Watery suicide of Sussex sweethearts

A TRAGIC story of unfulled love from the pages of the Sussex Express, February 22, 1879:

We learn from the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette that on Monday morning a man rowing a barge, which was proceeding along the river off North Woolwich, noticed two bodies floating in mid-stream.

He threw out a line, drew them in, and found them to be those of a lady and gentleman, both dressed in deep mourning. On the fingers of each of the deceased were a quantity of gem rings, and both wore engagement rings.

The gentleman, who aappeared to be about 42, was on Tuesday identified as Mr Charles Gifford, independent gentleman, late of 23 Marine Parade, Brighton, and the lady as Miss Blanch Crossfield of Horsham.

It is stated that Mr Gifford became acquainted with Miss Crossfield when 17 years of age through having saved her from drowning. Both deceased became mutually attached and plighted their troth, at the wish of parents on both sides, until a year later when Mr Crossfield withdrew his promise on the grounds that Mr Gifford’s son was a Roman Catholic.

Both the deceased then arranged that neither would marry any other, and that each would be wedded ‘to the church’ until Mr Crossfield should withdraw his objection.

Deceased arrived in London last Tuesday week and met Miss Crossfield at her residence in Gravesend. When found, both deceased’s arms were united by some silken cords, and in Miss Crossfield’s purse was found a card on which was written:

‘As we may not wed in this world, may Heaven permit us in the next. In loving embrace, we mutually agree to leave this selfish world.’

Truly poignant.