Eldridge, infant

Eldridge, infant        1877 May 5th

An inquest was held at the “Swan Inn,” Harnham, on Tuesday morning last, before Mr Wilson, on the body of the illegitimate infant of Emma Eldridge, which died on Sunday morning.

Mary Ann Eldridge, wife of William Eldridge, said the mother of the child was her daughter, and she was confined on the 13th of April. No doctor was present, but there was a midwife, and a doctor was afterwards called in, and he also visited the child on the following day. It was not a healthy child, and it would not take the breast. It took a little milk from a bottle, but not much at a time, and didn’t appear to be at al likely to live. It had the white mouth. On Sunday morning last she went over to her daughter about 8 o’clock and took the child from her for a few minutes, when it struck her it wouldn’t last very long, and a few minutes afterwards it died.

The medical attendant, Mr Gowing, said he was called to see the child on the day on which it was born. It was a small child, but well formed and fairly nourished, and there seemed to be no reason then why it should not live. He saw it the day after, but had not seen it since until that morning, when he found it very much wasted, and there was a sign of its having had thrush, but nothing beyond that. It was certain the child had not had a sufficient amount of nourishment.

Emma Eldridge, the mother of the child, who appeared to be in a very weak condition, corroborated the grandmother’s statement. She said that on Saturday the child didn’t take much milk, and about 8 o’clock the next morning it became worse. She didn’t expect it to live.

In answer to a juryman she admitted that her father had said that if the child died she should come home again, but if it lived he would not have it back.

At the request of the jury, Charlotte Waters, the midwife, was sent for, and she said the child was very weakly from its birth. She didn’t think it would live. It would take two or three spoonsful of milk from a bottle. When she went to dress it in the morning she always found it empty, as if it hadn’t had much during the night.

The jury were a considerable time in arriving at a verdict, many being of opinion that someone ought to be censured, but they did not know upon who to fix. The Coroner said there was no evidence of wilful neglect, although it was pretty clear that the child might have had more nourishment.

A verdict was returned to the effect that the child died from want of proper and sufficient nourishment.

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