
On Friday morning last the town was thrown into a state of consternation by the report that Mr Kent formerly Police Magistrate of Maryborough and of late Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Mitchell District, had on the previous evening committed suicide by cutting his throat.
The statement was believed by few people at first, but was soon found to be too true. The deceased gentleman had been observed for some weeks past to be in a very desponding state, owing to embarrassed circumstances, and the apprehension that the Government would repudiate a pecuniary claim he had made for his services. For some days before his death, Mr. Kent had also complained of great bodily weakness, and his general conduct was so peculiar and his conversation at times so incoherent, that fears were entertained for his safety by his nearest relatives. At teh time the fatal act was committed there was a letter lying at the Maryborough post office addressed to the deceased, containing the anxiously expected remittance from the Government; but by some fatality he did not send for his letters on that day though aware that the Brisbane mail had arrived. There is a universal feeling of sympathy for the bereaved family and it is generally hoped that the large sum for which the deceased’s life was insured will be available, not withstanding the peculiar circumstances of the case.
Mrs Marjory Kent found her husband in the garden around seven o’clock and summoned the police with Henry Palmer the first on the scene. Henry Palmer lived at the back of the Kent’s down on the corner of Kent and Guava St, and he jumped the fence and examined John Kent and found him to be deceased. The police and doctors arrived and did their examinations. .
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
John Kent was sent to Maryborough as a stipendiary magistrate in 1861 and at the time Johns appointment came with certain doubts being voiced. An article in the Chronicle stated ” When at the commencement of the last year, we commented upon the recent appointment of stipendiary Magistrates made by the government, we took the liberty of doubting the wisdom of sending Mr John Kent to Maryborough. The career of that officer so far has certainly not tended to show that we were dubious without reason, and his last crowning act brought matters to a crisis, the issue of which must either be his dismissal or removal.”
John Kent summoned a Mr Kerley ( C of E schoolmaster) for Mr Kerley assaulting a child, apparently Mr Kerley had inflicted corporal chastisement upon the child and the evidence was even less than ordinary but Mr Kent decide Mr Kerley’s methods bad enough that Mr Kerley would be imprisoned for doing his job.
Mr Sheridans son also bore the brunt of Mr Kents Magisterial powers when at the age of 10 the child was to be sworn into court as a witness. Mr Sheridan objected to his son being sworn in as he was just a child and would not understand what the oath meant.. Mr Kent “apparently waxing wrath at the interruption – insisted upon it, and finally committed the lad to the cells for seven days or until he should consent to be sworn”
The lad did his time and when he reappeared in court and his father had to ask him if he understood what was going on Mr Kent was told to be quiet or be removed. This resulted in a rather unbecoming event in the court room with Mr Kent urging his policemen on like a rat catcher would his dog and Mr Sheridan was rather ungainly removed from the court.
John Kent PM caused many a stir in the township and there were many a letter written to the newspaper complaining about his behaviour. John Kent himself was a fairly constant writer and on the 22/5/1862 and article appeared regarding the authorship of letters that had appeared and were penned by Messrs Walsh, Melville, Aldridge and the other memorialists who first addressed the Executive in a memorial to send Mr Kent to Maryborough.
For the full article go to Rebuttal article
DOWN AND OUT
Five days after John Kents death there appeared an article in the Ipswich newspapers that went like the following
SUICIDE OF JOHN KENT
A rumour was current in town during yesterday, which proved too true, that Mr John Kent committed suicide at Maryborough a few days since, but cutting his throat, and crated a painful feeling amongst all who knew him. The subjoined particulars are from the Maryborough correspondent to the Courier under date the 27th instant.
It is my painful duty to record one of those awful occurrences by which the whole community is agitated, and which will also, without doubt create a considerable degree of sensation amongst the older inhabitants of Brisbane and Ipswich. For some time past it has been noticed by the friends and relations of Mr John Kent, that he was in a desponding state of mind, so much so in fact that it is reported Mrs Kent had lately kept his razors out of sight. On the arrival of the Queensland on Christmas Day, he went on board and spoke to some old friends who arrived in her, and was noticed as being very quiet in his manner, and very abstemious. The day wore on, and the evening was spent with his wife under the verandah of his own home. About nine o’clock he appears to have left the verandah, and was thought to have gone into a sitting room t read, and it was not until something like three quarters of an hour had elapsed that any notice was taken of his absence.
On enquiry being instituted, however, he was not to e found in the house and alarm was felt and a search was made in the garden. The unfortunate and misguided man was found with a wound about tan inch long in the throat, which had separated the jugular vein and the carotid artery, and must have caused instant death. The wound was inflicted by one of the pen blades of a four bladed pocket knife. Alarm was immediately given, and the body was removed into the house. A magisterial inquiry was held before the Mayor yesterday morning, which terminated in a finding that death had resulted from the deceased’s own set in a fit of temporary insanity. Much sympathy is felt for the widow and children, as it is feared the pecuniary arrangements of the deceased are in a most unsatisfactory condition. The funeral is to take place at eleven o’clock this morning.
Mr Kent in early life entered the government service of Great Britain in connection with the Commissariat Department, and after being engaged in active service in different parts of the glove arrived in Sydney almost twenty five years ago as Deputy Commissariat and was about two years afterwards transferred to the Morton Bay District, in which capacity he remained some years. He then returned to England, and was shortly afterwards ordered to the Cape of Good Hope, when he again returned to England. After remaining in England a short time he finally left there for this colony, for the purpose of settling down as a colonist, and shortly after his arrival with Mr A A May, established the first sawmill in Moreton Bay, at Shafston, on the Brisbane River.
This business failed and Mr Kent who had been intimately engaged with the Press, too the Editorship of the North Australian which he occupied for between 5 and six years, until his appointment as Police Magistrate in Maryborough.
John Kent died on the 25th December 1862 and as at the present moment have not found where he is buried but he was buried on the 30th December 1862 (possibly Ipswich). Although there is a headstone in the Toowong Cemetery in memory to John and Marjory
Marjory Kent nee Ballon died on the 18th August 1890 and she is buried in the Toowong cemetery. Marjory left Maryborough after Johns death and moved back with her daughter.
The headstone reads
SACRED TO MEMORY OF MARJORY WIDOW OF THE LATE JOHN KENT.BORN MARCH 21ST 1811. DIED AUGUST 18TH 1890. JESUS SAID I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. ST JOHN X1CH. 25TH VERSE. ALSO IN MEMORY OF THE ABOVE JOHN KENT. ASST. COMMISSARY GENERAL H.M.FORBES AND COMMISSIONER CROWN LANDS AND QUEENSLAND. DIED DECEMBER 25TH 1862
1862 ‘SUICIDE OF MR. JOHN KENT.’, North Australian and Queensland General Advertiser (Ipswich, Qld. : 1862 – 1863), 30 December, p. 3. , viewed 20 Nov 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77290275