[BWB: Due to formatting issues in the original website, I have
copied the text and simplified the formatting. Also I have added
paragraph spacing to improve readability. Text in italics was
provided by Ms. Sheila Hutchinson.]
An item from the Great Yarmouth Mercury November 1889:
Shocking Suicide On The Great Eastern Railway
Early on Saturday morning a plate layer, while walking along the Great
Eastern Railway line, near Belton, found the dead body of a young
woman, who had evidently been killed by a passing train.
Information was given of the discovery at the Belton Station, and, as
the plate layer had heard the cry of an infant, when he found the body,
a midwife and others proceeded to the spot, when it was found that the
young woman had evidently been confined after meeting with her fatal
injuries. The body was conveyed to a house near by, where it was
subsequently identified as that of Rosa Selina Burrage, 22 years of
age, who resided at Burgh Castle with her father.
An inquest was held on the body of the deceased, at the King's Head, on
Monday, by Mr.Coroner Chaston, when the following witnesses were called;
Horatio Burrage, market gardener's labourer, living at Burgh Castle,
identified the body as that of his daughter, Rosa Selina, who had been
a domestic servant, but during the last four years, since her mother's
death, had been living at home, acting as a housekeeper. He last
saw her alive at 9:20.p.m at home on Thursday, the 24th ult, when he
bade her good night and went to bed. He had noticed nothing
unusual in her manner lately, but during the last two or three days she
had seemed dejected. He did not know she was pregnant. No
unpleasantness had to his knowledge taken place between her and
himself, or between her or any member of his family. He did not
suspect any foul play in connection with her death. They searched
for her up to 12.30 on Friday night as she had not turned up, but left
off, looking for her, believing that she must have gone to Yarmouth.
Emily Alice Burrage corroborated this evidence. She added that
she had known for the last four months that the deceased was in a
certain way. Her father was not informed of that. On Thursday she
appeared to be low-spirited, but did not state the cause. She saw
her last on Friday at 6:45 at their grandfather's next door. She
left, saying she was going to get a newspaper at Mr. Thrower's shop,
close by. She was low-spirited then. She was subject to
fainting fits. As she did not return they searched for her.
She had never heard her threaten to commit suicide. She was
engaged to be married to Jethro Baker, railway porter, stationed at
Geldeston. She did not know whether he knew of her
condition. He had not seen her for the last six months.
Jacob Saul, railway plate layer, said on Saturday morning he was
proceeding to his work at Belton, and walking along the line.
When about quarter of a mile the Yarmouth side of Belton Station, he
saw the body of the deceased lying on the four-foot way upon the the
line. She was fully dressed, with the exception of her hat, which
was lying some twenty yards off. Just as he was about to move the
body, he heard a child cry. He at once went to the railway-
station and reported it. He thought she was run over by the 4 am
mail from Beccles.
Elizabeth Beckett, widow, practising as midwife, of Burgh Castle, said
in consequence at what he said to her, she went to the spot on the
railway, about 7.am on Saturday morning, and found the body of the
deceased as described. She found under her a newly born male
child, which was enveloped in her under clothing and was then
living. She washed the body of the deceased [BWB: should be
"infant"], and found no marks on it, except the right shoulder.
Henry Bottoms, ostler at the King's Head Inn, Belton, said he was
acquainted with the deceased having walked with her occasionally, and
had known for more than a fortnight, the state in which she was.
He was not engaged to her. He last saw her alive at 9:45.p.m on
Thursday night near her house. He had not noticed that she had
been low-spirited. He could give no further information. He
had not fallen out with her at all.
Lucy Bottoms, sister of the last witness, living at Burgh Castle, said
she knew the deceased well, and had known her for about four months
that she was in a certain state. She had not spoken to the
deceased about that, and did not think that the deceased was aware that
she knew of her condition. She had had one child and in the
summer had said to the witness "if ever I have any more, I'll know what
to do." Witness did not know what she implied by that.
Dr. John Bately of Gorleston said on Saturday morning, he saw the body
of the deceased and made an external examination of it. The legs
have been crushed and mangled below the knees, obliquely, as it were,
the right more in the middle and the left more towards the ankle.
The head was also much injured. She would have been knocked
insensible by the blow on the head and had died, in his opinion, in
about half an hour. He should imagine the child was born while
she was in that insensible state-during the process of death. It
was full-timed and full-grown. The pain of her labour and her
mental gloom would be quite sufficient to account for her wandering
away, and make her not responsible for her actions.
Edward David Gillingwater, district inspector is the employ of the
Great Eastern Railway Company, said in his opinion, the deceased must
have been laying down when the engine passed over her. He
considered that she was run over by the 4.a.m. down train, the 3.25
mail goods train to Beccles. He had seen the engine but there
were no marks on it. Neither the engine driver nor fireman knew
anything about the occurrence.
Having considered the evidence, the jury found a verdict "suicide while in a state of temporary insanity."
The child that was born on the railway survived and lived to the age of 88. He was called Reginald Hubert Burrage. He was brought up by Mr and Mrs Platford of Belton.