Unsolved Murders

Isaac John Wilson

Age: 37

Sex: male

Date: 21 May 1918

Place: SS Ryckett, English Channel

Source: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Isaac John Wilson was killed whilst on the SS Ryckett in the English Channel.

He died from injuries to the skull and brain. The injuries were said to have been caused by a sharp-edged, heavy, and firmly fixed object.

There were no signs of a struggle. The injuries were consistent with a fall but the possibility of their having been caused by blows was thought not to be excluded.

The captain was questioned about a stoker who had said that he had heard Isaac Wilson fall behind him on the stokehold floor but said that when he went to look he saw no blood about the stoker and said that when he had got to Isaac Wilson he was bleeding profusely and that there were no traces of him having been moved.

After his death the ship went to France where a doctor examined the body but said he could not add any more to what had already been said and it then returned to England where another doctor examined it. The doctor in England said that when he examined Isaac Wilson's body he found no injuries on his hands which he said he would expect if he had already been unconscious when he had fallen. He also said that the injuries could have been caused by both a fall or a blow to the head and also stated that he did not think it was possible for Isaac Wilson to have been able to move having received the injuries. The coroner said that it was a question of accident or murder and that if it was murder then there was only the stoker to whom they could have any suspicion.

The coroner also added that there was no evidence of malice and that the only one who had suggested it had been the second engineer. He also added that the stoker had not before been on the second engineers watch and so there was no real opportunity for them to have developed any bad feeling. He also added that the injuries were caused by great violence and that Isaac Wilson was a strong hefty man and that the stoker was short and fragile.

He added that the top of the stokehold ladder was on the port side, quite close to the ventilator down which Isaac Wilson was said to have fallen. He then said that if he had fallen straight down the ladder he would have been found at its foot on the starboard side some distance from where he had been found lying and that there was no evidence that he had been moved.

After the jury returned they said that there was not enough evidence to prove anything.

Isaac Wilson had been the chief engineer of the transport and had lived at 37 Everton Valley, Kirkdale in Liverpool.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see National Archives - COR/1/3/706

see Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 21 May 1918