In my tree, I have so many relatives who were born, lived a mundane life, popped out a few kids (some of whom died young), and then shuffled off their mortal coil. They certainly weren't rich, didn't live exciting lives and luckily very few of them experienced huge misfortune.
We do have at least one notable exception, however.
Vincent Lovell McCarthy was the Great-Uncle of my husband. He was the fourth child of Daniel Joseph McCarthy and Margaret Spinks (and the younger brother of my husband's paternal grandfather).
He was born in Dubbo, New South Wales in 1891, like all of his siblings, and appeared to live all of his childhood and youth in the area.
However, on 26 July, 1912, it appears his life came to an abrupt end at the age of 20, being murdered by George Albert Thorby, in Wongarbon, a town nearby:
The coroner at Dubbo found: "Verdict: I find that ... Vincent Lovell McCarthy at Albion Hill near Wongarbon on the 26th day of July 1912 died from the effects of a revolver shot wounds in the shoulder and lungs causing haemorrhage .... inflict by George Arthur Thorby on the same day" and he committed George Albert Thorby for trial on a charge of murder at the Dubbo Circuit Court on 11th of September, 1912.
I discovered this article in the Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate on 30 July 1912, as I researched for this blogpost! It describes the inquest in great detail, and fills in so many gaps. Here are the important bits:
It was heart-rending to witness the affliction of the mother and the sister of the deceased youth, and the father's face bore evidence of an anguish of mind, which, as a man, he could not relive with a flood of tears.
"The whole affair is one of the saddest events in the history of Dubbo. The unfortunate young fellow McCarthy, was a generous-hearted, but impulsive youth, of whom, had he lived, much good might be expected. He was industrious and energetic; there was not an idle bone in his body. But he was in transition stage between youth and manhood, and laced that self-restraint which maturer years would have given him."
"Leaving home at an early age - he was barely sixteen then - we was subjected to conflicting influences, but whithal the good that was in hin prevailed. He was born at Dubbo a little over 20 years ago. His parent at one time kept the hotel (now closed) just across the traffic bridge and also other hotels in Dubbo, and here as they now do at Mumbil, they bore the very highest character, and commanded popular respect and esteem in consequence. One and all how know them sympathise with them in their present affliction."
"Senior Constable Tait, stationed at Geurie, deposed: 'Have seen the body of Vincent Lovell McCarthy. Know the Messrs Thorby of Wonbargon. George Albert Thorby came to me yesterday. He said to me 'I've come to report that I've had to shoot a man in self-defence.' I said 'Where was this?' He replied, 'At the farm.' I said, 'Is the man dead?' He said, 'I think so; I might say, I'm almost sure so. My brothers and I put him on a stretcher and took him into his room.'
"'Will you explain how this matter occurred?' He replied 'I was in the shed seeing if my pony had finished her feed. I was coming away, and within a few feet of the door, I saw McCarthy rush towards the door; he came in and rushed at me; he said, "You cow, I'll do for you": he had a tomahawk in his hand; I immediately put my hand in my pocket, pulled out my revolver...I fired at him; I heard the revolver go off twice, but I don't remember pulling the trigger twice."
..."The statement, after detailing what took place, went on: 'About two or three months ago, I noticed my sister Violet was rather more friendly with deceased than she should be with an employee. I advised her not to be too friendly with him. On Monday last I saw the deceased in our shed with my sister. He had his arm round her waist. I said, 'What is the meaning of this? I am surprised to see you talking to a fellow like this.' Deceased said 'You go to ----.' I ordered the deceased out of the shed. He stepped back and said 'Will I? You'll be very sorry you ever spoke.' I have noticed a change in his demeanour to me since. He has often given me very black looks...I heard him threaten me this morning. I cannot repeat the words. My mother ordered him off the verandah...I bought the revolver about three years ago. I put it into my pocket this morning owing to the threats made by the deceased."
Daniel McCarthy, father of the deceased, storekeeper at Mumbil, deposed: "I recognise the body now lying at the morgue as the body of my son, Vincent Lovell McCarthy. He would be 21 years of age next month and was a native of Dubbo. He was a farm labourer. I knew he was working at Thorby's farm. I saw him about five weeks ago on the train at Willengton. He was going to Sydney. Miss Thorby was with him. My wife asked deceased why he didn't go to Sydney and get on the trams the same as his brother. He said, 'I don't think I'll ever leave where I am as I have a good home.' He turned to the young lady and said, 'Haven't I?' and she replied 'Yes.' He was a single man. I believe he used to get the worse of the drink when in company. he had been away from home since he was about 16 years of age. He was of a happy disposition and not quarrelsome."
