Gellett, Jane 1875 December 11th
On Monday afternoon, Mr G Smith, coroner, held an inquest , at the New Inn, New-street, on the body of Jane Gellett, aged 70, who had died in one of the adjoining houses. Mr Maunder was chosen foreman of the jury, and, after the body had been viewed, the following evidence was taken.
Mr Frederick Fawson Lee, residing in St Ann’s-street, said : I am a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. I was called at about quarter past eight o’clock, on Sunday morning, to see the deceased, who I understood had been discovered in the position in which she was found, by her sister. I went immediately, and found her quite dead. I believe her sister had discovered her about an hour previously.
The Coroner : Can you give us any idea how long she had been dead?
Mr Lee : It is impossible to give any idea. I can’t say she has lying on the floor all night, because the extremities of the body were slightly warm. She was lying on her left side, with her left arm under her, and her feet, and the lower part of her legs, were underneath the bedstead. The body was in a position of perfect repose; there was no evidence of any struggle having taken place. The face and left side of her head, appeared to be darkly congested; there was slight dropsy of the legs. I am of opinion that she died from natural causes. I have been told that she was suffering the night before from flatulency, and, generally, feeling very ill, and this acting on an aged person, in this cold weather, probably caused a failure of the heart’s action.
The Coroner : Have you heard any mention of any previous fall she might have had?
Mr Lee understood that there had been one about a fortnight ago, and that might have helped to aggravate the symptoms, but nothing beyond. He did not consider that if there had been a fall it would, in the present instance, necessarily be connected with the cause of death.
The Foreman : Have you any idea how she fell out of bed? I fancy she got out of bed, and then fell exhausted, as dropsy in the legs indicated weakness existing for some time.
A Juryman : Would there have been a chance for her if she had been attended by a medical man?
Miss Whit, the sister, said the deceased would not allow one to be sent for.
A Juryman : Perhaps the relatives might have sent for one unknown to her.
The Coroner : We have nothing to say about that, we are called here to enquire into the cause of death.
Miss Sarah Whit said : The deceased, who was a widow, was my sister, and she was 70 years old. We resided in the same house, though not in the same room. I last saw her alive at a quarter to eleven on Saturday night, and then she was very ill, and in a good deal of pain.
The Coroner : Was there any thought of sending for a medical man? Yes, I asked her if I should and she said no.
The Coroner : Did she take anything before she went to bed? She had half a glass of gin and water before nine o’clock, and after that I gave two antibilious pills, which she took.
The Coroner : Did she go to bed then? No; she had gone to bed at half past four o’clock.
The Coroner : What induced you to go to her at a quarter to eleven o’clock? She wished me to come in as I went to my own bedroom, and then I asked her how she was. She said she was slightly better, and asked for something to enable her to knock down to me with. I placed something near her, but during the night I heard no knocking for assistance. On Sunday morning, at about twenty minutes past seven o’clock, I went into her room to see how she was, and found her on the floor, quite dead and cold. I sent for Mr Lee almost immediately.
By a Juryman : There was no fire in the room.
The Coroner : We have heard something about her falling a fortnight ago? She fell and knocked her head against a box, and her head bled profusely. She did not see a medical man, for she would not have one. Then I heard her fall and went up to her. She was a great cripple from sciatica.
The jury returned a verdict that death resulted from “Natural Causes.”