On Saturday morning last the body of a young woman, named Eleanor Hayhurst, was found in the canal, close to the Highgate Settings Bridge. An inquest was held the same day at Oxenholme, before R. Wilson, Esq., when the following circumstances were given in evidence:-
James Cleasby, of Oxenholme, in the township of Kendal, farmer, deposed – Eleanor Hayhurst, the deceased was my servant. She has served me since last Martinmas and was intending to leave my house at Whitsuntide. Some wearing apparel had been misplaced a short time ago, and I named it to the deceased last night about ten o’clock. The doors of my house were then bolted and made fast for the night, and we were about going to bed. We had no high words, and I told deceased that if she would take the things to their proper places nothing more should be said about them. He was then standing in the passage on her way to bed. She made no reply to what I said, but stood still about five minutes. She then moved to the out-kitchen, extinguished the candle, placed it and the stick upon a table as she passed, and unbolted the doors and hastened out of the house. She did not add anything to her dress, nor did she speak to any one. I hastened after, and ran into the garden calling her by name, and I looked about for her but could not find her. I therefore returned and called my men-servants, and we searched all the outbuildings, but we could not find her there. It was then so dark we thought it useless to search the fields. We sat up to daylight, and the recommenced the search. Having searched various other places, we went to the canal, and, after searching there some time, I found a knife which one of my servants identified as her property. We then returned home and took drags with us. We very soon found the body of the deceased. She was in the canal, quite dead, and had apparently been drowned. We found the body under the Highgate Settings Bridge, in this township, and we removed it here. There are some very steep steps down to the canal bank from the road, and it was very dark when she left my house. If she had been intending to go on the canal banks to Kendal, these steps would be her direct road. The deceased was about twenty years of age.
James Parkinson, of Oxenholme, farm-servant, said- The deceased was a fellow-servant of mine. I assisted to search for her after she was missing yesterday night, and was there when her body was found. My master asked me to name to her that some clothes were missing, and I did so whilst we were milking yesterday. She denied that she had taken them, and desired me to go and search her boxes, which she said were open. She said she wished she was dead, and appeared very much distressed in mind. She said such stories were enough to drive anyone mad. I believe I was the first to name the missing clothes to her and she at once desired her boxes to be searched.
Verdict – Found drowned.
Westmorland Gazette, Saturday 31 May 1851