Barber, Hannah

Barber, Hannah         1878 December 14th

An inquest was held at the Council Chamber on Friday evening, by Mr Powning (deputy coroner) on the body of Hannah Barber, daughter of William George Barber, of 67, Culver-street, who died on the 3rd instant, at her father’s house.

The evidence was of a conflicting character as to the manner in which the deceased had been treated by her step-mother, and the hearing was not concluded in time to be published in our edition of Saturday last. Two female witnesses, Mrs Adlam and Mrs Gallop, were called, and gave evidence to the effect that they heard on various occasions the child crying, presumably from a beating, and that the child had been very scantily clothed – in fact her apparel consisting only of an old frock. They had also seen the mother beating it, and one of them stated distinctly that she considered that the mother-in-law had cruelly used it. In addition to this the witness said that the mother-in-law had -she knew – sent the child out in to the back kitchen where there was no fire, and dressed as she had previously described, and made her wash dirty clothes.

Both of the witnesses agreed that the child had been kept in a very dirty and neglected state, and added that the child had but a short time since returned from a visit to her father’s father at Semley, and that then she was healthy enough, but that since she had wasted right away. Mrs Gallop also said that she had seen the step-mother beat it about the neck with a small stick.

The father was called and gave almost direct contradiction to the statement of the other witnesses. He admitted that the child had been to his father’s, but said that he had it home again in consequence of her ill health. He had been married twice, and this child was the daughter of his first wife. About a fortnight since she took to her bed, and Dr Gordon came and saw her, and under his treatment she got better. She, however, had another attack, and Dr Gordon again saw her, and eventually the child died, on Tuesday morning.

The child had always had good clothing, and his wife had on all occasions appeared very fond of her. We believe that there were some scars on the back of deceased, and in accounting for these the father said that about a week ago the child fell from the top to the bottom of the stairs and “scrazed” her back. The deceased – so the father added – had suffered from a hare lip, and since she had undergone an operation she had been gradually getting worse, and had now pined away.

The medical evidence (Dr Gordon) went to prove that death resulted from diarrhoea and exhaustion. Mr Gordon said that insufficient food or neglect would have caused diarrhoea. The body (he continued) had bruises on it, but they would have been caused by the child falling downstairs. The statement as to his attending the child a fortnight ago was untrue.

A verdict was returned in accordance with the medical testimony, and the Deputy-Coroner (we believe at the request of the jury) censured the husband and wife, the latter for her treatment of the child, and the former for the unsatisfactory manner in which he had given his evidence. The inquest lasted several hours.

FreeBMD gives Anna Barber aged 3 – Ed.

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