1827: Stephen King frightens himself to death


In the summer of 1827 a London coroner’s inquest heard evidence about the death of Stephen King. A married man aged 40, King had dropped dead the previous Monday. According to the Morning Chronicle, Mr King was suddenly awakened in the night by a loud clap of thunder. The noise terrified him and caused him to jump from his bed in an agitated manner. He immediately fell down next to his wife, which is where he died. At the inquest, King’s doctor said that:

“…He was a man of good health and sober habits but was known to be superstitious, susceptible to visions and easily terrified.”

The attending physician suggested that King’s nervous disposition had contributed to his demise: the clap of thunder and King’s frightened response “caused the blood to flow too quickly to his head, producing apoplexy [stroke].” The coroner agreed but ultimately ruled that King had “died by the visitation of God”.

Sources: The Morning Chronicle, August 1st 1827; LMA coronial inquests, f.3, 1827. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.