Attention Internet Explorer User

Your web browser has been identified as Internet Explorer .

In the coming months this site is going to be updated to improve security, accessibility and mobile experience. Older versions of Internet Explorer do not provide the functionality required for these changes and as such your browser will no longer be supported as of September 2020. If you require continued access to this site then you will need to install a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome.

People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Montgomery, Francis William (1824–1847)

An inquest was held yesterday in the Jury Room at the Supreme Court House touching the death of Francis William Montgomery, who died on Tuesday evening in consequence of having taken an overdose of prussic acid. It appeared from the evidence that the deceased, who had been a clerk in the Supreme Court for some years previously to and up to the time of his death, was afflicted with a disease of the chest, and was in the habit of taking prussic acid as a remedy for the same: he frequently took it in the office — sometimes out of the phial, putting it up to his mouth for that purpose. He was also in the habit of getting tipsy. He came into the office on Tuesday evening between 7 and 8 o'clock in a state of intoxication and sent out for a quart of ale, a portion of which he took with him into his own room. About two minutes afterwards he was found by a witness (George Pownall) sitting in an arm-chair: he said to him — 'Remember, Pownall, I leave every thing to my brother.' A phial was lying on the table; witness took it up and said to him — 'Good God!? Montgomery, what is the matter with you!' Deceased made no reply. Witness threw the bottle on the table; he then ran down stairs and sent up the court keeper, while he went for a surgeon, and the deceased lived only about two minutes after his arrival. He was in the habit of carrying a bottle containing prussic acid about with him; and was of a very exciteable temperament, especially when suffering from an attack of his disease. From the evidence of Mr. S. P. Hill, it appears that deceased was at the School of Arts about ten minutes before 7 o'clock on the evening of his death, on which occasion he was very tipsy — and his conduct altogether was very unusual; his countenance was haggard, and he had every appearance of a lunatic. Witness knew the deceased to have been labouring under some disease of the chest for 6 or 7 years, and believed that he was in the habit of taking prussic acid under the immediate directions of Dr. Bland. The inquiry lasted upwards of four hours before a very respectable jury, who returned the following verdict: — that the deceased died from having taken an overdose of prussic acid whilst labouring under a state of excitement occasioned by the spasmodic affection of the chest under which he was then labouring.

Original Publication

Citation details

'Montgomery, Francis William (1824–1847)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 10 August 2020.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Montgomery, Frederick



12 October 1847
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence