Top Navigation


Main CPGW Record

Surname: SIMPSON

Forename(s): William

Place of Birth: Skipton, Yorkshire

Service No: 24458

Rank: Private

Regiment / Corps / Service: Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Battalion / Unit: 2nd Battalion

Division: 4th Division

Age: 29

Date of Death: 1918-05-02

Awards: ---

CWGC Grave / Memorial Reference: IX. D. 23.


CWGC Memorial: ---

Non-CWGC Burial: ---

Local War Memorial: SKIPTON, YORKSHIRE

Additional Information:

William Simpson was the son of William and Mary Jane Simpson, née Robinson. William, senior, was born at Embsay, Yorkshire and Mary at Burnley, Lancashire.

1891 Skipton, Yorkshire Census: 11, Quaker's Place - William Simpson, aged 1 year, born Skipton, son of William and Mary Jane Simpson.

1901 Skipton, Yorkshire Census: 3, Back Waller Hill - William Simpson, aged 11 years, born Skipton, son of William and Mary Jane Simpson.

William was married to Margaret Ellen Brown in 1914. Their daughter, Gladys, was born on the 28 October 1914.

The British Army Service Record for William Simpson exists but may be incomplete.

British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards: Pte William Simpson, 24458, W. Rid. R. D. of W. 2.5.18.

British Army WW1 Medal and Award Rolls: Pte William Simpson, 24458, 1/6th W. Rid. R.; 2nd W. Rid. R. D. of W. 2.5.18.

Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects: Pte William Simpson, 24458 2nd Bn W. Riding. Date and Place of Death: 2.5.18 France. To whom Authorised/Amount Authorised: Mother and sole legatee - Mary J. £29 6s. 5d.

See also: ‘Guiseley Terriers: A Small Part in The Great War – A History of the 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment’ by Stephen Barber (2018).

Data Source: Craven’s Part in the Great War - original CPGW book entry

View Entry in CPGW Book

Entry in West Yorkshire Pioneer Illustrated War Record:

SIMPSON, W., aged 29, West Riding Regiment, of 11, Star Inn Yard, Skipton, died of wounds May 2, 1918.


Click the thumbnail below to view a larger image.

Private William SIMPSON

Private William SIMPSON

Regiment / Corps / Service Badge: Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Regiment / Corps / Service Badge: Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Divisional Sign / Service Insignia: 4th Division

Divisional Sign / Service Insignia: 4th Division

Data from Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 - 1919 Records

Soldiers Died Data for Soldier Records

Surname: SIMPSON

Forename(s): William

Born: Skipton, Yorks


Enlisted: Skipton

Number: 24458

Rank: Private

Regiment: Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)

Battalion: 2nd Battalion


Died Date: 02/05/18

Died How: Died of wounds

Theatre of War: France & Flanders


Data from Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records

CWGC Data for Soldier Records

Surname: SIMPSON

Forename(s): W

Country of Service: United Kingdom

Service Number: 24458

Rank: Private

Regiment: Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)

Unit: 2nd Bn.



Died Date: 02/05/1918

Additional Information:

View Additional Text

View Additional Text For Soldier Records

War Diary of the 1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)

7 JULY 1916

TRENCHES. Pte 4181, Simpson W. ‘A’ Coy wounded in side.

View Additional Image(s)

Additional Photo(s) For Soldier Records



Private William Simpson

‘Craven Herald’ (30 July 1915)

‘Craven Herald’ (30 July 1915)

Margaret Ellen Simpson, née Brown, the wife of Private William Simpson

View Craven Herald Articles

View Craven Herald Articles

Craven Herald and Wensleydale Standard Logo

30 July 1915


All the elements of a sordid and mysterious tragedy are associated with the discovery in Aireville Plantation on Thursday evening last, under circumstances which point to the possibility of foul play, of the body of a young woman. It proved to be that of Margaret Ellen Simpson (23), wife of Wm. Simpson, a private in the 3rd 6th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, now in training at Skipton, who is in custody charged on suspicion with having caused her death.

Simpson is a Skipton man and prior to his enlistment some three months ago followed the occupation of a labourer or yard man. Up to joining the Forces he lived with his wife, but recently the woman had resided with her sister, Mrs. Dainty, at 10, Mill Bridge. During the past few weeks there appear to have been differences between the parties about money matters, and the husband is also said to have alleged infidelity on the part of his wife.

The deceased woman was last seen by her friends on the night of Saturday, July 17th, when she was in the company of her husband walking along Water Street in the direction of Gargrave Road. Nothing more was heard of her until the discovery of the body. The husband is understood to have attended Church Parade of the Battalion on Sunday the 18th. Then he disappeared until Thursday morning, when he was detained by the military authorities for being absent without leave, and after the discovery of the body, was handed over to the Police. In the absence of a satisfactory explanation of his movements he was charged on suspicion.


