John and Thomas Bitten

Suicide in the Sudbury Workhouse 1878

One of the entrances to the Workhouse in Sudbury.

Report from the Bury and Suffolk Standard 22 January 1878

“Considerable alarm was occasioned among the officials and inmates of the Sudbury Union Workhouse on Saturday evening, when it was rumoured that an aged inmate named John Bitten, had committed suicide by hanging himself. It seems that when the inmates were mustered for supper, about seven o’clock, the deceased was missed, and the master, (Mr. Pope), at once directed the porter to make search for him. On going round the building in pursuance of this order, the porter found the deceased hanging by a rope in the mill chamber. Dr. Mason, the medical officer, was immediately sent for, and expressed an opinion that life had been extinct three hours. the deceased had been an inmate nearly 12 years, and had often exhibited signs of aberration of intellect. A few years since his brother drowned himself in the Croft river, and it is said that other members of the family have attempted acts of suicide. Yesterday (Monday afternoon), Mr. Ransom, the borough coroner, held an inquest at the Town Hall, when, the facts above-mentioned having been deposed to in evidence, a verdict of “Temporary Insanity” was returned.”

Death by Drowning 1857

Report from the Bury Free Press 02 May 1857

“On Monday afternoon, an inquest was held, at the Compasses, Acton Green, on view of the body of Thomas Bitten, late residing in North Street, and who had been for 16 years in the employ of Mr. Grimwood as bricklayer’s labourer. It appeared, that deceased, who was in the habit of spending his evenings at the Compasses, visited that house, as usual on Sunday evening, and, after remaining for nearly two hours and enquiring at what hour he should call his master up next morning, left at about half past eight. He had been drinking but was not drunk.

Nothing further was heard of him until half past four next morning, when Thomas King, a weaver, whilst walking on the bridge leading from the Croft to the Commons, saw a hat and a coat in the water and, supposing there was a person in the river, he called a man named Johnson, to assist, which he declined to do. On his way to procure help, King saw Charles Hibble, deceased’s fellow workman, who immediately proceeded to the spot. A line was procured and, with a brick attached to the end, the body was drawn to the edge of the water and recognised to be that of the deceased. The body was taken to the Compasses. Mr. Mason was called in, and found on examination, that deceased had been dead some hours; no marks of violence could be found, and he had no doubt that deceased met his end by drowning. These facts were deposed to, and the jury, acting on the suggestion of the coroner (W. Dowman Esq.) returned an open verdict of ‘Found Drowned’.”

The Croft Bridge, Sudbury