Family violence is an ongoing problem in New Zealand, which police today are still constantly trying to deal with. Sadly, this mug shot illustrates the fact that this has been something police in New Zealand have been struggling with for over a century.

On December 27th 1889, 40 year old Eliza Goss was found unconscious in her home in Nelson by a neighbour. Police and medical assistance were called, but Mrs Goss never regained consciousness and eventually died. Her husband, Henry John Goss, was arrested by police on the charge of assault with intent to do bodily harm. It was reported that the couple frequently quarrelled, and were up “keeping merriment” until the early hours of the morning. According a report on the coroner's inquest in the Wanganui Chronicle on 11 January 1890, the woman had been “disgustingly ill-used” by her husband. It states that her death was from apoplexy(1) which was accelerated through the “brutal usage and ill-treatment” that she was subjected to by Henry John Goss. He was convicted of manslaughter in March 1890, and given a sentence of two years.

(1) Apoplexy is an out-dated medical term which was used to describe many deaths that began with a sudden loss of conciousness, such as strokes or internal bleeding.

Click here to visit the New Zealand Police page on domestic violence.

"Accidents and Fatalities." Wanganui Chronicle, Volume XXXIII, Issue 11582 (11 January 1890), 2. Papers Past:

"Suspicious Death of a Woman ARREST OF HER HUSBAND." Evening Post, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 153 (28 December 1889), 2. Papers Past:

Chelsea Nichols, March 2010. Unless otherwise stated, all images and information found on this website are property of the New Zealand Police Museum.