THE MANY SUICIDES OF REGINALD HOOKES

Bow Street Police Court London APRIL 1937.

By way of background to the article, it is worth mentioning that prior to 1961, suicide (defined as the act of intentionally ending one's own life) was a  crime and anyone who attempted and failed could be prosecuted and imprisoned. In part, that reflected religious and moral objections to suicide as self-murder, albeit that suicide was a common practice among many early cultures and martyrdom was practiced by early Christians. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas later came to the view that whoever deliberately took away the life given to them by their Creator showed the utmost disregard for the will and authority of God and jeopardized their salvation, encouraging the Church to treat suicide as a sin.

Some commentators maintain that this law was never enforced rigorously, but it appears that Reginald was the exception to the rule. His sentence at Bow Street was the third he received for attempting to commit suicide. This is the report from The Times dated 27th April 1937.


 An identical report appeared in the local press

The only other information I was able to find was in the 1911 Census
Name Reginald H Hookes
Relationship to Head of Household Son
Gender Male
Age 9 Months Estimated Year of Birth 1911
Occupation Juvenile Employed No
Working at Home No
Place of Birth Kent
Enumerator Information
Address 10 Richmond St Sheerness Parish Sheerness Town Sheerness
Type of Building Private House Number of Rooms 4 Rooms House Inhabited Yes
Reference RG14PN4461 RG78PN182 RD62 SD1 ED11 SN140 Administrative County Kent Registration District Sheppey Registration Sub District Minster Enumeration District 11

Edward and Kate had two more children RONALD who was born on 9th October 1913 and DOROTHY VALENTINE who was born in the Medway district of Surrey on 14th February 1919 (St Valentines Day). Name: Dorothy V Hookes Mother's Maiden Surname: Elliston Date of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar 1919 Registration district: Medway Inferred County: Surrey Volume Number: 2a Page Number: 1002 

Ronald's birth was registered in December quarter of 1913 in Malling, Kent (Volume 2a Page 1585) which seems to indicate that the family moved to Sheffield sometime after 1919. Dorothy incidentally married a Leonard Revell in Sheffield in 1945. She was to die in the city 29 year later in the September quarter of 1974, at the age of 55 (Volume 3 Page 1162). Her name is given as DOROTHY VALENTINE REVELL 

Needless to say I would be fascinated to know any further details of Reginald's rather "tempestuous life.

In September 2014 a researcher sent me the following information which was rather surprising to say the least!

"I was interested to come across your page on Reginald Herbert Hookes whilst researching his name on the Tinsley St Lawrence Church WW2 Roll of Honour.


Name: HOOKES, REGINALD HERBERT
Initials: R H
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Gunner
Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery
Age: 30
Date of Death: 12/05/1941
Service No: 926362
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. G. Coll. grave 73. Screen wall. Panel 3.
Cemetery: GREENWICH CEMETERY

He died in Hammersmith, although I can not find out the circumstances. There are no other RA deaths in London that day. Although air raid is possible as there are some civilian deaths, there doesn’t appear to have been a big raid. Hammersmith is the location of military hospital. Or he could finally have managed his suicide.
You may be interested in searching him out on the British Newspaper Archive website as there are a number of other newspaper stories that are as ‘crazy’ as this one. An advanced search on the phrase ‘Reginald Hookes’ and ‘Reginald Herbert Hookes’ gives results such as (plus more) from the late 1930’s:

- Reginald Herbert Hookes....... I.R.A. to blow up an R.A.F. launch on the night of July 10, was the appearance at Ramsgate

- Reginald Herbert Hookes……purpose of obtaining certain secrets on behalf of people by whom he was employed, was line 4 10s.

- TO PRISON He Was Near Service Premises For loitering in the vicinity of premises used in His Majesty's service, Reginald Herbert Hookes, of Love Lane, Margate

- On Monday night, a man of 28 years, Reginald Hook, of no fixed abode, was found on the Sea Front. He complained violent pains in the stomach and was taken to

- Found taking photographs at the Manston R.A.F. Station, Herbert Reginald Hookes, was sentenced to a month's

Although born in the south of England the family appears to have moved to Sheffield prior to 1928 as his mother died in Sheffield in 1928 at the age of 48, and was buried in Tinsley St Mary’s Churchyard. I have not found anything on her death, but suicide could be possible. Her gravestone says died suddenly.

Reginald would have been 17/18 and regardless of the cause this would have affected him. (His father lived to be 88)"

The Times dated 6th August 1938 did provide me with details of one of the cases highlighted by the researcher

 

The same researcher then kindly sent me five reports from local newspapers of Reginald's prodigious offending. It really does beggar belief!      

The Dover Express and East Kent News dated Friday 26th November 1937

Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror dated Friday 14th January 1938 

The Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette dated 20th July 1938

The Nottingham Evening Post dated Monday 17th July 1939

The Courier and Advertiser dated Wednesday October 11th 1939

And in December 2014 a descendent of Reginald contacted me with some fascinating material about Reginald and his death

"My great-aunt Kate Hookes neé Elliston was Reginald's mother. I never knew them personally but I've been tracking down some family history. My father and his brother Thomas knew their cousin Reginald. His mother Kate died in a road accident in 1928 and maybe this rather unhinged his mind. He certainly had a keen death wish and I don't suppose in those days there was much psychiatric help. My father never talked about him but Uncle Thomas told me that he had committed suicide on a submarine. I find this rather strange for a soldier to commit suicide on a submarine! Unfortunately, all the relevant members of the family are dead so I cannot question them and as a boy I had no interest, unfortunately. It's only now when you're older that you realise you've missed the opportunity. I would be intrigued to find an answer to this bizarre tale! There's a mystery here that certainly needs solving."

Again any further help would be of great assistance in resolving the time and manner of Reginald's death 

Sources

UK Census

The Times dated 27th April 1937

The Dover Express and East Kent News dated Friday 26th November 1937

Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror dated Friday 14th January 1938 

The Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette dated 20th July 1938

The Nottingham Evening Post dated Monday 17th July 1939

The Courier and Advertiser dated Wednesday October 11th 1939

 

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This page was last updated on 28/03/15 12:43