This melancholy case excited, at the time of its occurrence, almost universal sympathy, as well for the unfortunate victim of the attack, as for the miserable parent by whom that attack was made.
Mr. Stanynought was a stationer in a respectable way of business, residing in Connaught-terrace, Edgeware-road. On the morning of Friday, the 4th of September 1835, his shopman was horror-struck at perceiving his master run down stairs in a state of partial nudity, bleeding profusely from a wound which he had inflicted on his breast with a case-knife, which he carried in his hand. Rushing towards Mr. Stanynought, he at once was informed by him of the death of his son by his hands. An instant alarm was given; and the declaration of the wretched father, that he had killed his son, was found to be true. Mr, Stanynought and his son aged about twelve years, it appears, had retired to rest in the same room on the previous evening; and in the course of the night the former was heard moving about by his servant. The body of the deceased child presented a melancholy spectacle. It was lying with the face towards the bed, and the poor boy had evidently died of suffocation. There was, however, a deep wound across the forehead, which seemed to have been dealt with some blunt instrument. Mr. Stanynought, upon being questioned, at once declared that the dreadful act had been committed by him. He said that he had long meditated the destruction of both his child and himself, and that he had burned charcoal in the room in which they slept on two nights without effect. On the previous evening he had taken laudanum; and in the course of the night he had struck his son with the boot-jack; but finding his blows ineffectual, he had smothered him with a pillow.
Further inquiry at once elicited the fact that the wretched man was subject to occasional fits of insanity -- a malady from which both his father and grandfather had suffered. The apprehension of the same disease displaying itself in his son, appeared to be the sole cause of the dreadful deed which he had committed.
At a coroner's inquest held on Monday the 7th of September, the circumstances attending the death of the deceased were elicited, with the additional fact of the insanity of the father. Proof of this feature in the case before the coroner's jury, however, was unavailing, and a verdict of "Wilful Murder," was returned.
Between this time and the period of his trial, Mr. Stanynought almost completely recovered from the effects of the wound he had committed upon himself. On Friday, the 25th of September, the wretched man was put upon his trial at the Central Criminal Court, when his insanity being clearly proved, a verdict of acquittal was returned upon that ground.
He was therefore ordered to be detained during his Majesty's pleasure, and was subsequently conveyed to a mad-house.