In August 1888 the East End newspapers were reporting the strange case of a local parochial officer who had, apparently, vanished without a trace.
On 18th August 1888, The East End Observer carried the headline:-
MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF A ST GEORGE’S PAROCHIAL OFFICER
And the subsequent article informed its readers:
THE VANISHING RATE COLLECTOR
“With pain we chronicle the great trouble which has fallen upon a well known and respected family residing in the Commercial-road.
Mr Jas. Hood, one of the rate collectors of the parish of St George’s East, who has held the position for sixteen years, has mysteriously disappeared. He went to Southend a fortnight ago and saw one of his children, a boy, who is staying there; and later in the day called on an old friend, Mr Wilkins, a shrimp merchant, at Leigh, and took tea with him, leaving his house about seven o’clock to take the train to return to town.
He was seen at the Leigh Post Office, but from that point all trace of him has been lost; and no information can be obtained of his whereabouts.
FALLEN AMONG THIEVES AND BEEN MURDERED
The theory, that he has fallen among thieves and been murdered, or met with an accident, is traversed by the circumstance that his keys have been forwarded by registered letter to his home in Commercial-road.
This is the one thing that suggests intentional absence, although from enquiries that we have made, it is evident that, so far as his parochial accounts are concerned, there was nothing to cause perturbation or in any way to reflect upon his trustworthiness or capacity. His accounts for the last quarter have been audited and passed by Mr Lloyd Roberts, the Local Government auditor.
A CAPITAL SONG
Up to Friday (yesterday) morning no information has been received, and the worst fears are entertained. Mr Hood has been widely known in musical and masonic circles he was a most genial companion, and sung a capital song, and was always ready to exert himself for the advantage of local institutions. He and his family are among the oldest members of the congregation at Wycliffe Chapel, Philpot-street, and much sympathy is felt for Mrs Hood and the family, as after the lapse of a fortnight without news, there is reason for believing that Mr. Hood is not alive.”