Sladen, James

Sladen, James       1886 June 10th             Poole

An inquest was held in the Town Hall on Monday, before the borough coroner (Mr G E Aldridge), on the body of James Robert Sladen, lately a painter, residing at Longfleet.

Mr Joseph Cullean, house decorator, Swanage, said deceased worked with him for abut ten days, painting at his house. Hearing from Mr Bloxam that deceased had been intoxicated on Wednesday, 2-th May, witness went to the house, and found deceased had spoilt a lot of work, and also damaged the front door. Going to deceased’s lodgings he found him drunk, and about half-past seven or eight the same evening, deceased came to his shop, asked for his money, and was abusive. Witness told him to go away, and come when he was sober. Deceased laughed and said, “Ha! Ha! You shall work for me yet.” He then left, going towards the shore road, and staggering very much. Witness recognised the chain produced as the property of the deceased, whom he had paid his wages up to the Saturday previous.

Margaret Sladen, wife of deceased, identified the body as that of her late husband, who left her a month ago to go to work at Swanage. He was a very weak, timid man, and very nervous, and any harsh words would overcome him. Witness had never heard him threaten to destroy himself, and was not aware that there was any insanity in the family. He was 60 years old last birthday.

William Holloway, fisherman, Poole, said he was at Avon Point, in the harbour, between four and five o’clock on Saturday morning, shrimping, and, from the mud at the mouth of the Haven Lake, saw something on the sands which looked like a man about 30 yards from him. On going to the spot witness found it was the dead body of deceased, which witness turned over, and then saw the chain produced on the sands, and the watch hanging halfway out of the waistcoat pocket. Witness towed the body to Poole, and handed it over to the Police. Supposing a man was drowned at South Haven, the body would be very likely to drift ashore where witness found it.

The Coroner, in summing up, said deceased either committed suicide or endeavoured to swim across from South Haven to North Haven, and then walk home. They had no proof how deceased came into the water, and the jury would be justified in bringing in a verdict of “found drowned.”

The jury returned a verdict accordingly, and expressed the opinion that Mr Bloxam should keep his wines and spirits locked up so that no temptation could be offered at any time to working-men.

The Coroner said he quite agreed.

North Haven is where the Sandbanks ferry crosses over to South Haven, the Studland side. In other words, Sladen – probably not sober – attempted to swim across the entrance of Poole Harbour – ED.

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