Sheffield Independent – Thursday 15 June 1899
Desperate Suicide of a Woman at Mexboro’
Exciting Scene in the Canal.
Yesterday. Mr. D. Wightman held an inquest, at Mexboro’ touching the death of Mary Shaw, wife of Charles Shaw, of Conisbro’, whose body had been found in the canal at Mexboro’ after a futile attempt to save the woman.
Mr. P, Emery was foreman of the jury.
The first witness was Margaret, wife of Wm. Finney, of Denaby, and sister of the deceased, who said deceased had recently lived with her. On Saturday week deceased went to a public home for a quart of beer. When she returned with it and put it on the table, witness’s husband said he would have no drink in his house.
The Coroner: Was she sober? – Yes.
Did your husband order her out? Yes, he told her to go.
What did she say? – That she should please herself.
Did she say where she was going – No.
Did she say anything about drowning? – No
Has she ever threatened it? – Yes, many a time: but I have passed it off and called her a silly thing.
She frequently said she would drown herself? – Yes.
Did she live with her husband? — No. She lived for a time in a situation in Rotherham.
Wm. Finney, husband of the last witness, said he was in the Reresby Arms when the deceased called. When he returned home at five o’clock the deceased was drunk. His wife had also had some drink, she was not sober. He told the deceased she would have to go. There was a quart of beer on the, table, but he did not know what had become of it. He said he should not allow drinking and carrying on there. She went away because he wanted her to go. She had a father and a brother and sister at Denaby. He did not know where she was going. Her father would not have her in. Witness did not again see her alive. He had never heard her threaten to commit suicide.
Frank Thirsk, of Don View, Mexboro”, engine driver, said he did not know the deceased. On June 3rd, at 6.45 in the evening, he was on the canal bank, about forty yards away, when he saw the deceased running away from some companions — a male and female — who were on the road side, not far from the tollbar. He did not see that there had been any quarrelling. The woman jumped into the canal. She had a bonnet on.
The Coroner: Did she stagger or jump in? – She jumped in deliberately.
Could you tell whether she was sober or not? – No.
Who was the man and woman?
Sergeant Forman: That is not known. .Being Saturday night, many persons were on the road.
A Juryman: Where were the man and woman? On the road.
What became of them? I don’t know.
Sergeant Forman: You got into the water to fetch her out? — Yes.
Mr. Piggford (juryman): Is it true she jumped in a second time? — No.
Sergeant Forman: You had to leave her to save yourself? — Yes.
A Juryman: Did you get hold of her? — Yes, and brought her about two yards to the side.
The Coroner: Did she get hold of you? No.
She did not attempt to try to save herself? No, not in the slightest.
You could not get her to the bank? No, I get entangled in her clothing, and I was obliged to let go to save myself.
Was she alive when you got hold of her? Yes.
And, she did not attempt to get hold of you? No.
Did she struggle at all? No.
The Coroner said it looked as if the woman did not want to save herself, because persons in the water generally seized hold of anyone near who tried to save them. It looked like a case of temporary insanity.
A Juryman: I think Thirsk deserves commendation for attempting to rescue the woman.
The Coroner: No doubt he does.
Mr. Lee (juryman): I should like to know if it is true that the parson refused to bury the woman; if he refused to read the burial service over her.
Mr. Swallow (juryman): That has nothing to do with the inquiry.
The Coroner: I don’t know, I am sure, why he should do so.
Mr. Swallow: It has nothing to do with the case.
The Foreman: Is it our parson?
The Coroner: We cannot hold an inquest on the parson. (Laughter.)
Mr. Swallow: Let’s get the business done and see to that some other day. (Laughter.)
A verdict was returned to the effect that the deceased had committed suicide during temporary insanity