Official details in regard to the discovery of the body are furnished by the Police report. It states that about 7-30 p.m. on the 22nd inst., Charles Pritchard, horseman, employed by Mr. H. Dewhurst, of Aireville, was in a plantation adjoining the hall. At the top of the Park he saw a woman lying in the long grass. He shouted to her, received no answer and approached. Seeing that she was dead he immediately reported the matter to the Police. An officer at once went to the spot and saw the deceased, whom he recognised as the wife of Wm. Simpson, who had been missing since Saturday the 17th inst. Dr. Macleod had attended her for a gastric complaint.

The body was lying on its back, the head slightly turned to the left side. The arms were extended downwards and the legs straight and slightly apart. Deceased was fully dressed and the hat was still on. Except for two unfastened hooks in front the dress was not disarranged. The body did not appear to have been moved from the spot where it was laid, but the grass around seemed to have been trampled down by more than one person as if there had been a struggle. In the darkness nothing was found, but the following morning the officer searched again and discovered a handkerchief.

The body was removed to the mortuary. There were bloodstains, or suspicious marks, on the coat, and a slight bruise on the right thigh. About the throat were what appeared to be bruises, and it was very swollen and red. On the left cheek was a red mark as if a caustic liquid had run from the mouth.

Later the officer saw deceased’s mother, Elizabeth Brown, and the sister, Mary Ann Dainty. The latter said the deceased was last seen at 8-40 p.m. on the 17th inst., in her husband’s company in Water Street. She was then in the best of health and spirits. She had never threatened to take her own life, but about a fortnight ago said she (deceased) complained to them that her husband had attempted to strangle her in the fields at 12-30 at night. She showed them bruises.

Simpson was handed over to the Police on Friday and the same night was charged, on suspicion, with having caused the death of his wife.



On Saturday morning the husband was brought before the Skipton magistrates, and charged on suspicion with causing the death of his wife. Supt. Vaughan said Simpson was charged on suspicion with causing the death of his wife, Margaret Ellen Simpson, some time between 8-30 p.m. on Saturday, July 17th, and 7-30 p.m. on Thursday, July 22nd. On the Saturday night the prisoner and his wife were seen walking together on Water Street in the direction of Gargrave Road, but it had not been ascertained as to where they parted. The Superintendent was informed that the prisoner went to his billet that night, and attended Church parade with the battalion on the following (Sunday) morning. After the parade the prisoner seemed to have disappeared, and was absent from billet from Sunday noon until early on the morning of the following Thursday. He then came home, and at 7-30 in the evening the body of his wife was found in the plantation under suspicious circumstances. The body was conveyed to the mortuary and the prisoner was afterwards interviewed, he being then in the custody of the military authorities, for being absent from his regiment without leave. On the following (Friday) morning he was taken to the Police Station and questioned, but he was unable to give a satisfactory account of his movements. Continuing the Superintendent said that in view of the fact he considered it was his duty to keep the man in custody until the Coroner had made an enquiry. He asked that the prisoner be remanded until to-morrow (Saturday).

The officer who was informed of the discovery of the body said he removed the body, and, following enquiries, he arrested Simpson at the Skipton Drill Hall on the morning following the discovery. He was taken to the Police Station and detained there, and at nine o’clock in the evening witness charged him, on suspicion, with causing the death of his wife. He replied “I have nothing at all to say.”

The Chairman (Sir. J. C. Horsfall) to prisoner: Do you object to being remanded?
Prisoner: I don’t know, Sir, I would like it to go on now. I am just as wise as you are in this case.

He was remanded for seven days.



The inquest was opened on Saturday afternoon in the Overseers’ Room at the Town Hall, by Mr. Edgar Wood (District Coroner). Mr. S Donald was elected foreman of the Jury.

The Coroner announced at the outset that it was not his intention on that occasion to do more than call evidence of identification and as to the finding of the body, after which the inquiry would be adjourned in order that certain inquiries might be completed and the contents of the deceased woman’s stomach analysed. It would be July 30th before the analyst made his report. A long adjournment was undesirable, as other proceedings would in all probability have to follow and the man could not be kept in custody indefinitely without a trial.

After some discussion the Jury agreed upon Wednesday, Aug. 4th, for the resumed Inquest.


Mary Ann Dainty, wife of Joe Dainty, labourer, 10, Mill Bridge, Skipton, was the first witness. She identified the body as that of her sister, Margaret Ellen Simpson, wife of Wm. Simpson, a private in the 3rd 6th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, stationed at Skipton. Deceased had lived with witness. On Saturday, July 17th, witness went out about 7-30 p.m., leaving her sister in the house, and returned just after 10 o’clock. Her sister was not in at the time and witness was informed she went out about 8-40.

