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Harry Henning (1862-1902)

The Atlin Pioneer Cemetery

The Atlin Claim - Saturday, June 28, 1902

    The verdict rendered by the jury in the Henning inquest is a very severe censure: upon the British Columbia Government, but not one whit more severe than the occasion deserves. That the mal-administration - if we might use the expression - of justice is beyond question the prime reason for Henning taking his own life, goes without saying, especially when we take into consideration the nature of the "pen" in which he was confined, in conjunction with the fact of the uncertainty as to when his trial would take place. More especially is this so in view of the fact that immediately after his commitment, the local Stipendiary Magistrate telegraphed the Attorney General stating the facts of Henning's commitment, asked for instructions. and stated that there was absolutely no accommodation for a prisoner, such as Henning was, in the Atlin jail. As far as we know this telegram was never even acknowledged! Only today - too late - is it known when a competent Court was going to sit, which would try the case , ten months after the commitment. Is it a wonder that twelve "good and lawful men of Atlin" pass censure upon the Government?

    At the adjourned sitting of the Jury on the inquest into the death of Harry Henning, who committed suicide in his cell in the Atlin jail on Saturday last, the Constables in whose charge he had been from time to time, were re-examined, but no evidence was deduced, touching upon how the deceased came into possession of the knife with which he put an end to his earthly existence. The knife in question was one with a blade about 3 inches long, but as it had been of late mainly used for opening tin cans, the condition of the edge can be well imagined. Dr. Lazier, who made a post-mortem examination, testified that there were several wounds on the left breast, but none of them deep enough to have proved fatal. The one in the throat appeared to have been a stab, and had severed the jugular vein, and from this Henning had bled to death. Two carpenters, Wallace and Marcus, who were making improvements on the jail building, were also examined, but their evidence was of no material value. The following verdict was rendered by the Jury:

    "An inquisition indented, taken at Atlin, County of Vancouver, British Columbia, the 21st day of June, A. D., 1902, in the second year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, King Edward the VII, before me, Edward M. N. Woods; one of the Coroners oF our Lord the King; for the County aforesaid, upon the view of the body of Harry Henning, then and there and within the jurisdiction of the said Coroner, lying dead, upon the oaths of Henry E. Young, E. P. Queen, L. Schulz, A. S. Cross, R. B. Dixon, E. L. Burdette, James D. Lumsden, John Williams, Ernest Rosselli, John K. Shirley, E. L. Pillman, and John Kirkland; good and lawful men of Atlin aforesaid, in the said County, being now here sworn and charged to enquire on the part of our Lord the King, when, where, how and after what manner the said Harry Henning came to his death, do say upon their oath that:

    "The deceased, Harry Henning, came to his death from a self-inflicted wound in the throat. It is the opinion of the Jury that the deceased was of unsound mind and also that the long and solitary confinement, extending from October 14th, 1901, accorded the deceased, without the opportunity of a trial, is an outrage on British Justice. Further, that the uncertainty of the time of trial aud the consequent brooding of the prisoner intensified his mental condition and is responsible for the deceased's action. The Gaol building, in which the deceased was confined, was unfit for human habitation. This country is easy of access and at no time since the arrest of the deceased has it been impossible for a Judge to have reached Atlin."