S. T. Gill (STG) ~ 9. Man Dead! News Murdered!!
Episodes: 1. The Controversy | 2. Why is the Sun Shining from the South? (Hindley Street) | 3. Alibis and Mystery | 4. Sunshine and Dating (Rundle Street) | 5. 10 August 1844 | 6. Are They Still Following Me? | 7. Gill’s Newfoundland Dog | 8. A Mystery of Provenance | 9. Man Dead! News Murdered!! | 10. More to Reveal …
STG Murdered in London! News Murdered BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH!
It may be not so well known that S. T. Gill died during the Ned Kelly trial. It is likely better known that he died on the steps of the Melbourne Post Office on the afternoon of 27 October 1880.
Two days later, the Geelong Advertiser ran this report:
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.]
In reference to a telegram in the Argus to-day, which states that a man named Herbert shot his paramour, it has since transpired that Herbert inherited a fortune of a hundred and sixty thousand pounds, and went home to collect it, leaving his wife at Footscray. He met his wife's sister at home, became acquainted with her, and subsequently in consequence of a quarrel, shot a man she knew, who dropped dead on the steps of the post office. The man proves to be Best Gill, an artist who drew most of the plans for the Exhibition, and was noted as clever in depicting bush and city social life.
What ever was happening at the Geelong Advertiser the day they put this story together? The Argus is certainly not to blame!
The Advertiser alarmingly conflates two stories: the Finsbury Park murder in London by William Herbert, and STG's death in Melbourne. (Herbert had left his wife in Footscray and returned to England.) And to make matters worse, in the conflation STG becomes the victim of a London shooting! And how did they get the name Best Gill? It seems a misunderstanding of the telegraph message:
As Received: THEMANPROVESTOBESTGILL …
As Reported: The man proves to be Best Gill …
I found no subsequent correction in the Geelong newspaper.
NOTE: I’ve included links to references, including the newspapers and this page, in a Trove list: coombe.id.au - S. T. Gill (STG) ~ 9. Man Dead! News Murdered!!
STG’s Coronial Inquest Documents are Missing. It is time to return a Public Document to the Public.
Babette Smith drew attention to the fact that the documents for the coronial inquest into the death of S. T. Gill are missing from the archives.
It is included in the official inquest index, with reference 1880/898 Male. The Public Record Office of Victoria PROV has extensively digitised the inquest deposition files from its archive, yet STG’s inquest is not among them. But it is known to exist, because parts of the original handwritten coronial evidence were reproduced in Bowden (1971). However at some stage the file has left the inquest collection and not returned to its rightful location. Grishin says he has the post mortem. (See accompanying Trove list for audio link.)
The inquest file is an important historical document and it should be available to all in the same way that other historical inquest files are available online via PROV.
What Else is Missing from PROV?
Out of curiosity, I wondered if STG was the only 1880 Inquest Deposition File missing. I extracted the list of such files from PROV’s search results. Comparing this with the index to these files, I found eight missing inquest papers – all of them male. The reference numbers run consecutively from 1 to 375 for females and from 1 to 1103 for males, making a total of 1,478 records.
Reports of the discovery of the deceased’s body and/or the inquest were found for all but Isaac HEAD and are included in the accompanying Trove list. But none seem of the same level of historical interest as STG.
One 1880 inquest file that is definitely not missing, is that for Edward Kelly, hanged. You can view it online via PROV.
David Coombe, 21 September 2016.
CITE THIS: David Coombe, 2016, S. T. Gill (STG) ~ 9. Man Dead! News Murdered!!, accessed dd mmm yyyy, <http://coombe.id.au/stg/ 09_man_dead_news_murdered.htm>
or CITE THIS: David Coombe, 2016, S. T. Gill (STG), accessed dd mmm yyyy, <http://coombe.id.au/stg>
21/9/2016 (original), 28/9/2016 (updated)