The Coroner : Have you seen her since? – Witness: No.
Or heard from her? – No.
Was she expecting her husband to call that evening? – She never said anything.
Had there been any quarrelling between these people? – There were on two nights.
When was the last time you saw Simpson when he came to your house. Was he in any night last week? – Witness could not remember.
When had there been quarrelling between these two? – On two nights within a fortnight.
At your house? – Yes.
Were you present on both occasions? – Yes. What was the quarrelling about? – Money matters.
That was all, was it. Did he want some money from her? – Yes.
Did she give him any either time? – She said she gave him 5/-.
You did not see her give him any? – No.
Did you hear him threaten her with violence? – No.
Did he threaten to strike her or anything of that sort ? – No.
You have never at any time heard him threaten to strike her? – No.


Has she ever complained that he has done anything to her? – Yes, about a fortnight was on Monday night.
She complained that he had assaulted her? – A fortnight on Monday she was out all night. Who was? – My sister and him together. Did she return on the Tuesday morning? – Yes.
Was she suffering from anything then?-No, she was all right then.
When did the assault take place? – They went out again on the Tuesday night and took the baby with them.
What time? – It would be between 6 and 6-30. Were they out all night again? – They were out until 12-30.
Did they return together? – No. She came back with the baby.
Was she suffering from any violence on that occasion? She came to the front and I would not let her in. Then she came round to the back.
Why did you refuse to let her in? – Because she had been out the night before. It was a regular thing stopping out.
Who with? – With him.
She came round to the back door when she could not got in at the front? – Yes, she got over the wall.
And you let her in? – Mother let her in for the sake of the baby. I was upstairs. I did not see her until the following morning about 10 o’clock when she got up.
Did she complain about anything? – She told mother.
Did you see any marks on her throat? – I saw marks there.
Her neck was swollen? – Yes. She told mother he had tried to strangle her.
She made a complaint against her husband? – She said he said he would do for her.


Was she a woman who took drink? – She used to go into public houses with him.
Did she take too much to drink? – No.
Was that Wednesday the only time she ever complained about her husband’s conduct? – That was the only time she has complained to me.
So far as you know that is the only time he has assaulted her? – That is the only time to my knowledge.
Had he complained about her going with other men? – When they had bother he said she had been going about with other men.
He accused her of going with other men? – Yes.
Since he enlisted, I suppose? – Yes.
When did he enlist? – It will be about four months ago.
Did he mention any particular men she had been going with? – Witness gave the names of two men.
Have either of these men been at your house? – No.
Did your sister deny it to her husband? – Yes.
Has she denied it to you? – Yes. She told me she had never been with anybody but him.
Has Simpson ever complained to you about her going with other men? – Yes, twice when they had the bother on.
He complained to you as well as her? – Yes, he told me the same.


Did she often stay out at night ? – Yes.
Two or three times a week? – Twice anyway.
Every week? – Not ever week.
Who was she with? – With him.
How do you know? – She said so.
Are these men you mention in the Army? No, they are away.
She always said she had been out with her husband when she was out at night? – Yes.
Has your sister ever threatened to take her life? – No.
Or tried to do so? – No.

Witness further stated that her sister was quite cheerful on the night of Saturday the 17th inst.

The Coroner: Was it Wednesday or Wednesday week that she complained of him attempting to strangle her? – A fortnight last Wednesday. And he threatened to “do for her yet.”
Did she seem afraid he would do something to her? – She must not have been. She went out with him afterwards.
Did you say anything to him about it? – No.
How long after did you see him? – About a week after.
When she told you what he had done and threatened to do, did you not think it rather serious? – Yes.
But you did not say anything about it? – No. A week had passed and I thought it might have been forgotten.

Witness said she had not seen Simpson since the previous Saturday. They were bothered when she did not return, but did not make inquiries because she had gone before like that.


The Coroner: For a week? – About half a week, and then she has come back.
She has stayed away a few days at a time? – Yes. Witness added that her husband reported the matter to the Police on the Sunday. Her sister was not subject to fits.
The Coroner: Are you quite positive, so far as you know, that there was nothing whatever in Simpson’s allegation that she was not conducting herself properly with other men? – We have never seen anything.
You have never seen anything wrong with other men? – No, nothing whatever.

Witness saw Simpson and her sister together, with the baby, between 6 and 7 o’clock the previous Saturday night. They were in front of the Parish Church and seemed friendly. For anything witness knew they were sober.

Supt. Vaughan: What kind of a temper has Simpson when he is In drink? – Witness: He is vary nasty in drink.
What do you call nasty – violent? – He seemed short.
You saw him last on Saturday. Did he sleep at your house that night? – No.
A Juror: On the occasion your sister said Simpson attempted to strangle her, did she give any reason for his attack? – Yes, because she had no money. She said he would have strangled her if it had not been for the baby being there.
Supt. Vaughan: Do you know if she had any money with her when she went out that night? – I do not know.


