Whitmore, Elizabeth

Whitmore, Elizabeth        1875 January 2nd         Fisherton

On Tuesday afternoon last an inquest was held by Dr Young, the city coroner, and a jury of which Mr Charles Moody was foreman, at the lunatic asylum, Fisherton Anger, relative to the death of a pauper inmate from the parish of St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, aged 60, named Elizabeth Whitmore.

Dr William C Finch said the deceased had been in this institution since the 19th of December instant. She came there as a pauper patient under medical certificate from Shoreditch, London. She was suffering from general paralysis, and was in a feeble state of health when admitted. Yesterday she appeared to be in her usual state of health, and ate a very hearty dinner, and also supper before going to bed about seven, and she was found dead in bed early that morning. He attributed her death to disease of the heart, a consequence of her condition.

The Coroner : You see all the patients each day, professionally, of course?

Dr Finch said that he did so.

The Coroner : Was she of a violent sort? No; demented rather. She would fall out of her chair occasionally, and hence she has the bruise at present to be seen on the side of her forehead.

The Coroner : Do you know if she has been long insane? So far as we know only for about a month.

The Coroner : What class of life was she used to before coming here?

Dr Finch repeated that she was a pauper from the parish of St Leonard, Shoreditch. He had no history of the case excepting such as he had been given, that she was suffering from general paralysis when she came to the asylum. Replying further to the Coroner, witness said it was common for persons so affected to die very suddenly.

Lucy Marks said she was a nurse in the asylum, and had charge of the deceased woman so far as performing the duty of putting her to bed on the previous evening. That was at seven o’clock. She did not then appear in any unusual way remarkable. She had her supper before going to bed, which she ate heartily, and said to witness after being put to bed, “good night.” She made no complaint of anything whatever at that time, nor at any time other that witness ever heard. Witness saw her very frequently, and if she had ever complained at all she (witness) must have heard her. She was generally weak and helpless, and would occasionally fall from her seat.

Matilda Thompson, another nurse of the institution, said she had been engaged there for three years past, and had charge of all the female wards at night to visit them from time to time. No 7 ward, that in which the woman in question died, was one of them. Witness went round that about eleven o’clock at night, and saw nothing then particular in the deceased’s manner. She seemed to be sleepy and quiet, as she generally was. About two o’clock witness went round again, and the deceased seemed then quite comfortable. About four o’clock she went to the bedside of the woman, and putting her hand on her found she was dead. Witness called the preceding witness, but not the house surgeon, because it would have been then of no use.

A tell-tale watch with the usual indicator was laid before the jury in proof of the regularity with which the witness had gone her rounds of the wards at night.

Dr Finch added to his evidence that there were two women who slept habitually in the room where the deceased died.

The Coroner said he thought this was a case in which there was not any mystery, there being brain disease, which always must render probable one of those visitations which so often occurred amongst the insane. There was the evidence of the house surgeon and of the attendants to show that not only had there been nothing in the shape of the least ill-usage of the deceased, but that she had had all proper attention.

The jury immediately recorded a verdict to the effect that the woman’s death was due to natural causes.


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