Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Monday 11 March 1889
The Mysterious Death on The Railway At Conisborouoh.
Sad End of a Mexborough Apprentice .
Mr. F. E. Nicholson, coroner, held an inquiry at the Station Inn, Conisborough, on Saturday evening, touching the death of Charles Samuel Smith aged 16, son of Mr. George Smith, of Mexborough, who was found decapitated on the railway near Conisborough the previous day
Mr. J. W. Hattersley, solicitor, Max borough, watched the case on behalf of Mr. Clarke, Mexborough; and Mr. i Bailey represented M. S. & L. Railway Company. Superintendent Blake, of the West Riding police, was also in attendance.
Mr. George Smith, the father of the deceased, said his son was apprenticed to. Mr. J. T. Clarke, Jeweller, of Mexborough, but the indentures were cancelled the previous Wednesday by mutual consent. The lad found fault with Mr. Clarke, and Mr. Clarke found fault with the lad. His master had given him extended privileges at early part of his time, and later on, when deceased seemed want to extend his privileges, then Mr. Clarke put the brake on.
Deceased left home on Thursday morning 10 o’clock, ostensibly on errand, and he was never seen again alive, except by companion, who saw him walking towards Conisborough a little later.
Charles Stenton, a signalman in the employ of the M.S.and L.railway go., Deposed to finding the body of deceased lying in the four foot of the downline, his head completely severed, lying in the 6 foot, as he was going to his work near Conisbrough tunnel a little before six on Friday morning . He went straight away to his box and wide for assistance to Conisbrough station.
Albert Goddard, signalman, stationed at Conisbrough, said on receipt of last witness is telegram he went to the spot indicated, when he found the body of deceased as described by Stenton. His clothes were very wet, giving the impression that he had been exposed for most of the night.
The body was firmly wedged between the rails, and witness had some, difficulty in removing it. It was lying face downwards with the hands underneath the body. Deceased could not have fallen out of a passing train. If he had fallen out of a down train he could not have got across the downline when it was found; if you fallen out of an old train you would not possibly have got in that direction, as he said was lying in a contrary direction.
A juryman: Then you are of opinion that he placed himself on the line? – Yes.
The coroner: there is no evidence of that; it is unaccountable how we got there.
Mr JT Clarke, watchmaker and jeweller of Mexborough said that deceased indentures were cancelled because he refused to obey orders and injured witnesses trade. He had treated him with kindness in the first instance, and gave him presents , but as that had no effect he got vexed with him. On the Wednesday morning witness had occasion to reprimanding him, and deceased turned round and said “Oh, my father says my indentures can be cancelled if you are not satisfied.” This was done the same evening. Deceased had expressed his intention of joining the army.
The father, recall, said when he Mr C’s on Thursday morning, he sent his brother after him. He discovered that it been to Pontefract barracks and tried to enlist, but being rejected he left Pontefract at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. No trace could be discovered of him after that.
The Coroner remarked that in all probability deceased and walk back, as it did not appear that he had any money on him.
Police constable Gledhill produced the articles found on the body. Among them was a pocket book, the writing in which, on being examined by the Coroner, was pronounced to be almost unintelligible.
Superintendent Blake said he had spent some time in trying to decipher it, but had failed to make sense of it. There was something about being “found state” and “waiting until the policeman comes.”
The jury eventually returned a verdict that “Deceased had been killed on the railway, but there was no evidence to show whether he met his death by accident or design.”