Ellen Metcalfe, single woman, 3, Star Inn Yard, Skipton, said she went to Mrs. Dainty’s house the previous Saturday about 8 o’clock. Mrs. Simpson was there, and Simpson came about 8-30. He was “fresh “ but there was no quarrelling in the house. Simpson and his wife left together about 8-40, saying they were going to the Royal Oak. Witness thought deceased had a few coppers in her pocket.

The Coroner: They were perfectly friendly as far as you could see? – Witness: Yes, they came out of the Royal Oak together.
You could see them from where you were? – Yes.
What time did they come out? – About ten minutes to nine.
Which way did they go? – They went on Water Street.
Were they walking arm in arm or side by side? – Side by side.

Witness did not see them again and had not seen either since. Simpson made no accusation against his wife in the presence of witness. He asked deceased to go out with him. Witness did not suspect anything.


Charles Pritchard, horse man employed by Mr. H. Dewhurst, Aireville, said he resided at the Grange. He discovered the body about 7-30 p.m. on Thursday as he was going through the plantation. He noticed someone lying on the ground as if asleep, and called out but got no answer. Then he approached and saw it was a woman, dead. The body was on its back, at full length, and fully dressed including the hat. Witness did not notice that the clothing was disarranged. At the place where he found the body the grass was long.

The Coroner: Had it been trampled down? – Witness: Yes, for about two yards round.

Proceeding, witness said he did not interfere with the body. He had since cut the grass, but found nothing

The Coroner: Was the body so close to the highway that if there had been screaming it could have been heard? – Yes. I should say it would be from 20 to 30 yds. from the highway. – He did not see any blood about the woman’s face or mouth. He found the body quite accidentally. From the appearance of the grass at the place, he should say the body had been there some time; there was a clearly defined impression in the grass.

The Coroner: Could you see the body from the path ? – No. It was on the left hand side going to Aireville Hall.


Did you go up the road past the small gate last Saturday night? – Yes.
What time? – About five minutes past ten.
Did you see anyone about? – There was a man and a woman stood against a door as I went past.
Was the man a civilian? – He was a soldier in khaki.
Could you see who they were? – No.
Did you hear them talking? – Yes. I heard the man make use of an expression. He said “It’s a d----- lie.”
You did not hear her say anything? – No.
You went straight home? – Yes.
Did you see anyone else about? – There were plenty of people on the road.
Did you think the man was threatening the woman when he said that to her? – I thought they were angry with each other.
You did not hear the gate open and shut? – No.
Could you tell how the woman was dressed? – She was dressed in dark clothing.

A Juror: About. what distance would it be from the gate to where you discovered the body? – About 60 yards.
Have the public a right on the footpath? – No.
Do you ever see people on the footpath? – Yes, many a one.
Who have not got permission? – Mr. Dewhurst never says anything to them so long as they walk round.

The Coroner: It is not a public footpath, though it is used by the public? – Yes.

The Coroner intimated that this was all the evidence he proposed to call at this stage and the inquiry was adjourned.

06 August 1915


The inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Margaret Ellen Simpson (25), wife of Wm. Simpson, a private in the 3rd 6th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, was resumed at the Skipton Town Hall on Wednesday morning by Mr. E. Wood (District Coroner).

It will be remembered that the body of Mrs. Simpson, who had recently resided with her married sister, Mrs. Dainty, at Mill Bridge, was discovered in Aireville Plantation on the evening of Thursday, July 22nd. She had been missing since the previous Saturday night and her husband had also been absent from his billet from Sunday the 18th until 8-30 a.m. on the 22nd, the day the body was found. There were certain marks on the deceased woman’s throat which gave rise to grave suspicions, and, as the husband was unable to give what the Police considered a satisfactory account of his actions during his absence, he was detained and subsequently charged, on suspicion with having caused his wife’s death.

He was brought before the magistrates on July 24th and remanded in custody. The inquest was opened the same day when the evidence went to show that the deceased woman had had quarrels with her husband recently, and that according to her statement to her sister he had on one occasion during the last few weeks attempted to strangle her, and that she was last seen by her friends in the company of her husband walking along Water Street about nine p.m. on Saturday, July 17th. It was further stated by Charles Pritchard, horseman, employed by Mr. H. Dewhurst, of Aireville, that as he was returning to his home at Aireville Grange about 10 p.m. on July 17th, he saw a soldier and a woman standing near the gate leading to the plantation in which the body was subsequently found, but he could not identify either of them.

Simpson, who was before the magistrates on Saturday last and again remanded until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, was present at the adjourned inquiry. He appeared quite collected and followed the proceedings closely. The only time he spoke in the course of the proceedings was when he told his mother not to give way, but to answer the Coroner’s questions.


