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Rushden Echo, 25th May 1906, transcribed by Kay Collins
Amos Edward Newman
Sad Death of a Higham Ferrers Man
Found Drowned near Rushden
A Mysterious Occurrence

A painful sensation has been caused at Higham Ferrers and Rushden by the death, which took place yesterday under mysterious circumstances, of Amos Edward Newman, of Lancaster-street, Higham Ferrers. Deceased was a son of Councillor William Newman, of Higham.

Yesterday afternoon about 2.30 it appears, two Rushden young men, Frederick Croot, a well-known footballer, and Edward Wright, in the employ of Messrs Tailby and Putnam, were boating on the River Nene between Ditchford and Higham Ferrers Wharf. When near the Stanch bridge they noticed some clothes lying on the bank. They rowed past for some short distance, and then, thinking it strange to see the clothes there and no one about, they turned the boat round and went to the spot. Getting out of the boat, they found the clothing to be a man’s suit. They looked all around but could see no one, so they proceeded to Higham Ferrers, and gave information to the police. P.C. Riddle, stationed at Higham, at once communicated with P.S. Judge, of Rushden, and the two officers went to the spot mentioned, where they found the clothing. On the suit they found a watch and chain, a purse, &c., just as if someone had been bathing and left jis clothing on the bank. The two officers commenced dragging operations, and at 4.30 they recovered the body of a man, quite naked, in about four feet of water, the spot where the body was found being about 22 yards from the place where the clothing lay.

The policemen got the body out of the water, and it was subsequently identified as that of Amos Edward Newman, aged 32 years. The body was removed to deceased’s home in Lancaster-street, Higham.

Deceased, who was a married man, with one child, had been working for Mr G W Allen, boot manufacturer. A short time ago the deceased suffered from influenza, since which attack he has frequently complained of pains in the head. On Wednesday evening he was in great pain and consulted Dr Rooke, who gave him some medicine. Yesterday morning he was no better and did not go to work. About nine o’clock he left home, saying he should go for a walk. He called at the Wharf public house about ten o’clock, and, after remaining there for a few minutes, he went out. The landlady did not notice which way he went, and, as far as can be ascertained up to the time of writing this was the last time the deceased was seen alive.

It is only two or three years since the deceased was married, his wife hailing from Rushden.

The Inquest This Afternoon

This (Friday) afternoon, at 2.15, the Coroner, who had been communicated with, held an inquest on the body of the deceased at the Green Dragon Hotel, Higham Ferrers.

The jury was as follows:- Messrs. George Warren (foreman), A Clifton, T Middleton, J Ireson, J E Smith, J Anstey, W Webb, J T Corby, W Miller, F W Fletton, H Lines, and E Hancock.

Mr J T Parker (coroner), in opening the inquest, said that the body of the deceased was found in the river on Thursday, having last been seen alive, he believed, by the landlady of the Wharf Inn. Deceased left home yesterday morning and said he was going for a walk, and his wife did not see him again. The curious thing was that, though this was not the bathing season, the deceased was found naked in the river, his clothes being left on the bank. Evidence would be given to show that on Wednesday the deceased had been unwell and had complained of pains in the head.

The jury then viewed the body, which was lying at his house in Lancaster-street.

Councillor Newman, for whom the greatest sympathy is felt throughout the district in his sorrow, was present at the inquest, and was deeply affected.

Mrs Newman, wife of the deceased, identified the body as that of her husband, who was a shoe riveter. On Thursday morning—witness continued—deceased left home at nine o’clock, saying he was going for a walk. He did not return. On Wednesday, at dinner-time, he complained that his head was bad, but he went to work in the afternoon. After tea he went to the doctor’s. On Thursday morning he said he was not much better, and for that reason he did not go to work. He had influenza about two months ago and was attended by Dr Rooke. He was not in any trouble, and seemed very happy. I know of no reason whatever why he should drown himself. He could swim, and in the summer-time he was in the habit of going to the baths. I never heard him threaten to commit suicide.

Mrs Eliza Middleton, of the Anchor Inn, near the Wharf, said: Yesterday morning, about 10 o’clock, deceased came to my house and had two pennyworth of whiskey. He read the morning paper a bit, and stayed about ten minutes. He left the house by himself. When I last saw him he was on the bridge, looking up the stream.

The Coroner: Did he seem himself?

Witness: He seemed just as usual. I could tell no difference at all. He did not complain in any way.

Frederick Croot, of Rushden, professional footballer, said: Yesterday afternoon at 2.30 I was boating on the river with a young man named Wright. We started from the Wharf. On the bank in the second meadow, going up the stream, we saw a bundle of clothes. We went past the clothes, and then, as we saw no one about, we got out and looked at the clothes. As we could see no one we rowed back to the Wharf and told Mr Middleton, and information was sent to the police. I waited until the police came, and saw them drag out the body, about 20 yards from where we saw the clothes. It did not seem like a regular bathing place. The clothes were thrown down anyhow. The body was quite naked.

P.C. Riddle said: About 3 o’clock yesterday a young man named Wright came to me and told me he had seen some clothes on the river bank. I went down with P.S. Judge, and we dragged until 4.30., when we recovered the body. I searched the clothing and found several betting slips and several entries in a pocket book relating to betting. I found 17/11 in the pockets, a small bottle containing a little whiskey, a tobacco pouch, &c., but no letter or message. The hands and feet of deceased were quite free, and there were no marks. The water at this spot was four or five feet deep.

Dr Roke deposed: I attended deceased a few months ago, when he was suffering from influenza. On Wednesday evening he came to the surgery and said he had a bad headache. He said his left leg felt numb, and he was afraid of paralysis. I gave him some medicine, and told him to call again. Yesterday I saw the body, and the signs were those of death by drowning. When I saw him on Wednesday there was nothing whatever to lead me to suppose he might commit suicide.

The Coroner said there seemed to be no reason why deceased should commit suicide. The only thing that could have led him to drown himself was the bad headache and his having suffered from influenza, but that did not altogether account for it. It seemed very strange for a man who intended to commit suicide to take the trouble to undress himself. He (the coroner) had never known of a case. There was a probability that deceased might have been bathing. At any rate it was not clear to him that deceased committed suicide nor was it clear to him that deceased met with an accident.

The jury returned a verdict of “Found drowned.”

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