Sad End of a Native of Ambleside
On Saturday 15th inst., a young man, named JOHN BIGLAND, 25 years of age, son of Mr. JOHN BIGLAND, Church Street,
Ambleside, came to his end under circumstances which leave little doubt but that he, in a fit of mental aberration,
rashly fired a shot which terminated his existence. The facts of the case as disclosed at the inquest are as follows:
On the body of JOHN BIGLAND, about 25 years of age, a ship carpenter.
ALICE FREDERICKS, an unfortunate, who said she was 18 and had come from a comfortable home in Glasgow, and that she
lived in a house of ill fame: 1,10 Court, Prince William Street, stated that she met deceased on Wednesday evening in a
free-and-easy at 60 Paradise Street. He went home with her and stayed during Wednesday and Thursday nights. They went
to Manchester races on Friday, and deceased left her about nine o'clock, stating that he wanted to look for a pocket
book which he had lost. She went home about eleven o'clock with a "professional" named Kirk, and about two o'clock the
deceased was admitted to the house and asked to see her. She came downstairs and told him she was "with an old friend."
He then shook hands with her, kissed her, and said "Good bye, you don't think anything of me; I am going to shoot
myself, and if you follow I will shoot you". He then left, and shortly afterward she heard a report, and on looking out
saw the deceased sitting in the court. She did not go out as she was afraid, but she told the other inmates of the
house, including a private in the 2nd Dragoons, named FELLS, of the affair. None of them went out, as they were
frightened. She knew he had a revolver, as on the previous Wednesday he had given her a box containing cartridges. On
Thursday she and the deceased were photographed together.
MRS. JONES, the wife of a carter, said that on Saturday morning she heard a man call out "Alice" in the court referred
to. This was abut three o'clock. She got up, and saw the decease at the door of No. 1 house. An hour and a half later
she saw the deceased lying down in a corner of the court, and saw two soldiers, one of whom set the deceased up against
the wall . The soldiers left, and the deceased again fell.
Police constable 534 stated he was called to the court a few minutes past five, and found the deceased lying dead. He
had a wound in the right temple. Under his leg witness found a six-chambered revolver. Four of the chambers were
loaded, and two had recently been discharged. The body was taken to the deadhouse by Police constable 65. On it were
found 6s 5½d, a purse, a pencil case, and a likeness of the girl Fredericks and the deceased. On the likeness was a
piece of paper with "Good-by Alice" on it.
The dragoon FELLS, stated that when he left the house he lifted the deceased, who he thought was in a drunken sleep, and
placed him against the wall. He hid not notice any wounds nor the revolver.
GEORGE VAUSE, licensed victualler, 60 Paradise Street, sated that the deceased was paid off on Wednesday from the ship
'William Symington', on which he had been boatswain and carpenter. He believed the deceased was a native of
The medical evidence was that death was from the gunshot wound. The Jury returned an open verdict.
A singular feature in the affair is the fact that the police made no attempt to discover the relatives of the
unfortunate young man, which they could easily have done by communicating with the officers of the ship in which
deceased last sailed, the name of which was mentioned by the witness VAUSE. As it was, the first intimation of the sad
event was communicated to the brother-in-law of the deceased by the chief officer of the S.S. Symington in a letter
dated July 18th, three days after the occurrence. The matter did not come to the knowledge of the officers of the
vessel until a report of the inquest appeared in the papers, when the second officer went and recognised the body. The
brother in law of the deceased young man, wrote at once asking for further particulars and received the following
MR. PLUMB, Dear Sir, Yours to hand last evening. I am sure you would be sorry to hear the sad news. The
deceased, JOHN BIGLAND, joined the S.S. Wm. Symington, last February twelve months, as Carpenter and Boatswain, and was
here until last Wednesday week, when we were paid off. He left us with the intention of going either to Falmouth or
Plymouth to pass his examination as 2nd Mate; he said good bye the same afternoon, and I was under the impression that
he had left Liverpool the same evening, as was his intention, and he, poor fellow was full of hopes of being successful
in his examination. I heard no more about him until I read the account in the papers on Monday, when I at once wrote to
you. I am very sorry for his poor mother, as it will be a sad blow to her. There is no doubt as to his identity, as
the Second Mate went to the deadhouse and was confident of the identity. I am very sorry that I have nothing that
belongs to him, as I know that anything, no matter of how little value to anyone else, would be of great value to you. I
am more grieved than I can tell you, as the deceased was well liked by all the officers, including myself. As to his
effects, I believe that all he had are still at Lime Street Station, and I cannot inquire about them as I am no
relative. He was paid off with about £25 to the best of my knowledge, and according to the papers, he had only a few
shillings upon him. His watch and chain were missing, I should advise you to open a correspondence with the police
authorities here, or come yourself. I am convinced that the police were lax in not inquiring on board the vessel, as
they knew he had belonged to her. If they had done so it would have given you ample time to be over at the inquest. I
am very sorry that I cannot give you more information, not being able to find out for myself, and I should be only glad
to oblige you, as you must be as grieved as myself Yours, &c., A. STEVENSON
On Monday last, Mr. ROBERT BIGLAND, went to Liverpool and ascertained beyond a doubt that it was indeed his
brother who had come to such an untimely end. He there saw the chief officer of the Symington, who gave deceased an
excellent character. His opinion as to the motive which had influenced the unfortunate young man to the rash act was
this - when he left the vessel he was so confident of passing his examination, and then having got into bad company and
lost all his money, his hopes were dashed to the ground, and the thought of this madly impelled him to the commission of
the rash act which deprived him of life. Much sympathy is felt in Ambleside for the relatives of the deceased, who are
well known and respected, in their bereavement.