The Coroner, at the outset, stated that the inquest was adjourned to see if further evidence could be obtained, and also in order that the contents of the stomach might be analysed. He had heard from the analyst who said he could find no trace of poison, so that the jury could dismiss that theory from their minds altogether.

Olive Hawkshaw, married woman, 31, Commercial Street, Skipton, was the first witness. She said she knew Mrs. Simpson and last saw her on Friday, July 16th. Deceased was on her way to witness’s house when they met, and it would be about 2-30. Mrs. Simpson was seeking a house and wanted witness to go and look for one with her. At the time witness noticed there were marks round Mrs. Simpson’s neck, which was a little swollen. The marks were neither red nor blue, and apparently caused by fingers; judging by their appearance the marks had been done a week or so.

The Coroner: Did she tell you who had made those marks? – Witness: Yes. She said her husband and herself had quarrelled, and that, in consequence of this having upset her mother, she was seeking another house.

A Juror: On the occasion you last saw Mrs. Simpson did she call your attention to these marks or did you notice them? – I noticed them and passed a remark. Then she said she had been quarrelling with her husband.


P.S. Pryke spoke to hearing of the discovery from Charles Pritchard on July 22nd, and subsequently visiting the place in company with P.C. Newsham. He identified the body as that of Mrs. Simpson immediately he saw it. He went on to give details regarding the position of the body, which he described as a natural one, and the state of the clothing, the only disarrangement of which was in the nature of two unfastened hooks in the dress. The hat was still on deceased’s head and only fastened by one pin. At the foot of the body the grass had been trampled down over a space of about two yards. The body was removed to the mortuary, where witness noticed that the throat of the deceased was red and swollen. There was also a mark running from the left side of the mouth to the end of the jawbone. The marks on the throat seemed to him to indicate violence, but he could not form an opinion as to how long before the discovery it had occurred. A small bruise on the outside of the right thigh had the appearance of an old one. There was no blood on the clothing. A purse was found in the woman’s possession; it was empty with the exception of a doctor’s certificate, and a pawn ticket relating to a pledge on July 17th.

Witness added that a Juror had discovered a piece of metal where the body was found. This was produced and it was established that the metal was part of the fastener of the deceased woman’s purse.

When the body was removed it was apparent that only one person had laid there. The morning following the discovery witness found a pocket handkerchief near where the body had laid. This had been identified as belonging to the deceased. Apart from this nothing had been found. There was no evidence that a second person had been in the shrubbery with the deceased.


Witness went on to relate how he subsequently made inquiries regarding Wm. Simpson, husband of the deceased, whom he saw at 11.30 on the night of the discovery at the Bairstows’ Mill billet, in the presence of Lieut. Rishworth and Sergt. Batchelor. The first question witness put to Simpson was “You have been absent since Sunday? “ He replied, “Yes.” Witness then asked, “Where did you go on Sunday afternoon last?” and he said “Up Gargrave Road.” “How far?” proceeded the Sergeant, and received the following answer, “To Bell Busk.” Asked if he saw anyone there to speak to, Simpson said “No.” Questioned as to where he slept on the Sunday night he said “In Skipton Churchyard,” but did not see a policeman. The other nights during the week Simpson said he slept out, and that he had “not had bite or sup since Sunday until today,” meaning the Thursday he returned. Witness asked if Simpson could give him the name of a single person he had spoken to since the previous Sunday. He replied that he had seen plenty, but had spoken to no one except Joe Gill. This was on Wednesday night the day before his return to billet. This, witness had ascertained, to be a correct statement. When witness asked why he was wandering about in that manner, Simpson said he was seeking his wife, but admitted that he had not been either to his wife’s or his mother’s home.


Witness asked Simpson when he saw his wife last and he replied “Between 9-30 and 9-45 on Saturday night at the Swing Bridge near Brook Street.”

The Coroner: “That is close to his billet?” Witness: “Yes, he said he left his wife there and went to his billet.”

Proceeding, witness said he asked Simpson which way his wife went, to which he replied. “I don’t know.” “Up Brook Street?” the Sergt. suggested, and he answered, “I suppose so.” When told his wife had been found dead, Simpson dropped his head and said only one word – “Dead.”

The Coroner: “Did he seem astonished?” – “No”. “Did he ask how she was found?” – “No, sir, neither where nor how.”

After making this communication regarding deceased, witness expressed surprise that Simpson had not gone to his wife’s home to seek her, to which he replied in a very heated manner, “They are no b----- good, Sergt.; they are wrong ‘uns.”

Simpson was arrested by witness at 10 a.m. on July 23rd, at the Drill Hall, Skipton, and when charged, on suspicion with having caused his wife’s death, between 8-50 p.m. on Saturday the 17th and 7-30 p.m. on Thursday 22nd July, he replied “I have nothing at all to say.”

