An inquest was held before Thomas Cook, Deputy Coroner, at the Carpenter's Arms, Irchester, on Monday, 20th June 1881, to decide the cause of the death of John Mathers, a young man employed in widening the Midland Railway, who had drowned in the River Nene on Saturday night, 18th June.
Thomas Wise, carpenter, Irchester: I knew the deceased. He was about 25 years of age, and a single man. He was in the employ of Mr. Oliver, the contractor for widening the Midland Railway. I last saw the deceased at the Cambridge Hotel, Wellingborough at about ten o'clock on Saturday. He appeared to have been drinking, but I do not consider that he was drunk. He lodged at the Huts, at Irchester. The nearest way to them from Wellingborough, was the route taken by the deceased; but the proper road was by Chester House.
George Rolfe, foreman on the Midland Railway widening work: I was in the company of the deceased at Wellingborough on Saturday night. We started to go home to Irchester at about half past ten. I wanted to go by the regular footpath by Chester House, but the deceased refused. He said he would go by the viaduct. There is a temporary bridge over the river. About five yards from the Irchester side, I heard a splash. I could not see the deceased at first, but he was in the river. I got a board, and tried to put it into the hands of the deceased, but he made no attempt to take hold of it. He disappeared altogether. It was not dark that night, and I saw him sink three times. I went and called my brother up, and the parish constable. We dragged the river, and in about ten minutes we found the deceased near where he fell in. He had been drinking.
Edward Joseph Freeman, surgeon, Rushden: I was called yesterday morning to see the deceased. He had been dead several hours. I found no marks of violence on him. I have no doubt he died from drowning.
The jury verdict was "ACCIDENTALLY DROWNED".