British Newspapers from centuries ago were full of reports, much the same today, of people disappearing or dying in suspicious in unresolved circumstances. The police on the river Thames during Victorian Times were kept particularly busy.
21 year old James Rossiter, was living with his mother in the overcrowded and squalid conditions that were in Rahere Street in Clerkenwell. From what I can discover this street finally disappeared in the post-war clearances. In the 1800s however the area around it was notorious and kept the police busy at all times.
As for James Rossiter, although he had been involved in a minor disturbance and was due to appear in court, he seemed a quiet man with something troubling him. We will never really know what was going on and why his body was found in the Thames on that December morning in 1892.
An Embankment Mystery
Morning Post – Monday 26 December 1892
On Saturday, at King’s College hospital, Mr. John Troutheek held an inquiry with reference to the death of James Rossiter, aged 21, a walking stick maker, of 9 Rahere Street, Goswell Road, Clerkenwell, whose body was found in the Thames near Temple stairs early on Wednesday morning last.
Mary Anne Rossiter, of Rahere street, said the deceased was her son. On Tuesday evening she saw him in a public house on the corner of Spencer street. He was with three friends. He last witness to get some fish for supper, and gave her the money to pay for it. Witness did so, and went to bed.
About one o’clock the deceased came in and called after her, “Mother, I must be very careful of myself, as someone is following me about.” He then said “Goodnight” and she heard him go out. By the Coroner: He was summoned a short time ago for assault, and had nothing else to worry him. He would have no occasion to go near Waterloo Pier.
Police Constable Alfred Freshwater, 37 Thames Police, enclosed that only on the morning of the 21st Inst. he was on duty at Waterloo Pier Police-station, when he heard a loud cry for help coming from the direction of the Temple Pier. He rode to the spot with another constable, but could only find a man’s hat. There was no one on the Embankment.
Inspector Plumb, Thames Police, stated that he had found the body the same morning in the Thames near the pier stairs and the Temple. In the pockets he found three pawn tickets, some letters, and a summons returnable at Clerkenwell police-court on December 7.
Dr. George Hamilton, of three, Southampton street, Strand, said he’s am on the body and found no marks of violence.
A post mortem examination revealed that death was due to suffocation by drowning. The jury returned an open verdict of found drowned.