Sad husband meets grisly death

MATTHEW GRAY
Last updated 07:41 15/01/2013

Was it a tragic coincidence? Or did a heartbroken Frederick Philpott take his own life in a moment of despondency?

The 38-year-old was working as a porter at the Waverly Hotel in Auckland's Queen St when his life came to a dramatic and bloody end on April 17, 1895.

Frederick was on his way to the third floor on a hydraulic lift around 7pm when, for reasons no-one could explain, he poked his head out through an opening.

Death was instant and his skull was crushed beyond recognition as the elevator continued its climb.

Those waiting for it were greeted with a grisly spectacle.

The death was written off as a horrible accident but it soon transpired that Frederick was a deeply unhappy man.

The Cook St resident was still in mourning after the death of his wife just three months prior.

Ada Philpott, the London-born daughter of British immigrants James and Adelaide Frater, was only 27 when she died on January 13 after a long and painful illness.

She and William married in 1892 and had one child before having marital difficulties two or three years later.

Their problems revolved around financial difficulties and appear to have resulted in a separation.

William was required to pay maintenance as a result but struggled to meet his obligations - subsequently appearing in court where a judge ordered him to find the outstanding sum of money or face three months' jail time with hard labour if he failed to comply.

Whether the Philpotts were reconciled before Ada's death is unclear. But Frederick still called her his "dearly loved wife" in death notices published during the days that followed.

Ada, however, died at her mother's residence in Cook St and was therefore quite possibly still estranged from her husband.

Both are buried in the same family grave at Waikumete Cemetery.

- Western Leader

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