Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 21 October 1911
Wombwell Drowning Tragedy
Sensational Disclosures at the Inquest
Servant Girl’s Suicide
Disclosures of the felonious character coupled with intemperance, proved the sequel to suicide by drowning at Wombwell of Edith Gascoyne, aged 20, domestic servant, of 91, Concrete Buildings on Monday night.
The inquest was conducted by the District coroner, Mr P.P.Martin, and the jury, with Mr H . Bibbongs as foreman
Evidence of identification was given by the father, Stephen Gascoyne, who stated that deceased was a domestic servant, and was last in service at the George Hotel, Low Valley, and had been there for about three weeks.
Her previous situation had been at Doctor Cassels, of Darfield, and at the Horse Shoe Hotel, Wombwell. She had never had any illness, and was of a very cheerful disposition and good-tempered. As far as he knew she got on all right in service. The cause of her leaving Doctor Cassels was because she wanted higher wages, and she appeared to be very comfortable at the Horse Shoe Hotel. She had some words with the master and left. She then came home, and stayed for a short time before going to the George Hotel.
He saw her during the time she was there, she told him she like the place very well indeed. He heard nothing more of her until late on Monday evening, when he was told what had happened. She had never threatened suicide and had no injury of any kind whatever. They had not been any suicide in the family. He could not account for the affair, and had no trouble of any kind whatever. He did not know of her being dismissed from the situation.
William Forster, landlord of the George Hotel, Low Valley, said deceased was in his employment as domestic servant, which she entered upon on September 11 last. She did not bring a character when she came to see the situation. He was told that she had left the Horse Shoe Hotel, and as Doncaster races were coming on, and knowing he would be busy, he engaged her. She was all right for a considerable time up to a week or so ago, and she was a fairly good working girl.
She then became a little careless and slovenly and had to be spoken to about it. A week later Monday night she went to her room, when she came for her supper he was told by his sister who was in the kitchen that’s she (deceased) was the worse for drink. It was quite clear, said witness, and he satisfied himself thoroughly that it was so. Nothing was said to the deceased at night except that she had better go to bed. She did so, and instead of turning the gas off properly it was left escaping all night, and her attention was called to it the next morning. The next complaint was that things were missing, and he took notice, and found that cigars, cigarettes and an empty medicine bottle had disappeared. Last Sunday there was a white skirt missing, and this was mentioned to witness by his wife. There were also, other things missing, such as towels and on Monday night, about 6 o’clock, he was called upstairs by his wife and they sent for the deceased. He asked her in his wife’s presence if she knew anything about the skirt, she admitted at once having took it last Saturday, and did not know what she had taken it for. She brought it from her room when she was asked to. He asked her if there was anything else, she went and brought out cigars and a quantity of cigarettes, also spirit bottle and medicine bottle containing whiskey, which witness said he had missed. She could not account for having taken them, and she was not distressed in anyway, but looked down a little. He told her if he did his duty he should send for a policeman and have her locked up, and she made no reply. He told her she would be dismissed at once, and she begged of him not to tell her parents of it, but he gave no promise. She went upstairs and stayed for some time, and left the house about 8 o’clock and that was the last he saw of her. The next he heard of was from Inspector Brimms, who told him that she had been got out of the canal and was drowned.
Arthur Ernest Kay, of Blyth Street, miner, said he knew deceased very well and she was at his house on the same night (Monday). It was the first time she had been there, and she came in about 8:30. When she came in she asked for her brother Stephen. She then asked for some paper and pencil and she wrote on the paper on the table and wrapped it up, and kept it in her hand. She would be in the house about ¼ of an hour.
She seemed just as usual, and she went into a neighbour’s house. He (witness) asked her if she was going to see her “chap” in a jocular way and she replied “it was her night out.”
A youth named Harry Hill, of 4, John St, Wombwell, stated that at 9:40 o’clock on Monday night he was standing at the bottom of Main Street, when he heard a scream and a cry of “Help! help” in the direction of the canal. Witness would be about 200 yards away. He asked his companions to go down into the canal, and on going he heard a third scream. When he got to the canal he saw a woman in the water struggling. Three men came to the spot and they sent him to fetch a policeman.
Sergeant Mallett said at 10 p.m. on Monday he proceeded to the place. There would be four or five persons there. He recovered the body by means of grappling irons at 10.15. The water would be about 4 feet deep. Artificial respiration was resorted to, but there was no response. Deceased was fully dressed, and he searched her clothing at the mortuary. He found a handkerchief, which had been tied on one wrist by one end, the other had a loop, which suggests that it had been tied on the other.
A note was found in her pocket, saying, “My dear Fred, just a line to say will you come to the Mitchell Main Bridge, as I want to see you very particularly.”
Fred Reeson, son of Mr Frank Reeson, of the Horse Shoe Hotel, gave evidence. He said the deceased worked as a domestic service at his home to September, when she was dismissed for being slightly inebriated. There had been no quarrel, and he had not noticed anything strange in the matter of the deceased.
The following verdict was returned. “That deceased drowned herself whilst temporarily insane, through having been discharged from her situation for dishonesty.”