Frederick Bruce Thorby, brother of the accused: "Deceased left the breakfast table about 8:15am, leaving us all at the table, except my sister, who was in the kitchen. Deceased went round to the kitchen window. Mother went into the kitchen about that time and came back and said 'There, he's gone round to the window now after me keeping her in there.' I said 'Don't say anything, he'll be gone tomorrow.' My sister then came in from the kitchen. My sister said 'Don't quarrel over me, I've done nothing to be ashamed of.' Just then, deceased came round on in the verandah near the dining-room door. As my mother went to the door I heard deceased say 'I'll do for him.' Mother said to deceased 'Go on away now; don't cause any trouble here.' He said 'I won't leave the place till I do for him' ...I said 'Don't be silly, Vin, old cove; we've never had a cross word all the time you have been here.' I pleaded with him for a good while. He was half crying with rage, and shaking. He had a rather wild look on his face. I was afraid he might do some harm. he had nothing on him to lead me to believe he meant violence."
Witness Elizabeth Thorby, employer of Vincent McCarthy: "For some time the family all noticed a little bit too much familiarity on the part of the deceased. He imposed on good nature." ...Subsequently witness heard Grace (Violet Grace)come into the kitchen. Witness called Grace in. Grace replied 'What is it?' Witness said 'Come here.' Grace came into her room and witness said 'What sort of nonsense is this you're going on with the rest of the family?' Grace said, 'The rest of the boys?' Grace said 'I've never done anything to be ashamed of.' Bert (George Albert) said 'I'm ashamed of you.' Grace cried...Grace wanted to bring the dinner down to the camp every day in order to be with the boys. Bert and Grace had a severe fight in the dining-room. Bert pushed her out of the room, and she picked up an iron wedge and threw it at Bert. Bert at last struck her on the face, and gave a black eye...Deceased hurried through his breakfast and went out and started to talk to Grace through the kitchen window. Grace was showing him her face. Witness then returned to the dining-room and spoke to Fred and said 'That cursed boy has gone round to the window to Grace and she is showing him her face.' Jack said, 'Why don't you give him his money and let him go?' Witness said 'Let him go now, for God's sake.' Deceased came round to the front door of the dining-room. His face was livid with passion. Witness said 'Look Vin, it's no good; you can't come in here.' Bert said to Fred, 'If you were a man you'd do what you ought to do; make up his time and let him go; he's been here too long now.' Bert was trembling passion too. Witness then told deceased to get his things and go. He said, 'By the living God (raising his right hand) I'll do for him before I leave this place.' Witness said 'Look Vin, it's a good whipping you want, and I'd like to give it to you.'
When witness got back to the room, Grace was crying, and Jack was telling her to have some sense. Witness told Grace to take notice of what Jack was saying. Grace said, 'It will make no difference what anyone says; as long as I live I'll think of him (Vin). I think more of him than anyone one I ever knew.' George then said, 'There now Ms, I told you she was in love with him.' Witness said 'She's only fascinated.' Witness then told Bert to get on his horse and go to his grandmother's. He said, 'Yes, I will, when I get over this trembling." Grace and witness were clearing the table when Bert passed the dining-room window going towards the stable. Grace said to witness "That damn thing (meaning Bert) is carrying his life on his finger ends, and he doesn't know it." Grace was crying. Shortly afterwards she heard two shots in quick succession. Grace said 'Oh! He's shot: Oh great God.' Grace jumped over the wire fence, and witness saw the poor boy lying dead.
George Thorby never stood trial for the murder. He moved to Sydney, married and had four children. Violet Grace also moved to Sydney and had four children. I also discovered that an employee of the property had been charged with assault and attempted rape of her when she was 13 - this could explain her brother's overprotection. I have found a photo of the Thorby family - Elizabeth is in the middle, George is second from the right, Violet Grace third from the left. There are no photos of Vincent McCarthy that I can find.
What a fascinating story of misfortune, however in some ways I feel fortunate that I was able to get so much detail on the story behind it via the treasures of Trove.