Hertford girl drowned at Ware

Hertfordshire Mercury, 13th April 1907


An inquest was held at the Ware Mortuary on Tuesday afternoon, before Mr T. J. Sworder, Coroner, and a jury, of which Mr J. Rogers was foreman, concerning the death of Elizabeth Frances Mardell, aged 16, who was found drowned in the Cut at Ware Brickfields on Sunday.

John Edward Southern, a carpenter, of Harlesden Road, St Albans, identified  the deceased as his step-sister, and said she was 16 years of age. She lived with her mother at 15, the Folly, Hertford, and was the daughter of the late Joseph Mardell, a gardener. He saw her on Saturday evening and she was in a very depressed state owing to her mother’s death on the previous day and she said she would prefer to be in heaven with her mother.

Deceased was not seen after half-past five on Saturday evening. He was searching all day on Sunday for her, and at seven o’clock in the evening heard that she had been found drowned near Ware. The girl was of rather weak intellect. There was no danger of her being left alone in the world, or anything of that kind to play on her mind. She would have a good home with him or his sister.

George Presland, of Bury Path, Ware, foreman at the Ware Brickfields, stated that he went as usual into the Brickfields on Sunday at 5.30, and when walking on the bridge over the Cut he saw something in the water. On going to see what it was he found the body of the deceased. She was quite dead and stiff. he sent two lads for the police, who came and took possession of the body. There was a footpath across the Brickfields and over the bridge, and it was possible for a stranger to have walked into the Cut accidentally, although he did not think it was probable, because anyone who did that would have to get out of the footpath.

The Foreman of the jury said several people had been drowned in that particular spot, and they had never been able to decide whether it was accidental or otherwise.

P.S. Moles stated that there was nothing found on the body having relevance to the occurrence; only a letter from deceased’s sister, a pair of gloves, and a yellow handkerchief.

Dr A. J. Boyd stated that he saw the body at 8 o’clock on Sunday evening. He should say it had been in the water for twenty-four hours. Death was evidently due to drowning.

The Coroner said there was no evidence to show how the poor girl got into the river, and perhaps the  best verdict they could bring would be an open one. The deceased appeared to have been very fond of her mother, and seemed to have grieved very much over her death. She may, of course, have fallen in accidentally, but there was no evidence to show how she got there.

The Foreman said it was private water, but as it was very dangerous it would be a good thing if the Cut could be fenced off on both sides.

The jury returned a verdict of found drowned, and expressed their sympathy with the relatives of the deceased.





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