II – The Second Inquest

Part II – The Second Inquest follows on from Part I – The Death of Claude Cotton. Click the link below to read the first story.


The result was what most of Geraldton wanted. Knowing there would be a post mortem and a new inquest, letter writer ‘Groper’ turned their attention to Claude’s mother. She was elderly and was said to have been supported by Claude, who regularly sent her half his pay. Concerned at the inquiry being left solely in the hands of the police, they suggested the establishment of a fund to raise money to pay for a solicitor to represent her. ‘Groper’ gave ten shillings and, within three days, they received donations of about two pounds. With the money, they hired Arthur Altorfer to represent Emma Cotton.

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I – The Death of Claude Cotton

At 7:30 am, while lumpers loaded wheat onto the ss Millpool, Captain Arthur Eves gazed out across Champion Bay. As he looked down, he noticed something floating in the water. Unable to see what it was, he descended from the bridge to the forecastle. Using binoculars, he realised that what he was looking at was the body of a man. He sent a boat to retrieve it and subsequently identified it as Claude Cotton, a member of his crew.

The ss Millpool (left) at Geraldton circa 1922. Courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia (Call Number: 028995PD).
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A Cue Tragedy

At 9 pm on 23 May 1899, the sound of the bell ringing alarmed the people of Cue. Smoke billowing north-west of the town confirmed their fears: fire.

People rushed towards the origin, and, as they drew closer, many realised that the camp burning belonged to Charles Litchfield, who was the Government surveyor and draughtsman.

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