Sunday, December 18, 2016

Death of an Italian Deptford Anarchist (1907)


The body man of a man found shot through the head, at Lambeth Meadow, Plumstead on Wednesday morning, was on Thursday identified as that of Leone Povinelli, Italian ice-cream vendor, residing at 25, Brookmill Road, Deptford. Emilio Nella, a companion of the deceased, who lives at the same address, saw the body during the afternoon, and at once identified it. Deceased is said to have been frequenter of a club resorted to by Anarchists in the neighbourhood of Hampstead Road, but he was in no way a well-known Anarchist, nor was he “wanted' the police on any charges' 
(Evening Star - Friday 4 January 1907)


The death of the young Italian, Leon Povinelli, who was found shot on Plumstead marshes, and was supposed to be an Anarchist, was inquired into by the Coroner at Woolwich yesterday. Povinelli was a knife grinder, and resided with a compatriot, Mr. Emelionella, who has a knife-grinding business in Brookmill-road, Deptford. The latter said that Povinelli had been drinking a good deal lately, and had declared that he did not like to live in this world any longer The witness was shown a copy of a weekly Anarchist journal, the “Grido della Folla” ['cry of the crowd'] published in Milan, which was found on the deceased, but be knew nothing of it. A detective stated that some writing on a corner of the paper might be translated "To avoid disgrace.” The revolver discovered near the body was not of English make. The Coroner remarked that the writing on the Anarchist newspaper showed that the man must have had something on his mind, although it was not known what. A bankbook had been found belonging to the man, showing that he had placed £25 to his credit in September and October last. He had put no money in since, and had probably been drinking it away. A verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity, caused by drink and trouble,” was returned 

(Leeds Mercury, 8 January 1907)

'ITALIAN’S SUICIDE. Inquest on Supposed Anarchist Who Shot Himself. TRAGEDY OF DRINK

At Woolwich today as inquest was held on the body of the man who was found shot on Plumstead Marshes on Wednesday last. The name of the deceased was Leone Povinelli. When discovered on the Marshes he was dead, shot through the head by a revolver, which was lying by his side. In his pocket was found an Italian newspaper.

Mr. Emelionella (whose evidence had to be translated from Italian to English), carrying on the occupation of knife grinder at Deptford, said he was acquainted with the deceased, who was 26 years of age, and was a knife-grinder. He lived with the witness.

The Coroner: What country was he a subject of? —He lived in the Tyrol. Used this man to drink much?— Yes; for some time past he was always drinking too much, and for the past two or three weeks he had been worse. Witness went on to say that deceased had been in this country about six years, but it was a habit of  his to go to and from his native country. Witness last saw him alive on New Year's Eve, when he was dressing himself in his best clothes. He said he was going to St. Mary Cray to see a friend. 

The Coroner : Has he ever threatened  to commit suicide?—I have heard him say he did not like to live in this world any more. A letter was produced which arrived this morning from the deceased’s father, who had written to his son urging him to write more often and also longer letters, promising him that he would do his best to have him back in Austria if he was unwell and did not like the place in London. Evidence was given as to the finding of the body. Medical evidence was to the effect that death was due to the bullet wound, and the jury returned a verdict of suicide whilst temporarily insane, brought about by drink and trouble' 

(Sheffield Evening Telegraph - 7 January 1907)


Matt-Z said...

Fascinating tale. The Nellas are still around and still in the knife grinding/cutlery sharpening business, operating out of Orpington. Meanwhile another branch of the family owns lots of property in Brockley.

Emilio Nella said...

Can’t believe that witness is my gtreat grandfather

Emilio Nella