Witness had taken possession of an Army separation allowance paper belonging to the deceased, which showed that nothing had been drawn by her since July 13th. She was entitled to 17s 6d per week.

The Coroner said the only inference to be drawn from this was that, as the woman had pledged something on July 17th, she must have been short of money, and had she been alive would have drawn her allowance as soon as she was able.

Addressing witness the Coroner asked, “You have not been able to get any further evidence excepting what you have told us today, concerning this woman’s death?” – “None whatever.”

“You have made the fullest inquiry?” – “Yes, sir”. Witness added that the level of the shrubbery, where the body was found, was three feet below the walk.

A Juror: “You say the grass round the body was little disturbed?” – Witness: “Yes.”

“Did it impress you that the deceased might have fallen full length or been pushed?” – “Either, sir.”

The Coroner: “She could either have laid down, fallen or been pushed?” – “Yes, her feet were quite at the edge of the trampled grass.”


Dr. Robt. Fisher, of Skipton, spoke to making the post-mortem on July 23rd. The lips, face and eyelids were congested, and there was also congestion of the face, the neck and upper part of the chest. There was a bruise one inch above the collar bone on the right side of the neck; two small abrasions behind the mastoid muscle (behind the neck); a large abrasion 1½ inches wide by 2 inches long at the angle of the jaw on the left side towards the chin; and a triangular bruise on the centre of the forehead. There were no marks of violence on the lower limbs or body. There was a large mark extending from the left side of the mouth to the angle of the jaw. The brain, heart and internal organs were healthy.

The Coroner: “Would you say this woman died from strangulation?” – Witness: “I could not swear that she died from strangulation.”

“Were the conditions you would have expected to find in death by throttling absent?” – “Internally they were, sir.”

“Such as congestion of the brain?” – “Yes, congestion of the brain, or fracture of some cartilages of the windpipe.”

“What opinion did you form as to the congestion of the face, neck and chest? Was it post-mortem?” –”Decomposition had well set in, and the congestion of the neck and chest might be due to post-mortem change.”

“Had the bruises on the neck been caused before death, say immediately, or might they have been caused some time before?” – “The bruises on the neck might have been done some days before death.”

“Did you see anything to lead you to suspect death by poisoning?” – “Only the mark on the mouth, but I believe now it was due to post-mortem change. I am quite satisfied that poisoning has not been the cause of death.”

Replying to further questions witness said there was no sign of outrage.


The Coroner: “Can you tell us what has been the cause of death?” – “I cannot, sir.”

“Has she died from violence?” – “I cannot swear that she has come to her death by violence.”

“Supposing she had been in some excitement and died of heart failure, would there be some sign about the heart?” – “Not necessarily. A person might have a weak, though perfectly sound heart.”

“She might have died of heart failure following excitement?” – “Yes, following excitement or over-exhaustion.”

“And the post-mortem would not reveal it?” “No.”

“Supposing she had been struggling with a man might she have fallen into that position and died from excitement?” – “If there had been any struggling I should have expected to find some evidence in the shape of marks of violence on the body, or bruises on the legs. The fact that the woman’s hat was on does not suggest a great deal of violence.”

“You are not in a position to swear that death was due to violence?” – “I am not.”

A Juror: “In consequence of decomposition having set in, would it be more difficult for you to give definite information as to the cause of death?” – “Undoubtedly.”

“Is it possible that she might have died in a fit?” – “Quite.”

The Coroner: “I asked the question before, and was informed she had not been subject to them. Had she been subject to apoplexy you would have found traces?” – “Yes.”


Thomas Foster, Lance Corporal in the 3rd 6th Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regt., stationed at Skipton, stated that on the night of Saturday July 17th, he called the roll at the Corn Mill billet about 10 o’clock. Simpson was present and also attended Church parade the following morning. So far as witness was aware Simpson’s clothing was quite in order on the Saturday night.

Further questioned, witness admitted that it was a simple matter for men to get out of the rear of the Corn Mill premises on to the Canal Bank.

Replying to Supt. Vaughan, witness said he had previously called the roll, and Simpson had not always answered.

Supt. Vaughan: “Is it a fact that Simpson was missing before Church parade on Sunday morning?” – Witness: “Not to my knowledge.”

“Did you on Saturday night call the roll for someone?” – “For Sergt. Batchelor.”

“How many men were absent?” – “Only one.”

“Did you send in your returns correct?” – “I said one was missing.”

“Was Simpson the man who was absent?” – “No.”


