A coroner’s inquiry touching the death of William Cooper, aged 75, who was found drowned in a water barrel at the rear of 9, Fitzwilliam-st., Rushden, on Wednesday morning, was held at the Rose and Crown, Rushden, yesterday, before the coroner, Mr. J. T. Parker. Mr. C. W. Barker was foreman of the jury.
Sarah Elizabeth Baxter, daughter of deceased, said: My father, William Cooper, was a shoehand and resided with me. I last saw him at 8 a.m. on Wednesday when he appeared as usual. He went down the garden and did not return. At about 9.30 a.m. I went to look for him and found him in the water butt near the hen place at the end of the garden. He was head first in the water butt, which is about 3 feet 6 inches high and stands on the ground. I do not think deceased could have fallen in accidentally. I called Mrs. Craddock, who lives next door, and together we attempted to get him out of the barrel, but failed. Mrs. Craddock then fetched Mr. Stock and I went away. My father had had nothing unusual the matter with him except difficulty from an internal complaint. He had complained of pain but had never threatened to take his own life. He had not complained of sleeplessness. Yesterday morning he appeared quite cheerful but complained of pain when he arose. When I found him in the barrel he had one boot on and one off. He was not subject to fits.
Albert Stock, boot repairer, 5, Fitzwillian-street, Rushden, said: I knew deceased very well. He had complained to me of pain caused by his complaint. I last him on Saturday, when he seemed all right. At times he was depressed owing to his complaint. I had never heard him threaten to take his own life. Yesterday morning Mrs. Craddock fetched me to deceased’s house, whither I proceeded, and found deceased head downwards in the water butt. I at once got him out, wlthough I had a little difficulty as he was somewhat wedged in. He was quite dead when I got him out. He was dressed but had only one boot on. The other was lying near by. Only his head and part of his shoulders were covered by the water.
Dr. H. S. Baker said: I was called yesterday and saw deceased at his house between 9.30 and 10 a.m. He had been death between one and two hours. There were abrasions on the hands and bruises on the back. There were signs that he had tried to use an instrument to relieve his complaint and made himself bleed. The appearance of the body was consistent with death from drowning. Deceased’s complaint was one from which most old people of deceased’s age suffered. It was incurable, but could be relieved. It might cause depression to people of certain temperament.
The jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst temporarily insane".