William Potter1

M, #5748, b. 27 January 1822, d. 5 July 1887
FatherPeter Potter1 b. 9 Jun 1793, d. 3 Nov 1864
MotherJane Sinden1 b. 26 Aug 1789, d. 21 Sep 1871
Relationship4th great-uncle of Keith Graham Bassett
Last Edited26 Jan 2017
Unsure of the death of William Potter. The recorded record fits (based on age) but William wasn't recorded in his father's will (1855). All the other siblings are beneficiaries of the will, so either William was out of favour or he had predeceased his siblings. 
Baptism*27 January 1822 St Thomas, Lewes, Sussex;
William Potter son of Peter & Jane Potter, whitesmith, Cliffe1 
Death of Father3 November 1864 Lyndoch, SA, Australia;
When Died: November 3rd 1864
Name and Surname: Peter Potter
Sex: Male
Age: 71 Years
Rank or Profession: Blacksmith
Usual Residence: Lyndoch
Cause of Death: Dysentry
Place where Death occurred: Lyndoch;Principal=Peter Potter2 
Death of Mother21 September 1871 Lyndoch Valley, SA, Australia;
When Died: Septr 21st 1871
Name and Surname: Jane Potter
Sex: Female
Age: 82 Years
Rank or Profession: Widow of late Peter Potter, Farmer of Lyndoch Valley
Usual Residence: Lyndoch Valley
Cause of Death: General Debility & Old Age
Place where Death occurred: Lyndoch Valley;Principal=Jane Potter3 
Death*5 July 1887 Mount Barker, SA, Australia4 
News-Arct*8 July 1887 "The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser", Mount Barker, SA, Australia;
Drowning of Mr. W. Potter. —: On Tuesday morning last the body of Mr. W. Potter was found by his wife in a well at the rear of his premises on the Adelaide road, Mount Barker. Mr. Potter was fully dressed with the exception of his boots, and the body was floating perpendicularly with the head uppermost. The well is on sloping ground about 30 ft. from the back door. Its greatest diameter is a little over 2 ft., and it is in shape between a circle and an oval. It is bricked round but the work is not smooth, and there are numerous ledges which would give temporary support and thus assist in climbing out of the well. There were no marks discernible either on the bricks or elsewhere to give evidence of a struggle. A dog was chained up within a few feet of the well. The surface of the water is about 3 ft. from the cemented top and the total depth of the well is from 11 ft. to 12 ft. There is a trapdoor, but this is generally left open and it was so found when the body was discovered. A windlass over the narrow mouth forms a protection however. The features of deceased were contracted and full of indications of extreme pain. The doctor's evidence showed that he was subject to an incurable disease which was attended with acute suffering and this fact added to his wife's evidence render it probable that death resulted from suicide. The position of the well and the fact that the body was found feet downwards made. It possible that deceased slipped in accidently. In this event the narrowness of the opening, the distance of the water from the top, the extreme cold, and Mr. Potter's state of bodily weakness would have made escape extremely difficult, and at that early hour it is not likely that anyone would be attracted by his cries or the consequent barking of the dog. It is evident that death had resulted some hours before the body was discovered. Mr. Potter was a very old resident of Mount Barker and had lived in his present house on the Adelaide road as long as the memory of the young men of the community can carry them back. He was esteemed as.a careful hard-working man, and his form was a very familiar one in the town.4 
News-Arct8 July 1887 "The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser", Mount Barker, SA, Australia;
Drowning of Mr. W. Potter. An inquest was held at the Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon before Dr. Weld, J.P. A Jury of twelve was empanelled of whom Mr, R. Murray was chosen foreman and, after the body and the place where it was found had been visited, the following evidence was taken;—
Mary Potter deposed—I am the widow of the deceased William Potter. He was a laborer. Last saw him alive between 9 and 10 o'clock last night, he was in the same state of health as he has been for six or eight weeks, during which time he was seriously ill. He said his prayers with me. Last week he said to me he would never be able to die in his bed unless he could find Salvation. He said "I have no hope, I am a lost man, God has taken the Holy Spirit from me." He wanted for nothing and had every nourishment. He owed no money but a trifle he could easily pay. I told him yesterday he had not taken enough money for some potatoes and said he was not in his right mind. He said "Perhaps not." He was flighty at times. He suffered no pain but was often fighting for breath. Dr. Bickle was attending him. He had his slippers on when I last saw him. He left them by the fireside. He has slept by himself in the front room on the sofa for three years. He never said anything exactly about taking his life. On the night before last he ran to me saying "I must, I must." I understood that he could not bear his mind. Heard him moving about a little last night and get a piece of wood close to the door of the room in which he was sitting, There was nothing unusual in that. The last words I said were "Will you promise you won't leave the kitchen?" He said "No I won't leave the kitchen." Mr. Sisson sat with him yesterday while I was out. When I got up this morning I found the kitchen door open and the rocking chair empty. The fire was out and the lamp still burning. I rushed to the well and there I saw him floating on the top. Told young Mr. Dutch deceased was down the well and asked him to go to Walkom's. I then returned home. Itwas a little after 7 o'clock. Isaac Dutch and young Walkom came and got deceased up, Sent for the doctor and the police. Dr. Bickle came shortly afterwards. Deceased was 65 years old.
