William Arthur Gibbs (1865 – 4 May 1877) was the son of a glass-painter from Kingsland Road[1] and a schoolboy at Christ's Hospital school in Sussex, England, who came to public attention after committing suicide by hanging on 4 May 1877 at age 12 out of fear of repeated punishments, including flogging, for having run away from the school to his family home.[2] Gibbs had complained to his sister and his father that he was made a fag at school, that an older student had held his head underwater while he was bathing and that he would rather hang himself than be made a fag to that older student again. Both an older student and a teacher had admitted to corporally punishing Gibbs.[1] This caused an outcry and the government subsequently held an official inquiry.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b "Notes of the Month". The Poor Law Magazine and Parochial Journal. James Turner & Company. 5 (1): 415. 1877. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Parliamentary Papers, Volume 26", Great Britain Parliament. House of Commons, H.M. Stationery Office, 1877, pages 1-2.
  3. ^ Lionel Rose (2002), The Erosion of Childhood: Childhood in Britain 1860-1918, Routledge, ISBN 9780203221402
  4. ^ George A. T. Allan, Jack Eric Morpurgo (1984), Christ's Hospital, Town & County, p. 70, ISBN 9780863640056, The immediate cause was the suicide, on 4th May 1877 of a 12 years old Blue. William Gibbs. The outcry that followed forced the Home Secretary to set up a Commission of Inquiry ...