Lance Sergeant Charles Batchelor, of the 3rd 6th Battalion, said he was also stationed at the Corn Mill billet. He heard P.S. Pryke question Simpson, and subsequently removed the latter to the detention billet at the rear of Park Avenue. On the way there he said, “I am sorry now, Sergt.; I am afraid it will be a case.” He also said that he wished he had gone to Kirkby Lonsdale. Simpson became an absentee at 9-30 p.m. on July 18th and did not return to his billet until 8-30 a.m. on July 22nd. Witness was informed Simpson was missing on the morning of July 18th, and, as all had been reported present, he went in search of him. Witness was absent a short time on this errand, and when he returned Simpson was there. Witness said to him “I have been looking for you; they reported you absent,” and Simpson replied “ Well, you see, I’m not.” Simpson had been absent a time or two, but was otherwise a good, clean soldier.

In answer to a juror, witness said it was quite possible for a man to get out of the Corn Mill billet after the roll had been called and be back again next morning without being missed.

Supt. Vaughan: “Did Lance Corpl. Foster call the roll for you on Saturday the 17th?” – Witness: “Yes.”

“Did he report all correct?” – “Yes.”

“He says here this morning there was one missing, but not Simpson?” – “He did not tell me so, sir.”

“When he said to you ‘I am sorry, Sergt.; I am afraid it will be a case,’ what do you think he referred to?” – “I don’t know, sir. He was very excited.”

Mary Jane Simpson, mother of the accused, of Rogers Yard, Skipton, gave evidence as to speaking to her son in the street after Church parade.

The Coroner: “What did you tell him?” – “I told him that Joe Dainty was bringing his child to me to look after,” and he said “Let it go to its mother; I am allowing her 17/6d per week.” He then went away to seek his wife.

“Did he tell you he was going to look after her?” – “No.”

“Did you tell him his wife was not at home?” – “I told him Maggie had not been in all night.”

“Did he say anything when you told him that?” – “He left me and said he would go and look for her.”

Witness added that she did not see the accused again until the following Thursday night when he called at her house. He asked if Maggie had come back, and witness said she had not heard of it.

Supt. Vaughan: “Did you ask where he had been all the week?” – “No.”

“Did he tell you?” – “No.”

This was all the evidence.


The Coroner, reviewing the evidence, said the first point for the jury to decide was what had caused the woman’s death. In the absence of the theory of poisoning they were bound by the evidence of the doctor. It seemed probable that the marks the doctor saw on the throat were those referred to by the witness Hawkshaw and Mrs. Dainty, and there did not appear to be any evidence that they were caused just before death. The Coroner also alluded to the fact that the clothing was in order except for the two unfastened hooks on the skirt, which might have been left unfastened by the woman herself. The fact that the woman’s hat remained on her head, though only fastened by one pin, did not suggest that there had been any violent struggle. Again no one seemed to have walked round the body after it had got into the position in which it was found, inasmuch as the only marks on the grass were at the feet. There were no signs in the brain, heart or other organs to show that the woman died from suffocation. Admittedly the time that elapsed before the discovery of the body would make it difficult to ascertain these symptoms, still they might reasonably have expected to find some internal signs if death had been due to suffocation or strangulation. There might have been some excitement to bring on an attack of syncope, but he did not think there was any ground for the jury returning a verdict that the woman died from direct violence. In that case a proper finding would be that she was found dead and that there was not sufficient evidence to show what was the cause of death. If the jury found that the woman had died by violence it would be for them to consider who was guilty of that violence. Suspicion had fallen on the husband, in whose company she was last seen, and that suspicion was strengthened by the fact that the woman was last seen by her friends in his company, and also by his absence for several days coincident with his wife’s disappearance.

The jury consulted in private for about fifteen minutes. The foreman (Mr. S. Donald) then announced that they returned a verdict to the effect that the woman was found dead, without sufficient evidence to show the cause of death.


Shortly after four o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, Simpson appeared before Mr. J. W. Morkill, Mr. R. B. Barrett and Mr. Alg. Dewhurst at the Town Hall.

Supt. Vaughan announced that after the medical evidence given at the inquest and the verdict of the jury he could not see his way to offer any further evidence against the prisoner that day, and he asked the Bench to discharge him.

Mr. Morkill (addressing the prisoner): “You have heard what the Supt. has said regarding the verdict which the jury has returned. They have not been able to find how your wife met her death and the Supt. asks that the case may be withdrawn. Therefore it is our duty to discharge you. You are free.”

28 July 1916


Pte. Wm. Simpson, also of the West Ridings, son of Mrs. Simpson, Star Inn Yard, Skipton, is in hospital in Scotland suffering from injuries to the back caused by shell explosives. His younger brother, Pte. Charlie Simpson, is also with the West Ridings.

10 May 1918


Private William Simpson, West Riding Regiment, whose mother lives at 11 Star Inn Yard, Skipton, has been severely wounded in the head and is in No. 22 Casualty Clearing Station, France. Formerly a plasterer in the employ of Messrs. R. Thornton and Sons, Skipton, he is 29 years of age and had been on active service about three years. He was previously wounded in the back.

