John Joseph Bateman

Birmingham Daily Post – Monday 3rd May 1886

Sad Death of a Birmingham Auctioneer


At the Railway Hotel, Battle, on Thursday, Mr. C. Sheppards, coroner for Hastings, held an inquest touching the death of John Joseph Bateman, aged thirty two, of Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, who was found dead on the 28th of April. Mr. Charles Edward Bateman said the deceased was his brother, and was an auctioneer, valuer, &c., and up to a recent date resided at Birmingham. His brother took a prominent part in the last general election, and since that time had been very depressed in mind, and by the advice of three medical men he left Birmingham for the good of his health. He left home about two months ago with Mr. Boston as his attendant. The last witness heard from deceased was that he intended to interest himself in sketching the ruins &c., in the vicinity of Battle.

Charles Boston deposed that he was sent for to take charge of deceased by Dr. Thursfield, of Walbrook, London, and had looked after him for about two months. He first went with deceased to Kenilworth and thence to Folkestone. He came to Battle about a month ago, and took apartments at Mr. Bate’s, Watlington Road. Deceased had been alone several times for half an hour. He was very regular in his habits and took no intoxicating drink, but drank soda and milk. His speech was very coherent on subjects that he appreciated most – religion and politics. On Tuesday afternoon previous he took deceased for a long walk. On their return deceased complained of a pain on the top of his head. He did not come down to tea, and witness, missing him, went in the direction in which he walked during the day, but not finding him he went to the railway station and also to the police station and gave information. The police went with him in search. Deceased had been very comfortable of late, and did not appear to be more depressed than usual on the day in question. Witness had never heard him threaten to commit suicide. About six next morning a constable told him that deceased’s body had been found.

James Wilmhurst, a platelayer on the South-Eastern Railway, said he found the body of deceased at 5.35 a.m. on Tuesday morning, lying near metal of the up-line. There were no evidences of any struggle on his part. Deceased was lying on his face. He was fully dressed except that he had no boots or hat. Witness immediately went for a medical men. There was no footpath near the spot where the body was found.

William Breach, station-master at Battle then gave evidence, stating that after the discovery of the body he went to Hastings and examined the engine on the night of Tuesday. There was blood and hair on the connection bar. Medical evidence showed that the top of the head was knocked off, and his brains lay about three feet from the body. There were marks between the rails as if the deceased had been running along the line. The position of his arms also showed that he was knocked down whilst running. Death must have been instantaneous.

The Coroner summed up at great length, and the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.” One of the jury said it was the opinion of them all that no blame could be attached to the attendant.