The following is a transcription of a newspaper article, first published in the Bristol
Evening News on January 21st 1897. Kindly provided by Bob Cole it concerns Thomas
Cole, the brother of Bob’s Great Grandfather. Thomas Cole was at the Glass House
from 1894 to 1896 the pub was situated by the railway bridge close to Princess Street.
THE BRISTOL EVENING NEWS JANUARY 21, 1897
SHOCKING TRAGEDY IN BRISTOL.
MURDER AND SUICIDE.
Last evening a shocking tragedy occurred in Kingsland Road St.Philip’s. A man
called Thomas Coles, of no fixed abode, but formerly landlord of the Glass House,
Kingsland Road, attempted, it is alleged, to take the lives of Mr and Mrs John Withey,
confectioners, of 57, Kingsland Road, and subsequently took his own life. Constable
Watts, 50 D, states that at 9.50 p.m., while on duty in Kingsland Road, he heard
the report of firearms, and observed Thomas Coles running down Sweets Court. In company
with Constable Hunt, who had arrived on the scene, he pursued Coles, and heard another
shot fired. Coles was found in a stooping position at the bottom of the court, and
, knowing him by name, the constable called, but getting no answer, turned him on
his back. It was then discovered that he had a six-chambered revolver in his right
hand, and, on an examination being made, a wound was discovered in the head. A truck
was procured, and on this he was taken to the infirmary, where it was found that,
a bullet had penetrated the right side of the head. Prior to the removal of Coles,
Constable Hunt was informed by some bystanders that Coles had shot at Mr and Mrs
Withey, and proceeding to the shop the officer found Mrs Withey sitting in a chair.
She stated that she had been shot in the back by Coles. A cab was procured, and
in company with her daughter she was conveyed to the infirmary, where her injury,
a bullet wound in the side, received attention. The occurrence, which took place
in the sittng room behind the shop was said to have been witnessed by Frank Barrett,
a young man employed by Mr Withey, and lodging in the house.
Coles, who was admitted at the infirmary at about ten o’clock, expired at 11.15,
the bullet, which entered behind the right ear, passing nearly through the head.
Mrs Withey was admitted about 20 minutes after Coles, and, although the wound is
of a serious nature, she was reported to be progressing favouraby at midnight.
John Withey informed our representative that Coles, who was at one time a sailor,
formerly lodged with him. About nine months ago he left their house, and was afterwards
sued at the county court for money due for board and lodging, which he was ordered
to pay. Since that day, Mr Withey states, he had not been to their house until that
night. He then came to the shop door and said “Have you had any new nuts lately.”
and Withey replied in the negative. Withey was then about to put some money on the
shelf, when he saw Coles level a pistol at him, and he felt a shot graze his hand,
which he had placed to his head. Withey then ran to the back door and heard another
shot fired, subsequently finding that his wife had a wound in the back. Fred Barrett,
a lodger, was in the room at the time. Withey adds that Coles, who was about 55 years
of age, has done no work since giving up the Glass House, but had had money to live
The shocking occurence of last evening was the theme of conversation in the vicinity
of Kingsland Road this morning, but little information that is not now generally
known was to be obtained. Our representative this morning visited the scene where
the tragedy was enacted, and, in course of conversation with Mrs Withey’s daughter,
learnt that Coles lodged with her father and mother after he had given up the Glass
House Inn. He helped Mr Withey in his business, and, according to an arrangment,
paid him 5s a week for his lodgings. Subsequently, Coles objected to its continuance,
asserting as he did work for Mr Withey, he should have his lodgings for nothing.
Eventually some relatives of Mrs Withey came to reside with them, and Coles had
notice to leave. He became very much annoyed, and would not pay his arrears. County
Court proceedings were instituted against him, with the result that he was ordered
to pay. In the daughter’s opinion this was the only reason that could have actuated
Coles to take such desperate measures to satiate his revenge. Mr Withey saw him walk
up and down outside the shop about 8 o’clock in the evening and informed his wife
of the fact, but neither of them had any reason to fear him, although there was some
estrangement between them. Coles has no relatives in the neighbourhood as far as
it is known at present. He married a young wife nine months ago, but their matrimonial
happiness was submerged in domestic trouble which caused them to separate. It is
not known where is wife is. Deceased had a little money at the time he left the
Glass House Inn, but since that time he had been considerably reduced in circumstances.
The condition of Mrs Withey is not of such a character to justify any fear on
the part of her relatives. She underwent a successful operation last night, and
although she suffers intense pain, her condition to-day is considered satisfactory.