17 May 1918

Private William Simpson, Skipton

We also regret to learn that Private William Simpson, West Riding Regiment, whose mother lives at 11 Star Inn Yard, Skipton, died on May 2nd from wounds received in the head in the recent fighting. He was 29 years of age, and enlisted soon after the outbreak of war. He had been in France three years and had previously been wounded in the back. Formerly he was in the employ of Messrs. R. Thornton and Sons, slaters, Skipton. In a letter of sympathy to Mrs. Simpson, a Wesleyan Chaplain says that the deceased passed peacefully away without recovering consciousness, and mentions that the extent of his injury was such that even had he recovered he would probably have been in a pitiable condition. He adds that everything possible was done for him, and proceeds:– “He was a brave and good lad and I feel his loss keenly myself. I never heard him speak an evil word nor knew him to do an unworthy act. He attended our services regularly and I always felt that he was trying to live a life of loyalty to Jesus Christ. Your brave boy has not fallen in vain, for in the new and better day that God will surely cause to dawn upon this stricken world you will see the fruit of his sacrifice and of your sorrow, and will be proud to remember that your loved one gave his life as part of the price of a great deliverance.”

09 May 1919

SIMPSON – In loving memory of Private William Simpson, 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, who died of wounds in France on May 3rd, 1918, aged 28 years.

Sleep on, dear brother, in a far-off grave,
A grave we may never see;
As long as life and memory last
We will remember thee.
We often sit and think of him,
And wonder how he died;
And wish he could have said goodbye
Before he closed his eyes.

From his sisters Mary and Lily.

View West Yorkshire Pioneer Articles

View West Yorkshire Pioneer Articles

West Yorkshire Pioneer Logo

28 July 1916


Pte. William Simpson, of the West Riding Regiment, and son of Mrs. Simpson, of Star Inn Yard, Skipton, has been wounded in the back and is now in hospital in Scotland. Pte. Simpson has also suffered from trench feet. Mrs. Simpson has another son, Pte. Charlie Simpson, serving in the West Riding Regiment.

10 May 1918


Skipton Soldiers Wounded

Pte . Wm. Simpson, of the West Riding Regiment, son of Mr. Simpson, of 11, Star Inn Yard. Skipton, has been severely wounded in the head, and is at present at the 22nd Casualty Clearing Station, France. A telegram has been received by his mother that he is in such a condition that he cannot be seen. Pte. Simpson, who is 29 years of age, joined up soon after the outbreak of hostilities, and had been in France over three years. He has previously been wounded in the back. He was formerly employed by Mr. Thornton, slater of Skipton.

17 May 1918

SIMPSON – Died of wounds May 2nd, Pte. Wm. Simpson, West Riding Regiment, son of Mrs. Simpson, 11, Star Inn Yard, Skipton, aged 29.

17 May 1918


Pte. Wm. Simpson Dies of Wounds

Mrs. Simpson, of 11, Star Inn Yard, Skipton, has received official information from the Record Office, York, that her son, Pte. Wm. Simpson, of the West Riding Regiment, died from severe wounds in the head on May 2nd. In a letter to Mrs. Simpson a Wesleyan Chaplain writes:– “Your son passed peacefully away without having recovered consciousness, and it is with the keenest sympathy that I send you these tidings. The extent of his injury was such that even had he recovered his reason would possibly have been seriously affected. It is much to be thankful for to know that he could not have suffered the slightest pain from the moment that he was hit to the moment when he passes away, and that everything possible was done to save his life. He was a brave and good lad, and I feel his loss keenly myself. I never heard him speak an evil word, or knew him to do an unworthy act. He attended our services regularly, and I always felt that he was trying honestly to live a life of loyalty to Jesus Christ. Your brave boy has not fallen in vain, for in the new and better day that God will surely cause to dawn upon this stricken world, you will see the fruit of his self -sacrifice and of your sorrow, and will be proud to remember that your loved one gave his life as part of the price of a great deliverance. Your son will be buried in the cemetery near the hospital, and his grave will be marked by a cross with a metal inscription. Pte. Simpson, who was 29 years of age, joined up soon after the outbreak of hostilities, and had been in France over three years. He had previously been wounded in the back. He was formerly employed by Mr. Thornton, slater, of Skipton.

Submit a Correction

    Name (required)

    Email Address (required)

    Telephone (required)

    Soldier Reference - Name:

    Soldier Reference - URL:

    Details of the correction to be made (required)

    Comment on this Soldier Record

    You can leave comments on this soldier record. Please note all comments will be manually approved before they appear on the website.

    No comments yet.

    Leave a Reply

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This