The following article, published in the Bicester Advertiser on 21st July 1882 goes to show just how far we’ve come in the treatment of mental health over the years. Anyone in Williams position today would be given help, and certainly wouldn’t be arrested and charged. Though, I think the neighbour’s first port of call in the crisis would still be the kettle.
William Bowerman, residing at Launton, and formerly of Bicester, was brought up in custody to the Magistrates’ Chamber, Bicester, before W.W.M. Dewar, Esq., on Wednesday last, charged with attempting to commit suicide by drowning himself.
Mary Heritage, of Launton, housekeeper to Mr Thomas Sansom, landlord of the Fox and Hounds Inn, said: Prisoner lodges at Mr Sansom’s house, and has done so for the last five or six years. He got up at about five o’clock this morning and went downstairs. Witness got up at about a quarter past six, and looking out of the window saw the prisoner looking into the well. Went down to him and asked him to have a cup of tea.
Prisoner followed witness as far as the door, but when she had poured out the tea she found that he had not followed her into the house. Went to look for him and when she got to the door she found he was getting into the well. By the time she was there he had both legs in. Went to him and held him up till Sansom came to her assistance. They got him out and he went into the house. P.C. Sirman was passing at the time and took him into custody.
Last Monday prisoner was in a very low state, and witness removed the razors from his room. The week before he talked of doing away with himself. Prisoner had been ill, and she had heard he had received twelve shillings a week for the last five or six weeks.
Stephen Sirman, police constable, stationed at Launton, said he was passing the Fox and Hounds beerhouse, at about half-past six in the morning, and heard the last witness screaming. She was in the passage at the time, and he asked what was the matter. They told him Bowerman had been trying to drown himself, and that he must be taken away. Prisoner was going upstairs at the time, with his shoes and bottom of his trousers wet. Called him back and charged him with attempting to commit suicide by drowning himself. Prisoner made no reply. Searched him, but found no knife or anything by which to injure himself.
Brought him to Bicester, and searched him again. Found upon him three half-sovereigns and a gold watch.
Remanded till the petty sessions on Friday week (July 28).