Ex-Councillor’s Tragic Death – Suicide ends Ordeal of Pain

September 1939

Mexborough & Swinton Times, September 9th

Ex-Councillor´s Tragic Death
Well Known Conisboro´ Personality
Suicide Ends Ordeal of Pain
Day after Discharge from Infirmary

A shock was caused in Conisborough on Saturday when it was learnt that during the night one of its best known residents M. James Leatherland, had been found dead in his bedroom under tragic circumstances. Mr. Leatherland, who was 61, was for three years a lively member of the Conisborough Urban District Council, on which he sat for the East Ward as a “workers Candidate”. He entered the Council on his second attempt (in 1933 he stood unsuccessfully as an Independent in the West Ward) and was a member from 1935 to 1938, when he resigned owing to ill-health. He had been in extremely bad health right up to the time of his death.

At an inquest on Saturday a verdict of “Suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed”, was returned.

Election Success.

In his first successful election in 1935 he gained a decisive victory over Mr. Walter Criddle, then manager of Cadeby Main Colliery, and Mrs. Mary J. Wright, the Labour nominee, polling more that both his opponents together, and he was again at the head of the poll in 1938, but resigned very soon afterwards.

Mr. Leatherland was an authority in the South Yorkshire district on the Rent Restriction Act and, as the champion of the tenants, won a large number of cases against property owners in Conisborough, Denaby, Doncaster, Mexborough and other places. It was the fact that he had performed these services which went a long way in his election successes. He was something of a character and was affectionately known as “Jimmy Rag”, a nickname given him during a General Election by Mr. Walter Liddall, now M.P. for Lincoln. Mr Liddall, who was contesting the Don Valley Division, was being continually heckled by Mr. Leatherland and so the story goes in desperation he remarked “For goodness sake, Jimmy, stop chewing the rag”, the name stuck.

Mr Leatherland, who had resided in Conisborough for about 28 years, had had 30 years experience as a miner, but he contracted nystagmus and did not work in the pit for some years before his death. He leaves a widow Mrs. Louisa Leatherland, who is 21 years his senior.

The Inquest

An Inquest was held on Mr. Leatherland by the Doncaster District Coroner (Mr. W.H. Carlile) on Saturday evening, when a verdict that Mr. Leatherland committed suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed was returned. The Coroner remarked that apparently Mr. Leatherland had been in ill-health at any rate for two years, and had been suffering a good deal of pain.

The widow stated that her husband had been in ill-health for some years and had spent some time in Doncaster Infirmary and the Wakefield Hospital, and for the last three months had been in the Balby Institute. He was discharged on Friday and went to bed during the evening of that day. He slept in a room by himself and during the course of the night he went downstairs several times. Witness went into his room during the night and found that he had a handkerchief round his neck which she thought he was playing with and she took it from him.

On Saturday morning she was getting dressed when she heard him go downstairs. He returned a few minutes later, and she then heard a scream and sent for her son-in-law.

“Full of Pain”

Mrs. Leatherland stated that her husband had been depressed of late. He was full of pain and said he did not want to go back to the hospital. He wanted to die at home. He had however, never threatened to take his life, and she never suspected that anything of this kind would happen.

George Weston, miner of Athelstone Road, Conisborough, said that at about 6.40 a.m. on Saturday, in consequence of something that was said to him, he went to Mrs. Leatherland´s house and there saw Mr. Leatherland. He was unconscious and died in witness´s arms. There was a razor in the room. He sent for the doctor and police.

Dr Angus John Macives, Conisboro´ said he was called to Leatherland´s home soon after 7 a.m. on Saturday and found that Leatherland´s throat was cut. In July of last year Leatherland underwent a operation, and he must have suffered a good deal of pain since. The cause of death was shock and haemorrhage following a wound in the throat.



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