By Jury—-Deceased said once he'd throw himself in the well, I think. It was a week ago. " Mother," he said, " I went in my night-shirt and knelt by the well and prayed God to have mercy on me. God answered my prayer arid saved me." We have always been on the best of terms. He has been very kind and good to me. He made his will in my favor this week.
By Police—My husband has gone to the well for water lately. There was no occasion to go out last night as there was plenty of water and wood inside.
Thomas Sisson deposed—I am a laborer, I went to deceased's place yesterday at 1.30 p.m. He was sitting in the kitchen cutting cloth. He told me to sit down. He said, "I'll get you to cut wood before you go," and I did so. He said, “I've no money to pay you, but I'll give you some pears." He then said, " Come over to the house." Noticed nothing strange about him, and he seemed in his right senses. He complained of nothing. Have done jobs for him several times. Mrs. Potter has asked me to sit by him several times, as she didn't like to leave him alone for fear he would get rid of himself. He never said any thing of the sort to me. Left him about 5.45 o'clock last night, and he was all right.
By Jury—The well was open when I left.
John Walkom deposed—I am a carpenter and live at Mount Barker. Isaac Dutch called me at 7.15 a.m., and told me Mr. Potter was in the well. I ran down with him, and as I looked down into the well I saw his head. The hair was just floating on the water. I at once caught him by the coat and collar and lifted his head above water, and Mr. Dutch look him under the right arm and we lifted him out of the well. The body was neither stiff nor limp but quite cold, and there were no signs of life. Noticed no bruises. He was a bluish color. Laid him on his back on top of the well. Mr. Dutch went for the doctor, and I for the police. Noticed nothing strange about deceased's habits. Constable Barber accompanied me back to the well.
By Jury—The door of the well was open, There were no marks apparent.
Francis Isaac Dutch deposed—I am a machinist living at Mount Barker. Live next to deceased. Got up about 6.30 o'clock this morning and was going to the post when I met Mrs. Potter at our gate. She was crying, and said, "Potter is in the well; go for Mr. Walkom." Went up and saw young Walkom, and came back with him. Arrived at the well and saw deceased's hair floating. We got him out and laid him on his back on the surface. There were no marks about the well or the body. I then went for Dr. Bickle. I have noticed that for the last week or fortnight deceased has been in a very despondent state,One day lately heard deceased complain to my father of shortness of breath.
By Jury—Have heard no quarelling of late at Potter's house.
Leonard Watkins Bickle deposed.—I am a duly qualified medical practitioner residing at Mount Barker. Have seen deceased twice lately professionally; on each occasion for angina pectoris, an affection of the heart, attended with great pain and shortness of breath. There was also chronic lung trouble. I saw him last on May 21, but he has since had medicine. I was called this morning by Mr. I. Dutch. I went with him to Potter's house, and on the ground near the well saw the body of the deceased. The clothes were quite wet, and the body presented the appearance of having been recently taken out of the water. I examined it and found life extinct. The body was quite cold, and rigor mortis was beginning. Deceased must have been dead some hours. Saw no signs of violence. There were no bruises or contusions. The cause of death was suffocation by drowning. The first time I attended deceased his mind was distressed from physical suffering, and it was with difficulty he could be persuaded to allow anything to be done for him. I explained to Mrs. Potter at the time that the attacks would recur, and could be relieved but not cured. Deceased was between 60 and 70 years old.
By Jury.—Never noticed any suicidal tendency in deceased.
William Barber deposed.—I am a mounted constable stationed at Mount Barker. I received information this morning shortly after 7 o'clock from Mr. John Walkom, jun., that a man named Potter had been found drowned in a well on his (Potter's) premises. I proceeded to the well and found deceased lying on his back near the well. The body was cold and life extinct. He had a pair of socks on his feet and his ordinary dress. They were all soaked with water. Examined round the well very carefully, but found no marks of any kind. I examined the body about the breast and head but discovered no marks of violence. There was a very slight abrasion on the knuckle of the second finger of the right hand. Searched the clothes and found knife (produced), which was all the property he had on him. We carried the body of deceased into an outbuilding, where the jury viewed it. There was 8 feet of water in the well where the body was found, and about three feet between the top and the water. The well is a round one, and measures about 2ft. 2in. in diameter. If a person slipped in feet foremost by accident don't think he could get out, but he could save himself from drowning by clinging to the bricks and crying out.
After a short retirement the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased William Potter came to his death by drowning.4 


  1. [S1528] Sussex Family History Group, online http://www.sfhg.org.uk/, baptism William Potter 1822.
  2. [S1556] South Australian Death Registrations transcript (Keith Bassett), Peter Potter 1864.
  3. [S1556] South Australian Death Registrations transcript (Keith Bassett), Jane Potter 1871.
  4. [S1565] Trove digitised newspapers, online http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/, The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday, July 8, 1887.