Suspicious drowning of Denaby Collier

July 1877

Sheffield Telegraph 21 st July


An inquiry touching the death of George Freeman, a collier, residing at Denaby, whose body was found in the Canal on Monday morning last, was opened on Wednesday at the Canal Tavern, Swinton Bridge, before Mr. Wightman, Coroner

Mr. Clement Samuel Blythman, a surgeon, practising at Swinton, said: I made a post-mortem examination of the body, in conjunction with my assistant, Mr. W. M. Frobisher. I have observed the various marks about the head, &c., but am of opinion that they have not been the cause of death. There were two on the head, and it is possible that a fall would have caused them. In my opinion death has been caused by drowning.

Ellen Freeman, widow of the deceased man, stated that she identified the body as that of her husband, George Freeman. He was 43 years of age

He left his home on Sunday evening at about_7.30, and she had not seen him alive since. He did not say where he was going. She did not like the marks that were on the head, but she had no reason to suspect foul play.

There was no one whom deceased was likely to quarrel with, except those parties who were with him on Sunday night at Swinton. She alluded to Betsy Mitchell and Silcock. Her husband and Mrs Mitchell had been friendly, but they had frequently quarrelled, chiefly about watches and money. Three watches belonging to her husband had gone and the deceased told several persons that Mrs Mitchell had got them.

She (the witness) had fetched her husband from Newbould, Chesterfield where he was staying at the house of Mrs Mitchell, who resides at that place.

Mrs Mitchell on those occasions abused her. She did not approve of the intimacy that existed between her husband and Mrs Mitchell.

Samuel Childs stated that he saw the body of the deceased in the canal near Swinton, Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Station. He fetched a policeman, and helped go get the body out of the water. He did not notice whether one of the trousers pockets was turned inside out, but he saw the out on the eye.

Betsy Mitchell had she was a married woman residing at Newbould and had known the deceased for many years. She lived with her husband. She came to Swinton on Sunday night last by the Midland train and she was met at the station by her brother and his wife. (Mr & Mrs Silcock) and they went to the Station inn. The remained their till ten o´clock. The deceased came in while they were there and another man with him. They all left the public-house at ten o’clock.

The deceased and herself had no quarrel during the time but were on-friendly terms. He had had some drink but was certainly not drunk and was quite capable of walking to his house.

The conversation was chiefly about a pawn ticket for a watch which she had to take care for him. When they got outside she stayed to say a few words to him, and then wished him good night, for it was raining – her sister and brother only being a few yards away at the time.

Herself and brother and sister then went up the road towards Swinton and deceased turned down towards bridge She saw him no more that night or since.

A verdict of found drowned was returned.

Cross examine: Williams Silcock was her own brother. She never had any quarrel with deceased. His wife did not lie. Their friendship. He had been to see her at Newbould twice, and his wife had fetched him away. On one occasion Mrs Freeman had struck him with her umbrella. Witness had sent word to diseased that she was coming to Swinton on Sunday last. She asked him for some money, as she had paid a lot of interest on a watch that was in pawn.

After a short consultation the following verdict was returned : “That deceased, George Freeman, was found drowned in the canal, but how he got into the water, there was no evidence to show.”