On the morning of Monday 10 October 1898, the body of a vagrant was found hanging from a beam in an empty house in Marsden. When the man was searched, Army discharge papers were found with the name "S.R. Barnes".
An inquest was held on 12 October, chaired by Deputy Coroner Mr. J.E. Hill. A verdict of "suicide" was returned, but with no evidence to show the deceased's state of mind.
Samuel Richard Barnes was born in Congleton, Cheshire, in May 1864, the son of greengrocer Thomas Barnes.
The 1871 and 1881 Censuses show that, along with his older brother John, he was raised by his grandparents Richard and Harriet Gater in Cheshire and then Staffordshire.
He worked as an engine driver before enlisting with the Royal Artillery at Liverpool in September 1886 for a mandatory period of 12 years. According to his military record, he had previously served with the North Staffordshire Rifles.
At the time he enlisted, he was described as being 5 feet 9¼ inches tall, weighed 135 lbs, had a fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair, and was deemed fit for service. His regimental number was #56834.
His service record includes the following stationings:
|7 October 1886||Sandown||Training.|
|7 November 1886||Jersey||In March 1887, he was treated for gonorrhoea and spent 20 days in hospital.|
|15 October 1889||Euphrates||En route to Malta.|
|27 October 1889||Malta||Treated for jaundice in October 1892 and for a sprained ankle in April 1894.|
|10 August 1896||S.S. Jelunga||A British troopship that later saw service in the Second Boer War.|
|20 August 1898||Gosport, England||Discharged from the Army.|
In total, he spent nearly nine years stationed in Malta.
Curiously, Barnes was married to Alice Dexter a year before enlisting. The couple married at Christ Church, Ironville, Derbyshire, on 30 November 1885.
What happened to Barnes after his discharge at Gosport and how he ended up a vagrant 260 miles north in Marsden several weeks later remains unknown. All that is certain is that he entered an empty house that was under construction and hung himself from a wooden beam.
Following the inquest into his death, Samuel Richard Barnes was laid to rest at St. Bartholomew, Marsden.