Search reveals double tragedy

THE tragic tale of a double family bereavement has been uncovered by a man researching his Morpeth roots.

Bryan Deakin, of Essex, was looking into his family tree when he discovered reports of an inquest in an old newspaper.

The story related to his grandfather William Potts, who was found frozen to death on January 13, 1913, a day after the body of his daughter-in-law Winnifred was recovered from the River Wansbeck.

Winnifred was married to Mr Deakin’s uncle John Potts and the couple lived in Collingwood Terrace, Morpeth, with their two children, Thomas, born 1907, and John, born in 1912.

The report into Winnifred’s death showed that she had turned light-headed on the afternoon before her death, imagining things. A doctor visited and said there was no cause for concern. Winnifred asked her husband to go out to buy a book in the Market Place and when he returned she had disappeared.

John searched for her with no success, but the next morning her shawl was found by the river bank and later her body was recovered nearby.

The verdict was that in a state of temporary insanity she had rushed out of the house and ran into the river. She was 25.

William, John’s father, was a retired miner living in the Hirst area. The 60-year-old had been in a pub with his son and left to walk home in the snow. He was found sleeping beside the gate at Bothalhaugh Lodge early the next morning when a passer-by told him to get up, but he was unable to rouse him. The witness went to get help, but by the time it arrived William was dead.

The verdict was death from exposure.

Mr Deakin is keen to hear from anyone who has information about the family, particularly his uncle John and his two sons.

He knows that John remarried Annie Bell in 1917 and lived in Newbiggin after the First World War. He had been a miner, but at the time of his second marriage was a corporal in the Royal Engineers.

Mr Deakin visited Morpeth and found the house where John and Winnifred lived, but could not find the place where his grandfather died.

Anyone with information about the family can contact Mr Deakin at 85 Ward Avenue, Grays, Essex, RM17 5RL, or email